Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Do Real Food Moms Love Their Kids More?

October 4th, 2013 · 49 Comments · Kids in the Kitchen, Tips

Chicken Nuggets and French Fries lunch FB

“Everyone always has such junky food,” she lamented, shaking her head in dismay and disgust. “My friend packed THREE candies for lunch, and she ate them ALL – can you believe that, Mom?”

True story. Those are real sound bytes out of the mouth of my 5-year-old kindergarten daughter, not a real foodie adult.

As in so many other spheres of life – like when she nurses her baby dolls, dragging them around the house by their heads, which are stuffed under her shirt – she has learned about food habits by watching me and mimics a great deal of my language.

And while I’m thrilled that my influence has been so effective on her thinking about food, I do have some concerns.

I was having a conversation with a friend, another former teacher, the other day about our young children and how they notice other kids’ food at lunch. We worried mutually that our well-trained youngsters would hurt other kids’ feelings by saying stuff like, “Your food is junky,” or worse: “Doesn’t your mom love you? She sends you junk food for lunch!”

I whipped out my pencil and wrote a note exclaiming, “That’s a great idea for a post!” That’s what it’s like hanging out with me, by the way – just weird.

Because We Love You

pumpkin pancakes with yogurt cheese (6) (475x317)

As real food parents, of course we get the, “Why is my food different?” question, and more often, “Why can’t I eat that, Moooooomm?” It’s been both of our common responses to say, “Mommy loves you so much and doesn’t want you to put bad foods in your body. I don’t want you to feel yucky later.”

That becomes a more complicated answer when other kids’ parents clearly make different food choices – how does one explain to young children that although we serve healthy food because we love them, it doesn’t automatically apply that the parents who don’t send healthy food to school love their kids any less.

The real answer has something to do with ignorance, hopefully, lack of skills, possibly, and the intense influence of the culture, certainly.

But how to say that to a 5-year-old?

Silence is Golden

Leah kindergarten getting on the bus

The first line of defense that I recommend is to teach your kids not to talk to other kids about their food. I will say to my young ones, “We don’t want to make other kids feel badly, do we? Not all parents know everything your mommy knows, so we have to let the parents do the learning, not the kids.” That’s my chance to say to my kids, “That’s why Mommy spends time on the computer, to teach other parents about how to put good foods in their families’ bodies.”

Your child might become very concerned about a friend’s health, which could easily happen with a sensitive little soul who has heard many times, “We get sick if we eat junk food,” and may even be brought to tears about it. As with other scary-world topics, I always put it on the adults:

“You are so sweet to be concerned about your friend, but we have to trust that mommys and daddys will take care of their children. If you’d like, Mommy can talk with Mrs. so-and-so and suggest some healthy fruits and vegetables for lunch. Maybe we can have your friend over and have apples as a snack!”

(But only say that if you’re willing to do it!)

EDIT: Okay. Folks. Many of you are absolutely correct that this is pretty out of line. I just said to tell your kids NOT to talk to friends about food, and here I am saying I’ll school other parents. I wouldn’t do that but with already-very-close friends, and we’ve already talked about food. So…since I’ve never had a crying girl, I could only imagine what I’d say. I imagined quite poorly, and I’m sorry! I WOULD say that we could invite the friend over for a nice apple, and a few ideas from the KS community are really good too:

  • Remember that we have junk food sometimes too, so maybe lunch is your friend’s “once a day” or “spoil day” kind of treat.
  • Every family has different ways of doing things, and some people stay healthy in other ways, like exercise…
  • You know how gluten is bad for Daddy, but maybe it’s not bad for Mommy? We have to remember that everyone’s body is different.
  • It’s very sweet that you’re worried about your friend, and I know that makes God happy that you love her so much. But we need to trust other kids’ mommies and daddies, who God gave to them to care for them, to do the mommy/daddy jobs. I’m sure your friend eats good food a lot of the time, too…

School Temptations

No matter how well-trained your kids are in real food, junk food is an awful temptation, hard to resist. Here’s what one mom had to say on a Facebook conversation about kids and food:

My baby started kindergarten last week and follows it with a few hours of ‘parks and recs’ daycare in same school where I work…. My heart broke on Friday when I picked him up and he was eating a 6 pack of Oreos and a juice box. He is 5 but I teach him what the body needs, but he just cannot say NO to the junk food. Does it ever feel like a solo expedition when other adults just don’t get it?

