At one time I considered calling this blog “Confessions of a Dietitian.” The plan was to document my dietary transgressions and share the tips and strategies that have helped me to improve. I’d empower people with nutrition info and the insight that there’s no need to strive for perfection when it comes to healthy eating and feeding, just to aim to do better. To show them that even dietitians have their nutrition challenges.
I decided not to take that route (for now) because it would be too much of a bummer to focus on my own shortcomings all of the time. I mean, I’m actually really proud of the things I do right in feeding myself and my family!
I am, in fact, only a human Registered Dietitian and mom who faces the same pressures and challenges that many others face. Sometimes, I break “the rules.” And sometimes, it just feels good to confess. So, here it goes:
Recently, I bribed my kids (ages 3 and 6) with lunch at McDonalds.
Bribing and rewarding with food, and junk food at that?! This is precisely the kind of thing I have advised other parents against! Bad, Amy.
Now, don’t get me wrong, my kids have eaten at McDonalds a few times – with their grandparents, once or twice on a road trip. I don’t forbid them from eating it with other people. But, when they ask me if we can go, which given the constant marketing and peer pressure, is quite often, I simply say something like, “No, not today.” I think my older one understands by now that this reply is rooted in my healthy eating philosophy – he doesn’t appear too surprised when I deny him. The younger one doesn’t seem to give it too much thought. I try not to make it a thing.
So anyway, a few weeks ago when the weather changed and we were once again able to walk to school, I was finding it hard to get out the door on time (walking adds 15 minutes to our morning routine). Nothing was working. They were sluggish, I was sluggish. And then it occurred to me that I should just bribe them with something highly coveted, get us back into the routine, and it will be smooth sailing from there.
I won’t bore you with the details, but let me just say that it worked. Spectacularly. It was quite magical, actually.
Did it reinforce the unhealthy idea that bad-for-you food is something to reward yourself with? Maybe. Or maybe it just reinforced the very healthy idea that a meal from a junky place like McDonalds is a “sometimes” occurrence, not to be eaten often, but to be saved for rare occasions. Isn’t that the best message to send my kids… the message of moderation and self-control?
Am I rationalizing? Perhaps, but hey, nobody’s perfect!