I try to be one, really, I do. Pretty much everything I do in my life is done with intention. It's taken me many years (and many dollars spent in therapy) to figure it out, but contrary to how I lived my life in younger years, I really do make decisions, even spontaneous ones, with purpose. And typically, my children and their well-being figures into my decisions pretty heavily.
About a year ago, a visit to the pediatrician resulted in some changes in our house, specifically at meal times. One of my daughters, it seemed, was on the higher end of the BMI scale, and I felt like this was a direct reflection on my parenting. I mean, even if I'm not there for every meal, since I was setting the tone for what we eat and don't eat, it must be my fault, right? Despite the fact that my other daughter is the size of a peanut, still, my fault.
So we changed a few things around, went back a month or two later, and the doctor seemed a bit happier with where we were.
Fast forward a year and here we are again. BMI on the high side and would I like a referral to a nutritionist? Personally affronted, I declined, thinking why would I need someone to tell us how to eat when I, a chronic dieter, knows everything there is to know about healthy eating habits?
We indulge in treats in our house, no question. Super crazy schedules sometimes result in throwing a box of organic mac 'n cheese in the pot for dinner, or some other not-so-bad kid food. But we are ardent veggie eaters, broccoli and kale being staples around here. My kids are amazing eaters, and have been known to ask for everything from sushi to shrimp to mussels for dinner.
I love that I don't have chicken nugget obsessed kids. That they've seen the inside of a McDonald's maybe two or three times in their lives.
The problem with my child, if there is a problem, is portion control. Like me, my daughter is an enthusiastic eater, she's passionate about food. She has an interest in interesting foods and this is parlayed into an affinity for cooking. But childhood obesity is on the rise, of this I am aware, and I certainly don't want my kid to suffer for choices I am responsible for making.
She's not a tiny kid. I know this. She's the tallest in the class. She's also energetic, solid, and playful. She's smart and skilled and compassionate. She's amazing, and in my eyes, pretty close to perfect.
I'm not in denial. I have every intention of making "treats" far less accessible in my house. More energy will be spent planning meals made with whole foods as opposed to a quick fix. Less time and money in restaurants, more in the produce section. Because it seems that what I thought was a reasonably good job actually isn't good enough, and my kid is not going to suffer for my lack of time.
But here's the thing - is every child the same? Do genetics play a role in this? How much am I getting in my child's way? She actually knows what's healthy, what constitutes junk, and what is delicious. She knows. She knows because I have taught her. But I am not always in control of choices that translate into meals and snacks that enter my childrens bodies.
This topic is not new in my house. Since last year, the topic of "checking in with our tummies" before asking for more has been prevalent. We even jump on the scale to check our 'numbers' every now and then. While I don't tell her exactly what I'm looking for on the scale, she knows it's a measure of her health and keeping healthy is the goal.
So, busy moms out there, how do you ensure your children are eating healthfully and not indulging too much? How do you say no to child who wants seconds? What do you offer that I may not have thought of? Because apart from some obvious changes, I'm fresh out of ideas.