Friday, October 8, 2010

Confession: I Feed My Kids High-Fructose Corn Syrup And I'm Proud Of It

Allow me to step onto my soap box for a moment.

Okay, so I don't actually force feed sweet food to my kiddos nor even have it in the house every week.

However, I think this High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) hate has to stop. Now.

I'm a parent of two kids - neither one of them is overweight and both of them adore fruits and veggies. We eat healthy meals of veggies, fruits and protein. They both are active, and during nice weather we spend as much time outside playing as possible. Jack's involved in soccer and Zoey's my ballerina. Their favorite snacks are carrots, grapes and popcorn - the latter of which we eat only a handful of times a year. 

Now you know their history.

Now know this: I have no problem with HCFC.

I know - I've failed as a parent. How DARE I give my kids such an awful concoction of chemicals! How DARE I encourage my kids to over-eat sugary foods that will turn them into obese little people! HOW DARE I! Did I not read all the media reports? Did I not listen to the commercials?

Yeah, with it.

Here's my deal: do you really think that pop is better for you if it has "real" sugar in it? Do you really think that it's a better idea to give your child a cookie with loads of "real" sugar in it? Do you really think that fruit juice is better if it lacks HCFC?

Here's a huge reality check: it's not better. There is no significant difference! Both are made of natural products! 

(Side note: for those asking why I included fruit juice, look at the label. It's packed full of sugar. When I want my kids to get a serving of fruit, I give them fruit)

Instead of fighting HFCS and lecturing people about all of its evils, stop for a moment and think about what you're saying. Sugar is bad for you - it doesn't matter where it comes from. Overly sweet food is addictive and really is no better if it contains "real" sugar, sugar substitutes or even HFCS.

You see, I encourage my kids to make healthy choices. When we do have sweet food in the house, I ensure two things happen:

1) They aren't used as a reward for good behavior. On so many levels that is wrong.

2) They are consumed sparingly.

I believe that it really doesn't matter if that Animal Cracker has HFCS or "real" sugar. That's like telling me that french fries are better for you if made with new potatoes instead of baking potatoes. You can't call one bad while praising the other. If my kids can ask for a cookie and be happy with a half of a cookie, I'm proud. Parenting shouldn't be about teaching your kids to fear foods. It should be about teaching your kids healthy habits they can carry on as they grow. It's naive to think that they will never be offered a cookie at a friend's house or never celebrate a birthday at school. However, I can at the very least teach my kids how to make WISE choices.

And the big one here? Parents have to follow through too. You can't expect your kids to be satisified with half a cookie if you aren't. You can't expect your kids to eat their veggies if you don't. There's a reason why we don't keep pop or fruit juice in our house.

So here's my urge to you - get educated. Get out there and teach your kids WHY broccoli is better for you than a cookie. Get out there and get involved in our local farmer's market and teach them how to REALLY enjoy healthy food.

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