I am the biggest hypocrite

My toddler doesn’t eat junk food. He has never tasted ice cream, chips, fast food or soda. He has yet to partake in a birthday cake, including his own. And the cookies and muffins that he has eaten (fruit- and veggie-based, of course) were baked by me (or bought at the farmers market). It doesn’t stop there: he also doesn’t eat processed food like breakfast cereals and Goldfish. We don’t offer him homemade, ethnic desserts made by his own grandmothers. We’ve only given him juice on two occasions: prune juice for when he was constipated, and apple juice for when he had the stomach flu. And the one time we gave him a serving of plain frozen yogurt from Menchies, I just about thought he’d got suckered into the dark side of unhealthy eating.

Here’s the thing: I eat the very foods I shield him from. Most of the food I eat is pretty healthy, but once in a while I’ll treat myself to something normally off-limits. Just today, I had a cup of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and a Filipino dessert of sticky rice cake. I pour myself a bowl of Cheerios yet insist that he still eat yogurt or oatmeal. And I’ll easily pop some chips and dip in my mouth with just a twinge of regret.

I am the biggest food hypocrite my toddler has yet to meet.

I suppose this healthy binge started when I was pregnant: my husband and I wanted our little fetus to grow as healthy as possible. If we’re this anal about LO’s eating now, you can just imagine how we were when I was pregnant: I refused to eat any deli meat (even though it was perfectly fine to eat it heated up). I didn’t drink a single cup of tea, decaf or not. And I not only stayed away from the major fish they tell you to stay away from, but found a “fish chart” that rated seafood mercury levels and ate only the ones with the lowest risk. I ate shrimp and salmon so often that the fish guy at the farmers market would beat us to the punch and ask, “Shrimp again this week?”

Then when LO started eating solids, we wanted to introduce only the healthiest of food. I wanted him to eat healthy like how we (usually) do, so we offered him only whole food and shied away from any kind of sweets and processed food. And it worked—he loves his fruits and vegetables and all our home prepared meals. Once he graduated to eating table food, we made sure that all the ingredients were healthy and wholesome. At family potlucks, I would ask my siblings, “What’s that dish made out of? Is it organic milk? No? Oh, then never mind, he’ll have to pass.” I’m pretty sure my sister wanted to smack me in the face right then and there.

Now we’re a bit more flexible. We’ll eat our families’ potluck food, organic milk or not. Our toddler has also eaten at restaurants (albeit, preferably independent restaurants than chain restaurants). He’s even eaten crackers and grocery-bought bread from time to time. But overall we’re still a bit freakish when it comes to ensuring LO’s healthy food.

I always told myself that if he’s interested and asks for a treat, then I would consider letting him have a bite. I can imagine him attending a birthday party and wanting to try the cake that all his friends are eating, so I would probably allow him to have cake, ice cream and whatever other treats I currently eat from time to time. But should I even introduce ice cream when my toddler isn’t at all interested in it or has no idea what it even is? And am I living a double life because I’m noshing on Ben and Jerry’s while he’s taking a nap, just so he won’t see what I’m up to? I guess my biggest fear once he has junk food is that he won’t go back to healthy food. Who wants a pita bread when you can have a Cheeto?

I suppose I ought to take a look at what my long-term goals are for my toddler. I’d like him to grow up with a preference for healthy food but I also wouldn’t want him to fuss about the treats he has once in a while. I’d like him to know what’s in junk food and why it’s common advice to stay away from it. And I’d really, really like it if he doesn’t have the same sweet tooth that I have and could actually turn down dessert once in a while.

For now I don’t plan on introducing my toddler to junk food. I just can’t see myself giving him any when 1) it’s not exactly the best food for him and 2) he could care less about it. Maybe if he starts asking for some, we can start off with homemade treats. In the meantime, I’ll just have to hide away when I eat my bowl of Ben and Jerry’s and hope he doesn’t catch me with chocolate smudge on my teeth.

