I Fed My Kids Very Well… Or So I Thought!


When I was growing up, we assumed that all the food we were eating was good for us simply because mom told us it was. The extent of our responsibility was to trust our mother.

When I did my student teaching at the nursery school, we gave the kids brightly colored sugary cereal because it had been “fortified” with their recommended daily allowance of vitamins.

And when I had children of my own, I tried to follow in mom’s footsteps. I didn’t enjoy cooking like she did, but I did well enough to get by. The kids got meat and fish and chicken and eggs and noodles. They got one green vegetable and one yellow vegetable per day. They drank milk and snacked on fruit and enjoyed the occasional handful of M&Ms. Once a week, in the hour between school and gymnastics lessons, I took them to a fast-food place. On Sundays, I made a big breakfast with eggs and bacon and toast and butter and juice. On rare occasions, like when we went to the fair, they got cotton candy, but they had to share it — with me.

I didn’t realize I was killing these kids.

I am so sorry.

The fortification vitamins that had been injected into or sprayed onto the sugary cereals could not possibly have counteracted all the bad effects of the sugar and dyes.

I didn’t know that red meat was practically toxic, eggs were loaded with cholesterol and noodles contained way too much starch.

One green vegetable and one yellow? Not enough. Turns out you need about 45 servings of fruit and vegetables every day. And maybe a gallon of water.

I thought I was doing a good thing by demanding that my kids finish their milk, but it was whole milk. Whole milk! What was I thinking? That stuff is loaded with fat and, well, milk. What they needed was 2% milk, 1% milk or 0% milk — perhaps milk made out of soybeans.

I didn’t know. I apologize.

And what about that year I entered the contest at McDonald’s and tried to guess how many sauce packets were in the plastic tub? I’m sorry I won two orders of Chicken McNuggets every week for an entire year. My poor kids had to go to gymnastics with free food in their tummies. I should have known better. I should’ve guessed “1” instead of “254.”

M&Ms? Cotton candy? Why not hand them sugary sweets along with a copy of Diabetes and You?

And all those Sunday breakfasts could easily have put them on the road to obesity. That wonderful smell of bacon in the air? Nothing but a siren’s song. Those scrambled eggs? Nothing but a way to sneak more than one egg into each of them. And what good mother serves up all that bacon and then slathers butter on their toast? Tops it off with (shudder) grape jelly? A bad mother, that’s who.

Those kids were nothing but innocent victims.

But I was innocent, too, back then — back when food was good for you. Or so we thought.

It’s amazing those children grew up at all.