Help for Hummingbirds : Kids & Real Food

I am feeling it a little bit lately, although I am trying to dodge and weave and can’t get ‘it’ in focus.  Like the hummingbird outside the window I just tried to photograph to share with you,  things are feeling kind of fuzzy.  I know that if I open the front door to get a shot from the front porch, she will probably fly away so I am enjoying her and will let you imagine her vibrant green back and her tiny wings that look thick with frenzied speed while the rest of her stays steady and immobile.  Apparently my steady, immobile persona still fools friends who are surprised anytime (and everytime) we eat anything less than perfectly nutritious, yet my wings are getting a bit tired with the attempt to provide healthy, real food in this culture.  So my hard edges as The Food Regulator (TFR) are beginning to blur a bit.

There is a hummingbird out there valiantly staying afloat against all odds.

There is a hummingbird out there valiantly staying afloat against all odds.

Not to complain, but between work, graduate school, TaeKwonDo (which my son and I do together) and home and family, I am starting to wear down a little.  I don’t tell you this for sympathy or “pride of busy-ness” (the 8th deadly sin),but because I am sure that many of you are similarly stretched.  There just isn’t enough time in the day to do all of the cooking and gardening that I used to do and would like to do.  So I have decided that a little controlled erosion is in order lest the whole mountain be undermined and bury us in an avalanche of mcnuggets, doritos and moon pies.

All right, I exaggerate, I don’t think our decline would be quite that drastic, but I will share with you the plan for maintaining my real food airspace and keeping those wings vibrating at mind numbing speed.

I’ve been ‘just saying, No’ for a long time – why is it harder now?  Much of the difficulty is time related, but it is also related to social situations.  My son, who is now 13, has a best buddy who I adore.   He is sweet, polite, eager and just all around a great kid.  A great kid who subsists on Taco Bell and Dr. Pepper.  Several of the times he has spent the night he has gone home without breakfast because he wouldn’t eat anything that I had in the house.  I’m serious.  Not even my natural peanut butter and whole fruit / no sugar added jam on whole wheat bread….. not even whole grain pancakes with as much real maple syrup as his heart desired…. Not even Barbara’s Puffins.  I hate to lessen the chances that this kid is coming over to hang out.  My son has other friends who are also shocked at the selection in our ‘cafe’ (what’s that round red thing with a stem?) and I really would rather they hung out here at least some of the time so I get to know them….. and I know what they’re up to ;-).

This hummingbird needs some help.

My first step to getting back on track in a sane fashion is honesty with my family and the recruitment of help.  The honesty part comes in talking more about why we eat what we eat.  I learned that part of my son’s new-found energy in requesting pizza, chips or ice cream everyday is plain ol’ rebellion.  We had a long overdue discussion (with the hummingbird listening in) about why a kid as bright as he is, who is very focused on his athletic activities, continues to request poor, and even dangerous fuel for his wonderful body.  He admitted that he often talks lovingly of McDonald’s in my presence to irritate me.  We also discussed that perhaps buying lunch on Friday when the school has pizza is not a good idea if it gets him requesting pizza all of the time.  This was a powerful deterrent.  I suggested that perhaps he is an all or nothing guy when it comes to junk food, and since he isn’t going to get ‘all’ under my roof, perhaps we’d better try ‘nothing’.  This suggestion is what brought out the admission (without harsh lights or cigarette smoking detectives) that he partly talks about junk food to enjoy my reaction.  Ah yes, I will now think lovely thoughts, keep those wings moving and gracefully approach another lavender tinged flower while I savor the possibilities rather than peck out one of his eyes 😉  So we are re-visiting discussing why we eat what we eat, what those foods do for us physically and remembering that one way to control the amount of junk food eaten is to eliminate it all together.

Next I am asking all of his friends who come over what kind of foods they like so that I can find some common ground.  The favorite friend likes scrambled eggs – and he thought that the organic eggs he ate at our house were the best he ever had.  Score one for the hummingbird!

