I've been having some internal getting-down-on-myself dialog lately on what I'm letting my kids eat. When it's time for a snack my kids have been asking for ice cream and cookies. On the rare occasion that I take them to the grocery store they expect to be "rewarded" for good behavior by picking out candy in the check out line. They didn't pick up these behaviors on their own - they learned them from me.
I've been conscious of this lately because I've started to make better food choices for me and my family and I'm getting push back from the kids.
BUT, I ask myself - "Am I being too hard on myself?"
I'm a 35-years-old and a Gen Xer. Raise your hand if you're one and see if you can relate to my story.
(I must pause for a second here and tell my mom who reads my blog religiously that you are not allowed to feel any guilt about what I'm about to write).
One thing I remember about my childhood was there was an ample supply of junk food in our house. (Mom seriously - you did not make me eat it and all my friends had the same junk in their house too - do not feel guilty.)
I would come home from school (we were latch-key kids) and eat a "snack" out of the white basket on top of the microwave while watching TV in my parents' room. Then I would go back for another snack. And then back for another one. All before my dad would get home from work. Must have been where my food sneaking started.
School lunches were things like pizza or Turkey Manhattan with mashed potatoes. If you brought your lunch to school you would trade Oreos for Cheetos.
My point is this junk food was everywhere and I don't think that any of us knew any better. Did they even have nutritional information on food back then?
So fast forward to present day and my getting down on myself. Then I remembered an experience I had back in April. It was Jacob's birthday and I asked him what he wanted to take to school for his snack and he said Twinkies.
Here's the good and the bad about these Twinkies.
I never buy Twinkies - I don't remember how he tried his first one - maybe picked it out at a gas station. So the good news here is that it was so rare that he got Twinkies that I gave them to him as a birthday present two years ago.
I gave my son Twinkies for a birthday present.
So back to the Twinkies for his school treat. We have a Hostess Outlet near my house so I figured I could save a few dollars by getting his treat there. I took both the kids with me and my kids had the strangest reaction. They had no idea what anything in the store was besides the Twinkies. They had never seen Ding Dongs before. Or Fruit Pies or Susie Qs or Snow Balls (gross). We spent about 45 minutes in the store just so they could ask me what was inside each white box. I really couldn't believe they didn't know what these things were. Sure, I don't buy them for the kids, but haven't they seen this junk in their friends school lunch boxes or had them during a play date?
Actually, I don't think they have. And I think it's because we parents (and grandparents) do know better now. We know that it's not good to give this stuff for our kids AND ourselves. Just think how many of those Hostess cherry "fruit" pies I've had over my lifetime. I don't think I could physically eat one now. I'm sure there were days growing up that I snuck two. And those packages of little powder and chocolate donuts - how many dozens of those have I consumed.
So am I being too hard on myself? Probably.
Sure, I have room for improvement - I cannot allow myself to reward my kids with fattening food. I will insist that they eat healthier snacks. But as a whole I think I'm doing a better job than the generations before us because of the information we have available to us now.
We have the nutritional information on packaging and the kids are learning about it in school. Both schools my kids have attended have insisted on healthy snacks. School lunches are getting better (in my school at least).
You know, I never would have shopped at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's like I did this week if it hadn't been for this blogging community. You are educating me. You are helping me be a better parent to my kids.
This is what I have in my pantry for my kids lunches when they go back to school next week.
You won't find any high glucose corn syrup in these products.