School Lunches: What We can Learn from Disney {part 2of3}

Last week I started writing about school lunches and children who are really hungry.  It made me wonder, who should be teaching children to eat healthy?  The government has taken it upon themselves to tell schools, parents and children how much they may eat.

Seems to me that eating healthy starts with the parents. It starts when they have babies. It starts by promoting breast-feeding. Breast milk changes flavor with the things the mother eats/drinks. Babies will develop taste early on for different flavors. (please note I know that not all can breast feed and respect that. I bottle feed all my foster babies.) Just because baby turns his nose on carrots the first time doesn’t mean you stick a french fry in front of them. But it is from the beginning that babies and children learn how to eat.  It is not McDonald’s fault if a mom puts a french fry in front of their baby.  (ummm or gives them a french fry so they can drive a little bit longer!-yes I am guilty of that one!)

I am not a perfect mom when it comes to anything. I tried from the beginning to set healthy eating habit for my kids.  (I didn’t want them to end up like me!:) That meant I made “some” of my babies baby food. I didn’t give cow milk to any of my babies till after 2.   I didn’t jump in to feed them the “meat products” so soon. Yes we eat meat.

I gave choices.   I love toddle nibble trays.  I don’t know if all that worked? But I have children who eat veggies. Who love salad. Who love french fries. And who love candy.  I think that we balanced out the best of both worlds.

We have been going to Disney now for about six years now. When you have a child that prefers fruits and veggies verses fries eating there at first was hard. The children’s menu where the same “kid friendly” items.  After 10 days (yes our first family trip was 10 days to cram it all in…camping) it got old and boring.  My 4-year-old was begging for “adult foods”

As Disney changed, they changed their menu-but they didn’t get rid of the fries. They added more choices. Now my kids can choose what they feel like eating. Some days it’s grapes or carrots to dip. Other days it may be fries or maybe a brownie.

On the Disney cruise ships (or their restaurants)  meals are severed with portions in minds.  They are fun, and most of all good to eat.  I always say, if we could learn how to cook and eat like this, meaning food quality and portion control, we as Americans would be healthier and maybe have a bit more in our pockets for other things, like vacations.

I love Disney Buffets. They offer the best of both worlds. They have a kids size buffet with many of the kids favorite foods plus the kids can pick from the other parts of the buffet.  My kids get a little from there, then they get to taste all the other great foods out too. Most end up with many different veggies and fruits.  It was teaching to them to take smaller portions to try something.  It was also us, setting the example, that was the hard part still is. 

Disney makes dessert ok to have!  The desserts are small portions. There is no reason to get rid of the good stuff. The key is control portions and Disney does this well. One the Disney cruises we just took, our kids got to try three desserts after they ate. (our rule)

So while schools are getting rid of foods, cutting back calories, maybe they should be watching how Disney did it.  They gave choices, and then put the parents in charge of the choices-to help teach the kids.   Here is the deal.  We parents want great food for our kids.   Look at the market for organic baby food, wholesome foods….there is not a lack.  And at the same, it  seems healthier is more expensive.  In some regards it is.    Each family having to make their choices as to what they will feed their children.  Disney gives choices, and I love those choices.  They give fun portion control.  And even with portion control, you have the option to buy seconds.  Or if you are on a cruise ship, eat till your heart is content.   My kids normally don’t get seconds, unless they are hungry.  Sometimes their tummy trick their eye….

These desserts look large….the jello cup was about as tall as my finger and the spoon was tiny.  The plate was a tiny dessert plate.  Fun, but within limits.



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