I know she’s not alone in this! (Join the community on Facebook, and if you already “liked” KS and aren’t seeing this good stuff in your feed, visit the KS page and leave some comments or shares or thumbs up/likes, and I think you can get real foodie talk back in there, or change the settings on KS too.)

In that situation, I usually bring our own snack and deal with the “I’m different” consequences as best as I can. Because it’s hardly ever “just one” treat, as I wrote about a while back with “Do we Really Wonder why We’re Obese?

One small way my kids get to be “more like the others” at lunch is when they pack frozen smoothies in their Squooshi pouches. They’re so darn cute that people don’t even realize they’re filled with homemade goodness. I’m pleased to welcome Squooshi back as a sponsor this month! (Here’s my review.)

Join the Conversation

It’s hard sending real food in the lunch box (my gallery of photos) every day when the sale ads at back-to-school time make it clear that other parents are sending lunchmeat, iceberg lettuce, processed cheese, apple juice, and cookies. I happened to notice that was the front page early last month, and don’t forget the Lunchables.

I also noticed the regular price of Lunchables was $2.50, on sale for 88 cents – they want you to stock up since they won’t go bad…because they’re not real food! Yuck. (Fight back with The Healthy Lunch Box.)

So how does a real food family respond? How do you make sure your kids eat healthy food when they’re out of the house, not feel totally ostracized, AND remain kind to other kids who aren’t eating healthy food?

As with everything, it’s a tricky balance.

Real food moms don’t love their kids more, but they certainly take more time on their food. It’s my hope that you’ll take a few minutes today to think about how you’ll teach your children to interact with others about food, too.

Chime in! How do you deal with all these “food and friendship” issues?

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49 Comments so far ↓

  • Lynda

    So true. So important. Great post.

    I find this same conundrum with being a Christian. We want our boys (4&6) to grow up with hearts on fire for God/Jesus. But every once in a while, they misinterpret something in public to a non-believer that makes us cringe. And have to fix. gulp.

    Always trying to fine tune their understanding of how it’s okay that we are different in this and in real food, so they are less inclined to be blow out a real doozie. :) But, as we all know, there will always be another when you go against the current…

    Thanks for the great reminder to keep working more at this.

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    Sharon Reply:

    It is a hard road. With my kids I am quite blunt. If you drink Coke it will rot your teeth out. You don’t want to eat good food? you will end up on medication like your school buddies? This is tough love. I say this is dinner not dessert. Meat makes you strong, fish makes you smart, vegetables make you fast and sugar makes you slow. My 11 yr. old boys love my cooking and eat 3x more veggies than the average adult. They hopefully will be happy and healthy for the rest of their lives.

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  • 'Becca

    I don’t know that I have ever said “because I love you” about food choices, but I have said “because I care about your health,” etc., which could imply that other parents don’t care…. I have sometimes explained, though, when my son is aghast over how grown-ups can choose such junky foods for kids they supposedly love, that some people feel that foods they think are really really yummy and fun to eat–even if they know they are unhealthy–are a good way to show other people their love and care. It’s like, “I love you, so I want to give you a special treat!” and they’re not thinking about whether that treat might harm the loved one’s teeth, and they may even get into the habit of giving that treat way too often. But the love behind it is genuine even when the food is fakey!

