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effective, non-judgemental ways to influence others?

I just wrote the following piece on the site, and I hope to get some good ideas from the community. fire away.....

-Habib


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Sun. May 31, 10:17pm

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One trend I have observed, when eating in the homes of others, is parents serving alternate meals or courses for their children. I think this discourages children from learning to enjoy a wider variety of foods. My children are served whatever I have prepared for dinner (no special adaptations), and whenever they have told me that that don't like something I have served, I have told them not to tell me what they don't like, but simply leave the item on their plate. I've explained to them that I spent time and energy preparing the meal, and to hear that they don't like it is discouraging. I've asked them to use their manners and simply leave the food on the plate if they don't like it. They usually try most things, and usually enjoy most of what they are served. Whenever we cater too much to our children, we actually unknowingly handicap them in some way. I suppose you are raising the warning about nutritionally handicapping them, and so many of us must be doing this because of the standard items available on restaurant children's menus--the same chicken nuggets, mac-n-cheese, grilled cheese and pizza, and fries always seem to be the default side. I can almost hear the waiter's surprise as we ask for a vegetable or fruit side instead of the fries. My kids ask for the fries, but I remind my children we can have those any time, and when we have other options, we should take them. They never make too big a fuss about it because of the standard set at home (you have available the choices on your plate/the table). I think as with anything, more people are won over by consistently good examples rather than preaching. I am aware of the families in my community who have higher nutritional standards, and I am always positively influenced by their example. Thank you for yours.

Sunday, May 31, 2009, 11:35 PM

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a more confrontational approach

Habib, some of what you wrote about has to do with where one lives, and is a proximity issue. Where you went to grade school is still something like 15 miles from the nearest Wendy's; it's that you have moved as much as that the world has changed.

That said -- You think you are rude? In California people are protesting the placement of fast food restaurants exactly where kids will walk to and from school. (Link goes to Berkeley Daily Planet.)

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Monday, June 01, 2009, 1:05 AM

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I don't think you were rude to say what you wanted for your children.. if they were vegetarian or diabetic or had a particular medical need you would be asking the same question.. why does health not fit into the category of having a dietary need..

Just because something is an unspoken rule does not make it ok.. challenge the views of others.. push the boundaries - it's the only way to progress.

Good on you for saying something!

Monday, June 01, 2009, 1:34 AM

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Habib - I'm at a loss, too. I feel like...well, I don't know what I feel like, but I find myself keeping it 'a secret' that my kid has never been to McDonald's - as if by saying that, I'm judging the choices of other parents. And, deep down, maybe I am. Like the question you posed, 'Why is that the default?' Why there? What that?

I know countless friends who say they try and give their kids good food, but end up making the mac and cheese and nuggets every night when their kids complain. My first thought is, well why in the heck would they try anything else if they always have the back up meal available? (Kids wont 'only eat', kids are 'only served.') My second thought is, what's the bigger goal here? Good nutrition or 30 minutes of peace? I usually look to the bigger picture when it comes to parenting, and it's not always the most pleasant, peaceful choice in the moment - but big picture - it's the right choice for us.

I keep coming back to: the path of least resistance. I have to listen to nightly complaints from my daughter, but I do, b/c what's the alternative - give her the crap she craves and wants so I don't have to listen to the grousing?

It is an interesting topic, for sure. It's strange to feel like I have to go underground with my nutrition concerns - and I'm not even a hard core food purist! I'm just trying to find balance in a mac and cheese world!

Monday, June 01, 2009, 7:57 AM

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Kids Eating Right

My kids generally ate at home thanks to my husband who is great at making wonderfully tasting healthy food; the only time we went to Macdonald's was for a toy and they hated the actual food and wouldn't eat the happy meal. When we need a quick meal, we are fortunate to be able to go to local Mediterranean, Mexican, Sushi type places and get relatively healthy food. I also think it is a huge cultural thing and sitting with our in-laws for dinner on a regular basis gave an excellent foundation to us all! Italians know how to eat and live, but its hard to do in the US. Basically, we ignored all the hype and did what we felt best. Somehow our kids (now 16 and 18) are pretty healthy eaters. The other related issue is then the teenage eating disorders, which we've seen with some of our close friends.

