That headline on today's Indy Star really caught my eye, and the story did not disappoint. The author looked into some of the causes behind a recent study showing that one in five children between the ages of 2 and 5 nationwide are overweight or obese (according to the Institute of Medicine). Here's a link to the story and I'd highly recommend the read. Some of the info in there about how much sugar is in drinks given to kids — fairly normal stuff like juice, too — is alarming and enlightening.
I've been thinking about Ellie's diet (meaning her food intake, not any special diet she's on...) a lot lately. She's clearly got a sweet tooth like her mommy, and as I've indulged my pregnancy food cravings in recent months there's been a lot more of the sugary stuff around the house that Ellie makes special requests for. One favorite of hers is "I want cereal with treats and milk. But no milk" ... and then she proceeds to eat all of the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms we give her and leave the rest. This is only a sometimes treat, mind you, but she also gets candy for going on the potty and desserts on the nights when we have them at home. At school, too, I've arrived to pick her up during afternoon snack and often find the toddlers all surrounding a table eating cookies. None of these things are the end of the world, but I know from my own weight struggles over the years that there has to be balance. That's why I'm happy we only give Ellie milk or water to drink at home. We also encourage a lot of healthy snacks and meals. Some of her favorites are hummus, peas, corn, apples, bananas, oranges, pretzels, Cheerios, raisins and even tofu! (Note to other parents: To get Ellie to like tofu our winning recipe is cutting it into sticks, breading it with panko or other breadcrumbs and lightly pan-frying it. We let her dip it in marinara sauce and Ellie is in heaven.)
I don't want to make it sound like all Ellie eats is super healthy stuff. Breakfasts on weekends are our house basically revolve around syrup... waffles, pancakes, or my creation this morning: french toast made from leftover homemade cinnamon raisin bread. And Ellie manages to dip each bite of her food about five times in the syrup before starting the process over again. But I think we strike a decent balance with offering a side of fruit at breakfast and then keeping lunch and dinner on the healthier side. That also helps me keep my own diet from going off the deep end! I'm proud of Ellie for trying new foods all the time and often choosing the healthiest option on the plate — and then requesting seconds. I hope we're helping her build a good foundation of smart eating choices... to balance out the times when we give in to her hard-to-resist requests for "treats."