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You know you're a 'bad' mother when...

Friday, February 24, 2012

...very recently driving home from music lessons, at 7:00 pm on a Tuesday night, hungry because you haven't yet eaten dinner, and you have the following conversation with your 7-year-old:

"Mom, can we go to a restaurant for supper?"

"No, Honey, Dad is home waiting for us."

(Brightly) "We could bring him something!"

"No, Honey... Dad's getting supper ready for us... and remember, Mom and Dad are committed to eating better meals for our health, and eating out all of the time isn't good for us."

(quiet pause while Mom mentally pats herself on the back for a job well done)

"Well then, could you call someone else to take ME to a restaurant for supper?"

(Six weeks later, I STILL cannot believe those words came out of her mouth.... The shame/dismay I feel creeps up and gags me a little.)

The truth is that over the last two years, we slowly came to rely much too heavily on restaurant meals... when every day was consumed with doctor appointments, when I was exhausted beyond description and could barely move, when both my husband and I could do no more than see to our and Miss O's basic needs, when we feared we might lose her and every moment more was a reason to celebrate, when the house was disassembled due to flood, when the quality of our meals was the least of our worries, when we were just barely getting through each day... restaurant meals were a godsend (and I am ever mindful and grateful for having the resources to have used this as an option). It was just easier... and became even more so over time (out of HABIT... you know... when you do things without questioning your need, or the wisdom, to do so?).

...And when my girl says 'restaurant' she doesn't mean the closest fast food outlet... she means RESTAURANT... she is a connoisseur of Steak Houses, seafood, Italian, Greek, Asian, Indian, Thai, Sunday Brunch and Japanese food... and we've taught her how to make her choices as nutritionally responsible and healthy as possible (she's actually very critical of how food is prepared)... she can order like a pro...

"Please, I'd like my steak medium, potato plain with butter on the side, (what's your side veggie?)... okay... but make it a bit crisp, and salad, plain with dressing on the side... I'll have my milk after my meal, and hot water with lemon during. Thanks!"

It seemed really cute at the time. We patted ourselves on the back in knowing that, at the very least, our meals still looked a lot like they would at home (YES... I DO know that the sodium/fat content was likely through the roof, the nutritional content questionable, and the portions disproportionate to a healthy diet)... the 'extra' became lunches for everyone the next day... two meals for the price of one. Even eating like this all of the time, I still managed to maintain an even weight (hubby, not so much... and it didn't do anything good for my blood pressure).

Thing is, in my mind, restaurants were a stop gap measure, and now that I'm back to my better self, I'm once again in the kitchen full time (six months and counting). I LOVE TO COOK, I always have and I missed it! ...And everyone loves that I do... even my Divine Miss O... she exclaims every meal about how much better my cooking is than this, that, or the other restaurant/person (I make from scratch ALL of her favourite dishes... avgolemono soup, green curry, even sushi... though everyday fare is MUCH simpler, LOL)... so I found her request extremely troubling and confusing.

I've actually been really proud of the environment I've created around food in general since the day she was born (and despite my recent foray over to the 'dark side' I remain proud)... my girl enjoys a WIDE variety of food with a healthy appetite, she also loves to cook, she can name any vegetable/fruit in the grocery store and knows what to do with it, she couldn't tell you where the candy/pop isle is (we don't shop the middle aisles... 'treats' are bought separately on an occasional basis only 'as required'... if we want ice cream, we go get only enough for that moment... we don't 'stock' treats), when left to her own devices her plate is 3/4 vegetables, she chooses brown over white (and we do let her choose... we've watched control backfire for others), if confronted with sugary 'delights' (she always wants to have some because it all looks so pretty/inviting... pink/purple food has to be good, right, LOL?) she politely nibbles around the edges and looks for a way to discretely dispose of the rest (she's never finished a piece of birthday cake... she's quite naturally a three-bite girl), her favourite breakfast is All Bran cereal (I don't know WHY, LOL!), or steel cut oats... at seven years old, I can trust her to eat WELL. She eats whenever she is hungry (some days that's all day, LOL), and I love the freedom of always being able to say 'yes' to whatever she asks for, whenever she asks, because everything from which she chooses is whole, fresh and 'clean'. It's important to note that she is tall and willowy and muscular... I revel in the muscle definition in her body.

