I’ve piled red apples—honey crisp and gala—into a plastic flowered bowl on the kitchen table; oranges and pears in a wooden bowl on the counter; and vegetables—carrots, kale, chard, celery, cucumber, red peppers—into the crisper drawer in the fridge.I set out a bowl of cherries, too, because I’ve heard life is like that.The reason for this wide variety of freshness? Why the investment in vitamins, minerals and fiber?During youth group at church, my 13-year-old daughter fainted.She said she could sense that something was about to happen; so, realizing she was going down, she dropped to her knees and put out her arms to break her fall. I wasn’t there, but one of my older daughters reenacted the scene for us when they got home—she slumped forward slowly, even elegantly, arms stretched out like a sweet nap was suddenly the thing most needed.During the actual moment, as soon as my daughter dropped to the floor, youth leaders rushed to her side, instructing her sit with her head between her knees. They brought water and offered a cracker. She turned down the cracker but drank the water and perked right back up, they said.When she got home, we reviewed what she ate and drank that day:Breakfast: a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles.Lunch: ramen noodles, a salami sandwich on French bread, carrots, a clementine, and a hunk of fudge.Dinner, prior to youth group: nothing.No wonder she fainted.For breakfast she had, basically, sugar. For lunch she had some fatty meat on refined grains that, as I understand, the body processes something like sugar, and only a few items that represent Real Food. Oh yes, and for dessert, more sugar. And then a stretch of several hours with no fuel at all.She did not eat well.The next morning, we talked health. Sobered by witnessing their sister’s slow, slumping faint, everyone listened. They even took notes. We talked about food groups and nutrients. We talked about how sugar is processed in our bodies and how Type 2 diabetes runs in my family. We talked about fiber and protein and how much water we should drink each day.And then I bought a bunch of fruits and vegetables.I made another loaf of whole-wheat bread.I served them roasted chicken with vegetables for dinner.Now we’re eating well…and watching each other closely.“What did you eat for lunch today?”“You’re missing a healthy protein source—what’s it going to be?”“The sandwich is fine, but you need another vegetable.”“Have you had a glass of water lately?”I’ve adapted my personal eating habits over time, eating a local, organic and fairly plant-based diet; but I haven’t forced the kids to eat everything I prepare. I might sauté kale, for example, and toss in some sundried tomatoes and feta along with some pine nuts. The Belgian Wonder and I would share it, but the kids would try it and gag. So I haven’t made them eat it. I’d prepare and offer them lentils and rice with cheese, or white chicken chili, and maybe two of them would eat it. The others might sample it and then ask if they could please have an alternative.Until now, I’ve not forced the issue. I want food to be unifying, not divisive; I want meals to be served and shared in love and peace, not frustration and tears.But I also want to provide life-giving foods that fill my kids’ bodies with all that they need to grow strong and stay strong, without fainting. That, too, is love.So I served kale last night. Everyone tasted it. As they scrunched up their faces and drank excessive amounts of milk to neutralize the flavor, I thought of what my father-in-law has said: kids think they don’t like something when it’s just that they aren’t used to the taste. He encouraged the kids to replace, “But I don’t like it!” with “No, thank you…I’m not used to it yet.”In addition to plentiful servings of the foods they enjoy like apples, oranges and pears, we are going to do a lot of tasting of new foods. More vegetables, like yellow peppers (I love them; they cringe) and some legumes, perhaps, for a healthy protein source.And the kids, I’m sure, will begin employing their grandfather’s phrase when I ask if they would like another serving. “No, thank you. I’m not used to it yet.”I’d better get used to it.