I know I am not the only mom out there who loathes feeding her kids fast food. I’ve become a bit of a hardliner on the issue. Over the years I have learned too much — working in the organic food industry; watching powerful documentaries like “Supersize Me” and “Food, Inc.”; and becoming personally engaged in an ongoing effort to improve what my family is eating and how we approach food in our home.
But when we aren’t at home, then what? Clearly, most restaurants aren’t preparing organic food, and I’m ok with that for the amount that we eat out. But I can’t bring myself to be “ok” with fast food. And the kicker is that we can’t shake relaying on these purveyors of “food” — the hubby isn’t nearly as hard core as I on the subject, and the kids, well the kids are just not yet disgusted by it all. (When can I let them watch those documentaries, that is another topic to discuss!) And then we have the darned food allergy in the family which in a sick way sends us to fast food for the “known” quality that those places provide when we are far from home or our stash of safe food is gone while we’re on the road.
And then there are the times when the kids get to pick, like their birthdays. I think we’d have a revolt in the house if I excluded fast food from the allowable options. And part of me thinks that giving fast food an “untouchable” designation might just drive the kids to it more. Everything I’ve learned about raising healthy eaters, much from the writing of Ellyn Satter, talks about the division of responsibility. Parents buy and prepare food; kids decide if they will eat and how much. Its around school age that kids start to get a role in deciding what to eat (in the Satter model) and here we are, my kids are deciding, for the bday dinner, to go to McDonald’s.
Did I eat at McDonald’s as kid? Yes! (And when my future 17 year old asks if I ever drank while in high school, I will have to answer that one honestly too won’t I?) I ate at McDonald’s, Taco Bell (my personal favorite fast food) and every pizza establishment possible. But I didn’t know better, did I?
So tonight, while I was secretly trying to persuade my 7 year old that we should celebrate his birthday at Chevy’s, where I could get a margarita, or at least trying to encourage the selection of a non-fast food restaurant for the birthday celebration tonight, I started to feel bad. I don’t want me son to carry the weight of the “badness” of fast food with him on his special night, and he really thinks that the cheeseburger he can get there is the best cheeseburger in town.
I told my hubby that I won’t eat there; will wait till we are home. He thinks I won’t be able to overcome the powers and will succumb to eating there as well. I have a little heartburn just thinking about it.
So, moms and dads and know-it-all outside observers, what do you do when faced with this kind of dilemma?
My newly minted 7 year old has been reading this over my shoulder, inquiring “why did you eat McDonald’s as a kid?” and “What does ‘loathes’ mean?” He just said “we will go there!” (followed by “don’t mom, delete that!”) — so I guess my sharing my real feelings on the matter aren’t enough to influence him right now.