    I have to share the story my son told me last night: His class was doing a math exercise with a menu, and the items on it were hot dog, hamburger, pulled pork sandwich, and chicken wings. We’re mostly vegetarian and especially avoid junky weird meats like hot dogs. He said, “It just got to me, thinking about all those ground-up and pulled-apart animals and the ripped-off wings, and I got all grossed out and couldn’t think about the math! So when Ms. C checked on how I was doing, I explained.” Ms. C told him to wait a moment and then brought him a handwritten version of the worksheet, with the same prices assigned to a PB&J, veggie burger, grilled cheese, and salad!! I’m so impressed at her thoughtfulness.

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    Julie Reply:

    What an awesome teacher.

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    Theresa Ceniccola Reply:

    We need more teachers like that! So fabulous!

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    That’s a great one, too, ‘Becca, because it’s so true how many people show love via food, usually “treats.” I do the same sometimes!

    And “Awwwwww!” I love that teacher. :) Katie

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  • Julie

    So far, my second grade son is more interested in how many items are in his lunch. Last year his school’s lunch program changed to a requirement that purchased lunches have five components, so he wants to make sure he has as many components as everyone else.
    We haven’t gotten far enough along on our real food journey that we avoid all junky food. I confess to having Oreos in my pantry right now. My son is still allowed to have junk offered by someone else. He has always enjoyed fruits and most vegetables, and that’s what his palate is used to at home. It seems logical to him that those kinds of foods would be in his lunchbox.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Julie,
    My kids still have junk from others too, and we have gads of candy from parades etc. in our cupboards too – just one a day per kid. I don’t know if we’ll ever be “far enough” to avoid all junk, unless someone is totally sensitive to corn, let’s say… :) Katie

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  • Jen @ Eating My Vegetables

    I mostly have, without much thought, put the focus on her. Especially since my daughter has a very narrow diet, there are a lot of good foods she can’t have. She just tells other kids, “that is not good for my body, it makes my tummy hurt.” and is content with that.

    But I would emphasize that different moms show their love different ways. Maybe you show love through food, but other mommies show love through time they spend or games they play. I think that would help console kids without making things out to be negative.

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  • Theresa Ceniccola

    I needed to hear this today. I’ve always been careful about what I feed my children and I’m one of those parents who has been ‘educated’ by people like you over the years. My children have grown in knowledge along with me. So now we’re at the point where we eat a healthy dose of real foods but we don’t entirely ban all processed foods. I’d say on a scale from 1 (junk) to 10 (real), we’re probably about an 8, and I’m ok with that for now. But I think people like me (and I’m guilty of this) are the WORST offenders in terms of the issue you present. Those of us who are ‘new’ to the real food world feel like we have a duty to convert everyone we meet! And that is so not the right approach. I have a particular challenge as a coach and leader when I have other children in my home and I feed them apples and water when they want Oreos and Mountain Dew. I appreciate your perspective and the language you use with your children and other people. I will take a cue from you! What advice do you have for talking with teens who are in your home or in your care for an outing? I kinda feel like at that age, they are making a lot of their own meal choices and could really benefit from ‘learning’ about real food. But I don’t know how to approach without offending. Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I’m nervous about that age myself, Theresa! My oldest is only 8…but I think I’ll still just lead quietly by example, by trying to make delicious food, especially stuff teens like – I have a feeling I’ll be making a lot of popcorn in coconut oil with butter if I want my kids’ friends to be at our house. ??? Wish I had more to add, but I’m just not there yet! :) Katie

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    Theresa Ceniccola Reply:

    Thanks, Katie. I’ll let you know if I figure it out. But I can promise you I am not silent when a teen drinks a diet soda in my presence. Like it or not, I have to say something:-)

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  • Leah

    You could just teach your kids not to judge others. When they bring this stuff up, instead of giving them a smug response on how you teach other mothers how to feed their child, implying that your way is the only right way, you could simply say “every family does things their own way and I think our way works best for US” and leave it. Just like racism and bigotry, kids learn how to treat others from their parents. I might even say that the “junky” mom is doing a better job since her daughter isn’t judging people by their lunches of all things. Consider that it’s all some families can do due to budget, health issues or religious beliefs