Monday, June 01, 2009, 11:50 AM

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I too try to fix the healthiest foods for my family - we bake our own bread, tortillas, cakes, pancakes, and ice cream from scratch. We rarely buy items from the center of the grocery, but we do. So, I agree with all that has been posted.

I do want to bring up another point, however. Isn't our job as parents to teach moderation? It is teaching after all. Our children will leave us one day and be in the land of fast food. It will be their choice. So, I would rather teach them how to eat instead of keeping some foods as forbidden.

My husband grew up without sugary cereals. When he became an adult, he binged on them because he was never allowed to eat them at home. So, we compromise. For St. Patrick's Day every year, we buy a box of Lucky Charms. Yes, my husband still eats it. It teaches our children that you can eat things that aren't healthy, but eat them in moderation.

When my children come home from eating with friends' houses for dinner, we talk about what they had. It's funny that my kids eat the veggies that are served. They like that the parents comment that their kids never eat the veggies.

As parents, we are laying the foundation for how our children will eat for the rest of their lives, but we can't control it 100% of the time.

Monday, June 01, 2009, 12:28 PM

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"Mac and Cheese Moms"

I think the phenomenon of "Mac and Cheese Moms" is partially cultural. My parents fed me "right" but it was all they knew. In their culture serving vegetables and rice was the norm. Nothing special in their minds.

The Mac and Cheese moms are, for lack of a better word, generally "white americans" where that food is part of their culture. So you have to be careful- when you question a Mac and Cheese mom, you are partially questioning their identity from what I have seen.

Monday, June 01, 2009, 12:36 PM

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You can substitute mac and cheese for any number of 'foods' and the issue remains the same.

Monday, June 01, 2009, 1:08 PM

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my mom had the same feedback- i sent her the article and this was her response:

"Eating habits, as I see them, are cultural. I fed you guys what I was fed growing up (except fish was forbidden by Nani) ... albeit cooked by servants who were trained by my Dadi. Though i had to replicate that food without servants.

 I continue to be stunned by what people here put into their shopping carts. Everything for speed, convenience and, in Maine, for economics (thus instant mac and cheese and whoopie pies). 

I was at the Brooklyn Heights library and sitting next us was a chinese toddler with his Phillippino nanny. She pulled out a container of some rice and vegetable preparation that both the chinese kid ( and S.) gobbled up.

I'm off now to cook my Happy Meal: Dal and rice, dal chawal."

-Habib

Monday, June 01, 2009, 1:35 PM

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I have recently done a purging of my cupboards of all the foods with chemicals/harmful preservatives, etc...i.e "poisons" I could find. I now try to make and buy only whole foods (either had a mother or grew from the ground), organic where possible. Believe me when I say that I get made fun of daily because I of the food choices I make for myself and my kids. These things are so prevelant, it has just become acceptable to ingest them in large quantities.

My mother has just left after babysitting my kids for a week and I have to re-detox my cupboards again...so I am very aware of the pressures to just accept that my kids will eat the trans fat laden crackers every now and again; I'll take the mockery anytime and maybe someday I'll find a way to help others taking care of my kids to understand why this is so imporant, but in the meantime, I completely understand the frustration.

Monday, June 01, 2009, 2:17 PM

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Habib-
I agree you are NOT rude for speaking your mind about the food choice that was being made for you kids. No one should make you feel bad/mad about it nor should they get upset either. I have 2 little kids and i do my very best to feed them the best i can most of the time-with a few 'bad' days here and there sad to say. It is very hard though like many of the others have said. We have to try though, or we are just giving up on our kids (and who wants to do that really?). My 5yr old son LOVES salad, especially when he gets to pick it out of our garden. And brocolli and brussel sprouts and asparagus...There aren't many fruits/veggies that my kids won't eat. If i try somethign new, they do to. (I use the same 3 bite rule my folks used on me.:)) Because of that, and some of the other articles i have read on PT and other sites-I am doing an overhaul in our pantry as well. The food companies and restaraunts aren't going to make our health their number one priority-that is our responsibility. And ours alone.

