Monday, November 8, 2010

Soapbox Issue - Kid Food

Just in case I haven't mentioned it before now, I have a kid. I toddler. An eating machine. She loves to eat. The phrase she utters the most (aside from 'ICE, ICE, ICE' for ice cream/yogurt/popsicle) is 'EAT, EAT, EAT!'. For the most part, I love feeding her.

 It is big fun to give her new things to try. I love to ask her what she wants to eat and let her peruse the selection in the refrigerator. It cracks me up to watch her share snacks and drinks with her friends... well, it's more like warfare than sharing - they tend to have an 'every man for himself' strategy at this age. She'll 'share', but to her, that means that she doesn't stop her friends from eating her snacks. She DOES however cram the snacks into her own mouth as fast as she can in order to ensure that she receives her fair share.

Of course, it's not all sunshine and lollipops. Lily Ruth is forming her own opinions about when and what she eats. A lot of the things that she used to eat without complaint are now on the *pursed lips, adamant head shake no* list.

As we discover the world of eating with a toddler, I have stumbled upon a few truths:

1. I thought we ate in a fairly healthy manner. Not true. Home cooked does NOT equal healthy. Nor does non-processed equal healthy. Home cooked and non-processed are good. Adding healthy into the mix would be even better.

2. Reading the labels to things that you used to buy on a regular basis will gross you out and/or piss you off. Seriously. Stuff that I used to love is now on my shit list. Nitrates, nitrites, HFCS, needless preservatives, coloring agents and 'flavoring' agents in spades. Ugh.

3. Almost 100% of 'food' marketed toward children is full of NASTINESS. Brands like Gerber who claim to only have our children's health in mind are trying to pump kids full of sodium, fillers, dyes and preservatives. It is incredibly frustrating to look for fun, good things to interest a toddler in eating only to find things that I wouldn't feed to my worst enemy packaged as 'for kids'.

I have also developed a theory. I cannot be the first person to have thought of this. In fact, I am sure that other mothers have thought something like this, but nobody has said it to me, so I'm gonna pretend that I am the FIRST EVER. Here it is - the bland, pureed, chock full of nastiness formula, jarred baby foods, infant cereals and 'snacks' steer children straight into the arms of the food manufacturers by preparing their palates for the highly processed crap that they want you to buy. Maybe kids 'don't like' vegetables because they never had anything that resembled the tastes and textures of actual food as babies. Infants have ridiculously sensitive noses. Their mouths are blank canvases. If you give them soft, tasteless and full of chemicals, that's all they'll know. If we give them actual flavors and (modified at first) textures, maybe they'll stand a better chance of making the leap to real food without protest.

I am not saying that convenience foods don't have a place in our lives. Lily Ruth eats packaged snacks. I have a door shelf full of fruit and vegetable puree pouches in my refrigerator. I just read the label of every item that I buy. Her snacks are HFCS free, baked and as 'healthy' as I can make them. The purees I give her are 100% fruit and/or vegetables, and are free of preservatives and additives. When we leave the house, I make the time to throw things like fizzy water, cubed cheese, tangerines and shredded chicken into our bag so that we can eat while we're out without resorting to Cheetos (mmmmmmmm, Cheetos), sodas or (GACK!) Lunchables. This allows me to feel like a good mother AND slightly superior to every one else... until we get to the park and I'm the only one in Old Navy instead of Kathleen Sommers... then I'm back to just being an exhausted mom (in sloppy, comfortable clothes) doing the best that I can... who is being ignored by the pack of well-dressed Velociraptors jerks moms over by the big kid swings... I really should stop hanging out in the park near that expensive pre-school...

In closing, I'm trying. I want my daughter to understand what it is to eat well. I want her to know that it is a blessing and a privilege to eat the way that we do. I want the way that we eat to enhance her health. I want our family meals to delight her senses. I want for her to think that fast food is a once-in-a-great-while indulgence, not a way of life.

Oh, and since I'm wishing, I want world peace, whiter teeth, to lose 30 pounds and a new car. Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.


  1. Welcome to Foodie Moms Anti-Velociraptor Bitch Superior Eating Cult! I mean club. I've been hoping for a co-president.

    I could go on and on about this (and on and on, and then on quite a bit more), but I'll cut to the chase. YOU ARE RIGHT! YOU ARE RIGHT! YOU ARE RIGHT! I think that should be the opening chant for our cult meetings. I mean club.

    I also wish for whiter teeth and a free contractor for my house.

  2. Excellent post Rachel...and yes, you are right. Lily will grow up knowing how to eat. Such a lucky little lady.

    Diane the new blog look :)