[Disclaimer: If you are a strong proponent of no-junk-food policy and adhere to it very strictly at home then this post is not for you. Our junk food policies being so very different we will have to agree to disagree on this.]
I have a wide variety of junk food items in my kitchen. A quick glance of the inventory reveals things like potato chips, choco-chip cookies, ice cream, a variety of cheeses, instant noodles (ahem! pre-Maggi days actually), macaroni, chocolate syrup, candies, chocolate bars, juice packs and many such “non-food-like” eatables stashed in my kitchen.
Don’t get me wrong, I do try to direct sonny to the right kind of food all the time. And to be fair to him, despite his continuous “no hungry” status, he does not discriminate between food items during meal times and eats almost all kinds of vegetables (except bitter gourd…it’s an acquired taste after all!), chicken, fish, eggs, dairy etc. So, giving him a treat once in a while does not seem like the harbinger of ill health to me. Of course, I do tell him what will happen if he eats too many chips or sugar-laden treats frequently, but banishing them from my house is something I would never like to do (Unless of course, god forbid, sonny becomes sluggish or overweight).
Anyway, the main reason why I do not ban junk food in my house is because it demystifies the lure of junk food for sonny. He does not go bonkers over fast food when we eat out. For him, like roti-sabzi and dal-chawal, it’s just another food item. No distinction. Period. He eats when he is hungry and stops when he is full. Nobody can force sonny to eat another piece of cake or another piece of pizza if he is done (Try it and you may have to endure a puke-fest!). And that, according to me, is the key to a healthy relationship with food – Moderation, knowing your hunger cues and eating mindfully – and not some forced restriction labeling food as “healthy” or “junk”.
Of course, I would love sonny to make good choices all the time, but a ban on junk food will only make them fascinating to him. And when you label something “DO NOT EAT THIS”, our minds are programmed to visualize “EATING THIS” before it can add a negation before it. So a ban will invariably mean that sonny will go “junk food crazy” when “Ma is not looking”. And that surreptitious binge eating is way more dangerous, in my view, than letting him eat it, guilt-free, occasionally.
In today’s world, pizzas, burgers, cakes and pastries are inescapable. One may strictly prohibit them at home but who will keep tabs when the children are outside? At a friend’s home perhaps or at someone’s birthday party or even a school outing? Do children have that level of self-restraint? For that matter, does anyone else?
And to think of it, if I really start banning food items, I may have to ban almost every food on earth including pesticide laden fruits, vegetables, and grains, growth-hormone injected poultry, dairy and eggs, toxic fish and what not. But that is simply not possible, is it? (Unless of course, I become an organic farmer myself!)
Don’t believe me? Check out these expert opinions on junk food and dieting and decide for yourself:
- Should You Let Your Kids Eat Junk Food? – Dr. Charlotte Markey
- Why Dieting Doesn’t Usually Work? – Neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt
So, without jumping into the food wars with blazing guns and vowing to banish junk food from this land for eternity (sorry for getting carried away like this 😉 ), what I can try, instead, is to impart whatever limited information I have on the subject over a period of time (as sonny grows up) and help him be a discerning individual equipped to make an educated choice…..most of the times, that is.
And of course, an occasional junk food diet of midnight ice cream will always be welcome in this household 🙂
So what are your views on this topic and where do you stand on this junk food versus healthy food war?