Monday, June 01, 2009, 2:41 PM

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Winning Souls to Good Food

Habib, food is cultural. I grew up with terrible eating habits, but they were glorified in my home. I thought you would appreciate this story. Our neighbors worked for the church - he was a music minister and she was a stay at home mom. Every meal was cooked from scratch, heavy on the veggies, and light on the meat. They never had soda pop or juice in their house. Now I look at their lifestyle and try to emmulate it in my own home. But when I was growing up, my family looked in on this and thought, "Holy Crap! They are barely getting by! Look at what they have to eat! If only she would get a job so those poor kids wouldn't have to live on nothing but vegetables and milk."

So, my mom would take over big Sam's Club packs of Bagel bites, frozen pizzas, tubs of ice cream, extra cases of pop, under the guise of "we bought more than we need and don't have room for the extra." Looking back, I bet his wife HATED having my mom fill her home with all this crap food that she would never have given to her kids, but my family was completely sold on the idea that packaged foods are: convenient, taste better, what kids want, and "cool". The wife never said anything other than "thank you". I'm pretty sure if she lectured my mom nothing would have happened to my eating habits, other than we wouldn't have played together anymore maybe. The thing is, my mom was really trying to give a well-intentioned gift. If the wife had said something I think my mom would have been humiliated and angered.

By continuing to accept all our packaged food, our families continued to have a relationship and I was exposed to their "real" food - can't say I was a convert or anything, but I think it was a good experience. On the other side, I am confident that in their household the wife's cooking definately stood up to the pre-pack cardboard that I grew up on, and I'm sure those kids felt mighty sorry for me never getting a made-from-scratch meal! Funny, but I bet being exposed to all the crap I ate made those "eat your veggies" rules ring even more true for my neighbors.

I think food is like religion to a certain extent. All you can do is live out your beliefs each day with your family. It is possible that if you have real and ongoing relationships with people who eat differently than you do, that maybe they will begin to ask questions about why you eat the way you do, and maybe you can ask why they eat the way they do. But overall, if you value a relationship with a person, it is probably best not to be too judgemental about their food choices. Only when someone's food choices begin to really infringe on your own is it necessary to act. Maybe that is why you had such a strong reaction. Just have confidence in the fact that your children do ultimately trust you to make good choices for them - if you set a good example, your kids will know that the "Wendy's Hero" was only offering false hope, and whether you accept the offer or kindly decline on the basis that you have other plans they will understand that Wendy's is not a real solution for a hectic schedule or any other life issue.
Just my two cents!

Monday, June 01, 2009, 4:14 PM

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I was a Mac n Cheese Mom; I was raised on it, loved it , loved making it for my kids too and eating their leftovers. But when my daughter became pregnant last year I bought her a copy of Dr. Fuhrman's 'Disease Proof Your Child" after reading Eat to Live and switching to a plant based diet myself. I was over visiting this morning and holding the baby (6 mo's) while my daughter pureed some sweet potato. I'm so proud of her. I guess what I am trying to say is that WE need to be the trend. We need to speak out about nutrition because we love our friends and neighbors and want what's best for them too. Okay, murky waters there, but all of the things we do now- setting a good example, providing a safe home environment, talking to our kids about nutrition and taking the time to let them be involved - maybe this is the trend we need - not keeping quiet about the health risks in our children's diets. But remember the polite way to correct, using the work "I". ie, I would rather go pick up something healthier, how about we go to subway? People may not like you rocking their boat, but if you show up with life preservers and a bucket they might react more favorably; try to have a solution at hand. Of course this is not pertinent to your situation since you were reacting from a deep emotional need, but going forward I think we need to do more of that; parents talking openly about nutritional choices & about the future health of our children - so your gut instict to say something was spot on, and kudos to you!

