What I Believe: Feeding our children

what i believe

Any of you who read my blog regularly know that I am pretty opinionated passionate about a wide variety of topics. As I sat down to write this blog Wednesday night, I couldn’t decide which of my passions to discuss. I was looking for something that I have strong feelings about, but not something that would require a lot of time to write or research to back up my opinions (because I had a migraine most of the day and needed to get some good sleep).

I finally decided to write about children and food.

I’ve been doing a bit of reading the past week or so about artificial colors and other food additives and it’s got me thinking. I believe as a society, we are not feeding our children well.

Without looking up statistics, I feel safe in saying that our nation’s obesity rate is out of control. I also feel safe saying that too many children are on medication for hyperactivity and ADHD, etc.

We live in a culture where we demand so much from ourselves and our children and there are only so many hours in the day. As a result of not having enough time to make home-cooked, nutritious and healthy meals, we turn to fast food. We eat in our cars to save time. (I’m totally guilty of this and some of the other things I write about here. I’m not writing this to point fingers, but as a wake up call to all parents, myself included.)

Soda pop, candy and other junk food are readily available in many of our children’s schools. And school lunches are, for the most part, not a healthy way to go either. And even when parents pack their children’s lunches, the snack foods that many of them include are loaded with artificial colors and flavors and preservatives.

I believe that we need to slow down. I believe that we need to get back to the basics in cooking and feeding our families (as well as in many other areas). Perhaps we could start by using the crockpot for dinner if time is a big issue.

We need to teach our children to make healthy choices regarding foods (not sneak vegetables into all of their meals and assume that will help them develop healthy eating habits).

We need to be informed about the ingredients that are in the foods that we buy. Are they made from petroleum and/or tar? Have they been linked to hyperactivity? Have they been banned from other countries? Perhaps instead of medicating our children, we should try limiting their intake of food additives and see how it affects their demeanor.

I’ve been reading Healthier Food for Busy People by Jane Hersey and it’s been quite the eye-opener regarding many of the foods I eat or have eaten or given to my family in the past. I will be giving away a copy of this book in the future after I’ve had a chance to read it and review it, so stay tuned for that if you are interested in learning more. 🙂

I believe we have a lot of work to do and the first step is becoming more informed. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Knowledge is power. Eat it up. (Pun intended.) 😉

If you’d like to read more “What I Believe” posts, visit The Natural Mommy (where this round she wrote about circumcision – a post I could’ve nearly written myself. Oh wait, I already did.).

27 thoughts on “What I Believe: Feeding our children”

  1. I am also passionate about feeding my kids healthy, and they are picky eaters which makes it difficult. This from a mom who pictured her son with a Pixie Stix the other day…I swear it was the first and last. I allowed them to experience it. 🙂

    Great post.

  2. I agree, it’s scary the rubbish that exists packaged as kid’s food! Have you ever read the ingredients of baby food jars? ugh! I cook all babypixie’s foods myself and am determined to help her grow up with a healthy attitude to food despite currrent societal trends to the contrary 🙂

  3. I was just discussing this with my friend yesterday. Since being pregnant with Charlotte I have been so grossed out with packaged foods, etc. I haven’t bought any of it since and have made most foods homemade. I had a few set backs since the baby being born and we were eating a lot of take out and I felt so yucky! I got my butt in gear the other day and started my menu planning again, I feel soo much better knowing my kids are eating homemade (and healthier) again 🙂 (not to mention the money we have saved). My children love fruits and veggies which makes for a happy momma 🙂 BUT with that said, they have their share of loving the junk foods as well. (I am an admitted junk food junky, but have settled down TONS).

    Alison has a menu sent home from school every month. I pick and choose what lunches I want her to have. The good thing about her school is they aren’t allowed to serve anything that has a lot of sugars. No sodas, candies, etc. It is a start but it isn’t quite the ringer! Some of the foods they serve for lunch just dont’ sound appealing to me. Like today for example, they are serving corn dogs. YUCK!

