Thursday, August 03, 2006

Do Your Kids Eat Only Crap?

I have issues with this stuff. Not for the maybe 2% of children who really need it...I know of some families with children who simply WILL NOT EAT, and they must resort to drastic measures to get nutrients into their children. Believe me, if your child is this way, I feel your pain, and I'm NOT talking about you here. Nor am I talking about the children with health conditions that mean they must go on a temporary liquid diet while they recover. This stuff is probably perfect for that.

But the way this stuff is marketed, and the way I suspect it is most often used, it's a supplement to give your kids because they will only eat junk food, and nothing healthy. Sorry, but I don't think that's such a swell idea. What do you think the chances are of you raising a healthy eater, someone who enjoys food and is willing to try new things, if your idea of keeping them healthy is a Pediasure with the burger and fries? It's like the folks that say, sure, Frosted Flakes are cool...they're fortified, and therefore healthy. Frosted Flakes are tasty, and they're fine for a treat, but don't kid yourself that you're giving your child healthfood here, OK?

My cousin was raised by a mother who only gave them very basic foods, because they were "picky eaters", and she regrets not growing up with more variety now. She wishes that her palate could enjoy a greater selection of yummy treats, but she really doesn't like very much. She is the one I think about when I see this stuff. I think of her and her limited options, and of crappy parents who would give their children Pediasure and nothing else, because it means no cooking, no dishes, no worries. I'm not talking about most parents here, don't get all offended, I'm talking the crappy parents, and maybe the kids are actually better off having the Pediasure rather than just the Frosted Flakes, etc.

I have several friends who tell me that their kids won't eat fruits or veggies. WON'T EAT THEM. Will only eat chicken nuggets and mac & cheese. I have these kids over, and instead of asking them if they want any fruit with their lunch, I just slice up an apple and some grapes, and plop it in the middle of the table, so if they want it, they can eat it. No pressure, no discussion. Just, "here's some food, help yourself". Know what? It's ALWAYS the first thing gone, usually before they've even TOUCHED their mac and cheese. I know, the same can't usually be said for the veggies. But give a kid some corn on the cob, and they're into it. They don't want to eat their broccoli? I used to take Maya's broccoli off of her plate, and say, "I'm a dinosaur, and I'm eating a tree!" She would laugh and gobble the rest of it down.

I will admit that with Maya, we got lucky. She's pretty open to eating new things, and while she doesn't like the same variety of things that an adult will eat, she can pretty much find SOMETHING on any menu to please her, and the only veggies she really hates are green beans and Brussels sprouts. And she'll eat green beans if I toss them with some gorgonzola cheese and it gets all melty and yummy. ;) So maybe, having gotten lucky, I'm a bit 'holier than thou', and I should shut up. But somehow, I truly suspect that most parents who are feeding their kids this stuff on a regular basis are just giving up too easily, and that if they just put the food down and said, "That's dinner, eat it or don't", most kids would come around in a day or two.

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