Because I am a mama in the health and wellness space, most people assume that the only thing I feed my kids is, well, kale. The reality is, nothing could be further from the truth. My philosophy when it comes to what I feed my kids is, "Let a kid be a kid," but that doesn't mean permission to eat candy, pizza, hot dogs, and cupcakes at every whim.
In practice, this means I make sure to feed my kids a varied and well-rounded diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and legumes, as well as fun, yummy packaged snacks and comfort foods.
Here's the thing: I read labels, and I pay close attention to ingredients to make the most informed decisions I can, without being an obsessive (and annoying) parent who takes everything "fun" off the table. So, you won't find my kids eating just any boxed mac and cheese; they're devouring Annie's Organic Classic Cheddar Mac & Cheese because it's made with real cheese and without any artificial flavors, synthetic colors, or preservatives. Our family also loves their Annie's Organic Chicken Noodle Soup with Organic Cheddar Bunnies (which are now crispier and cheesier tasting!) and make the perfect fun soup toppers. Of course everyone in the family is a sucker for their Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks. These foods save me time on busy days and give me peace of mind to know that my kids are eating delicious food without iffy things like artificial colors or synthetic preservatives.
When I was growing up, my mom labeled foods "good" and "bad," where foods that were considered good were all your standard, non-packaged items—chicken, veggies, and fruits. Things like pizza, mac and cheese, granola bars, fruit snacks, and the like were all considered bad. And sure, while some of these items are certainly not as healthy as other whole foods in our house, as a mom now myself, I want my kids growing up having a smarter relationship with food—knowing what's in the food they're eating, understanding what's nourishing and how it feels to eat wholesome meals, and acknowledging what their bodies are craving and why. It's all about having these conversations with them as they grow up and form their likes and dislikes.
As parents, we have so many tough decisions to make for our little ones. It's a heavy responsibility. But I truly feel that food shouldn't be one of them. It's why, especially after being raised with a narrow outlook on what we should eat and what we shouldn't, it's my personal mission that my kids don't associate food with being "good" or "bad" but rather nourishing or less so and learn to make decisions about what to eat based on the way food makes them feel.
I'm confident that leading the way and educating them on the importance of knowing what's in their food and how it's made will make them happier and healthier overall.