Thursday, January 25, 2007

The New Food Pyramid Flatline

I am, to some, a bit of a health nut. I like to think of it as being an informed consumer and a responsible parent. I am taking the new information we have with regard to nutrition and using it to create the healthiest options for my family. A few years ago when I started talking to Sean about trans fats and high fructose corn syrup he barely concealed his exasperation with my blind faith in the health blurbs in magazines. And I realize as I write this that that last sentence sounded a bit like somone who goes door to door selling religion (or Kirby products.)

"But do you understand that if you are eating things with partially hydrogenated oils you might as well start slurping scoops of shiny Crisco?" I'd cry passionately as I opened up packages of organic, baked, low sodium versions of Ritz crackers, or as Sean calls them, cardboard disks.


"And the high fructose corn syrup? My god honey, it's everywhere. It's in everything! We have to avoid it."




"Don't you feel better eating the things we are eating?" I asked as I sliced jicama.

He looked across the table and I think I saw the faintest glimmer of despair.

"Yeah babe. It feels great." And he took a pull of the Mich Ultra I'd given him. I think he might have winced.

But seriously, it's been six years now and everyone from Men's Health to Nabisco has gotten on the anti trans fat band wagon. Sean came to me the other day with a jar of Smart Balance peanut butter.

"Do you know they put the same ingredient that goes into cake frosting to sweeten regular peanut butter? Cake frosting! We're using this stuff from now on."

I got a little lump in my throat and looked around. I wated to clap someone on the shoulder and say,

"This is my husband, the father of my girls. Did you hear what he just said? Did you hear it? The man is brilliant. I love him!"

Over these six years of blissful cohabitation (perhaps there was the occasional exception, such as the summer of unemployment in '02 that demonstrated the awful things that happen to me when I am underutilized...) we have met each other in the middle on just about everything. (again, I might be able to cite a few exceptions). All of that has prepared us for what is arguably the most pathetic, gut wrenching and ulitmately futile disagreement:

Meal time with a toddler.

Oh my holy hell, there are just no words. Briar lulled us into a false sense of

Neener, neener, neener our kid eats produce, dairy and a healthy balance of meats and carbohydrates, while other children subsist on fried shit from a carton.
She would attack cucumbers with zeal, devour fruits, and cheese at each meal. Snacks of whole wheat bread with peanut butter, chicken and rice for dinner, oatmeal in the morning. It was a fairy tale. Oh, how I miss the fairy tale. The sweet pudgy fingers that lifted bright red peppers to her mouth, the delicate palms that kept the cheery yellow and white hard boiled eggs from falling out of her mouth.

Now the color selection is confined to whether the nacro I make comes from a red, blue or purple box. Where she used to polish off two bananas in a sitting, she know barely finishes a single bite. Her appetite for water and milk is gone, replaced by an insatiable, and dare I say borderline hysterical desperation for orange juice.

She would survive on orange juice alone if we let her. She is a better snacker than she is an actual meal eater. We try to get her to eat cheese and fruit or vegetables along with chips and nuts...yes, I know. Nuts and hot dogs. Choking hazards. The biggest. The worst. I get it. I bite cashews in half, split the halves and then feed them to her under my watchful eye. Back off and set down the Oreo, you break the rules of your choosing, and I'll do the same on my end. Did I mention we gave her a a knife set for Christmas?

She has recently discovered that cream cheese is to food, what orange juice is to drinks. If she is not demanding nacro, and oh yes, she does demand it, she is squealing for cream cheese. We're taking baby steps and mini nibbles as we work our way to something resembling a balanced diet. The best we can do is hope that when she does one day decide to eat a meal, that she'll choose to eat one of the many things she has seen us eating. Until then, looks like we'll be buying cream cheese by the wagonfull.

"Hey Briar, what would you like to eat?"

"Cream cheese."

"Do you want some apple?"

"CREAM cheese."

"How about some fruit?"


"Ok, cream cheese and what else?"

"Aw, cream cheese?"

"You have to have something else."

"Cream Cheese, please."

"Ok, honey, but what else?"

"CREAM CHEESE ON A CRACKER!" She says it all in one breath like a Shakespearean actor, complete with frothy spittle and whipping hair.

""Ok, then. Cream cheese on crackers with some apple."

"Cream cheese and orange juice." She says affirmatively with emphatic nods of her head.

"And apple."

"With cream cheese, mommy."

"You got it."

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