Among the waves of email I get from my blogging efforts are some that are targeted to this parenting / daddy blog, which is definitely cool. In fact, sometimes the messages are from vendors or PR agencies who are hoping that I’ll write about their product or service. Some are cool (I have some samples of a new product from the company that makes Emergen-C, for example, coming in the mail) but some, like this release from MealpayPlus, help me realize just how far we are from the normal day-to-day childhoods of typical American children…
Here are their five key points related to their product:
1. Parents should limit their child’s television watching, video game playing, and computer time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours a day of “sedentary” activities outside of school. Children need physical activity every day. Parents should model this behavior themselves, by engaging in regular physical exercise and activity.
We don’t watch TV, my kids don’t place video games and they’re lucky if they get 15-20 minutes/week of computer time, and that’s usually to surf eBay looking for amazing bargains on Pokemon or particular books. Score one for Waldorf schools and our own general dislike of media as an omnipresent facet of modern childhood.
2. Mealtimes should be family times! Create a relaxed atmosphere around mealtime. Eat slowly and enjoy your food. Eat together as a family, and donât watch TV during meals. Families that do not eat together tend to consume more fried foods and soda and fewer fruits and veggies than families that share meals.
We certainly work on that one, generally with success, but I sometimes find that the kids get hungry an hour or two before dinner and descend into serious crankiness if I don’t feed them, so sometimes they eat dinner before I do (and sometimes I seem to skip dinner entirely, somehow). Breakfast is easier and my kids all love bowls of cereal, which is easy. And watch TV while we eat? They might dream of it, but that’s about the only place we’d be watching TV while eating: in their dreams. 🙂
3. Limit high-fat fast foods and high sugar drinks and reduce the amount of “junk food” available. Soda and other sweetened drinks add extra calories and get in the way of good nutrition. Water and milk are the best drinks for kids. Use the food pyramid to help guide your food choices for your family. The emphasis should be on grains, vegetables, and fruits.
We’re good in that department too. I don’t think it has anything to do with either attachment parenting or Waldorf education, but we are very conscious and have always been thoughtful about what we eat and what we feed our kids. This isn’t to say that we’re food nazis, but they really do eat very healthy foods all in all. (though I have to admit that tonight’s dinner was inari and corn dogs, followed by a bowl of noodle soup and some late-night popcorn. Not great, no veggies, but sometimes I just go with the flow…)
4. Watch portion size. For instance, a cup of cereal should be the size of a tennis ball, three ounces of cooked meat is the size of a deck of cards, and a pancake is the size of a compact disc.
I think that if the children are physically active — and the family is active — and the food you’re serving is good quality, then this is less of an issue. I mean, two servings of salad or broccoli? Works for me! Cereal-wise, my secret is to have small bowls without saying anything so that even if they were super-enthused, they can’t really have a huge monster bowl of food. Works well with ice cream too!
5. School lunches are an integral part of a childâs diet. So monitor your childâs nutrition choices in the school cafeteria with online prepayment systems like MealpayPlus. Log onto your childâs account and view what they ate that day â carrots or Doritos, pizza or turkey wrap, Gatorade or low-fat milk. Open up the lines of communication and talk to your children about what they chose to eat at school.
This is a pretty darn cool idea, actually, and poking around online, I have to say that Mealpay Plus looks very slick if you have a school with a cafeteria. This is where this is a bit ironic: our fancy Waldorf school doesn’t have a cafeteria, and in fact, I don’t know of any Waldorf school that has a centralized cafeteria. Instead, we pack our kid’s lunch, which gives us a lot more control over what they eat.
So what do ya think? Does attachment parenting and the related parenting philosophies actually help keep your kids slim? 🙂
Dave, I think the question would be better as “Do parents who practice attachment parenting philosophies put more emphasis on feeding their children real food because they may spend more time with them?”
The guidelines above seem to be common sense for raising healthy kids: be active, eat together as a family, turn off the tv, eat healthy foods. No offense, but I don’t think that attachment-parenting parents necessarily have the edge when it comes to these priorities; these seem to be pretty universally recognized. 🙂
What the guidelines fail to give are good suggestions as to how to make these ideas work for you beyond buying a school lunch. As you mentioned, sometimes cooking a dinner of real foods can be trying during a busy week when kids are hungry.
I like to keep my freezer stocked with whole foods like chicken breasts, fish filets, frozen veggies, etc. around, toss them into a Dutch oven and flash cook them in 30-45 minutes. One-pot meals are great dinnertime solutions for concerned but time-crunched parents, even if you follow a different child-rearing philosophy. 🙂
Elizabeth Yarnell, author