I’ve been dieting and REALLY NOT DIETING and then dieting again for most of my adult life. I fluctuate in size and in most other measures of health and I work hard to shield my kids from my food weirdness. However I’m sure I shield them less than I intend to and it’s not ideal.
I’m a vegan.
Nope. I’m Paleo.
I eat whatever I want, dangit!
Whole 30 for life.
What my kids see is just food. On the table. Some of it’s good. Some of it’s less so. They know I’m always cooking some weird new thing and they mostly accept it, although sometimes with grumblings and rumblings.
Often, when I’m trying something new, I make two complete meals, one for me that I tell the kids is to help my body be healthier, and one for them to keep them happy.
Currently I’ve stripped it back to a Drops of Awesome approach to diet and nutrition. I try to rack up as many good choices as I can and I don’t stress too much about the junk that slips in now and then. It’s working at the moment, in that I’m not stressed about food and it’s become like a game to see how many vegetables and tablespoons of flax seed I can consume each day.
So you’ll see my plate overflowing with roasted vegetables and chicken and my kids are piling up on white rice and cheese. Everyone’s happy.
However, I was recently reading Jonathan Bailor’s book, The Calorie Myth, an exploration of hundreds of medical studies about how our bodies actually evolve with diet and exercise. It had a section about helping our kids form good habits with food and I thought, “If I’m trying to eat more vegetables, lean meats, and good fats because that’s the healthiest way to eat, why did I give up the battle of encouraging my kids to do the same?”
They may not be having problems with health or fitness now, but if they keep eating the way they are, they will have problems in their future. It’s a difficult thing to figure out because, if anything, my kids struggle with being underweight, so I feel justified filling them up with empty calories to bulk them up when what I should really be doing is helping them eat more, higher-quality foods.
The problem is, I’m willing to eat healthful food simply because I know it’s good for me. My kids expect things to taste good. So, the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on adapting favorite recipes to make them a few Drops of Awesome better for everyone. I’ve had some hits and some misses, but more hits and it’s encouraging.
Yesterday when the kids got home from school, rather than letting them get their usual bowl of breakfast cereal, I spread lettuce leaves with a Greek yogurt dip they like, filled them with sliced turkey breast and made little roll-ups. They all gave me the stink-eye at first. But every one of them ended up loving the new snack.
Then for dinner I took a family favorite, cheeseburger pie, made it crustless, and changed the topping. Instead of topping it with a bunch of cheddar cheese, I topped it with a little cheddar cheese, some low-fat cottage cheese, an egg and several egg whites, and broccoli florets.
I held my breath. This was a major overhaul. But they all, LOVED it. Even the pickiest, Wanda, asked for seconds. And in the family prayer, Magoo said he was thankful for all the yummy food I’d been making lately.
We’re making progress.
The cherry on the top came at lunch today when I surprised Wanda with leftovers. She hates leftovers on principle. However, today she was ecstatic to eat her “new favorite meal,” the healthier version of cheeseburger pie.
“I like this better than mac and cheese!” she said. High praise, my friends. “What’s the real name of this dinner? I want to know because last summer in swimming lessons my teacher had me yell out my favorite food when I did a cannonball at the end of class and if she has me do that again next summer, I want to yell, ‘THIS THING!’”
THIS THING, indeed. Drops of Awesome.