April 30, 2010

The Junk Food Debate

Ben and I were talking about this subject the other day and I decided it would make for a good blog post. It's kind of a touchy subject with me, so this is more like a rant than a post.

We were talking about what I do and don't let the kids have. We actually talk about this subject a lot. I don't really give the boys much sweets or junk food at all. He says that sometimes he thinks I'm a little harsh (and I agree with him most times) but he does understand my reasons:

- I spent the first year... or longer... of the twins' life just scared to even breathe on them. They were so tiny and fragile and I didn't know what I could or couldn't give them. Ben also made the point that so many doctors and nurses were always telling us "Don't give them this, but you can give them that." So it took me forever to give them their first bit of sugar just because I was so afraid of what it might do to them. I'm just now getting over it.

- I've watched various people around me stuff themselves full of junk food and have seen the consequences of it. Why on earth would I do that to my children? Rotting teeth? Overweight? Health issues? Yeah... sounds like a great way to go.

- Junk is just plain expensive. I don't know where people come up with "It's too expensive to eat healthy" when you can get just about a week's worth of food for what you would spend on one fast food meal for a family of 4. Why would I buy one box of candy when I can buy 5 pounds of apples and a bag of flour for just about the same price? Not to mention what you spend in doctor's and dentist bills.

- They're 3 and not even 1! THEY DON'T NEED SWEETS! Ben and I really agree on this. Giving them cakes and cookies and soda and whatever else is the "norm" for little ones their age on a regular basis is not OK with me. I just can't do that to them. It makes me feel like an even more horrible mother when I give them that crap than when I deny them. THREE!! Not thirteen!

- They're crazily rambunctious enough as it is. They're boys, and I love the fact that they run around and shoot things and act like boys. But why would I drive myself crazy with over-sugared boys? I try to keep my sanity as much as I can.

That being said, there are things I do give them. I'll give them juice, when the budget allows for it - which I don't really consider a sweet, but it is highly sugared. But for the most part they drink water (which by the way, is the best liquid I can give them) or milk. I'm more than happy to give them baked goods that I have made myself. I know what's in it and I know it's much better for them than store bought whatever. I give them "Toasted Os" cereal because they like to snack on it, it's easy and I figure it's got grains in it. We eat hot dogs and spam and boxed Mac & Cheese. But for the most part I try to keep my "junk food" to homemade things.

I've been told that I'm too strict or that I should just "let them have some junk every now and then." I do! Just not as often as everyone seems to think I should. I don't see how not giving them crap makes me a mean parent. I think setting them up for a life time of being addicted to the stuff makes me a mean parent. Plus, it's really nice when they get all excited to get a special treat of homemade cookies or maybe a bag of chips. They light up like it's Christmas morning because it's so special, rather than not caring because it's just the norm. Or worse yet, throwing a fit when I tell them no because they're used to getting it all the time. Ben says that's what going to Grandma's is for - sweets and treats. And I'm totally ok with that.

I'm not a health nut by any stretch. By I do limit our intake of stuff we don't need. I know a lot of people don't agree with me. But you know what? They're MY kids. And I make the decisions for them.


Farm Girl said...

I totally agree with you, and I think though, that not even Gama should give them junk. I give them fishys but I saw them at their birthday and how sugar does get them higher than a kite. (Just like their Daddy did.) That is why, I have never followed through on the candy drawer, because it makes me so sad inside to give them sugar. I think this was really well thought out and I will work better on "snacks." :)

Brenda said...

Meg, I totally agree with you 100%. It peeves me when people say it is too expensive to eat healthy -it is because they are lazy! It is very important to introduce children to as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible and to cook and prepare foods with our children so they know how to do it when they grow up. Your generation and younger are a generation of non-cookers. Most unfortunatley do not know how to prepare most foods because they were raised on prepared snack foods and fast food. So Sad! I have a daughter, who hates sweet things - about the only thing sweet she will indulge herself in is chocolate raisins. I get the strangest looks, it is like people think I brainwashed her into not liking cake, candy, processed fruit snacks etc. But I do have to watch her intake of the salty snacks - she is a chip girl! I think along with sugar, we have to watch out for too much sodium too! Thanks, for the post!

Meg said...

I'm so glad you guys agree! It's nice to have back up on these things.

Brenda, my Jack is a sweet hound, so I have to be careful with what I give him since he will eat his weight in cookies if given the chance. Lucky your girl doesn't like sweets! Sodium is something I try to be careful about as well.

Thanks you two, you made me feel so much better!

Anonymous said...

Go Girl - Speeking as someone who grew up edibly indulged, it is a huge fight to not give into the habit of over-indulgence. I'm thrilled to see my grandsons grow up healthy. Although I do reserve the grandma right to occasionally indulge them. (However, I can't control the great-grandma!)

NetRaptor said...

I feel the same way about junk food. I'd much rather see my munchkins fill up on sweet fruit than on junk. Our neighbor keeps giving me stacks of Little Debbies products. I take them and pile them on top of the fridge, where they sit, unopened. I don't want my kids eating that stuff.

William said...

Though you forgot to mention one very important thing: Candy calories don't count if nobody sees you eat them!

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