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Fathers & Food

octoMost of us have some memories of our mothers making and serving delicious foods, some every day, some just on the holidays. I grew up a very hungry person, well able to consume large pizzas in a single sitting. So I have compassion for hungry children. My wife was in an exciting, entertaining, and not a fun car accident, and while she recovers, I get to cook most of the household foods. There are some downsides to that. While I like quality, tasty foods, I get so hungry that don’t care, as long as it is healthy enough, rather than carefully preparing the family meals. I am not obese, I might add, and I’m physically very active. My children are like their mother. They are slim and trim, have exquisitely discriminating palates, and they are very attached to certain kinds of foods.

Their mother, therefore, cooks the most tantalizing dishes, dishes that fill the whole house with bouquets of good-tasting and delectable smells. My food tends to smell like chili powder, onions or garlic, all highly-favored ingredients. One day I prepared one of my seafood favorites, fried octopus. I love the taste of fried octopus. As I prepared it, the house filled with a strong aroma. My family members, including my mother-in-law, responded with loud choruses of eww and gross. So how do we get along?

All my children love hot dogs, especially the youngest. After four years of undergraduate science, and understanding thoroughly what sodium nitrates and nitrates, corn syrup, food colorings, and parasites in hot dogs will do to people, I’m not a fan. The conflict intensifies when one child requests hamburger, which I then prepare, then insists on hot dogs, an item seldom in the house. What’s a beleaguered father to do?

I need to keep reintroducing new nutritious foods to these children. My oldest son can now taste the differences between junk food and wholesome foods, and actually prefers eating healthy, so he is well on his way. Grinding up or disguising healthy foods might be a good tack, also. This would require my children’s father to become a little more subtle, something a quarter-Norwegian American finds difficult. Packaging and preparing healthy foods differently would help, too.
All this requires change on my part first. So attempting to persuade my kids to eat better will probably make me a better person, not just a better father.

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