Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Leopard Doesn’t Change His Spots, and Teens Won’t Change How They Eat

Truthful words, indeed.  A wise person has told me, “Don’t worry about what anyone else is eating.  Worry only about you, because all you can control is you.  Set a good example and hope they will some day follow.”  Dean, you are too right.  Even the high lord of the Primal world, Mark Sisson, admits his teen eats whatever his teen feels like eating. 
So this blog is about having teens.  When we decided we were going to try this Paleo eating we sat the kids down and we explained what we would, and what we would not, buy and bring into the house any more.  Bread, cereals, cookies, pastas and potatoes were out.  They’d never again have beans.  No more oatmeal, no cream of wheat.  And with wide, round eyes they nodded dumbfounded as we lectured on the “evils of all things white”.  I think they got the gist of it, but not really the wholeness of it.  Apparently, our kids do not have a clue what wheat is or where it is.  They did not know that ketchup and bbq sauce are mostly sugar.  They did not know syrup was pure sugar.  No pancakes?  How about waffles instead?  What about bagels—are they bread?  Don't even get me started on commercially-made meatballs....
We stared out very clean, very close to a Whole30--and it went along pretty ok for them, for about 2 weeks.  They ate hard-boiled eggs for breakfast.  At lunchtime, well, one teen never packs a lunch anyways, and the other obediently packed lunch meat and avocados wrapped in nori paper for a week or two.  And  then they realized this primal/paleo thing is HARD.  It’s a lot of WORK.  Just about everything they liked to eat was off limits, just about everything that any teenager eats is off-limits.  They complained loudly to all the neighbors, family and friends who would listen.  (And one neighbor lovingly baked our "starving" teeen banana bread, over and over).  And so they began to revolt. 
One teen was proudly proclaiming what she ate every day, rhyming off primally-friendly foods, but when we weren’t home, both teens were making daily trips to the cornerstore for junk food.  The loud proclaimer was stashing candy wrappers in her room while making these boasts (and the candy was insane in both its volume and non-food horribleness).  The other teen, in very in-your-face-like teen fashion, was simply buying kraft dinner and hot dogs and bagels at the store and flat out telling me she was hungry and she liked bread.  Well, at least I had total honesty there.  This primal/paleo thing was just too much to ask of them.  We were making them freaks among their peers at a stage when it was difficult just to fit in at all.  And so after a long discussion, we relented.  Or at last, we partially relented.
We agreed to buy sugar-free cereal, plain oatmeal and whole wheat bread.  That was it.  No cookies, no chips, no popcorn, no sugar-sweetened anything.  They would eat whatever primal meal we put in front of them at dinner time, no complaining allowed.  But we had to give them SOMETHING that was easy for them to prepare for themselves, or they were going to kill us in our sleep.  So we compromised.
In an attempt to lure them to the primal side, I baked primalish pumpkin and banana breads, I made faux oatmeal and faux cream of wheat, I made paleo-friendly chocolate cakes and brownies.  And they ate them.  And then they went to the corner store and ate whatever was there, too.  So I gave up. 
I know that they will understand, one day.  That they will see how healthy and full of energy Steve and I are.  But not right now.  The hardest part is watching one of them struggle with stomach problems, so many constant problems, knowing that what she needs is to remove grain and dairy from her diet.  If she could just go 2 weeks with neither, she’d notice the difference.  But she’s a teen.  And teens will eat whatever they want.  Teens do not change their eating habits.  And they do not respond to nagging, either. 

All I can do is lead by example.  And I will wait.  But it’s hard to watch.  You don’t want to see your own children suffer, not ever.  I guess that like all learning lessons, you must allow them to fail in order to learn from it.  Its hard to let your kids fail at something.  I made mistakes as a teen, and I learned from them, and I came out just fine.  And so will they.  They will learn, their own way.  Meantime, I'm slowly switching them to gluten-free foods.  Not quite the same, but it makes me feel like I've accomplished something.......

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