Eating Mindfully: How to keep kids from getting fat by turning on to better food

Jul 22, 2009 by

Stock kid gourmet American parents today have just two main choices today: go gourmet or go unhealthy. You might be both, but you pretty much have to be one or the other.

Feeding kids is not for the faint of heart or uncommitted today.

If we home cooks serve our families foods that are healthy but that have nothing else to offer, we are going to fail. Healthy foods have to be as engaging as the tastily manipulated and temptingly marketed junk food in today’s battlefield for our tastes. We have to beat our opponents at their own game.

Processed foods today are engineered with salt, fat and sugar to be as seductive and addictive as possible, what food industry folks call “eatertainment,” according to David Kessler, in The End of Overeating. Lab rats’ brains, he claims, respond to these sweet, salty, fatty foods like an addict’s to cocaine.

How can our kids resist this stuff ? By our replacing it with something better.

“The substitute for rewarding food,” Kessler writes, “is often other rewarding food.”

Now is no time for feeble, indecisive attempts. It’s an all-out battle, if we hope to win our child’s heart with healthy foods. Don’t expect kids to resist all the bad food stimuli around them if all you’re offering is the occassional steamed broccoli and fat-free lettuce, sans flavor, sans variety, sans interest, sans everything.

We’ve got to bring out all our guns. A generous variety of Real Foods, well prepared, interesting, flavorful, colorful, surprising and unusual is your best weaponry. Strive every day to make healthy food delicious and mealtime enjoyable.

If we as cooks remain plain, clean and virtuous, like a woman who, au naturelle, makes no efforts to be attractive to her man in the arts of shape, color, texture and scent, we are hiding our light under a bushel. We are expecting a lot of our man if we think that being predictable and withdrawn, disdaining enhancements as shallow, is going to cut it. Do we think he shouldn’t be moved by the tricks of our opponent, who is aggressively presenting her assets in every possible favorable light?

There’s no shame in making what’s good look good, taste good, smell good, in making good more attractive than evil.

Such efforts aren’t burdensome. They’re really pretty exciting.

Other posts on this subject:

“Lessons of Seduction: How to Win Your Child Over for Life by Putting Your Best Food Forward”

“How Cleaning Up Your Act Can Make Things Even Worse”

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / July 23 2009 / All rights reserved

Anna Migeon
Anna Migeon

Ann, I am in France on vacation right now and I will respond more fully when I get home. The French keyboard has the letters in different spots and it takes forever to type anything! But; in the meantime, I have written several entries about the caveman diet on the blog; I have a link somewhere also to a good web page that gives an overview of it: That will give info on the problems with legumes. We are eating a lot of fish and shrimp now plus eggs and nuts: Thanks for writing: more later: Anna

Ann Shannon
Ann Shannon

I am totally on board with you about developing eating habits for life. I spend a fair amount of time and energy making sure my kids, and my husband and I eat mindfully, and make healthy choices at the same time. This has brought about great changes to our diet both in variety, and quantity. Now for my questions: We are also totally on the bandwagon with grass fed beef, pastured chicken/turkey, etc. However, we cannot afford to eat this everyday. My younger daughter will NOT eat beans or legumes of any variety unless I bribe her. I see that you advocate giving them up as well. Why? (I know, I know I should read the book but I am so busy reading other books...) Anyway, my other question is that you say your son is almost a vegetarian, if you don't eat legumes what do you eat on the days you don't eat meat? Just veggies? That would be hard sell to my picky husband. (He eats no fruits, not even veggies that are technically fruit like tomatoes, peppers, etc. They taste slimy to him and make him gag) So we eat a lot of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots. So where do I take this? Ann