Excuse me, are you listening? 12-3
Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dear Readers,
 
I know that we worry a lot about our children.  I am worried a lot about the littlest things when it comes to them because I am not directly knowledgeable about all of  their thoughts or emotions at all times.  The one thing that I do know is that we as parents have the most influence on our children. 
 
We have the capability of developing healthy little people, mentally and physically.  My children are pretty fortunate but a lot of them are not.  You have the responsibility to help your child make good choices and I mean start with the basics, like food.
 
I know it sounds like such a basic and unimportant issue but it is so important.  While I love candy and cake and it tastes really good, we had to cut back on purchasing sweets and now are developing healthier eating habits. 
 
I just could not understand why my daughter Anissa was feeling so sluggish all the time. We went to so many doctors and I dealt with so many medical issues that I created in my head.  She was seriously aching.
 
I kept searching and found a good doctor who was willing to listen to me.  The tests stated that she was not getting the proper nutrients and at eleven had a Vitamin D deficiency.   When I was eleven, no one ever had a Vitamin D deficiency but when I was growing up we ate more vegetables and fruits.  I realized that I had become lazier when it came to grocery choices.  I thought it would be a good idea to offer my children a wider variety of foods in an attempt to find different fruits and vegetables they liked.
 
My daughter does not like bananas, is allergic to oranges and strawberries and has a host of other qualifications for what she will eat and what she will not.  
 
My youngest son, Amir, is a little strange when it comes to food.  He will dart by and ask what you are eating and then takes one slice or he will only eat strawberries for a week and then the next week he will not eat the other fruit you purchased. 
 
I realized that children develop a taste for many types of food but it takes time.  We began to cook family meals together and added more vegetables to family meal plans.  While it did not appears that it was making a difference immediately, I now can say that it is working. 
 
We had to get a little creative in the kitchen with the fruit and vegetables.  If anyone knows me well, they know that I dislike wasting food or anything else for that matter.  The issue with the uneaten fruit was quickly solved by putting them in a blender along with a few pieces of spinach and some ice.  I was really excited about the concoctions I was coming up with and they were really good.
 
I know that vegetables are perishable but we need to do something to stop the unhealthy relationship that we have with food by balancing what we eat.
 
I was amazed when my daughter made a watermelon and banana smoothie and added a cube of watermelon as a garnish on the side of the glass.  I was so full of pleased that I hugged and kissed her and told her how proud I was that she was making better choices.  Now instead of omelets full of cheese, they are stuffed with fresh spinach sautéed in olive oil with pressed garlic.  She loves it.
 
Amir is a little different because he eats fruit and drinks water but finds it difficult to eat vegetables.  So we make it fun for him by offering celery and peanut butter.  If your children are hungry give them fruit.  Cut pieces of apple and put cinnamon on them.  
 
I usually carry an orange or granola bar in my car now to ward off hunger so I am not thinking about what fast food place is the closest to my mouth.  It took some time but the “pink slime” situation with the hamburger meat had me wondering, if I can buy a hamburger for a dollar why can’t I buy two bananas for the same price.
 
So now I give my children the ability to make choices even though I am still in control.  When they ask for a snack I ask, would you like to share an apple with me or if they would like a plum or a peach.
 
The answer is always yes.  I am not sure if it is because of the loving relationship we are continuing to expand on with our open conversation about food but I do know that we are all happier and healthier.
 
Love people,
 
Rina Risper
 
This was originally printed in the June 1, 2012 - June 16, 2012 Edition.  Please make sure you are being nutritionally responsible.
 
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This was printed in the February 24, 2013 - March 9, 2013 Edition
 

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