Store in Your Home Only What You Want Your Kids to Eat
When I read this, I was sure I had found the solution to every single problem in life. I banished sweets and chocolates from my home. Well I did not banish them. I hid them – in my own closet – to pass them on to someone else. Ok, who am I kidding? I hid them in my closet to eat them myself after the kids had gone to sleep! (Confession – I am a chocoholic.)
When You Forbid Your Kids to Eat Certain Foods
This was a few years back. With my newfound wisdom about curing my kids sweet tooth, I was feeling on top of the world. I tried to encourage them to eat healthy foods only and it seemed to be working! Then one day, a friend of my kids came to my house to play. I had made some bread snacks in the evening. Before we knew, she had finished them all. I took it as a compliment and moved on.
The next day, she came again. She spotted a package of mixture/farsaan given to me by someone who had been to some place which was famous for it. You know how it is in India! We bring back regional foods for friends after a vacation. Well, the little girl asked if they could have it for an evening snack. I agreed and gave them each a small bowlful to eat.
A little while later, she started egging my daughter on to “go into the kitchen and ask your mom for some more”. I was a little displeased by the lack of ‘manners’ but explained to her calmly that it wasn’t nice to over indulge.
The next day, she came in again and started asking my daughter what we had for a snack today. I handed all of them a banana each and asked them to go play outside.
This was becoming a recurrence. I finally asked my daughter if there was a problem. Why was her friend so insistent on eating huge amounts of practically everything that she saw in my house?!
My daughter replied matter-of-factly, “All these things are not allowed in her house Mamma. Her parents are very strict about it. She doesn’t get to eat any of it.”
Now this was enough to give me a reality check! So this is what happened when you deprived your kids of foods that they commonly see around!
I kindly asked my daughter, in a very friendly way, if she had eaten any sweets outside of home ever since I banned them from my house. To my horror, she admitted to not only eating them at her friend’s house, but also to asking for them twice and thrice.
So it turned out that my kids had done exactly what had seemed as unacceptable behavior coming from their friends! I lifted all bans with immediate effect.
Homemade vs Store Brought
So I met the parents of this friend of my daughter, at a Parent Teacher Meet in her school. It so happened that my daughter had received some kind of a badge for good marks in a subject. Her friend’s mother jokingly told me that they want a party. I immediately agreed to treat them at the school canteen where we ordered Vada-Pav for everyone since they were a favorite with the school crowd.
Before I could have one proper bite and compliment the popular canteen food, the friend’s father remarked that
“We are making this an exception since you are treating us. We don’t usually eat bread. Maida (Refined flour) is not good for the kids. Our kids are not allowed to eat bread at all”.
I really didn’t know how to react. And to be honest, I was also party filled with guilt. Yes, I know too that bread isn’t good. And my kids eat it twice a week or so. And not just my kids, I even fed it to their daughter when she was at my home the other day!
A few days later, my daughter came back after her play time in the evening. I saw she was carrying a half-eaten bag of chips. She had received it at a school picnic the day before and I had asked her to take it with her and share with her friends.
I asked her why they hadn’t finished it. They had my permission to share! To which she replied,
“My friend’s dad gave me a good scolding! He said it is a very bad thing and I shouldn’t eat it. And that I am never to bring such things to their house. We also did not eat the candies. They are still in my pocket”
I felt insulted and indignant at the same time. Swallowing my anger at his behavior, I asked my daughter to keep the bag of chips aside and come and eat something else. She must be hungry! But it turned out that wasn’t the case.
“No Mamma. Her mom gave us other snacks to eat. We ate Anarsas, Shakkar Para and Laddoos that aunty made at home. Homemade snacks are good for health.”
I wanted to bang my head against the wall. Deep fried snacks made using the same ‘refined flour’ and tons of sugar are somehow healthier, some parents think. Chocolate is bad and homemade sugary sweets are good?
Should You Really Ban Certain Foods for Your Kids?
We live in a different house now and the friend has changed schools too so I don’t know how they are faring. But this episode did teach me a valuable lesson. Restricting foods for your children makes them even more obsessed with them. It is a different matter if there are some health or dietary restrictions on some foods. Other than that, we must realize that it is a highly social environment our kids are exposed to. It isn’t that I am not constantly looking for healthy alternatives to feed my kids. But depriving them of something that they are bound to see everywhere and see their friends eating them, is not the way to go about it.
If you want to ban something, ask your kids never to touch cigarettes and drugs. Sugar and Snacks – I am not so sure. I am going to continue indulging within reasonable limits and let my kids do it too. So I am replacing the mantra I opened this post with, to
You cannot teach your children to not eat certain foods. What you can teach them is – Moderation. Let them enjoy everything in moderation and we will all be fine I believe.
P.S. Sugar is the culprit! Chocolate does not make kids hyper – sugar does! You cannot avoid it, but you can keep cavities at bay by making kids brush their teeth after eating chocolates, sweets and bread. And of course, repeating myself – Moderation is the key to success 🙂 If your child has had a healthy meal, there is no harm in following it up with a sweet.