This weekend my five year old son and I made blueberry muffins. While we were waiting for them to bake my son asked me “Mom, blueberry muffins are healthy, right?”
I paused, thinking of how to respond.
Our blueberry muffins contained butter, white flour, and white sugar, all foods that other families may call “bad” or even banish from their diets altogether. However, what I consider healthy is probably different to what you consider healthy. With so many popularized diets, food options, and extreme opinions out there, I’ve realized that healthy is a very subjective term.
We eat everything. Vegetables, fruit, meat, grains, dairy, chocolate (that’s a food group, right? ;) ) and of course there is sometimes goldfish crackers, Cheerios, and drive-thru dinners. GMO, non-GMO, organic, non-organic, local, not local, fresh, packaged. But still… I consider us a “healthy” family.
“These muffins are going to give us lots of energy,” I told my son. “So this afternoon you can run, jump and play! The blueberries we added are SO good for us. They have antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They’ll help you grow, keep your brain sharp, and help your body fight getting sick. We wouldn’t have muffins for supper, but we may have them for a snack or a dessert. These muffins are more of a treat, but they still have things in them that are good for us. Every food does.”
Yes, you heard me right. Every food does! To a starving child, anything with calories is healthier than going hungry.
Just this past weekend I heard about a little girl food shaming a family she was visiting for all the “junk” they kept in their cupboards. I would be speechless (and concerned) if any child spoke to me that way. I would wonder if food shaming, or over-emphasizing food in general, were a part of this child’s home life. I can’t think of anything else that would fast track an eating disorder quicker than that.
I’ve also heard about children as young as four criticizing parts of their bodies they don’t like. This hurts my heart. Children should NOT have to think about these things (I wish nobody did).
I spent years classifying foods as “good” and “bad.” I don’t want my children to do this because it also meant that I spent years feeling guilty whenever I indulged, even on something harmless like a blueberry muffin. What is life without enjoying the simple pleasure of a freshly-baked, warm blueberry muffin?
So while some may disagree with me, I believe my children having a healthy relationship with food is more important than eating a “perfectly healthy” food.
That is why there is no such thing as a “bad” food in our house.