I have been ranting a lot with my husband about this topic. My kids are pretty much teens and have begun to flex their independence muscles. This is a good thing, but at times I have been getting extremely frustrated. I know that they are frustrated with me too because I’m constantly throwing it out there at them and I get the eye roll and ignored.
It’s hard not to make a big deal about it. My only excuse is that I’m so passionate about this.
What is it?
It’s eating a decent lunch…
Not a bunch of crackers.
Not just an apple.
Good grief, certainly not the cafeteria food she now has access to and he sometimes does in the “canteen” or whatever they call it.
Not NOTHING for Pete’s sake!
I admit, it’s been quite the journey for them the past couple years. An about face from where we were (eating tons of pre-made meals & take out) to eating raw as much as we can and a lot more healthy homemade foods. We did discuss it – I started it for my own personal journey and they wanted to join me. They were younger and much more eager. They have learned so much about labels and ingredients. They have been teased and bugged about their healthier food options in their lunches. They’ve been in arguments with cousins about what labels mean. They’ve been missing many of the foods we used to eat often and now only have as a “treat”.
There is the answer to why it is difficult lately.
It now becomes a battle of denying them foods they think they want instead of encouraging them to eat the foods that are healthier choices. I help people in the store all the time with that. I share that my personal journey with food turned completely around when I stopped thinking of it as denial and started thinking about all the great, yummy foods I do get to eat! Why have I stopped doing that with my children?
It’s partly because they do contradict me more to flex their muscles, as I mentioned above. But, I also think it stems from a lot of my guilt around feeling like a “less cool” mom when I don’t serve the foods their friends eat. I then do my usual over-compensation for my guilt and let them have the “treats”. And when I tell them it’s a treat, I imply that the other food is not. DUH! Of course they want the treats more. They are still people! We all want things that we think are “special” (and even a little bit taboo).
It’s also because of their environment/peers. I now get to work in an environment where my “granola” lifestyle is part of my work! They have to go to school everyday and be faced with less than satisfactory choices. They have the knowledge now to know that these foods are not healthy, but I’m sure they must get sick of constantly knowing it’s not as good for them yet it’s everywhere and everyone else eats it. On top of that, they have been actually teased about the weird foods they’ve eaten. Let’s face it, as teens, they are much more influenced by their peers. I would be sick of the constant battle too if I were in that environment, especially as a teen trying to be “accepted”.
I have struggled with the answers for this since the start of the school year. My daughter in particular seems to be eating less healthy food and more “junk” food. She’s got so many more options at her new high school. She’s got a busier schedule. She has her own money to spend from her job. I’m sure she’s under a lot of pressure to “fit in”. Plus, the poor girl has a sweet tooth like her mother. My husband and I have talked about this a lot lately. What should we do, how can we help them? I’ve been buying way too many “compromise” type foods that I’m not happy feeding my children just to get them to take something for lunches. It makes me squirm and have a split personality: the mom who knows what her children need to be eating and the mom who is trying to keep the peace and have things “easier” rather than causing upheaval. I’ve not been true to myself in trying to please the kids and keep things on an even keel.
We had a chance to talk some more when the kids were gone yesterday. It was partly spurred on by our budget chat.
It is waaaayyyy cheaper for us to eat healthier. I’ve proven this several times. Those foods cost more money and do very little to actually fuel their bodies & minds. I’m so done with this “compromise” that really doesn’t work for me. It’s going against my beliefs.
However, I need to approach this in a positive way.
There are a lot of healthier options that I know they love to eat. An example: fruit salad (homemade). It takes a little planning and preparation that I simply just haven’t done lately. I haven’t recruited help in this either like I have done. Again, because it’s easier to just do it myself. But….it’s not really easier because this whole thing has been bothering me so much, plus, I have other things to do than do all the work myself.
SO, the ACTION plan:
- Meal planning on Sunday will again include the iPod-lazing-on-the-couch-teens. They actually don’t complain about this when I ask them what they want.
- Grocery shopping will include shopping for only those items on the above list.
- The word “treat” will be used to describe awesome healthy goodies that we discover. Again, when I empower them to find these, they have fun and come up with some great stuff! Raspberry “ice cream” is a prime example!
- I will have some understanding of the pressures that they are under eating around their friends. They know what’s healthy and what’s not, they’ve learned what I’ve learned. I will let them make the decisions at school/among thier friends without giving them a hard time about it. My snarky comments on these choices does not help them make the choices, it only makes them feel worse. And as I say to customers – whatever food you choose to eat, ENJOY it with all your heart. Your body will use it accordingly. I’m nicer to my customers than I am to my kids.
- Learn more about ways to encourage teens to eat healthier. Yeah, it was easier when they just did what I told them too. But…on the bright side, now that they’re older, we can have even more awesome conversations and foods that they make!
I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I talk to moms every day about this. I learn a lot from other moms. I know you can too. We are putting on an event where we can all learn more about making healthier lunches for our kids (and ourselves!)
Grab your tickets right now to Healthy Lunch, Happier Bunch (here in Olds at Health Street Tuesday, October 8th 6:30 to 8:30):