We have junk in our house. Real junk. Chocolate. Cookies. Lollypops (even the red ones). There are chips and pretzels. Cupcakes, cookies, and Fruity Pebbles.
We eat Pizza during the week.
I don’t buy organic food, unless it’s on sale. I don’t know the difference between grass-fed meat and the other ones on the shelf.
We eat whole wheat but we also have white bread.
I bake bread using flour and sugar.
Before you call Child Protective Services, you should know the flip-side of this pantry from nutritional hell.
My kids choose fruit. They love salad as snacks. They ask for carrots in their lunch and remind me when we need more apples. They get annoyed when the grapes aren’t washed and ready on the table. For all the awesome cake and cookies, they want vegetables. Go figure.
Our house is also the house that their friends want to hang out at. After all, we have the good food. And while their friends go for the chocolate and the donuts, my kids are eating the strawberries and the cantaloupe.
It’s a bizarre little paradox. Here I am, going against what all the good mommies preach, and my kids are eating healthy. They aren’t obese. They’re active. They’re not lethargic.
When I was in high school, I used to go to my friend’s house in Manhattan Beach. Her neighbor had a drawer in his kitchen that was filled with candy. Not just any candy, but a Halloween treasure trove. Kit-Kats, Hershey Bars, Nestle Crunch – the kind of candy I used to dream about. The kids in the house had full access to that drawer.
I was amazed.
Naturally, whenever I was at her house, we went next door and the first thing I did was open that drawer. I swear, I think I heard angels singing each time it opened. I couldn’t understand why it was filled. Because if I lived there? It would be empty by the morning. No question.
I don’t have a “candy drawer” in my house, but my kids have access to the good stuff. Still, they make healthy choices, and I’m not sure why. Yesterday, my seven year old looked at the cereal on the shelf – Cheerios, Corn Flakes, Froot Loops, Cookie Crisp, Kix – and reached for the box that he always takes: Kix. My daughter ate strawberries. I have five kids and we rarely finish a box of the sugar cereal.
I have a niece and nephew who are not allowed to drink juice. I don’t think there is any sugar in their home. Ever. Cake is sweetened with prunes.
That’s all fine and good, but give one of those kids a sip of OJ and they are swinging from the rooftops. They come to my house and it’s like they’re in a crack den, hoarding whatever they can find, licking lollypops on the bathroom floor like addicts.
I have seen this everywhere. Parents of small children who treat corn syrup like poison, who fill a piñata with wheat germ and raisins, who tsk-tsk at the moms with juice boxes and swear that their child will learn to make healthy choices.
I think the reason my kids choose healthy snacks is because they have the option to make those choices. There are no angels that sing when they see a candy bar because it isn’t a big deal. Never touching a candy creates kids that are obsessed with sugar, that dream about one day having chocolate that doesn’t have random seeds in it. Kids that salivate when someone takes out orange juice. Kids that will one day be crushing Smarties and snorting them in lines.
Okay, maybe not that last one. But you never know.
Granted, there are certain things I won’t buy. Cakes that have more calories than one is supposed to have in a day. Food with so much fat that it might as well come with a Lipitor prescription. Sticky things like Fruit Roll-Ups that stay on teeth and quickly cause cavities. Those things stay on the supermarket shelves.
But I have no problem with chips. Or cookies. In fact, based on my experience, it would seem that junk food is the gateway drug to healthy food.
Everything in moderation, I guess.