This is something I wrote in February 2016, when the idea started. I thought it would be the perfect post to start with.
There are a million things in the world today that really scare me. But the number one thing that freaks me out now is the poor quality of living that we give our children. I think that many things change in your mind when you become a parent and that is totally normal, I mean, how many of us have actually had to fully take care of somebody else and make all the decisions for them until having a baby? This in itself is a bit scary. But when you add to that all the confusion about what is healthy and what is not, one can go crazy. Especially, and probably mostly, one like me. I talk about my beliefs in other posts, but here I just want to understand one thing: am I the crazy one?
This, like everything else in my life, is not a black and white matter. I probably am a bit crazy in some ways, I probably am too strict about certain things, but am I also wrong? I face this problem wherever I turn. People don’t feel the need to be so strict about food, many think that what they do is not that bad anyway. But I keep cringing on the inside. Being an adult struggling with a sugar addiction, what I want for my kids is to never be in that position in the first place. I know first-hand just how difficult it can be to control your sugar intake, how hard it can sometimes be to just stop eating that chocolate, put those cookies away, refrain from ice-cream. I hate myself when I overdo sweets, but I find it so hard not to sometimes. And I feel guilty because I know that no matter what I teach my kids, they will eventually do what I do. And I don’t want them to acquire a sweet tooth like mine, and I also definitely don’t want to eat candies in hiding.
So back to my craziness. I have always been a bit of tyrant when it comes to what my kid eats. But this was so easy when he was a baby. Now, as a toddler who understands the world better and who doesn’t miss a thing from what happens around him, it is getting harder and harder to keep him from the bad stuff. It’s not just that temptations are everywhere, but I always end up looking like an evil witch, the cookie ogre, basically a buzz-kill. I would really like to be able to say no to my kid when other kids are eating cookies in front of him. Of course he will get upset now if he doesn’t get one and I understand, why is he singled out and not allowed to enjoy something that everybody else is? I would feel bad too if I was in his shoes. So I always try to choose the lesser evil: the cookie with less sugar and no toppings/fillings, or just a small piece of a treat. Most of the times, this works. But I hate having to say yes even to these. I don’t want these to become a habit. I keep being told that one cookie, one treat, one piece of cake is not going to turn his eating habits upside down. No, it won’t. But it’s never just one, is it? He gets a cookie at a playgroup, then there’s a playdate and there’s more treats, next it’s the birthday of a kid in his class and the parents, wanting to do something nice, bring a little goodie bag for each kid and they inevitably contain sugary treats. I take my kid to the hairdresser and he gets candies. We have a drink out together and there’s a cookie with his tea, or the waiter asks him if he wants juice or chocolate milk, without consulting us first. All of these add up and it becomes too much. I can sometimes say no to these, but there will always be other temptations.
Why do I feel so miserable about this? I really do think that kids this young should be fed nutritious food. They are building their bodies and brains, after all. Sugar is not nutritious. And if it were the only thing, I may be a bit more relaxed about this. But the rest of the food that kids get is not much better either. Too much bread and white flour, not enough vegetables, poor quality dairy, and so, so much processed food. I would be so happy to ban any food that comes in a box under the shape of powder, paste and all the mixes of the world. I would keep mustard, I do like that one. But the rest makes my hair stand on ends when I read the ingredients. Ever since I’ve started looking for sugar, I find it in more and more places. Everything is made sweeter, everything has added sugar of some sort, plus sweeteners. This is horrible! But why aren’t there more people who agree with me? I would think it should be easier to find other parents in whose houses my kid would not be offered sweets. Shouldn’t it? All of us parents care about our kids, I don’t doubt that, but what makes some not think too much of the quality of our food? I know it’s not because they want their kids to eat bad food, but why don’t they care more? Is it because it’s tiring? Well, it is. It’s exhausting, it’s demoralising, it’s frightening, it’s depressing. But I wouldn’t feel better if I cared less. I would probably feel guilty, especially because I will know that I used to care and I gave up.