Should kids choose their own food?

I found this terrific cartoon on The Parenting Pit, an awesome blog about life with kids. 

This is so me. <sigh> I didn’t want my kids to even know what sugar was, but my ex-husband was convinced that it was cruel to make kids eat brown bread and natural peanut butter. He put sugar on his pre-sweetened cereal!

And now, years later, I have a house full of teenagers and a four-year-old. We’ve got rid of most of the junk, but one of the teens really would, I think, starve to death if we didn’t provide macaroni and cheese and frozen pizza. And that means the little guy sees it and eats it too.

Critters choose their own food, and do just fine. I think people, given a variety of real food, could easily be trusted to choose well. The problem is that we are so smart that we’ve learned to separate out the stuff our bodies crave, like sugar, for example, and concentrate it.

I know that it’s harmful for my kids to eat fake food, industrial food. I guess I value their autonomy and decision-making skills more than the state of their bodies, though. So they choose.

And really, it’s a process for all of us. I make choices, constantly, about what to eat. So does Papa, so do the big boys, and so does the little one. I’m the only one in the house who refuses to eat white flour and sugar. Even Papa and the oldest?who love real food?will have a, you know, “normal” cookie if we’re out somewhere. Me? My weakness is industrial crutches like sugar-free chocolate bars or soda. Our choices are sometimes wiser and sometimes less-wise, but we’re learning all the time. I think that’s the best we can hope for.

But boy, is sugar ever scary.