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Hmmm, Leah, I certainly wasn’t feeling judgmental in my response. For my daughter, who is a sensitive soul, if she was in tears over something, she would need an action response, and this was all I could think of. I know not everyone can eat wonderful food all the time…but candy is an extra and budgets stretch to include it, not the other way around. So I would take issue with saying that having candy in one’s lunch is something that is a necessity on a lower budget. (I’ve never used that response, by the way, about actually calling another parent – it would be a seldom used answer.)

    Plenty of kids judge my kids and tease them because of their lunches…
    Katie

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  • pdw

    It will be interesting to see how the parents of five and six year olds handle it when their kids are teenagers. We have had such struggles with our kiddo, now 15. He was raised vegetarian, we were very careful of dyes and corn syrup and other junky ingredients. He is gluten-intolerant and has problems with corn and dairy and who knows what else. Now it seems like he is totally out of control with his diet. We went through several months of vomiting, etc. because he was sneaking gluten and dairy at friends’ houses. His digestive tract is badly messed up now. He has finally given up on sneaking gluten and dairy, but won’t stay away from pop and chips even though he knows he’ll feel sick all night from them. We keep talking over and over about how his food choices are making him feel this way. But between his differently wired brain and the crazy hormones and peer pressure of teenagerhood, he just won’t listen.

    Sometimes I wish he was little again and would just eat what I gave him.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Oof, that sounds like painful parenting – I’m so sorry, and I’m sure not looking forward to those teen years either!
    Katie

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    'Becca Reply:

    Wow, that’s got to be hard to watch!! But for some teens it is necessary to try the bad stuff for quite a while before they realize their parents are right. He’s got to develop his own self-control; I just hope it happens befo he does permanent damage to his body.

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  • Kim

    Manners.

    This issue is not about food, it is about MANNERS.

    Have them. Role model them to your child(ren).

    And choose your words carefully when you speak to your children, for heaven’s sake.

    Just the thought of a child being told by a peer that their parents must not love them because of the food they sent in their lunchbox is so very SAD. Manners, people!!!

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Absolutely. Kim, my kids are some of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet. I’m not talking about a 5yo who is rude, but one who is, well, FIVE. 5yo’s are ego-centric and view the world only through their own perspective. If something is true for my daughter, she’s going to assume it’s true for others because of her age and psychology. So I would hope that my teaching her to not talk to others about food WOULD be manners, but if I don’t make a point to do it, she won’t have those manners. I guess I’m not sure what you’re taking issue with here – that I would say “I feed you healthy food because I love you and I don’t want you to be sick?” Is that really that awful?
    Katie

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    mamalaoshi Reply:

    About a year ago my daughter (5yo) started asking about why we eat so differently from so many of her peers or why she can’t have the junk food they eat. My response is usually that I want her to be healthy, also that our bodies are a gift from God and it is our responsibility to treat our bodies with respect and care. I think it is silly for people to expect us not to share our reasons/beliefs with our children because something tactless or blunt might come out of their little kid mouths. I have a feeling the comments of people that seem to be offended just read the title of your post and skimmed the rest. I thought you did an honest and thorough job talking about the issue of not hurting others who are different.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Phew, thanks! I’m hoping skimming was the problem, because yes – just like I’m not going to tone down how much I love Jesus just because a child might talk about God at school, I’m not going to hide/change my food philosophy to meet others where they are. So thanks for the supportive comment! :) Katie

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    Charlotte Reply:

