When my kids eat junk food, I always tell myself it’s just a treat.
We were at the movies – our third during the school holidays – and they were running around grabbing whatever they could. I pulled them into a little huddle and told them they could have one savoury snack and one sweet snack each, and that slushies counted as a sweet snack so they should probably just stick to water.
This happens every time I go to the movies with the kids, or anywhere with the kids really.
There aren’t many places you can take your children these days where they aren’t surrounded by junk food, as though companies targeting children understand that if they look like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory they can further brainwash them into coming back again and again and again.
While us lowly parents trail after them saying, “no” or “that’s too much” or “put something back” or “we already ate”.
Apparently children can’t do anything without eating crap. They can’t watch a movie, jump on a trampoline, play indoor soccer or buy a toy without being given the option of some sort of treat food.
Enough already. I’m almost scared to leave the house anymore due to the constant battle against junk food.
You may think you have all the power when it comes to food choices for you and your family. We have been told countless times by health experts that being healthy is eeeeeeasy. We just have to make all the right food choices and ta-da…the problem is solved. No more junk food will enter our homes or our mouths.
That’s what we’ve been taught to believe but it’s not the case. In truth, we are being constantly manipulated into buying junk food. Millions of dollars of research is spent by food companies who research the best ways to entice us to buy unhealthy food.
When it comes to willpower vs millions of dollars worth of expert psychological manipulation, it’s easy to see who is going to win. We may say “no” the first time, the second time and the third time but often enough, we are going to say “yes”. Then we may resist a seventh, an eighth and even a ninth time but our kids will chime in – under the influence of the psychological manipulation that is expertly targeted at them – and we give in, again.
I am doing my best to be healthy and to raise my children to be healthy but from the moment we walk out the door we are bombarded with suggestions that steer us right through the drive through and into the junk food aisle.
A British report has confirmed that unhealthy food is cheaper than healthy food and that junk food is still being promoted to our children through the internet, marketing, television and product placement, anywhere children may frequent.
The report by the Food Foundation in the UK reflects what is happening in all western countries. Laura Sandys, Chair of the Food Foundation, makes the excellent point that when it comes to food all the blame is put on the individuals, where as when it comes to the safety of non-food products, the onus is on the manufacturer.
She told the Express, “From seat belts to toy safety we keep our children safe but we have a blind spot when it comes to food. Unhealthy diets have outcomes that we wouldn’t allow from any other business sector.”
Yes, eating junk food is a choice but why can’t it be a harder choice? Why can’t we get more help in protecting our children from junk food they are exposed to. Regardless of our decisions when it comes to the food our children eat, we are eventually going to fail.
Either we are going to give in and allow our children to eat junk food amidst as much healthy food as possible or we’ll successfully keep our children away from junk food until they earn their own money and start indulging in the foods they’ve been deprived of all their lives.
In the movie That Sugar Film, Damon Gameau demonstrates just how much sugar is in fruit juice, even if it is freshly squeezed. Article continues after this video.
The best part of all this is that the better we do, the more often we say “no”, the more we pressure manufacturers to do better at getting us to say yes. There are major companies completely re-designing the best-sellers to be healthier and I feel so grateful.
If the tide continues to turn, if the onus of responsibility when it comes to the consumption of junk food is shared by individuals and manufacturers, there is less pressure on us, and less guilt when we make an unhealthy choice.
In the meantime the battle continues, and don’t be mistaken, it is a battle. At least we can control the food we have in our homes.