Mac’n Cheese Craze

Mac’n Cheese Craze

When did it happen? When did parents become so weak that they started letting their kids dictate what they’d eat, or not eat? It used to be that kids hated brussels sprouts, and “nice” parents wouldn’t force feed it to them.

When did it happen?  When did parents become so weak that they started letting their kids dictate what they’d eat, or not eat?  It used to be that kids hated brussels sprouts, and “nice” parents wouldn’t force feed it to them. However, some of the “meaner” parents wouldn’t let their kids up from the table until it was all finished.  There were lots of brussels sprouts-eating dogs in America during that era.  

But how did it go from “you’ll eat everything on your plate young lady!” to “sweetheart, you don’t like it?  What should I make for you?”  “What? You want mac ‘n cheese again? There’s some left over from yesterday.  What? You don’t like leftovers?”  I swear it’s true!  I’ve even seen a parent get up from the table, go to Dunkin Donuts, buy his kid a bagel, come home, and the kid yelled at the parent demanding a plain bagel (the parent bought a sesame bagel).  The parent went out again to buy the correct bagel.

Many kids today are having so many issues that they only eat white food (i.e. chicken fingers, grilled cheese (the white one), and french fries.  We are in the throes of an eating disorder epidemic.  And the guilty parties here are – drum roll please – THE PARENTS!!  There are several theories circulating as to how this happened.

One theory is that both parents are working and spending so much time outside the home that meals have been reduced to what can be easily brought home from fast food emporiums, or grab and go meals from neighborhood delis and supermarkets.  Another theory is that the restaurant industry has created something called “kids meals.”  Now that’s a relatively new phenomenon.  Before that, a “kids meal” was something the parents cut away from their portion and put into a small plate for their child’s dining pleasure.   In 1979, the “happy meal” appeared at McDonald’s and the advertising community starting bombarding kids with ads encouraging them to annoy their parents until they gave in and talked to the clown.

But there’s something else going on here.  It might be the result of guilt-ridden parents easing their discomfort by giving in to their child’s demands.  This has been extended to all kinds of situations and I’ve watched kids becoming more and more demanding and parents becoming more and more complicit.  We have all been witness to observing challenging children throwing tantrums in restaurants, movie theaters, at church services and visits to granny’s house.  And we’ve all watched impotent parents throw up their hands asking “what can I do?” as if there’s no solution to the predicament their children have created.  Now that’s the subject for another article.  

So if you see yourself in any of this, there is hope and there are alternatives to mac ‘n cheese.  Start by having your kids cook something with you.  A kid-friendly meal where you can get them to eat more of a healthy variety can be pizza.  Yes, I said “pizza!”  Not all pizza is made with a pound of cheese covering each slice.  If you make your own with your kid’s help, it can be a fun project.  That way you can control the ingredients.  Sure, have the cheese, but make it one with a lower fat content and just a sprinkle can taste oh so good.  Then throw on a few veggies, grilled (not fried) chicken, and be creative as you make a real happy meal.

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