We don't 'do' diets. Not in the trying-to-lose-weight sense, anyway. What's the point, when they're all about what you can't eat? Depriving yourself of something just makes you think of it as a treat or reward, when the truth is, most such things are usually pollutants to our bodies and not a treat at all.
However, our diet as in the food that we consume on a regular basis has become very restricted and not particularly healthy, with far too many processed foods for my liking. I read an article on food phobics (not that any of the boys are - they're just fussy to various degrees) and read of a little boy who was hospitalised with malnutrition because all he would consume was yoghurt. It certainly jolted me into wondering how nourished - or otherwise - our bodies are.
So for example, the other day I made an effort to cook a good sausage casserole. The vegetarian sausages were processed, but the rest was all good food. Sadly the boys didn't think so. One refused the vegetables, another didn't like the spices used, and the third decided that he no longer likes sausages! They moaned and complained, and I'm sad to say I lost my temper. I am not a 'foodie', and dislike cooking generally - I just do it because I love my boys and want the best for them. So after all the effort of making something good, to have them reject it, I was at the end of my tether. Anyway, after we all calmed down, we had a chat and I told them how it made me feel: that I hate cooking, I do it for them, that giving them only the food they like (processed stuff like pizza, fish fingers etc) all the time makes me feel like I'm not doing what's best for them. I wasn't trying to emotionally manipulate them, just to calmly explain why it upset me so much, and to say that we need to look at what we eat and why we eat it, and improve our general diet.
Since then I have been trying to educate myself further. It is a huge deal for me as a fairly fussy vegetarian who does not like trying new food myself, so I know I need to improve my thinking, and I do that the only way I know: by immersing myself in positive information. I watched "The World's Best Diet", researched hidden veg recipes online, sorted through my recipe books to dig out some old favourites, and generally am musing over ways to help the boys (and myself) eat better. I am not going to cut out all treats, like cake etc - but I am going to try to make it at home rather than buying in processed, mass-marketed stuff.
The fussiest eater of us all is Youngest, but I think it is mostly down to familiarity. He refuses to eat all vegetables on principle (I have to hide them in pasta sauce etc), but he will eat my lentil bolognese, which has chopped carrots, celery, onions etc in it. He eats it because he always has since he was weaned and is familiar with it. So part of my strategy needs to be to familiarise him with other food. If his diet improves, the range of meals that I can give the whole family will improve a lot!
Other than that, we are doing a lot of talking about why we eat certain foods - what we benefit by eating them - and I have asked the boys to help me plan the week's meals to make sure we are regularly getting the main nutrients that we need. This does feel like a mammoth task though, so if anyone out there has any tips etc, I'd love to hear your comments.