Raising healthy children is SUCH a tough thing to do. From the beginning, when they are safe and warm in our bellies, we are given the honor of protecting them, feeding then, and promising them the world.
I was a young first-time-mom at 23. I had been married a year and finishing up my bachelor's degree when my husband got home from a short Thailand deployment with the Army.
Separation + champagne =baby 1
1994, freshly out of college with a degree that does nothing (see previous posts about kids with good grammar ;), an army wife, and a new move across the country from Alaska to New York on the horizon. I was leaving my 7$/hr job and my husband was bringing in less than $900.00 a month. I had student loans and we had small credit cards, but that was it for bills. Have you driven across the country? Though it was 15 years ago, it wasn't cheap on our budget.
Introducing WIC. Women, Infants, and Children. This is a state agency dedicated to the health and development of children from womb to childhood. Eligibility is based on household income and basic cost of living for the state you reside in. Those in need receive assistance to feed themselves while pregnant and their children through age 5.
We qualified for WIC. It was the best thing that happened to me in preparation for becoming a mom. We all think we know what is best, we have great mom's and read all kinds of books. We never truly understand how little we or others know until we've seen it done the right way. I got SO lucky.
Sure, no one wants to be on assistance. So many people refuse it because they think there is a stigma attached to it. Guess what folks, WIC is not aide, it is support! WIC does so much more than provide growing families with much needed money for food. It educates you on raising healthy children!
They provided me with healthy foods while I breast fed. More than provided, they taught me about food to eat while pregnant and what to eat while nursing. If you follow the guidelines provided, and purchase the food on your WIC coupons, you WILL eat right.
Once my son was eating food, WIC taught me what to feed my son so he was eating nutritionally balanced meals. I was provided with cereal, milk or lactose free formula, eggs, cheese, peanut butter, 100% juice, beans or lentils, and fresh vegetables from the store or farmers market. Can you think of anything else I may have needed? NO! Of course not! Think about it . . . what could he have possibly needed besides that? We were beyond grateful to be able to raise our son with healthy eating habits.
I ran with this! He didn't sip soda until he was almost 6 (14 1/2 and still no cavities). He experienced McDonald's, but only on occasion and now it is cut out completely AT 14! How awesome is that not to have to hear about fast food? YES! Candy? For his first 5 years it was special occasion only, like Easter and Halloween. Even at Halloween he gave up ALL chocolate. I told him once he was sensitive to chocolate. He didn't understand "sensitive" so I explained to him it was like an allergy and it made him poop. Know what? He still rarely eats chocolate. Doesn't like chocolate milk, chocolate shakes, or chocolate ice cream. He does like the occasional Reese though.
When my daughter was born three years later, we were still able to enjoy the benefits of WIC. She too went on Lactose Free formula after I explained to the doctor that regular formula doesn't make any sense to me. They don't get it in the womb, they don't get it while being nursed, why would I jump right in and give them formula with it? He agreed and she was allowed special formula. She too was raised on the WIC diet. She is much more of a sweet tooth than my oldest, but I think its hormonal! hehe She has always preferred the healthiest of meals though. She is a big meat and potatoes girl. Throw in salmon and fruit and a huge salad and she's the happiest thing ever! Even as a tiny girl. Her first solid food was Halibut at 3 months. We also fed her smoked salmon under the slightly false title "candied fish". Imagine her surprise when she had her first Sweedish Fish :)
I didn't give her a lot of choices with everyday meals though because I'd seen WIC work! I understood the importance of a good diet and raising my children to eat as they are told.
That was tough for her with something she didn't have a taste for! Boy does that girl have a gag reflex. If something yucky went (and still at 11) into that mouth, it was coming back out! Even if she smelled something she didn't love. I certainly didn't coddle that behavior, even though she couldn't help it. There is no excuse for not eating what is put in front of you as long as its healthy. I'm not saying she would have to eat it even if she spit it out, but I'm not saying she wouldn't either. eeeewwwww
And on those times even I found it too gross to make her eat it anyway, I simply cleaned off the plate and we started over, with the same meal. There is no giving in just to make life easy!
