Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly. ~The Dalai Lama
When it comes to making food for my baby, I follow a few basic rules.
1. Added sugar is bad. Babies don’t need it; there are plenty of other ways to sweeten their foods, like by adding mashed banana to just about anything. Kids have plenty of time to get addicted to sugar when they’re older.
2. Added salt is bad. Again, babies don’t need it, and again, kids have plenty of time, blah blah blah.
3. Organic produce is good. I can’t afford to buy all our food at Whole Foods (though I wish I could–walking through that store is one giant exercise in resisting temptation (“Stick to the list! Forgodsakes, STICK TO THE LIST!”)), but when I can I will go for the organic produce. Not all produce needs to be organic, though, since some fruits and vegetables have little exposure to pesticides even when grown conventionally. A good resource I found is the Android app called “Organic Diet Buddy,” which lists most of the fruits and vegetables that you’re likely to be buying and gives you information about their pesticide exposure, whether it’s safe to buy something grown conventionally or if it really needs to be organic, as well as basic food prep instructions. The app will also tell you the addresses of all your local farmer’s markets, though it doesn’t tell you what days/hours they’re open, which would be nice.
4. Flavor is good. Babies need to be exposed to the flavors that they’ll be encountering as they grow, so I add spices and herbs to my son’s food as appropriate. Nothing really strong, and nothing hot, but there’s no reason he can’t have a touch of curry in his mashed potatoes. What’s life without curry, anyway? Nothing worth writing about, that’s for sure.
Now, just for some perspective, here are the rules I follow when it comes to making food for myself.
1. Work is bad. The longer it takes to prepare, the less likely I am to bother.
2. Microwaves are good. Nuke me up a frozen enchilada, add a can of Coke, and poof! Lunch.
3. Packaged foods are good. Because sometimes it’s too much trouble to microwave last night’s leftovers, and four slices of cheese and a granola bar are a perfectly acceptable meal.
Got all that? Good.
At this point, you might be wondering how I justify the discrepancy between how I choose to feed my son and how I choose to feed myself. Well, go ahead and wonder. The truth is, I don’t much bother justifying it. Yes, I care more about what goes into my child’s mouth than I do about what goes into mine. I do harbor some hopes that once he grows into eating ‘grown-up’ food, I’ll continue to care enough about what he eats that I’ll make him the fresh, wholesome foods that I should be eating myself. Who knows? Maybe I’ll make enough for both of us. Then, the Pop Tarts and granola bars can sit on the shelf while we eat seasonal fruit salad and homemade muffins.
Hey, a girl can dream.
In the meantime, I’ll use the finest, freshest produce to make the healthiest and most delicious purées for my beautiful boy, and when I’m done, I’ll sit down with that enchilada and that can of Coke, and consider myself to have accomplished great things.