Why I Allow My Children To Eat Junk Food
Yes. You read that right.I allow my children to eat junk food.
Yes, I write about real food and importance of avoiding processed foods and even some foods that people commonly mistake as healthy (cereal bars, anyone?).
Yes. I’m the same mom who once felt compelled to have a candy-free Easter.
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. But, I live in the real world. And, I know that stress is as unhealthy as processed food.
While I wish I lived a life that never required a run through the Chic-fil-a drive thru or never needed a quick-fix pizza night, sometimes my life demands just that. While I don’t kid myself that I’m giving my children the best, most nutritious foods when they’re chowing down on chicken sandwiches, I also don’t stress out about it.
I Teach My Children How to Handle Junk Food
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 stopping my children from consuming junk food would be a feat that only supermom could handle. More importantly it would not teach them how to consume in true moderation.
Eating a piece of candy won’t ruin my child’s health. Eating a piece of candy every day is not a good idea and my kids know that. I’m teaching my children that yes, junk foods are often enjoyable, taste wonderful and may make you feel great for a time, but rarely eating them makes them that much more enjoyable and not as hard on the body.
We very clear with our children about the effects of eating junk food. And now that we’ve been on a real food diet for years, they can feel those effects when they eat food that’s bad for them.
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.
I Don’t Want My Children To Be Stressed Over Food Choices
My oldest son 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 because he knew he’d be offered lots of yummy, but processed food and snacks. 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!
We Follow the 80/20 Rule
When we first began a real food diet, we were pretty serious about it. I’ve said it before – we needed to heal from years of processed foods and figure out what was truly healthy and what wasn’t.
Now, five years later, we get it. We know what’s good for us and what’s not. And we don’t stress about it when we enjoy something from the “not good for us” list.
We follow the 80/20 rule of real food. Eighty percent of the foods we eat are nutritious. We don’t sweat the other 20 percent. This doesn’t mean we make it a point to eat unhealthy 20% of the time. It simply means we live in the real world and we prefer not to have our occasional pizza and ice cream with a side of guilt.
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.
If you’re struggling with fear or guilt regarding food, please check out Real Food for Real Life. Food shouldn’t be something that causes you anxiety or feelings of shame. And feelings of shame or anxiety surrounding food definitely shouldn’t be passed on the next generation.
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