    I agree, people must not be fully grasping the article, or else they’re not thinking of how a young kid would think. My kids (4,5 and 7) are always making comments like Katie’s daughter does (luckily to me, not other people!) and I think it’s because their thinking is very concrete right now. They think things are either evil or wonderful, no in between. So if I say we don’t eat candy or box mac and cheese because those will make our bodies get sick, they have horrified faces when someone at the store grabs those things. I hear whispers of “someone should tell that lady to not buy that, Mom!” And when we drive past McDonald’s, my kids usually get so sad because of all the cars there, and say they wish the people would eat better food. I’ve been thinking a LOT about this issue of balance and how to explain people’s choices, because I don’t want them to say something embarrassing to someone. But I agree that it’s like our Christian beliefs, and we need to keep teaching our kids to be kind to others. Teaching kids that people have all sorts of different beliefs and lifestyles is one of the big tasks in parenting!

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    caroline Reply:

    This is OT, but when my sister was about Leah’s age, we were in a store and she asked me (very loudly) why that lady had black paint all over her face. She wasn’t being rude although I could see that someone could view it that way, she had just never seen a black person before. It’s amazing what will come out of kids mouths sometimes. I got teased for my lunches when I was in school too, not so much because they were ‘real food’ but because I would show up with something like a goose meat sandwich or chicken liver pate w/ crackers.

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  • Holly

    I think you left out a very important reason some mothers allow what you consider junky foods in their kids lunches:perhaps they have a different food philosophy than you do. Maybe they try to eat good stuff 80% of the time and let the other 20% go. Maybe they cook nutritious dinners but send “junky” lunches. Maybe food is a major issue between them and their child and they are taking baby steps towards getting their child to eat different, more nutritious foods. Maybe they work full time and it’s just easier to send those types of foods. I can think of a host of reasons but I wanted to point out the philosophy issue–when it comes to food, we all have different philosophies–from paleo, to gluten free, to vegetarian, high fiber, low carb. For me personally, I do well on a low carb, higher protein, mostly whole foods diet. I see allow some junk–not because I’m not educated on the subject but because mentally I do better that way. In my world, it’s not reasonable to forego going out for dinner or pizza forever, or sometimes for time’s sake, not making something completely from scratch. It doesn’t make me “wrong” and you “right”. We are both doing what works best for both of us in our lives and that is the point you should emphasize to your child.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Holly,
    True, so just to say that so-and-so’s lunchtime is a little like when you go to Grandma’s and get spoiled – we all eat some junk food sometimes, and that might be their family’s time of the week. I get that.

    Thanks,
    Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Holly Reply:

    I also think its important to remember that everyone’s bodies work a little differently. Some people do great on paleo, even through intense exercise, where others find that they really do need the carbs, or at least need them while training for a sports event. So I guess my point is that while you have found what works well for you and your family, another family may have a different philosophy. For example, I try to eat as “clean” as possible, but that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes buy pre-made ketchup or salad dressing or what have you. In my philosophy, these types of items are used so sparingly, while I could do better, I don’t necessarily think its harmful. I also believe in real sugar over artificial sugars, although I prefer honey or maple syrup if appropriate. I will not use stevia because my body is sensitive to it, and the others give me migraines. But then again, the only time I use sugar is a treat like cookies which happen very rarely so again, I’m not worried about it. I’m not sensitive to grains, so while I do limit them from a calorie standpoint, I don’t think its necessary to avoid all together. I guess my point is that while I am also striving to eat as healthily as possible, I have interpreted some of the research out there differently than you have. I know that is a big concept for a 5 year old, but I think it’s ok to begin to explain that other people have different beliefs and ideas because this will come up again and again and not just in regards to food. But PS In regards to the comment about manners–I don’t see her question as lacking manners–if anything she is just concerned about her friends which is so,so sweet and she is 5! She is asking you because she is concerned, which is exactly what we all hope our kids will do–come to us with their questions and concerns. Good luck!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • mamalaoshi

    When my 5yo has started kindergarten this year, our issue was a bit different. Daddy bought her some neat bento boxes which she was very excited about but when I started filling them with a variety of yummy healthful food, her main objection was “We don’t eat that kind of food at school.” Luckily we had a turning point when her classmates started making positive comments about her healthful snacks. Now she is fine bringing a variety of different foods. I think most kids want to eat healthfully when it is available, and when they are not being influenced by peer pressure and advertising.

