When you’re a real food family, it becomes clear that other households’ pantries, fridges, and freezers look very different from what your kids are used to.
All sorts of processed foods exist out there that I simply never buy.
Don’t get me wrong – we eat potato chips and looooove ice cream for dessert, so it’s not like we (a) make everything from scratch or (b) have a no-sugar household. We only have a couple of ingredients that we don’t allow in our house at all!
Far from it – but there are quite a few items that my kids have only eaten at restaurants, potlucks, and school or other events. As I learned through one humorous conversation at dinnertime, sometimes they’ve never tried common processed foods.
The subject of soda pop came up among my kids before dinner one day, and my then eighth grader queried what “Dr. Pepsi” tasted like.
Her older brother and I shared a grin and a giggle, mine laced with pride that one of my kids could get to nearly 14 years old and not know the names of common junk foods such as Pepsi and Dr. Pepper!
We spent the next few minutes trying to describe the flavors of different soda pops to the three of my kids who hadn’t tried very many.
If a Food Is 100% Restricted, Kids Might Want It More
I made a decision.
You see, in my picky eating membership (get started with some free picky eating tips here), we talk a lot about avoiding full restriction of foods, because sometimes that can create desire.
I decided it was important for my kids to try some pop (as we call it in Michigan) so that it didn’t become some sort of mysterious Holy Grail that commanded their attention and yearning.
RELATED: Tips for snacks and sweets with toddlers.
The next time I was at the grocery store, my daughter was with me. We came home with three different kinds of pop: Coke, Pepsi, and Faygo Rock & Rye. (If you aren’t from the Midwest, you might not be familiar with that last one. And believe me, if I could describe the flavor to you, I would, but it’s just impossible!)
We had quite a funny time surprising other family members by having pop on the counter, and then doing a side-by-side family taste test one night at dinner!
Lifting the Curtain on Soda Pop – The Family Taste Test
As expected, seven-year-old Gabe swooned and decided pop was the next best thing to ice cream. I wasn’t sure how it would go with the other three, but the results were interesting.
Ten-year-old John disliked Pepsi enough that he asked if he could pour out the rest of his tastes! And he’s on the fence about Coke, but ended up tasting it a few more times while the open bottles languished around.
Leah of the “Dr. Pepsi” fame said she was highly disappointed. She thought it would be more fun, but she didn’t really like it very much. She often thinks sweets are too sweet, so I wasn’t incredibly surprised by that one.
RELATED: What to do when kids sneak treats.
Seventeen-year-old Paul has had pop much more often with his increased high schooler independence and events that he attends.
He had actually mentioned after our initial dinner conversation that he wasn’t sure if pop made him feel very well. He did say that he usually only has access to pop when he’s having something else like pizza, so he probably needed to experiment with soda without eating processed gluten too.
I’m proud that my kids are able to think about how food makes them feel and realize that there are many layers to what we eat and how it impacts our bodies.
I often tell parents that if we can teach kids to at least connect food with feelings and energy, they’re going to be so far ahead of their cohort group (and our generation)! So important!
When Paul did the family taste test, he admitted that he liked the flavors of all 3 options, but that he wasn’t sure if he could actually drink an entire 12-ounce can. This surprised me! We’ll have to see what comes next for him.
One final piece to our story is that at least two if not all three of the soda flavors went unfinished in the fridge, even though we were happy to serve a glass for a child if they asked (although nothing caffeinated at dinner; that’s an experiment I’m not willing to mess with!).
Need More Baby Steps?
Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.
That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.
Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.
Parenting by Intuition and Education
I share these stories with you mostly to give you an example of what figuring things out as we go along looks like.
I’m constantly learning more, second-guessing myself, and doubling down on what makes the most logical sense.
I’m pleased with the results of this parenting experiment so far. And 10 or 20 years from now, I’ll know more about whether it was an absolute success!
So far over one year later, none of my kids have developed a strong pull toward any sort of sugary drink. In fact, when my boys get a Gatorade after baseball or soccer, they tend to start out very excited, then store half or more in the fridge, where, like those opened soda bottles, the leftovers languish, forgotten.
If it’s true that full restriction creates desire and that we never want to create a trophy sensation by putting dessert as a reward after dinner for example, then sometimes we may need to surprise our kids by buying something that we don’t think is good for them.
Here’s to inspiring YOU to do something surprising and experimental with your parenting this week.
Would you do this experiment with your kids?