Is Anybody Listening?

Eat Your Veggies

He pierced his carrot for the third time. I tried to look like I wasn’t watching. I held my breath as the fork neared his mouth. It stopped

midair and Eli said, “I played with Kyle today, Nana!” lowering his fork as he spoke.

“Did you have fun, Eli?” In a weak attempt to refocus him, I quickly added, “You know, I bet Kyle likes carrots!” Apparently there are better things than vegetables to talk about in preschool because Eli proceeded to detail their truck crash during free time and the Spiderman bandage that Kyle earned from the skirmish.

“Eli! Eat your veggies!” Forget subtlety. My frustration mingled with that of mothers and grandmothers worldwide as they plead,

“Jeść warzyw!” (Polish)

“Spise din grønnsaker!” (Norwegian)

“Kendi sebze yiyin!” (Turkish)

“Eat your veggies!”

Sitting at the table with my grandson, I remembered another dinnertime, years earlier, when my third born considered his

dreamstime

dreamstime

ultimatum, “No veggies, no dessert!” The lure of chocolate ice cream succeeded in getting the last of Corey’s string beans into his mouth. The relief around the table was palpable. The cajoling, threatening, bribing tension was over and the children were free to run outside and play. I was still savoring my victory when my daughter skipped into the kitchen, eyes shining, to dutifully report that Corey had spit out his beans in the back yard. The boy actually ate an entire bowl of ice cream with the beans stuffed in his cheek like a chipmunk, biding his time til he could spit them out. My fleeting hope was that some vitamins had seeped into his system.

Good mothers everywhere know the importance of vegetables in their children’s diets. In frustration, they trade threats for reasoning, most of it illogical.

“Eat your lima beans; they taste just like mashed potatoes.”

“Carrots will make your hair curl.”

“Children in poor countries would love to have your peas.” We even pull out colorful charts and explain the food pyramid.

Exasperated, mothers resort to their final option—subterfuge! Cauliflower is mixed in the mashed potatoes, spaghetti sauce is fortified with pureed zucchini, and broccoli florets are smothered in ranch dressing. Like deputized posses, food companies have arrived on the scene armed with veggie-made ravioli and pulverized carrots camouflaged in fruit juice.

One would think a battle that likely began with Adam and Eve’s parenting would be resolved by this time, but the veggie war continues at most dinner tables. Is this unending struggle worth the conflict? We weigh the merits and know that it is. Eating vegetables enhances health, fights disease and strengthens bodies, but teaching our children to make healthy choices leads to more than physical benefits.

One day our children will hear a different voice urging them to choose wholesome food. It will sound something like this, “Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

Or like this, “Why spend money on what is not bread…? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare” (Isaiah 55:1-2).

Our determination for healthy diets and good nutrition today lays a groundwork for our children to make right choices tomorrow—decisions that will add value to their lives. “Eat you veggies” may roll off our lips without a thought to the future, but the underlying principle of right decisions will serve them until eternity. Jesus said, “‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’” (John 6:35). Their choice for the Bread of Life rather than the comfort foods of this life will one day place them at the dinner table of the King.

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son…. Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.”

Matthew 22:1-4

Lord, we want our children to grow strong. We want their legs to run with confidence, their eyes to gleam, and  their bodies to work according to your design. Help us to train them to choose what is good and not let them content themselves with life’s comfort foods.

You want the same for themand for us, so we ask for strength for the battle, knowing that it is worthwhile. Help our children to make wise choices now and gain wisdom for the future. Let us heed our own words and eat “what is good,” consuming your Word to build up our spiritual selves.

 

Further reading: 1 Peter 2:2-3; 2 Peter 3:18; Deut 30:19-20a; Psalm 119:103-104; 2 Timothy 3:16-17

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