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My grandma came down to Florida to visit last weekend. This was a big deal because she is 82 years old and came down to see her first great grandchild, Basil. We nicknamed her Gram Gram so that as Basil gets older he will not confuse her with Grandma, who is my mom.
Gram Gram and I were relaxing and chatting one evening after Basil went to bed and we were talking about my favorite subject, food. I was telling her about the many times I hear from clients (and even friends) that their kids are picky eaters. Please understand that Basil is only 4 months old right now and maybe I will eat my words in a few years, but here I go anyway....
Parents tell me all the time that their kids "will only eat mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, or pizza." I was telling my grandmother that I just don't remember having that much control over my parents when I was younger. My mother seriously used to feed us zucchini pancakes for dinner. If that was what was for dinner, that is what we ate. There was no refusal to eat it and have mom make mac and cheese for us instead. You ate what was served or you didn't eat.
The other thing I hear often is that the parents make dinner for the kids and then eat themselves after the kids go to bed. Growing up we ate dinner promptly at 5:30 PM every night. Mom, Dad, my brother and I ate together every night. We always had a vegetable (often fresh from the garden out back) and a glass of milk (I grew up in Wisconsin) at every meal.
I guess I didn't realize that other people did not grow up this way until much later in life. I know that our lives are, or at least seem to be, busier now than they were when I was growing up. Dads (and Moms) get home late from work and miss eating dinner with the family. The kids are overcommitted with afterschool activities and end up eating dinner in the car between practices.
Research consistently shows that when families eat together, the nutritional quality of the kid's diet is better. Family dynamics are better. Kids are more likely to accept new foods and eat vegetables because they see their parents eating them (and liking them). Kids drink less soda and more milk.
I am going to write more about this tomorrow and give you some tips on how to improve your family's eating.
PS Thanks Mom! As with many things in life, sometimes it takes a long time to realize that what your parents did for you is priceless. You instilled healthy eating in me from a very young age and I appreciate it now! How about some zucchini pancakes when I come home for Christmas?
Photo of Gram Gram and Basil taken 11/11/07