Sunday, March 23, 2003

Everyday


Nasty nuggets were Kid's stuff; now it's cereal

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The Wall Street Journal had an article the other day that should alarm any parent of a 16-year-old. It said chicken nuggets are horrible, that they are nothing but little fat bombs. "When it comes to childhood nutrition, few foods are as unhealthy and insidious as the chicken nugget,'' said the Journal.

Who knew?

My 16-year-old, a k a The Kid Down the Hall, subsisted for years on a diet of chicken nuggets, apple juice and whatever sugar-filled cereal he conned us into buying. We'd cave in to many of his requests for nutrition-less, between-meal crud as well, safe in the knowledge that our little man was eating right at dinner.

We didn't give him burgers or pizza or any of those other cholesterol nightmares, no sir. He got a heaping helping of healthy nuggets. It worked out well, being that chicken nuggets were about the only thing he'd eat.

Real parents understand this. People who write high-holy, anti-nugget screeds do not. They've never sat at the kitchen table for half an hour, trying to get a 6-year-old to eat one lousy piece of cauliflower "for Daddy.''

Sixty percent of all nugget calories come from fat, according to the Journal. Chicken nuggets are a major player in kid obesity. One in four youngsters between the ages of 6 and 17 is fat, the Journal stated. They're just waddling down the school hallways, sad, lard-butt victims of nugget poisoning.

At my house, though, things have changed. The Kid's dietary habits and preferences have matured. Now at 16, he's pretty good at pushing the green beans to the edges of the plate, so it looks like he ate most of them. He's accomplished at avoiding salad.

The Kid will sit down for dinner, say he isn't hungry, nudge the beans around so it appears he ate a few, declare he's "stuffed'' and rinse all that health right down the drain. An hour later, his appetite magically restored, he's pounding Cap'n Crunch.

Cereal has replaced nuggets as the food of choice. Cereal is easy to fix. Given the proper load of sugar, cereal tastes good. This combination is unbeatable with 16-year-olds. Any day now, the Wall Street Journal will write an article banning cereal.

Because we as parents are too weak to fight, here are the cereals we now have in our pantry:

One box Smorz ("Rich Chocolatey Graham Cereal With Marshmallows'').

One box Crisp'N Fruity Rice.

One box Cinnamon Swirls.

One box Lucky Charms.

One box Honey Nut Toasted Oats.

One box Smacks, which used to be called Sugar Smacks but isn't anymore because, as we know, sugar isn't healthy for children.

There is also one lonely, mostly full, box of Raisin Bran, which The Kid wouldn't touch with a 10-foot spoon. At least the Toasted Oats are a "Good Source of Calcium.'' Says so right on the box.

We should be arrested.

It wasn't bad enough my wife and I let The Kid speed-eat those deadly chicken nuggets when he was 6. Now, we watch hopelessly as he flushes all those great green bean vitamins, then ransacks the Smacks in time for Wheel of Fortune.

At least The Kid isn't fat. He's fairly the opposite. Smacks are no match for mighty Mr. Metabolism, so The Kid can eat all the death-food he wants and still look like an After ad. In fact, on cleaning day we hold him by his neck, turn him upside down and use him to remove the cobwebs from the corners of the ceiling.

He hasn't eaten a nugget in years, either. He is, in fact, the picture of Crisp'N Fruity health.

E-mail pdaugherty@enquirer.com




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