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You are in charge. Never forget that.

I’m guessing kids everywhere did assignments like this the week before Thanksgiving. And we think this one is a keeper. “Family” is a given (one hopes). “Universe,” “technology” and “math” stoked my science-geek husband and also really cracked us up.

But do you see that other word in there? “Me.” Our kid is thankful for herself.

At first I thought that was funny. Then I thought that was fantastic. Then I decided we all should be so lucky. Confidence is where it’s at. 

Over on the Spoonfed Facebook page, we’ve been talking a lot lately about junk-filled school parties and snack culture gone crazy, those evergreen topics that fuel both anger and a sense of helplessness. We’re mad and we’re not going to take it anymore! And yet… we do. Day after day. School event after school event. “Special” treat after “special” treat. All those “it’s just a…” situations that add up until it’s happening all the time.

We worry about offending teachers, other parents, family members, the nice bank teller. We don’t want to be “that mom” (or dad). We don’t want our kids to be “different” or to feel left out. So we shut up and let them eat the crap. And then we rage inside (or online) about the injustice of it all.

But you know what? We are in charge. YOU are in charge. And we — you — have the power to change things. Talk to teachers, offer alternative ideas, organize the next party. Skip the drive-thru. Pack your own snacks. Reject “kid food” and kid menus. Rally other parents. Say no when you want to say no, and don’t take no for an answer when what you want is a yes.  

And, above all, teach kids that being different is not only OK — it’s great. Teach them that different people eat different things (for different reasons). Teach them that peer pressure isn’t OK for drugs, and it’s not OK for food, either. Teach them to be confident in their choices by being confident in your own choices.

And remind yourself, if you need reminding, what we’re up against:

“It’s not just one day a year. It’s Halloween night and class parties and community events and then the winter holidays and Valentine’s Day and Easter and birthday parties and swimming class and soccer games and the bank and the shoe store and restaurants with kid menus and the grandparents’ house and anyplace else kids set foot, including, of course, school. The sugar culture is so strong, the highly processed foodstuffs so epidemic, that we no longer have the luxury of viewing these things in isolation. It’s not just a few Halloween treats or one blue cupcake. It’s a crushing pile of chemical-laden pseudo food. And at some point we just have to make it stop.”

Then take matters into your own hands:

Our kids are worth it.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.  

Spoonfed is on Facebook. You’ll find links to blog posts, news and commentary on raising food-literate kids, questions and comments from readers, the works. Stop by, like the page, chime in, spread the word. (Thanks.) Also please consider subscribing by e-mail or RSS feed (which you can do at the top of the blog).


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{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Kelly Decoteau November 21, 2012, 8:56 am

    Thank you for this great post! I needed a pep talk! :)

  • Robin Jingjit November 21, 2012, 9:30 am

    Love it! I’m also thankful for my family and math. And this website!

  • Renee November 26, 2012, 10:14 am

    GREAT post! I’m so excited about a conversation that was started at my oldest’s preschool Thanksgiving party (she will have this teacher next year as well and my second child will have her for 2 years after that…). She asked GREAT questions about why I think the way I do about food…it was fantastic! She was very open and I’m hoping to keep inching my way in!

  • Michelle December 3, 2012, 1:20 pm

    What a great post! I found your blog a couple months ago through a link on “100 Days of Real Food” and must say I’m a big fan. Thank you so much for seeming to capture my thoughts so eloquently in your posts. And also for saving me the trouble of having to write them down myself :) Looking forward to reading anything you write!

  • Akehia December 10, 2012, 11:12 am

    This is a wonderful post–JUST what I needed to read! My DD is only 5 months, but I’m starting early as we’re cleaning up our diet, she’ll start fresh with real food. I do worry a lot about the opposition we’ll get from our family and often wonder if it’s worth it away from home to have to deal with backlash, but you’re absolutely right, and WE the parents are in control as we should be!

