(taken from a 2010 newsletter)
The other day Jack, my five year old son, came home from school and said, “Mom, do you know what Oliver had in his thermos?” I curiously responded, “What?” Knowing that Oliver’s mother is as much of a food fanatic as I am and Jack blurted out, “Coke!” And he rapidly added, “But his dad gave it to him and his mom doesn’t know!”
I have come to realize that my son is the chief of THE FOOD POLICE.
We were recently in Los Angles and as we were driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, Jack proudly counted 16 fast food restaurants within a 2-mile span. Now, he has never been to a fast food restaurant, yet he knows what one is. And, he has never had a Coke, but he also knows what one is. Yes, he does watch television. And he does have friends and family members who indulge in all of the above and tell him about them but the real reason he knows about these food substances is because just as we as a family talk about good foods, we also talk about bad foods.
So while eating most of these things is taboo in our family, talking about it is not. Talking about it is what empowers the kids with knowledge. And with this knowledge they can make informed choices now and as they get older. I am truly proud of what Jack knows and as you can see, so is he!
It is our job as parents to educate our children yet how can we do so if we aren’t educated ourselves? People are generally confused about how to nourish themselves. There are way too many cooks—the food industry itself, health and medical experts who are unqualified to talk about nutrition, nutrition experts pushing unhealthy dietary practices, self-proclaimed nutrition experts, friends and family—all thinking they are helping while creating more chaos. Sifting through the information becomes so tiresome that people typically give up.
As a culinary nutrition professional and a parent I urge you to start with the very basics for yourself and your children:
• Identify and remove the “toxic” ingredients (artificial flavors, colors, sugars and preservatives) • Reduce processed food (aim for 5 or less ingredients on a label) • Transition conventional brand names to healthier alternatives • Move towards a more whole foods based food lifestyle
In the end, the food police may not be such a bad idea. Training the younger generation through knowledge may save us all!