Lately my friends and family on Facebook have been posting pictures of what they give their kids for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. More than 90% of the time I am asking about where the vegetables are on the plate. I get the “They don’t like that stuff”or “This is what they like to eat.”
I am guilty of becoming something I do not like about other parents when it comes to food. I obssess about what my daughter consumes. Since day one, I knew I wanted to make her food and not buy it from a jar. I also researched the types of proteins she would need from plants and grains since we are vegetarian in our home.
My Health Choice
One of the reasons I made the switch to vegetarianism was because I pass kidney stones when consuming too much animal protein and calcium in the form of cheese. Do I crave a skirt steak with chimichurri sauce from time to time? Yes I do! I would be lying to you and myself if I said I didn’t. Do I want to go through the pain of passing kidney stones? No I don’t!
My daughter’s grandfather and uncle on her dad’s side produce kidney stones. I see how abuelo takes medications for his stones and I just don’t want that for my daughter. My daughter has grandparents on medication for diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Hard times means poor food choices
When I was in elementary school our main source of income was a small corner store. This was completely eliminated due to a fire burning down the complex, leaving my family almost homeless and making it difficult to purchase healthy food. We ate canned meats like potted meat, spam, and corned beef hash.
The joke in some Puerto Rican households is when times get tough or the weather is bad, all you need in your house is a can of salchichas (vienna sausages), crackers, or bread. As our financial situation got better, so did our food.
Food Snobbery Kicks in
Recently my cousin posted on her Facebook wall that a can of corned beef hash is going for about seven dollars. I couldn’t believe how much the cost has gone up. Of course everyone who commented said that it was the best thing to eat but complained about the price. But being the obsessed parent with nutrition I had to look for information on the recall that happened in 2010.
The consensus was that even with the recall that happened, it was something their children and families enjoyed. I chimed in and said if I were to eat meat again, I would buy seven dollars worth of organic food instead of canned meat. In retrospect, I think what I wrote could have come off like I was a food snob.
Every moment is a teaching moment
The United States Department of Agriculture or USDA along with the White House came up with a new food plate instead of a pyramid. This new diagram shows the portions of dairy, protein, fruits, vegetables, and grains you should have on your plate. Harvard Medical School decided to come up with their own diagram . It ommitted dairy completely from the chart, adds healthy oils, and exercise as part of a regimen for a healthy lifestyle.
What I like about the Harvard diagram is that they explain that eating red or processed meats on a regular basis can lead to major health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain. These are all the conditions my daughter and I are predisposed to due to our family history. It also goes in line with what we do in our home.
Buying Local Organics in Puerto Rico
We have started to purchase food from local organic farmers at a market in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The movement of Community Supported Agriculture is alive in Puerto Rico but many families don’t know about purchasing boxes from local farmers. We are lucky that my parents and cousin grow plantains, bananas, papayas, mangos, avocados, and have chickens who produce organic eggs.
I have even started growing my own collard greens along with some coriander and basil. I won’t go as far as buying a chicken coup because my dog JuanGa would not be happy about that.
As parents do you obsess about nutrition?
Do you buy organic or sustainable foods or do you just pick up whatever you can get at the supermarket?
What diagram resembles your family’s plate of food?