Happy belated Easter everyone.
I hope you've all recovered from the chocolate and hot x bun overload, not to mention daylight savings ending coupled with school holidays. I know, sugar high plus sleep deprivation what a combo.
Whether your eggs and buns were sugar loaded or spelt or paleo or fairtrade or organic, the main thing is I hope you all spent some good time with people you love because really that's what holidays should be about.
I've been pondering some things this Easter to do with parenting and food, I can actually give myself a headache thinking about this sort of thing so I thought I'd throw it over to you and get your thoughts and insights.
It all started with cheese balls and coke. Yep. Cheese balls and Coke, words I bet you never expected to read here.
My oldest son is 8 going on 9 and I can see his curiosity growing about many things, including food, how other families do things, their rules, what other kids eat and so on.
We spent some time with friends from Melbourne one day on the holidays and after a morning at the skatepark the three boys were hungry. I didn't have my usual snacks of dips and rice crackers with me so we walked to the nearby supermarket.
My friend who we were with has a different approach to food with her boys than we do with ours in that as long as her boys eat fruit and vegetables, they're allowed to eat a bit of 'junk', processed food.
My approach generally is that even the 'junk' has to be a good version of junk. I was curious as we entered the supermarket as to what the boys would go for. A packet of chips was the request.
Usually I would head for the 'health food' aisle and my boys could choose veggie chips or organic plain potato chips.
On this day we left the supermarket with cheese balls. I didn't look at the ingredients, I didn't make a big deal about it, I let them make their choice all the while knowing that they knew it wouldn't be something that we'd ever regularly do.
You see, I don't want to always say no. I don't want to set up a 'good' and 'bad' food battle that can later be used against me. At the moment with our boys aged 5 and 8, Pete and I are instilling our values in our them, guiding them, educating them. But when it comes down to it, they will grow into who they are and make their own decisions and I'm becoming more thoughtful about ways to raise them so that they do not make decisions out of defiance or...in secret. Secrets = shame. (Unless the secret is a surprise party or a gift of course, that = fun!)
Over Easter I took the boys to Melbourne and we went out for lunch to a cafe. We ordered our meals and then my oldest boy asked, "Can drinking one coke make you sick?" I explained that Coke has a lot of sugar in it so if you're not used to having a lot of sugar it might make you feel sick in the tummy but it wouldn't make you really, really sick (he was meaning like heart attack or cancer sick). To my surprise he then asked, "Can Sol and I share a Coke?" I laughed. I thought he was joking.
But he wasn't. He explained in all seriousness that he wanted to taste Coke and could they have one.
This raised lots of questions in my mind. Will my boys feel like they have to hide junk food from us if they want to eat it when they are older and have their own money to pay for it?
Food is about so many things, not just health and nutrition. There is the emotional and social aspect and unfortunately for children and teenagers being raised to not eat processed foods, they can feel like the odd ones out. While this isn't a reason to just start eating processed food, to 'fit in', it is something I'm aware of and the challenges it can present to young people when all they want to do it fit in and be like their friends.
River and Sol didn't drink Coke that day, they had water with their lunch. I explained to River that I understood he was curious about Coke and that one day if he wanted to taste it he could but it wouldn't be today. He persisted, "Why not today?" So I added that along with all the sugar, Coke also has caffeine in it and caffeine isn't good for children. Thankfully he was happy to leave it at that!
At the Easter hat parade at school on the last day of term I was chatting to one of the teachers about all the Easter eggs being passed around, the teacher said "The kids who eat things like this all the time aren't fussed about them, the kids who don't get much of this sort of thing go crazy for them."
I'm interested to hear your thoughts and experiences. How do you handle requests for junk food?
Are you concerned that your child feels like they need to sneak or hide junk food because they know you won't approve? I'd love to hear and I'm sure others would too. Tell us in the comments.