They were discussing the growing concern over obesity and Type 2 diabetes in children on The View the other day. Contributing facts, to their way of thinking, were that kids don’t devote the hours to play that children in past generations did, as well as being offered little by way of physical education in our schools. As a child, speaking only for my peer group, once breakfast dishes were done and chores finished we disappeared out into the sunshine to cavort with the bees, stick our toes in the frog pond and generally explore the nooks and crannies of our worlds until our names were called out the back door to come in for a meal.
It was suggested that healthier meals need to be offered in our school cafeterias. From what I can see between my children and their children, meal selections don’t appear to have changed much since I was in school, not really. Basically, at break when I was in high school, if funded, I could purchase the most gooey and ridiculously unhealthy cinnamon rolls or a bread loaf sized piece of coffee cake. Lunch, if not brought from home, ranged from processed cheese and macaroni, pizza slices, chocolate pudding with a glop of whipped cream to an occasional offering of chicken patties or what we referred to as “frisbee burgers” which were guaranteed to sail 50 feet without dropping if you gave them the right twist of the wrist. In my humble and often offered opinion, there’s more to it than that.
In the end, isn’t it our role as guiders and molders of little beings to instill in them healthy eating habits at home first? Provide them as best we can with a balanced diet to choose from and choose from this ourselves to show them how it’s done. This brings to mind individuals who bring suit against fast food chains because their children eat at these establishments regularly and now find themselves grossly overweight. Is it just me? This being true, if I frequent a casino and lose all my rent money can I, in good conscience, sue the casino for drawing me in with their shiny machines and blinking lights and enticing me to deposit my paycheck in the nickel slots? Seriously?
Let’s say, I got coupons for pizza rolls and purchased a freezer full. If my thighs are now twice the size they were prior to my purchase, can I sue the company that manufactured them because my right toe now no longer fits in my size 4 pants? Where did we stop taking responsibility for our own behavior?
Not long ago I had occasion to spend a few days with my son and his children. Watching the feeding program there was eye opening for me. To preface, they are excellent, doting parents to their two nose miners, yet I was fascinated to watch how meal times went with regards to the kids. My grandson, for example, was asked what he would like for breakfast. I’m old school, so usually breakfast was served and thank you’s were said, and there was more cooking and less asking going on. I get that things are different these days. Oatmeal was his first choice. Good choice. Healthy. After it was served to him and one bite consumed, he determined instead he wanted eggs. Really? So, a pan was retrieved from the cupboard, eggs whipped up in a bowl, and in short order (a little play on words here so you won’t get bored) a plate of fluffy scrambled eggs and wheat toast appeared in front of the young prince. I was still on board at this point.
I watched as the eggs were maneuvered from one side of the plate to other with encouragement to do more than toy with their affection from my son. Then after one bite (this is where I got off the train) this plate was pushed away as well and a request for a waffle and heated maple syrup came in. As I watched the train leave the station two waffles were dropped in the toaster which would, for the most part, also remain on the plate they were served. Whew. I was worn out just watching that procedure.
One full year, in my memory, another of my grandchildren only ate hot dogs because that’s what she liked. Every time I saw this child she was eating another dog in a bun. On Thanksgiving she had two in honor of the holiday. This expanded to popcorn (which I was told was her vegetable), then chicken strips, and I believe since then, corn, tacos and French fries have been added to the acceptable list for her discerning palate.
As children my two wild things were served a meal of my choosing for the most part and ate what was presented to them. By this, I do not mean that I purposely served them food they didn’t like, but that they didn’t lay out the meal plan for me on Sunday so I could be sure to be up to speed once they were seated at the table. Consequently other than one not liking pickles and the other peas they were never picky eaters.
In my mind children are entitled to like or dislike peas, and not be forced to eat peas. However, they have to at least try the food a time or two and there is no cupcake if your dinner plate was fed to the cocker spaniel. Once when my son was a little boy my husband totally dug in at the dinner table and insisted my son eat his peas, which, for my son were his kryptonite. Quietly, I reminded my husband that he loathed ham. That particular cut of pork was never served at our table unless brought into the house by another person, and even then eyed with suspicion lest a piece approach his plate. Not willing to back down, the peas were reluctantly consumed by the six year old over a half an hour period, but I have to say were returned to us by his stomach in a much more expedient manner. After cleaning up my little guy I handed my husband the necessary cleaning utensils to handle the rest of the mess. A lesson was learned by all.
In the end, I don’t have a thought as to the solution. It’s hard to push our children out the door to an unsafe world, and fast food in our busy lives seems to be a go-to place after a long day at work. It worries me to see less and less activity and more and more intake of useless calories, but such is the fast paced world we live in I guess. For me it looks like this:
This salad not only looks fabulous but offers up such a nice delicate blend of flavors. It’s a bit of work, but well worth it.
Youth is a perpetual intoxication; it is a fever of the mind. – François Duc de la Rochefoucauld
Shaved Zucchini Salad
4 large zucchini
12 grape tomatoes, thinly sliced and seeded
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup shaved Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tsp. lemon zest
Garlic salt, pinch of coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Shredded Parmesan for garnish
Shred the zucchini lengthwise in long ribbons. Discard the pieces with just green as well as seedy centers. Slice tomatoes thinly and seed. Cut thin slices of onion and separate rings. Place all ingredients in bowl (glass is nice for this pretty salad) and toss lightly. Grind once or twice with pepper and sprinkle with a pinch of coarse salt and a splash of garlic salt.
2 1/2 Tbsp. EV olive oil
2 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. dill weed
Whisk together ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use. Toss with salad just prior to serving.
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