Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What are we feeding our kids?

Woo! Feeling all those lunges this morning!

Up early today because my baby boy needed some snuggling to go back to sleep, and I was happy to do it. It's killing me how fast my kids are growing up. Those sweet, soft snuggle times are priceless to me.

First day of tracking food went OK. I went a little bit over, but hey, it was the first day. I would have been fine had I simply just eaten ONE reduced fat Grands biscuit with dinner and not THREE! Those things are so bad for you, but so yummy. I had actually never bought them before, and I don't plan to buy them again. I tend to buy the reduced-fat crescent rolls instead, but they're just as junky, in smaller portions.

I always feel so guilty when I put foods like that in my grocery cart. In a perfect world, I would feed my family all-organic, all-"clean" foods. ("Clean" meaning only things that occur in nature. If it doesn't grow from the ground or have a mother, it's probably not clean.)

But it's not a perfect world, and I don't serve my family perfect meals. Over the years, I have worked to introduce healthier options such as extra lean ground beef, more vegetables in general, and whole grain bread and cereal products (well, except those damned rolls!)but we also have the lurkers that make me feel bad, such as good ole Heinz Ketchup (High-Fructose Corn Syrup and all) and Honey Nut Cheerios (Have you ever seen a Honey Nut Cheerio bush? Neither have I.)

Sometimes I wonder if it's even worth making myself feel guilty. After all, we eat healthier meals than many of the families out there. But we do have boxed Kraft mac n' cheese (yes, I know it's like the most nutritionally void product out there) for lunch more often than I'd like to admit, and just a couple weeks ago, I actually bought my first bag of frozen chicken nuggets. That purchase practically had me in tears, but it's JUST SO EASY to pop a couple of them in the oven for lunch sometimes. (And, OK, yes, they're nummy.)

So, I wonder. Am I hurting my son by giving these things to him, not every day, but once in a while? I don't think so. Sure, there are healthier offerings out there. I give those to him, too. I don't go the hot dog, mac n' cheese, chicken nugget route every single day, but he does get them often enough to know he likes them.

At this point, I don't know what my son would do if left to his own devices. If he was turned loose in a school cafeteria, with their notoriously poor food choices, I don't know if he would choose the healthier options (if any were even offered) but I know that a lot of times here at home, he will opt for the yogurt rather than the pudding, the Triscuits rather than the Goldfish crackers, a raw carrot instead of a popsicle. Not always, but often enough that I know he does enjoy the better-for-you stuff, too.

The thing is, those healthier options are THERE, front-and-center in the fridge and pantry. That's not so in the "real world," where it takes actual effort to eat healthy. Take the aforementioned example of a school cafeteria. Total crap. Pizza, breaded chicken, burgers, fries. The school lunches I remember were a grease-fest, and from the things I read, they aren't much better these days. Even the hot lunches offered where Logan goes to pre-school are of the nachos-pizza-hot dog variety. It's sad.

Another example is the workplace. What do you have to eat there? Well, if you didn't pack a lunch, you have the junk in the vending machine, or the junk at a fast-food place down the road.

Don't even get me started on the cost of eating healthy! The extra lean ground beef, for example, is DOLLARS more a pound. Organic fruits, veggies, dairy and other foods cost plenty more than the non-organic stuff. Produce in general is amazingly expensive, especially if you eat as much fruit as Hubby and I do.

So, here we are. It's a pain in the butt and it costs more to be healthy. That's just sick and sad and wrong.

I've never been one to write to a government official about anything. I'm pretty uninformed when it comes to political matters. But I am really tempted to send my thoughts to Michelle Obama about the food that is served to our children. She strikes me as a caring, informed mom who understands what our kids should be eating. She and the President go on gym dates together and she serves food from her own organic garden in the White House. I love that! I just wonder if it would do any good to write to her.

Of course, it couldn't hurt.

So, what are your kids having for lunch today?