I have lost a bit of weight recently, through following a new diet and exercise regime, so of course I am spending a lot of time obsessing about food (there's a sticky toffee pudding in my fridge right now this minute which has an expiry date of 24th of June and contains 438 delicious calories). Fortunately, following my post about Food Rules the other day, the lovely people at Pineapple Lounge have got in touch to ask me a bit more about how I choose food for my children, and I'm happy to oblige. They've got quite a few questions so I've just done it as if they are here, interviewing me. With perhaps a plate of biscuits on the table. Mmmmh.... biscuits....
What are your priorities when choosing food for your children? I don't really have priorities except to make sure that they have a varied diet. Arran would happily eat beans on toast every day, which would make life really nice and simple all round, really. When I'm doing my weekly meal plan I try to make sure that they have one fish meal (often at nursery I must admit, as I am a rubbish cooker of fish), one non-meat meal, one meal they love and one new meal each week. It doesn't always work like this, of course. They have snacks and things on top of this and that consists of a mix between biscuits (Oh God I've just remembered there are six mini packs of Oreos in the cupboard.... mmmhhhh) and fruit.
What do you worry about? I feel a bit guilty answering this question as there's not much I worry about, food-wise. I sometimes worry that Arran has a very sweet tooth, but then don't most people? I worry that people will judge my lack of worrying, like they will think I'm a bad mother for letting the children have oreos for a snack or have frosties for breakfast in the holidays.
What do you look for? When shopping, I look for price and I look for 'whole foods' where possible. So I feel most comfortable with a meal that I make entirely from scratch using real, tangible food. If I'm buying prepared food, I look for simplicity of ingredients and no words I don't recognise. And deliciousness. I'm always looking for deliciousness.
What are the most important things to you when it comes to kids and nutrition? I want them to enjoy food, thrive, not be anaemic, and not think about food too much. (Setting a fine example here, as you can see). When they're a little older, I'd like them to enjoy food as a social experience (something I've never managed to achieve as I can't cope with the chew/chat ratio at all) and to enjoy preparing food.
Which brands get it right? I think any food that markets on a wholesome, family type credential lulls me into believing in it. Hovis bread. Walls sausages. Warburtons bread. Innocent can do no wrong in my eyes and their orange juice is actually delicious too. Robinsons. Green giant. I sometimes buy the supermarket brand of all of these, based on price, but for 'image' I think they've got it spot on.
What do brands do/say that annoy you? I really don't like trendy food for kids - like cheese strings, spaghetti shaped like Bob the builder, yoghurts with Thomas the tank engine on (that we have in our fridge right now... ) It's pretty manipulative to try to make toddlers want your brand by putting preschool TV characters on it. And it's pretty hard being a mummy getting round a supermarket with a one year old who is taking all the cards out your wallet and throwing them on the floor and a three year old who is taking things out of other people's trolleys and trying to eat them. Add the pressure of said three year old begging for aforementioned Thomas yoghurts and you'll find that mummy has no willpower left, hence the fact that they are in our fridge - but I resent it.
Fruit shoots! Argh! The green lidded ones are pure evil for tiny teeth, and I've just found out that the blue lidded ones, while better on the sugar front have aspartame in them, so they will go from occasional purchase to never again, as of now.
Where do treats and puddings fit in? What are the challenges there? Everything in moderation I say. I don't like the idea of 'treats' as far as food goes - definitely not when it comes to kids. I don't want to reward them with food or to hold food up as anything more than just fuel for the body. I know that it will come by itself. I know that Arran loves cake, asks for, begs for and bargains for cake, and DEFINITELY sees it as a treat, but I don't think it's responsible of me to start the process or take part in it. That's not to say I don't give my kids 'treats' - I just don't call them that, and sometimes they're fruit and sometimes they're chocolate.
AND….what do your kids say/think?! Do they comment on their diet? Do they ask for certain things? Do they know about nutrition? I've talked a little to Arran (3) about food that is healthy, and he kind of gets it, but not really. Sometimes I explain it in very simple terms - 'You can only have two biscuits because if you eat lots of biscuits at the same time your tummy will get sick'. I think they talk a bit more about health at nursery (cop out parenting alert!) and just typing this I'm thinking that perhaps I should be doing more, although I'm fairly sure he would have NO concept of health, nourishment, dental health, vitamins and so on. Even telling him to eat so he'll grow up big and strong is a push, as he says he is big and strong already, and that he's nearly 10 and when he's 10 he'll drive the car. He asks for things he particularly wants, but this includes a broad spectrum from 'grumpets' to milk, biscuits, apples and peanut butter.
And Eilidh? Well, she's only 17 months old, and she calls every type of food 'cheese'. When I call them for tea she comes charging through, pointing excitedly at her plate and squealing, 'cheese! cheese!' It's probably our fault for nicknaming her 'Mouse'. So she's probably a little young to understand the value of different types of food, too.