Monday, December 20, 2010

Salad is possible

I'm still mulling over Fed Up With Lunch blog and read this post about bringing salad in for students to assemble and eat. It makes me think about my own kids and kids of others I've witnessed eating, or not eating as that case is often. One of my mom goals was to have my children eat salad without complaint. Well, they love baby spinach, which G just calls lettuce. She likes any kind of lettuce, unless it's bitter. She'll eat romaine lettuce leaves plain, on a sandwich, or with nut butter. I got her palate adjusted to green juice at the young age of 3 years old. S was already 5.5 when I started juicing and still isn't too keen on it. But, I have served salad, raw veggies and a variety of dips since they had enough teeth to eat it... basically starting at 2 years old. I've had friends kids over who ate salad without complaint, or minimal at first. In fact, the younger they are, the more willing I've found kids to try new things. One thing, though, parents and caregivers need to remember, is that when kids 1-3 years old and even beyond that, try new foods, they need to be allowed to spit them out if their tastes reject it. Forcing a child to swallow food he/she is having a very negative response to will only make it more difficult to encourage the child to try new foods.

I implemented the "no-thank-you-bite," which my kids almost always swallow (G has been known to run to the trashcan a spit once or twice). If they don't like it, they just say no thank you, make a face like what's in their mouth is horrible and shake their head "no." Okay, I tell them, maybe you'll like it when you get over. It doesn't stop me from making that food again or offering it for another "no-thank-you-bite" another evening.

Often my kids' taste preferences change from month to month and week to week. One week G doesn't want more than two bite of sweet potato and the next week she eats a half of one. The girls keep trying parsnips and are adjusting to the taste, though not really liking it, yet. S likes carrots raw and shredded, but cooked--no way.

Kids also get tired of foods if they're given them over and over again. Now, there are children who thrive on regularity and request the same foods over and over without fail and without ever tiring of them. That happens. Adults can be like that, too. But children, like adults, can desire variety. One week G wants no other jelly but raspberry on her nut butter sandwich. The next week she doesn't like raspberry and wants it plain. S gets tired of nut butter sandwiches and misses the days of deli meat, so we switch it up with vegan bologna sandwiches.

Cheese. Oh the pickyness with cheese. For one thing, dairy doesn't agree with any of us, but everyone but G has it from time to time. S likes it sliced with crackers or apple. She likes provolone on a sandwich. But, melted cheddar grosses her out. She tries to tolerate it because she's used to eating what is for dinner, but she really can't take much of it. She prefers mozzarella pizza to any Mexican-style food with cheddar.

I think I set a pretty decent food example for my kiddos. We don't use food to award, but we do consider sweets and dinner out to be treats that are to be appreciated and not expected. I can't put my finger on exactly how my kids have grown to eat salad, but they do. Asian Miracle dressing from Vegan Lunchbox certainly played a part for G as does organic Ranch for S (regular Ranch has MSG in it and it bothers her skin, not to mention kills brain cells--which I will leave up to her to make the decision if, when and how to kill brain cells). I'm not saying you're doing everything or anything wrong if your kids won't touch anything green. I'm just saying to keep trying and eat what they eat. If you serve kids something that you wouldn't want to eat, what does that say to your kids (uh, exactly the point of Fed Up With School Lunch!)? When I sit down to dinner with my kids and my plate matches theirs, it helps them to eat it. And what's for dinner is for dinner. As I tell my kids, I don't make bad food. If I did I'd understand you're not wanting to eat it and wouldn't expect anyone to eat it. But I make really good food. Tasty, not too spicy, flavorful, whole, fresh food. Healthy food for mind and body. Healthy for digestion. Healthy for immunity and energy.

Back to Mrs. Q (FUWSL blogger) who says her health is fine; and as far as I know stands by that now having just finished the project. But I haven't read about a recent blood test, which I would bet differs from the one she had just before starting the project. I don't care that she eats whole foods the other two meals of the day. When you're sick with the runs in the middle of the night because of school pizza, that is not healthy. Think of all the good flora that got flushed out and how that weakened her immune system. The digestive tract is so important for human health. It is how we get nutrients and how we fight viruses and how we detox anything bad out of our systems. I hope she publishes if her blood work results changed. Maybe a slight rise in bad cholesterol or a slightly elevated blood pressure... something small.

Balancing out bad with good foods does help. I think that my grandfather's high tomato, fruit and tea consumption helped him live as long as he has (88 Dec. 24th) but the bad food (i.e. meat and dairy) has made his body frail and stiff for the last 10 years. Not how I want to live my last 10+ years. Not even how I want to live my last 5 years or 1 year. I want to move till the end. I want to be in a body that helps me, not hurts me. I pray for good health and I do the best I can to achieve it. I'm far from perfect and never will be. I'll always "cheat," but in the end the green juice craving comes back and a crunchy apple sounds like the perfect snack.

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