The February 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine states that 60% of kids eat fast food every day. It is a statistic in the sidebar of an article about a program that teaches kids how to grow and cook fresh, healthy meals. The article didn’t refer to or explain the statistic so it’s not clear whether it’s the same 60% of kids eating fast food every day of their lives or that on any given day 60% of all kids eat fast food. The former would be pretty tragic, but the latter isn’t all that good either. No wonder we have a childhood obesity epidemic in our country. If you are ever curious about the nutritional “value” of the fast food you eat, check out www.calorieking.com (it’s a fee-based diet website but you can look up nutritional values of tons of restaurant menu items, processed food items, and fresh foods without joining or paying). It’s pretty shocking.
I think we all try to provide the best foods for our families but sometimes it gets challenging, if not overwhelming. Whether we have one child or several, whether we work or stay at home, as moms we are juggling so many balls that the Martha Stewart from scratch approach to cooking is simply not an option. Through blogs, magazines, and TV shows we’re bombarded with examples of fabulous moms who cook beautiful healthy meals for their families and are seemingly perfect in all other arenas of life too. Yes, we wish we could be like these moms; we buy their books and religiously follow their blogs. But I think we all secretly hate them for their perfection and for making us feel, well, not perfect. A friend of mine recently mentioned she was thinking of “unliking” a mommy food blogger’s facebook page simply because she felt she could not keep up with this superwoman’s constant posts about the fantastic food her kids were eating. It was a tongue in cheek remark but it was followed by a very interesting discussion about the reality of our hectic lives and the food we actually manage to serve our kids. Yes, we’d all love to make our own panko breaded fish sticks (after making breadcrumbs from homemade bread, of course) but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for getting help from the freezer aisle once in a while. After all, we’re just trying to stay sane!
Getting back to the fast food issue, I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times my two year old has eaten junk food in her life, and it’s just as often as I’ve eaten junk food in the last two years. I’m not a junk food junkie, but that’s not to say I cook from scratch every day. I’m definitely a devotee of the semi-homemade/30-minute meal/quick fix etc. concepts. And I do on occasion serve chicken nuggets and frozen French fries, but I still try to make sure the products I buy are natural, free of antibiotics and preservatives, and generally have as few ingredients as possible. What bugs me though is you still can’t escape the sugars, sodium and other additives when you do this, but making soup using frozen veggies and canned or boxed broth is still better than serving up canned soup or, God forbid picking up dinner at the drive through. So, if we use the fast food statistic as a yardstick, I think I’m doing OK, and so probably are you. As convenient as the store bought prepared foods are, I am slowly cutting them out of rotation and replacing them with healthier homemade alternatives but I probably will never make my own fish sticks!
What about you? How much help do you get from the store and how do you feel about it?