Feeding the Small People

Right? Is my kid too: fat, thin, tall, short, active, lazy, worried, ambivalent, loud, quiet, shy, fearless. Is he happy, sad, confident or scared? Eating enough, or too much?

Every caring mom worries. Some of us worry to a clinical degree–medicate!–but most of us worry within the bell curve of normal. Some of us worry about one thing to an extreme (child abductions, oh my!), while maintaining a comfortable level of sanity for everything else.

What do I worry about? It’s not the amount of attention and time given to my children. My slack-ass-parenting days don’t bother me, since I don’t indulge in them very often. I was more of a perfectionist control freak than I realized, but much to Z’s relief, E’s noncompliance dilutes that more every day.

I spend most of my worry energy on the food they eat, the nutrition I’m providing for them. For several reasons:

1) I am currently overweight, and have been since my own Small Person days. I know exactly what it is like to be the fat girl, rocking corduroy (why, WHY) pants from JC Penny’s Husky section. As a kid, I was judged, teased, and excluded because of my weight. Ten year old me remembers, like it’s a printed photograph in an album, having to sit at the table listening to my mother tell my father that the doctor said I was, “moderately obese”. Awesome.

That’s not a childhood I want for my children. Which means that I also drink more water, and eat fruits and vegetables. I need to time limit some of my sedentary hobbies– reading and the internet– in favor of active ones. Or modify those sedentary activities a bit– by doing squats or stretches while on the internet, or pilates twists on the floor while I’m reading.

2) E didn’t (doesn’t) eat very much. Coupled with his history of failure to thrive, there have been too many close moments of, “shit, just feed him potato chips and ice cream”. But alas, all calories are not created equal, and filling him up with junk just to get him to hit a magical percentage just felt wrong. At three, he’s finally at the 5th percentile for weight, and the 50th for height. With so many obese kids running (or not running, actually) around these days, it feels lonely to be on the other side of the weight problem with your children. Lonely and strange.

But when given the choice for dinner the other night, he dive-bombed for a rice cake. A brown rice, no sugar rice cake. Want to be skinny, eat like a skinny person– isn’t that what the diet gurus say?

3) And finally– Have you ever read a food label? Sawdust, yummy. Or maybe you’d prefer something a little less natural? How about this list of chemical additives? **Please note, not all additives are toxic nor does natural mean safe. **

Perhaps it doesn’t bother you that the carrageenan emulsifier in your ice cream (ironically for us, this is often an egg replacer) is a big money-maker for FMC BioPolymer, one of the parts of the diversified chemical company– FMC corporation. FMC BioPolymer is also raising prices and has also recently acquired a natural food company. Yippee!

Google confirmed my suspicion that almost all chemical companies are somehow tied to the devil, Monsanto. In the interest of self disclosure, I assume anything touched by Monsanto is tainted by demon blood.

Food ingredient shit makes me crazy. As a consumer, I should be able to walk into a store and buy food. I shouldn’t have to decode whether the claim all-natural on the front is true (probably not– use of natural isn’t regulated). They should have to list everything– not just “natural flavors”. Arsenic is a natural flavor– is that what’s in my nutrigrain bar, since fruit was definitely not?

I want their brains and bodies to grow and to be strong. To be strong enough to fight off the environmental crap that they are exposed to every day. I mean the plastic they make those kid-protection-bubbles from isn’t safe either.