by Dan Savage
on Sun, Aug 30, 2009 at 10:22 AM
It's really not that hard. Your kids will eat fruits and vegetables and greens if they see you eating fruits and vegetables and greens. They'll learn to exercise self discipline if they see you exercise it. They'll learn to indulge without binging if they see you indulge without binging. They'll learn to enjoy all sorts of different foods in moderation—including treats—if they see you enjoying all sorts of different foods in moderation. And no soda in the house—none for the kids, none for you.
There are a lot of parents out there who say they don't want their kids to eating nothing but crap and drinking nothing but soda who refuse to cut back on their own crap and soda consumption. Hello? When mom and dad eat crap washed down with corn syrup their kids do the same. The real problem with children's eating habits in America are adult eating habits in America. You can't set limits for your kids if you refuse to set limits for yourself. My kid can have milk or water at meals—which means his dads can have milk or water at meals. If we sat there and drank Coke during dinner, he'd feel deprived and resentful for being made to drink water or milk. (Similarly, no TV on school nights means no TV for him and no TV for us.) And Joan is right and Andrew is wrong:
Joan Yamini, a mother of one in Austin, Tex., said it was important not to have unhealthy foods around the house, but Andrew Segal, a father of three in Glen Ridge, N.J., said that children who can’t find cookies, ice cream and similar snacks at home can always find them elsewhere—and probably will.
You tend to eat what's in the house and not to miss what isn't. And, yeah, sometimes our kid will go find cookies and ice cream or crap elsewhere. But at least he had to go farther than his own kitchen to find those foods. Sometimes when he wants ice cream or cookies he has to—gasp!—get on his bike and ride to the store to get it. And, no, my kid isn't deprived, he doesn't have a complex, he isn't a budding anorexic.