Who has time for healthy food?
As a parent, one of our most time-consuming activities is feeding our prodigy. It’s a human right, and a huge responsibility – one that no one really talks about before you get pregnant, and by then it’s too late! You are saddled with worries like, “what am I going to put in her lunch today – I haven’t gone grocery shopping yet? Why won’t he eat this beautiful meal I so lovingly prepared? “Oh, can we just order out tonight, I’m too tired to cook healthy.” for the rest of your life. Well, at least for eighteen years.
So, can we just do what our parents did, and hold dessert hostage unless you eat every scrap off your plate, or throw whatever pre-packaged snacks into their lunch bags as you rush them out the door?
Sure. Why not? Many time-stressed parents do this all the time.
In my opinion, you can do this some of the time. BUT, from my training as a nutritionist I can tell you with authority: What you eat matters, and what your kids eat matters too.
Really? Think about it. In order to grow, run, jump, play, and talkback to their parents, our child's bodies have to have fuel, break it down into minuscule particles that the body can absorb, and convert this food into the energy and building blocks their bodycells need. So what do our bodies use….anything they are given. Yes, your child cab use the transfats in Oreo cookies to build brain cells or energy for their muscles from the sour gummy worms. Our bodies are very clever that way – the best at recycle, reuse when good new building materials aren’t available (think of osteoporosis in aging adults using up their calcium).
So feeding your child fresh food that is prepared simply is important. Our bodies need proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and lots of vitamins and minerals. Where do we get them? From real food – food that looks like it came from a plant is whole food (eg. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes). Food that is directly from an animal (eg. Raw milk, eggs, fish) is also real food. These foods have the most nutrients for our bodies. As we prepare them in many ways the food is processed. Vitamins, minerals and other nutritious components of the food are lost during processing. So the blue fruit roll up that doesn’t even vaguely resemble the “raspberry’ it is named after is a good example of an ULTRA-PROCESSED food. More on these later.
"Yeah, right. As if I have time to cook fresh food."
Time is in short supply. No kidding! An so are patience when your young growling hungry bear storms in afterschool. In my house the kids arrive home in this fashion:
"Don’t ask me about my day."
"Must. Eat. Food. Stop talking to me."
"Where is the FOOD? There is nothing in this house to eat! Ahh!!"
They rifle through the cupboards and fridge until find something easy - a package to open. They wolf down something, and slowly return to a human state again that can converse beyond grunts and monosyllables. For five minutes.
There is hope. After years, literally years, of having the real foods in the house, and showing the kids how to put cheese on crackers, munching on almonds, dipping carrot sticks in hummus, and making popcorn and smoothies…..they are doing it. My kids are feeding themselves better choices that have some decent nutrition. And serving it to their friends too. Finally!! So keep buying the fruits & veggies. Have the healthy snacks available. Your child’s good eating habits will help them enjoy better health in the long run. Even with the occasional blue raspberry treat.