I should clarify that my quarrel with the guys in my house is not about what they eat. Sure, I would like my sons to choose healthy food all the time. I would also like them to go to church, sing in the choir, and clean their rooms regularly without being reminded.
Let us return to the real world. The thing is that we eat together. Breakfast and dinner, and lunches on weekends, are all family meals. So what they eat, I eat, and vice versa. I feel that they get enough junk food from school day lunches, and could eat healthy food without harm for two meals a day. They disagree.
Now, I have tried a divide-and-conquer approach. I bought frozen sausage biscuits from the Schwan’s man for them, so that I could have steel cut oats and raisins for breakfast and they could microwave themselves some saturated fat and simple carbs. This worked well for a couple of days, and then they began agitating for waffles and banana bread.
I have also tried compromise. I would make quesadillas with both whole-grain and white flour tortillas, so they had a choice. I would serve beef one day and fish the next. I would put small amounts of vegetables into a recipe. They saw this as evidence that they were winning, and were all the more adamant the next day.
I have also said, “This is how the doctor says I should eat, and if you don’t like it, you can fix your own meals.” They tell me that I am an unnatural mother. Also that it is wasteful for me to cook things they will not eat.
What my boys would like me to do is to make waffles and sausage for them, and cook steel-cut oats for myself. They don’t care whether or not I eat cookies, as long as I keep them supplied. I have informed them that I am not willing to cook two meals at a time.
I read once about a conference of nutritionists where they set out plates of fresh fruit and plates of chocolate chip cookies, and the cookie plates emptied long before the fruit. Humans like meatitude and sweetitude. For most of our history, that was not an issue, since those things were not available most of the time. Folks had their porridge and went out to work long hours of manual labor, and if they got the chance for a feast, they could eat freely and enjoy it without giving their lipids profiles a thought.
Things are different for us, because we are surrounded by readily-available lavish foods all the time, and have to make special efforts to come by any hard physical work. In the absence of alternatives, we can certainly enjoy eating only fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and nonfat dairy products. These foods are good, and they taste good when prepared well. As long as they don’t have to compete for our attention with French pastry, we don’t have to feel deprived when we eat only these foods.
Unfortunately, my boys do not agree. My husband howls, “I need FAT!” And it is true, actually, that he does. The doctor told him to eat ice cream. They no longer even test his cholesterol, since he has the lipid profile of a 16 year old.
And of course my boys are engaged in hard physical work or play for much of their day. #1 son’s summer job is gardening and maintenance. #2 son is a gymnast. At 15 and 18, they can certainly eat whatever they want without any immediate health concerns.
They may have gotten lucky with their genes, too, and ended up with their dad’s tendency rather than mine. So there is an element of truth to their claims that I am being selfish when I cook healthy foods. “I would rather you had high triglycerides,” #2 son has confided, “than that we would have to eat that stuff.”
Today I am going to work, and everyone else has the day off. I can take my whole wheat peanut butter sandwich and carrot sticks, and they can eat whatever they want, and we won’t have to quarrel over it again till dinner time.