Foodie in Training: How to Raise a Health-Conscious Kid

Jessica Harlan by Jessica Harlan | June 7th, 2007 | No Comments
topic: Family Health, Green Living, Health & Wellness, Healthy Eating

I will admit to feeling a certain smug pride at the supermarket when I compare my shopping cart, filled with fresh produce and healthy options, to the next one in line, which, in urban Atlanta, inevitably contains bags of Doritos, frozen pizzas and, if there are any vegetables, they’re canned (sodium and preservativesgasp!). Looking from my plump, healthy baby, protected from nasty germs in her shopping cart seat insert, to the skinny kid in the next cart, I think how lucky my daughter is. I just hope she realizes it when she grows up and gets to make her own choices about the foods she eats. Will she appreciate that the first vegetable she tasted was an organic yam, lovingly roasted and milled into a silky puree by her mother? Or will she sneak off to get the Happy Meals that we’ve deprived her of?

For now, my husband Chip and I have vowed to feed 6-month-old Sadie all organic foods, at least for the first couple of years of her life. While it’s one thing for Chip and I to ingest traces of pesticides, I look at Sadie’s little body and worry about her ingesting a higher concentration of these chemicals. It turns out that my fears are closely on target – babies are more susceptible to pesticide poisoning, which can lead to cancer, brain damage and problems with the reproductive system.

I’m not the only one who’s trying to do right by their baby. We’re just lucky that there are plenty of companies – even big conglomerates like Gerber -that are meeting demand with organic cereal, jarred foods, and even frozen options.

Still, I haven’t had to explore the prepared options, organic or not, because I’m making my own baby food and hoping that to Sadie, the flavors and textures are fresher and more interesting than jarred baby food. I feel good about knowing exactly what goes into Sadie’s food (i.e. the ingredients in her apple puree: Golden Delicious apples, and nothing else). Not to mention not having to throw a sackful of glass or plastic jars in the recycling bin every week, or the pollution and energy waste produced by the manufacturing, packaging, and transportation.

I know some moms feel like they have enough stress and chores in their day without making baby food from scratch, and I totally understand. Everyone makes their own choices about what’s important for their kids – my house might not be as clean as those of other kids in Sadie’s playgroup, and I always feel guilty that I’m not as good about keeping Sadie on a sleep schedule as my other mom-friends. But I’m a foodie, so Sadie’s diet trumps mopping the floors regularly or making sure she’s in bed by 7 p.m.

I try to not dwell on whether my good intentions will backfire. Though I do feel pangs as Sadie grimaces at a mouthful of sweet peas that I’ve carefully steamed and pureed. Perhaps she’ll trade her organic yogurt cups and homemade muesli for her classmate’s Twinkies? But just as I now look back to my childhood with gratitude that the nights of TV dinners were the exception rather than the norm, hopefully Sadie will also one day appreciate that her first meals didn’t come from a jar.

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