Growing up, junk food was a frequent cause of conflict in our house.
Although I grew up snacking on Lick-A-Maid, PopRocks, and Hubba Bubba bubble gum, my mother outlawed junk food when I was a teenager. It was her way of maintaining a healthy household. Her theory was “out of sight, out of mind.”
My siblings and I felt as though we were the only ones in the world who weren‘t allowed to have soda with dinner, not even if it was orange. After all, isn‘t orange soda healthy? It‘s made from oranges, right?
My father, however, took the “out of sight, out of mind” attitude a little too literally.
My father was a classic yo-yo dieter. He lived to eat and especially loved his junk food. Because of mom‘s zero-tolerance rule about junk food in the house, dad would hide snacks in the car, where mom couldn’t find them.
On the drive to school he would offer us chips and pretzels from his stash hidden under the seat (I’m not kidding – he would hide them under the seat of the passenger side inside the plastic bag he was given at the store). When we would call him on his little secret or threaten to tell our mother, he smiled and replied with, “What can I say? I love to eat junk.”
Needless to say I inherited my love for junk food from dad.
Before I became a mom I vowed to never deprive my children of sweets. But once my kids came along, I suddenly understood where my mother was coming from and changed my mind. In hindsight, I realize it just wasn‘t realistic to expect that my kids will never eat junk.
I remember one particular family gathering when my son was just three years old. As I watched him slyly gravitate towards a huge table full of candy, my initial maternal reaction was to say “no way” and point him toward some coloring books.
Unfortunately, as you mothers understand, three year olds can be rather persistent. Of course it didn‘t help that his junk-food-loving grandpa (my dad) begged me to “let him live a little because he‘s a kid.” So I succumbed to the pressure and let him indulge in bright green and yellow gummy bears, red heart-shaped candy, and one very long colorful candy kebab.
It was right then and there I realized it wasn‘t so much the junk itself that set off my maternal panic alarms, but rather the type of junk my son was chowing down. The candy he was eating was filled with artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and ingredients I couldn‘t even pronounce! Talk about red flags.
As my kids grew older and started having play dates and attending birthday parties, they wanted the same snacks the other kids were eating. Knowing deprivation wasn‘t the answer, I set out to find natural alternatives to the junk food everyone else was eating and introduced these products to my family early on so they could develop a taste for products with natural ingredients.
As parents or caregivers, we want to give our kids as much as possible. Many of us struggle to strike a balance between letting our children enjoy being kids (as dad would say) and staying true to what is in their best interest. I decided long ago that the best option for me is to monitor what my children eat when they are at home by only stocking organic and non-GMO junk food, and overlook what they put in their mouths when they are out – because I know that one way or another they‘re going to get their ‘unhealthy’ junk food fixes.
The good news is by talking to my kids about what is healthy and what isn’t, they’ve become mindful of what is allowed and what I prefer they stay away from. Unfortunately they don’t always make the right choice, but I like to think that as they mature they’ll make better, more conscious decisions.
Many people assume I don‘t eat junk food because of the industry in which I work. This is not the case! I enjoy chocolate, candy, and chips as much as the next person. However, instead of choosing conventional junk food, I choose 70% organic dark chocolate, organic candy made from fruit and vegetables, and lentil, quinoa and bean chips. Regardless of what I choose, I eat it in moderation, and I make sure it is free from artificial and Scary 7 ingredients.
That’s the reason I wanted to write ‘Unjunk Your Junk Food.’ I wanted to help you make better choices for foods that often don’t contain healthy ingredients.
Unjunk Your Junk Food shows you the best tasting, best-for-you junk food made with healthier ingredients.