Yes. I'm the same mom who felt compelled to have a candy-free Easter just months ago.
Have I changed my mind about junk food and real food?
No. In fact, since our candy-free Easter, I've added even more foods to the junk-food list. I've also added more foods to the real-food list, though.
So, why do I feel it's okay for my children to eat junk food?
Truthfully, I don't. In fact, my home is free of junk food. That doesn't just include the foods that are typically considered junk food such as chips and sodas. It also includes pasteurized milk, sandwich bread, granola and cereal bars, and other foods that many consider to be health-promoting.
But, just because I don't buy junk food for my children it doesn't mean that they don't have access to it. From parties to sleepovers to hanging out with friends, my children have opportunities to consume junk food. And I don't stop them. I believe that to block my children from ever consuming junk food would not only be a feat that only supermom could handle, but also would not teach them how to consume in moderation.
Eating a piece of candy won't ruin my child's health. Eating a piece of candy daily is not only health-robbing but could potentially lead to a sugar addiction. I'm teaching my children that yes, certain junk foods are enjoyable (ask me if I'll ever stop visiting my favorite ice cream shop!), taste wonderful and may make you feel great for a time, but eating them rarely (I've been to the ice cream shop only once this year.) makes them that much more enjoyable and not as hard on the body. We are also very clear with our children about the effects of eating junk food. And now that we've been on a real food diet for several months, they can feel those effects when they eat food that is health-robbing.
My oldest is an SJ personality type and prefers to live in a black-and-white, rule-boundaried world. The first time he stayed overnight with my parents after we began our real food journey, he was a bit panicked. This is exactly what I did not want him to do in regard to food. I explained to him that eating what he was served was the polite thing to do and that he could make good decisions from the choices he was given (my parents provided plenty of real food options, but also had several "treats" for the children) and to not sweat it if he felt like having a granola bar or a lollipop. He was sent away with strict instructions to have fun!
I compare my children eating a real food diet to my growing up without a television. My mother got rid of the television before I was born and I grew up without Saturday morning cartoons and prime time TV. She had her reasons for not wanting a television and so we didn't have one. When I went to friends' houses, however, she didn't try to police my tv viewing. She reminded me to make good choices about what I viewed, but did not forbid me from watching while at someone else's home. I saw some things I shouldn't have while visiting friends. I saw things that I know my mother would not approve of. Eventually, I was able to make better decisions for myself and was not harmed in the long run.
The longer we've kept our real food lifestyle, the more I've seen my children be able to resist foods that they know aren't good for them. For my oldest son's upcoming birthday, the boys have asked me if I would buy them fruit bowls instead of goodie bags and candy. Can you believe that? Fruit = indulgence to them now.
My oldest (11 next week) does well in situations where he is offered candy or junk food. At a soccer camp this summer the children were given popsicles every day after camp. My son decided on the first day that he would have one popsicle all week, and made the decision himself on which day he would have it. I was so proud I nearly burst.
I don't expect the same sort of self-control from my younger two quite yet because of their ages and personality, but even they usually make good decisions about food when they are presented with choices.
It is important to me that my children face situations where they do have to decide for themselves what foods to eat. I want to be clear with them what is truly healthy and what is not, but I want them to have an understanding of their bodies and the role of diet in overall health so that they really get why we eat the way we do. I also want them to understand that having cookies and milk at a friend's house isn't going to kill them. So far, I'm pleased by the balance we are striking and am thankful that we discovered the foundations of a real food diet while they were still young.
This post was shared on Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday.