Thursday, February 12, 2009
Setbacks with Carnivores and Cupcakes
Image from FTD website.
We began Fresh Mouth one year ago this week.
Our experimental lifestyle change began the week after Patrick's birthday party. We waited to purge our cabinets of processed products so that we could indulge one last wish for a birthday cake with blue fondant and sprinkles.
Since then we've made tremendous progress. The kids are conscious of ingredients. Aidan simply opts out, about 90 percent of the time, of products with dyes and HFCS. He talks about "real" food and "junk food," and he constantly scans ingredient labels. He's more adventurous with food tasting. He does try.
Patrick doesn't opt out as much and actually tends to taunt me with news that he "reawwy drank blue Gatorade" at a friend's house or from the school cafeteria.
"I did," he says tilting his head to the side with a resigned grin.
"Nothing but chemicals and no value to those muscles," I say trying to appeal to his ego and a budding interest in being really "muscle-y."
But I think this is all actually ok. He has a choice. He knows it, and while he does eat Nerds from a birthday party or covet an insanely large lollipop at a local store, he is aware that these things aren't good for him. One afternoon when he was trying to goad me into a gumball aperitif after a grocery store run, he insisted, "I won't act crazy from the dye. I promise."
"Yes you will," I say.
"Yeah, Mom, you're right," he said after about three more attempts at begging.
He knows he gets cranky from the sugar or the dye or both. He does know it's not good for him. He's conscious.
Patrick tries new foods and even ate chicken curry with vegetables two nights ago. He only ate a little, but he tried, too.
So, all is blissful, right? Not so much. There are daily setbacks to Fresh Mouth. But this is a living, breathing, changing way of living and breathing and eating. It's organic in and of itself. Day by day. Meal by meal. Bite by bite.
So even this week we had setbacks. Dinner last night went like this ...
"I'm a carnivore. I can't eat vegetables," Aidan says when I dole out green beans.
"What?" Dirk says.
"Yeah, vegetarians eat only vegetables and not meat. Carnivores eat meat, no vegetables. I'm a carnivore. So, I can't eat vegetables. I'm not a vegetarian. I eat burgers."
Dirk looks at me, and I want to go under the table and stab my eye out with a fork.
"Are you teasing us, Aidan?" I ask.
He doesn't answer.
"Being a vegetarian does mean you don't eat meat. You're right. But being a carnivore doesn't mean you don't eat vegetables," Dirk says. "They're not mutually exclusive."
"I don't know about that," he says as if this were up for debate.
He eats a green bean. We move on.
And then Patrick ends the meal with, "Can I have that cupcake I got for my birthday?"
People you love the most can be the biggest life saboteurs, and a dear loved one who will remain nameless on this blog (you know who you are) sent Patrick the ultimate anti-Fresh Mouth birthday present - a gigantic cupcake box filled with candy from FTD. (See the saccharine photo above.) My Fresh Mouth jaw dropped when we opened the box.
"Woaa," Patrick said when we saw the contents.
"Yikes," Aidan said.
I let Patrick have one piece and put the rest out of reach.
When he asked for candy after dinner, I simply said no.
He cried. I held my ground. Sometimes the iron fist of insistence on a parent's end is the only way to go. I offered applesauce, and he opted for nothing else.
What does all this mean for a kid and food and eating in this era, in this country?
I read a line from a book of food essays today called Feed Me edited by Harriet Brown that said, "In modern-day America, feeding yourself is an act of bravery."
It's bravery. Certainly with mercury and salmonella and processed food and an endless barrage of bad choices, there is a need for biting bravely.
It's also about perseverance. Day by day. Bite by bite. Give kids and yourself the best you can. Every time. There are always setbacks and recipes for disaster. You just have to educate the carnivore and redirect the sugar fiend. A lot.
Swallow. Breathe deeply. Start over. And over. And over.
Nugget o' the Moment: "That's a long time, but Fresh Mouth is a good idea, Mom. It is." - Aidan when I tell him it's been a year since we started.