I would like to believe that I’m a pretty level-headed, stable kind of person.
But in many ways I’m not. At times I like to dream big, to get really passionate about something, and make radical changes. That worked great for a tidying marathon. But I also tend to fizzle. (Part of that might be a thyroid thing—tied to bouts of energy followed by fatigue.)
Right now I’m feeling worked up about sugar. With my autoimmune diet to help my thyroid and body heal, I’ve had to eliminate sugar, including natural sweeteners, such as honey and maple syrup, from my diet.
My body isn’t really craving sugar anymore, and my mind has accepted that I can do without it. Perhaps even do better without it, for the time being at least. But my emotions are still at war.
Deep down, there’s still part of me that wants to be a cookie-baking mom and someday a cookie-baking grandma. It’s an ideal that I’ve held up as a warm, comforting, happy hope.
Part of me clings to the idea of being the mom who greets her children with warm brownies when they come home from school—and then sits to enjoy a brownie with them and hear about their days. Doesn’t it seem so picture perfect when the mothers in the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books do just that? Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle herself, with her open home and open heart that accepts and nurtures all children, is probably the best expression of who I dreamed of becoming.
Recently, I’ve been noticing just how many treats appear in the stories I’ve been reading with our young son—and how few examples of healthy eating he’s seeing. We haven’t reached the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stage, but there’s plenty of sugar in our current selection of treasured tales. Just to name a few examples of characters who might be setting a poor example in our literary diet…
- Gerald and Piggie in Should I Share My Ice Cream?-–Any guesses what treat they share?
- Amanda Pig in Amanda Pig and Her Best Friend Lollipop—In the book we read today, they ate cookies and milk for a snack, followed by apple juice and lollipops during the same play date at Amanda’s house. At Lollipop’s house, they had root beer floats and popcorn.
- Bear and his friends in Bear Sees Colors—Brown is represented by cookies and cake (granted, we do better than average in these stories, since the critters eat plenty of berries and fish).
- The Rogers in Good Work, Amelia Bedelia—Amelia Bedelia totally botches dinner (in addition to every other task she’s assigned), but she saves the day with a scrumptious cake. Mr. and Mrs. Rogers eat the entire cake for dinner. In reality, the only reason they keep her on is for her baking prowess. No sugar, no Amelia Bedelia.
I feel such conflict. I love these stories—and many others like them—dearly. At the same time, we’ve been working really hard to help our treat-loving little one make better dietary choices (e.g., actually trying scrambled eggs or a new vegetable). How does he view these stories? Does he notice what his favorite characters are eating, and does that fuel his appetite to eat the same?
Don’t get me wrong—I have no intention of radically overhauling our story selection. Last I checked, Oliver and Amanda Pig Eat Organic Vegetables or Elephant and Piggie Do the Whole30 were not on the New York Times Bestseller List, and I certainly don’t want to replace beautiful stories with propaganda.
I do hope to be a little more mindful about what we’re eating and what we’re reading—and how both make us feel. I definitely have a weak mom impulse that makes me want to give our son treats because he gets so excited when he has them. He’s all giggles and fun when there’s ice cream on the table or when he gets to help bake cookies. I wish I could say the same about eating carrots.
Part of me mourns the fact that right now I can’t fully give and experience that magic with him. It’s hard to say, “No, I can’t make cookies with you. Mama can’t eat cookies.” I just know I don’t have enough willpower to bake and then not partake (unless we’re playing pretend). Deep down, I know that he doesn’t really need cookies either.
I hope that, with time, I can help good nourishing food become a little more magical for our family. The good news is our picky eater is becoming very open-minded about pretend-eating chicken and vegetables in his play kitchen. Someday, he’ll eat calories that count. 🙂