On the day Andie came into my life, I was a nervous wreck. She was nearly two. I was a newly-graduated, single, twenty-five-year-old who had wanted to do foster care since I was at least twelve. I had finally completed all the paperwork, training, and requirements necessary to receive my first placement and Andie was it. That afternoon, as I looked into her dark brown eyes, so filled with confusion and fear, a thought of terror washed over my soul. I HAVE TO FEED HER!
That night, I nervously prepared a little dinner for the two of us. Andie took one look at it and promptly tossed it over the side of her high chair, thus reinforcing my negative thoughts about my inept cooking abilities. I sighed. Meal one, and I was a failure.
The next day, we ran some errands and happened to pass a McDonald's. Andie, who could not yet speak, became very animated. She pointed towards those golden arches and squealed with delight and anticipation. "Over my dead body," I thought. Suddenly a new feeling of determination crept into my soul. A new resolve developed in my heart. I was going to COOK for my daughter. I was going to learn to prepare healthy food for her. And she was going to like it--even more than the junk offered at Mickey D's and other greasy fast food joints! I rolled up my sleeves, invested in a few healthy vegetarian cookbooks, and finally began fighting my dread of all things culinary.
It's been fourteen years now and I. can. cook! I'm still not particularly fond of the task, but I know how to do it quickly, efficiently, and healthfully. What I do love, indeed what I have developed a passion for, is having healthy children. (Even our doctor and dentist have commented on our kids overall health.) Because, along with learning to cook, I have adopted five basic dietary rules that have helped our family immensely. They are:
1) Eat foods that are as unprocessed and as close to nature as possible. Be sure to have something fresh (raw) at every meal.
2) Limit sugar. Sugar is a treat only and should not be a regular part of daily meals. My kids rarely (like only 2-3 times per year) get candy.
3) Read labels. If I have to look things up in a chemist's dictionary, it's not going into my kids' bodies. "Artificial" is not part of our dietary vocabulary.
4) Drink water. When our kids are thirsty they get natural spring water to drink - unchlorinated and unfluoridated. Sodas are grouped into the treat category and are something they get on airplanes or at birthday parties. Juice is also a treat. Plain water is their main beverage.
5) Eat only at regular mealtimes. This is hard, but really beneficial. We have three set mealtimes and, once past the age of three, our kids don't snack--even on healthy foods.
Andie is sixteen now. She no longer throws my food on the floor, thank goodness, nor does she whine when we pass McDonald's. She has learned to create quite a few healthful dishes of her own. Even better, I overheard her telling one of her friends, "You need to eat healthier food." Ah, a mother's dream come true!