    I was watching TV segment on food network (one of my faves 🙂 ) and one of the very popular chefs was on there discussing school lunches. The showed him at a school where he was trying to create healthier meals to put on their menu. The meals he made looked so great and nutritious. The problem was the kids weren’t eating it. They showed so many children wasting the food by throwing it away. And the other factor was MONEY–the root of all evil! UGH.

    Sorry this is long winded but I feel the same way! The crock pot is your friend 🙂 You can make very healthy meals in that sucka!! Ok sorry I could go on and on and I could have totally made this longer…LOL.

    Have a good day 🙂

  4. OHH BTW, the segment i was talking about was actually on Shaq’s show. 🙂 LOL. I have been thinking about it, because I could not remember where I saw the segment. The chef was Tyler Florence. Ok I am done hijacking 🙂

  5. Oh, all good points! I agree that what we eat totally effects how we act, how healthy we are, along with the ever-popular concern of how we look.

    I have a friend who went through chemo. To help his body be strong enough for the radiation poison that would be pumping through his body, he changed his diet completely. He researched different supplements. He denied himself pizza of all things.

    And he never lost his hair. His nausea was very minimal. He even grew a beard for the first time in his life. I don’t know if this would work as well for everybody, but I do believe he had an excellent testimony to the benefits of eating the way God intended us to eat!

    Sidenote: Did you know that lunchmeat contains nitrites? The very ingredient in hotdogs that makes them so unhealthy (besides the sodium). The very ingredient that in some studies has been proven to cause cancer! And did you know you can counteract that ingredient by simply drinking orange juice? Amazing.

  6. Ooh, Healthier Food For Busy People… I’ll have to check that one out!

    I gave a presentation on Cooking with Kids last night to a mother’s group, and we had a very interesting discussion about sneaking veggies into kids food. We all agreed that while it may prevent the power struggle at the table, it would not instill good eating habits for the future… A very tough but important challenge for busy and tired parents to face, among others.

  7. AMEN! preach it! 🙂 I was talking to my husband the other day about the increase in fast food usage. Growing up we rarely ate at restaurants. Fast food was limited to on the road vacation time meals. AKA- two or three times a YEAR. Sit down restaurants were pretty much a special treat, being the youngest of 5 living on a pastors salary we didn’t have the money for that. As we got older and my older siblings moved out we got to eat out a couple times a year.
    Now it’s not unusual for children to eat fast food once or twice a week! More people eat out then eat at home. Not to mention the amount of chemicals and “preservatives” being added to all our food.
    If we could just get people to realize we’re killing ourselves I don’t think we’d have half as many people dying of cancer or other health issues.

  8. You are SO right, Crunchy! I always fed my little toddler daughter organic vegetarian baby food, and lots of steamed veggies as she got older, and fortunately she loved them and was never a picky eater at all.

  9. I love this post, well all that you write. Love your passion for the “good” things inn life..I like what you said about “slow down get back to basics” Growing up I had very little if any processed food. Going to fast food was maybe once a month if that. My mom was not “green” or ‘Organic” she just cooked from scratch..now all of us including her are usuing honey and almond flower in our receipes. There are really easy ways to eat healthy I am finding out..

    You will love my post at http://www.blessednest.blogspot.com
    It is about some of your favorite people…

  10. As always, love your post! You are so right. I have been on a mission to buy less packaged crap food and have more fresh food in our house. This has meant to change the way I shop and meal plan. I used to go and get groceries for 2 weeks, but you cannot do that if you buy lots of fresh foods.

    I so agree with the point that we in general need to slow down. This “having it all” mentality means that we are compromising in some very impt. areas. Meal planning, shopping and preparation take time.

    The main issue I have with my kids getting junk is them getting candy at school parties, each week as a treat for good behavior, crap food at Sunday School, etc… I’m just tired of having to fight every where I go and be “the crazy mom” and make my kids upset cause they want the Doritos and Red Kool-aid like all the other kids. I can’t isolate them from all fo these activities…we’re struggling to maintain our standards without imposing them upon everyone else. It’s hard to do things differently.

