In your opinion, are we depriving our children, our poooooor kids, when we limit the junk they eat?
This is an email I received from a reader friend who shared her frustrations about the way we are sometimes treated as Moms when we want to limit the junk they eat each day, as if we're depriving our children of a full life. (She wanted to be kept anonymous.) Don't worry, I'll offer some solutions below. For now, here are her thoughts…
You might say I have some anger issues when it comes to our food supply.
I had a meeting before school started with my child's teacher. I respectfully asked if she might be willing to limit birthday treats to healthy snacks (no sugars, cakes, cookies, etc.) because of my child's multiple allergies. I told her how difficult it was to see other people eating food-like substances that my children can't eat.
The teacher wouldn't even consider it, and said it's a “right of passage” for children to have birthday treats at school.
Keep in mind I wasn't asking her to limit those children from eating the food at home, of course, but do we really need it in school? When there are so many children with allergies, isn't it easier to just change the process? They increase PE classes to deal with obesity issues, but continue to serve trans fat-laden chemical “food” in the classroom?! The teacher told me that in her experience, children this age don't bring treats to school anyway, but so far this year, my child has been one of the only birthday students to not bring a sweet treat.
The sad issue is that people see “chocolate chip cookie” and think the old Toll House recipe made with flour, eggs, cane sugar, brown sugar, butter, salt, flour, and chocolate chips…
But instead, store-bought cookies, or that hot cocoa many parents buy their children on the way to a sporting event, is full of crap GMO soybean or canola oils, chemical preservatives, weird stabilizer ingredients, corn syrup or other GMO sugars, fake colors and flavors, and other scary stuff.
They often think that the sugar (or worse, sugar free!!) neon colored popsicles are a much healthier choice for a treat because they are fat free. Ugh… Many people don't realize that there are several other ingredients, most GMO tainted, and other chemicals in there, that it's just downright frightening. I did send the list of chemical ingredients to the teacher for one of the store-bought cookies once, but it didn't change anything. Hopefully she at least read the ingredient list and thought about what she was allowing to be served in the classroom.
So many people tell us that depriving our children of “normal” childhood food like McNuggets, candy made with GM corn, or soda pop, will somehow harm them.
I remember listening to a news segment a few years ago on CBS regarding the USDA ban on trans fat. The rep from the USDA felt strongly about the dangers from trans fat. The resident expert doctor they interviewed said that even though trans fat percentages have dropped considerably, there is “NO SAFE” level of trans fat consumption. They are such harmful chemicals that no one should consume any. One of the other individuals interviewed commented that “the USDA doesn't create science, they follow science”. He said they've known for over 20 years how dangerous trans fats were to consume, but they continued to leave them in the SAD food supply, and a vital component of our school lunch program. How many deaths might have been prevented if they had made that NO SAFE levels statement 20 years ago? How many of us would still have our parents and grandparents?
That sort of shoots down the “well, all in moderation, right?” comment that teachers and others give.
People just tend to assume that if it's edible, it's …well, edible… but there is a huge buyer-beware issue when it comes to food. How long will it be before they are willing to issue the same warnings about Round Up and GM corn?
We protect our kids with seat belts, bike helmets, fire safety training, lessons on crossing the street, drug abuse awareness, and hand washing. Shouldn't this apply to food as well?
I think people don't give their children enough credit. If you teach a child to wear a seat belt, brush their teeth, comb their hair when they are children, as they mature they generally continue to do these things.
They are taking care of their body as they have been taught to.
They don't go to college or move into an apartment and immediately start driving around unbuckled or stop grooming. So if that is the case, why do people automatically assume that children raised to eat healthy food, and care for their body by way of what they choose to nourish it with will just start eating all sorts of crap once they have the choice to make? I have more confidence in my family than that, don't you?
I gently try to explain that I am not “depriving”, I am “protecting”…and I'm fairly certain that the curtain is going to open on many of these issues before my children reach adulthood. Even Dr. Oz ( yeah, I know…but people do watch and listen to him!) is starting to discuss gut health, good bacteria, overuse of antibiotics, the dangers of pesticides in our food supply, etc.
So yes, in the interest of continuing to give them the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, I will choose to protect them by depriving our children of those chemicals in foods that we all know really have NO SAFE levels.
It's Kelly again…
When we're treated like we're depriving our children, here are some solutions!
While homeschooling our kids has eliminated most of these issues for us, I know that's not an option for everyone. So I'll share my ideas for solutions then PLEASE also share yours in the comments!
- If you have a good relationship with those you're butting-heads with, have a kind, non-judgmental conversation about why you really want to limit the junk your kids put into their bodies. Maybe you could share more about what started you down this path, any health challenges your family faces, etc.
- Help them find acceptable solutions and alternatives. Provide suggestions for affordable yet “fun” treats that the teacher could keep on-hand — for example organic treats are a little better than the regular stuff, and may be okay with you occasionally. Sometimes you can find these at a good price at Costco. Help stock Grandma's house with better-for-you or allergy-friendly ingredients so she can still make cookies with the kids now and then.
- If you've tried the above and your wishes are still not respected, and especially if there are significant behavior, learning, or other health issues at play, you may need to search for another schooling option, or limit grandparent visits to your home only, where you can control situation better.
I have to say that when our kids were younger, we chose to concentrate more on what we fed them at home, and didn't worry as much about the occasional treat when we went somewhere else, because we didn't have any significant health issues, and we knew that their long-term health was going to depend more on what we fed them on a daily basis. For us, preserving relationships with family and friends took precedence, but everyone has to make that decision in their own families.
Now I hope you'll share your experience and struggles, and what you've found to help?
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