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  • Lisa

    I would definitely approach this from a priorities standpoint. Different things are important to different families. Some parents spend a great deal of time making sure their children have great training in sports, for others it is education or music, and for others it is food. I would say, “this is something that is very important to our family. Other family find other things that are important to them and food is not as big of a deal”

    I do think you need to follow up on the teens and whole foods question- especially boys. They’re needs for fat and calories are much higher and I’m finding they are asking for chips, pizza and smoked meats a lot. We’re managing by trying to keep to that 80/20 rule with extra leniency for the teens, but it’s hard to keep up a variety of whole food snacks during the day that can compete with the appeal of the junkier food they crave.

    [Reply to this comment]

    'Becca Reply:

    My son is only 8 but growing quickly, eating a lot, and fond of crunchy snacks. I don’t know which foods are “whole” enough for you personally, but I feel pretty comfortable providing organic dye-free corn chips (affordable at Costco), cheese, canned beans, and storebought salsa with no sugar; he makes nachos that fulfill a craving for fatty salty food. Breakfast cereals that are low in sugar, but can be topped with honey, are a sweeter crunchy food that’s still nutritious, especially when eaten with milk, yogurt, or cottage cheese. When I don’t have time to make marinara sauce, there are lots of affordable jarred brands with no added sugar, low sodium, and no soy; spread on a whole-wheat burger bun or other breadstuff, top with cheese, cook in toaster oven, and it’s a pizza! My brother and I ate a lot of this level of “junk food” as teens.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Mmmmm, nachos. I’m hungry now. ;) Yep, organic corn chips are our fav indulgence, and I’d have a Costco membership just for those!!! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Lisa,
    Ooo, I like that one. Thanks! I’ll have to try to make beef jerky more often and maybe offer sticks of butter to munch on when I have teen boys…kidding about the butter, but that’s a good point about calorie-rich foods. We do a lot of nuts, so hopefully that will help then too! :) Katie

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    Lisa Reply:

    Thanks Becca. Costco organic corn chips are a staple here. They do put cheese on a plateful. I like the idea of having them add beans or meat. More often now, they are just heating up left overs in the mid afternoon. That’s a good option too.

    I’ve never done home-made jerky. My 13 year old is deer hunting with my husband this morning, if he brings some home, I’ll definitely look into it.

    Mornings here are always homemade granola. We go through 4 recipes a week sometimes. It’s amazing how they can eat. :)
    I wish they were eating more fruits and vegies, there is always a platter of these available at mealtimes (and other). Hopefully, watching us model that will pay off as they get older.

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    Becky C. Reply:

    I am just saying, that you may think your 8 year old eats alot now, but just wait. I now have 2 teenage boys, 13 and 17, and a 7 year old boy. The teens can out eat everyone in the house no problems. And they really seem to need to eat more often than everyone else does. And they are more influenced by their peers than any other age group, so they are more likely to eat junk. I would love to see how real food parents do keep their teenage boys in the real food!

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    Brittany Reply:

    Oh man, I’m in for it. In 12 years I’ll have four teenage boys living in my house. Forget saving for college…we should start saving for feeding them then.

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  • CT

    I would probably start by asking my child questions: why do you think his parents pack this food? Do you think that his parents love him like we love you?
    I think that, in the end, most children would realize that “yes” the other’s child’s parents do love him. Most children would probably think that the other parents don’t know about healthy/unhealthy food.
    For thorny issues, I like to use questions to find out what the child is really thinking because normally, once you give the child time to think, s/he can come up with a good answer.