Our social lives have become so stressful; contending with 2 income families, so many things we just can't live without, and time wasted in commute traffic - it's no wonder the desire for quick, cheap, comfort food runs rampant. Healthy options will not come until we have a large enough voice, so please keep rocking that boat, and I will too, and so will our children, until one day....

ps I had Mac n Soy Cheeze for lunch yesterday ;)

Monday, June 01, 2009, 5:09 PM

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I never bring my kids to fast food joints or pizza places. But my husband does when i am at work sometimes :(

Monday, June 01, 2009, 5:37 PM

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My son is only 14 months old. When he first started eating solids, he ate every green thing and bean and lentil I gave him. But now it seems he only wants to eat bread, cheese and crackers. At least he loves fruit. But he won't eat veggies. I will try to make somethign I find online that's a "surefire" hit for toddlers, but it often goes on the floor.

So I find myself reaching for the bunny grahams or cheddar bunnies (pretty much junk, just the groovy "organic" version) because at least I know he'll eat that.

I still try to mix it up and offer beans and veggies but I can see how many busy parents, with the best of intentions, fall into the quick and easy trap. And then it becomes a habit.

As for your situation, I think in general people don't want to be told they're doing something wrong. I belong to another diet site and people have gotten so offended and pissed off when I've told them that eating an orange, a banana and a slim fast when they weight 250 lbs isn't going to help. Or that doing 200 crunches a day when they are overweight will probably only hurt their backs. I try to be as nice and as jokey and humble and not bossy as possible--but people still get really really offended.

Maybe on some level it will sink in and someone has to raise those questions. Hard to do it though without coming off as sanctimonious.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009, 8:08 AM

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very interesting question. And I have no idea what the answer is.

Friday, July 17, 2009, 12:12 AM

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On some level, I want my children to "have fun" and I think having fun is eating cake and ice cream and go to McDonalds. This is a great article.

Friday, August 21, 2009, 11:41 AM

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I'm a nanny and one of the things that I've noticed is the "superiority complex" that healthy families seem to have. Both of the children that I care for stick their noses up at people who don't buy organic food or eat at McDonald's every once in a while. Whenever we drive by a fast food restaurant they'll spout off the things their parents have told them: "Disgusting food - and it's so bad for you. It tastes awful!" --- Keep in mind that they've never even HAD any fast food, ever.

One of the kids had an overweight friend over and the moment his friend left when his father (also overweight) came to pick him up was: "They're both fat because they eat fast food and drink soda." -- Meanwhile the child that I care for is a little pudgy and eats "organic annie's mac and cheese" whenever he can and he has never had fast food or soda.

I believe in teaching proper nutrition and I agree with previous posters' comments regarding moderation, teaching a balanced diet and allowing them to try different things so they won't go over board when they're no longer under your roof......but try to do it nicely, ya know?

Eating organic food, shopping at the most expensive grocery store in the city, and not eating fast food doesn't make you royalty.

Friday, August 21, 2009, 11:29 PM

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Advocate One Kid at a Time

Habib,

I I grew up in a greens, beans, and corn every day family, but fast food was a financial luxury as well as limited to McDs 8 miles away. Nevertheless, we were still high starch, sugar, salt, and vinegar Southerners. It is a process.

Basically, parents need to know that the food is accessible, inexpensive, a quick solution, and their kids will eat it.. Honestly, not everyone cooked before they had kids. We are marrying and having children later and later resulting in less financial and lifestyle adjustments. With only one or two kids, a lifestyle change just may not have been that dramatic to force a slow-down in restaurant eating. Good food "out" tends to be pricier unless you are in a highly urbanized area. For instance, it is actually cheaper and fresher to eat in the street than at home in NYC.

Parents don't always want the fight. I've noticed, however, if their child amazingly consumes fruit at Johnnie's, then Mom says, "well, he will eat it. So I WILL serve it at home." So, continue serving your usual at home, and tell neighbor mom how well her son joey liked dipping the carrots in hummus. As an advocate, send him home with the hummus and carrots in a baggie. If asked, you can say, I made it myself BUT YOU CAN buy it in snack packs at the grocery store for $1.50.

Also, when you take someone's kid, always remind the parents to send a water bottle and raisins or a piece of fruit for a snack in the car. If they don't, then provide the healthy alternative and inform the parents what you fed their kid (in a, oh your child was fed at this time and he might still be hungry or not, kind of informative way.) I and some others that I know do that and the kids usually have to eat their apple at the first sign of hunger. This prevents the parents from stopping for a snack (MCDs) bc the child is hungry and really does need SOMETHING to eat. Kids eat like every three hours or less and alwasy need SOMETHING to eat right away. (in reality, they do need the snack. The problem is they don't have anything in the car, so the quick stop for some fries.)

