The proof of the pudding is the eating. ~Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Ever since Kyle was a little tyke, he’s been very structured, eventually including his eating habits. Truly. It could be ten o’clock at night and he’d sit back in retrospect asking, “What was for dinner?” Usually I ask, “Are you hungry?” With Kyle’s response of, “No, but I wanted to know what was for dinner?” Seriously? Oh, yes! Like he’s taking a tally or checking of his daily list. He’ll even reiterate what he ate and what category it was considered, either breakfast, dinner, supper, or snack. Kyle can’t simply eat when he’s hungry and leave it at that, he has to place it in a mental check box.
On a side note, in our household, we call “lunch”, dinner. So what do we call dinner or the last meal of the day? Supper. Yes, dinner is our midday meal, or commonly called lunch, and supper is our later day meal, or sometimes called dinner.
Anyway, when conversing with Kyle over his meals for the day, a big WARNING needs to accompany this discussion. If you try and assist Kyle recollect his food consumption for that particular day, and you categorize a food item as part of the wrong meal, or worse, call out an item eaten from the previous day, he’ll call you out on it and make a big deal about his supposedly missed meal, even when he’s not hungry.
Example time. Now I can’t exactly recall a specific conversation between us, but they basically go like this:
Stage: (It’s 10:00 pm on a Saturday night and Kyle is laying on the couch watching television, winding down before bed.)
Kyle: Aunt Heather what was for dinner?
Me: (Not thinking to hard on the question) I don’t know, are you hungry?
Kyle: No, I just wanted to know what we had for dinner.
Me: I don’t know, steak and eggs.
Kyle: No that was breakfast.
Me: Oh, we had grilled chicken and potatoes.
Kyle: No, that was for supper.
Me: (Getting frustrated over a pointless conversation.) I don’t know! Are you hungry?
Kyle: No, I just wanted to know.
Me: If you’re not hungry does it matter?
Me: (LIGHT BULB!) Oh, we had sandwiches! (Now feeling pleased with myself for finally remembering.)
Kyle: Oh, yeah that’s right!
Me: Now do you want me to review all your snacks including the quart of chocolate milk you drank in one gulp? (Sarcasm and silliness, for I truly don’t care what Kyle eats or how much, as long as the majority of his consumption is healthy, and in moderation for the not-so-nutritious food items. Please note, the remark about the chocolate milk was not an exaggeration. He really does fill up a quart jar with milk and chocolate syrup, and gulp it down instantly. I guess he’s a growing boy.)
Kyle: (snickering) No. But what was for dessert?
Me: I saw you eating Oreos earlier.
Kyle: Yeah, but that wasn’t dessert for supper.
Me: You don’t have to have a dessert for every meal. Desserts are only for special occasions, or as a rare treat, not for everyday.
Kyle: Why not? I like desserts!
Me: I do too buddy, but it’s not good to have all that sugar and fat.
Kyle: I like sugar.
Me: I know! Same as your dad!
Kyle: (Snicker, before he heads off to bed, satisfied that his checklist is completed.)
Perhaps this strange and sporadic phenomenon is partially my fault. When Kyle was little, I became aware that when he wasn’t with my family, he’d miss meals or the sustenance eaten was less than par, not healthy in the slightest. So I began to teach Kyle to eat at least three meals a day, and snack healthy in between. That’s about the time I taught him about nutrition. I especially stressed the importance of breakfast, which was completely omitted from his diet before school. Or worse, he’d eat his jelly sandwich and crackers on the bus headed to school because he was hungry, and then have to go without for the entire day. It broke my heart to think of Kyle sitting in the cafeteria with his friends, watching them eat their lunches, while he was hungry. I’m not saying a jelly sandwich (at the time he hated peanut butter, so that was his PB&J minus the P) is the most nutritious for breakfast, but it’s something.
Naturally, there’s always an excuse, but with a five, six, seven, eight, nine and even a ten year old, there doesn’t need to be an excuse, simply doing what’s right for his well-being. This is paramount during a child’s developmental stages. Plus, it’s good habit forming. Granted, to counter act this, over the years, I began my mission to teach Kyle to make himself some simple and quick dishes to equip him to fend for himself. Like what? Oatmeal in the microwave or eggs. (Yes, Kyle has always known how to make eggs and to properly and safely use the stove and oven since he was probably two or so.) Grabbing a banana or apple isn’t too taxing and is an acceptable breakfast or snack, both of which Kyle loves. Even toast would be better than nothing.
On another side note, I also gave Kyle money to buy a hot lunch, not saying the cafeteria meals were any healthier, but at least it was food for his empty stomach and a warm meal.
Well, enough heavy. Kyle is now a healthy teenager, one who still confirms his three meals of the day. Maybe something really did sink in when I was teaching him about healthy eating habits. I hope so. I only want Kyle to have every opportunity in life, and that includes eating healthy and staying that way for a long time.