I hear you! I am not super strict, especially outside of my own kitchen, and I think it's important to be kind and gracious to friends and family, that a once-in-a-blue-moon processed disaster won't kill my kid. However, it is shocking to me how easily even small kids can get railroaded into eating complete garbage. It is everywhere in a way I don't remember growing up, and it's widely considered normal and safe. I've found that I have to be a little crazy or else this will harm my child. Food is something we habituate to, and it can be addictive. DS prefers water to juice and considers strawberries candy because I'm vigilant (and because that's what I drink and eat), not because he's some kind of miniature food saint!
Question, mamas: Do you have a handy, non-preachy way to explain the difference between fake/highly processed ingredients (HFCS, food dye, bleached flour, etc.) and nonhealthy whole ingredients? For example, we have a relative who loves buying DS these particular cookies. She thinks this is a fine treat because they are relatively low in calories, grams of sugar, etc., all that nutritionist nonsense. Of course, the cookies are primarily bleached flour and hfcs and preservatives. I have tried to explain that I don't mind him having a cookie made with stuff like unrefined sugar, stone-ground whole wheat flour, and dark chocolate. It's not exactly healthy, to be sure, but it's not a bunch of lab chemicals. I'm all for treats. I like them myself and can't imagine life without them! The situation with this relative is not a big deal in itself, because we don't see this relative all that often. But in general, she has no idea what I'm talking about. It does seem like a lot of those who offer DS these processed foods don't get the distinction between "unhealthy" and "toxic" - i.e., unrefined sweeteners are unhealthy; refined sugar is a neurotoxin. They think, hey, a cookie is a cookie, it's not good for you, what difference does it make if it has HFCS or some other sweetener in it? So they see me allowing him a homemade granola bar and don't understand why I don't want him to have the conventional box kind with white sugar and candy in it, think I'm a food snob and control freak, and write me off. And think they are being kind to the deprived kid with the health freak mom by sneaking him a bright blue ice pop. The kid has ice pops! But they are made with yogurt and fresh fruit! Ideas? Or do you not even try to explain?