Posted by: dsduffy | August 12, 2010

Food.


When we moved here, right away I noticed the differences. The cereal aisle was not a never-ending brighter-than-the-sun place with eleven billion choices. The options really are endless in the US: choco flavoured, strawberry filled, cinnamon toasted, mini bites, now with more marshmallows, chocolate covered. Promises of  more fibre! new and improved! crunchier oats! And almost 2 years ago as I perused the unfamiliar aisles of the Safeway and Coles, I was in shock of the limited choices of cereal. They only lined 1 side of the aisle, and it wasn’t nearly as long. For some reason this really stuck with me – this difference really said something about these 2 cultures.

The way not only people, but kids eat is so different here. I was amazed to see 18 month olds eating sushi. Moms feeding their babies fresh pumpkin or avocado, not out of a jar like I did with my boys.

My views have shifted over these 2 years and I have never eaten so healthy in my life. I haven’t had high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oil since living here – they just don’t exist. I eat fruit and veg that is grown locally and that is bought at the market, not at the grocery store. I have realized though that I still fed my kids the “American” way. Easy to pack snacks, frozen chicken nuggets, crackers on the go and pizza twice a week. As I looked around at the other kids, they weren’t eating this way. They didn’t carry snack packs with them, their moms had cut up fruit or veggies. At first I just thought it was weird. But now I have realized that it is better! So I am off on a mission to cut out the crackers and crap that my kids eat and get them on a healthier diet. (Even the “crappy snacks” here aren’t nearly as bad though since there is no high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils)

Jake’s diet is typical for a toddler – lots of carbs, won’t try anything new, very limited fruit and no vegetables unless you count french fries. So I took him to see a child nutritionist. I wanted a “professional” opinion as to what his diet should consist of. In preparation for this appointment she requested I keep a diary of what he eats for 3 days, which really was eye-opening. To see all the snacks he has throughout the day written out in black and white really put into perspective what was going into his body.

I had a good idea of what she was going to say, I just needed to hear it from someone of authority.  In a nutshell, she told me to get rid of the snacks and junk. If it’s not in the house it’s not an option – he can’t hop in the car himself and go buy cookies. She suggested we eat as a family as much as possible, or at least sit with him at the table while he eats. She said I should make one dinner and that is it – not make three like I currently do. The beginning will be rough, but eventually he will get with the program and see that his options have changed. So far he has changed a tiny bit – he isn’t crying for the crackers and snacks like before and he has incorporated carrot sticks as a snack. I even had to stop typing this a few minutes ago to get him a cut up apple – something he has never asked for on his own .

I want my kids to have a good balance – of course they can have sweets – but I want the bulk of their foods to be stuff that’s good for them. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. The challenge will be continuing this when we go back to the States – finding healthy options and not just resorting to the convenience of the “100 calorie packs” or the drive-thru.

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Responses

  1. Love this post. I love that the ingredients here are much more “real” food.

    When my kids were born I was warned against the making separate dinners for everyone in the house, so I’m very glad I listened– my five year old is so picky, I can only imagine if I had to make him his own food– arghhh!

    • You are my Australian food idol…stay strong and you will be so glad you did! The American way is based on convenience and not nutrition, but as you are learning convenience can also mean planning ahead with healthy snacks on the go . Now that my boys are older it is more difficult to change their habits and assist them in making healthy food choices. Oh, and continue to stay away from soda! 🙂

  2. Good for you for trying to change your sons eating habits now – he’ll talk you in a few decades…my best friends mom was able to completely change her life around after being overweight her whole life. She starting excersing and eating more natural foods and ending up losing 50 lbs, but sadly she could get her kids to cooperate. Today, she has the blood pressure and resting hear rate of a marathon running, but her kids will eat a tub of (pre-packaged) raw cookie dough while watching a movie on the couch. Hang in there through the tough times!

    Also, I wanted to ask you a few questions about food in Australia. I’ve read that any sort of packaged food is extremely expensive. How are the prices of other items? Would you mind giving me examples? Milk, eggs, cheese, fresh bread, fruits and veggies, meat? Are natural nut butters, whole grains, and raw beans readily available? Do you find the prices of the local and healthier options comparable to home? I’m moving to your neck of the woods next year and I’m trying realistic plan a food budget. Any info you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Alanna


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