Healthy eating

Just another good reason to be a stay-at-home mom: working mothers have obese children (H/T: Kat) But according to this British study, the more money you have, the more likely it is that your child will be overweight. I’m not sure that this is the case in the United States, but maybe because, in my small-world view, the more money you have, the more likely the mom is to stay-at-home, at least during the pre-school years.

When Fritz was a baby, I worked from home two days and in the office three days. My hours in the office were shorter: 8 am to 3 pm, if I recall correctly. Up until he was about 15 months old, I held absolute control over everything he ate. But that was a bit of a pain, and I thought perhaps he needed exposure to a wider variety of food, so I decided to let the daycare feed him their USDA approved lunch three days a week. And he did.

But suddenly, at home, frozen vegetables were disdained in favor of the softer, saltier canned type. Natural peanut butter (back in the days when you only had to wait until a child was a year old to give them it) would no longer be tolerated, but the sugar-laden stuff was gobbled up. He liked Chef-Boy-R-Dee. What a mistake I made.

The trouble with first-born children is that they are guinea pigs and at the mercy of a new mother’s inexperience.

The study mentions quickie meals (unhealthy, high-fat) which working mothers often resort to – yup, I did that. The study mentions that caretakers may not ensure proper exercise for the kids or that children may be left to their own devises (meaning TV or video games). The daycare Fritz was in had no TV for the infant room and limited TV for the toddler (over 18 months old) room (he was out of there when he was 20 months old). They did have time outdoors every day (unless it was really bad weather), but I doubt there was as much physical activity as my kids experience here.

I just don’t see any institutional program permitting a dozen boys to engage in light-sabre battles all afternoon long. Somebody might put their eye out.

Recently, sitting in the ER waiting room, I glanced through a baby magazine. There was an article on feeding your child solid food. There were some pretty alarming statistics about what kinds of foods babies, toddlers and preschoolers do and don’t eat, and numbers on how many school-aged children are overweight. We just don’t have these problems in this house, in part due to genetics and in part due to lifestyle. Unfortunately, these magazine articles usually only re-hash the current guidelines set out by pediatricians and don’t give too much truly practical advice. It took me three kids to learn that if I wanted my kids to eat the family meal, then I had to feed the kids the family meal, even if I cooked it a bit longer or used a baby mill to make it digestible. Peter and Jenny are my best eaters, and neither had a single jar of baby food. We’re still working on the others.

The bottom line is that the healthiest kids are going to eat wholesome, home-cooked meals from the time they start solids. The more a family opts for shortcuts (from jarred food to Hamburger Helper to frozen pizza) or lets someone else do the cooking (from daycare workers to cafeteria dining to restaurant fare), the more likely it is that the family will be eating unhealthily.

6 thoughts on “Healthy eating

  1. I agree that lower incomes mean unhealthier kids. I think besides moms working, it has to do with what’s available at the grocery for less money. Usually canned vegetables, canned meat, packaged meals. It costs quite a bit more to buy fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat. And it costs a lot more to make a casserole from scratch than it does to throw a box of hamburger helper into some ground meat. Sadly!

  2. I found the same thing regarding having the first solid food be the family meal. For me though, it was pure laziness, and not knowledge. I nurse them until they can begin finger food, and then give them little bits of this and that until they are eating what the rest of us eat. I am glad it is healthy as well; sometimes laziness pays off.

  3. What bothers me is that when I see these poor kids in the store with their moms, I want to shake her, and go through her cart with her…Convenience meals I understand. The poor woman must be exhausted after working all day, I don’t think I’d be able to turn out a healthy dinner every night if I was working. But the snacks of junk food and candy and ice cream? I don’t buy that stuff b/c it costs too much. A 5lb bag of carrots goes a lot farther in my house for snacks…

  4. It also took me through the first two children to realize that if I fed the toddler/baby the family meal, then there are fewer food battles. My almost three year old and 13 month old eat everything that isn’t nailed down. We will still battle the older two who were fed baby foods. And scratch foods are so much healthier! If you make it from scratch, it not only tastes better, but you don’t have to worry about the baby getting too much salt and sugar – the real reason that there are baby foods in the first place!

  5. My third child eats a far greater variety of foods than my firstborn. He didn’t do daycare, but yes, some baby food (icky) and the USDA food at preschool for a year (which droves me nuts). I think that was a major factor in deciding to pull him from that program. The food was horrible. I wanted to make his lunches, but the school lunch was part of the program and the teachers would forget the lunch I packed and feed him the crap. Great article!

  6. This post has helped push me to restart the food wars at our house. I did all the wrong things from ignorance- baby food for well into the 2nd year, special foods for kids… now I have the pickies eaters on the planet and misery for me. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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