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Sunday, April 7, 2013

I'm no Health Master, but .... - An Open Letter to Montel Williams and The Blender He Does Commercials For.

Dear Montel,

When The Girl was a baby, say 11 months old or so, when we went grocery shopping, like most parents, I had to keep my baby from losing her marbles. Sometimes I would give her a box of mac n chz to use like a maraca. Sometimes I would give her a lemon and then wait for her to bite into it so I could see her sour face. More often, though, I would go to the salad bar and grab a piece of steamed vegetable. Where we shopped at that time the store always had steamed cauliflower on their salad bar. The Girl would take the cauliflower and turn it into a slobbery mess with tiny little bites taken out of it. It kept her entertained for at least 1/2 of the shopping trip.

I would get two reactions. The first one was from people who would ask me why I gave her cauliflower. Why didn't I just give her a cookie instead. I would answer with "Why would I give my kid a cookie? She's never had one before." or "What's wrong with cauliflower." The other reaction, was the reaction I got most often. People would ask me how in the world I got my kid to eat a piece of cauliflower. My answer was simple, because I gave it to her. My baby didn't need cookies. My baby didn't need processed foods. Cauliflower was just fine.

This morning morning The Girl, who is now 14 her brother The Boy, age 5 and I were watching TV. We came aross an infomercial called "Best Blender Ever." (or something like that). I stopped on the channel because we make smoothies every morning and my blender doesn't have the power I'd like it to have. I heard you tell the audience that this blender is a great way to disguise vegetables. Then some woman came on and said it was a great way to hide vegetables from her twins. After that you were at some farmers market where you were teaching kids how to hide their vegetables.

Why do you need to teach kids how to hide their vegetables? Why not teach kids that vegetables aren't gross? Why don't we teach kids to eat well by not exposing them to processed foods until they've developed a taste for the things that they should be eating? OK, so you're argument here is that the kids you were talking to were already taught that vegetables are gross. I still maintain that teaching kids to hide the flavor is wrong. It has to be possible to teach kids that savory is yummy and that things don't have to be coated with sugar in order to enjoy them.

I'm not perfect. I don't always monitor what my kids eat, but what I have been successful at is making sure there are plenty of fruits and vegetables they can always eat. The Boy will knock back a box of Trader Joe's peanut butter sandwich  crackers, which is bad, but he'll also kill a basket of cherry tomatoes in one sitting or grab a carrot when he's hungry . The Girl puts waaaay too much sugar in her tea but I've also seen her grab a handful of spinach because she felt she hadn't had enough vegetables that day and was feeling like her body needed it. Both of my older kids are happy with having a piece of fruit for dessert.

I teach my kids that you have to have good food in you before you can put bad food in you. I don't go overboard and tell them they can't have any treats. I'm not the mom who only gives them fruit sweetened, gluten free, vegan birthday cake. But I am the kind of mom who makes sure they know the difference between food your body needs, and food your sweet tooth craves.

Cultivate their palates for what is good for them and they will crave what is good for them. Tricking them into eating their vegetables isn't the answer.


1 comment:

  1. Great post! The Girl is our eating role model.


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