Monday, December 21, 2009

A lengthy post on chicken nuggets and other epiphanies

After I wrote this post about what I feed my kids for dinner, I was so annoyed with myself, and wanted to take back what I said and pretend it wasn't true. I felt really exposed. Cheap and dirty. Chicken nuggets (I hate even typing the word nugget, such a gross word) are against everything I believe in and stand for.

Am I being over dramatic? Yes, probably. But I did read Michael Pollan's book, Omnivore's dilemma, and I just let myself conveniently block out what I read. Want to know, or be reminded of, what exactly is in a chicken nugget from McDonalds (and everywhere else, I assume)? Look here, and read all the way to the bottom.

But here is the thing. After I wrote that post, I was struck with the most ridiculously obvious solution to my problem. We aren't going to buy them anymore. I just decided that we will be a processed-chicken and hot-dog free household. And I said so to Sam, and he said "really? okay." Done and done.

This epiphany is actually similar to others I have had over the past few years. Here is my pattern: I have a feeling that something is not going the way I want it to in my life, and I get overwhelmed with the feeling that it will always have to be that way, that it is beyond my control, until I somehow remember that actually, I have absolute control over it. And I can make a change. I just have to decide to change it.

So simple it's embarrassing to write.

Case in point (or, here she goes talking about running again):
For all of my teenage and adult life, I said (to myself and to others) that I could not run. I wanted to be a runner, was jealous of all the runners I saw out there, wind in their hair, but I just couldn't do it myself. I could swim forever, but I was just not made to run. I hated it and found it to be really hard, so I told myself, and I had to stop and walk after a quarter of a mile. Once I decided that I wanted to run, and that it was totally within my control to train myself to do so, I started chipping away at it, and we all know what that led to. Running a marathon was my new self saying to my old self: Ha. And you thought you had all the answers.

Case in point 2:
After Reed was born, I was out of shape and unhappy with my post-baby weight. I settled into a funk, feeling like I would always be a little heavier than I wanted to. Actually, I had learned to live with being a little heavier than I wanted to be for years. Until one day, when Reed was 6 months old, my friend Suzanne and I talked about it, and she was having great success losing weight, and it occurred to me for the first time ever (duh) that I could do something about my weight. I started working on it that day. 6 months and 25 pounds later, I was back to my high school weight, and felt better than ever. More importantly, my new self said to my old self: Ha. And you thought you were stuck forever.

So now, two things: I came home from the marathon and ate like I was still running 35 miles a week. But I wasn't running 35 miles a week anymore. Now that it is December, all that eating has caught up with me a little bit (Okay, fine. You want to know? 7 pounds).

I had one day of beating myself up for the extra pounds, and now I'm fine. I know exactly how to remedy this situation. Totally within my control. Been there. Done that. Truth be told, I find way more satisfaction in keeping careful track of what I eat and being disciplined (and being rewarded by meeting my goals) than I do from eating like a wild woman*. My plan is to get back to my fighting weight before Feb. 1 when I start training for the next marathon.

*It may or may not be true that I ate an entire pecan pie over Thanksgiving weekend by myself. I can't be totally sure.

AND, back to what my kids eat: I am done feeding them crap for dinner. Done! I'm not going to go nuts and insist they eat roasted beets, spinach pie, and broiled salmon (what WE had last night!), but nothing else that I wouldn't want to eat myself. Maybe even more important, we will sit down with the kids while they eat and try to all eat together when we can (damn schedules!). I don't like how Reed gets up from the table 19 times during dinner? That's my fault. While they eat, he sees me cooking our dinner, checking email, cleaning the kitchen, and reading Runner's World while pretending to listen to them. I know. I suck. But I can get better.

And, to add to the fun and keep up the promises, I will keep you posted. I will make this my new project, to come up with healthy foods that I can offer them and try to add to our repertoire of what they will eat happily. I will work to make dinner time a much more positive experience for all.

So far, I am happy with these foods that they will eat:
veggie burgers, quesadillas, chicken soup, (organic) macaroni and cheese, tortellini, grilled cheese, chicken-apple sausages, and turkey burgers.

They love pizza, but I will stick with our home-made variety and put some veggies on there too.

They already eat lots of fruit and veggies for side dishes, so I am happy with that, but I am begging for suggestions of foods you are able to get your picky eaters to eat. Send them on down, and I will keep you posted on how we do as we head into 2010!


Tiercy said...

Okay, so did I seriously just read...another marathon!!! Wow, what a runner you are. = )

So, if you don't know, Ethan is the very picky eater at our house. The other night, he asked what I was making for dinner. I said I was going to make chicken. His response....wait for it....I wish we were having fish.

I am surprised you didn't hear me fainting from there. I couldn't have been more surprised!!! We have talipia (sp??) a lot. I am not sure when he started to like it.

I think they should eat what you are eating. I fell into the trap of cooking two different meals for dinner and now I refuse...and to make me even meaner, if they don't like what we are having tough. The can't go get cereal. I used to let them until I realized Ethan was eating cereal 4 or 5 times a week. It's working.

good luck with the eating thing.

Natalie said...

If they really love the chicken nuggets, make your own. You can use all white meat, breast (organic or not). Rachael Ray has a FANTASTIC recipe that you cook in the oven instead of frying. Soooo good. Here's a link:

gretchen said...

A great book on kids and eating is Ellyn Satter's "Child of Mine." Basic principle" adults decide where, what, and when, kids decide how much and whether. Semi-related, I've found a compost bin is helpful when applying this strategy. Less guilt over the food that gets rejected, etc...

Christine said...

It's not as difficult as you might think, Emilie. Once the kids realize that their only option is to eat what's on the table (and that it's not negotiable) you'll be amazed by what they eat and seem to enjoy. We don't make separate meals for the kids ~ never have. We made that pact before even having kids. They eat some version of what we serve and again they know there's no negotiating. Good luck with holding the line and here's to having meals together as a family. It's so basic and so important!

ann said...

I never knew any child that starved to death! Sooner or later, they all eat--even spinach or beets. Amazing to me that so many parents cater to children's whims. I know one mom who says her child won't eat vegetables or fruit. Now where do you suppose that came from? Duh!!!!!!!!!!

Good for you, Em!

Carver Fam said...

great post.

we got the girls something called "dinner games" and they are a box of index sized cards with age appropriate games you can play while you eat.

you just have to remember to bring them to the table and actually play them...

you are awesome. 7 pounds more of you or otherwise. you inspire the masses. and me.

kristin marie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kristin marie said...

I've got a great one (or should I say Rachael Ray does) for mac&cheese that's mostly not cheese. I love it & Lucy does too. Good luck!