the whole food debate (or trying to get my kids to eat more better)

If you are following along at all, you will know by now that we just spent two weeks traveling with five of our kids. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I spend a bit of time with my kids as it is, but not like this. No individual sports, no lessons, no school, no movies with friends, no work, no volunteering. All family time of some sort. Not all family together all the time, but family time in twos or threes or sevens all the same.

Let me just say first that my kids are pretty darn cool. I can roll my eyes and make jokes about them, but they truly are fantastic kids. And the vacation was an experience that I won’t forget. It was amazing to spend time with each of the kids in a way that my husband and I never get to do. But enough with the pleasantries. My kids eat junk. All the time.

Two and a half days in Disneyland. Twenty churros between them. That’s 2-0. Only two of those churros were (half) eaten by the little kids. An entire box of Lucky Charms in one day. Crackers. Goldfish. Pizza. Oh, and the occasional apple or strawberry. Not a vegetable between them.

 Horrible picture, I know, but proof of the churro.

Horrible picture, I know, but proof of the churro.

I see you over there wagging your finger. “But you let them eat like that,” you say. And yes, I am guilty as charged. It was vacation. But when the four year old thinks it is ok to ask for sprite instead of milk, it needs to stop. When peanut butter is the healthiest thing the kids (or I) have had all day, it needs to stop. Twenty churros, people. Twenty. In three days. Time to detox.

On Friday morning, the last morning of our epic road trip, after one too many crappy meals, I signed up for a kids’ nutrition class. It was meant to be. The two week class started on the first Monday back from spring break. 

The weekend activity for the class was to familiarize yourself with the recipes and guidelines, and let the kids pick three things from the recipe packet to make over the coming week. Now would be a good time for me to point out that all of the recipes are gluten and dairy free, with a preference for all organic. First reaction? In all honesty? I don’t have time for this. My husband will no more go gluten-free than fly to the moon. For that matter, I will no more go gluten-free than fly to the moon. And cheese. All the cheese. Our kids eat a lot of yogurt as a substitute for worse things like Lucky Charms. And can we talk for just a second about the expense of an all-organic, gluten and dairy-free diet for eight people? Someone out there is thinking that I don’t care about my kids’ health if I'm thinking about financial cost. I do. I really do. But people, that is not an easy grocery bill to maintain.

What I want, what I really want, is someone to help me learn how to eliminate packaged foods and improve my kids’ intake of vegetables, good proteins, and fruit without going to absolute extremes. We are fortunate to not have any (diagnosed) food sensitivities in the family. We try to eat balanced meals (although I admit that isn’t always the case and I don’t always show you the veggies in my review – will work on that). We just need a little help improving the situation. I don’t want to buy eight different kinds of flours and six different non-dairy milks to do it.

But this all lined up for a reason. I am in the class now, so I’m going to keep an open mind. I am doing the homework. I’ve only got the two little kids this week, and they picked out Strawberry Breakfast Cookies, Quinoa Coconut Pancakes (based on the photo – I didn’t tell them what was in the recipe), Fish Sticks, and Green Hummus to prepare this week. Théa is really excited to do the homework for our “cooking lessons.” I’m pretty sure she thinks she is teaching the class.

I’ll be listening to the first podcast today. And later this week, there will be a podcast on picky eaters and nutrient deficiencies that I am really interested to hear. I’ll let you know how it goes. You never know. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks. Or at least you can teach the young dogs something.