Monday, February 3, 2014

A Princess Soap Box Story

Once upon a time, long long ago, in a faraway land, a young princess lived in an apartment castle.  The princess was invited to dinner at a neighbor's house.  Said neighbor made the most amazing salmon the princess had ever eaten.  To this day, the princess still thinks about that salmon.  The young neighbors had a son who was about three.  While their dinner guests dined on the most amazing salmon dinner known to man, their son ate a can of microwaved Chef Boyardee.  The princess had heard of this canned concoction, but had never eaten it herself.  But she knew in her heart that it was garbage, and couldn't understand why such a good cook would feed her offspring something so atrocious.

Fast forward more than a decade a few years later, and the princess is married and pregnant with her first child.  She and the prince eat dinner together every night, anxiously awaiting the birth of their offspring.  Their son is born, and before they know it, he's old enough to be sitting at the table with them every night. The son is served the same food as the royal family.  The son grows, and soon, there's another child at the table.  A few years pass, and baby number three is now sitting at the table with the rest of the family. The princess is in the kitchen every evening, cooking dinner for her family.  Pastas, roasts, salads, curries, soups, enchiladas, oysters, lasagnas, grilled meat and veggies....her love of food shows up on the table every night.

Every now and again, the princess thinks about that salmon.  But more often, now that her own children are in school and she hears stories from parents and other students, the princess thinks about that three old boy.  The one who sat down before the grownups, to eat his microwaved, canned dinner.  And the princess gets sad. She's sad that he didn't grow up knowing about good food.  She's sad that most of the children in her kingdom grow up eating "kid" food.  She's sad when she hears parents say, Oh, my kid would NEVER eat that.  She's sad when her children come home and tell her what the other kids at school are eating for lunch every day. She's sad when she hears parents say, My kid will only eat chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.  She's sad when she hears about moms who are living the life of a short-order cook every night to please every mouth at the table.

The princess knows that her opinions are in the minority.  She's heard all the excuses.  But she's tired of feeling sorry for them. Now the princess is mad.  Mad about the lack of knowledge.  Mad at the excuses.  Mad at the parents who aren't teaching their kids what real food is.  Mad at the corporations selling garbage in a healthy disguise.  Mad at packaging that promotes lies.

Now the princess is pissed.  Little kids have the right to grow up eating real food.  They have the right to develop their own tastes. They have the right to decide they hate squash, but love beets. As far as the princess is concerned, depriving kids of a healthy diet and the knowledge of where real food comes from, is child abuse.  Chef Boyardee, Kraft Macaroni, and Nuggets are not real food.  They are a treat, at best.  Drive-Thru is for busy nights and special occasions.  It takes less than 30 minutes to make something from scratch. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a privilege, not a punishment.

Your kids will eat what you serve them.  If you don't buy it, they can't consume it.  The, I have a picky eater excuse, is an excuse. The, we don't have the money excuse, is an excuse (we live off a single income that falls into the "poverty" category).  The, I don't know how to cook or I hate to cook excuse, is an excuse.

The princess is not suggesting raw kale salads and spinach smoothies should be on the weekly menu.  But teaching kids that burgers, chicken strips, pizzas, and fries can be made at home, is just one step on the staircase to healthier eating habits.  Set a bowl of grapes or some sliced up oranges on the table with every meal, and they're learning without even knowing it.

It's never too late to teach them the love of food.

The End

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  1. I am pleased to say that I have grandkids that will eat anything-except for one picky little guy. But he is given the same choices as the other kids-he just eats very little. We never catered to kids' individual meals. We let them eat what we were eating -except I was not a "fish" person. My girls are both good cooks and my sons are both good xo Diana

  2. I completely feel you on this. :) And as a pediatric feeding therapist, I have some strong opinions on this topic. Granted there are some children with true feeding issues that warrant therapy, I agree that a parent should never be a short-order cook and that most children will learn to love all the foods you cook! Kudos to you!

    1. Thank you so much, Bungalow 13. You never know what sort of responses will show up when you write down your opinions for the world to see. It's just so frustrating to watch.
      And a pediatric feeding therapist?! I've never even heard of that!
      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment.

  3. Amen sista! Love this post. I think it could take you places - is Katie reading? How about doing a show on this?

    While I may not be the best cook, I cook six nights a week for my family. I throw in the occasional box of cornbread but am really trying to be thoughtful about what goes into our family's bodies (except maybe when after the kids go to bed, than I can assure you I am not pulling out an orange to eat.)

    The only time we eat at McD's and such is when we are road tripping it - I'm always surprised by my friends who say they had McD for dinner - yuck. I prepare one meal but do make sure there are items I know my kids will eat yogurt, fruit, carrots to make sure they have something in their bodies - maybe not the best tactic but we are moving in the right direction as a family.

    Great post!

  4. This is a big sore spot in our family. None of the little ones really eat anything good. Drives us mental. We always have sitdown meals and I feel guilty if we treat ourselves and order pizza. Funny how different it is in some homes.

  5. Yay. I can comment now! I love this post. It is so very true. I have one very picky eater and one that will devour said kale salad. Not sure how that happened but I do know that I will never just give in and give him something crappy because he won't eat the dinner I put in front of him.


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