  11. We are so very, very imperfect but we try. I’ve been pretty against processed foods in general for awhile so we don’t even buy “organic” or “healthy” processed foods, for the most part (but for the sake of honesty my kids split a fruit roll up – the Betty Crocker kind – today so don’t listen to me 😉 ). My kids eat a ton of fruit and as many whole foods as I can get in them.

  12. Thanks for being an advocate for you and your family and children in general.

    I am guilty of the above you mentioned, but minimally. Everything in moderation. Our nieces and nephews don’t like to come to our house because I don’t offer them soda and candy (like they have lots of at their houses). We just don’t keep those things in our house.

    Since my daughter is just in Pre-K3, I have full control over what is in her lunch box. I make sure it is healthy and good for her. The great part is that she helps me choose what to pack. She makes me very proud because she usually makes good eating choices. I guess I am doing a better job than I thought.

  13. Amy, this was a great post! (and my first time responding to your site)

    I think this topic is so fascinating and also very important for parents to talk about in regards to their children’s health. I have always eaten healthy but a lot changed when I was pregnant with my daughter. I now only buy organic and cook all of the food she eats so that she eats a very minimal amount of processed foods.

    My husband and I were just talking about it last night because I was exhausted after just finishing up a bunch of meals I was cooking. I was saying to him that I believe many of the things I’m doing for her now are also for health benefits that she will see when she is my age and older. I don’t think a lot of parents cook and offer fresh foods because it does take a commitment on the parents part. I find that it takes a lot of effort for me and I realize that I have to be more efficient but I still have to make a big effort to make sure she is eating very well balanced meals.

    As a parent, I’m very concerned when I hear about the obesity levels in kids. I have many friends who feed mostly processed foods and their kids only seem to eat chicken nuggets and fries. I find this frightening and I don’t want this for my daughter. My daughter is almost 11 months old and she has yet to be sick (knock on wood).

    Other moms I meet though often look at me like I’m a little nuts regarding my daughter’s food. I find that most people do not buy organic and think its unrealistic to cook all their meals for them. I often don’t broach the subject with others because of the responses I often get.

    A holistic nutritionist that I just just saw (in regards to my daughter’s MMR vaccine coming up) thinks that fresh foods play a vital role in a child’s development. She was telling me that with her 30 years of experience, she believes the rise of developmental issues is a combination of too many vaccines affecting immune systems that are weakened further more by processed foods. She has me reading a book called The New Breastfeeding Diet Plan by Robert Rountree, M.D. and it is an amazing book. It does not give recipes but it talks about reducing contaminants and toxins in the body and how your diet plays a role in your child’s physical and cognitive development (when breastfeeding). However, even with solids I now have introduced into her diet, it translates perfectly to how even children should eat fresh and clean diets.

    As my daughter Ava gets a little older, I hope to teach her about what I’m doing in the kitchen and have her help me so that cooking and eating fresh seems exciting to her. (I hope!)

  14. I disagree with the criticism of the book. I posted something similar on the blog you referenced, and I’ll go ahead and post it here.

    My kids (I have 4) aren’t terribly picky so I’ve been blessed, but from my experience, most people grow out of their childish aversion to vegetables as they get older.

    I’m not sure if it’s because of a conscious decision to eat vegetables because of their benefits, or perhaps it has something to do with our taste buds changing as we age, but it’s a pretty universal phenomenon.

    I think we place too much emphasis on what kids are eating and not enough emphasis on how we treat them. Peace at the table and love and gentleness in our treatment of kids are every bit as important in terms of parenting behaviors as a cauliflower, maybe more so.

    So sneak in the veggies, I say, if it’s the only way a mom can get her kids to eat them. And stop feeling guilty about it. Use that energy to play with the kids.

  15. Great topic.

    I also have been trying to cook more from scratch. Once you get organized, it isn’t that hard to do, and there are tons of easy, quick, and healthy recipes out there. One of my fav. sites for this is http://www.cookinglight.com. Most of the recipes, you don’t even know or can tell they are “healthy.”

