Director's Column: How to Raise a Good Eater...Don't Stress!
Did you enjoy the Pancake Breakfast? A huge thank you to Megan and Will for organizing as well as to our hospitality team for everything from picking up two enormous vats of pancake batter, to setting up tables, to tirelessly flipping pancakes! And thank you all for bringing fruit, bacon, milk, juice, and butter. I hope many of you got to take home a goody bag of leftovers!
Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything, wrote an interesting article for The New York Times a while back titled, "How to Raise a Good Eater". He starts off describing how he ate as a child; breakfast was often milk and cookies, lunch was whatever he could get with his lunch money, often hot dogs and candy, after school he would snack on junk food, then, dinner was meat, potatoes and canned vegetables.
This led to diet and health struggles and the decision to teach his children to eat what he calls “real food”. From an early age, he fed them whatever he had prepared for the family that night, even when octopus was on the menu! For the nights when they absolutely refused to eat something, he let them make a “healthful” choice: a sandwich, cheese and crackers or a yogurt. He admits that his system, though accepted, was not always popular. However, looking back neither he nor his children can think of a single food that they really detested.
Although he acknowledges that the world we live in can make it difficult, his concrete advice is, “Make sure breakfast and lunch are made up of items you would eat when you’re feeling good about your diet. Make a real dinner from scratch as often as you can. Teach your kids to snack on carrots and celery and fruit and hummus and guacamole – things made from fruits and vegetables and beans and grains. Offer these things all the time. Worry less about labels like 'G.M.O' and 'organic' and 'local' and more about whether the food you’re giving your children is real."
Good advice, but I will add to that...don't stress! You have YEARS of meals ahead of you. I have seen my kids go through the "living on air" phase, the "no fruits or vegetables" phase, the "get up from dinner and eat a bowl of cereal" phase, the "only green juice from Panera" phase and on and on. I currently have one child who is a vegetarian and another who seems to exist solely on ramen, burritos, and grilled cheese sandwiches from Great Harvest. Most of the time these phases come and go, so, try not to get too wrapped up in the day-to-day, keep offering healthy choices, and try to keep mealtimes relaxed and fun! Best, Nina