Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. To a childless person these words probably have no adverse effect whatsoever. But for any parent whose child might be between the ages of 1 and 15, just the thought of those three words may cause the hairs on the back of the neck to stand up. For me, no other daily task has ever caused so much anxiety.
"Is the food healthy enough?"
"What can I make that she will eat?"
"Am I offering foods from all five food groups?" (As an aside, did you know that the food pyramid has now been changed to a plate? I learned something new today!)
"Chicken nuggets for the third day in a row - is that okay?"
"Why won't she eat this today? She liked it yesterday..."
"Can a cookie and bag of chips be classified as lunch?"
From the time she started eating milky rice cereal, I've worried. I have questioned my ability to nourish a growing child. But as the mother of a now two-and-a-half year old, I've learned that some things just aren't worth beating yourself up about. I've had to redefine my definition of "healthy eating". Where I was once concerned over her eating vegetables as part of every meal, I have surrendered to the fact that my daughter will. not. eat any vegetable other than potatoes. Which, let's be honest, is a starch. Not even a true veggie, people.
And then there was the phase where she only wanted Pop-tarts for breakfast. Oh wait. We are still in that phase.
Yes, I could become the mom who forces her kids to eat all their vegetables before leaving the table. I could only serve all-organic foods and never buy anything that is processed or contains corn syrup. But that's just not me right now. I'd rather spend my time playing with a care-free little girl (who is 100% healthy and growing just the way she should be) than fighting with a grumpy toddler at each and every meal. And here's a confession: Some days, we are lucky if we even sit at a table to eat. Breakfast while watching Dora. Lunch in the car.
So for now, I've given up on healthy eating and all the stress that comes along with it. Peanut butter bread for dinner? Sure! It's full of protein. Juice boxes? Yes! I buy the ones that contain a full serving of fruit and vegetables. Pop-tarts for breakfast? Hey, if it's what she wants to eat, that is okay by me. I've got bigger battles to face in life than Pop-tarts.