The issue of food can be a hot topic. It can be as sacred as politics and religion.
We each have different convictions regarding food and that’s okay.
I’ve made it clear in many posts that although I do my best to feed my family nutrient dense foods free from hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals; food is not my God.
For that reason, my husband and I never speak badly of any foods within our home. We don’t call boxed foods, junk. We don’t call hydrogenated foods, cancer in a tub.
Instead, we choose to lead in our home by example.
Leading by Example
As I’m writing this, the memory verse that my children have been learning in school this week comes to mind.
Pleasant words are like a honeycomb
Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones
We’re teaching our children to begin to watch what comes out of their mouths – that it’s sweet and healing.
We don’t want to raise snarky little boys with an I’m holier than though mentality. Especially, when it comes to food that many people are dependent on.
For that reason, we haven’t spoken much about the dangers of certain foods to our children.
Instead, from pretty much birth to now they’ve seen how much time and energy we spend in preparing foods at home. How much effort we put into our gardens and backyard chickens. They help us grow and make our own food.
However, my oldest is now six years old and beginning to ask me more questions about why we don’t buy certain products.
A Mac and Cheese Lesson
The above picture is of mac and cheese. Not homemade, but boxed.
As a busy mama, I appreciate many of the organic options that we now have. The kids love mac and cheese and I LOVE that I can find a good option that my kids and hubby like.
When I’m scrambling for time, this works for my family. But let me tell you, my kids notice that it’s not orange.
Worse, they notice that they’re not in the shape of Cars, Phineas and Ferb, or Spongebob. Goodness, the color of the box above doesn’t hold a chance to the vibrant blue they see on the shelves screaming at them at their perfect eye level.
Praise God for Trader Joes. Now that we have a TJ’s, we don’t visit Walmart often and I love that they don’t have all the crazy, vibrant options that big stores have. For me, the less to choose from, the better.
But let me tell you, when we did visit Walmart more often, my boys always asked for a cartoon box of mac and cheese. Usually lingering on the end caps.
“…but why, mama, why?” “Why can’t we have this kind?” “Can’t you see, it has McQueen on it!” My reply was always, “Because we get ours at Trader Joes. Put it Back.”
Honest to God, this was my oldest sons reply to me one day. “Well you know what, when I’m older and I have children, I’m going to let them get whichever kind of mac and cheese they want.”
I had to laugh at that and responded to him, “Mijo, when you have children, we’ll see what your wife has to say about that.”
I knew though that it was time to start teaching my children why we don’t buy certain products.
My intentions are not to bombard them with information regarding our food system, instead to illustrate to them something simple so that they can see and begin to understand why we don’t eat certain products.
Since the only boxed food we really buy is mac and cheese, I decided to use this to illustrate why some foods are not good for our bodies.
Step 1. I made my boys Mac and Cheese.
Step 2. While they were eating, I asked my boys what kind of mac and cheese they prefer – white or orange. They both replied, “orange.”
Step 3. I then showed them the cheese that we buy and asked them what it was.
They replied, “cheese.”
Step 4. I asked them if they could tell me how cheese was made. They replied, “from milk.”
Step 5. I then asked them what color is milk. They replied, “white.”
Step 6. I then brought out some macaroni and cheese in a bowl and some orange paint. As I did, both of my boys looked at me oddly.
I then took some paint and mixed it into the macaroni and cheese, painting it orange.
I then asked them, “Would you eat this?” They both replied, “no.” I asked them, “why not?”
They both took turns replying, “It has paint in it. Paint is not food.”
From the mouth of children, they clearly understood, that food with paint in it could not be good for our bodies. I took this example and began to explain that most mac and cheese, although it looks pretty and has awesome cartoons, is made with special paint that is not good for our bodies to eat. God made cheese that is white and healthy for our bodies. That’s why mama buys them white mac and cheese.
I asked them if we should buy orange mac and cheese to eat? They both replied, “no.”
I know that organic yellow mac and cheese is made with natural annato food coloring from the achiote plant, however, this was an easy way for me to illustrate that many foods are made with things that although look good and appealing are not good for our bodies.
They are now beginning to understand the differences between processed and real foods.
I’m sure when we see those bright blue boxes with McQueen and Mater, they’ll ask again; however, now we can go back and reflect on orange paint.
How do you teach your children about real food? I’d love to know your strategies and cute stories you’d like to share 🙂