Thursday, December 23, 2010

DO YOU BELIEVE IN SPINACH?

A recent conversation between me and my 13 year old:

ALICE (as she eats): This is pretty good.

ME: Oh, I'm glad you like, it's really good for you.

ALICE (yelling and setting aside her plate): Why do you always do that? Now I don't even want to eat it! Who cares if it's good for me?

I mulled that conversation over and over forever. Why would knowing that something is healthy make a person upset? My final conclusion: If you have information it's up to you to make choices. Like if you know there's global warming you have to drive less or use less heating oil, or, or, or... So people choose not to know.

Before I came to the global warming conclusion, I wrote to Marion Nestle about Alice's response and she wrote me right back (and made my day because Marion Nestle is a really important food activist!) Of course her advice is excellent.

I feel your pain, having been the mother of kids who were hard to deal with at 13, to say the least. In her case, it’s easy. She likes your food! Just say thanks if she compliments it, make healthy meals, and talk about something else. In my experience, adolescence is not the best time to try to enforce food habits. Rather, make sure the foods you have at home are healthy. Don’t buy what you don’t want your kids eating—house rules. Outside of the house, you can’t control what they eat. But you can set an example at home and hope that when they grow up. With luck, they will grow up, will know what it means to eat sensibly, and will thank you for sticking up for what you believe. Courage!

I may give this some more thought and use it next year. Thanks and happy holidays. Marion Nestle
What is the appropriate age to start teaching kids about which foods are good for them and why? Do they teach nutrition at your child's school? In what grades? Do you teach your kids at home? I know that one reason nutrition isn't taught is because adults, including parents, teachers, and even doctors, don't have a firm grasp on the subject. Another reason, I'm afraid, is some adults choose to believe there's not a connection between good health and the foods they eat.

What about you? Do you believe in spinach?

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