How Do We Feed Our Children?




Opinion CategoryTonight my son ate a sweet potato. And a few pieces of pasta. And a sauteed mushroom. And some watermelon. And a few kidney and Garbanzo beans. Oh and a few bites of chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

It was a good eating day. Some (read between the lines: most) days sitting down to eat looks more like a game of throw your food on the floor than it does anything else. And then there are the days that he doesn’t throw his food but he only wants to eat one certain thing… a whole lot of cantaloupe or crackers or, my attempt at a somewhat healthy snack, an organic, no-sugar added fruit roll-up thing. Usually those are the days that I don’t have a lot of that one certain food he wants. Of course.

AppleBut my frustration with food does not stop there. Just deciding what food to even try to get him to eat is a source of endless frustration. My criteria list is so long and exhaustive that sometimes I just want to ignore the whole food issue altogether. I mean by the time I’ve found food that is:

  • Fresh — more nutrients
  • Fairly produced — want others to make a living
  • Local — better for the environment and supposedly keeps more nutrients
  • Cruelty free — don’t want antibiotic-filled milk or caged chicken eggs
  • Affordable — $8.00 for a pound of strawberries is a bit much
  • Accessible — going to 7 different stores each week isn’t possible
  • Somewhat kid-friendly — turnips aren’t going to be an easy sale

I’m tired. And since I’m not quite sure Baby is even going to eat the food and since there is a good chance that a bit of it will end up on my mop… well, you the issue is clear.

Probably the most frustrating thing to me is all the contrary advice and information I hear. I know that many people feel this same way; it’s the whole eggs are good for you one day, bad for you the next, and then good for you again.

Along with the changing information are the reports about how a good food may be bad depending on the pesticides used (Do the nutrients in grapes cancel out the chemical traces we’re eating?) or the container it is stored and shipped in (So is bottled water bad?). And then Wendy Moore’s article, Food, injurious food, dropped in my lap. The article is mainly about all the fillers and gross “ingredients” a 19th century London doctor discovered when he started studying food under his microscope.

Ahhhh; what a breath of fresh air!

I know; that sounds odd. But for some reason it felt good knowing that there have always been issues surrounding the safety and quality of food. It makes me feel the same way I do about war or violence… it has always been around. So, although I’m still not sure how to best feed my babe, I can at least rest in the knowledge that few others do either.

Reference

Moore, W. (2008). Food, injurious food. BMJ, 336(7651), 1022-1022. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.39563.517292.94

  • many many years ago when I was a vegetarian, my father gave me a cooking class as a gift at Annamarie Colbin’s Natural Gourmet Cooking School (she has some cook books). There were a few principles I’d like to add to your list which felt like it cut through the sometimes conflicting information in the world of dietary recommendations:

    -eat seasonally
    -eat locally
    -eat according to your heritage (ie: if your genetically mediterranean, try not to live off a Japanese diet)
    -eat whole foods (whole egg and whole fish are included in this category)

    of course, this must be modified to address medical issues.

  • Melissa DaPra RD, CD

    I have great news from the world of Dietetics for the parent… not the mop! Exposures of 8-12 repitions of new foods will produce acceptance. So until you can meet that threshhold, enjoy the view from behind the mop. Continuing to offer foods as your child gains more independence can seem wasteful and messy, but the long term pay off is invaluable. Science continues to validate what we intuitively view as true: the closer the food is to it’s harvested form, the more nutritionally beneficial (read: phytochemicals, fiber).

  • Jim Dempsey

    Hi,

    I followed a conscious feeding regime with my eldest boy many years ago. I started with pureed carrot; then carrot/apple; followed by apple alone. The idea was to introduce taste and flavour alongside sweetness so that his awareness would accept taste/flavour. From here I moved into other pureed veg/fruit mixes, adding rice and oat cream (creamy bit of porridge). Once he was no longer satiated with this I added red lentils (proteins) to the mix and then other ‘heavier’ legumes. Finally (at about ten months) I added meat/fish in small amounts. All along I made sure foods had mild flavours/tastes so to train his palate to the sensation of these. Not to do so would allow his to ‘feed without flavour’ or get used to bland foods.

    By the time he was two and a half he could tell me there was too much basil in the tomato soup. Knowing about taste/flavour and nutrition is a wonderful thing when it comes to children. Truly we open their minds early, through flavour and taste sensations and awareness.

    I was not trained in this at the time and merely followed common sense thinking. Logic like when the incisors come down they can bite, when the molars come down they can chew (proteins, esp. animal)

    Love the experience it is a joy

    Regards

    Jim Dempsey

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J. R. White

J. R. White is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. She has over five years of experience in education and pedagogy.
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