The Drevitches, Week 2: We Are What We Eat, and That's Not So Good

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

drevitch family picture

Natalie and Adam reach new heights at the playground. Credit: Gary Drevitch

It was all about nutrition as we opened our minds (and our mouths) to the challenge of eating healthier this week.

We had our first meeting with nutritionist Marissa Lippert of Nourish, who came to our apartment to talk about our goals and offer tips for reaching them. I started to tell her that I've been cutting down and have so far lost four pounds (woo-hoo!), but she was much more interested in analyzing what I was eating than hearing about what I wasn't.

For example, that Trader Joe's Raisin Bran I've been having for breakfast? It has 16 grams of sugar per serving. Better, she says, just to add some raisins to a bowl of plain bran flakes. The rice cakes I've been snacking on at work? Better, she says, if I spread a little peanut butter on them, so I'll more fully satisfy my hunger in the afternoon and be able to reduce the size of my dinner, especially carb portions, by about 25 percent.

And my two- or three-can-a-day workplace Diet Coke habit? That should stop altogether because, as Marissa says, why would you want to drink anything with artificial sweeteners? I'll try to get my caffeine from hot brewed tea, but giving up Diet Coke may be a struggle.

Marissa had some good suggestions for the kids, too. For example, she's asked them to try one new fruit or vegetable every week. While we were talking, Natalie started writing a list of produce she's willing to try, including great choices like okra. Benjamin says he's open to new vegetables, but insists he only wants to try one new fruit a month. So the battle lines have been drawn. (By the way, I checked, and there appears to be no clinical term for fear of fruit ...)

Benjamin and Natalie's public elementary school was also focused on nutrition this week, as it expelled New York City's regular school-lunch menu, with its fatty, salty dishes, and launched its own healthier offerings, courtesy of Wellness in the Schools, an organization committed to improving children's nutrition and fitness.

Our school now has a resident professional chef, as well as consultation from celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman of Manhattan's Barbuto restaurant, who you may have seen on Bravo's recent "Top Chef Masters" series.

So far, the kids have liked the fresher ingredients on the regular Friday pizza, and they're looking forward to trying Waxman's special "cafe" lunch next week, but they're reserving judgment on the other menu items, especially if they displace old favorites like chicken fingers and hamburgers.

On the fitness front, Adam, our youngest, started a weekly after-school class called "Getting in the Game" at the Jewish Community Center here in Manhattan. He and other 4-year-olds gather in the JCC's gymnasium to try a variety of sports with the center's coaches, who are beloved by neighborhood parents for their skill and their patience with kids. After his first class, Adam said he was "the best one" at throwing and catching a football. I told him he should thank Benjamin for playing football with him so much, but he said he was good "just because I'm good," and that big brother had nothing to do with it. Now Benjamin knows how it feels to be a parent.

Over the weekend, after his Little League game, Benjamin and his grandmother -- she's so fit she deserves a post of her own -- walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and back, about a two-and-a-half mile round trip, then shared a Vietnamese meal downtown. He said it was a great day. Good for you, Grandma.

Who's the rest of the competition? Check out all the challengers' latest updates here.

How is the Drevitch family doing? Check in on their progress!


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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.