“On Tuesday afternoons, we’d sit for thirty minutes in a musty, guitar-lesson lobby surrounded by a pile of year-old Popular Science magazines and two glaring vending machines which whispered, “Cheetos anyone? Coke? Snickers? Anyone? Anyone?” Like a Groundhog Day movie flashback, I kept repeating to my duckling entourage, “No, honey, not today.” Pelt, pelt, pelt. Baseball practice involved two hours sitting on bleachers adjacent to a well-placed snack shack, the air saturated with the tantalizing aroma of fried dough, hot popcorn, and deep-fried chicken nuggets. Spring was damp and chilly and even I had to be strong. I’d chant, “We’ll be home for dinner in an hour.” School fundraisers kicked off in September with motivating pep rallies encouraging my children to sell frozen cookie dough or boxes of chocolate candy bars so their classes could win, of all things, an ice cream party. The barber handed out lollipops. The red candy machines on the way out of the toy store offered Skittles, Boston Baked Beans, and gumballs for a measly quarter. My children were constantly asking for quarters.
It really wasn’t the isolated instances—the one friend who baked sumptuous brownies or the neighbor who invited my children to decorate egg-shaped sugar cookies—it was the exhaustion from battling the constant barrage of excess that depleted me. From the viewpoint of a person under forty-eight inches, the world was a Candyland—a couple Oompa-Loompas short of Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. We lived in a tantalizing, tempting, coaxing, persuading, junk food Garden of Eaten.
So whom did that make me? Let me tell you. Not a noble, admired, loved family member. Not the brownie baking, generous best friend (whose hostessing I truly did admire). It made me the No-Meister. No this. No that. No. No. No. A sour-party-pooper-wound-too-tight-mother. An evil mommy. A control freak. A woman who wanted to throw the towel in every three days, give or take a grocery trip. An exhausted parent who fell asleep wondering, Was I even a good mom today? Did my kids feel any love from me? Did we laugh or talk? I despised being Sergeant No.”
~Excerpt from Little Changes
Hello GEMs! I’m Kristi Marsh, the author of Little Changes. Devour is the most popular section of Little Changes, because everyone loves to talk about food. And when it comes to how and what to feed kids, everyone has a strong opinion.
But I do despise being Sergeant No. There are days when I feel like the only words that leave my mouth are, “No,” and “I already told you no.” One of the things I struggle with is trying to limit the amount of junk my kids eat and instill in them the ability (and desire) to make healthy choices on their own. And it’s not always easy. We’re bombarded by easy, fast, processed food that is difficult to resist. Especially if you have a teenager (which I do) and the cool thing is to hang out at the local burger joint or convenience store. I’m busy and stressed like everyone else and there have been occasions when even I’ve let my kids eat cheesecake for dinner. Yes. As the main meal. Despite the anomalous event, I really want to provide healthy food for my kids.
It’s so hard to be a parent these days! Studies and the media tell us that making dinner at home instead of eating out can reduce our children’s chances of becoming obese, but many of us are working or too exhausted to make dinner when we get home. Many people would love to purchase more organic foods or whole foods instead of processed packages, but the cost of many of these items sends them running back to the cheaper boxes and heat-and-eat meals. We certainly don’t want other people mandating what we serve our children either, so are we stuck?
In Little Changes I share ideas about how to get your family and children on board with eating more fruits and veggies and sharing in learning as everyone tries new-to-you foods. It’s not about ditching your family’s favorite meals and replacing them with organic kale and barley. It’s about becoming more aware about what we devour and how those foods can help (or harm) our health. It’s about making wiser choices in what you purchase (yes, even at your favorite grocery store) and trying to eliminate as many ugly ingredients as you can (many of them in processed foods). Simple mantras like, “buy fresh food over frozen, frozen over canned,” can go a long way to starting on the path to providing healthier foods for yourself and your family. If you could remove even half of the extra salt/fat/sugar/preservatives/food coloring, etc. from your family’s diet, then the occasional homemade cookie or brownie isn’t such a big deal. You won’t have to be a No Meister forever. Little changes can add up to a big difference.
What are you a No-Meister about? What foods does your family/kids constantly ask for that hard to say no to? What’s your biggest food frustration? I’d love to hear more about what you devour!
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Rachel Vidoni is a professional writer and blogger and former classroom teacher. She is a mediocre mother to three pretty neat kids. You can follow her humor and family blog at www.eastcoastmusings.blogspot.com. You might not be a better parent after reading her blog, but you will feel like one.