This morning we had Joy Bauer on the show to talk about "healthy junk food". My ears perked up yesterday when I heard the title of this segment, because I have to admit, I like junk food, and would LOVE to hear about miracle junk that could somehow be healthy.
After watching the segment it became clear that even with some improvements in junk food, treats are treats and are never going to actively improve your health or provide nutrition comparable to fruits and veggies. Ah well. Joy did feature some healthier options to favorite snacks, which was helpful.
I was allowed to have sugary cereals as a child. Not ALL the time, but my favorite was Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and I could not get enough of it. We were also allowed Fruit Roll-Ups once a month for snack time after school. In general I feel like I had a pretty typical upbringing related to foods and nutrition, but after living in this city and working in the media world for a few years, my perspective has shifted.
I know childhood obesity is a huge problem in this country, and that nutritious eating habits are an important part of living a healthy and long life, but I also wonder how far parents should take the health craze at home when raising kids? I remember some kids I grew up with who were never allowed anything even waivering on the line of "junk", and I have to say, when we got to high school and had free periods, they were often the same kids beelining it to McDonald's. Not that I don't love my Egg McMuffins (and I do really love them), but it seemed like for some kids who were restricted earlier, they went to the other extreme when left to their own devices.
I asked Joy and her producer Rainy Farrell, both of whom are very nutrition-conscious and have young kids at home, point-blank if their houses are cleansed of all "junk". I was pretty relieved to hear an adament "NO" from both of them. Joy's main point is moderation - nothing should be entirely off-limits for exactly the same reason as my example above, but it is important to teach kids about what they're eating and teach self-moderation. This is something I personally struggle with - if I have one mini-snickers, I'll end up having ten.
Another point that came up with Joy, Rainy and also Bianca, our prep chef in our kitchen, is that it's a fine line teaching kids healthy eating but also allowing them to make their own choices. You don't want kids to develop a complex or get nervous about food and how it affects their bodies. Don't kids have enough to worry about with schoolwork and peer pressure already? Body image buzz starts early on (with girls at least) and I personally remember being a sophomore in high school and already worrying about the "freshman fifteen" - the supposed fifteen pounds all freshmen gain at college. I think it's important to inform kids on good eating choices, but also allow them to enjoy some of the treats without all of the stress. I'd be interested to hear from any of you on your own approaches to nutrition or if you have any follow-up questions to the segment like I did!