Why We Need To Stop Rewarding Our Kids With Junk Food

It’s amazing, when you become a parent, what gets you all riled up and what leaves you completely un-phased. I was at a recent school induction where the parents were up in flaming and flailing arms about teacher reshuffling, play vs. work ratio and school diaries. The one mom even wept through a sob story about how she had to take a weeks leave to assist her child to deal with the trauma of getting a new teacher. As I sat there, eyeballs wedged firmly in brain, I was brought back to reality when the topic of school lunches came up.

For some reason, children and vegetables brings out the demonic mother in me. I am genuinely so fatigued from hearing about how we have to disguise veggies in meals, about sneaky chock chip cookies made with – gasp – chickpeas! And about seeing kids menus at restaurants look like a future diabetes diagnosis. The other day I  saw this video doing the rounds on facebook and I felt genuinely sad

Parents are using junk food as a reward for eating healthy food, and we have to stop.

Remember the first time little Johnny used the word ‘fuck‘? Guess where he learnt it from? YOU. These kids are sponges and will mimic everything they see around them – so if your little sunshine gags at the sight of anything green on his plate, chances are that he has learnt that from someone else.

I have been in an environment with a family member who makes disparaging comments about vegetables in front of my children, and I have told that person that I will not let them be around my child if it carries on.

Look, I realise that some kids are just fussy eaters – and I also realise that I am hashtag blessed with my children when it comes to food. They will eat, literally, anything. My son and I fight over gherkins and olives and I have to cook double portions of my dinner every-night as he inhales fish and veg off of my plate like a wedding crasher at an open bar. Without actually licking my own arsehole, a lot of what they eat has got to do with the fact that I have never made food a big deal in my house. I love salads and veg and my kids have watched me munch my way through steaming mounds of broccoli as dessert. On the flip side, they’ve also watched me smash my fat beak in a party pack of cheese curls and finish it off with a spoon of cheesespread out the jar. And whatever I eat, I offer it to them. So to them, there’s no good and bad food, there is food that is more healthy and food that is less healthy and they (my son atleast) understands about moderation, but that’s it. he doesn’t associate baby marrow as the start of a painful journey to an ice cream end. He loves baby marrow becasue it’s delicious, and he picks it out the garden and helps me chop it and prep it. He has grown up sitting on the counter assisting with dinner and being a part if the whole process. When he visits my folks he dines on tongue and tripe and giant glossy apples from the fruit bowl. At birthday parties he eats his body weight in flings and Oros but knows that it’s a treat. Not a treat because he ate a salad. A treat full stop.

I realise just how revoltingly high and mighty I am sounding right now. I’m not, I promise, I just feel so strongly about not making my food issues, their food issues. I haven’t eaten meat in over 23 years – t I cook meat for my kids and encourage them to try and taste and get involved. My meat issues are not their issues.

A few weeks ago I was so hungover that the thought of prepping food for anyone in the house felt like actual torture. So I bought a Woolies meal for the baby and asked my son if he wanted to get a Happy Meal. The delight on his face as he clutched that red little box all the way home was too cute. I may have munched my way through a large friend on that trip as well.

It’s all about balance.

You ant your kid to eat better? You eat better. Do it as naturally as you would driving to work, turning on the TV or making conversation.

We need to stop rewarding kids with food. Because guess what, they will turn into adults who reward themselves with food. Trust me, you’re looking at someone who has spent the better part of 10 years trying to stop the bad cycle of bad day = wine/chips/cheese.

Right, rant over. It’s lunch time 😉

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