How did you decide to give your kids treats and junk food? Did you try to hold off for a period of time?


16 thoughts on “I am the biggest hypocrite

  1. Holy cow! You guys are amazing! That’s exactly what my husband and I want to do with our children when we have them.

    I’ve heard that whatever you feed your children in the first 3 years of their lives is what they will crave for the rest of their life. So if they’re given junk food they’re going to crave it (just like we do now) but if they’re given fruit as dessert and non processed foods that’s what they’re going to crave.

    My husband is a saint when it comes to food. He is a raw vegan and hasn’t strayed from that diet exept for one bite of a vegan pancake he made me. He is amazing and I don’t know how he has that kind of self control.

    I, on the other hand, am like you. No matter how I change my diet I still crave junk food. I have recently decided to make the move from vegetarian to vegan and it’s not been easy. But luckly, there are a lot of vegan desserts that are healthy (or semi-healthy) that I can still have!

    My advice to you (I don’t know if you’re looking for it but I want to give it-haha) is to maybe change the ‘junk food’ that you eat. Instead of eating goldfish crackers, maybe eat Annie’s organic ‘bunnies’ (they’re like goldfish but bunny shaped), etc. One of my favorite ‘ice creams’ is SO Delicious Coconut ice cream. It’s made with coconut milk instead of dairy. They have quite a few flavors (my favorite being cookies and cream: http://www.turtlemountain.com/products/coconut-milk-ice-creams/cookies-n-cream).

    You don’t have to cut everything out right away but maybe find replacements for your junk food.

    My other advice is that if your son doesn’t ask for it, I wouldn’t give it to him. I say that but then I think if we were at a family members home and they were all eating something and my kid didn’t have a viable alternative I would feel so bad! I’m sure that’s happened to you before. I think that I would bring this ice cream or other desserts that I find healthy so that they’re not missing out.

    Sorry for this huge LONG comment but I admire what you’re doing for your child and it’s good to know that there are others out there that are willing to make a change in the system and not have them follow your junk food addiction. I know what I go through and I would not want my kid to go through that!

    • Good idea on finding “better” junk food for myself. At least that way, once my kiddo starts wondering what the heck I’m eating and wanting some of it, it won’t be so bad. Yeah I wouldn’t go so far as to deny him some treats if everyone else in the room is having some (and especially if I’M having some haha) but so far he has shown zero interest in eating junk food. Not sure how long that’s going to last!

  2. We didn’t try so hard. The kids have eaten all kinds of junk food at this point. When Emilia was little, we kept things pretty wholesome (except I’m not nearly as good as you, so she had Goldfish crackers, Cheerios, etc.) and we wouldn’t let her have ice cream or chocolate. Even her cake was a homemade carrot cake.

    Then the second kid came along. Second kid gets to eat pretty much anything that doesn’t make a mess. So we failed at being wholesome. They don’t eat that much junk food. I’m okay with it. We don’t go to restaurants (fast food or otherwise) very often, because it’s always a fiasco and it’s easier to eat at home. But they do have ice cream occasionally, cake, cookies. I’ve even done the baking with Emilia, and we’ve made sugar cookies together. Out of a tube. LOL.

    I wish I was more like you in terms of eating. Ah well. : )

  3. My respect, sister! I tried to keep things healthy but then I went back to work last year and she stopped eating. Full stop. They even pulled me aside in the nursery(daycare) to tell me she was refusing food. I went mad…and I turned to what you call the dark side. It took me a while to get her to eat again. She’s still hooked up on some things..and I have learned to relax. Oh, as to the long term, it’s great to pay attention to what goes in his tummy but I wouldn’t neglect other aspects of his life. He’s learning to make friends/ to show empathy/to be kind, encourage him in these areas also. We have friends whose kids never tasted chocolate but who never learned to share either…what you sow, you reap…

    • Do you know why your daughter stopped eating all of a sudden? I’m still on the lookout to see if my toddler will bust a boycott on me and stop eating, too. I heard that’s pretty common between 2 and 3. So far so good though *fingers crossed*

      • No, no idea! I put it all down to me working full time as any mum would 😉 but I have no idea, really. Hope your boy will not go through it, fingers crossed!