Finally, find the healthier options in your neighborhood. FF is here to stay, but their are options. Non-greasy MExican food, spring rolls instead of egg rolls, farmstand fruits, yogurt or choc covered almonds from corner grocery, lesser of evils at FF, a salad or fruit alt with every burger. Know where kids eat free. Peer pressure does work. If your kids order and eat veggies, Neighbor will feel indirect pressure to feed her kid something more nutritious without a word said. In fact, Johnny might share his food with Chris AND LIKE IT. Remember, it is just a snack, most of the time it is somethign to eat on the way home until Mom fixes dinner.

As for parties at your house, forcing a kid to eat a meal is a pain for Mommie. No one wants to leave another parent with the burden of making Joey eat. But kids LOVE FRUIT. My sister serves hot dogs, water melon, fruit skewers, baked beans, and veggie sticks wtih dip, lesser of the evils chip, and ice cream at her birthday parties. Kids love dipping; and they love fruit. Another way to promote easy nutritious fun food.



I also notice that showing parents different WAYS to present food helps.

Also, advice to parents that help with time management -- packaged veggie snacks, baked chips, healthy food as a science experiment, gardening (no fuss herb gardening) as a familyactivity; exchanging salad and dip recipes, batch cooking and make-ahead meals -- stirfry and slow cooker dump-ins.

Monday, September 21, 2009, 11:53 AM

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Tact

I find that people respond really well when you stay focused on the positive. I've shared with a bunch of parents how cheap and easy it is to have little, snackable raw veggies around like grape tomatoes and mini cucumbers and snap peas. Kids love them, and I can toss them on a plate with any main course and not have to cook a side. They're easy to pack in lunches or just to keep in the car for when kids get hungry. Same with fruit. I keep a bowl full of fruit on the table at all times so that when I have a hungry kid, I just point to the bowl. No work for me. Everyone is looking for a short cut. Moms love to hear that they can make healthier choices for their kids by NOT COOKING! Raw stuff rocks.

Monday, November 02, 2009, 1:13 AM

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Trying to influence others is judgemental in itself.

Instead of worrying about what other people are doing or thinking or how they are feeding themselves, stick with your own plan, focus on your own children, while at the same time keeping in mind the people that you and your children have to face.

Develop tools that help you and your children stand strong against the "groupthink" that you mention.

Try not to get too caught up in changing the world.

Monday, November 02, 2009, 7:49 AM

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Kids and Food

I agree with another comment that you could have politely suggested subway or some other healthy option, I don't think many parents would have argued that, we're fast paced and it's easy not to think about food options, I think we all realize that.

You mentioned that you can't forbid your kids to eat what other kids are eating and I agree to some extent. I am saddened at the state of the public school provided meals. My daughter is only 4, but I had her in daycare for 2 years and the center was switching to a meal plan provided by a local school. The healthiest thing was a processed turkey dog and the most horrible thing I think was a flapstick (a sausage link wrapped in a pancake, breakfast version of a corndog, new to me too). I began calling other daycare centers because I didn't want to pack her lunch every day and make her feel different from the other kids. I found the same thing at every one I called, with one exception 30 miles away. What bothered me the most is when I would call centers and ask about dietary, they would give me some textbook response about how their meal plan is approved by the State requirements and I would make some response about how I don't need the state setting requirements and why does every place in town go with minimum requirements. Needless to say, she stayed at her center and I packed her lunch every day. That is a big issue that doesn't seem to be addressed, unfortunately there isn't a healthy diet lobby!