It scared me that I might have inadvertantly messed this all up! Honestly, before now, I didn't see the harm in what we were doing. I didn't realize that just because I understood the context of our actions (stop-gap), it didn't mean our daughter was forming the same sensibilities... or that her palate wasn't quickly adjusting to a new 'normal'.

Upon further questioning, I discovered that she's come to associate eating out with 'celebration' 'FUN' (she can colour at the table and we play games while waiting for the food) and 'being grown up'... she perceived our eating out as an EVENT with Mom and Dad more relaxed and receptive to making it so... and I am astounded at how powerful meals and food have become, and just how quickly we can attach the wrong associations to food, meals and eating.

...so now I have upped my home game to include 'celebration' (good dishes and candles at supper at least a couple of times a week... she sets the table) 'FUN' (she helps cook, she lights the candles and we play 'I Spy' occasionally) and 'being grown up' (I pretend to be wait staff and take her order as I fill her plate, we 'talk like grown-ups' (don't ask!) and she clears the table)... truthfully, it's a gift to us all... and the siren song of restaurants is slowing being relegated to memory and very special occasions, where it belongs.

Honestly, I'm now grateful for her comment... any day I start to feel a little lazy about meal prep, her comment rises up and smacks sense into me, LOL!

Then, today this shows up in my inbox:

�Your child will live a life ten years *YOUNGER* than you because of the landscape of food that we�ve built around them.� JAIME OLIVER

...and I am suddenly ACUTELY aware of the 'LANDSCAPE OF FOOD' I have created, and am creating anew... and how easy it is to create a wasteland.

I am a diehard Master Chef, Iron Chef, Hell's Kitchen watcher, but I bow down in gratitude and humility to Jaime Oliver and what he is doing with his talent and influence.... MUCH better use of his time than is reality TV.

Perhaps we could all do more?

Jaime Oliver: Teaching Every Child About Food

(The most appalling/sobering moment for me was to witness children who couldn't identify a potato, or a beet!)

Why you should listen to him:

"Jamie Oliver has been drawn to the kitchen since he was a child working in his father's pub-restaurant. He showed not only a precocious culinary talent but also a passion for creating (and talking about) fresh, honest, delicious food. In the past decade, the shaggy-haired "Naked Chef" of late-'90s BBC2 has built a worldwide media conglomerate of TV shows, books, cookware and magazines, all based on a formula of simple, unpretentious food that invites everyone to get busy in the kitchen. And as much as his cooking is generous, so is his business model -- his Fifteen Foundation, for instance, trains young chefs from challenged backgrounds to run four of his restaurants."

"Now, Oliver is using his fame and charm to bring attention to the changes that Brits and Americans need to make in their lifestyles and diet. Campaigns such as Jamie's School Dinner, Ministry of Food and Food Revolution USA combine Oliver�s culinary tools, cookbooks and television, with serious activism and community organizing -- to create change on both the individual and governmental level."

Join Jamie's Food Revolution: Sign the petition

My own greatest realization in all of this (now that I have the energy to think once again), is that it doesn't take me much longer than a half hour to get a decent, colourful, flavourful, nourishing-to-body-mind-and-sp
irit meal on the table.

I'm also very mindful anew of how powerful mealtime is in shaping attitudes to food, attitudes to eating/life in general and, especially, its power in shaping a family.

I'm learning in spades that there is no reason to allow myself to get so overwhelmed (REALLY!) that I can't feed my family responsibly, or create a landscape of food around them of which I can be proud.

For those of you still out there 'dieting' (if you wouldn't feed your child this way, neither should you be feeding yourself... keep in mind what you're writing on their hearts as they watch you do so) and eating differently than the rest of your family (making healthy changes for yourself, but not for them... for the life of me in four years here at SparkPeople I've never understood this mentality/approach... and it's my greatest peeve), STOP IT!

Jaime clearly illustrates why this journey has to be about lifestyle for your whole family, not a 'diet' for any ONE, or a race to some scale-dominated finish line.

It's not about the scale/weight, it's about health and wellness, and creating a societal landscape of food of we can all be proud of.

