I find it really hard to talk about nutrition with Apple. I have tried in the past to stick to the topics of the Food Pyramid and more recently MyPlate ideals. Of course as many of you know, those generic discussions aren't really enough to help my children understand how important it is to eat healthy, exercise, and take care of their bodies. Despite my best efforts I have one child that undereats and one child that overeats. Part of my reluctance to delve into these topics is due to my own self image issues. I don't want my daughter in particular to struggle in that area like I have so in the past I have thought silence was the best option.
Well our "lifestyle" goal for 2012 has made the subject all the more important. We have decided on a "special" dessert only once a week as a family. The other 6 days of the week, sweets are off the menu. I'm not keeping them in the house to avoid temptation. Now there are already places and times when my children have been given sweet snacks by others or candy as a treat at church. I'm not harping on those events and we are taking them as they come. We did however get all the candy out of the cabinents (I am amazed at how much accumulates) and we booted the rest of the sweets out as well. Now I'm really proud of how well the kids have been doing with it. It has led to lots of talks about food and what is good for us vs what isn't good for us.
I think the most interesting thing for me is that the word I felt like God gave me for the year is so integral in this topic. Balance. It's all about balance. I probably talk about balance in reference to food at least once a day with Apple and Speedy. See I printed this really awesome list of 100 Zero/ Negative Calorie foods (I found it on Pinterest of course!) and posted it on the fridge. Now I was posting it for myself but Apple immediately read it and asked about 100 questions. The next day she was literally trying to eat all day from the list and as much of each item as she could! I talked with her about the list again and explained (again) that the list was full of good ideas for snacks BUT we have to eat more than just what is on the list AND we only eat when we are hungry even if the food is zero calorie.
I know adults that have trouble understanding these concepts so I know it's even harder for a 6 yr old and a 4 yr old. It's so important that we implement balance in our diets and the diets of our children. It's important to "eat the rainbow" and to incorporate lots of fruits and vegetables into our plate but it is JUST AS IMPORTANT that we have and our children have portions of protein, dairy, grain, and even some fat. I see a trend with parents only feeding their toddlers fruits and veggies. Those are totally necessary in every toddler diet but if you only feed your child these "zero" calorie foods then their bodies and brains will not develop properly. When Apple was little I clipped tons of feeding plans, charts, etc from magazines so that I had lots of ideas on what to feed her. As a first time mom, I needed all the help I could get. I loved seeing that she should have a little of each food group for 3 meals a day as well as 3-4 snacks throughout the day. I needed to know how much whole milk she needed and that it was okay to give her something more than fruit in her diet.
Balance. It means it's just as important to not underfeed your child as it is to not overfeed your child. Children don't belong on "diets" and we won't be putting ours on one anytime soon. Instead we are modeling and living a better lifestyle and that's what we want for Apple and Speedy too.
How do you deal with nutrition at your house?