It matters. Nutrition matters. How we feed our children matters. And, this has all become more complicated than ever before. All of those decisions! What to eat. When to eat. Where to eat. Who eats what. Who prepares it and who serves it. How do we build the grocery list. Who gets to go to the grocery store. Why we eat. Then add those emotions about food and eating that we each bring to the table, and…..you get it…
Time to Simplify
First of all, just what is food? Have you read Food Rules by Michael Pollan? It’s a brilliant little book that makes me laugh every time I read it with a client. Who would have thought that food needed rules, but Michael came up with 64! Before he lists his little rules,though, he defines food. You can read the book yourself and I do recommend it.
Food makes sense. It is the stuff of nature that we eat to nourish our body’s cells, including brain cells, so we can stay alive and feel good. So, essentially, if what we put inside us doesn’t nourish us, it isn’t food.
Made in a factory – not food. Looks like something preschool kids might use in an art project – nope. Has colors that don’t occur in nature – pretty, but, not for breakfast. Can’t spell the ingredients on the label – not food.
If it is real food you can always tell it’s origin – the plant or the animal. Give it the Kindergarten test: 1. Is this from a plant or an animal? 2. What is the name of the plant or animal? Try it with your children.
Where is the Food?
It’s in the grocery store next to a wall. Almost always, with very few exceptions. Why? Because real food perishes and needs water or cooling to keep it from spoiling. All of the plumbing and wiring for this goes in the walls of a grocery store because it’s cheaper to build that way. The middle of the store looks like a maze with shelves and shelves of things that won’t rot for a long time. Sometimes the middle even gets rearranged and that really messes up the grocery shopping. The foods along the outside walls, though are very predictable. We can always find them.
Food is also at the farmers’ market. Or, in your garden. Nutrition central!
You know it when you see it. Or, your youngsters will.
Making Meals with Real Food
Cooking can be a pain sometimes, and dinner always comes at the arsenic hour – grouchy kids, low blood sugar all around. And, you forgot to get something out of the freezer, didn’t you? Who wants to wait for potatoes to cook or prepare a fresh stir fry? Sooo much easier to open a box or put something in the microwave and who hasn’t had those moments? I have a friend who, in a rare pinch, would resort to popcorn and milkshakes for dinner! There will be those days, but most days it’s time to get your ParentWhiz on and put a little energy into what your family is about to eat. Your good energy in their little bodies.
However, a meal does not have to be a masterpiece. It just needs the parts that give us the nutrition we need, and it does need to taste good. Easy meals require less energy, too. I have a formula I use when I am low on time or creativity. ParentWhiz Guide – Simple Meals – the Formula. This Guide is printable – or you can just memorize it.
What about all of the exceptions? Yes, there are many, and that adds to the complications. Try the 80/20 rule for what you and your kids eat. Or the 85/15 rule if you are really going to clean things up. 80% real food – 20% well, the other stuff. You decide. That means on Soccer Saturday, if you end up in a drive through line for lunch you are not committing child abuse. You can balance it all out at dinner.
My all time favorite rule from Food Rules is #20 – the one that says “It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.” I am chuckling right now!