Are We Just Preaching to the Healthy Eating Choir?
I admit it - sometimes, I just get tired of talking about the importance of healthy eating. I spend alot of time every day working with early child care centers, and their teachers and staff, trying to convince them that kids can eat - and enjoy - vegetables. Sometimes it feels like the work is making a difference -- recently, for example, when I went to pick up my son at the preschool where I piloted the First Bites program, I was just delighted to see them making their own fruit skewers. A few days later, they made sweet potato coconut balls, from scratch, for afternoon snack. And then yesterday, they were eating canned fruit. No, it's certainly not the worst thing in the world, but we've talked about the benefits of fresh fruit and how frozen fruit is a great alternative over fruit in syrup. If I'm being honest, the canned fruit might just have caught me in a moment of frustration.
This week, Spoonfed: Raising Kids to Think about the Food they Eat wrote a great post on parents, and how oftentimes parents are the biggest barrier to changing how children eat. I agree that parents can be real road blocks and teachers, too, make it hard to make change and create an environment where children want to eat fruits and vegetables. I've definitely had teachers tell me that the children prefer cupcakes to carrot smoothies, when it's clear that it's the teachers who prefer making and eating the cupcakes.
We all talk about the importance of giving children a strong and healthy foundation...and that children are eating way more sugar than they should be...and that we should avoid food dyes... and that it'd be better for everyone to eat less processed food and more real food. But some days, it just feels like we are talking to ourselves. Sometimes it feels like those messages just aren't changing how many parents and teachers are thinking and acting. And that is frustrating.
And then this week, a reader told me how, at her son's preschool, the new norm had become bringing in pizza AND cupcakes for each child's birthday. She decided to buck the trend and made these gorgeous fruit skewers, with watermelon stars, strawberries and grapes. She didn't tell anyone or make a big deal out of it, she just did it. And the kids loved it. Sometimes, I think, we should talk less and do more.