As far as recruiting help, we all sat down this morning and planned out the next week and part of the following week of meals.  Everyone contributed suggestions, everyone helped look up recipes and a shopping list was created to reflect this plan and avoid extra trips to the store.  We have done this (and shared this with you) in the past, but we stopped doing it.  Hindsight reveals the power in planning our meals.  There is nothing like a break between semesters to get our act back in gear.  Here’s my trusty write-on-wipe-off planner.  I have 2 and they are magnets that go right on the refrigerator.  Pretty nifty:

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The upper entries of the first week spots are for what is going to school for lunch that day.  We will re-visit this plan next Sunday and complete next week and probably part of the next.

In addition, my son likes to bake and will bake some and my husband is picking out some crockpot recipes that he can handle (he’s an awesome dish washer….).  This leaves leftovers (always make extra!!!!) for lunches!

So honesty and recruitment have my wings beating a little stronger again.

Next, I am lowering the bar on a few things as the bar is currently too far above my head to reach.

– I no longer make almond milk.  We buy it.  I prefer the homemade with no additives at all, but there it is.

– I will not be baking much for school this year, and because I am working full time and we have a little extra money we will indulge in the ready-made treats from the more health conscious bakers at Nature’s Bakery, Larabar, Clif, and even Kashi since they agreed to stop using GMO ingredients in their products.  Basically I go into the health food section at my Kroger, look for sale signs, read labels, and get whatever is healthiest and slightly reasonable.  Not only does this satisfy the request for a sweet-ish thing with lunch, but because it is packaged it is apparently more socially acceptable.  I know, gag me with a spoon, but a little compromise is in order to keep this increasingly independent boy from utilizing all of his spending money to by junk food.

– The boys are eating more meat when I am not home.  I don’t like to eat much meat, we try to eat all organic meats and sustainable fishes but my boys really like their meat – so they eat it more often when I miss dinner because I am working a 12 hour shift at the hospital.  This is easier for them, and again, creates, rather than uses, leftovers which we use for lunch.

It’s coming back into focus now!

Honesty, help and a lower bar.  Still eating real food the vast majority of the time.

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I can see the flowers now that we are all looking together and now have the energy to stay aloft.  I have no illusions that the struggles are over but a re-set sure helps.  If you need a re-set for feeding your kids healthy stuff or addressing issues over school lunches and choices, check out these old posts:
Enabling the Lunchable
Small Mouths, Small Bites
Veggie-licious Snacks
Previous post about meal planning and snack packing

Keep beating those wings my friends, and please share some of your challenges and successes (or failures) in convincing kids to eat healthfully and/or feeding friends who are not accustomed to real food.

 

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2 responses

  1. This sounds very logical and realistic. Go you for crafting a plan you can handle! I also want to give you some encouragement. My mom is a nutritionist, and we always ate healthfully, had a garden, never had soda in the house, etc. Still, as a teenager any time I could scrounge together enough coins I would use them to buy myself lunch at school – a chocolate pudding cup and a bag of popcorn. My brother was worse, super into junk food through high school. And same thing, survival sent my mom to Costco sized frozen burritos just to feed the growing teens. But guess what? Now I am a mom of three young kids and we eat mostly vegetarian, from a CSA & our garden, local meat, good fats, all that jazz. Your children are learning, you are doing great, and rebellion now does not mean rebellion forever. I also know that my strictness now (I’m a stay at home mom, kids ages 1-3-5) will not last forever as life evolves to 3 teen boys. And your blog will continue to encourage me. And provide me with my favorite ever (pumpkin) brownie recipe. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much Morgan for sharing your Mother’s success and your encouragement. I really appreciate it! It is a good motto to remember for teenagers – rebellion now does not mean rebellion forever.
      Thanks again, I am delighted that you’ve been inspired by our blog – and now you’ve inspired and encouraged me.

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