kids

"Hey, Jules Allen: feeding my kids packaged food doesn't mean I love them any less."

I could feel my shoulders sagging as I read the comments by former Masterchef contestant Jules Allen.

Here’s what she said:

“When you make a kid lunch, the first thing it says when someone opens that lunch box is that someone loves me. When you put treats in — not packets, but things you put effort into — it says to a child someone cares.

Here’s what I, and many Aussie parents, heard:

“If you give your kids packaged foods, they feel unloved.”

Jules Allen during her season on Masterchef. Image: Network Ten

I'm sure Jules didn't mean to make me (and many others) feel like total crap, and I know what she said isn't in the least bit true. I do love my kids and they know it because I show it to them is so many ways, not just in the kitchen.

Jules is a beautiful person and one of my favourite former Masterchef contestants. I'm sure she'll be devastated to know she has upset people with her comments.

Still, I can't help but feel like crying.

I am so tired. Most days I go to bed wondering how I'll get everything done the next day, and I wake up wondering how I will make it through. I have three children. I work, we have pets, activities, responsibilities and do our best to raise our children well.

It's just a lot to manage, as most mums know. Some days are better than others but then things will be going well and someone breaks a bone or gets sick. Then it can become unmanageable.

That's why these comments hurt so much. They are utterly ridiculous for so many reasons, least of all the fact that food isn't love.

Love is love.

I get through it, fueled by my love and adoration for my family — I love them so much it hurts.

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I think that's why, when I'd just walked through the door from my son's occupational therapy appointment and a tiring day, reading Jules' suggestion that parents who feed their kids processed foods make them feel unloved upset me so much.

What about everything else I do for them?

I'm like most mums. Sometimes I cook, sometimes I order in. Sometimes my kids get a muffin and carrot sticks for morning tea, sometimes they get a packet of Twisties and an apple.

As long as they eat healthier foods as often as possible, I don't sweat over the rest. Feeding them is what is important.

Jules set the bar pretty high with her comments and she didn't hold back when sharing her thoughts about what works for her and her family.

I grew up in a home where we only ever ate fresh food until we were teenagers and all my childhood memories are of my mum cooking in the kitchen, as well as cleaning in the kitchen.

Jo Abi

I remember her sitting down, taking a couple of bites of food, then going back into the kitchen to get something else. She never played with us. She never read to us. She didn't have the time.

She was flat out cooking and cleaning for four children, and if she'd had the means to order in once a week or take a few shortcuts she would have.

Did I mention she worked as well? And took a year off from work to look after me when I had glandular fever?

She used to buy me jelly beans from the chemist when we picked up my medication. Do you think I ever for one second felt unloved? Handing her all of the revolting black jelly beans while I ate the rest is one of my favourite childhood memories, and I was really sick then.

Jules, I know your heart is in the right place, but please consider the feelings of other mothers when making comments like this. You have to understand fresh food is expensive and takes a lot of time to prepare. Some days we do it, and some days we don't.

In my home it is probably similar to most homes. Something like toast for breakfast just before we run out the door to school; a combination of fresh and packaged foods in their morning tea and lunch at school, fruit and whatever they choose from the pantry as an after school snack; and dinner that I have either cooked from scratch or cooked half of.

Spaghetti and meatballs, cooked from scratch except I bought the spaghetti — is that OK? Packaged fish fingers with potato salad and store-bought bread — is that OK?

Aussie parents have a lot on their plates. The last thing we need is to feel that anything less than complete and total perfection is a sign of our affection for our children.

Trust me, Jules — our kids are fed, they are loved and they feel loved.

So many parents (mostly mums) had a lot to say in response to Jules' comments:

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