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LEARNING CORNER

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My son is standing in the pantry, looking at the nutritional information on a box of breakfast bars that he sometimes takes to school as a snack.

"There's a surprising amount of sugar in these," he comments.

I give myself a pinch to make sure that I am not dreaming. This is really happening - this same boy who has on more than one occasion commented on how he would love to eat cake for breakfast, is currently reading a nutrition label.

"You could always take fruit or veggies to school as a snack." I shoot for innocence as I say this, but I am not sure it comes off that way.

He ignores the comment and grabs a bar for his backpack. "I think it will be OK. I plan on running around a lot at recess."

He gives me a kiss and walks off and it takes a few minutes for my brain to catch up to this situation.

My son has perfectly fine eating habits. I have talked to him about his eating over the span of a week instead of strictly over the course of a day. It is this week-long perspective that has helped me come see the fact that when parents are stressed we serve less healthy food.

Of course we do: We are tired, we are not thinking and we are craving something comforting. Or, sometimes it is not worth the dinner table fight over how many carrots to eat. I find that a combination of monthly meal planning and taking a full week's perspective helps me understand my nutritionally questionable parenting moments better.

And now we have that suddenly nutritionally conscious kid in the kitchen to contend with. Is this a permanent fixture to help me remember to monitor our eating habits? Or was this a one-off event spurred on by a school project? Only time (and many more food conversations) will tell.

How do you help your child understand their nutritional needs? Share your tips in the comments.

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