Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Ok, I admit it. I'm not the most healthy momma out there, especially lately. As I fly through the whirlwind of each day, I am definitely over-stressed and under-nourished. I sometimes forget breakfast, often don't eat lunch and then my dinners consist of wolfing down in 5 seconds flat whatever I made for the fam., as I balance a baby on my knee and jump to fulfill the myriad of requests my other 3 children and/or husband make. When the two extra girls I am currently caring for are here for dinner, I don't even sit down to eat until long after all the kids have eaten, but I'm still left feeling like I didn't taste one bite. As I write this, my microwave is beeping every minute to remind me that I have food in there - last night's dinner reheated. But I hesitate to get it. Not because it's disgusting - quite the contrary, it's delicious - but because what makes it delicious is not all that great for my already exhausted and out-of-shape body.
While I'm confessing here, let me add a sub-confession of the fact that I am a junk-food junkie. Or sugar addict, if you must give it that sort of label. I love sweet stuff and I love thick, stick-to-your-ribs food. My favorites are pasta, cheese, potatoes, bread...yeah, all the carbs. I do have to say, though, that when I can, I buy whole wheat pasta and I always eat whole wheat bread. However, give me a big heaping bowl of home-made macaroni and cheese made with elbow or mini bow-tie pasta and I'm a very happy camper. (Incidentally, that is what last night's dinner was, complete with small pieces of chicken and some spinach thrown in for at least the effect of healthy eating!)
I do have to say that I also very much LOVE fresh veggies and fruit, salads and all the good, really pure stuff. I actually prefer that over the much loved/much hated cheesy pasta potato dishes I often crave. And this is the part of me I try to pass on to my kids. Growing up, green beans were my favorite vegetable. Cooked or raw, it didn't matter, I'd eat 'em! Do my kids like green beans? Not really....yet. Aidan likes to peel them apart and eat the tiny peas out of them, leaving their pods crumpled and mushed in the middle of his plate. Angel eats one or two but only after she's promised dessert as a reward. Bella...well...forget Bella altogether right now. She doesn't seem to like much of anything, sporting a very picky 'no-I-won't-try-that-for-a-dollar' attitude, which I'm sure she gets from her father. We often have those "show Mommy how the piggies eat" scenes at the dinner table.
I think about the fact that I do not like giving my children much sugar, but being the sugar addict that I am, I will sit and eat chocolate right in front of them. Most of the time, it's like 70% cacao dark chocolate which has very little to no sugar in it.....but still. They don't know that. All they see is that Mommy is eating "candy" and they can't have any! So then I really have to wonder if my example is not a very good one. Okay, I don't wonder. I know. And to prove it, I think I am the way I am because I can remember my parents being the same way! Of course, they gave us tons of fruits and vegetables while growing up, that is how I acquired my love of green beans... But there was also always the never-ending supply of Doritos, that box of Cheez-Its or bag of Chips Ahoy....and nothing ever said (or taught by example) about moderation.
In their (and my) defense, however, I look at the way the world is today and the parenting techniques of most when it comes to the eating habits of their children and I see a lot worse. Just the other evening, I was at the grocery store and in the check-out line was a mom with her teen-aged daughter. Most of the food in their cart was pre-packaged, preservative-laden junk, soda and maybe a bag of carrots. Her daughter ran to get a box of some sort of crazy amped-up caffeine drink and her mom said "no," but with just a tiny bit of protest from her daughter, she bought it anyway. In front of her was another mother with a boy of about 10 or 12 and he was guzzling a Pepsi Max. (It was 8:00 on a Wednesday night. But maybe if they have that sort of crap every day, the sugar and caffeine don't bother them anymore.) By the way, both children, while not obscenely obese, were definitely over-weight.
In a world that teaches us little about self-control and a lot about doing whatever makes us happy, I'm quite concerned for my children. And that goes on so many levels but we'll stick with the food habits just for today. There has been an explosion of seemingly-positive opinions advertised about how one should look healthy, etc.. but these are often driven mostly by the agenda of sex appeal, not health. Why do I want my children to be privy to that sort of influence? The answer is, I don't. So it's up to me to be the one that teaches them about health and nutrition and being good stewards of our bodies. That means leading by example. I guess that means I need to make sure I eat every meal of the day and cut back on the fatty, carb-amped dishes and sweets. And I guess that also means last nights' dinner in the microwave might just sit there while I find a better-suited lunch to fuel my tired bod!