This week I was in Las Vegas for a convention and happened to stumble across the giant monstrosity of an M&M store on The Strip. Who knew that Mars could fill four generous floors with adorable, colorful M&M merchandise and candy? As I was about to walk past I saw a small sign that read "customize your M&Ms on the 3rd floor". Hmmmm, here lies a dilemma. Annie absolutely loves M&Ms. I know so since our part time nanny, Lana, brought her some for Valentines day. I thought about how awesome it would be to get her some special M&Ms customized for her and Max's birthday party on Saturday. But then the uptight, go green, registered dietitian in me thinks "ugh, do I really want to bring her something full of processed ingredients and food coloring?"
So what did I do?
I marched straight up to the 3rd floor, picked out a colorful selection of M&Ms and had "Happy Birthday Annie & Max" printed on each one of those tasty little morsels. I couldn't wait to see how excited she was when I gave them to her. See how freakin' cute they turned out?
For me, it's got to be about give and take. We are never going to completely prevent our kids from eating the over processed "food" that dominates our culture. But I am OK with them indulging just a little since most of the stuff we eat is pretty healthy. My biggest concern with the M&Ms is the food coloring. Several studies have shown a link to cancer and food dyes (click here for more info). But, we do eat a lot of fruits and vegetables that are full of powerful antioxidants that work in the body to help prevent certain cancers. I figure balances out. Plus, giving Annie a small handful of M&Ms every now and then will hopefully prevent her from shoveling down fistfuls of them later when she has more freedom to make her own food choices.
All in all, I think a little flexibly in a kid's diet can go a long way. I just think it's important to do the best you can most of the time.