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  • McKenzie

    Wow, great post. Thanks Katie. As pregnant FTM this is very thought provoking.

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  • Ros

    My grandaughter came home from the first day of school saying that the other kids made fun of her lunch which was salmon,broccoli and blueberries.a couple of days later,I asked her if anybody had mentioned her lunch again and she said’No,they don’t eat healthy food” i am very proud of her- she is 7!

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  • Beth

    Interesting. I don’t think I have ever told my son that junk food will make him sick – he has allergies so saying a food makes him sick has very concrete meaning for him. Instead we tell him that some foods have things in them that help him grow strong and some don’t. He is only 3, but very verbal so I just expect to be embarrassed and misquoted on numerous occassions, but I hope focusing on the good that food does for us instead of the bad that junk food can do puts the emphasis in the right place.

    I do tell him that I discipline him because I love him . . . wonder how that will get translated when he sees another kid acting up ;)

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  • Julie

    We all have priorities in our households whether or not we label them. Since priorities differ, our kids are naturally curious why we do things one way and their school peers do them another. My son asks why we eat or avoid certain foods, attend religious services regularly, adhere to a strict bedtime, require thank-you cards for birthday gifts, force him to take piano lessons, and don’t allow him to have hair down to his shoulders. Sometimes I try to explain our rationale for these actions, but most of the time it’s just easier to tell an eight year old “Because I love you.”

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  • heather

    I like your blog a lot and have been working hard to implement a lot of your ideas. I don’t think you were trying to sound smug or anything but first glance at the title made me go “eek!” Lol! I did read on, however. :-) I hope that we all can remember that life happens and we will “slip” because we are human. I’m in the stages of early pregnancy, have two young children and a husband who travels. Anyway, I’m exhausted some days and something that tastes good one day will gross me out on another day. Last week, when my husband was gone, I didn’t have the energy or stomach to cook from scratch. You know what sounded good to me? A burger and fries from Culvers. Did I eat it? Yes I did. Do I feel guilty? Nope. It isn’t a common occurrence. I can’t imagine how challenging things can be for single mothers or working mothers but most of us are trying really hard to make the right, informed choices…but life happens…let’s give one another a break.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Heather,
    For sure, we all compromise from time to time. We had total junk food as a family for dinner last week at an event downtown, a planned indulgence and just fun (and some of us paid for it, but we learned something too).

    The title was definitely just to grab attention, and I hope the post itself answered pretty clearly “no” and just opened up the conversation about kids’ language, mostly. I’m certainly not trying to judge anyone else’s energy level, intentions, or anything like that. Many people just don’t even understand healthy food vs. unhealthy, and I can’t judge them for that. I just want the best for everyone (and the chance to take a break and compromise, too).

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! :) Katie

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  • K. Yocum

    I’m one of those moms that lets them just get school lunches. Honestly, I can’t feed my 3 kids for less than $3/meal apiece if I send food. And our budget is tight. The candy in our house…comes from Halloween & Easter. They don’t even eat a piece of it every day, and over half of it gets thrown out each subsequent holiday. I cook at home from whole ingredients as often as I can. But during my oldest’s soccer seasons…we’re out & about 4 nights a week, especially if you add in taekwondo for my younger son. So sometimes it’s granola bars or peanut butter crackers from Sam’s & then a small meal when we get home. If we’ve got a little extra cash, we splurge on fast food, but that’s rare, due to budget constraints. I know my kids are rarely sick, & have a great variety of activities & exercise that keep them healthy as well. I’m learning enough to be able to teach THEM enough to keep them from having a lot of my weight management & health issues when they’re older, & I’m taking it one step at a time for myself. Some days, there’s just not enough time in the day to do it all.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I hear you! There really isn’t enough time in the day, for sure.

