Making fun of the RD’s Children’s Food
Quite often during the summer months, my family and I share weekends with my best friend’s family at their beach home. What started as two families renting a cottage together each summer is now, almost seven years later, a once-a-month occurrence. My friend has one son and two step children; amazingly, the children all get along beautifully and enjoy all of their activities from playing to eating. If outsiders, however, were to observe our food choices, they’d surely get a good laugh at us…just like my best friend does!
Mind you, there are three separate sets of children—all with different biological parents. You have Alex who is my friend’s biological son. He eats everything from sushi with eel to salmon over field greens or artificially flavored frozen ice sticks. Then there are Bridget and Ben who eat most things and get very excited about food but have had to retire their “clean the plate” club memberships. And finally, there are my wacky eaters! Bobby will eat the salmon but not the field greens. He will eat apple slices in an effort to prove that he has met his nutritional needs because he wants a cupcake. And then Billy: he’s the hummus and pretzel kid. But on one particular weekend, we didn’t have hummus and pretzels.
So, we made green waffles for breakfast. All of the children ate homemade waffles enhanced with green food coloring topped with Nutella. My boys ate only half a waffle while the other three kids gobbled up their entire waffles. Next, we had pizza for lunch; they all devoured that. When we stopped at a farm for some fall fun, they all had apple cider and selected snacks. My son Bobby chose a chocolate chip muffin for his snack but ate only two bites; Billy choose an apple-shaped Rice Krispy treat and ate a third of it. The other three children ate candy apples. I’m not sure how much they ate because I wasn’t watching.
And then, it was time for dinner. I didn’t bring along my kids’ special food preferences; sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. If I do, it’s because my kids are super picky and I want them to have a more nutritionally dense breakfast and dinner rather than one with artificial colors and flavorings. But here’s the caveat! The parents had prepared grilled salmon and swordfish over salad with homemade mashed potatoes for dinner…for everyone. Alex, Bridget and Ben happily ate their dinners and their greens. Bobby moaned until he finally decided to eat his salmon, but no greens; at least he did try some summer squash. Billy just sprawled himself over the bench and declared that he was not eating…which was fine with me except for the fact that he was interrupting our dinner.
So this is why my friend laughs. Her children certainly eat highly processed foods but they also eat wholesome real foods. And my kids are just fussy. They didn’t eat much dinner that night, but perhaps just enough to qualify for Betty Crocker cupcakes frosted with artificially colored green icing. And then, my older son Bobby ate about half of his little cupcake and my younger son Billy just licked the icing off his cupcake. So while my kids had made a scene, they didn’t really eat the cupcakes either. The other kids devoured theirs and even had seconds!
So why is it that my friend’s kids eat lots of everything and my kids eat less of some things? We joke that it’s not role modeling. She eats Lean Cuisine for dinner even if her kids eat a meal. That particular night, for example, she ate salad while we all ate carbs, proteins and fats. Her nanny cooks for her kids during the week, but their dads used to cook wholesome meals for them. (Maybe they learned from their dads?) I make wholesome meals for my kids now but my nanny cooked for them when they were very little.
So, what does this all mean? My kids don’t necessarily devour the fake food using artificial green food coloring (Yes, we added it directly to the waffle batter. And yes, I made tie-dyed pancakes the next morning using an assortment of these same dyes!), nor do they love a wide range of wholesome foods. They do love their regular foods and they eat enough of them.
The other kids may eat a greater variety of foods, but they also eat lots of boxed, processed foods. At the end of the day, I wish I knew the answer as to why this is the case. But for now all I can say is that I love my kids as they are—with all their wacky eating habits; they probably eat a lot like their mother did when she was a child! And my friends and I can laugh at our kid’s eating habits and food preferences.
Do you think your kids eat a certain way because of their environment or genetics?
Do you have children that eat everything all of the time—or just their favorite foods? Are you a like-minded nutrition expert yet always challenged by your own children’s eating?
Looking for a great afterschool snack option to appeal to your picky eaters? Check out Cooking Light’s great snack ideas!