Back in the day, I enjoyed the occasional fast food indulgence. In high school my friend and I would cut out at lunchtime to get a BK Broiler. In college my friend and I would take a late night trip through the Wendy’s drive-thru for a Frosty. Even as much as once a month I’d get a Happy Meal for a bite of those greasy fries.
Nowadays, not so much. I’ve learned a lot about what’s in food and how it’s made. Various documentaries like SuperSize Me, or Food, Inc have opened my eyes and ears and closed my mouth to lots of different food. I pay more attention to where our food comes from and what’s in it.
Before I became a parent I slowed all of my fast food eating to only emergency situations, when there were no other options. Say, at a rest stop. The other case would be extreme hangovers (also sort of an emergency, wouldn’t you agree?).
Then, after becoming a parent, I made an unconscious choice to avoid fast food. I say “unconscious,” because I have never made it a hard and fast rule. If I did, the rule would most certainly be broken. But most fast food places are just not on my radar when it comes to feeding my children, or myself. I usually pass them and think “Ick” rather than “We shouldn’t go there.”
All this paying attention has made our diets much better, but far from perfect. I doubt they will ever be. You can only do so much at a time and we all want the best for our kids.
I’d like to say my kids have never been to McDonald’s, but I learned, after the fact, that my father-in-law brought my older son when he was less than two. Oh well, he lived. But I wasn’t that excited about it, I won’t lie.
Maybe thrice a year we have In N Out Burger (if you’ve been, you know why), and once every two months or so when I have run out of dinner ideas (or time/energy to make one) we might visit the nearby El Pollo Loco.
Meanwhile, every few days on our way home, we drive by Carls, Jr., Jack In The Box and Burger King that have big play spaces and bright red colors outside, casting spells on children everywhere. My 3 year-old watches them pass by asks me why we can’t go there.
I tell him that the food there isn’t good for our bodies, so we try not to eat it.
As for play spaces, we live in Los Angeles, there are plenty of places to play that don’t require you to eat 1,000 calories in sugar, fat, salt and chemicals.
Do you eat fast food with your toddler? If so, how often? Do you think I’m depriving my children of fun by not letting them go to the local fast food joint?
Photo via Flickr