I would also like to throw in, if you would like to pass it along....I would like to see Dr. Fuhrman write a book that is Eat for Health for Kids. Now that my daughter is 4 years old, I have been struggling to keep her eating and me eating healthy. I did Eat for Health for a couple of weeks and it was a constant struggle. Trust me, I know it's important, but at the same time it is very tiring when I am trying to so hard to do this and have one more battle to fight. Aren't there recipes that hide the vegetables from kids? I would have thought she'd go for the meatloaf, but apparently if it has green, she doesn't want to eat it. I'm hoping it's a phase she's going through because I don't generally have problems with her, she'll eat broccolli plain or green beans, but beyond that she won't eat greens. She won't eat raw vegetables, and she goes through phases with fruit. She used to eat an apple every day for months and now she won't touch them. I would love to see a plan for kids that I could follow too. I might actually be successful, I always put her first over myself as it is.

-Stephanie

Wednesday, January 06, 2010, 8:36 AM

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I think you are starting to see the default change beacuse the parents now are those also raised on the default. As we get older, the parents we speak of are now the grandparents.
I think of this actually as an issue of %s. Just like I feel if I can change my diet to be quality 80-90% of the time, so can you do that for your kids.
Then the random Wendys will hopefully not have the impact it does in a sedentary child raised on crap.
I never had to deal with sitters etc so I don't know how that works. I controlled the food supply for a lot of years but then of course the real world creeps in and kids buy things themselves.
All you can do is lead by example and keep giving the good stuff so that they like healthy as well as the junk. Hopefully at some point they will establish the default based on your example.
These are larger issues. Why do som eparents take the kids to the park and other use the TV/video as a babysitter etc. I'm not sure you can change the world. I have all I can do changing my universe;=) Happy Meal...LOL Poor Habib- you're outnumbered ;=)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010, 9:43 AM

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Hi Habib,

based on the comments here, I would love to read the article but the link doesn't seem to be working! Anywhere else it can be found?

To Stephanie:
Start your daughter on green smoothies (google for ideas). It'll be one of the best things you'll ever do for her health! And Dr. Fuhrman's 'Disease Proof Your Child' may be of interest to you!

Saturday, January 09, 2010, 2:00 AM

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To PP
Try this http://www.peertrainer.com/why_are_kids_diets_not_a_priority.aspx

Habib,

I don't have an answer, but I do have an observation. I run across far more mothers on here that say that because the children are home (weekend, vacation, etc) their (the mom's) diet suffers, than I hear moms talking about other people's choices affecting their children. Default is the perfect word. These parents, on meals eaten at home, with no guests, and no cooks other than themselves, expect to feed their children badly, and lament the ill effects on their OWN diets. One parent has a 6 year old and a 7 year old, hardly surly demanding teenagers, and expected to have a rough weekend because "good eating goes out the door" (or something similar to that). I was stymied by the matter of fact way she equated childhood with bad nutrition. Not groupthink, something baser.

By the way, I only said "mothers" because only the mothers in my teams are talking about children. No fathers. I am not sexist.



Link

Sunday, January 10, 2010, 12:09 PM

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One of the best damn articles I've ever read. No way to avoid offending someone while being up front and honest about such a widespread problem. People in this country have accepted a draining lifestyle that they aren't wired to endure. Correct choices become short-circuited unless one steps backs and decides to go against the grain and choose a more deliberate and meaningful existence. Sadly, most of us allow ourselves to get swept away.

Monday, March 29, 2010, 8:54 AM

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Wow I was just mulling this subject over in my mind last night. I was thinking of that family mentioned in Joshua's article. The family where everyone was obese and that British guy (can't remember his name) came to overhaul their diet, and try to make it more healthy. How can it get to the point where parents feed kids junk even though there are health risk looming in the future? Maybe even the near future? Convenience? Money? Some peoople think eating that way is more economical. Or they just don't pain care. Plus the food is so stinkin' addictive.

It's great for those who were raised in a healthy environment. I was raised on hot dogs, bologna, fried potatoes, and fried chicken. Over the past year I have been cleaning my cupboards and fridge of the toxic food. I try to get my son to eat healthy but we started bad habits and just need to start reinforcing better habits. I buy the food and that is what I need to do.

My son is not overweight and is active and healthy. I want to keep him that way. I am going to be more proactive and creative about the food I serve him. I am going to do the research and find tasty ways to serve kids healthy meals.