  • Diane B. January 5, 2013, 11:34 am

    My girls are 12 and 15. While I still have control over what I buy and serve at home, it’s a free-for-all when they’re with friends. So they end up eating crap whenever they’re not home, which is frequent enough. Yesterday, for my 15 year old’s birthday, she was frosting her cake, with the frosting I made with powdered sugar (a Trader Joe version that doesn’t use cornstarch. I’m allergic to corn), unsweetened cocoa, whole milk, and vanilla. As she’s drooling over the frosting, she wanted to know if my cake was from scratch (which of course, it was) and I refused to tell her because she actually prefers the chemically laden variety. Anyway, I’m curious what you or your readers would suggest for a teen parties and family parties…we had pizza and my homemade lemonade. I refused to buy pop. I’m always at a loss when we have the family parties because I feel like the guests expect pop. I refuse to buy conventional pop. We’ve had apple cider, homemade lemonade, but what do you do when entertaining? Feed them what they want or what you want to feed them?

    • Christina January 5, 2013, 11:23 pm

      Diane: We do exactly the same thing you do. Depending on the season and occasion, we offer water, sparkling water, homemade lemonade or iced tea, wine, beer, local apple cider or, rarely, natural sodas. We never ever buy conventional pop. I don’t do juice boxes for the kids, either. And I’ve never had a complaint even from people who mainline the stuff otherwise. Same goes for food. I might order pizzas occasionally, but mostly we make/buy only the good stuff. It’s all still tasty even if it’s wholesome, so it’s not like I’m feeding my guests cardboard, LOL.

      Interesting about your daughter preferring store-bought cake. Does she actually prefer the taste? Or is it more the idea of it? I feel fortunate that my daughter has developed a palate for more wholesome, less sweet treats, because that helps a ton when she’s presented with junky options at parties and such. I like to think that’s because that’s all she’s eaten since birth (with the junky stuff thrown in here and there for taste comparisons). But I know other parents who’ve had success transitioning even older kids. Would be curious to know more about your girls’ food histories (if you’d like to share!).

      • Diane B. January 7, 2013, 10:02 am

        Christina: I think I just need a new recipe for cake. Actually this time around my cake didn’t go over so well….we lost power Saturday night while the 2nd layer of cake was in the oven. I believe it had 10 minutes left, so I left it in there for a while, which turned out to be until the next morning because I forgot about it LOL! It was a pretty crumbly cake. I think because commercially baked cakes are usually more moist, and that’s probably why my 15yo likes them better. At least she’s on board with the frosting!

        I wish I could say that we’ve eaten this way since my kids were born…oh, if only I knew then what I know now! We ended up with almost 20 people for her birthday party with family yesterday. I did a taco bar, at her request. I baked the bone-in chicken breast and browned the ground beef a couple days ahead of time so I just had to warm them up and add the spices etc to them and they were held in crocks. Also made Spanish Rice, had refried beans (from a can, poo!). There were a few things I wanted to make myself, like salsa, guac, but time just didn’t allow. I ended up buying from the farmers market. I bought natural sodas, made lemonade, and also had beer and wine. My husband, the Pepsi addict, insisted on buying one Diet and one Pepsi, for my family. One whole 2-litre bottle of the Pepsi was consumed. But I bet if they didn’t have that choice, they would’ve tried the better version of pop (Virgil’s Root Beer and Creme Soda).

        As for my girls’ food histories, my 15yo has been a “picky eater” since day one. She never ever finished a bottle of my “liquid gold” in daycare, and she now has very limited tastes. In fact, it’s extremely rare to get her to try ANYTHING new. And once she has a “bad” batch of something she usually likes, those often turn up on her banished list. Like Feta cheese. She used to eat it every day. There was a several-month period of not being able to obtain good Feta, and now she won’t even bother with it. For lunch, she brings, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, a clementine or strawberries, and a tablespoon or two of sunflower seeds. She eat my homemade granola bars for breakfast. Or if she begs my husband to go out for bagels, she’ll eat one with a thin spread of cream cheese (horrible choice, IMHO). Slowly, my husband is coming around to my way of thinking. But it’s reeeallly slow.

        My 12yo is a carb junky. She only ever wants cereal, macaroni and cheese, pasta, sugar, sugar, sugar. Even though my 15yo eats barely enough to sustain life, at least she consumes vegetables. 12yo will eat peas. She does love fruit though. she takes ham/turkey sandwiches to school. I know. But I at least have organic whole grain bread, and minimally processed lunchmeats (from Trader Joe’s). It’s so difficult when their friends eat pure crap.

        Sorry this got really long….thanks for listening.

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