Thursday, December 7, 2006

Nourishment & Mashed Potatoes

Ok...so, how many times did one of your parental units tell you that you HAD to finish EVERYthing on your plate? Only then to have them continue on with some diatribe about how children are starving to death in Africa and would be appreciative of meal like this?

Force feeding your kids in a civilization that lives in surplus is like overfilling your tires with air...the tire will eventually break, it only requires so much air...and we only require so much food. We should eat EVERYTHING that's put in front of us because...our mother's think we're undernourished and have to overfill our plates?

I'm guilty of this. I am a mother.

I have had to unlearn this behaviour.

When I go to feed my 5 year old, who is actually the size of most 3 or 4 year olds, and eats like a bird, what on earth makes me think that I need to feed her what I would feed one of my friends in the military? In fact, what makes me think that my other, older daughter should have the same sized servings as me? She's 28 years younger than me, a third of my body weight (hmm, and then some) and her little body has different nutritional needs than my middle-aged body. Our spiritual and emotional needs may well be similar though.

I know why.

I know what it feels like to be hungry.

Despite the fact that I haven't felt the pangs of hunger since my youth (well, except for a couple of times in University...) I have sworn that my children will never feel those pangs, those unhealthy pangs, and so the natural, human, tendency is to go to the extreme...and do too much.

Nourishment comes in a variety of forms.

Do I love my children less by being moderate in how I serve their nourishment to them? Surely I am a better mother for figuring out that what works for one person won't work for the next? And that, dolloping a small mountain of mashed potatoes (the WORST kind of carbohydrate, and should never even be served in the evening for dinner...the chances that you'll burn it off are sooooooooooo remote) the size of a small bowling ball doesn't mean that I am a good mum. I should not equate good parenting with how big the pile is.

Look at the size of your children's hands...a fist-sized portion of veggies (preferably with loads of colour, and not overcooked), a palm-sized helping of protein (doesn't have to be meat) and in the evening, it's ok to forgo the carbs...they turn to flub at that time of day anyway. Obviously if our bodies work this way, mashed potatoes are meant to be eaten with breakfast. What better way to start your day than with something that fills you up? Anything that is this gratifying will fuel you for the rest of the day.

Then look at yourself.

HOW is it that you approach eating? Is it similar to the way you approach life? Do you shove your food around your plate, playing with it but not really eating it and never actually consuming very much of it? Or do you ravenously tuck into it, hungry for more, never savouring a mouthful, a morsel or a munch? Or, do you approach it serenely, admire the colours on your plate, the presentation, the smell, do you chew your food properly, swallow calmly and digest your food well? Chances are, if you're doing the latter, you have no problem with your weight, your days feel full and you are capable of sharing much with others.

We live in a world that is no longer governed by our Selves. Often we are governed by advertising and live in a world where survival depends solely on our consumption of everything. The more we buy, the more we eat, the sicker we get, the better our economy is. Ironic really that the financial strength of our cultures and our societies has the unfortunate by-product of creating human beings with weight problems, attention problems, relationship problems, spending problems, gambling problems, neglect, abuse and substance problems...the list goes on.

It's not hard to understand why the extremes of life create extremes in our day to day functioning....too much or too little...where's the middle ground?

I sense the middle ground lies in each and every one of us and our ability to make choices for ourSelves.

Moderation and balance are attainable when we, in each and every small moment of choice, choose not to take a mountain of mashed potatoes, or choose not to starve ourselves completely of a little mashed potatoes...perhaps, just perhaps, we could have it for breakfast instead of feasting last thing at night, trying to shove as much into our bodies as we can before bed? It's hard for the body to do the work it needs to do on a cellular level (all of its night audits, cell repairs, etc.) when it's trying to deal with a gutful of slop.

So, the next time you're dishing your kids up some dinner, maybe it would be better to ask them to serve themselves, better to lead by example, better to teach them that our nourishment & needs are not that huge...but that helpings that are moderate, fill specific requirements in ourSelves and taste good are what balanced living is all about. And who says that mashed potatoes aren't for breakfast?

And maybe, just maybe, while we're teaching them this...we can learn this too.

1 comment:

Heather said...

I really love reading your articles, they are well written and interesting! In this article I couldn't agree with you more. I have never understood force-feeding and I have never understood how parents can load up a small childs plate with as much food on it as an adults and expect them to eat the whole thing...where do they expect it all to fit???