My Opinion Monday: What To Worry About? The Food They Eat, Their Relationship With Food Or Your Own Motivations?
I don’t think I’d even glanced in the organic section of the produce department before my son was born. When he started eating solid foods I continued to buy fruits and vegetables from the regular produce section, only occasionally feeling a little twinge that perhaps I should be drifting over to the other side. And now that he’s three and eating everything in sight, I find myself buying more and more from that other rarified realm.
I’m not sure what’s changed. Have I been more bombarded with frightening messages about our food supply in the past couple of years or have I come to really realize how much my son’s health depends on what I expose him to?
Or am I just worried about being considered a good parent?
I have friends who are hyper-vigilant about the food that enters their homes AND about the food that enters their kids. One friend won’t allow her father to babysit for fear that he might dole out an unsanctioned treat (she mentioned this to me as my son was attacking a pack of Cinderella Gummy Snacks. I’m not sure if her look of disdain was for the sugary snack or for the pink sparkly wrapper in my boy’s chubby fingers). Another friend always brings her own food to play-dates and seems to make sure that her child doesn’t take from the communal plate of fruits and veggies on the table.
I try not to feel judged for my more ambivalent approach to the organics movement.
I usually succeed.
And sometimes, I even feel superior.
I tell myself that my son will have a healthy relationship with the foods around him. He will not panic wondering if the spinach in the restaurant has been rinsed down with Veggie Wash and he’ll sit at friends’ dinner tables and eat and talk and laugh without asking which section of the grocery store the food came from. He will understand about moderation and about making choices. He will not be afraid of food. He will not become an adult with orthorexia. (Had you heard of this disorder? I hadn’t but I’m pretty sure I know someone who has it. Frightening.)
That’s what I tell myself but I don’t think it’s the whole story.
The other day when J and I were loading the trunk with groceries he grabbed for an apple. An unorganic, unpeeled, unwashed apple. Egads! It’s the end of the world!!! Or not. I knew I shouldn’t let him have it until we’d gotten home and rinsed it (minimally). But I just shrugged and handed it to him.
What was going through my head?
“Oh geez. Well, easier to just let him have it. I don’t want to fight right now.”
What did I tell my friend the next day when repeating this story?
“I was so happy he was reaching for an apple of all things. I wasn’t about to dissuade him from wanting such a healthy snack.”
This makes me wonder if my sense of superiority, my claims about wanting my son to have a healthy mindset about food, are just easy excuses so I don’t have to do as much work, so I don’t have to fight as many battles, so I can just focus on getting us all a well-balanced diet without also having to worry about all the pesticides and weird hormones.
And so, instead of worrying about the food he eats or about his future food mindset, I’m now worrying about my own motivations. Yes, here I find myself at the root of parenthood where, if you’re not already worrying about something, try harder. You’ll find something.
What do you worry about most? Making sure you and your family are pesticide-free, have a well-balanced diet, have a good relationship with food or that you stay sane?