When my first child was six months old, my wife and I stood in our kitchen debating whether or not a Saltine had too much salt for him. He really wanted the Saltine, so our compromise was that I would lick each cracker before giving it to him, strip mining the surface salt crystals with my tongue, saving my first born from imminent doom.
Literally one week later, we were at the mall food court and watched a child a little older than our son put away an entire Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich plus the french fries ..... AND LIVE!
My awed gaze met my wife’s.
I nodded: “I feel like a grade-A dip-shit for licking those crackers.”
The 150 MG worth of sodium my son mainlined through Saltines was nothing compared to Chick-fil-A's nearly 2000 MG sodium tidal wave for this other youngster. That one meal is almost an entire day's worth of sodium for a grown-ass man. And doesn't even factor in packets of Ketchup (310 MG of sodium each). Throw on one packet of Ketchup (and what self-respecting American uses only one?) and you're at 2310 MG of sodium, which is actually over what the Institute of Medicine calls the "Tolerable Upper Limit."
Well, one Institute's "Tolerable Upper Limit" is another mans "appetizer."
We'd been warned that too much sodium for kids could lead to, "high blood pressure, osteoporosis, respiratory illnesses such as asthma, stomach cancer and obesity."
We didn't want our toddler wheezing, "I think I have stomach cancer," so we kicked the vigilance up a couple notches when it came to diets. But with kids, there are so many things to be afraid of, there's hardly enough time to read all of the blogs that give you new things to be afraid of. Plastic bottles with BPA, plastic bottles without BPA, processed beef, sandwich meats, sugars, and even my old friend: bread.
Bread! You goddamm turncoat!
I can't remember the specifics, but my wife read a long diatribe that linked non-sprouted grain bread (the normal one) to everything from obesity or cancer to depression and the start of the First World War. Dr William Davis, an expert on the topic, agreed, noting that modern wheat is a "perfect, chronic poison." Holy-shit! I just put my salami between two slices of whole grain poison? Double Holy-shit! That salami between my poison may contain Listeria and is therefore unsafe for pregnant women to consume?!
I grew up on a diet of Casey's donuts and Mountain Dew for breakfast, so I estimated that I had only moments to live. Seeking salvation, I jumped on the sprouted-grain bread bandwagon full force.
My oldest son was a little bummed out at first: "This tastes like a box."
"Eat up, cardboard's good for you."
Soon, our sprouted-grain leftovers were only kept in glass containers (leave plastic containers for people who need to kill themselves but lack firearms), our milk appeared to ejaculate a pile of yogurt when you opened and poured from a new bottle, and when my oldest son would describe our house to his friends, he made sure to include: "Can you bring over some snacks?"
It was a matter of time before the wife would be having me install the car-seat in our brand new horse and buggy and asking me, "If we have a third child, do you prefer the name Jedediah or Ezekiel?"
The only thing worse than trying to keep a family on a strict diet, is the fact that people eating at Chick-fil-A aren't dying before our very eyes, writhing on the floor of the mall food court while moaning, "Jesus, why have you forsaken me? ... Because I didn't eat enough yogurt and granola? .... Dammit, I've been such a fool!!!!!" As the morgue-mobile would arrives outside for the days haul of fast-food casualties, my children will step over the pile of bodies and say, "Thank you, Mom and Dad, for making sure we ate properly as children and can now take advantage of a thinning population and thus fantastic job market."
That day may never come. But in the meantime, I'm saving a ton of money cutting pieces of cardboard and telling my family they're just the hot new form of sprouted-grain bread.