Last night on our shopping trip to Target, Mad and I overheard another mom talking to her small daughter. The mom was saying to the little girl that no, she couldn’t have juice, because there was too much sugar in it. She went on to lecture this little girl about the dangers of even natural sugars and that water was the only acceptable choice. Mad & I stood there trying not to be obvious about our eavesdropping, but it was hard not to. Mom was on a roll and pretty vocal about it. Even though her audience was her tiny daughter who was at best, maybe 4 years old.
This sparked a conversation in the car on our way home. Mad wanted to know why some parents were so strict about what their kids could and couldn’t eat, and why couldn’t the little girl just have a small treat once in awhile instead of never? Good questions, kiddo.
This got me up on my own soap box. I explained that most parents just have their children’s well being and good health in mind, which is wonderful, but some parents take it to a more extreme level. No processed anything. No artificial anything. No preservatives. Zero sugars, natural or otherwise.
Now for some families, this is awesome. I know several families that are complete vegans, totally organic, and their kids are thriving and this is wonderful. But it’s not the right lifestyle for us. Growing up, we always had a candy jar in the house. An old, heavy cookie-jar that was filled with candy bars & different types of treats. And we were allowed to take what we wanted (within reason, of course). Our mom loved to cook, loved food and that included desserts. We had a very healthy appreciation for good food and a wide variety of tastes. But because sugar was never off-limits, we knew it was there, and that it was ok to have a treat now and then, but we didn’t gorge on it.
I have always imagined (I see it as a Far Side cartoon in my head) that kids who are denied any type of sweet or treat are at some point in their lives, going to get it on their own and go nuts. “Jumbo-sized-40-pack-of-mystery-meat-nuggets! Best thing ever! I’m going to eat these every day of my life!” or “Slush Puppy? What kind of delicious magical elixer is this? I will the 40 oz daily thank-you-very-much!”
My theory is everything in moderation. My girls eat a pretty healthy diet for the most part, but we also go to McDonald’s now and again, Pizza Hut, and yes, Mad loves a good Slush Puppy on hot days, who doesn’t? We always mix all of the colors together. But it’s never been an issue. I’ve taught them moderation. You want a piece of cake? Have a piece of cake, just not the whole cake. Want a juice box? Great. Have one, just drink water the next time you want something. What I’ve discovered is that they will almost always choose a healthy snack, which I keep the house stocked with. They love fruits and veg, and both kids will take protein over a sweet 9 times out of 10.
Granola bars, 100% real fruit leathers, baked crackers, grapes, cut up carrots, celery, cucumbers, even dill pickles will all get chosen over candy. Mad especially loves meat & cheese, baked crackers and a handful of grapes. Perfect snack for her. Hallee will take a handful of baked crackers and a bottle of water. I think because it’s always been there, the junk has lost it’s appeal. The tantalizing allure of brightly colored wrappers and tv or movie characters, the many marketing ploys companies use to hook kids are pretty much wasted on mine.
The only thing I don’t allow is soda. Once I showed them the video of the nails, teeth and such being dissolved in a can of Coke, that desire was pretty much gone. Our dentist also has some lovely images in their office of kids with rotten teeth. Crude, but effective. Also I’ve made sure they see all of the pins on Pinterest that show people cleaning chrome with soda, scrubbing toilets and removing hard-water stains..makes plain old water look pretty good.
So, yep. My kids are allowed to eat junk. Not always and not frequently, but it’s there. I have a bowl in the pantry with candy in it. Most of it’s been there since Christmas. And as for Easter, the bunny brings candy, but that’s only a small part of their baskets. Each girl gets a basket with a theme. This year Mad has asked for a My Little Pony basket (a toy, a book, stickers, etc.) and we’re making a baking basket for Hallee, which was Mad’s awesome idea. Hallee loves to bake and so we’re making her a basket filled with baking mixes, a pink spatula, a pink whisk, pretty cupcake liners, etc. She will love it.
So what do you guys think? Junk? No junk? Some junk? And what happens when kiddos go to school and see the things that friends are bringing from home and ask for them, too? Lunchables, juice boxes, fruit snacks? Do you make your own healthier options or continue to say no?
The family enjoying Mom’s birthday cake last month. Sugar was had by all and then no one ever ate another piece and it got thrown away. See the grapes next to the cake? Those were gone the next day.