Why does anyone eat what they eat as an infant? That's simple. Because that's what your mother or your father feeds you. Why did they make those choices? For lots of reasons but the one that is most likely foremost in their minds is because they believed that was the best food for you that they could afford. I'll get back to that affordability in a bit but let's talk about the idea of "best food for you". I'm a baby boomer and so my parents conceived me after World War II when the world had just come through a period of great hardship and sacrifice. In the U.S.A. it was a time of increasing prosperity and a time of celebration and a time of Dr. Spock. It was also a time of "progress" and "modern" and convenience often replaced substance because that was what was in style. In some respects, it's really no different than our current standards of nutrition inasmuch as these are also a reflection of the times and information available to us.
To get back to my train of thought; breast feeding in suburban America was just not done. Why would anyone breast feed their child when they could just go down to the supermarket and pick up a case of formula, heat it up and give it to their child? I was no exception. I doubt if I was ever breastfed. Or if so, only for a very short time (I have to remember to ask my mother about that). Once solid foods could be introduced, it was on to the standard Gerber baby food cereals and fruit purees, again available from the local supermarket or corner store. I mean let's face it, the Gerber people had our parents in the palm of their hands. Who wanted to break out the pressure cookers and grinders and all that stuff and put in the kind of work necessary to provide home prepared baby foods when it was so much easier and convenient to go to the store and just pick it up? And rightfully so (as part of the "back to the land" hippy generation, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise then that my daughter was breast fed and we made almost all our own baby food by hand from fresh, natural, organic foods purchased at a Food Co-operative). My parents were part of the modern suburban middle class and that just wasn't done. Not by them or any of their friends.
As we grew up and went through the early grade school years, I have memories of food phases that I went through. My mother, the main cook for our family, was also not above "sugar bribery". By that I mean that if she thought a food was good for you, she would do whatever she had to to get you to eat it. For instance, I didn't particularly like the flavor of eggs but since eggs were an important inexpensive source of protein, and we ate them on a regular basis, she would make me jelly omelets or let me cover my scrambled eggs with ketchup. Even though that meant I was eating fair amount of hidden sugar, I was still eating the important protein. I don't fault her in the least for that; as a matter of fact, I think it was a brilliant strategy and one that I used variations on when trying to get my own daughter to eat. So what was my diet throughout my childhood/ adolescent stages? Here's a list of the foods I remember eating regularly for our 3-meals-a-day plan.
All in all, a pretty normal diet for a middle class white American boy in the 1950s and 1960s. And since we were growing pretty fast and fairly active (we were only allowed one hour of TV a day so we either played indoor card or board games or were outside running around with our friends until the last vestiges of daylight had passed), none of my friends were overweight or inactive. Was there too much sugar? Yup, without a doubt. Was it an unhealthy diet? Not by a long shot. Many of my friends were much worse. My mom was pretty consciencious about what we ate and took particular care to give us the best mix of foods she could, within what was available to her at the time.
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