I am certainly not perfect in my nutrition, and I’m far from perfect in my parenting, but I do have strong opinions surrounding both.
What really gets me are the weekly pizza days and the school program chocolate milks and the kid’s menus at restaurants. It’s the never-ending Halloween candy and the overloaded Easter baskets and the individually wrapped, over-processed “snack foods.” What used to be treats have become a part of everyday childhood nutrition. It seems that everywhere I turn, unhealthy food is being marketed to my children as a healthy choice, and I’m tired of feeling duped. “But Mom, it says these gummy fruit snacks are made with real fruit,” my seven-year-old read to me recently. And off I go into a discussion of “made with real fruit” versus actual “real fruit.”
The other day, a patient was lamenting to me about how he’s put on weight due to his poor diet. “I’ve been eating all of her stuff lately,” he said, referring to his five-year-old daughter, “all goldfish crackers and Bearpaws and Lunchables.” But why are Lunchables even a thing? Have you read their ingredients? Take a look:
I can’t pronounce half of these words, and I certainly wouldn’t eat this myself, let alone serve it to my still-growing, ever-impressionable children. I cannot see one redeemable ingredient in this entire list; it’s full of chemicals and fillers and oh-so-bad-for-you stuff. So WHY are we allowing this product to succeed? We have a voice with our spending patterns. If no one bought Lunchables, Lunchables would cease to be.
I’ve written about kid’s menus before, but their content still angers me. The truth is, I think that kid’s menus should actually be healthier than adult menus; after all, their bodies are smaller, their development level much higher, and their potential much greater than ours. Should we not be giving them the best start that we can, instead of filling them up with Kraft dinner and french fries and chicken nuggets? Let’s teach healthy eating as we would teach any other life skill, and we will grow our children into adults who think choosing an apple is more normal than choosing an apple fritter.
This is a borderline rant, or perhaps well into a full-blown rant, so I must finish up here. Yes, I agree that treats should be enjoyed and celebrated sometimes, but not all the time. And I understand that we’re all just doing our best, trying to make the best choices for our family’s nutrition (in fact, many would argue against my huge egg intake), but I can promise you that the healthiest choices do not come pre-packaged with several-year shelf lives.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.