Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Health Kick? The final chapter.

Last post on this. Pinky swear! I feel so boring and a little preachy writing these, but the series is somewhat incomplete without this last entry, so bear with me!

So, I’ve covered nature and nurture. If you’re inclined to divide into breakout groups, may I suggest the topic “Is the nature a result of the nurture?” Discuss and share after the nutrition break [if you haven’t been to 5 billion conferences that made no sense to you. Sorry].

Disclaimer: I don’t profess to be any kind of expert on health and nutrition. I like the topic very, very much, so I pay attention when there’s any news about it. Most of my knowledge comes from:

1. My mom – we talk about nutrition all the time;
2. Magazine articles about health and nutrition; and
3. TV segments.

Beyond what my mom did, I have a few general rules:

Don’t drink your calories: I heard this from some star dieter one time and it made sense to me. My beverage of choice is water. I’ll drink one diet pop a day and also two glasses of non-fat milk. I drink coffee with just milk and tea black. Hot chocolate and other super-sweet drinks result in my lovely face rash, so why bother?

Zero trans fat: This is old news now, and most food processors are eliminating trans fats from their foods. But, we still read the labels and make sure that none of this artery-clogging fat makes its way to our house.

Everything in moderation: I may have implied that I don’t eat fatty foods or drink alcohol or eat sugar because of my body’s reaction to it. While it’s true that I don’t indulge in a lot of this stuff, I don’t cut it out entirely. Even with the meat thing, I don’t eat hunks of meat, but I don’t hesitate to use chicken or beef stock in a soup or stew. Homer loves meat and the kids eat it too. I think eliminating whole categories of food (like the no-carb diets, or going completely sugar-free) is a recipe for failure.

A little flavour goes a long way: I love strong flavours: spicy, sour, sharp are all things I like in a food product. You can make a delicious mac & cheese with a white sauce made with fat free milk and a little sharp cheddar or blue cheese (instead of 2 cups of cheese) with some diced tomatoes thrown in. I love spices and seasonings. I really like these things. The point is, you can create a texture and flavour that is tasty and still cut some of the fat and calories. I keep an eye on sodium levels too, because often salt=yummy.

Fibre is your friend: One of the things I check labels for is the fibre content – the higher the better. The basic concept is that you want your food to move through you (ew.) Refined sugar, white flour, rice and pasta all have very little fibre, so they stick with you longer. We only buy cereal that has at least 3 g of fibre, for example.

A couple of questions answered:

Artemisia asked: “How do you handle meals for you and your family? Do they ever stage a coup because they just want fries and a burger? Or have they just never known that stuff?”

We do eat burgers and fries. We’ll have veggie burgers, or I’ll make my own turkey ground or extra lean ground beef burgers. They’re served on a whole wheat bun. My “fries” are fresh potatoes cut in strips (skins on) and tossed in a little olive oil and sprinkled with some seasonings. They know all about McDonald’s and other fast food places, but visits are few and far between and, therefore, a special treat.

JMC asked: “How do you get your kids to eat well?”

The short answer is that I don’t really know. But they do, so I’ve been trying to figure out why. Here’s what I came up with:

*As babies, I kept to the schedule of introducing cereals first, then vegetables, then fruits, then meats. I did about 1 month on each stage.

*I always made my own vegetable and fruit purees, just mashing up whatever we were eating, so the consistency was lumpier than what you would get in the jar.

*They’ve only ever had whole wheat bread and mostly whole wheat pasta.

*They have had my homemade pizza more than take-out, so they’re not accustomed to big gobs of cheesy pizza (true story: Lisa asked if she could not participate in Pizza Day at school (every Wednesday), because the pizza wasn’t as good as mine).

*They really like all fruits and vegetables. In fact, they like almost everything. Lisa strongly disapproves of eggs, but I can’t think of anything else.

*The rule is that you have to take [your age] bites of even things you don’t care for.

*We talk about health and nutrition a lot. Lisa has asked many times in the cereal aisle “is this one full of sugar, mom?” Another time she broke down in a puddle of tears because she asked “what’s for lunch” and I reminded her dad had just taken her to McDonald’s. “BUT THAT’S NOT HEALTHY”, she bawled. At that moment, I knew I had to turn it down a notch.

*As Kath commented, I don’t have a “clear your plate” rule. I also don’t load up their plates. I can usually tell the difference between too bored to finish and too full to finish.

*I try to make things I think they will like. Last night, we had French toast (made with whole wheat bread), veggie sausage patties and fresh fruit salad. It was a hit (and really, why wouldn’t it be??)

The end. Except that I want some of Heidi’s Norway chocolate and I want Tessie to teach me how to bake bread successfully. Because, YUM!!

Maggie loves broccoli. She really, truly does!

And also? CHOCOLATE!


Jess said...

I love this post. I try to follow almost all of those rules myself. They are great.

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JMC said...

I did the same introduction of foods order that you did, and when they were a year old they would eat anything and everything, but the older they get the more they hate.

We do only whole grain breads and mostly whole grain crackers.

My biggest problems with my kids' eating habits are fruits and veggies and sources of protein.

I like the thing about having your kids take their age number of bites of things they don't like. I'm going to try that and see how it goes.

We have instituted a plan wherein every time they try something new they get a point, which is redeemable for 50 cents toward their Scholastic book orders they get in school. It's getting them to try things, but they have yet to admit to LIKING anything. :)

LoriD said...

Ooh - good one JMC (the points thing). I'll keep that in my back pocket next time I need a bribe (like getting my kids to stay in their beds all night!)

Tessie said...

Well, I didn't think these were preachy, I thought they were COOL.

And I only eat cereal with TEN grams of fiber (fibre..Hehe) or more, so I'm totally with you there.

I do like baking bread now, but I don't do it all that often. Personally, I don't have a problem with bread machine bread but my mom is anti-that too. Sigh.

LoriD said...

My only beef with bread machine bread is the big hole at the bottom where the "kneading blade" becomes imbedded. Plus, I'd really like to make more than 1 loaf at a time if I'm taking all the ingredients out anyway.

Nowheymama said...

What a great series of posts! The bite rule works well for us. And I was the girl with the tuna on whole wheat and the baggie of unsalted walnuts in her lunch. So kewl. But I'm glad now.

Pickles & Dimes said...

These posts are so interesting - thanks for sharing!

I bet your kids don't even know they're eating healthy, am I right? In my limited experience, the kids who hear, "Eat it, it's GOOD for you," are the ones most rebellious against healthy foods like veggies and fruits.

My sister-in-law does the "eat X amount of bites" with her son and it works so well.

bananafana said...

I swear I commented before but apparently not . . . we tend to follow all these rules too - we feel better when we do and now I like the stuff that I make better than anything we could buy. I wish I was better about making bread though. I hate our bread machine since it makes everything taste and smell like burning plastic. I'm totally going to try the number of bites as your age thing with O - great idea!

Artemisia said...

I second Tessie's remark: I don't think these posts are preachy. I think they are helpful and inspiring!

I hate that (in the US, anyway) food companies can put the tricky "O grams Trans fat per serving" on their products as long as the trans fat per serving is less than half a gram.

If you read the food ingredients list there is almost always still partially-hydrogenated oil in there. That is still EVIL. It says Dick Cheney all over it!

*wave my self-righteous fist in the air*

Oh, it frustrates me so!

Artemisia said...

Oh, also. Macy and her curls? Too cute. Sweeps my anger right away!