    I wanted to make the point that a lot of families can only afford to eat lesser quality foods. Junk food is cheaper than healthy food. Organic is more expensive than conventional, and if parents have to make a choice on buying organic or paying a bill, they will choose paying the bill.

    I think it is easy to get caught up in wondering why not everyone goes organic, and it is easy to say so many people don’t take nutrition and healthy eating seriously, but the reality is, not a lot of people can afford to, and millions of people in this country struggle to just make it day-to-day. If their kids get to eat a can of Spaghetti-O’s, then at least their kids have *something* in their system and won’t go to bed hungry.

    My sister teaches in a school where the free lunch rate is 99%. That means almost every student there is at or below the low income rate. The school gives them free lunch, and a lot of kids say this is the ONLY meal they get all day.

    Their parents simply can’t afford to buy food- let alone organic veggies & fruits, ANY fruits or veggies at all, and unprocessed food.

    If these parents only have X amount to spend on food each week, they HAVE to get the most food for their money, and since healthy food is more expensive, it just isn’t a realistic option for them.

    Something DOES need to change, so everyone can enjoy healthy food, and have it be affordable. We shouldn’t have to choose between paying a bill and eating healthy food with out chemicals & perservatives in it.

  16. I agree with Carrie at NaturalMomsTalkRadio above who likes the new book Deceptively Delicious. I have a toddler who spits out anything resembling a vegetable. If it means I have to sneak veggies into his diet, then I will, to get him to eat them.

    Right now I just puree the veggies and sneak them into his meals. I haven’t gotten the book yet but it is on my list. In time he will eat veggies and I will always offer them to him – it’s not like I’m never going to show him another vegetable in his life! Plus he will see my husband and me eating ours.

    We do what we can to keep our kids healthy and at least we’re getting the healthy stuff into their bodies one way or another…

  17. This is in to Heather’s response-

    I completely understand what you are saying and agree with many of the points you bring up. I have made a choice to do without some things so that I can “vote” with my dollars and buy food that I know is not laced with antibiotics and pesticides. But what about the millions who can’t afford to do this?

    I do my best to support local farmers and can only hope that in the future healthier foods are offered to most people. There is no reason that our dairy and meats need to have hormones in them. I believe that Australia has outlawed such foods in their country, why can’t we do the same? The FDA is a joke to me and what they allow as “safe” ingredients in food. Healthy food (without antibiotics and such) should be an option for everyone and not for select percentage.

  18. I watched Jessica Seinfeld on Oprah and wrote something about it on my blog too. As a mom who continually battles with my 18month old over meals, I can see why she came up with the recipes. But is seems like such a short term solution that will just cause more issues in the long run. Someone told me that by just eating the veges, no matter the form, their little palates are being sensitized to the foods and they will be more likely to eat them later. What do you think about that thought?
    It is so hard to be consistent with food for me. I am really trying to make it a priority but I fall short so much. Thanks for your post. SO motivating! 🙂

    P.S~ Check my blog if you have a chance. I “tagged” you for a “Seven things about you” meme I was sent. I really would like to read your responses.

  19. I enjoy reading your passion/opinions!
    On the issue of hiding vegetables I completely agree with you. It is not about hiding vegetables – its about learning to taste them, learning to like them in different ways, learning to cook them with your parents or carers and above all enjoying your food.
    The answers to all our problems with fussy eaters does not lie with the food processor or hand blender.

  20. I’m one of the people who never has time to cook, but we found a different solution than convenience foods – instead, we follow a few simple rules:
    1. 3 food groups offered per meal.
    2. Each food group offered at least once per day.
    3. Simple, uncooked, low-prep foods are O.K.

    We’re not jumping on the “slow food” movement any time soon. Our solution to the health / convenience problems is to cultivate a taste for simple foods that don’t require much prep, like frozen veggies, fresh fruit, and cheese. We still use some convenience foods, but as we learn to like tasting just one food at a time, they have become less enticing – and less convenient.

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