    I guess it depends where you live and grocery prices, but I feel like there’s no way I spend $3 a lunch for my kids…we pack a lot of leftovers, soups, raw vegs and fruits, so it’s pretty basic and pretty inexpensive. BUT you have to do what works best for you, and I love the emphasis you’re teaching your kids on moving and being healthy through exercise. Way to go, mama! It’s hard being a soccer mom, as I’m learning now that we have a few in sports. Yikes.

    :) Katie

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  • Kelly

    I’m having a hard time with the opposite of my kids talking to other kids about the healthy food in their lunchboxes. My 1st graders and 3rd grader are made fun of for their “weird food” and PlanetBox lunchboxes. :( It’s very irritating when I know that I’m fueling their bodies with healthy food.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kelly,
    Aw, man, you’re not alone on that one – if only our kids could sit next to each other at lunch, they would match! ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Karen

    It’s sweet that your child was concerned about her classmates. It’s not so much the words we say as the attitude that we say it with. It sounds like your girl has a sweet, caring spirit which causes the recipient to not be so offended if she did not say something quite right. I have just started looking into this healthier lifestyle because I have friends that are rubbing off on me. They don’t eat “normal,” but they never give me a hard time or judge me. They just happily eat their homemade stuff and don’t make a big deal about it. Telling someone to eat healthier is like telling someone to lose weight. It usually just puts them on the defensive. The best way is to just be their friend and be a good example.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Karen,
    How lovely to hear about your friends and their gentle example- thank you so much for sharing! I hope you find lots of good resources and community here – :) Katie

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  • Theresa

    I am not really committed to whole foods. My husband has a condition that causes him to have to eat a high salt, high calorie diet and while we have made some changes like tea with honey instead of pop and cut out poptarts, he still has his ‘kevsnax’ as we call them and the kids know the junk food in the house is for Daddy only. If I try to take any, they scold me.

    However it is important that we have a good base diet even if we do sometimes eat junk and that everyone, my husband included gets the nutrients they need.

    My oldest son is 5 and loves healthy food. I pack him steel cut oats with apples, homemade plain yogurt, a tangerine, and a hard boiled egg for lunch and when he sees it he is ecstatic. If we are at a party and ice cream or cake is offered, he gets really excited, takes a couple bites then says “I don’t like this”.

    He packs raisins or bananas for afternoon snack. He said the kids in his class are curious and none of them knew what raisins were. He said that they all get chips or cookies and wish they got raisins (probably because he eats them with such gusto). He grew up in a home where his mother would leave for weeks and the children would survive on what they could find in the house then foster care for the first 3.5 years and once he came to us, he had fresh fruit for the first time and was hooked.

    Sometimes he does buy his lunch and eat only eggo waffles and french fries. But then he gets off the bus saying he is hungry and he wishes he had eaten better.

    I really can’t see him putting down other kids lunches. I think he might feel a little bad for them if they feel bad later but he realizes some people have different food needs. Like I need to watch my portion sizes and the amount of high calorie foods while the growing children and my husband need more calories. There are some kids in his class who have difficult home environments (like dads in jail) and who act up and he has compassion for them not having been taught how they ought to act and he sees how their bad behavior makes them not have as much fun.

    I think 5 year olds are able to understand that not everyone has the same situation.

    I went on a field trip and one of my sons’ friends who has incredibly loving parents who make it a point to be there for their kids had ramen noodles and sugar water for lunch. I wouldn’t question how much that child was loved. But perhaps that was all they had in the house and they saw pasta as healthy and didn’t read to see the sugar water had no actual juice. My kids’ bio mom would bring snacks she thought were healthy to the visits. ‘Juice’ which was colored water and artificial sweetener and ‘real cheese’ which was actually cheese puffs. She thought I was being cheap and her children’ weren’t being fed properly when I would send an apple and water instead of juice and chips.

    The kids with junky lunches probably think their parents love them more for packing them foods they like instead of the healthy stuff.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Theresa,
    Your son sounds amazing! And you make many good points here, I was nodding my head all the way through. Go, apples! ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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