I have a problem with people feeding my kids junky food. I don't like giving them sugar or anything that isn't 100% whole grain, but I especially try to avoid nitrate, dye and chemical-laden processed yuck. I know that makes me a pain in the ass. But my kids haven't seen enough of the world yet to really realize that we eat differently than most other Americans, so why not give them healthy food, especially when they're young and don't even know what they're "missing"?
Preschool has been a challenge. On the first day of school the snack was Froot Loops, and ever since then, when I ask Emily what she had for snack at Preschool the answer is usually "cookies" or "colorful cereal". This is the point where it gets difficult. I can control the food she eats at home, but when it comes to the outside world how much should I interfere, if at all? I have never fooled myself that we'd be able to keep junk out of her diet forever, and there's a point where you just have to control what you can of your child's diet and be happy with the fact that MOST of what they eat is healthy because this is unfortunately the world we live in. I think it's very wrong that junk food is the norm out in the real world, but that's the truth. Once she's in kindergarten I'll be able to send her a packed lunch, but for now we're in the middle of 2 years of preschool where snack is provided by the school.
I don't want to send her a separate snack, I feel like that will only single her out and give her bad emotional associations with food. I am not a very confrontational person, so even talking to the director about the food they provide seems scary to me. I guess sooner or later I need to stop sitting here simmering about it and actually say something if it bothers me so much. I've thought about offering to donate snacks now and then, things like 100% whole wheat pretzels instead of the kind they usually buy, or the 100% whole wheat juice-sweetened fig newtons I get occasionally. But that would get expensive, and besides, I'm already paying for her snacks through tuition and it's not really fair for me to single-handedly fund ALL the kids' snacks. I could mount a campaign to try to get the parents to add a couple dollars more per month to their tuition payments so we can upgrade the kids' food, but they all seem pretty happy feeding their kids junk and again, the whole confrontational aspect of it frightens me and I don't want to be THAT mom.
So when it comes time for the classroom parties and I CAN have a little control over the food, I jump at the chance to give them healthy things. At the Thanksgiving party I made a melon turkey with fruit skewers for tailfeathers, thinking at least this way they will have some fruit and it will be presented in a fun way that will make them want to eat it. For the Valentine's Day party, I realized that I should be doing the opposite...there WILL be junk there, so I might as well volunteer to bring the junk so I can make it my way and let the other parents bring the fruit since that is inherently healthy. Luckily, at the planning meeting when the head mom suggested doing a buffet of sweets one of the other moms did the confrontation part for me and said that there should probably be SOME healthy food. That gave me a great opportunity to suggest having a selection of foods that are naturally red, and it seemed to go over well. So it seems all I need to do is enlist a like-minded confrontational person to be my sidekick, then I can really get things done!
We ended up with a menu of apples, strawberries, raspberries, red peppers, babybel cheese wheels (in the RED wax!), red juice boxes, and I made 100% whole wheat cutout cookies with juice-sweetened jam. The kids seemed to enjoy it but not many of them cleaned their plates. I was disappointed at first, until I remembered that not many of them cleaned their plates at the Thanksgiving party either, even though the menu was much more junky then. It amazes me how little kids will eat unless encouraged when there is interesting stuff going on around them. My own daughter ate the cheese, strawberries and raspberries eventually, hoovered the jelly out of her cookie (even though she will eat the whole thing at home), and thoughtfully returned her unwanted apple slices to the communal bowl. Eew.
It was nice however to know as they tore around like demons afterward that the insanity was being powered by 100% kid energy and not by piles of sugar and dye.
The music stopped!
Charlotte playing with the big kids (in the tutu SHE picked out to wear today!)
Hopefully, with practice, I will get less timid about trying to effect change. Maybe eventually I can be ok with being THAT mom. Because I like my sweet, preservative-free kids just as they are!