Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What is a duck's favorite snack?

.."cheese and quackers...get it ?" followed by pretend laughter. E has been telling this joke all week and I know she is probably imitating someone at school because the laughing is definitely fake. While I don't think it's funny, I join in with a little pretend giggle because I know she has been trying to wrap her head around humor lately. She takes the world so literally and it is hard to explain the concept of a joke to her. When she is in a moment that is funny to her, she has a real genuine beautiful laugh. So I know she is capable of experiencing mirth. But mirth is different from humor. And in the same way she is trying understand humor, she has been trying to understand "healthy" versus "not healthy". And "moderation" versus "not having any at all".
I am a big supporter of the moderate approach. Last week in a business meeting I took out a small container of cashews - exactly 1 oz - and ate them. A co-worker asked me how I had such control, that she would eat half a jar easily at a sitting. Well, so would I, which is why I meter myself, and I am still "too high on the BMI" scale according to my doctor. But I don't want to diet. And I don't want my daughters to ever feel they need to diet. I honestly hope I never hear that word ever from their mouths. There is however a slight dilemma to explaining a really super gray concept to a child who sees the world in literal black and white terms. I find myself having to answer questions like "How many chocolate chips is it okay to eat?" She wants an exact count versus my general answer of a few. I almost feel trapped in that approach as if I am somehow forcing her to establish limits on her eating. And I must tread carefully on this because of food issues I had myself as a teenager. My fallback response has become eat them until you're brain says 'no more'. And of course I get this odd look - yes, the squinty eyed, that does not fit into my filed away information look.
So I came up with this idea. For a snack one day, I measured out a small shot-sized container of chocolate chips and told her to eat as many as she wanted. She ate the whole thing and another half before almost screaming she had to go brush her teeth NOW! The taste was hurting her teeth. After, I said to her,"Now you know how many it is okay to eat".
We use this Tupperware mini-midget cup to measure a portion of nuts of chocolate chips.
The next day I made fruit salad with sliced strawberries, bananas, blueberries, oranges, and grapes and put that into a 1 -cup bowl. I again told her to eat as much as she wanted. She ate two bowls and was done. I said "Do your teeth hurt?" She replied that she was just full.

Fruit salad
Then I said, "That's because fruit is healthy food. You eat it and you feel full but your teeth and mouth shouldn't hurt. Chocolate chips are less healthy; eventually they will make your teeth hurt if you eat too much." To which she replied that she could just brush her teeth before eating a second shot of chocolate chips. Well, one concept at a time, one day at a time....

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