I’m gonna put myself out there and be “that” mom that says it. And it may not be popular. Or will it? Maybe it will resonate with a feeling you already have, maybe reading someone else’s thoughts in black and white will nudge you into being an active part of the paradigm shift. Here goes…
We as parents need to take even more responsibility for our children’s views on food. Way beyond our own dinner table, I think we need to step up and create a revolution of sorts. Even though there are so many of us that strive to provide nutritious meals and snacks in our own home, the American suburbia culture still has a very unhealthy obsession with celebratory foods especially when it comes to children’s events.
The irony is so many of us meet in spin class or at a bootcamp program or on the hiking trail or at a Crossfit box – we bond over our experience to get healthier and learn new eating habits. And then somewhere in a misplaced effort to make our kiddo’s happy, we ditch our newfound nutrition education so often when faced with peer pressure in social environments.
But hello?!?!?! We are the peers! If we all push to curb some of these unhealthy customs, we all benefit!
Another ironic point – where some of this runs the most rampant is in direct correlation with kids sports. Holy smokes the obsession over the snacks after a 50 minute game of soccer is amazing. Seriously, my kids don’t need a giant sugar laden Gatorade and granola bar after running around outside and laughing for less than an hour. What was supposed to be about fun and learning a new sport and meeting new friends becomes an all out sprint to the ice chest to see what Bobby’s family will bust out this week. This is not inherent in kids. We, as parents and coaches, create that. We are helping them associate fun and happy with food. At the very first practice the focus is so often on the snack schedule instead of introducing the kids and parents to each other. Bottomline – we can do better. Sure an orange slice or two can be refreshing and appreciated, but we’ve moved far beyond that and we need to make a shift.
We must model healthier relationships with food in social settings. We can show them the experience itself is truly the reward. Having your family and friends come watch you play? THAT is the treat! There is no cupcake on the planet that will ever make you happier than walking off the field hand in hand with your mom and dad after giving it your all. There is no fake fruit snack that can replace the feeling of your little brother cheering you on from the sidelines. That is what makes life sweet.