How to Raise Healthy Eaters in 5 Easy Steps


I am the girl in the second row with the dark sweater.  See how hungry we all look.

Connie and Marilyn's Toddler Pictures

Just look at the spindly legs on these poor, undernourished babies.  They suffered so!

Bill 2

Pictured above is the poor, hungry creature I sat on while I ate the only Twinkie from the day-old bakery box.  I think malnutrition stunted his growth.  He is only six foot four.  He is pictured here with my mother, the woman who deprived us all of delicious goodies.

My mother was a child-rearing genius.  She taught me her fool-proof plan for raising healthy-eaters, though she never sat down to delineate it for me.  She was too busy trying to get dinner on the table.  I’ve done that for all of you.  You are welcome.

  1. There were five of us kids.   Mother’s food budget was minimal.  She put the food on the table, believing no child starved with food available. We ate like pigs in slop because should we we tarry, one of the other pigs got it.  It would be a long, hungry time till the next meal.
  2. Kids don’t eat what isn’t there.  She only bought and served nutritious foods, which we hated, by the way, but not as much as hunger.  Our diet was based on vegetables supplemented by a modicum of chicken.  Mother checked the markdowns and specials first.  Though she bought many dented cans, she inspected them carefully for leakage, swelling, and signs of spoilage.  It must have been a great disappointment, but she never managed to poison any of us.  I often showed up at the table disgusted again to see beans, peas, greens, corn, rice, potatoes, corn, squash, spinach, tomatoes, and a tidbit or no meat on the table, again.  A time or two, I tried turning my nose up at it.  Mother’s response killed that.  “Fine, maybe there will be a little left for supper.  Now start on the dishes while we eat.”
  3. Leftovers were snacks.  That meant, you might get a leftover biscuit, piece of cornbread, or flapjack if you beat the other kids off the bus. You had to be pretty hungry to go for flapjack.  Mother’s flapjacks were disgusting.  Sometimes, if she caught it on special, Mother bought peanut butter and saltines.  We burned through those in a day or two.  We made quick work  Once in a while Mother made popcorn, but that was a family snack to be shared by the whole family while watching “Gunsmoke.”  Remember “Gunsmoke?”
  4.  Dessert was rare, usually reserved for Sunday’s and holidays.  No cake, pie, cookies, lingered long.  On rare blessed weeks, she went by the bread store to pick up a box of day-old bread, pies, cakes, hot dog buns, and various and sundry cast offs.  One of my fondest memories is finding a lone, moldy Twinkie near the bottom of one of those boxes.   I sat on my brother and ate it without chewing.  If by some miracle a goody survived the initial family attack, the last piece had to be saved for Daddy.  God help the misbegotten fool dared go there.
  5. Finally, she shared her pain when company dropped in for the WHOLE weekend polishing off the carefully stewarded foodstuffs that would have barely let her squeak through till payday, anyway.  We needed to know that she would have to kite a check to get some dry beans, flour, shortening, and that a couple of chickens in the barnyard have a date with destiny this week.  It stimulated our flagging appetites!

Sometimes, I’d hear Mother’s friends complaining that their kids were picky eaters.  Once, just once, I’d have loved to hear her defend us saying we were, too, but, no!  Invariably she’d crassly complain, “My kids eat anything I put in front of them!”  She had no pride at all.