Get HEALTHY, eat for WELLNESS, and the weight will follow!

...Because we all deserve better...



'BEFORE' Pictures (May 31, 2009 - September, 2011) & Continuing PROGRESS (February 2012)!

(I'm now keeping these right under my nose... in addition to being part of every blog I post, they are printed off and taped to my bedroom mirror)

Measurements, Musings & Motivation to MOVE!

(UPDATED: February, 2012)

I've Reached My Goal Weight!!!!!!!

NOTE: My weight tracker is NOT a truthful representation of my weight. Instead, I am using it as a tool to help me visualize my goal as though it's already been achieved!
(Tom Venuto)

UNTIL. (My 'Just Do It' blog)

Leaving NORMAL

DONE Girl Love...

(the footsteps into which I place my own feet)

Words CAN Be Enough... page 2

Oh! We talk about how 'poor' contributes to an unhealthy lifestyle, yet I'm also acutely aware that 'privilege' hasn't necessarily been a force for 'good' in mine... but that's another blog...

The Divine Miss O's Story:


Resurrection Moments (Olivia UPDATE)

Riding the Roller Coaster

More questions than answers... yet again...

The Divine Miss O: UPDATE... of sorts.

I need smaller 'big girl' panties!!!

You know you're a 'bad' mother when...

LIVIN' Mi Vida Loca! (Snowshoeing!)

True Story

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Your daughter is one lucky little lady. You really have taken the time to teach her great habits. She won't spend a lifetime undoing all the damage of childhood. emoticon
    2174 days ago
  • IAM_HIS2
    Wow, you are a wonderful source of information about eating healthy. I am very grateful to you. This is so important and I am going to share it. Thanks you for blessing us over and over again with each of your blogs!

    2675 days ago
    GOSH I miss you when I'm not here very often!!! I LOVE this blog, Ramona!!! I just returned from our place in AZ, where I hosted nine of my girlfriends. We're all "foodies" and all healthy, so it was amazing. I even lured them into Vivacious Vicki's Vegan Cooking Class one night, and they all threw on aprons and pluckily participated in creating a marvelous vegan meal.


    It came time to sit down, and I'd already prepared to say a blessing before we ate, and one of my friends said "Wait! There's no centerpiece!" I was astonished. She rushed out into my yard (it's Arizona! WHAT yard? It's all cactus!!!) and cobbled together a beautiful bouquet of flowers, plopped them into an empty coffee pot, and plunked it on the table. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!! It turned our already beautiful "landscape of food" into a celebration.

    So YES!!! I get it! Thanks for helping us all get it! You're amazing, woman. Miss O is the luckiest little girl on the planet. I'm so lucky you're in my circle. I'll just try to remember to put a bouquet in the MIDDLE of that circle from time to time.

    2882 days ago
    I think I am definitely going to make my dinners, especially more enjoyable, with music and candles and a good presentation ... even though I eat alone most evenings, I think this would do wonders for my soul and attitude. How wonderful to celebrate and feel good about what we are eating than feel sick with regret and the toxic nature of the food that is often offered when we eat out. Thank you for sharing and I know your family will thank you eventually when they see and experience this change permanently and before they have to decide how to take care of themselves. Rock on, mom!
    2882 days ago
    When i started on my weight loss journey , I realized I also associated eating out with fun and fellowship and enjoyed the 'experience' as much as the food, Great idea incorporating celebration foods at home to allow the same festivities. We all need that in our lives!! Will check out your links later.
    2884 days ago
  • KNH771
    Interesting comment about associating celebrations only with going out. I'll have to watch the TED video later.
    2884 days ago
    Your a good mom.
    2885 days ago
    emoticon for a great blog!
    Miss O is a lucky girl!
    I love to cook, too. Anything to keep us healthy is worth the doing!
    I perfer simple and tasty... I am a three bite person myself now!
    2885 days ago
    I think you are a wonderful mother and it sounds like your whole family is adorable.

    Kids adapt. You are leading her to all the right things.
    2885 days ago
    Thank you for your awesome blog! I think you are an amazing person to have thought all this through so thoroughly, and have made a commitment to ensure the best of life for your daughter.

