Thursday, December 17, 2009's a soapbox!

There are some things that truly confuse me about the way some parents make choices. I'm not being judgmental, because I have yet to meet a mother who is trying to intentionally make bad choices for their child, but sometimes I just don't understand, given all the information out there, why some choices are made.

Food is a major example of this. Take the discussion I had the other night with a group of moms I hang out with. It was about sugar cookies and how mine "look funny." Well, they look funny because they are made with whole wheat flour and have flax seed in them. Sorry, that's what my kids* are used to. Why? Because you are going to put frosting on them and those particular ingredients do not change the taste, so why wouldn't you? If the kids always eat whole grains, they will never know anything again, why wouldn't you? The thing about it was that after I explained the difference, this group of moms just looked at me like I was from a different planet. They weren't convinced...oh well!

Another example is juice--it isn't in our house. Yes, my kids do drink it when visiting friends or whatever, but it just doesn't live here. Why would it? If you look at the ingredients list on most juices, the first ingredient is High Fructose Corn Syrup. Even if you choose natural, organic juices, you are still talking about a lot of sugar per serving, even if it is cane juice. Let's face it--you would never let your child sit down and eat 7-10 oranges in a sitting...and that is what you are giving them in the average glass of juice? Juice is simply the sugar and water of the fruit...none of the fiber or other "roughage" that you would get from eating a serving. Why not give them an apple and a glass of water? Again, it isn't that my kids never get juice, it is that they don't get it regularly. I don't think this makes me a bad parent, especially knowing what we now know about nutrition.

And don't even get me started on white bread--it should never even be introduced. If your kid only ever eats wheat, from the first taste of bread, they will never expect the blander flavor of white bread. My daughter was at a friend's house one time and at lunch she was served PB & J on white bread. She didn't like it. The bread was too "mushy" and the pb "didn't taste right (yes, we only eat natural pb, too!) She was very polite about it, but it just wasn't a taste she was used to. I don't think it is a bad thing that my kids prefer the taste of wheat.

Finally, we never go to fast food restaurants. Never. My kids have never eaten a Happy Meal or anything like that. There are two reasons for this: First, places like McDonald's or BK generally don't have vegetarian options, which means there isn't anything there for my kids to eat. Second, as a family, we don't agree with the business practices of these kinds of places. Now, I recognize how fantastically convenient it would be to not have these moral standards--I've been on a highway with hungry kids in the car and no place to go, I totally understand! But every time that has happened, we have discussed as a family what would happen to our dollars if we gave them to that particular franchise. And every time we agree that our dollars would be better spent elsewhere. We always manage to find a way through the situation. This is the one that I get made the most fun of for...people who can see their way around the juice thing and the whole wheat thing, always manage to make snide remarks about the fast-food thing. Not sure why. Again, given what we know now about nutrition and how fast-food is produced in this country, why would you make a different choice? If you never introduce your kids to the world of Happy Meals, they never know the difference. They just don't and they don't care.

I'm not trying to sway people to my way of believing--as I said, I start with the belief that I don't think you are out to hurt your children. But please, don't insult the way I'm doing it, either. My kids are far, far from neglected. Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up without white flour, fruit juice and Happy Meals, and she turned out just fine! (Like my kids, she grew up without TV too...but that is a topic for another day!)

*Also as an aside, I want to be clear that when talking about "my kids" and food choices, I'm only referring to the older ones...the 10-month-old is still about 85% exclusively breastfed and 15% simple veggies/fruit/oatmeal/rice combos. I know that will get people going as well--but there you have it!

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