When I typed the word "holiday," I immediately had all kinds of delicious associations. I wish I could say that I had non-food associations with the holidays, but food plays a huge role in my holiday experience. Whether I'm celebrating a Jewish, Christian, secular or other kind of holiday, food helps set the atmosphere. Go check out my Thanksgiving posts (way too many to link, but a quick search will bring them up). Food and holidays go hand in hand for me.
Now the problem with this food-holiday connection is that most of the food associations are not all that healthy for me, unless I'm eating ridiculously small portions of said food. OK, turkey on Thanksgiving is probably fine, assuming a normal portion size. BUT think about side dishes, and think about the snacking before the meals. And think about whether the meals are "well-balanced." Are the snacks "well-balanced?" Does it all even out over the holiday?
Nope. The holidays are inevitably carbohydrate heavy, lighter on fruits and veggies, heavier on fats, and protein varies depending on the holiday.
My kids are affected fairly obviously by their diets. They tend to be more agreeable and cooperative when they are eating well, and the inverse also is true. So what do I feed the kids when I'm in the situation of lots of carbs and sugar and not so much of the other stuff to balance it out?
When we arrived at my parents' house this year for Christmas, Aaron and I made a grocery list. My parents had plenty of food in the house. Yet we wanted some of our own food comforts and some of what we consider essentials. In no particular order, our list looked something like this:
- fruit - ended up with bananas, clementines, and grapes
- diet dr. pepper
Other than the small shopping trip, I decided that teaching my kids to be polite was more important than waging an ideological battle against my parents. Yes that meant my kids ate bread with minimal fiber, lots of crackers and cookies, more processed food than they do at home, and drank more juice than they do in an average month. Life is about balance, and it's too short to spend it fighting with those I love.
Interestingly, my kids rejected some of the foods I expected them to go gaga for. Neither kid was a huge fan of the peanut butter my mom had. I'm not sure whether it was texture or taste. I generally buy crunchy and natural - something requiring stirring. My mom had bought a popular brand of creamy with some sugar (not HFCS). Neither kid begged for the buckeye candies I adore, which of course meant my own will power was weakened further. After all, I can't let them go to waste!! :P They weren't even big fans of the sandwich bread, though they did enjoy other breads while we were there. It made me wonder about my kids' tastes, to be honest. I mean, isn't it natural for people to drift to sweet foods? And when I look at processed food, much of it is processed to make it easier to eat - requiring less chewing before it gets to your stomach where you can have whatever biochemical reaction that makes you want more. And don't we people like layers of flavor in our foods rather than simple single flavored foods?
My kids seem to prefer their fruits and vegetables straight, no added butter, cheese, sauce, seasonings. OK, Ellie probably would put grated Parmesan cheese on anything, but she doesn't ask for it on food other than pasta (and now popcorn thanks to me). My kids seem to prefer peanut butter made with one or two ingredients - roasted peanuts and salt. And they like high-fiber breads. Both kids love chocolate, but they don't love all chocolate (e.g., Halloween candy).
I don't wonder why they have these preferences. These preferences reflect how food has been presented to them ever since they started eating table foods. Yet I wonder whether they would be considered normal when compared to other kids their ages. I'm not trying to raise weird kids, though I suspect I don't have much choice about that (look at me and Aaron! *grin*). So readers, if any of you are out there, what do you think? How strange are my kids' eating preferences?