When you’re at a fun event with your kids, like a baseball game or an amusement park, what’s your approach when it comes to feeding your family ?
You like to…
(A) … pack your own food because it’s way better than what they’re offering at the event.
(B) … buy the best quality food of what’s offered.
(C) … let go of all the rules! You buy what your kids want because this event is so special!
I would love to be the mom who adopts (C)! But I know too much about the devastating effects of sugar and how easily our gut health can be damaged. So I’m a mixture of (A) and (B), and as I’m reminded everyday by my 7 year-old son, that’s not very fun.
Just last night, our family of 3 attended the Giants vs. Brewers game at AT&T Park. Usually it’s just my husband and son who go to the games. But we bought an extra ticket last night so I could attend too. It became clear pretty quickly though that my presence was cramping their style.
I gasped at the grocery food choices they made for the train ride up to San Francisco. We had to negotiate juice drinks, for the ones they picked were too sweet. And once we arrived at the ballpark, my son headed straight for the kettle corn booth. I begged him to get clam chowder or something more substantial. This was his dinner! But it was part of the routine he had with his dad. He did not want to deviate and I did not want to get in the middle of it (yet again), so I let it go, but put my foot down about no churros or cotton candy.
There was a time when the choices were: momma’s milk or avocado?
I kind of miss those days!
Going to games now 6 years later, my son has many choices of not-so-great food.
Now that I gave up on my son & husband, what was I going to eat? I was overwhelmed with the dilemma of whether to remain the health conscious mother who models what is best for the whole family or to let loose with the rules. I decided to make a huge trek across the park and down to field level (we were at the very top). And at the very bottom after passing booth after booth of fried foods and questionable meat products I found:
That’s right, there’s a little oasis among the vendor maze called The Garden that sells antipasti and salads. I was so happy, I didn’t even ask if they were organic vegetables. Ignorance is bliss when your choices of healthy food are this limited!
I hiked back to to the top level with a huge smile. On the way, I noticed a Ghirardelli vendor waving a picture of ice cream at toddler-height as the large family in front of me passed him. “Interesting”, I thought, “they’re marketing to the kids!” On I went, but the ice cream stayed on my mind.
I gleefully wolfed down my meal, satisfied that I was getting a lot of filling fat from the marinated olives that made up the majority of the bowl. Before I finished, I talked my son into having some mushrooms & tomatoes.
Then something in me shifted.
I really wanted that ice cream.
I got some.
I didn’t get just a scoop of ice cream.
I got a hot fudge sundae.
My son couldn’t believe it! Mom’s eating ice cream and sharing it too!
I was cool again, just for dessert. We had our fill and put the rest down. I didn’t have any guilt because I had such a healthy dinner. My only regret was not insisting that my son have olives before getting ice cream – he had a mild sugar surge that could’ve been prevented. But it passed and he ended up being fine too.
So what’s my point here, besides a little venting?
We could all use a bit more balance in our lives, right? Especially since my son is pretty healthy (we were back on track with wholesome meals today), splurging is not so bad as long as we know how to tend to our gut to prevent imbalance.
But I think there’s a lesson in here for parents in group C too as we shift perspective. I believe that you make up the majority of parents and I’d bet that your family could use a bit more balance with healthier eating in general – eating traditional whole foods, limiting treats to very special occasions, and supporting your child’s gut health. And even if you’re aware that you don’t eat as healthy as you should, you give up easily since many places you go to with your kids have low quality food and you may not even know what to ask for.
If my child had ADD/ADHD, autism, allergies, or any inflammatory condition that suggest poor gut health, I would lean more toward being the parent in group A of our list at the top of the post. I would have complete control over the food we eat. And, I would be more vocal about the lack of real, high quality food at fun places like the ballpark.
Obviously AT&T park hears that many of it’s customers would like fresh food. The Garden is a great start, but there is major room for improvement. If concerned parents all put their voices together asking for change, it would happen!
So what do you think parents? Want to join me in asking for change?! Or do you need help making good choices at concession stands? Let’s talk about this in the comments!