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Food Choices at Meetings

Jane Tuttle
Lawrence, Kansas, USA
Elaine Shirron
Acton, Massachusetts, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 37 No. 2, April-May 2001, p. 35

As they lovingly care for their own babies, La Leche League Leaders offer mothers examples of ways to incorporate LLLI philosophy into their own mothering style. One of LLLI's basic concepts reads "Good nutrition means eating a well-balanced and varied diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible." The choices we make about food at meetings are a demonstration of our understanding of this concept.

When Groups have snacks at their Series Meetings, the snacks and drinks should be nutritious. Small gestures to encourage wholesome foods at meetings can have successful results. Perhaps a placard with the concept statement could be displayed on the snack table. Other Leaders have encouraged mothers to try a recipe from WHOLE FOODS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY. The Group may have a library copy of the cookbook available to loan to the mother who is bringing snacks for the next meeting. Still other Leaders may provide the snacks themselves with a copy of the recipe to show that wholesome, tasty foods do not need to be complicated. Even adding the word "nutritious" or "wholesome" before the word snack on the signup sheet might yield healthier treats at meetings. These various approaches to this topic are a gentle way to remind mothers that healthy food is important.

THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING (1997 edition), page 213, explains the importance of wholesome food this way. "Your baby will get off to a fine start on your milk. You will want to build on this good start by giving him healthful foods when he is ready for them and by teaching him nutritionally sound eating habits that will become lifelong practices."

Another way to explore the whole foods continuum is to make improving family nutrition the topic of an Enrichment Meeting. The possible presentations are endless. Use the WHOLE FOODS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY cookbook as the foundation for the meeting. Explore the many recipes. Make a chart of healthy ingredient substitutions for more commonly used processed foods. Before the meeting figure out the nutritional content of a typical fast food children's meal. Many restaurants post this information for the health-conscious customer. Ask mothers to suggest additions to that meal to make it healthier for growing bodies. Still another way to explore wholesome foods is to bring all the cookbooks from the Group library for the mothers to review. For those with access to a kitchen during the meeting, cook some of the foods. This will take some pre-meeting planning, but would be lots of fun. Providing accurate information about whole foods and helping mothers choose wisely is an extension of the mother-to-mother support Leaders offer.

Certainly there can be obstacles to making wise food choices. A Leader may be tempted to stop on the way to the meeting to pick up a snack for her preschooler or even a quick meal for herself that is not as nutritious as what she would serve at home. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. Yet this may send a very mixed message to the mothers in attendance because they may not know that this food choice is an exception to her normal eating habits.

Likewise, being overly critical of food choices can be offensive to others. Offering both vegetarian and meat snacks shows that LLL is accepting of those who make different food choices. As with most things in life, moderation and balance are key.

Eating a variety of foods in as close to their natural state as possible can be part of everyone's diet. "Introducing new foods requires tact, patience, and imagination" (page 219, THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING). By making wise food choices at meetings, we are helping mothers learn about another aspect of LLLI's philosophy of mothering.

This article originally appeared in the Leaders' Letter for LLL of Kansas, USA "La Mesa," Summer 2000, Issue 100.

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