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I feel guilty feeding my kid junk food, but a woman can take only so much

Dara T. Mathis is a writing wife and mama newly based in the DC area. Her first language is Southern food. She tweets for the love of biscuits @dtafakari.

Good nutrition can wait — let's save my sanity first

I believe most parents start out wanting their children to eat as many healthy foods as possible. But we all know it doesn’t quite work out that way. Children have the nerve to develop their own taste and texture preferences despite our wishes. Somewhere down the line, after we've tried the organic baby foods and puffed veggie snacks, the kiddie diet turns to crap.

More: Junk food confessions: Can we talk about why Taco Bell is the best?

It’s all so innocent at first. Grandma sneaks them their first cookie. A day care provider might convince you that all-beef hot dogs on the menu will not ruin your toddler's refined palate. You tell yourself to stop being such a stick-in-the-mud and let the kid live. Then, before you know it, your tiny human prefers french fries over fresh broccoli.

Once you hit the acceptance phase of feeding your kid terrible food, it’s all over. Parenting a small child already consists of a million little battles daily. Why stress yourself with one more toddler food fight? At least, this is what you mutter before ordering your kid the mini pizza on the kids' menu.

Welcome to my struggle! Here are foods I feel guilty for feeding my kid but end up saying screw it anyway:

Hot dogs: My daughter could eat a hot dog every day for lunch and not get tired of it. I make myself feel better about feeding her mystery sausage meat by limiting her to one at least every other day.

Cold cereal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Frosted Flakes are my favorite trash cereals. I like to treat myself occasionally. After my kid asks for the fifth time that day if she can have a bowl, I cave.

Ramen noodles: I’m a terrible mother.

More: 10 ramen hacks if you just can't give up your college noodles

Juice: Most of the “juice” products on grocery store shelves are A) from concentrate or B) full of high-fructose corn syrup. “Fruit” punch is a fancier Kool-Aid. And my kid gets juice box wasted on a sugar high every single time.

Applesauce: I try to pretend applesauce counts as healthy because it once identified as fruit. It’s really just apple-flavored syrup. And for some reason, cinnamon applesauce is even sweeter than the original!

Fruit snacks: Candy by any other name is still candy.

Cheetos: In my defense, my parents shipped my kid a box full of snack-pack Cheetos. I couldn’t very well let them go to waste.

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I try to comfort myself with the knowledge that I also shove fresh fruit and vegetables at my kid every chance I get. Balance is so hard to achieve as a parent. Still, I think our children will be OK if we let them indulge in less-than-healthy foods occasionally. I don’t know if raw carrots negate the effects of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. But I do know that the temporary peace of a happy, eating kid outweighs Mommy Guilt every time.

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