Tag Archives: children’s diet

How We Stopped Using the S Word at Dinner

Kid's diet needs to be filled with healthy food.

Spinach.  It’s just rude.

There’s lots of worry today about kids getting fat, eating unhealthy,  filling up on high calorie  snacks.  Sure.  But do you know what the real problem is?  Every year, the bad foods get sexier, more fun, and cuter.  Meanwhile,  all the healthy foods are hanging around just as ugly as they were at creation.

Think about it.  On the left, we have cheese stuffed rising crust artisan supreme five topping gooey extreme deep dish tastes like take-out pizza with free cinnamon sugary twist bread and butter soft sticks.  On the right, we have broccoli.  Seriously: broc co li.  First off, what’s with that name? It sounds like something’s stuck in the garbage disposal. And, just what the heck is it?  And, how’d we ever get the idea kids would sit up and salivate when they hear it’s for dinner?

Food companies know better.  They don’t call those yellowish poo shaped things in the foil bag by what they really are.   Cattle feed, ground and mashed in monster vats with truckloads of syrup and salt.  Laced with won’t-ever-go-bad chemical secret powder.  Then squeezed out wet, blown with factory air, hit with dayglow dust, and shoveled into bags by the tons.

If they called them what they are, they’d never leave the shelf.  Instead, whole teamloads of high paid experts are hired to pimp them up. They get completely phony names, like ‘itos’ or ‘ingles’.  They get put on TV with big production numbers,  cool cartoon avatars, and insanely happy snackers.  Really, look at the people in those commercials:  are they wolfing chips, or antidepressants?

Next to these, vegetables just look like shiploads of immigrants at the Oscars.

Isn’t it time somebody decided to re-brand and market the food we really want kids to eat? Why do we have to keep trying to push something past tightly pinched lips that sounds like number one?  Are we permanently stuck calling it peas?  I say, time for a makeover. To get the ball rolling, here are five Good Food 2.0 ideas.

1. Mean Green Bully Blast  –  Today’s kids want edgy, power loaded foods that will make a difference on the school bus or swing set.  Have you ever known any cool kid with a bag of broccoli? ‘Broccoli’ is something musty from the old country you find in grandma’s trunk in the back of the closet that’ll get you flattened and banned.

2. Shred Head with Shag –  Yeah, it’s still just salad – and isn’t that a really appealing food name to kids.  Does any other word in the English language  start with ‘sal’ except saliva?  Why would anyone want to put that in their mouth? And, even worse, stop calling them lettuce and carrots – seriously, they sound exactly like something you’d accidentally gag up.  Le-eh-eht-tuce.  Carrrr-rot. Yuck.

3.  Dragon Scales with Wizard Stone Clusters –  I don’t know who thought up the name ‘granola’.  I do know, not one of the top 500 popular kid’s cereals is called ‘granola’.  And, anybody who believes I’m going to sit over breakfast and convince my tykes they’ll poop better when they’re fifty if they eat lots and lots of fiber instead of magically delicious marshmallow shapes, has never been to my house.

4.  Sunsweeties –  Nature has done a bang up good job of taking pure sunshine, turning it into delicious flavored sugar, storing it in fragrant, bright colored, fun shaped packages.  Then, we started messing with things, calling them ‘fruits’ and whatnot, and put the kids right off.  So now, companies buy them up, boil them down, dilute the goodness and mix it with gluey, inky stuff and sell the same thing as treats.  There’s something funny about that.  I’m just not sure what.

5.  White Leopard NinjaMight –  You can tell just how long ago cottage cheese got its name from the fact that (a) nobody has lived in a cottage since Hansel and Gretel and (b) they stopped making cheese inside them long before that.  And what kind of cheese comes out of a dank  little hut in the forest in the first place?  I can tell you my kids won’t touch it, no matter how good for their bones, with protein and all.

Try it yourself, and you’ll see what I mean.  Put your own marketing whiz to use, and stop calling healthy foods by names that doom them to the garbage bin.  And, do us all a favor, share some of your ideas here, for other dads.  Or, just keep shoveling the s and peas.

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Sweet Little Lies

I’m feeling angry.  It’s about the folks who give advice on children’s diets and nutrition.  I didn’t realize it right away, but now it’s clear. They haven’t been telling the truth.

I’m talking about the government authorities, doctors, TV personalities, special reporters and school nutritionists.  You haven’t been leveling with us.  All that talk about healthy diet, and the food pyramid – you just happened to leave out the little part about the kids themselves.  Why does nobody mention that youngsters are basically cute little appetites on legs, automatically set to hunt down sweets and fats to eat or hide under the mattress? It’s a known fact.  Babies are born craving sugar. They can’t help it.

Keeping this vital information from parents makes no sense.  If I drove out of the dealership and my new car had an automatic and natural tendency to steer towards cliff edges, deep water and heavy immovable objects, I’d want to know about it BEFORE we were moving at speed down Suicide Mountain.  I’d want a warning, flashing right up there on the dashboard in big red letters.  Not some pretty colored signs halfway down the grade, suggesting that I use sensible driving tips to try and persuade it not to fly, smoking, off into the void.

And I’d have something to say to the folks making money selling them.

I don’t normally take all four kids at the same time to the grocery store.  Or promise them on the drive that they can each pick out one small treat.  I’m now up to speed why it’s a really bad idea.

We hit the aisles with one basket, and they split up chittering, happy as birds.  My idea was, they’d go find some favorite snack or food not usually allowed as part of the house menu.  Their idea was to inventory the food mart, and come up with the largest, lowest nutrient content, processed, food-like calorie bombs they could find.  The one’s with the big “Mom Would Never Let This In The House” stickers.  They set up a relay and proudly dragged their prizes to the cart.

‘Wait’, I’d say.  ‘What’s this?’

Through the bag I can make out colors I’ve never seen in nature before.  Before I get an answer, another box flies in.  It looks like a month’s supply of sprinkle covered, chocolate coated, fudge filled, artificial ice cream stuffed cones with nuts on top.

‘That’s not small,’ I say.

‘Look, Dad, they’re really, really small,” she says.  All fifty of them.

‘This is what I want’, I hear behind me.  My son with a cart of his own. I didn’t know they sold chip assortments in 30 bag family sizes.

‘Hang on, everybody’, I say, holding up my hands.  ‘Huddle up.  The deal was, one little snack or treat, not the biggest thing you can carry. Take all these back and we’ll go check this out together.’  They roll their eyes and slowly, painfully, unload the basket.

I deliberately steer to the fruit.  ‘Look, ripe mangos!’ They exchange looks, and I can see we’re in for a tough negotiation. Before long we start attracting attention from moms, who look at the kids, look at me, turn away with a hidden smile and shake their heads.  They can see I’m out of my league.

‘Can I…’, ‘No’, ‘How about…’ ‘No’.

Without thinking I turn into the cookie aisle, and instantly realize I’ve made a huge tactical blunder.  It’s the longest aisle in the store.  Spilling boxes from floor to ceiling.  You can smell the sugar.  The kids bolt like horses at a desert oasis.

Now, it’s a marvel of modern engineering that you can put just the same few ingredients together, and make endless varieties of products.  And it’s a testament to how skilled and expert companies have become in knowing what kids are wired to want to eat.  Let’s just say, they have it down to a fine science.  A very profitable science.  If the health and nutrition groups were half as good, we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic.

I won’t go into the details of how this little expedition turned out.  There was upset, threats, and a shouting tantrum.  The kids stayed calm and polite, I was proud of them.  We compromised and took some vitamin fortified treats home and weathered mom’s disapproval.

But I’m still angry.

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