Parents . . . For the Love of God and Health of Your Child . . . STOP GIVING IN! Children were not meant to be in charge! No one intended to give an entire species of children power! It's Enough!
So they may not want to eat something, they'll get over it if they are hungry enough. So chicken nuggets are easy, if they were healthy, WIC would have a coupon for them instead of carrots.
Eventually, we lost the benefits of WIC as we grew older. Did we raise our third child any different than the other two?
Well, a little. We may have been making more money, but we - like the rest of the country - had more bills. Fortunately, at this time in our lives, we had access to rich farming land and started him out on garden vegetables. Did he like them? NOOOOOOO! We were also a lot closer to Gramma Patty with cookies. OOOhhhh boy is my third child, a sweet and stocky little boy with a perfectly round head, a little charmer. He can make the ladies melt, I tell ya. He certainly did that for grandma. He was our picky, stubborn, not-going-to-touch-potatoes boy. But eventually, I found what worked for him - steaming! Yay! But I didn't learn accomplish this until he was 7! The key . . . Never Give Up! It is Never Too Late!
So Cade was quite a bit more spoiled and his stocky build certainly showed it. So did his behavior at the dinner table. He thought he could dictate what we put in front of him. Yeah, not so much. That may work at Granny's but not here buddy!
That, my dear friends, is what is wrong with our children and how they have become so lazy and obese! NO, I don't mean Grandma is the problem, but, well, maybe I do.
We are a working society on the go. We are running from here to there and feeding our tykes out of the car or leaving them to be fed by a trusted adult whether it be daycare, in home care, or Grandma. We are not packing lunches and dinner - we are depending on our pocket books to carry us over from meal to meal. Well, honey, it's not working.
That drive through is easy, so is the pre-bagged chips and cookies. Oh how convenient you are snack pack sized Nutterbutters at the checkout stand! Add convenience to a pushover of a granny and tada! A nicely packaged, chunkier than necessary, sweet faced angel who thinks his opinion matters.
Get tough parents! Hop in the drivers seat and hit the Brakes! Buy an apple or 100%fruit leather at the checkout stand instead of a candy bar or cookies. Don't whip into the drive through, pack a bag before you leave the house of carrots, cheese, and crackers. Trust me, they'll eat it or starve (and no kid is going to starve). Keep a tote in the trunk of Ritz or some kind of filler for between meals to buy you some time to get home and cook.
I am an on-the-run mom. I am picking up a high schooler at 2:15 and running him home to eat, leaving with him again at 3:15 to hockey practice, picking up a middle schooler from basketball at 4:30 running her home to eat with as the elementary schooler gets off of the bus and eats, then running out with them by 5:30 for a 30 minute drive to hockey practice for the middle child, doing homework and groceries with the youngest, then getting them all home in time to fix a healthy meal, finish homework, and get showers and sleep. I manage to feed my children RIGHT. Only once in 3 months have I grabbed a chip snack on the way out the door - but my daughter grabbed cheeze-its! Usually we pack up a grocery bag with yogurts, PB&J, and juices. When in doubt, instant oatmeal! It takes 45 seconds in the microwave or 3-4 minutes if you boil water on the stove. NO BIG DEAL!
So, get pro-active folks and feed those angels right! If you don't know how or are feeling lost, check out the WIC food list for your state and find out what is recommended for your child. You can't go wrong! Maybe you don't qualify for benefits. It is still an extremely valuable resource when raising a child! No need for fancy books and menus. Keep it simple, keep it healthy, and STAY IN CHARGE!
Oh, another banner idea . . . don't eat crap in front of them. Its like getting drunk in front of them, you don't do that do you? (well you shouldn't)
We are products of our environment until we are old enough to make decisions for ourselves. Provide an environment you can be proud of. Take ownership of your past mistakes and change them. Your children are who you make them.