Fast Food. Is it ever okay to feed it to your kids?
I say yes.
Let me explain.
By answering ‘yes’ to the question above, I am not for one second suggesting that it is great (for kids, or anyone) to eat fast food. I’m not saying that I think fast food meals are something that should be eaten regularly and I am not saying that if you don’t eat them or feed them to your kids you are missing out. What I am saying is, in my opinion, and in my experience as a Mum, there are times when kids can eat fast food and no one needs to be shot over it.
Growing up, my grandparents used to be the ones who took us to the movies. Not often. Maybe two or three times a year. But generally when we went, it was with them. And whenever we would go to the movies, we would eat McDonald’s.
For me that meant a fish burger with small fries and for my siblings it was always a cheeseburger with fries as well. Those ‘movie dates’ make up some of my favourite memories as a kid. I remember the details well. I remember how excited my Nan was to get her McDonald’s coffee and Quarter Pounder and I remember how it all felt like a special treat.
If you dissect what we ate on those occasions, yes, I agree, it was not really ideal as far as the food pyramid goes, but in my opinion, my fond memories greatly override any negative effects that those few-times-a-year meals had on my body. And while I also have very lovely memories of healthy home-cooked meals that I ate at my grandparents house, the movies and Macca’s ones have not killed me and are special in their own way.
I think it’s important to emphasise again, this happened two or three times a year.
When my little girl was about eighteen months old, my husband and I took her on an impromptu road trip. We woke up one day, jumped in the car and just drove. I am normally really organised when it comes to things like snacks and meals on road trips, but this time I just wasn’t.
After driving for a while we stopped off in a small town, checked out a couple of antique stores, browsed a bookshop, grabbed some sandwiches from the local café and got back in the car to head home.
As soon as we entered the car, I handed my daughter a sandwich, (grated carrot, chicken and cheese, which she normally loved) and she refused it. She started screaming and going a bit crazy. I knew she was hungry, I was nine months pregnant at the time and, putting it mildly, didn’t really have the patience or strength to deal with the meltdown. Now wasn’t the time for me to hold firm to my normal rule of “eat it or get nothing.” Then I saw it, a drive-through fast food restaurant.
“STOOOOOOOOOP!” I yelled out. “There, there! Quick! Drive-through!” So hubby, who really doesn’t enjoy fast food himself at the best of times, let alone for the kids, swerved into where I had directed him. The next thing we knew, our little girl was in the back seat smiling and chomping down on a chicken wrap and hot chips.
I hadn’t actually thought about that incident until I sat down to write this post. But now, thinking about it, that was her first and last fast food experience.
She’s now three and a half. Of course I am not displeased about this. Of course I don’t think it is awesome to ensure your child has regular fast food meals. That said, it’s not like I made a conscious decision that she was never allowed to have it again, but the situation to give it to her, or for her to be fed it, just hasn’t come up. I guess I also have chosen not to seek it out.