Teaching Children Good Nutrition is No Picnic
The column titled Sweets to the Sweet in the Erev Sukkos issue of The Jewish Press garnered much attention in our family over Yom Tov. Our own children’s bubby, who happens to promote healthy eating by not stocking up on candy when her grandchildren visit, could not relate to the problem as described by A Concerned Bubby.
Not to worry; I set my mother-in-law straight in no time. She had no idea that rebbes in our boys’ cheder are in the habit of rewarding their young talmidim with endless nosh. A Siyum, for instance, gets each of the boys a shopping bag full, while great class performance earns the “lucky” student a large size bottle of soda. (The rebbe may have had himself in mind when my seven year old once came home with a 2-liter bottle of diet soda, no less.)
As a mother who makes every effort to feed her family wholesome nutritious food, I am appalled by all of this unhealthy indulgence. On top of that, I also have to deal with my children’s foot-stomping disappointment when I insist on pouring more than half of the soda down the drain.
One of my young sons – fearing that I would confiscate the bulk and deprive him of his well-deserved “treats” – thought he’d be wise to consume the contents of his Siyum bag on his commute home from yeshiva. The tummy-ache he endured for agonizing hours that night was no picnic for either of us.
Don’t even try to suggest that mothers band together to protest the school’s lack of judgment and lackadaisical attitude in this area. I’ve tried, to no avail; most moms simply can’t be bothered. If you’d observe them as I do on my weekly shopping excursion in our local supermarket, you’d understand. I’ve seen women shoppers scooping up the unhealthiest snack bags by the armful, loading their shopping carts to the hilt with this MSG laced garbage. I guess they (the snack bags) work to keep the kids at bay when mommy is tied up with baby or some other of her multiple chores.
Grown-ups should know better
The letter from A Concerned Bubby was pretty horrifying. I can’t believe in this day and age there are camps that allow parents to send chazerai to camp, or that there are parents that would do it. Makes you wonder what other health matters they are lax in when they’re allowing this.
For the past ten years my son has been involved with Camp Nesher, a Modern Orthodox camp in Pennsylvania that is affiliated with the New Jersey Y camps. He was a camper for eight years and has spent the past two summers as a counselor. Camp Nesher has a very strict policy vis-à-vis packages. There is ONE accepted hashgacha for camp packages, a company called SWAK. They send packages of varying price ranges that contain everything BUT food – puzzles, games, pillows, etc.
In fact, Camp Nesher has a strict “no food in bunks” policy, which I commend them for. Not only don’t the kids need to spend their summers eating junk, having food in the bunk is an invitation to all sorts of unwelcome wildlife. If a camper receives a package from a source other than SWAK, they must open it in the camp office. Food items are removed before the camper is allowed to take the package back to their bunk.
I suggest that all parents inquire as to the policies of the camp to which they are considering sending their children. We all try to maintain healthy eating habits during the school year and need to make sure that vacation time doesn’t undo the good habits of the previous ten months.
Good moms make wise choices
As if to validate your reply to A Concerned Bubby, our kitchen table on Simchas Torah became a colorful display of show and tell as my grandchildren unloaded the vast supply of goodies they brought home with them from shul. And to my chagrin but no surprise, the kids hardly touched any real food at the dining room table.
Oh, we did our best to stop them from unwrapping their sugar treats and noshing away, but they had apparently already done enough of that in the preceding hours to kill their appetite for dinner.
Is it any wonder that so many of our children walk around with pasty complexions and runny noses? It’s high time we all came to realize that the manufacturers, sellers and advertisers are the only ones gaining any benefit from all of these unnatural and unhealthy foodstuffs.
A frustrated auntie
Whereas it’s comforting to see that many of us have a genuine concern for our children’s health and well-being, it is somewhat unsettling to hear about those who seem to be in the dark with regards to the value of good nutrition and the downside of ingesting sugar laden and empty calorie junk food.
Talk about show and tell, a quick look at nature’s foods reveals how especially suited they are for human consumption: Take the carrot – slice it and marvel at its remarkable likeness to the human eye; cut the tomato in half and see how its four chambers resemble the human heart. Crack a walnut open and the nutmeat inside the hard shell looks much like – and helps vitalize – the human brain. Kidney beans are shaped like the human kidney and help maintain healthy kidney function. Eggplants, avocados and pears are beneficial for the female reproductive system. Did you know that it takes nine months for an avocado to grow to mature ripeness?
The anti-oxidant element of grapes helps keep our blood cells healthy and they are especially beneficial for the lungs. Sweet potatoes promote healthy pancreas function, while onions help flush waste materials out of body cells. Olives keep our ovaries healthy and robust, while figs are a boon to male reproduction and citrus fruits are great for our mammary glands.
Parents can be easily frustrated with their children at mealtime. Still, all the work in instilling good eating habits is well worth the effort and is bound to pay off in the long run.
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