As for the group think I agree. It bothers me to see kids who are overweight or obese already. Something needs to change I agree.

Monday, March 29, 2010, 1:26 PM

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This is how I feel all the time. I feel like the "health food nazi" because I insist my children eat fruit and vegetables, and my MIL gets offended when I ask her not to feed them candy. When we do go out to McD's with friends, I would like to insist on the apple slices instead of the fries, but every other parent automatically orders the fries. Why are fries the default (and fast food for that matter?) I feel like there's no way out of this conundrum. The most frustrating thing is that my kids will easily eat all kinds of fruit and veggies at home, but the default that is out there is so hard to fight against.

And for those parents who insist that their kids "won't" eat vegetables, I can tell you from experience, kids will eat all kinds of things if they're hungry enough. I know some people will insist that it causes trauma, but if you don't give your kid ANYTHING but healthy options, they will eat it! I've had lots of evenings where our son wouldn't eat something, went to bed hungry, and then shoveled it down the next morning and asked for more! I won't force him if he's tried it a few times and really doesn't like it, but we always have more than one veggie, and he always finds something to eat that he can stand.

Monday, March 29, 2010, 4:11 PM

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wow, I don't think I've ever read that another mom never took her kids to McDonalds. Yea! My children 13 and 15 have never been to McDonalds. I thought they would eventually go with other people, but luckily we have dodged that bullet. It is a strange to hear the reactions of people when you say you have never been there. It is like you are unAmerican. We also do not have TV. That is another issue for people. We certainly belong to this country and my children still know about commercials and pop culture, but I can't imagine being any more involved by watching TV. Sometimes we hit fast food places, but that is the exception as Habib mentioned. I'm not a purist either. But somebody has to put on some brakes.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010, 9:55 AM

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The other day, as I ate my daughter's leftovers - a few apple slices, half an orange, and some green peppers w/ hummus - it dawned on me... one of the benefits of feeding the *whole* family healthily is that I can eat the kids' leftovers without guilt! : )

Wednesday, March 31, 2010, 8:01 AM

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Kids and Junk Food

I have said something many times in as nice a way as I can. Some families who have lived on junk food and are fat and have fat kids, are finally starting to bring those veggie plates to school. Our grammer school really started pushing for healthy snacks with notes home from the nurse. Then a few really health concious teachers started saying if the parents didn't send healthy snacks, the kids could not eat them in class. Still there are some parents who are still sending all of the junk in the lunch boxes, and my son says the food at school is garbage so except for a few things, my kids bring their own healful lunches. Generally my kids eat healthy, but there are those busy days where there is no place to stop for a quick healthy meal except the junk food giants. Even if a place just sold fresh sandwiches, it would be better then what we are stuck with.

I believe the reason we are not seeing these places open up is because the majority of people eat bad.....especially in the midwest where we are. My parents fed us junk like hot dogs, spam, pork and beans and casserols, whatever was cheep. As we got older, my siblings kept with those standards and the outside junk food. I went to healthy. After being with my husband, the pounds started packing on. When I got my kids, I was determined to feed them better and realy took over that job, carrying a cooler full of food etc.

Now I find myself fat, and a bad example for them, so I am back to work to feed myself like I feed my kids. I just tell my kids, that too much junk food and no activity kills you. When other kids come to my house they just want the junk their parents feed them. I try to make foods they like but my way and hide nutritional food inside. My kids know that it is there, but they don't say anything.....they want to live a long healthful life, and they keep me accountable. They are 12 and 13, and say they try to talk to their friends, but they look at them like they are nuts while they stuff their face with junk provided at school and by their parents and get fat and sick. Sometimes my kids say it get hard to resist. We are going to start making some homemade junk they can bring to school and not have dumps in their blood sugar.

