There’s so much consider to when deciding what to feed our kids. We have easy access to processed foods. Practically every day is some sort of Sugar Fest.
Us parents grew up eating whatever was served for dinner; being picky was not an option. There weren’t the food allergies there are today.
We lived for trick or treating as that was our one chance to get candy. Jell-O was our dessert. Soda came in glass liters and quarts and was for special occasions. We drank water and milk; Gatorade didn’t exist.
Maybe, just maybe, we were lucky enough to have a box of sugary cereal in the cabinet.
Nowadays, with packaged and processed and refined foods, it’s difficult to make healthy choices for our kids. We want convenience. We have picky eaters. So often, we eat on the run. There are more allergies than ever before.
This isn’t a health post; it’s coming from the perspective of a stressed mother who is trying to feed her kids healthy foods — weighing the options — trying to balance it all out.
At times, it’s overwhelming.
What are we supposed to feed our kids?
Packaged snacks and processed foods aside, even when it comes to real, whole foods, there is a lot to consider.
These are just some of the things we have to wade through as we try to make healthy choices for our kids. In addition to thinking of ways to get picky eaters to eat and also thinking about allergies, there’s a lot to fret over.
Fruits and vegetables
It used to be that if you fed your kids fruit and vegetables, you would be good to go. Now, you need to consider all of this other stuff.
- Where it was grown? (Many people avoid produce from certain countries.)
- Is it organic? (We are supposed to consider dirty dozen.)
- You wonder, did you wash it well enough?
- Is it a super fruit?
- Is it a less appealing starch, like corn and potatoes?
We are starting to wonder if too much fruit is too much sugar for our kids.
C’mon now, this used to be easy. Why does it have to be hard?
We need to feed our kids protein so they can have sustained energy throughout their school day and for their activities. Which to choose?
Lots of people are now keeping chickens themselves to have high-quality eggs. However, if you are like the rest of us, we have to stand in the grocery store, pondering what all of this means and which eggs are the best choice.
- Hormone-free (Is the same as organic? Who knows.)
- Cage free (Is this the same as free range?)
- Pasture-raised (Is this the same as free range and being cage free?)
- Brown or white eggs
Plus, those containers! Do we choose the earth-friendly option? Should we buy the eggs in cartons that can be composted or pay less for a plastic one? In many areas stores still sell eggs in Styrofoam cartons.
After considering all of this, maybe it really is easier to set up a chicken coop and raise your own.
First, you have to choose what type of meat to get:
- Is white meat the best?
- Why does my kid only want to eat bacon?
- What cut of beef is the right one to get?
- Remember those saturated fats
- There’s chuck roast, sirloin, tenderloin, rib-eye, flank steak, ground beef and more.
Then, you need to start making all these other choices, just like with your eggs. Will you choose:
- 100% grass fed
- Grass fed
- Grain fed
- Free range
- Certified organic feed
- No growth hormones
- No antibiotics or growth hormones
There are probably more choices even. I never even go to this section with healthier meats. I’m too cheap to buy them so I buy the one that looks the least fatty and that’s on sale. I need to remember to buy turkey or even a turkey breast instead of waiting for Thanksgiving.
There are lots of choices with seafood, just like with every other protein.
- Was it sustainably harvested?
- Was it from a fish farm?
- Is it sourced from China?
- What about toxins, including mercury?
- We want it to be sure it’s dolphin-safe.
Here with fish, also, we have to worry about saturated fats. We want to look for sources that include Omega 3. My kids will only eat fish with breading — aka fish sticks — does this count as eating fish?
There’s a plethora of choices when it comes to giving drinks to our kids.
There’s such controversy around milk these days. And there are the kids who are allergic or intolerant so there’s a host of other milks to choose from, including:
- Soy (Off and on, soy gets a bad rap.)
Then, you also get to choose:
- Flavors (plain, chocolate, vanilla)
- Fat free, 1%, 2%, whole
At last! Water! Here’s something that should be easy. But even with what should be simple and healthy water, there are decisions to make.
- Bottled water
- There are the water bottle companies telling us that bottled water is superior to tap water.
- Tap water
- We are supposed to consider the potentially harmful heavy metals, chlorine, pesticides, bacterial and chemicals in our tap water.
- Some areas add fluoride to their water, and some don’t. This is an issue unto itself.
Oh, the choices. Our kids have been bred to drink their sugar.
These beverage examples aren’t in the same category as everything above — the more real foods and drinks — but are listed here to see what us parents are up against when it comes to breaking habits and helping our kids made good choices.
- They have juice for breakfast.
- There’s sugar in their milk.
- Since our kids were in preschool, we’ve been giving them juice boxes and Capri Suns in their lunch bags.
- Then at their sports practices and games, we give them Gatorade and Powerade.
- Soda is everywhere. Go to any fast food restaurant (I know, I know) and they can mix their own concoction with 5+ types.
These sugar drinks are really endless. They’ve become the norm.
Even giving kids lemonade — what seems like it should be a little bit healthier but really isn’t — has become a complex thought process, standing at Target, looking at all the mixes, aka chemicals.
Should you choose:
- Sugar free? (Think of all those artificial sugars.)
- The mix with sugar? (Think of all that sugar rotting out their teeth.)
- Make it at home with lemons and sugar?
- It makes me a bit ill that I’m literally spoon-feeding my kids sugar.
Larger Refrigerator and a Smaller Pantry: On the Quest for Healthy Foods
We’ve become desensitized to all the choices in packaged foods. Look at all the choices at Costco.
Take a walk through Target or Walmart and your eyes will roll to the back of your head as you try to choose a something simple as ready-to-eat cereal.
There’s a definite trend toward “healthier” foods. However, they are all packaged, made-in-a-factory foods. Healthier foods are really just that… actual foods. Ones that aren’t filled with synthetic vitamins and refined oils.
Wouldn’t it be great to go back in time to the grocery stores — aka the corner stores — from decades ago? How simple it was.
People bought eggs, bread, milk and some produce and went home. Maybe there was a market to buy fruits and vegetables. People went to the butcher for meats. There were less options but they were most likely much healthier and safer.
What are we supposed to feed our kids?
Food is overwhelming. Even after buying it, we still have to prepare it and serve it and clean up afterwards.
And sometimes — after all of that! — they don’t even eat it! Dealing with picky eaters is more of a 21st century problem than it was a 20th century problem. Our parents gave us food. and whatever it was, we had to eat it. There weren’t other options. We all ate the same food. If kids didn’t, they didn’t eat. There weren’t separate meals. The kids weren’t eating chicken nuggets while the parents ate the casserole. If kids didn’t eat the eggs mom made for breakfast, mom didn’t pop in a frozen waffle.
There’s so much us exhausted parents have to deal with. We make thousands of decisions every single day without even realizing it. Food is a huge thing. We all want to feed our kids healthy food.
In trying to have our kids grow up with a balanced diet so they can learn to make their own safe, healthy food choices, it’s all we can do as we wade through the choices of convenience, nutrition, price, additives, and more.