Let them eat cake….

Healthy-Kids My children sometimes ask me “Mum, why don’t we eat junk food?” “It is simple” I say, knowing well that for some people and especially those who are close it is not. For whatever reasons. “When you grew in my belly, in the time I birthed &  nursed you and began your journey with food I made a choice to give you food that helped you to grow tall, run fast, build strong muscles & a wonderful imagination” It is amazing how well children absorb information when it is offered to them. Not always so with grown ups, especially those of the family variety who mean so well with their language of love and playfulness with food. It is an undefined cross-section of power, convenience, love and misunderstanding. I am not always sure of which one is more damaging – only that I know that it offends me greatly when my choices as a mother are not respected. That is to say, when my food and lifestyle choices are criticised. This mostly comes down to family history of food behaviours  based on comfort and habit. It has a lot to do with opinions and mis-nformation completely disabling our right to choose health for our children. I am not a purist when it comes to my or my children’s eating habits. I consider myself a “conscious eater”. I am trying to teach my children the same approach to their food.  It doesn’t always work, and I do not play preacher but I do want them to learn to consider their food and body when and how they eat. I watch them scurrying through our vegetable patch crunching on cucumbers like they just found a pot of gold. I celebrate that, I join them. I use their curious impulses to develop a sense of wonder in good food; how it is grown and why it is important to us. Now please believe me when I say that just as that is my ‘choice’ to raise them this way that I do not judge ‘others’ in doing it their way. Mothering/parenting is a tough gig and it requires immense effort, patience, endurance & stamina. And that is why when my children are taunted by relatives about being taken to McDonald’s to spite me, given fizzy Cola drinks, or are bought bags of lollies to “pig out” like kids do and should I start to feel bewildered, frustrated and a little damn angry. Or when I hear about mothers being questioned and challenged about their food choices for their children. Publicly. Condescendingly. I start to wonder how in a world where childhood obesity, diabetes, behavioural disorders and junk food addictions are rife that anyone could be so ignorant or dismissive. And it doesn’t end with food….. Why so self-righteous? Because it is my choice, my profession, my passion and belief. I live this shit. If you want your children to enjoy water don’t give them sugary fizzy drinks – water loses its appeal by comparison;  if you want them to eat fresh vegetables and living fruit don’t dose them up on empty dead pre-packaged foods that are high in sugar, salt and trans fats. Entire food empires depend on this kind of flavour trickery. If you want your children to be adventurous with tastes/textures you need to teach them how and why it is important. And then you need to teach them again and again, over and over, month after month until they get it. And they will! If you are stuck in a rut with food, it is likely they will learn to be too. A child’s brain and taste receptors are being built from the time of conception and well beyond. How you imprint this physiological miracle is your choice – either way! Your journey and theirs. It does not and should not belong to other people whose opinions of health and nutrition are coming from a place of spite or control and even malevolence. There are some people who walk the purist line with food and children that may be interpreted as cruel, there are two sides of the coin. But on behalf of those of us who are making nourishing and educated choices for our children’s future well-being I would like to extend this invitation to any doubters/challengers to celebrate our effort with us; encourage and support us in our free choice to nurture healthy, strong, free range individuals. The world needs more grown ups like this, and grown ups start as little beings like our children. And healthy children become healthy adults who then create and contribute to healthier communities. Is this something we seriously have to defend? Below: Little Mr 3 took a long time to come around……and it was all worth it! Xmas13 086

4 responses

  1. Mel the way I see it is there a few things going on. People who don’t appreciate what you are about, are pretty much just innocently ignorant, or arrogantly resentful/ feel inadequate in relation to your commitment, passion, and knowledge (as in relatives in your example), or they might also need to simply get a life and stop ruining others for their quick kicks. Yes it bewilders me also that if they want to spoil kids, why they have to give them rubbish down their throats…why not spoil them with a day at the beach when mum cant take them, or to an adventure park, mini golf , teach them to play cards and board games etc…with a picnic of yummy fruits that poor young parents cant afford on a daily basis…like letting them pig out on fresh cherries and mangoes and figs and the like…I too don’t understand it. Yes choccy at easter and fizzy at Christmas and a cake of their choice for birthdays (which if they eat healthy they probably don’t even fancy…one of mine said yep a mud cake but no icing its sickening…the other…oh mum can I just have a T-bone and prawns!)…..but eating shit for laziness or “its the times” sake….bizarre to me as well.

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  2. and…whilst on the subject. I always made healthy bars/muffins etc for my kids for school lunches, and as I found out down the track, my pair (wanting a little bit of yummy rubbish every now and then) would trade their homemade health snacks for chips and other rubbish that parents would pack DAILY for their kids for recess. So all the parents that pack chips and premix fake cheese/bikki combo packs and all that jazz, might be well surprised at how often they would prefer something decent if the effort was there to put it in their lunchbox. Mine (now in high school) have wised up even further…and now sell yummy recess snacks and sushi rolls for pocket money. So who says that “purists” are tyrants…..certainly not the kids if given the chance to eat healthy…..I firmly believe childhood obesity truly IS a result of laziness and resulting bad habits forced on them and nothing else. (genuine medical conditions aside obviously)

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  3. This is possibly the most amazing piece of writing I’ve read since having my son. I could have written every word of it. At times it seems like I am the only person on the planet who does not allow my child to eat sugar. I’ve taken up baking all our snacks so he can have healthy, sugar free, slices and cakes. He has vegetables for dinner every night… at times we are given strange looks when we choose not to give him hot chips, or lollies at parties. His first birthday was a lolly free zone, and to the surprise of most parents… their kids didn’t even notice their wasn’t plates of sugary goodness everywhere. They were too busy running around, being kids. It was almost a social experiment to me. But like you say, it frustrates, and angers me beyond belief when friends and relatives still try to offer my son junk food… even knowing our stance on it. I constantly tell them he doesn’t eat it. Whilst they listen to us while we are there… I wonder if the outcome is different when we are not around. I feel like posting a copy of this blog on their fridge, and telling them to read it carefully. He is my child, I grew him, birthed him, and whilst I have control over what he eats I WILL ensure that he eats healthy food. I am not delusional.. I know one day he will eat junk food, go to maccas… but hopefully by spending a few years drumming into him the benefits of healthy food, he will snub that, and know that its an “occasional” food. I will then know that I have done my best to lead him in the right direction to make his own healthy decisions.
    Thank you again… I LOVE this article.

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    • Thank you Sam! I really feel for you. It is insane that choosing health for our kids can be such a challenge for those around us. It makes trusting others difficult when our children are in the care of others who do not respect our choices. My own mother, the very next day after writing this blog sent M&M’s home with my kids. (She had not read the blog at that stage). I was in disbelief! It seems like it is just too hard for others when really the hard work starts with us, daily – hourly even. I am not sure what the answers are. I don’t wish to deprive my children, I believe balance is important. But I damn well believe in what I do nutritionally also. Thanks for your kind words and Good Luck!! Melanie x

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