Thursday, April 4, 2013

Going against the norm

I've never considered myself much of a rebel.  You might even look at my life and describe it as boring, mundane, or predictable.  And as someone who doesn't really like change, I'm pretty much okay with that.  I am quickly discovering, however, that I'm really going out on a limb with this real food diet.

Now I know that I've been blogging for a total of about three days, and it's probably not wise to start stating strong opinions right up front.  I'm not really one to hide my feelings, however, and I've gotten quite worked up about something over the past day or so, so please forgive me and indulge me for a moment here.

I don't expect everyone to eat the way my family does, but when did society decide that our children need to be provided with food on a non-stop basis?  And why is it that most of the food we offer our youngest children is far from healthy?

My twins are 4, and thus far, they have been real troopers with this diet change.  Granted, I have been talking it up every chance I get, but they haven't even blinked an eye at finding altered versions of their favorite dishes on their plates at each meal.  Also, considering how much they tend to complain in general, the complaints have really been kept to a minimum.  I'm prepared for the hard conversations and the times that I will have to tell them "no", but I honestly didn't expect it to be quite this often. 

I had to contact their preschool this week to inform them of our new eating guidelines.  Upon doing so, I discovered that my children have been eating 3 snacks a day at school.  That is in addition to the lunch we send and the snack I give them on the ride home.  So now I have to not only pack lunch every day, but also three varied snack options so they don't rebel when their friends are eating school-provided, packaged food. 

In addition, we started t-ball last week.  After the first practice, the coach sent us an email with reminders, asking each family to sign up to provide snack following each game.  He requested juice and something to eat as well.

Okay, now maybe I'm crazy, but I really don't think my four-year-olds need food every 90 minutes to make it through the day.  In the summer, we eat every 2.5-3 hours, three meals and two snacks total in one day, and they seem to do just fine.  So why is it that when they have a t-ball game at 6pm, right after they have finished dinner, we feel obligated to feed them an hour later at the end of the game?  Or why do they need a snack upon arriving at school at 8am, another one at 10 am, and then lunch at 11:30am?  And why are they being offered juice at every opportunity?  Whatever happened to the cup of tap water and two orange slices I received as a kid after a soccer game?  I can't help but wonder if many of the behavior problems I see in my students might be diminished a bit if they ate slightly healthier snacks with less sugar. 

I know part of my complaint is that due to other people's preferences, I now have to justify to my children why they can't have juice and soft pretzels on a daily basis.  I also worry, however, that we are setting our children up for a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits by fostering this behavior at such a young age. 


  1. I totally hear you. I think that even if it is a healthy snack, we have gotten into a habit in our culture of eating as a pastime; as something to do... Literally: to pass the time, separate the arbitrary blocks of time we have set aside with certain themes...
    But I also struggle with allowing my children to eat whenever they want- I want them to recognize when they are hungry, and not "finish their dinner" by force. Ironically so many adult diets advocate eating smaller meals 5-6 times a day, and I wonder if I'm training them to do that, it will help them avoid over-eating?!
    There may be no winning...

    1. You have a point and I think I would let it go if they were snacking on carrots or apples slices every hour or two. The snacks I'm seeing tend to be more along the lines of goldfish, juice, soft pretzels, or even cookies at times. Or a snack that is so big, it really counts as a meal for a preschooler (pretzels, cheese stick, & fruit for example). I think you are right, however, that there's probably no perfect solution, especially since every family is so different.

  2. Thank you for raising this point Amanda. Another variable in this equation with the timing. I too would like children to be able to recognize when they are actually hungry and not just eating because food is available. But most of our children spend quantities of time in group settings and the caregivers tend to have regulated times for snacks. and who can blame them in terms of all of the demands on the adults in those settings. Great to raise the question, what are our children eating during their days, and how much and when or how often! All worth knowing and considering!