The Drevitches, Week 20: Piloting the Family Through a Pastry Pile-Up
Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge
I don't know how these things happen.
One moment, you're sitting at home, innocently avoiding snacks and sweets as you try to maintain your Healthy Families Challenge weight loss. And then, suddenly, you turn around and your house is filled with chocolates and tempting baked goods.
It was the weekend leading up to Valentine's Day. The trouble began Friday night, when we made the kids' favorite dinner, lamb chops. The meal was followed by an unexpectedly large dessert because my wife, Lynn, while shopping at Manhattan foodie institution Zabar's, had purchased both a box of black-and-white cookies and a chocolate babka for the kids. They chowed down on these treats while watching Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 on pay-per-view.
Apropos of nothing, I'd like to point out two problems with "family movie night": One, the kids feel entitled to big movie-time snacks because it's a "special event," and, two, they have really bad taste in movies.
Saturday started out healthy enough, as Benjamin, 10, and Natalie, 8, each made their own eggs for breakfast. It's part of our goal of getting them more involved in cooking at our house so they'll be more excited about helping to create balanced meals. (This advice came from our nutritionist, Marissa Lippert of Nourish.)
That night, we had dinner at the home of some elementary-school friends, where the kids all ate their veggies -- because they were on their best table behavior outside of our house, and because they were following their friends' pleasantly good examples. But then they plowed into dessert, which included homemade chocolate-chip gingerbread cookies, a hazelnut-meringue flourless chocolate cake and Trader Joe's ice cream.
As the adults gathered for conversation while the kids played, we all watched out of the corners of our eyes as little hands emerged from around the corner, snuck a cookie, then disappeared.
And then, on Sunday, it all spun out of control. After lunch, the kids set to work creating valentines for their classmates. The plan was to tape a pair of Hershey's Kisses to each valentine, but the process was more like, two-for-you, two-for-you, one-for-me, two-for-you, two-for-you, one-for-me. And then some cousins dropped by for an impromptu visit, loaded up with giant Valentine's Day cookies, more black-and-whites and even some chocolate mousse. "Are you going to write about the evil relatives bringing all these sweets into your healthy house?" one asked. Um, yeah, actually, I guess I will ...
That evening, we had two families over for dinner ourselves. They arrived just moments after the cousins left. And each family brought dessert -- one a tray of freshly made brownies, the other a slew of designer cupcakes, heart cookies and coffee-cake slices. I had slivers of cupcake, brownie and coffee cake. It's the kind of dessert eating I used to mock when I saw other, skinnier, people do it at birthday parties. But you know what? If it's all about the taste, a couple of slivers gives you the delicious taste, that is really all you need.
But now, what to do with all the rest of that ... carb-age? Combined with what we already had on hand, the leftover Kisses and our cousins' haul, we were suddenly living in one of the least-healthy homes on the block. It gave us a clash of values the type of which parents face all the time: We want to be grateful that people bring us nice things (I will point out, though, that no one who visited on Sunday was willing to take any portion of the treats they brought with them back to their own homes), and we don't want to waste food (especially pricey, bakery-fresh food), but we do want to avoid overeating and stuffing our faces with sweets.
In the end, we employed a combination of approaches. We offered treats to visiting babysitters all week, we brought some sweets to work (sorry, co-workers, I'm not responsible for your waistlines), we dispensed strictly-limited portions into lunchboxes, and the rest, for better or for worse, we allowed to go un-eaten, un-fresh and un-on-our counter top. And yes, a couple of more slivers may have found their way onto my plate, but not enough (hopefully) to cause any diet damage.
And, if it does, at least I'll know where to send the training bill.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.