Friday, November 13, 2009
In Defense of Healthy Choices
It happened again today. Two women told me I'm "a terrible mother" because I didn't raise my children on sweets. We'd been talking about the latest happenings with our families, and I began to tell the funny story of our girls' first bubble gum experiences, which happened just this week. But that's as far as I got in the story. The women were horrified to hear the girls had never had gum before, and further terrified to hear the girls were not raised on diabetes-inducing, cancer-promoting junk food. They needed an explanation. They needed me to justify my dietary decisions. They asked. They ridiculed. But they didn't take the time to listen. Instead, they turned away.
So much for sharing a cute story.
It's true. My daughters (now 7 and 9) didn't get that first big, pink wad of stiff bubble gum until this year's Halloween festivities introduced it to our home. But why does that make me a bad parent? WHY do parents who protect their children's health by limiting their junk food consumption in the early years have to DEFEND themselves? Shouldn't it be the OTHER way around?
Throughout our daughters' early childhood, we've done our best to feed them healthy food. I breastfed each of them, fed them veggies from our garden or farmers market when possible, made our own baby food and continue to provide homemade meals that most often do not involve a brightly-decorated box. They never tasted sugar until those homemade cakes on their first birthdays, and for YEARS, they thought real fruit leather (dried fruit) was the be-all and end-all of desert treats. Over the years, we've slowly introduced ice cream, then home-baked goods. And now, on rare occasions, they get candy.
Honestly, our kids never seemed to miss those things they'd never experienced. While you and I may jones for any of a number of those treats that tempt us in the check-out line, since they hadn't experienced them, they never even asked for them. (Have you ever had a Hob Nob? No? Then you probably don't have the urge to grab a cup of tea, a plate of the delectables and have at them like I do.)
SURE, I've beem SORELY tempted to share some of our favorite treats with them to see that look of discovery, epicurean delight, excitement in their faces. But we weighed the consequences, and opted to delay these discoveries in favor of building a healthy foundation upon which they will, of course, make their own dietary decisions with increasing frequency.
I continue to believe we did the right thing. It has been god not only for them, but for me as well; since they aren't allowed the treats, I typically don't bring them hom for me or Mr. B, either. Therefore, we all manage to avoid them. Meanwhile, we've discovered there ARE other wonderful, delicious treats that don't involve, say, chocolate. (GASP! I KNOW!) And the girls have had such broad experience with non-sugary, healthy foods that their thirst for unhealthful snacks is minimal.
So, the real question is, WHY must we pressure our fellow mankind to eat unhealthy foods that will, in all likelihood, contribute not in our healthful growth and well-being, but in our early demise? As if it weren't already difficult enough to stick with the healthy options.
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Jotted by JenPB