Monday, July 31, 2017

"Just wait till she has McDonald's"

As a parent, you try your hardest not to pass on your worst habit(s) to your kid(s) but rather to pass on your best traits and maybe even try to instill in them some traits you don't yet have.

I have struggled with food addiction and overeating for at least half of my life. I turn to food for every emotion. I don't stop eating just because I am full. I eat things I know will keep me unhealthy. It's a struggle I have had and will probably continue to have even if I appear to have conquered it one day. Old habits die hard and these habits are ones I have been practicing for some time.

My husband on the other hand, although he has his favorite foods he likes to indulge in, can go days without eating or only eating vegetables and hardly bat an eye.

Now that we have a child, we are both working to make sure she eats healthy and takes on the traits of her dad. For breakfast, my 1.5 year old will often eat two eggs, a banana, and maybe some sweet potato. Snacks often consist of string cheese, a variety of fruits, raw carrots (no ranch dressing required), cottage cheese, unsweetened greek yogurt, and pretty much any vegetable. For dinner she will often eat grilled chicken or ground turkey or beef with squash and zucchini. I am so thankful that she eats these foods willingly and seems to love them. We rarely feed her pasta, bread, cereal, or anything sweet (other than all the fruit she eats). She never drinks fruit juices, milk, or soda -- only water.

I have many people tell me that her diet is great but "Just wait till she has McDonald's for the first time... it will all be over". In other words, as soon as we allow her just one junk food meal, they assume she will abandon her healthy eating ways and demand junk food for every meal.

I have a few issues with this. First, who says we will ever take her to McDonald's in the first place? My husband and I used to get breakfast there on occasion but have not gone in nearly six months. We don't find the food satisfying or a good bargain and we know it's not good for our health. Second, even if we did take her to a fast food establishment and she had one meal that was unhealthy, why would she start to demand that food at every meal? She loves her fruits and vegetables. Having one meal of chicken nuggets and french fries does not mean she will suddenly forget that she likes those other foods. Finally, having one junk meal out does not mean we will come home to a kitchen void of her regular healthy foods. Just because we allow her to indulge one time does not mean we will suddenly allow her to indulge at every meal.

Of course I know that our daughter will want to start eating more and more junk food as she is exposed to them. But that does not mean I need to purposefully give up on her eating anything healthy now. As she gets older, it is challenging me to stop visiting food places where we cannot get a healthy meal. I know that if I don't start to make some more serious changes in my own diet, I will end up passing on these unhealthy habits to my daughter later on and start to negate some of the lessons we have taught her in her early life. As parents, we may not be perfect. But it is our responsibility to do the best we can as often as we can so as to give our kids the best chance.

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