I’m going to let you in on something I would never openly admit to some of my crunchier friends. My dirty little secret of parenting…are you ready? Sitting down even? Here it is.
I let my kids eat red dye 40. I am that mom.
Yep, you read that correctly. Go ahead and whip out your best judgy mom glare when you see me out in public
endangering indulging my child.
You saw me at the park giving my kid artificially flavored, corn syrup laden slushies when it was 102 degrees outside and she was red faced from playing so hard.
You saw me putting vanilla cupcakes with the hot pink icing and brightly colored sprinkles into my shopping cart.
Every so often we like to start our day with a breakfast completely devoid of anything resembling nutrition. On Valentines Day we had pink, heart-shaped pancakes topped with sprinkles.
You saw my husband buying the GIANT box of peanut M&M’s for him and my daughter to share at the movie theater, along with the extra-large Dr. Pepper because it is her favorite soda.
Red dye and soda. We obviously hate our children and care nothing for their health. We’re contributing to them becoming type 2 diabetics, and we are single-handedly destroying the already massively overburdened health care system in this country. (Insert eye roll here).
I give my kids red dye 40, because sometimes it’s fun to eat things you shouldn’t. Sometimes. Not always. Sometimes. And usually it is a special occasion.
That slushy at the park was delicious. It was pure sugar and food dye, but it cooled us down. And I mean…who doesn’t love the occasional slushy?
Those M&M’s and that Dr. Pepper at the movie theater? They were shared in celebration of my husband earning his Bachelor of Science degree. It meant that he would be home more often, getting to spend more time with his little girl he had only seen in passing, and on the rare day off in the past two years.
Those horrifically bright pink cupcakes? My daughter got one as a thank you for being such a big helper, so patient, and so kind after her baby brother was born. Also, she was such a trooper when we uprooted her to a new city away from her friends and everything she had ever known. She earned those cupcakes.
The occasional sweet treat when out and about, as a thank you, or in celebration is perfectly acceptable in our house. I truly do believe in everything in moderation, especially when it comes to sweets. If my children ate slushies, cupcakes, and M&Ms, and drank Dr. Pepper every day, then yes, we would have a problem.
There are quite a few people in my circle of friends who have decided that they will never, ever, under any circumstances allow their children to eat anything other than 100% organic foods. I applaud them. I think that is an amazing choice for them, but we aren’t that family. I don’t owe anyone an explanation, but my family eats organic food 95% of the time. My husband and I made that decision for our family. We make it a priority to eat healthy, wholesome food, which preferably we made from scratch or grew for ourselves. It is important that most of the food which is filling our children’s bellies is not covered in pesticides or genetically modified.
That being said, allowing my kids to have corn syrup and red dye is also a decision that we have made as a family. We want our kids to know the difference between healthy daily eating and special treats. We don’t want them to grow up hiding food in their bedrooms or thinking that they can’t enjoy themselves at a birthday party. We will have candy canes on our Christmas tree and Peeps in their Easter basket. We will sometimes let them pick something so terribly awful for them at the movie theater because we know that they will eat a nutritious dinner later on.
I feel as though there is a growing culture of shame surrounding parents that allow their kids to eat anything other than 100% wholesome foods, 100% of the time. The dialogue about obesity, type 2 diabetes, and the gross over manufacturing of food in our country is important. It’s a conversation I’m passionate about. It’s a conversation we need to be having. But it’s also important to not judge people you see buying those things. You never know a person’s story, why they’re buying it, or what decisions they are making for their family that you aren’t privy to in the checkout line at the grocery store.
Sometimes, I see exasperated glances and eye rolls from strangers when they see me giving my kids treats. I see them, and I don’t care. I know that I am a good mom. I know that I have my kids’ best interests at heart, and I know that I am making the best possible decisions at any given moment for my family. I know that a little bit of red dye 40, in the grand scheme of things, is not a huge deal. Most importantly though, I know that for my family, everything is alright in moderation.