My almost 5 yo daughter suddenly wants to be a vegetarian. I'm getting quizzed if her packed lunch has "meat" (see post on telling kids where meat comes from) or not. The swift onset of the power of peer pressure is awe inspiring. One of the "big girls" (6 year olds) is a vegetarian as is one of the teachers. I asked why she wanted to be a vegetarian and she said, "Because E is."
M loves meat, she loves turkey curry and a wide variety of foods. I assume (hope) that like Princesses and Care Bears this will be a passing interest.
I don't lie, but I don't really come out with all the details. "Is there meat?" To which I will answer, "You have noodles and ratatouille and steak and mushrooms," or, "Just shrimp today." That seems to satisfy her. When she casually said she wanted to be a vegetarian I simply said, "In this family, we eat meat." (Similarly how one can respond to the diet questions, "In this family, we don't diet, let's talk about this some more...")
I found out that at her school, they go around the table talking about what "protein" they have in their lunch. Makes me cringe. M has no idea what protein is. "Is melon protein?" She asked this morning after months of listing lunch-time proteins.
Kids don't need that much information. It's not her job to worry about whether she is eating protein or carbs. It is my job to balance her offerings, and her job to chose to eat them or not. (Division of Responsibility in feeding) Maybe later when she starts to think about planning meals and snacks we will talk about protein and food groups in the name of balance.
For children aged 3-6, a more appropriate questions might be, "What's your favorite thing in your lunch box today, or let's see how many colors we have in our lunch boxes today."
A big problem with nutrition education today is information overload, too much (often useless, even harmful info) too soon. One reader told of her 6 yo girl sitting at lunch counting calories after a nutrition class...
Are your children having "nutrition" lessons? What are they taking from them?