A couple years back, someone on Facebook asked for ideas for healthy alternatives to an annual ‘popsicle’ party at her child’s school. The comment storm that ensued was quite crazy…
It is just a popsicle. Back off.”
Readers suggesting that bloggers like us who are advocates for real food and healthy eating are infringing on the rights of others to eat junk. Commenters started criticizing each other. It was a really intense Facebook reaction to a simple question and plea for alternative ideas.
It got me thinking…is a popsicle ‘just’ a popsicle? Is a lollipop ‘just’ a lollipop? Is (insert processed garbage food here) ‘just’ a treat?
I really struggle with this line of thinking. On one hand, I somewhat understand the ‘it’s just a…’ argument. One popsicle is not going to do much harm to anyone. However, I think this type of attitude goes much deeper than that.
It’s just a lollipop. I get it.
As clean and real as I try to feed my family, my kids definitely get their fair share of junk food. And, I am okay with that. We are healthy, don’t have any food allergies or illnesses. We eat well enough 80-90% of the time that I think for us it really is ‘just’ a lollipop. Occasionally my kids do get the lollipop at the bank, the bag of gummy snacks at a playdate or the gmo laden meal off of the kids menu. In the grand scheme of their diets, it is ‘just’ a once in awhile thing, a ‘treat’ if you will. And that is fine and is what works for our family.
These ‘treats’ are constant for most children.
The ‘just a treat’ can easily become 10 treats on any given day. They are the overly processed breakfast cereal, the candy or chips from a vending machine at school, the donuts at church, the gatorade and cookies after sports practice (here’s an awesome post on soccer snacks), the lollipop at the bank, the goldfish crackers in the car while running errands. They are the birthday treats, the Halloween candy, the Valentine’s party, the Christmas cookie onslaught. The fast food, the kids’ menu food, the dessert at restaurants.
Everywhere we go, someone is trying to give my kids a ‘treat’…the bank, the dry cleaners, the sports classes, even department stores while holiday shopping. My boys would get bags of candy from the bus driver and now the crossing guard at the end of semesters. Why does candy have to be the go-to gift??
These ‘treats’ are full of inferior and FAKE ingredients.
To me, this is really the main problem with these ‘treats.’ They are full of chemicals, artifical colors and flavors, genetically modified ingredients and other garbage. I have nothing against cookies, popsicles and ice cream. But I would like to be able to eat (and feed my family) food that IS real. A lot of ‘treats’ that kids, and us adults honestly, love are able to be made at home with real AND nourishing ingredients! Learning to read ingredient labels is a must for Real Food!
We eat our fair share of junk, believe me!
Now, to be clear, we are not purists when it comes to real food. We do the best we can in our own homes. But, we do eat at restaurants. We do accept snacks and meals when they are provided at friends’ houses, at parties, at holiday events without batting an eye. Occasionally we even take the lollipop or the cookie that is offered at the store. I feel we have a clean diet most of the time and for our family we have not made the commitment to avoid this type of food entirely. I mean, Baskin Robbins’ Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ice Cream is just heavenly to me!
These overly processed foods are causing a health crisis in our country.
I have a friend who always says that we grew up on this food and we are just fine. Really!? ‘We’ may be fine as in I am healthy and my kids are healthy (now)…but is our society ‘just fine’? Hardly? With 70% of adults obese or overweight, with our children having a 1 out of 3 chance of developing diabetes, with ADD/ADHD, autism and food allergies (why are childhood food allergies growing so fast???) running rampant, with our children being the first generation not expected to have longer life expectancies than their parents…I hardly think we are ‘just fine.’ I strongly believe that much of these problems have to do with the food that we eat…the ingredients (many of which are new chemicals and genetically modified, which did not exist 20 years ago) that are in our food.
I get the idea that it’s ‘just’ a lollipop…if it stopped at that. I encourage you to observe how many ‘treats’ you or your child get offered each day. Look at the ingredients of your favorite snacks, breakfast cereals, and lunch items. I think you will find that it really isn’t ‘just’ a ______ anymore at all.