Plans for feeding children ended up as pie in the sky

Junk food

Junk food - Credit: Archant

Before I had children, oh yeah… Mine were going to only eat homegrown organic vegetables, munch on healthy fruit snacks for a treat and we would certainly limit television time to half an hour a day.

We would have no time for telly anyway, as we would be far too busy strawberry picking, carol singing, taking part in sports tournaments and making educational visits to St Albans’ fabulous free museums.

We would be so absorbed in our learning and our ethereal nature-filled fun-packed lives that we would never need to stare at a box watching ‘damaging’ cartoons or soulless Disney claptrap.

Oh my. Someone please step back eight years in time and slap me in my ignorant un-wrinkly made-up well-slept face!

I am sometimes a ‘junk feeding’ mother. This is my first confession. I don’t even pretend to feel guilty for it now and I won’t hide it. They eat fruit and veg but they do have other stuff too. Doughnuts, Haribo - once, I even gave them candyfloss!

Depending on where you are in the mothering cycle, you will have different views on this.

With the first baby, ya might acquire a recipe book of nutritious baby-friendly foods that you can whip up in twenty minutes. This will usually be written by Annabel Karmel. This will almost certainly be passed on to you by a friend, since nobody has needed to buy one of her books, since about two years after it first came out.

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Someone at a baby group discusses their picky eater. Someone else butts in and offers you their Annabel Karmel book and that, my middle-class hummus-loving friends, is the St Albans way!

We are all so stinking rich – even the poorest folk here are comparatively way better off than the rest of the land – yet we ADORE a second-hand vintage pre-loved bargain.

So you don’t need to buy this book ever. Because by the second child, Monster Munch will do. Not always. And not as a meal, of course. But the home-made blueberry pancakes or salmon vol-au-vents will definitely be a thing of the past by Child Number 2.

Food shaming is where you look at a struggling mother, and you notice that her toddler is eating something chocolatey, so you do a wince-y snobby face or an eye roll and possibly even dare to say something.

It is now utterly acceptable to food shame, as steeped in legislation and dictated by our so-called democratic government. It’s under the guise of healthy eating promotion but it is really food shaming.

I saw a story recently in the news about packed lunches and how teachers have been given special government powers to take away sweet treats or dodgy things like crisps <mock gasps> from packed lunches.

I tell you, if a teacher ever confiscated a KitKat from my child’s lunch, it wouldn’t be the only two fingers I would be giving them! And they could have a piece of my mind, to boot. To wash down with their ginger and lemon tea.

See, when we tell parents what they can and can’t feed their children, it’s a step towards St Albans becoming China. And even though new houses are constantly being built here, we don’t have room for China. That’s just a geographical fact. Let China stay in China and let me bung Mini Cheddars in my kids’ pack up without fear of an oversized dinner lady snaffling them away.

Ladies of this fair cathedral city, if you see me at the splash park and my baby is enjoying an ice cream… If you notice me in Starbucks and my toddler is clutching one of those giant chocolate coins that only Satan himself would let their child suck on… If you consider me a bad mum because I let them have a bag of Percy Pig jellies, during my Marks & Spencer’s mini nervous breakdown…

Then take a long hard look at yourself and smile. It’s not helpful for mums to uphold shame of any kind and everything is fine in moderation. Nobody will think better of you for food shaming another mother.

Gotta fly, there’s a promotion on at Dunkin’ Donuts...