Kids Are More Than What They Eat: Confessions of a poor cooking physician

Dr. Momma addresses the topic of childhood nutrition and the possible shame parents feel about their choices, but kids are more than what they eat.

Kids are more than what they eat. Looking back years ago, everyone grew their own crops. Then companies started mass producing and adding chemicals and hormones. Later, genetically modified foods flourished.

Raging debates about healthy food choices are common, and we, the consumers, obsess over what to choose.  When you buy salmon, why obsess over not being able to pay the extra money for the salmon which frolics while swimming free in the Alaskan waters? The salmon that swims laps around the farmer’s pond is still much healthier than the fish sandwich at McDonald’s. Choosing healthy foods remains a priority, but remember that your kids are more than what they eat.

As a physician, I get it. But why do so many people believe that every vaccine increases the risk of autism? That eating fast food is hurting your child’s brain? That processed food will automatically lead to bad health? While these things may be true for some kids, they are not for the majority.

 

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Medically speaking, there tends to be a predisposing factor which makes people react differently than others. We should not look at everything as black or white, or even true or false. The real answer is “sometimes”.

 

Pollen does not make everyone sick.

Going to daycare does not make every child need ear tubes.

Everyone does not react to poison ivy.

We tend to focus to an extreme degree on everything. Nothing is new, except that the internet makes the information accessible to us all, day and night. Everyone has now become an expert because of internet reading.

Eating healthy means something different for everyone. I find that it is like losing weight. After you lose some, you want to lose more. Eating healthy does not have to be extreme, only organic or unprocessed.

I stand as a voice of reason. The voice telling you that all things should be done in moderation. For adults, the issues often revolve around smoking, drinking and working too much. For kids, it mostly consists of screen time and food.

Screen time debates continue to rage because many parents rebel at the idea of limiting the amount of time or the age kids become addicted to devices.  I say…why should kids become addicted at all? Why shouldn’t kids use devices daily, and then have them taken away some time later?  Parents need to decide when the device should be gone or the volume turned off, not the kids. Devices are not bad; however, excessive use is.

Same with food. Even if we all made food from scratch, someone would tell us that we were not using the BEST flour or that it was too processed. You cannot be perfect, so just go for common sense and moderation.  All moms prepare food for kids, and there are days when you are a chef and other days you cannot even reach into the freezer.  For me, my pantry looked like a supermarket. Rows of ready to eat foods. Yes, my kids ate processed foods every single day.

I ran a private practice while raising kids and chose to maximize my use of time with them. Daily food from scratch was not the top of my list. I am not proud but nor am I ashamed of this fact. I am not recommending anyone do this, but no awful consequences happened to my kids.

Eating daily processed foods did not give my kids autism, or diabetes or ADHD.  There are actually a variety of other risk factors that lead people to breakdown foods, medications, vaccines in a different manner than the majority.

This blog post is for the mom who feels guilty about giving her kids pop tarts but only Instagrams the egg white muffins. My kids ate canned veggies and fruits because going to the grocery store every week used the time that I desired to spend with them in other ways. Working moms make daily decisions about time management, and this is what I chose.

Kids are more than what they eat: My example

I recently went to Target and picked out the foods that were my on my normal shopping list when my kids were young. This is not an Instagram worthy photo, but I believe there are numerous parents serving these foods as well.

Dr. Momma addresses the topic of childhood nutrition and the possible shame parents feel about their choices, but kids are more than what they eat.

On weekends, I made home-cooked meals, and we supplemented these foods with “real food”.  As my girls grew older, the food options increased; consequently, they are much healthier eaters than as kids. Pick your battles. These mac and cheese, pop tart, Eggo waffle kind of days are limited. They will pass. Skip the food guilt.

As an empty nester, I now keep a wide variety of fresh fruits in the refrigerator and regularly grill fresh veggies.  This was not common in my house back in the day, but I do not regret my choices. They were the best I could do at the time based on other choices unrelated to food. We had a very busy life, and eating on the go was part of it.

My adult kids are accomplished and successful. We have awesome memories of their time growing up, and they remember loving the hot dogs and beans before working on art projects.  Kids are more than what they eat, and their ultimate successes will not be based simply on what you feed them. Your kids should not eat fast foods and processed sugar all day, every day. Understand that moderation is the key! If your child has an illness later in life, do not blame the hot dog and pop tarts.

Dr. Momma addresses the topic of childhood nutrition and the possible shame parents feel about their choices, but kids are more than what they eat.

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Diana

As parents, we get judged a lot for what we feed our kids. We just started solids and everyone is all, no you should do baby led weaning or don’t start with fruit! Funny thing is our daughter actually hated fruit at first but has warmed up to it and we started there because our pediatrician recommended starting with allergy foods to prevent future allergies. Sorry veggies don’t cause allergies, but strawberries do!

Getting off topic, but you are absolutely right! There is no harm in giving your child a cheeseburger every once in awhile!

    Momma Addict

    I agree. No matter what you do, it does not meet everyone’s approval. Someone else will tell you not buy baby food but make your own. There is so much pressure to “do the right thing” but there is no one right thing. People are afraid to say they gave their child french fries but instead talk about only salad and fruit cups at McDonald’s. Be honest and just know you don’t eat cheeseburgers and fries every day

Brooks

Thank you for posting this!! I’m currently starting my son on solids and seriously, every choice a mother makes, there will be people saying it’s the wrong choice. If you do purées, someone will tell you to do baby led weaning. If you buy their food, people will tell you to make it. On the flip side, if you do BLW people will tell you your baby is going to choke. If you make you baby food, you’re still not doing it “right” in other people’s eyes. My SIL claims her daughter only eats the healthiest of foods, but when she was at my mom’s house, all she wanted to eat were marshmallows and cheese slices. Which is FINE. I wish people (like my SIL) would be more honest about these things so that us new moms don’t constantly feel like we’re failing. Thank you so much for your honesty.

    Momma Addict

    I am glad that other parents recognize the truth about kids who “only eat healthily”. Those kids do not actually exist because when given a chance, they will choose to try the processed and fast foods. When my kids were young, a chiropractor used to brag that his kids hated sugary and processed foods. Said kids only asked for salads and sushi. But at birthday parties, I watched his child eat pizza and cookie cake. Kids may act the way you want in front of you, but that does not tell the whole tale! Keep feeding your kids the way you desire. It is about balance, your food choices AND how you choose to spend your time with them. My kids lived on mac and cheese for years and still are intelligent successful women.

Kellie

I really needed to hear this. I have been struggling with a lot of the “food guilt” you speak of. I also like being the voice of reasoning. I preach moderation and balance. Still, these thoughts nag at my brain from time to time, like the past couple weeks.

As a working parent, it’s hard to find the time to meal plan, shop, and cook. I want to prioritize home cooked meals, but often find myself going out or shoving a frozen pizza in the oven.

Thank you for writing this.

    Momma Addict

    I am so happy to read your comment. You are the exact person this post was created for. Way too many people pretend to only feed their kids the best food possible. It is not reality and we need to be honest. We should try to do things like require kids to drink water instead of fruit juices and on weekends with more time, cook better meals. Balance is key and I need people to know that even doctors are simply parents trying to make it all work. My kids did not suffer from their years of pop tart addiction. Please keep doing what you are doing with your head raised. No need to defend yourself.

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