Friday, August 24, 2012

Diet help for the kids?

Yesterday my big boys had their pre-school-starting physicals. While Bryan wasn’t able to attend due to work commitments, their Mom let him (and via him, me) know how it went. Both kids are growing like weeds – over 5 feet tall for J and over 4 feet now for C, and doing great on their weight (I don’t know if boys ever care, but because I wouldn’t want my weight disclosed, I won’t tell theirs!). 

However, as part of J’s well-check/physical, they did a cholesterol check. It wasn’t a fasting check, but it’s still something to start with. Here’s the thing…it came back “a little high.” Now, I didn’t ask for translation on exactly what that meant – I would assume if it were dangerously high, I’d have heard more – but I know that it meant that the doctor and J had quite a lengthy discussion about how to start changing that number. I know she told him things like eating more fruits and vegetables, getting more fiber, lean protein, and eating less processed/refined/junk foods – all the things I’m sure we’ve all heard from our doctors about healthy diets with plenty of variety.

Last night, Bryan also chatted with J about what that would mean for all of us as a family. How we’d be keeping more healthy options and less “junk” food at home; how we will likely be eating out a whole lot less; how if the only lunch options he finds palatable at school are pizza, chips, or baked potatoes (which he loads with butter, salt, cheese, and bacon), maybe he should start bringing his lunch to school; how even though we don’t often have bacon with meals (it’s one of J’s favorite foods) now when we do, it will either be turkey bacon or smaller quantities – likely both. (One clarification I think I need to make is that we really try not to keep too much junk food in the house, since Bryan and I have both battled our weight for quite a while, but we admit we’ve been more lax lately, using our busy schedules and stress as an excuse.). I could only hear Bryan’s end of the conversation, but I can’t imagine that J was all that enthusiastic about it. Really, what 12-year-old would be?

Here’s the thing: I wasn’t all that surprised about the “high” cholesterol number (yes, I realize that speaks volumes). J is our picky eater. He’s a meat-and-potatoes guy. He loves bacon, salami, bologna, pepperoni, sausage, steak, chicken on occasion if it’s cooked right. He eats some fruits, if there are no other “tastier” options (read: chips, goldfish, other “junk”) and by “some fruit” I mean apples (sometimes), bananas, grapes, and, when in season, cantaloupe. The only vegetable he eats without loud complaints and/or gagging is green beans, and even that comes with pouting. Salads translate to lettuce, cheese, and croutons smothered in ranch dressing.

So my question to all you Mommies of picky eaters out there is this – how do we help J change his eating habits, even just a little, when he’s so picky? Clearly we will simply stop bringing the junk food into the house, but how do we convince him that veggies aren’t evil, and that fruits really are great snacks, and that fiber can be tasty? And, ideally, how do we do it without the pouting, shouting, gagging, and tears that often accompany a dinner he doesn’t approve of?

Julie Daneman is wife to Bryan, Stepmom to Jacob and Caleb, and Mommy to Sam. They are a boisterous, loving, happy interfaith family.

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