Letting Go: How Junk Food Made Its Way Into Our Home

Like many parents, I was determined to raise my babies with a taste for healthy food. I obsessed, researching to find out if rice cereal really was the best first food, or if a homemade quinoa cereal would be better. I hovered, sure that a well meaning grandma would try to feed my babies cheese or, even worse, sugar.

Trans fats, artificial colors, GMO food, corn syrup — none of them were making it past my sweet darlings' lips into their delicate, pristine guts. I followed all the rules, raising the bar by making my own baby food from all organic ingredients. And I'm glad I did. Even with three children, the oldest 14, I know I made the right choice. We still encourage them to eat well by offering fresh, whole foods and explaining why that sort of thing matters. We want to make nutritious food a habit.

But we also have a mini fridge, stocked with things I never imagined in my home on a regular basis. Years ago, I received a small inheritance, which should have gone into savings. I bought a pool table. It's the perfect place to gather with friends and family, and gosh darn-it, I had always wanted one. A refurbished hotel fridge cabinet found on eBay completed the room.

The table brings kids to our house. Like most parents, I like my children nearby, where I can keep an eye on them, at least within shouting distance. Most teenagers don't appreciate unsweetened herbal iced tea, homemade granola bars with agave, and salt-free raw almonds. When I invite my grown-up friends into my home, we share special treats, like prosciutto, decadent cheese, crispy potato chips, a good bottle of wine. My children's friends deserve the same courtesy.

The snacks aren't altogether horrible. I usually have cheese sticks, packaged nuts, and healthier versions of things like snack mix and dried fruit. But the soda is real, not naturally sweetened. The cans are small, and I also stock juice boxes. (One in five teens prefers apple juice over soda, at least according to my anecdotal study.) The Diet Coke is mine, all mine; they know it's off limits. If they go through the sodas too fast, I have a simple solution: I don't restock the bar for a while, and no one complains.

Have your views on nutrition changed over the years? For parents, how strict are you about food?

Related: In Defense of "Kid Food"

(Image: Anne Postic)

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Main, Children, Health & Diet, Life in the Kitchen

Anne Postic writes about cooking for her family on The Kitchn. She lives in Columbia, South Carolina with her husband and three very handsome sons. She loves talking cooking, travel, parenting and art, though not necessarily in that order.