It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Healthy Canadians

All you Canadians out there. Have you stumbled across the Government of Canada’s new website, Healthy Canadians? It’s a clever clearing-house for all manner of information already out there in various Government of Canada websites, brought together into one informative, accessible and entertaining site. (All you non-Canadians out there? Some pages mightn’t be applicable to you, but, being as we’re all human and all want to be as healthy as possible, most of it is!)

There’s information on things we probably already know, (“It’s important to Be Active”!!) but there’s also information on things we might not know. Did you know there’s a tax credit available to parents whose under-18 children participate in eligible physical activites?

We all know it’s important to eat well, but are you really clear on how many servings your three-year-old needs, and what exactly constitutes a serving? There’s a flash walk-through of Canada’s Food Guide, and down-loadable PDF files with much of the information, so you can print it off for use at home. Sensible.

There’s also a section on recalls, with a subsection on Children’s Product recalls. Anyone out there using “My Baby” pacifiers? You’ll want to follow that link.

If you’re pregnant and like doing quizzes, you’ll enjoy this Healthy Pregnancy quiz.

It’s a well laid out site, with a wealth of nicely-presented information, and well worth checking out.

One caution: links often take you to other government of Canada website pages, all of which are laid out in a similar or identical format. You may not realize you’ve left “Healthy Canadians” until you click on the “home” tab, and are whisked away to the Canada Revenue Agency homepage instead!

October 27, 2008 Posted by | Canada, health and safety | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Junk food, maternal compromise, the essential skill of basking

The very smart Mir was discussing the easy Mommy points available when the otherwise nutritionally hard-assed mother slips the occasional bottle of wine cookie into her children’s lunch boxes. Said kids will be delirious with glee — and overwhelmed with gratitude for this sugar-sweetened evidence of Motherlove, natch.

When my kids were little (before the dawn of HFCS awareness and when trans-fats were just an oily smear on the horizon), I routinely passed off fruit as dessert, refused to allow pop into the house, and kept junk to the occasional (once or twice a month) treat. Breakfast was French toast or hot cereal with fruit, scrambled eggs, and, sometimes, homemade soup. Why not?

My eldest once made me Very Proud, when, at the age of three and confronted with a potluck dessert table filled with ooey-gooey sugary goodness, opted for an apple. Her choice, not mine. (Once in a while a kid will do something like that, something totally virtuous, and they’ll do it IN PUBLIC!! Don’t be all modest and self-deprecating. Don’t say “Oh my God, that NEVER happens at home!!!” Grab your moments of glory when they come to you. BASK in it woman, BASK! Because you know it’s only a matter of time until they’re caught picking their nose and eating it during storytime at the library.)

So, apples for dessert, yes, but my kids were also drawn to those magical, mystical super-sweetened glow-in-the-dark, marshmallow-studded breakfast “cereals”. Pointed at their gaudy boxes and gave me puppy-dog-eyes in the breakfast food aisle. Not that they’d ever eaten any of it, of course. This was the mother whose children didn’t eat candy of any sort before their third birthday, and certainly not for breakfast. It was just the IDEA of such ooey-gooey decadence. For BREAKFAST!

I was unmoved by puppy-dog eyes.

“That is NOT food.” And I really believe that. It is not food, no matter how many vitamins and minerals they sprinkle on the cardboard, styrofoam, sugar and chemicals after the fact. Send my kids off to school … well, okay, I was homeschooling then … Send my kids off to the livingroom with THAT in their bellies and expect them to think, never mind stay awake until lunch? I think not.

More puppy-dog-eyes. “Sorry, guys. It’s not food. That stuff is nothing but junk.” Which gave me my semi-brilliant idea. We were, after all, comfortably past the no-candy, fine-tune-their-palate years. We were into the sensible-choices-for-life training. Junk food was allowed, in moderation. The children were learning to monitor and evaluate their own intake. They were beginning to grasp the difference between junk and real food, the purposes of each.

Junk food, junk cereal… Hmmm…

“Okay, guys. Which box would you like?”

Three sets of eyeballs almost, but not quite, landed on the floor of Aisle Five. There was a lively debate before a box of Lucky Charms ended up in the cart. Three kids were beside themselves with anticipation of the gustatory bliss that awaited.

Here was the deal: one box of “junk cereal” was purchased each month, which we had (are you ready for this?) in lieu of candy!

I know. Deviously brilliant, huh?

I figure even CocoPuffs have less sugar and more fiber than, say, a Caramilk bar, and less fat than potato chips. The added vitamins and mineral in the drek, put there to convince the gullible that this is a food with actual nutrient value, give it more nutritional merit than you’d be getting in yer average package of Twizzlers. A handful of Lucky Charms eaten as finger food instead of Fuzzy Peaches. Struck me as a reasonable compromise. The point of monitoring is not to refuse yourself these nutritionally-void goodies entirely, but to ensure that they are occasional treats in an otherwise healthy diet.

Over the years they worked their way through a wide range of boxes that would never otherwise be given shelf space in my home. They got their sugar-coated ick, but they learned its appropriate place in the nutritional scheme of things. And now that they’re teens and beyond, not one of them ingests the stuff. (Yes, they eat junk, just not this junk.) The most popular breakfast around here in summer is non-fat plain yoghurt with fresh fruit stirred into it, and in winter it’s oatmeal.

And they make it themselves.

Hm? What? Sorry, can’t year you … I’m basking.

October 10, 2008 Posted by | food, health and safety, my kids | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments