Thursday, July 30, 2009

In this day and age it is very en vogue to eat healthy. If your healthy food is also stamped ‘ORGANIC’ then you are that much more in style. That also means that you are well off enough to be able to afford organic food. Where was I going with this? Oh, yeah. No, sorry, this was not supposed to be my rant on organic food. I’ll get to that later.

As anyone with children in their house knows, it is not easy to eat healthy with kid snacks in your kitchen. Kid snacks are near to impossible to avoid. That is, unless you are one of those militant vegan mothers who scare me. A carrot stick does not always hit the spot. Nor does bulgur. I don’t think in my childhood I ever said or thought “Man, what I wouldn’t give for a handful of barley.” Hell, I don’t even say it now! Why? Because it tastes like a combination of cardboard and dirt, that’s why.

I have a 15 month old son. I also have a 2 and a half month old son, but he doesn’t qualify for this story because he has no teeth. Anyway, my 15 month old dearly loves to snack. So much so that it is extremely difficult to get him to eat a sit-down meal because he has been grazing all day. He’ll accept a few bites and he’ll swallow a few, but then he chews the bite, opens his mouth, and just lets it fall out to land where ever it may. The most common places are the floor, the high chair, and my foot. And let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of partially chewed French toast between your toes. Ask anyone.

At any given time, there can be found in my kitchen any or all of the following: Teddy Grahams, Nilla Wafers, Animal Crackers, Goldfish Crackers, Mini Lorna Doone cookies, and Cheez-Its. Makes Connor happy, but tempts Mommy to no end. It is not easy to try and lose weight with a toddler buffet all over the house. And you KNOW he won’t eat the entire packet, and you don’t want to waste food, so what happens? You eat it yourself. Of course. Then you stop giving him the chance to not finish the pack and go ahead and ration yourself some chocolate Teddies. “He’ll never know the difference” you tell yourself. Now it’s simply a question of who you’re lying to, your toddler or yourself. But you really already know the answer to that one.

I admit that on occasion I share what Connor is eating under the guise of ‘Connor wanted it’. For example, recently I decided to offer him a treat of ice cream. Not a lot, just a few spoonfuls. Since it was that small an amount we didn’t need a bowl. You can already see where this is going, can’t you? So I take the half gallon of Blue Bell Peaches and Homemade Vanilla out of the freezer. By this time, Connor is already stamping his little feet and waving his hands, a very small Flashdance impression. I give him a bite and he makes the face signaling that what’s in his mouth is very cold. He runs to the dryer and begins to clean out the lint trap then comes back for another bite. So I dig out a hunk of frozen peach and agree with Connor that it is, in fact, very cold. He gets another bite. About this time, I zone out with my own thoughts eating ice cream. Ten minutes or so goes by and the child I am supposed to be feeding this ice cream is nowhere in sight, but I am still eating ice cream. Somewhat embarrassed, I put the ice cream back in the freezer.

I know that I’m not the only mother who has ever done this. If it wasn’t ice cream, then you ate the last two chicken nuggets from the happy meal and the scattering of fries that went with it. Perhaps it was the half eaten sandwich, still imprinted with Cheeto dust fingerprints. We do it so that we aren’t wasting food, right? Cookies are a terrible thing to waste. I think we can all agree with that.

I do wish it were easier to feed my children food that is good for them. I mean, let’s face it, there’s a reason why one of Connor’s first words was cookie and not eggplant. It could’ve been eggplant, but the chocolate chips are hard to get in there. Connor can say cookie, cracker, teddy (graham, not bear), and doggy. We don’t eat doggies but he does say it. He likes apples, too, though. We have a video of him gnawing on an apple at Panera. It was taken away and he commenced to howling, so we gave it back. Luckily the video time ran out because shortly thereafter he got a piece lodged in his windpipe. Healthy food is dangerous. It’s all that fiber.


The first part of this was written two months ago. Since that time Connor’s food vocabulary has increased greatly and Sully still has no teeth. Connor now eats bananas and strawberries and is surprisingly fond of green beans, having hated them in jar form. But when it comes to snacking, it just isn’t feasible to crack open a can of French cut green beans. Can’t you just see it? I’m getting ready to go to work and Connor is settling in to watch Blue’s Clues (hopefully with Steve and not that retard Joe) and on my way out the door I hand him a bag of frozen green beans. Yeah, I can’t see it.

Even though Connor’s appetite has expanded, for some reason, he still likes to open his mouth and let all the food fall out. Now when I make him a peanut butter sandwich he pries it apart and eats the peanut butter off the bread. Some kids don’t like the crusts, my kid doesn’t even like the bread. It’s easier to give him a spoonful of peanut butter, and almost as easy to wipe the peanut butter off your knees or wash it out of your hair where he was thoughtful enough to give you a kiss on the back of your head. You laugh, but it’s happened. And when he’s not in the mood for a peanut butter sandwich, what does he do? He turns around and hands it to his little brother, sitting in his little Bumbo seat staring at his right hand because no one’s told him yet that he has a left. Luckily his grab reflexes are still a little slow. I’d hate to learn about a peanut allergy with a four month old. But, hey, at least he’s sharing.

The most convenient snacks are not the healthiest. That’s pretty much a given now. To me, though, the big mystery with little kids and eating is why, when you give a kid chocolate, does it always end up streaming out of the corners of their mouths? It’s almost as if it expands in there and their little mouths can’t contain it. All the issues with the childhood obesity epidemic and I’m worried that the chocolate won’t stay in my kid’s mouth.

But all in all, if a handful of carob covered raisins does it for your kid, consider yourself lucky. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to Google ‘carob’.

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