Monday, April 05, 2010, 8:11 PM

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We need more a**holes! BTW, I don't have kids, but am the a**hole auntie and quite proud of it! When the "nice" person at the bank offers the child I have with me (I babysit alot) a cookie, I tell her "no thanks, we don't need the extra sugar" and walk away. I am sure she is thinking about how mean I am, but why do they need a cookie? If they offered a banana, I might say yes!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 10:41 AM

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feeding kids crap

i live in hampton bays, ny. when the PTA overruled my decision to keep 'pizza party' off the list of rewards for collecting box tops, i had no choice but to resign my position as chairperson of the fund raising committee.

food is not a reward. food is nourishment.

i have been working with the wellness committee of our school district to write into our district-wide wellness policy that 'food should not be given as a reward or incentive.' you would think: who could argue with that? but, let's see if it actually gets passed.

i really don't care if i am blacklisted. i stand proud knowing that my stand is right. because in the end, it's right vs. wrong, and i don't abuse my kids.

Thursday, June 10, 2010, 3:03 PM

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influencing others

I try to keep it short and sweet so hopefully they don't get defensive and think I'm attacking them. It's not always them, it's their misinformed choices afterall. (Yes, there are situations where it's THEM, but those generally aren't people I really associate with anyway. Most of my friends, family and aquaintances are just misinformed, not lazy slobbish pigs who couldn't care less if they feed their kids crap -- cause there are some parents out there who ARE like that).

Anyway, I just say "No thank you, we're trying to cut back on sugar."

Unfortunately, I can't just make dinner and expect if my kids get hungry enough they will eat whatever, because regretably they have the option to just wait til tomorrow and gorge themselves on standard American fare at the babysitter's the next day. (She would likely serve nothing but hot dogs, bologna, chips and fast food if I didn't bring over canned and fresh fruits and vegetables every week for my kids to eat while they're at her house.) They still eat more junk over at her place than I'd like though - weekly trips to White Castle or McDonald's, fried chicken or pork chops. Luckily, my kids are pretty good about limiting this stuff. They will put down a McDonald's cheeseburger halfway through eating it if they're starting to get full. I think if I completely outlawed all fast food and junk food they'd probably gorge themselves on it at their house any chance they got. But I try to educate them and let them make their own choices sometimes. And they do really well considering their ages (all under 6). The waitresses are usually shocked when we're at a restaurant and I ask them what side they want with their kid entree and they say "broccoli" instead of fries, or even "water!" instead of soda - gasp! :) I've seen people's jaws literally drop when I give my kids the option to order anything and they choose fruit, veggies or water. They don't ALWAYS make those choices, but I make sure to praise them when they do. And going out to eat and junk food is VERY limited for us. It's definitely something that's a treat for them, especially soda which is really rare - maybe once a month.

Not only do we have a double-tiered produce basket out on the counter that always has several selections (usually clementines/oranges, apples and bananas, sometimes peaches, plums, pears, even pomegranate!) that they always know they can grab a piece if they want a snack, but our fridge is usually overflowing with fruits & veggies. We counted 20 different kinds of fruit & veggies the other night. :)

Our first stop in the grocery store is the produce section and I basically make it a given assumption that they're going to have fresh fruits & veggies. We start off every grocery trip with "Okay, pick out what fruits & veggies you all want!" Instead of me having to force them to eat certain things (which is understandable if they don't want to eat something -- there's some fruits & veggies even *I* don't like!), they end up surprising me with what they want to try: starfruit, kiwi, even sprouts and raw kale! And invariably when it's something that *they* selected, it becomes their favorite! Ha! :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010, 5:31 PM

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Hilarious

Habib I really loved your article, and your humorous comments that you interspersed occasionally cracked me up!! As an educator and TV producer of health programming, I would have loved having you on one of the programs.....You are right on.

Link

Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 10:21 AM

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Rolling a Boulder uphill

The problem has grown incrementaly with the increase of craziness in everyones lives.

Sometimes it is which came first the chicken or the egg (or lack of it).

I think it is a problem that has many prongs.

First i think all junk food adds should be banned. I think this constant bombardment with advertising makes it more acceptable.

Second, Parents have to lower their activity levels and spend more time with their children. They need to set the example. By giving in to the kids wants to keep the piece shows a lack of parential leadership. When family time was shared then mealtime became something more of an example.

Third, in many cases food choices are dictated by dollars. As long as good food is more costly then junk (either bought in the supermarket or at fast food) it is truely an uphill battle.





Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 12:19 PM

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