    Love and hugs to you!
    2886 days ago
    Love it.....and kudos to the way you are raising your daughter, I think that is absolutely HUGE. Family meal times were more of a 'punishment' thing for me and my brother growing up, so I think we came to associate fast food joints as a relief once we were out on our own, how pathetic is that?? I dunno if I'll ever get past the White Castles but at least I can go long periods of time without 'em! LMAO I'd like to copy this and have my kids read it.....I've watched my grandkids grow up on happy meals and snack foods from the grocery. (sigh) We never did a lot of eating out when my kids were growing up, and everything I made was from scratch but it was all the wrong things.....all meat and potatoes stuff, not the genuinely healthy stuff, plus homemade bread, cakes, etc. So even tho it was homemade, I can't say it was any kind of example of how you should even eat. And being skinny during my younger years, I never even gave a passing thought to 'wrong choices' or putting on weight, so in a way, being thin was a bit of a backwards 'curse' back then because it was so easy to keep and attain while still eating ALL the wrong stuff. Doesn't make for any good habits, that's a sure bet. So um, who's the 'bad mom' here? LOL I think you are doing a superb job.
    2886 days ago
    I too, am a big fan of Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolution. It amazes me that so many of the kids feel they are being punished and the workers! My gosh! They feel they should be paid more to have to "take the time" to prepare things from scratch. It is so much easier to turn out grease. And (a fact that Jamie only discussed once) many of the workers preparing these greasy, junk filled meals, snack on them all the while they are getting ready to serve. It's THEM that don't want the good, healthy things. I'm afraid, were I in charge of a school kitchen, THOSE are the workers I would replace.
    2886 days ago
    Totally sounds like something I could hear from my kids! I needed that giggle tonight so thank you!

    We've been watching past seasons of Biggest Loser with the kids lately and Maegann has caught onto the "What did you used to order?" and now "What are you going to order?" when the contestants learn about restaurant eating. I will admit I put those questions to work while on vacation last week and eating out twice a day!
    2886 days ago
    Another way to make your meals "fun" at home... make a "menu" for your daughter to order from with pictures, word searches, games, etc, and then she can color it as supper is cooking. There are different sites that are free to have mazes and other games made and printed. You can also use spelling words to make the word searches.
    2886 days ago
    It is about the fun for kids. Make it an event at home and that is what they will ask for! I remember the segment on the show where the kids couldn't identify the vegetables. That really surprised me. And seeing the healthy meals being prepared and enjoyed by the kids in lieu of the particle nuggets and fries which technically meet the guidelines only to have the school administration fight against it. Maddening!
    2886 days ago
    I love your common sense. If I were in charge of the world...I'd give you the job as CEO of smacking some sense into people! lol

    I love your stories about your family. You guys should be a reality show on TV! lol
    2886 days ago
    What a celebration of love you have as a family emoticon . Glad, as always, I dropped by. Hats off to your Divine Miss O
    emoticon emoticon
    2886 days ago
    Great choices . she has a good sense of what to eat . please dont feel badly because she wanted a meal out . we all do from time to time . jamie oliver is very knowledgeable about food and children and how to get them to eat . He has come along way since i first watched him on the bbc. loved him then love him still . keep teaching your family it will rub off on her . emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2887 days ago
    Your child sounds a lot like mine. Instead of asking what's for dinner, he asks "where are we eating dinner?" He is disappointed everytime we say, "At the dining room table." He LOVES to eat at restraunts, and not the cheap ones either. I don't know that we'll ever get his love for eating out changed. I'm not a great cook, but I'm not that bad either.
    2887 days ago
    First, we can all learn something from your child - about food! And second, we can all learn from you. Thanks for this blog, I'm going to post it on my fridge, the tv, my son's room and perhaps make a tablecloth from it to put the candles on!!! Dog gone it, they will eat FUN with me too!!!
    2887 days ago
    Love the way you are educating your child, and teaching her good eating habits. Continue to make eating at home a celebration! emoticon
    2887 days ago
    Excellent blog and you're reshaping her food association which will only benefit her for the rest of her life. Restaurants on occasion are fine but showing her how much better and fun things can be at home is awesome.
    2887 days ago
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