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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Breaking the Cycle

After a long hiatus, I’m moved to blog yet again by a comment posted on “Trying to Heal the Inner Child,” which I wrote back in 2005. Not popular among many of my relatives, the post expressed my anger about being a morbidly obese child and what I felt was the gross inaction of the adults around me.

Now I find myself wearing the other shoe, with a daughter who will turn 2 in a few months. There are times that I obsess over ensuring she doesn’t follow in my footsteps but feeling overwhelmed by all the messages to the contrary in society: fast-food restaurants on every corner, growing numbers of obesity from infant to adult, sedentary habits, etc. But I always calm myself with one thought: All I can do is all I can do.

I cannot fight the world all by myself. I can’t control what is served in other homes, but I can control the eating environment in my home. Both my husband and I work very hard to cultivate a healthy perspective on food in our home and in front of our daughter. If we don’t want her to eat it, we don’t eat it and we don’t keep it in the house.   Maybe that’s why dropping my baby weight wasn’t an issue.

Seriously, though, we don’t have a “clean your plate” policy in our home, and I won’t allow anyone else to impose one upon our daughter. We offer and serve a wide variety of food and I don’t force the issue if she refuses something. I also refuse to be a short-order cook. If she doesn’t eat much of what she’s served, I know there is a snack or meal just a few hours ahead when we can try again. I will not jump through hoops to get her to eat large quantities at every eating event.

The end result is we have a toddler with a love of exotic cuisine: Thai curries, Indian dals, sushi and sashimi, and tofu are all favorites. She loves anything orange, which means there is a lot of cheddar cheese, pumpkin, winter squash, and carrots served in our home. She seems to enjoy strong flavors; sharp cheeses and spicy salsas rank high on her list.

She’s never laid eyes on a chicken nugget, and she won’t in our home. The world has way too many foods to offer for us to limit her to what can be found at drive-thru. But still, I try not to obsess. I don’t always pack enough of the right foods when we’re on the go. So sometimes we have to stop at a convenient place. She’s had apple slices and milk from McDonald’s and though I can’t tell you exactly when, I’m sure she’s had a bite of hamburger once or twice. When on the go, we try to choose sit-down restaurants or grab takeout from Starbucks, because we feel we have better control. The bento boxes at Starbucks with noodles and tofu are pricey but she sure loves them.

She also doesn’t drink fruit juice. Health professionals are always telling us adults not to drink calories, so why do we push that upon our children? As a bariatric post-op and reactive hypoglycemic, I don’t drink fruit juice. Neither does my husband. There is no reason to have it in our home, and quite I don’t think any child NEEDS it. We get a lot of odd looks from people and questions of “But what does she drink?!” as if she’s in danger of dehydration. She gets plenty of fluid from water and milk, thank you very much.

She's healthy, happy and we have no complaints. Why fix what isn't broken?

So that’s our bird’s-eye view on food in our home. What’s yours?

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