Is A Soy Sauce Addiction Killing My Kids? - The M Word

Is A Soy Sauce Addiction Killing My Kids?

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So here is the dilemma. One day a long, long time ago, as my kids sat down to yet another dull meal of spaghetti, meat and vegetables, they moaned about how tasteless the spaghetti was. At this point, we had been living in New Zealand for a couple of years and during that time my kids had discovered sushi (on a side-note, sushi is everywhere in New Zealand, kind of like Chippers in Ireland) and loved drowning their sushi in soy sauce. My son asked if he could have a tiny bit of soy sauce on his spaghetti and so I agreed so as to keep the peace. Of course the other two (5 and almost 3) had to have soy sauce on theirs as well.

If I knew then that this one act would lead to a full on soy sauce addiction, I would never have caved so easily.

Now I am literally waiting for one of my three children to collapse and die because of a soy sauce induced sodium overdose. I realize I’m thinking irrationally due to parenting exhaustion and stress, but I imagine one of them being rushed to hospital in an ambulance, we get there and a doctor asks me if I knew their sodium levels were through the roof. “Did you ever stop to think you might be slowly poisoning them?” he says to me while I collapse in a heap thinking of the gallons of soy sauce I coated their noodles and spaghetti in. Then I have to live with the guilt for the rest of my days and avoid the sauce aisle of the supermarket forever more.

My kids want to put soy sauce on everything! Pasta, broccoli, rice, you name it, they will ask for it every single time. Now, growing up in Ireland I don’t think I even said the word soy sauce until well into my twenties. I had a very sheltered upbringing, not so much ‘sheltered’ as it was the same as everyone else, but lets just say we had little knowledge of far away places like Japan, never mind knowing anything about Japanese cuisine. Sushi and soy sauce did not exist in my world. I’m from the land of floury potatoes, meat and boiled vegetables. Therefore to me, soy sauce was like this foreign object that infiltrated my house and turned my kids into Asian fusion obsessed foodies. Is broccoli drowned in soy sauce considered Asian fusion I wonder…?

Surely if it was very dangerous we would be hearing about toddlers and children dying in Japan of sodium poisoning all the time. Hasn’t it always been a staple of their diet? And they seem fine to me.

I did try to go cold turkey. When we ran out of yet another bottle of low salt soy sauce I didn’t buy anymore. What followed was a painful week of protests from all three kids. “You expect me to eat this pasta without any flavour on it?” screamed my 8-year-old. Followed by me giving them the same “THIS IS NOT A RESTAURANT” lecture I always do at 5.30 pm. Followed by miserable faces refusing to eat.

Now I have tried serving pasta in many different forms but let me tell you, they won’t eat it if it’s cooked in a sauce or baked in the oven in a sauce. They won’t eat it if there is cheese grated on it. They wont eat it if I mix any veg or meat or fish through it. They will only eat pasta if it is drizzled (sometimes heavy handedly) with soy sauce. I know what you are thinking, just feed them potatoes for their carbs. But guess what, they won’t eat them either! Two of my kids are Irish and they have zero interest in potatoes. It’s heartbreaking. I may have to put them on the Atkins diet, meat and vegetables and no carbs.

Food and kids, does it ever get easy???? Answers on a postcard please.