Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The Corn Incident - The Food Mistakes We Make
Here's the apple crisp results from last night.
We reduced the sugar amounts and added extra cinnamon.
We all remember the corn incident.
"Mom, remember when you made me eat corn, and I puked ... everywhere," Aidan says squinting and wrinkling his nose as punctuation to the horror of the scene and my major maternal misstep.
"Oh, yes, Aidan. I remember," I say crinkling my nose right back to him.
He was four. It was dinner. The power struggle began when Aidan caught sight of five yellow kernels and pushed his plate across the table.
"You're going to eat corn tonight," I said.
I know corn is hardly the juggernaut of healthy vegetables and was not the commodity worth trading for a family dinner scuffle, but he was turning off to every green food, and this was one of the last veggie hold outs.
"Eat some corn or you lose your walk after dinner and our trip to the dairy farm on the weekend."
He picked at the corn and after a few slow-motion minutes, he added his meager allotment to a spoon. He swallowed them whole without chewing. We were all silent. Within two seconds, he roared a tremendous lion growl that actually made Patrick jump. Then he threw up all of the contents of his belly including the five whole yellow nubs all over our plates.
We were mutually horrified. I set him up to fail, and I felt disgusted with myself for being so insistent and pushing him to that kind of response. He cried because it was such a dramatic physical reaction and only the second time in his little life that he threw up.
I walked right over to him, pulled his dirty shirt off and hugged him. He looked up at me with teary eyes and a pukey mouth and said, "I will never eat corn again."
And he hasn't. Ever.
And I never force them to eat anything. Ever.
This is just one of my many "messed up mommy" moments and one of the top food mistakes parents make. A great New York Times article from this week notes:
“Parents say things like ‘eat your vegetables and you can watch TV,’ but we know that kind of thing doesn’t work either,” said Leann L. Birch, director of Penn State’s childhood obesity research center and a co-author of the study. “In the short run, you might be able to coerce a child to eat, but in the long run, they will be less likely to eat those foods.” More.
The piece also details a list of six common mistakes parents when trying to feed their kids which include:
1. Sending children out of the kitchen.
2. Pressuring them to take a bite.
3. Keeping ‘good stuff’ out of reach.
4. Dieting in front of your children.
5. Serving boring vegetables.
6. Giving up too soon.
If there's anything we've learned from Fresh Mouth, it's that you can't give up. By keeping up this ongoing experiment, the kids are more conscious and really making better choices. They still catch sight of a Pilsbury cinnamon roll can and clamor for the Doughboy, but overall eating has drastically improved.
Our biggest challenge is Aidan. He's still a pretty limited-diet kind of guy, but the limited food is all mostly healthy food. His top favorites include raspberries, blueberries, peanut butter, hamburgers, grilled chicken, homemade bread and apples. Vegetables don't rank high on his list, but he is trying them. To his credit, too, he's also been the one that most often turns away any artificial and processed foods.
I agreed this year to letting them both buy lunch at school. Boy, do I regret that. The choices are abysmal. Even the kids agree that the home lunches are a better option even though the lure of a fried nugget is unbearably tempting for Patrick. We're shaking up our packed lunch options so the kids don't get bored.
We found a great site called Meal Matters that offers back-to-school meal ideas and tips. Check it out.
Send us your best "packed" lunch idea to try!
Nugget o' the Moment: "Although obesity dominates the national discussion on childhood health, many parents are also worried that their child’s preferred diet of nuggets and noodles could lead to a nutritional deficit." - NYTimes article, "6 Food Mistakes Parents Make"