Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Feud with Food… Or Lack There Of

By Misty L Harris

I’m a very picky eater. There are a lot of foods I won’t eat and lots, due to food allergies and diet limitations, that I simply can’t. As an adult my preferences have changed. I’ve chosen not to eat certain types of meat. I have erased certain beverages from my daily “must-haves” and I’ve even made the distinction between mayonnaise and Miracle Whip (I won’t get into that heated debate). But looking back, as a child, I didn’t have these options.

My only option was to eat what my parents cooked. Whether it was breakfast, school lunches or dinner, my sisters and I had little say in what we ate. Well, maybe lunch, but other than that our choices were made for us. I can remember once or twice, not wanting to eat the oatmeal my mother had fixed for breakfast and after leaving the bowl half-empty (I like to think that I almost finished it) my mother informed me that, that same half-full bowl of oatmeal would be waiting for me when I came home from school for me to finish. Not believing her (how could a mother be that cruel) I went to school thinking she would forget about it as the day passed. I mean she was at work, she had absolutely no time to think about a half-empty bowl of cold oatmeal right? Wrong. I came home to find my friend, Mr. Cold Oatmeal sitting at the table. After pouting and refusing to eat the oatmeal for about an hour, I was excused from the kitchen table and the oatmeal was sent to the trash. Did I learn my lesson? Perhaps not.

I can also remember times when my oldest sister taught my middle sister and me how to “thin out” our plates to make it look as if we had eaten about 90% of the food on our plates in order to be excused from the table without penalty. It never seemed to work and the usual song and dance occurred (sitting at the table for an hour after everyone else had left hoping that a gust of wind would come out of nowhere and blow the food off of the table or requesting Calgon to take me away, which ever of the two happened first would have been great).

In hind sight, I wasted a lot of food. Good or bad, it was food. Food that was prepared by loving parents who made certain that their children had more than enough to eat every single day of their childhood. In short, I was never hungry and I don’t know what it feels like to be hungry. For that I am thankful. Back then I didn’t understand. I took the presence of food for granted and although there were the lessons that my parents taught us for not eating, from a kids perspective it didn’t register, it just didn’t make sense!

So, how do you teach a young child about hunger and food options when food is readily available to them when they open the cupboards and fridge? The folks at Sesame Street have decided to tackle this question with their prime-time special “Growing Hope Against Hunger,” featuring country music superstar Brad Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, airing Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. on WNED-TV.

Brad-Kim-and-ElmoElmo copes with a friend’s hardship of having little to eat by helping her family find solutions for healthy eating on a limited budget. Themes explored in the program include community support (shopping at farmer’s markets and buying locally grown fruits and vegetables), stretching your dollar by planning your grocery list before you go shopping, and discussing with your child or children the importance of healthy snacks, eating their fruits and vegetables and which foods will help them stay full throughout the course of the day. The program also follows four families who are battling hunger and struggling to find the resources to make ends meet.

So if you are dealing with a picky eater at home (who has a special bedtime) let them stay up a little longer to watch this Sesame Street special presentation. It’s easy to follow and will perhaps encourage them to eat all of their food as they learn the value of what mom and dad have chosen for them!

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