Some of you may be under the balmy impression that because I’m a dietitian, my children also
tow the line of embrace the near-vegan, low-sugar, no-processed-foods diet that characterizes my lifestyle. So let me describe a conversation that occurred at my dinner table a few nights ago…
Kids: “Oh I remember string cheese as such a childhood food…”
“And Cheerios out of those little wooden bowls…”
“I know, those bowls were so cute. And remember ‘Go-Gurt’?”
Me: “Wait… WHAT??! ‘Go-Gurt’??? Tell me when I ever bought you guys ‘Go-Gurt.'”
Kids: “You used to buy it for us all the time, Momma. You know, in those little tubes? We would freeze it and then suck it out as it thawed. It was so fun.”
Me: “Maybe that was before my health revolution.”
For those of you who are wondering, “Go-Gurt” (TM, by Yoplait) is highly sweetened yogurt (9 grams of sugar per 60 calories- that’s over 50% of its calories from sugar, folks!) encased in a plastic tube, marketed to children via the fun aspect of sucking it out of the tube anytime and anywhere, no spoon required. Worked on my kids! While it’s certainly not the worst thing they could eat, it is representative of the high-sugar processed food aimed at children.
I’m happy to say we’ve moved on to plain unsweetened yogurt with an added drizzle of honey or fresh fruit. However, I can’t report that our pantry shelves are completely devoid of all commercial or processed food products. In fact, one of the attractions of coming to my house for cooking class may be the unfettered access to my pantry… what does Bex really keep in there, anyway??
I hope it’s refreshing and not alarming to find a bag of Tostitos chips, the Ziplocs full of Halloween candy (still!), and a giant bucket of Nutella settled alongside the almond butter and natural peanut butter, bags of quinoa, oats, dried fruit, and chickpeas.
My general philosophy is that it’s my job as a mom (regardless of my professional knowledge) to provide healthy, wholesome, appealing meals for my family, to teach my kids about good nutrition, and to inspire them to nourish themselves well when they’re away from home. Then of course they walk out the door and I have no idea if I’ve succeeded! Oh the life of a momma! While I have little control over what any of them eats while they’re away from home, I do think they typically choose pretty well. Each one volunteered ideas for what they wanted to take to school for snacks… and they usually bring home an empty container, no leftovers or wasting.
I could be strict and allow nothing but vegan, all-natural, no-refined-sugar foods in the house. But then I reckon they’d sneak away for some processed cheese and microwave popcorn every chance they got. And they’d never invite their friends over. I would be sad about that. I realise my kids’ diet is not perfect. I sometimes worry about each one’s intake. But it’s pointless to strive for perfection in something I won’t ultimately have control over anyway. So we just try our best.
And I make them homemade popcorn… sometimes with butter on it. I make them chocolate muffins with chia & flax and honey & chocolate chips… and they are delicious. I make lentil bolognese most often… but sometimes I make it with ground beef for them. I make beetroot carrot salad that I’m in love with and is too beautiful for words. I offer it to them… but when they decline, I’m not disappointed. (Maybe someday!) And sometimes I just take the butter out to soften so Tommy can make “real” chocolate chip cookies. And I bake cupcakes with buttercream frosting with Sara & Theda, because they adore cupcakes with frosting. And I adore them.
Because like I’ve said before, health is about more than food. It’s about food… and balance… and togetherness… and joy.
And if I can teach that, I’ve more than done my job.