My kids are not perfect eaters. Neither am I. I don't even try to be anymore, for my own mental health.
A friend on Instagram posted that her kid doesn’t eat healthy 100% of the time, and that she does have processed food and such. She didn’t want people to see her eating kale and assume she eats a perfectly clean diet. This struck such a cord for me. As a parent, I try to be realistic. My kids don’t eat perfect, they don’t eat only non-processed food and neither do I. I enjoy my treats on a weekly basis and I don’t care to be perfect. Once upon a time, I tried to eat “perfect” and I was borderline eating disorder. I wouldn't want my kids to feel ashamed for eating vegan “junk” food or develop any issues around food. For me, some vegan junk food here and there keeps me vegan. I try to eat only whole foods, but when I see a treat I want, I go for it. Otherwise, I’m setting myself up for a binge. Same with my kids.. If they want some vegan junk here and there, I have zero issues with it. I would never want them to be ashamed or feel they have to hide it. This is where closet eating stems from. I wouldn’t want my kids to go out in the world and think they have to deprive themselves as vegans.
We found vegan pop tarts in NYC. They were homemade with very clean ingredients but still “processed”.
Don’t get me wrong, most of Little A’s life, she has eaten non processed foods. But, when she started bringing lunch to school last year, she wanted to feel comfortable among her friends. She started asking for vegan “chicken” fingers and “burritos” she even had candy for the first time. I wanted her to feel her best and comfortable about her food so I got her these things and I never guilted her. She does know that treats aren’t an every day thing. With Little S, it hasn’t been so easy since her big sis eats these things. So while she didn’t go 5 years without processed food like her sis, she does love her fruits and veggies and will pick those over the processed stuff. I also don't feel that all processed food is created equal. Something made with pure and clean ingredients but not a whole food is a lot different than something made with dyes, chemicals, and artificial flavors. The processed food we do eat, is the healthiest we can find.
They (and I) probably eat better than 99% of our peers, but still, I feel the shame around letting myself or kids eat something from a box. There are super clean foods out there now that appeal to kids. Simple Mills is one of them, Hilary’s makes a lot of great clean frozen foods, and more and more are coming out as we speak. It’s okay to eat perfect, if you are okay with it. If you feel like you can’t stick to this lifestyle because you have to be “perfect”, know that you don’t. You are still doing way better than a majority of people.
We have to be so careful with our words not to shame children or even adults for enjoying treats. Think about the bigger picture, even though it may be “junk” food, it’s still not harming another being as the alternative does. Look at the positive, and live and let live!