Last weekend it was our turn to provide the snack for the baseball team after our son’s baseball game (9-10 year olds). So, being the responsible parent I do my best to provide a good, high energy snack while keeping it a delicious treat. I bring Double Chocolate Chip Muffins made with kidney beans and avocado (not that I told the boys this), Lemon Poppy Seed Cake (again I neglected to elaborate on the ingredients), fresh fruit cups and freshly made juice (carrot, celery, apple and grape). Everything was prepared myself using my own recipes which are all gluten free, dairy free and free of any refined sugar.
Now before sharing the reaction, let me say that we are about half way through the season, and every game but one, the parents on ‘snack duty’ have all given the children between $1 and $2 to spend at the league’s snack shack. The typical snack would be popcorn, a soda, a hotdog or some other processed snack food they have enough money for. I’ve even seen kids use their tokens to buy ‘ring pops’!
So, as the game ends, I roll up with my big cooler full of healthy snacks and lay things out for them to select. As they boys are released from their pep talk, they approach cautiously, not quite sure what they were in for.
There were a lot of ‘what’s that?’ questions and I described the food as simply as possible. Basically said they could take a ‘chocolate cupcake’, a ‘piece of cake’ and a tub of fruit each, and that they had the choice of water, or fresh carrot juice. Seriously, the kids all jumped at the idea of a chocolate cupcake (I think all but one), but were totally unsure about the lemon poppy seed cake, and were not on board at all for the juice, but didn’t take water either.
I helped them along a bit, as did our son. “I’ll take a juice!” he exclaims enthusiastically, something he has grown to not only expect, but is disappointed and concerned if he misses his two glasses a day. I prod the kids: “Really? NO ONE wants to take a glass of juice? Are you kidding? It’s like drinking pure gold!” “I’ll try it” says one, and then as he takes his first mouthful is delighted. “mmmm, this is REALLY good”. “OK, I’ll have one then” says another kid, and eventually all but 2 or 3 end up with a juice in their hand.
I get the same cautious approach with the lemon poppy seed cake (made with cashew nuts) but managed to encourage a couple kids to at least break of a little piece and see what they thought. “What have you got to lose? I ask. “You don’t like it, no harm done. If you do, then there is yet another great snack you know you like”.
After about 10 minutes of the boys all sitting together eating together and talking about the food (already better than immediately dispersing to grab a crappy snack at the kiosk) I am left with half the fruit, a few muffins, and very little of the cake.
Now, perhaps more interesting than the kids’ response, was when I approached the adults with what was left and offered it to them. NONE of them were interested in trying any of the food OR even the juice! Seriously, I can tell you this food is totally delicious, and for a bunch of men who have been standing around coaching and umpiring for 3 hours, you’d think a ‘real’ juice would be appealing?
In contrast, I got responses including “Ummm, no thanks, I’ll be fine” in tones that were definitely expressing a sense of being unsure of what I was serving. This was not helped when I told one of the Dad’s (the father of the kid who took nothing at all, not even the fruit bowl) what was in the baked goods. I told them that they needn’t worry about the kids eating ‘cupcakes and cake’, that they are all free of any refined sugar, gluten free and dairy free. That they are high in protein and are healthy enough to eat as a meal.
The response I found the most disappointing perhaps: “I think it is too late for us to change our son’s eating habits now”.
Seriously? A ten year old? Do we really believe that or are we just too lazy to put in the work to facilitate change?
I offered that our kids really only became convinced over the last year about putting their health first and eating good fresh food. That even myself and my husband have changed our approach to food dramatically. He seemed surprised but not convinced.
So what do you think? I know it can be done, I hope to inspire people to better health. I’d love to hear discussion about how you may have managed to change your children’s commitment and attitude toward healthy eating. What is the norm with your sports teams snacks? Do parents have a roster to provide snacks each game? And if so, what do they bring, or do they give money to spend on something of their choice?
As a funny conclusion, as one kid was being rushed off by his father, he hadn’t finished eating and so juggled his fruit, his juice and his remaining cake along with a few other belongings as he stood up. As you may imagine, this resulted in half a cup of bright orange carrot vegetable juice being spilled all over his white baseball pants! Oooops. I guess I may be cursed in that household for time to come for providing such a healthy snack….. but it won’t stop me doing it again!