The New Food Rules for Families

Do you live to eat or eat to live?

One of the greatest benefits of living in North America is that there is food. Everywhere.

Even if you’re a homeless person living on the streets, you still have access to food kitchens. People will inevitably feel sorry for you and give you food — maybe not the best food or the food you want, but you’ll still have something to put in your belly. And I hesitate to mention it in case you think I actually think this is the best idea, but there are garbage cans outside of restaurants that contain half eaten meals, kitchen mess-ups, and other things like that.

You can walk into the dollar store and buy yourself a half decently balanced meal.

Fast food restaurants now serve salads along with their greasy burgers and oiled up french fries.

Everywhere you go, there is food, and lots of it.

Look at the grocery store shelves. Aisles and aisles filled with more food than you can imagine. Rows of fresh fruits and vegetables, coolers full of gallons of clean milk, and freezers full of frozen meals and conveniently packaged vegetables.

You can even buy bottled water. Paying for water is not something I ever did as a child, but today, most people don’t think twice about it.

What fascinates me the most is how food has changed.

As a kid, my typical school day menu would look something like this:

Breakfast – toast topped with margarine, honey or home made jam. Brown bread bought from the store.

Lunch – brown bread sandwich with a slice of deli ham, two homemade chocolate chip cookies, and a fruit – either an apple or an orange. And to drink, a juice box or a thermos filled with fruit punch.

Supper – sausage, potatoes topped with salad dressing, and corn. Dessert might be a bowl of ice cream with homemade fudge sauce or two more chocolate chip cookies. Milk to drink.

Thirty years later, this is what my kids eat today:

Breakfast – homemade banana bread, or homemade french toast would be their favourite. They’re pretty picky. They go through phases – last year they ate a lot of hot oatmeal from the package and toasted blueberry bagels, store bought of course. And no margarine in my house. I found out it was one molecule shy of being plastic.

Lunch – pizza pop wraps, pizza buns, or toasted sandwiches; veggies and dip; some sort of fruit – bananas, grapes, watermelon, apples, or easy peel mandarins. Then they scour the cupboards for more – pretzels, crackers, yogurt are all fair game. If I’ve made cookies in the last 24 hours, they eat as many as I let them. A double batch of cookies might last 72 hours in my house.

After school snack – fruit and cardboard crackers. Anything that is somewhat “dessert-ish”.

Supper – meatloaf or baked chicken or some protein source. A salad. A carbohydrate like potatoes, rice, or pasta. Dessert? Always. Or we’ll make something like s’mores in the toaster oven.

Evening Snack – popcorn, homemade nuts and bolts.

Do you see the difference?

We eat a lot more food. And we eat more often.

And it seems to me that I — the mother — am preparing a lot more food. I think my Mom had an easier time that I did. Plus, she only had two kids who combined, had the appetite of ONE of my children. In case you forgot, I have five hungry children.

We need to bring back simplicity.

Let kids know that if they don’t like what’s put before them, tough luck. Eat it or weep. Or go to bed.

We tip toe around our children trying to make them happy all the time. You don’t like brown bread sandwiches? Let me drive down to McDonald’s and buy you a Happy Meal. Do you want a cheeseburger or chicken McNuggets with that?

Rewarding them with food.

When did that start? Sugar for every kid that goes to the doctor, finishes their work in class, or places nicely without fighting?

Wow, you finished reading 5 books? Here’s a candy!

What happened to stickers?!!

What does this teach them?!

Anything useful? Does this build character? Nothing, no, and obviously not.

Maybe a bread and water diet is what the doctor should prescribe.

But wait, we can’t even do that. We’re Paleo, or gluten-free. We don’t eat bread.

Put your sandwich meat between two slices of lettuce. Make sure they’re organic! Oh, and make sure the sandwich meat is nitrate-free, or better yet, take the meat from the organic, farm-raised chicken you spent all day roasting yesterday. That’s much healthier.

And Child and Family Services would probably take my kids away from me if I had the nerve to try the bread and water diet.

Not only have we made our kids pickier, we adults are making up new rules for what is and isn’t healthy.

Who’s confused now? Just me?

Stop the madness.

Bring back the simplicity of eating food without labelling it.

Stop over analyzing it’s nutritional content.

Stop questioning whether it’s been sprayed with the toxic or the non-toxic chemicals.

Eat when you’re hungry. And stop when you’re satisfied.

Eat food with friends. Stop hiding and hoarding food unless that’s what you want your kids to grow up and do.

Eat whole foods most of the time, but don’t stress about it.

Help your children by creating a healthy food environment in your home.

No banned foods. Just tasty foods. Without crazy, obsessive labels.

Just. Eat.



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