Saturday, October 24, 2009

Food for Thought

I have written here before about why I home school (The Home School Why/July Archive). It may be a different reason than most suspect. In a nut shell it is because I like being around my kids. I am a typical extrovert. I love being around people, get energy from crowds, do well with managed chaos.

While reading a post and comments on a friend's blog ( Sweet Surprise not so Sweet, I was forced to contemplate a drawback to homeschooling. The discussion was about High Fructose Sugar. The drawback may not be what you suspect. When you home school, there is no school lunch.

As homeschooling Moms, we are free to set priorities for our children. This is an incredible benefit, especially with regard to curriculum. As primary teacher, we pick where to put the academic emphasis. For me, the emphasis has always been on Reading and Religion. Our home is so full of books, we are running out of shelves. There is a book on tape playing at almost any free moment of the day. We get several children's magazines a month. I have no problem "setting the example" by letting my children see me reading on a regular basis.

I believe that video games and too much TV hinder a child's ability to develop good reading habits and make limiting these activities in my children's lives a priority.

Religion is primarily character building. Along with knowledge of their faith, participation in the Sacraments, and daily prayers; the day to day struggles of instilling the values of justice, charity, honesty, selflessness, prudence and temperance fall under one of my main priorities.

My point is that I find it easier to work into my routine, those things which I have made a priority. The problem is, there are other things that are important that I don't have the energy for at the end of the day. The main thorn in my side is food.

It should be a priority. I despise picky eaters. I have an intolerance to milk and absolutely hate the fact that I am not at liberty to eat everything I am served by a host. For my children to refuse food prepared by me (or more importantly another) for no good reason is infuriating. But in truth, I know why it is not a priority. While I despise pickiness, I am not a food lover. Dinner out is never about the food for me, but the company and conversation. I get little pleasure out of food itself. I never eat breakfast and most days eat the left overs on my children's plates after lunch.

I know why I want my children to treasure reading and their faith. I can't imagine my life with out a love of books and Catholicism. These two aspects of my life, often intertwined, fill my days with pleasure, guidance, food for thought. I don't want my children to miss the benefits I have enjoyed. If it were possible, I can imagine my life without food.

My kids are active and healthy. It is a joke that my brother's kids, who are the best eaters in the world, catch everything going around, while my kids are saved from most bugs because they are filled with so many preservatives. I can't use their health to motivate me because they are not unhealthy. I can't find the means to get motivated to make this a priority.

It is in part because I have tried and the amount of energy, discipline and time it takes to really put into place a system that would force them to be good eaters is enormous. This is in part because we home school. If I were sending them off to school, starving them into eating what is served or not eating for 8 hours would be built into their day. But they are home, so I have to monitor their every minute. If I say no eating breakfast until you finish last night's dinner, I have to guard the kitchen until it is accomplished.

I can control what is in my home, and I do. I actually had to get rid of bagels and peanut butter because my oldest ate ten a day. It is not the junk food, it is the okay food. How do you get rid of bread and milk? Cheerios aren't bad, but if they are there, they are eaten all day long when there is not an other acceptable option for my second.

I don't have the energy, but after the discussion on High Fructose Sugar, it was clear I really need to do something. At this point, I just don't what to do. I have been child rearing long enough to know it takes two weeks of constant attention to get rid of most bad habits. I don't think I have two weeks in me for this. Short of putting a pad lock on the pantry, I am at a loss.

Let me add, just to make myself feel better, that my girls are great eaters. The only credit I can take for this is that I had already ruined my boys by the time they were three. I did do things a bit differently with the bottom half. I did not start feeding the girls solid food until they reached up on the table and grabbed it. We skipped the baby food stage. I was so uptight during the babyfood stage with my boys about doing something wrong, I probably contributed to (or created)their neurotic tendencies.

So if you have been there done that, I would love your advice. Or, I guess if you want to get me a pad lock for Christmas, I will take the hint.


  1. I might add for a mental picture, we have a poster from the movien 300 hanging in our home. It shows the main character dripping in blood above the words: Tonight we Dine in Hell. That is my life.

  2. You are too cute! You make me laugh for sure.

    Okay, first - give yourself a huge break. You are a great mom and are doing so many amazing things for your children.

    Also, my kids do not eat healthy all the time and they do not always eat what I make them. Although, they are required to try at least a bite of everything. I also bribe them with dessert. ;) I am not above this.

    And lastly, this is our business - we have been teaching people how to cook healthier for almost 15 years now. I've been in contact with so many health nuts it is not even funny. And we absolutely love food - too much really.

    All that said, you have a great opportunity as a home school mom to use your standards in teaching as a way to teach your children about food.

    My friend who is also a home school mom has a poster of the food pyramid on her fridge. She is teaching them about different foods and every choice that they make has to kind of filter through the pyramid. It is really genius. I watched as one of her children asked for a cookie the other day. She asked her to point out where on the pyramid that was and to tell her how much of those types of foods she should have according to the pyramid. Then she asked her if she had had anything else that day from the larger spaces on the food pyramid. The daughter said no. The mom offered to make a sandwich with items from 3 of the larger categories - and after she ate the sandwich she allowed her to have the cookie. No arguing. So, maybe not a lock on your fridge but a food chart on it would help. Let them teach themselves how to make good food choices.

    Also, it's a slow process. Starvation seems extreme :) but certainly offering them things that are healthy in lieu of things that are not is a positive move. For me, I just have to limit the amount of junk food in the house. If it is here we will all eat it. I love all kinds of food - healthy and not.

    I started to figure out what things were really important to me. Sugar and hydrogenated fats were those two things. I read labels and made other choices when it came to those things. Instead of margarine, I chose real butter. I purchased yogurt without the corn syrup and so on. One choice at a time.

    Sorry that was the longest comment in blogger history.

  3. I once served my son pickles and peanut butter for dinner. That's what he wanted, and I was tired. Pick your battles. The food thing will work itself out, and if it doesn't, that's what Flinstones vitamins are for.