Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Please Don't Feed the Kids

Many parents develop the annoying habit of talking with their young children while carrying on a phone conversation. I sometimes catch myself doing it, though Wonder Girl has been pretty well trained to scribble me a note if what she has to say, or more likely to ask, can't wait. Fierce Teenager, on the other hand, still calls for my attention whenever it's elsewhere.

A few days ago, I chatted by phone with a friend, let's call her Leslie. Apparently her toddler son was having dinner while we talked. Leslie punctuated our talk with asides to her son. The specific words I heard her use were, "hush puppies," "french fries," and "chicken tenders." Perhaps they were eating a huge salad topped with these tasty extras, but I heard no mention of any fruits or vegetables. (Please don't give me the argument about fries & catsup equalling 2 servings of veggies.)

Reality check, Leslie is overweight, at least as much so as I used to be. Fortunately, her son is still within a healthy weight range, but can that last? Is there any chance he's building a strong and healthy body on that diet? As an adult, will he struggle to correct the damage and break the habit of meals made up entirely of fried food? Should I believe that the meal I happened to overhear was an anomaly in the grand scheme of their daily eating? Is there an appropriate way to suggest change to Leslie?

Leslie is college educated and socially aware. She works during the day, and so can't spend the day preparing a complicated healthy meal. But if we're honest with ourselves, we all know healthy doesn't have to be complicated. Swapping out the fries and hush puppies for an apple and some carrots, or an orange and a banana, or any other fresh, living food would be a great start.

How about you? What are you feeding your kids?