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Setting a Bad Example

SimonSodaUh oh! It’s been a goal of mine since Simon was born to ensure that he develops solid eating habits.

For the first six months, I ate quality food and he exclusively nursed. For the next six months, I fed him mostly vegetarian, exclusively organic homemade baby food and nursed him. I felt good about the entire first year.

Then he began to refuse being spoon fed, and the quality of his nutrition took a predicable downturn. Out were the wholesome lentil stews. In came the mac and cheese. I justified this by knowing/hoping that if I introduced Simon to a broad range of foods and modeled good eating habits to him, he’d eventually broaden his diet.

I assume this is still true. What is also true is that your kid will notice and be infinitely more interested in your bad food choices than he/she ever will ever take note of or wish to mimic your good ones. Does Simon reach for my kale and beans? Hanker for sushi or a salad? Heck no.

But look what happened when he saw my soda can Tuesday night! I was horrified. I mean, I don’t even drink soft drinks on a regular basis. I don’t like them much for starters, and from a nutritional standpoint they are a total nightmare. Between the carbonation (bad for bones), the corn syrup (bad for teeth and just generally bad for you), and all those natural and artificial flavors (straight from a lab in Jersey!), I hold up the soft drink as a token of all that’s wrong in the Western diet. To quote Michael Pollan, who echoed my exact thoughts in his most recent book, this isn’t food: it’s a scientifically constructed food-like substance. And one that’s making us sick to boot.

For the most part, I drink water. Once a day, I have a cup of tea. And several nights a week I enjoy a glass of red wine. But I do like ginger ale on occasion. And when I got sick two weeks ago, it really helped to settle my stomach. Then, after I got well, I continued drinking a can a day because I had a case on hand.

That stops NOW. I know that one day the marketing forces that combine in schools, on TV, at restaurants, etc. will result in endless arguments between me and Simon over how much soda he can drink. And I’m not so na├»ve to think that I’ll win the battle and have a soda-free kid. But honestly, when a fifteen-month old picks up a can and pretends to drink from it, you have only yourself to blame.

Effective immediately, I have instituted new house rules: 1. No soft drinks in the house. 2. Any soft drinks brought into the house (like Matt’s Mountain Dew) must be consumed in a glass and have the bottle or can disposed of out of Simon’s sight. With any luck, Simon will not know what to do with a soda can in six months.

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