  4. For the first one we held off on junk food for a very long time. At his first birthday I even made the cupcakes and icing and he had fruit and yogurt while his party guest had hot dogs. It has gotten a LOT harder now that the 3rd baby is eating real food. He wants to eat what big sister and brother are eating and trust me he KNOWS the difference.

    I will say that my big kids have a preference for healthy food. We teach them how to pick their own meals incorporating items from all the food groups. We explain to them why we pack their lunches for school and let them know the difference between “fake” food and real food. My daughter loves to order salad and strawberries when shes out. And my oldest son is great about eating his fruits and veggies. But they do eat their share of “junk” when they are at school (schools serve snacks in the classroom here) and I don’t take big issue with that. Just so long as they understand that cookies are NOT considered a healthy snack at home.
    The biggest thing you can do is be the example. I eat well (organic mostly and no meat) and so does dad (although he eats the meat). For the most part, even with trying to shield them for years, they eat like us.

  5. Thank you for stopping by my blog! I came over here to thank you and absolutely LOVED your post! Boy can I relate to every word you said. We started out being as strict as you guys are with foods and still are in some aspects with our sweet little Cub’s allergy…but we’ve fallen off the wagon a bit and let him have some ice cream and some kashi cereal…even some Enjoy Life Chocolate chips and sprinkles – eek! 😉 He has never had a lollipop or other candy or junk food…i’m holding off for as long as I can 🙂

    • Yes, as my kiddo has grown, the health-food armor has slowly been chipping away. At least they have a good start, right?

      And I don’t mind if down the line he has treats the way I do—once in a while. I just have no idea how or when to introduce it. I suppose the situation will just present itself!

      • Yes, grateful for the good start. And we are still a primarily “clean eating” family (local/organic) with exceptions here and there. When your little one is curious enough…those situations will present themselves. Our cub just straight up says: “mommy, want some”. …It’s helped me to really decrease those sneaky snacks 😉

  6. Are you me?!?

    I really could have written this! Except my big girl is now three, so as a natural part of growing up she is allowed the odd treat. I have to be careful with her though as we’ve learned through experimentation that she can border on hypoglycaemic; if she has too much sweet food or too little protein compared to carbs she will lose the plot after a few hours and become hyper, vague, fidgety, and incoherent or very lethargic. So that has reinforced for the importance of a healthy diet.

    Apart from parties (which are still few and far between at her age) she has no biscuits (apart from some organic spelt ones) except the gingerbread man she gets as a treat at the supermarket each week, no chocolate apart from a few chocolate buttons after swimming every month or so, and the only desserts she gets are homemade (partly by her) cakes, brownies, puddings etc. And she only gets any of that if every scrap of food on her plate is gone. She’s never had a packet of crisps in her life, ever!

    As a result of this she thinks a handful of roasted seeds is a treat, dried fruit is like sweets, and a fromage frais or cheese is a good dessert.

    I appreciate that she won’t be like this for ever, but I think the good habits will help her to eat well even when her peers start to demonstrate the appeal of other things.

  7. Great Post! No one can be perfect! It’s a constant struggle, but as parents all we can do is our best. Nothing puts a smile on my face more than when my little one gets excited about eating fruit.

    P.S.My favorite Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is Karamel Sutra from Ben and Jerry’s.

  8. Reblogged this on The Short Runner and commented:
    That is exactly what I want to do! I ate nothing but junk good growing up. I do want a good balance though. Any “junk” food I let her eat will be made from organic companies etc. or I will make things at home without all the fillers. I want her to know the dangers too!!

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