“A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.”
-source unknown, because I’m too lazy to look it up.
I like to think we eat fairly well in this house. Mr. December and I try to steer the kids clear of sugary snacks (granola bars are just as bad as cookies,) we eat dinner together pretty much every night, there are always fruits and vegetables on offer. We’re not so healthy that we eat freekeh and tempeh and drink kombucha, but we eat home-cooked meals, which I’ve heard might not be the norm these days (then again, it might be. I don’t know.)
Take tonight’s dinner, for example: bell peppers stuffed with ground beef and black beans, rice, grilled chicken breast, roast cauliflower, and spinach salad. A nice balanced, meal. Right? Wrong, for at least half of my family.
I mean, it could be balanced, if you put me and Mr. December on one side of the scale and everybody else on the other. See, Mr. December and I ate a little of everything on the table, except the rice. Three out of four children ate rice. That’s it. Just rice.
I’ve heard the advice that our job as parents is to put good, healthy food on the table, and their job as kids is to choose what to eat. So far, so good. I’ve also heard that a child won’t let themselves starve. Interestingly, our girls won’t—but N will. He’ll just not eat until he can sneak into the pantry for a slice of bread. Or until we serve schnitzel, which is his favourite food; then he’ll eat piles of the stuff as if he’s storing it up for hibernation.
We’ve tried the old “eat your vegetables or you don’t get any treats,” which only works to a point: he eats a whole English cucumber every single time. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell him that cucumbers are just water and vitamin C, cucumber is his go-to vegetable.
Where does this leave us? I’m trying very hard to teach my kids to listen to their bodies, and I’m trying very hard not to police their food choices. That’s how my son has ended up on the all-carb diet. What’s a parent to do?