Every now and then I’ll meet a mom who knows about (but doesn’t read) this blog and I can tell right way she assumes I have the whole “healthy feeding” thing down pat – that it’s nothing but raw kale and quinoa, 24/7, in the TLT house. And sometimes she even gets a little defensive, as if I must be working undercover for the Food Police and secretly looking down my nose at her own failings when it comes to feeding her kids.
But if you actually read The Lunch Tray regularly, you know I struggle just like everyone else to get healthy food (that my kids will actually eat) into lunch boxes and onto the dinner table each night, with decidedly mixed success. I also do what I can to stem the tide of junk food my kids are exposed to each day, not making any food taboo (and therefore even more desirable) but just trying to impose reasonable limits while teaching lessons about balance and health. Sometimes it all seems like it’s working, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Well, allow me to recap a weekend where things went entirely off the rails:
On Friday my son and I were on our own for dinner, a rarity in a household that makes Friday Shabbat dinner at home a big priority. He and I attended a school-related event just before going out to dinner, where my son wolfed down a bunch of iced cookies and some cider (on my imperfect watch), thereby totally killing his appetite for the meal. Great.
On Saturday, my daughter attended an all-day extracurricular event (lasting from 7:45am to 7pm), which meant that lunch and all the snacks were provided by the school. Here’s what she ate during those twelve hours (and, in fairness to her, there just weren’t any healthful options to choose from): a bag of cookies, a bag of Funions, a bag of Chex Mix, two slices of Papa John’s pizza, a donut and a Coke. Seriously. I later found out that the 8th graders were tasked with supplying all the food as a class fundraiser, which certainly explains a lot.
The next day I took my daughter out for breakfast, our new tradition on Sunday mornings. Despite all the junk consumed the day before, in an admittedly weak moment I caved and allowed her to get the chocolate almond croissant she adores. But I also told her she had to round out that unhealthy breakfast with some eggs and fruit. And guess what was actually consumed in the end? Just the croissant, one miniscule bite of eggs, no fruit. Sigh.
Later that day was the kids’ piano recital and parents were asked to bring refreshments for enjoying after the performance. Except for the item I brought, it was a table full of nothing but sweets — frosted cake balls, donuts, brownies, cookies — along with juice and sodas. And my kids, who have always regarded the recital treats as a reward for all their hard work, eagerly partook of everything they could get their hands on while I was busy talking to their piano teacher. Nice.
Later that night, our plans for dinner at a healthy Asian restaurant fell through – it was closed for a corporate party – so we had to hastily make another choice. We wound up going to a nearby, upscale-ish chain restaurant (and, not to sound horribly food snobby here, but it was the first time I’ve stepped into one of those in about a decade). The food was not just mediocre but mediocre in that overly-processed sort of way, where you could just taste the complex food chemistry at work. Blech.
So, there you have it, people. I really don’t think I could have planned a much worse food weekend for my kids if I’d tried.
But I figured it’s important to share with you the failures along with the successes. We’re all human, we’re all working against the same societal obstacles, we all have moments of parental laziness and weakness, and our kids don’t always listen to what we tell them. All we can do is pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and try again to get our kids on the right track. I’m off to the grocery store now, in fact, and I can promise you it really is going to be kale and quinoa in our house for the near future.
At least until the next frosted cake ball rolls across our path.
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