Isn’t it weird how parents who give their kids carrots instead of cupcakes are often the ones who cop the most flack? Abbey McKenna, mum of five and Chief Editor of The Parenting Co., knows the irony all too well.

I was accused of stealing my kids childhood right to eat sugar and junk food.

I chose to keep my kids diet as free from sugar and junk as possible because of the impacts that I believe it can have on their development and the adverse effects to their emotions.

Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t always an easy feat. I copped a lot of questions, laughter and backlash. I figured they didn’t have the ability to make a choice about what they ate so I had to make, prepare and provide that choice for them.

I always had an abundance of freshly prepared and healthy food in my fridge and freezers.

I was often handing out recipes and making food for my friends and their children.

I wanted to provide my daughter with a fruit stack cake for her birthday. My partner, their father and my friends told me it was unacceptable and the usual comment was passed over. “Sugar, cake and junk food is a part of being a child”. I silently disagreed.

I would make and order my children raw cake and snacks for their birthdays. My friends would bring the usual. Which was fine. My daughter was educated enough to make good choices.

I ended up giving up at birthdays. I felt like the pressure wasn’t worth the hassle, I sat and felt guilt all day and thereafter.

It wasn’t just other people, it was my partner too. He would sneak in sugar or junk. I hated the word treat for sugar. I would speak my feelings to him but it wasn’t my place to do anything else.

People would question my feelings about their choice to give their children sugar and junk. It never bothered me, for some reason I felt that they thought it did.

I was aware of how some people felt about my food choices and choice to educate my children and empower them to make what I felt were good decisions.

When Ayla was three we were in a supermarket in another town. As we stood in the freezer section, a lady reached for some ice cream.

“Don’t eat ice cream!” Ayla yelled. “It is bad for your brain! My mum will make you some sugar-free ice cream if you want!”

I was so embarrassed and waited for the sideways look. I had started to ‘train’ Ayla to not talk to others about food.

The poor lady awkwardly giggled and said. “Well done mum, but she doesn’t have to be vocal about it.”

I apologised.

One particular friend would shake his head when he came around. My kids ate what I ate. Nuts, salmon, avocado… he couldn’t get over that I was giving them expensive food. As a child he was told food like that was adult food. I admitted it was an expensive cause 🤣

I think the final point for me was when children would offer my kids chips and junk and their parents would laugh and state “they can’t have them”, and then do all that they could to secretly get my kids to eat it.

From then I chose to keep it in house and let them be like everyone else when we were out and about. I felt like A bit of a failure, not being strong enough to stick to my guns. Feeling like that crazy hippy.

My friends were never nasty and there was no intention to hurt. It is an interesting world, feeling the need to justify decisions and choices.

Now I just do it and get on with it. No justification required. I am not as stringent as I used to be. I feel guilty about it, but my kids eat well and are happy and healthy.


Meet the author… Abbey McKenna, The Parenting Co

Chaotically organised, energetically tired, beautifully dishevelled, erratically in control mother of five children and a rescue dog. Abbey is the Chief Editor for The Parenting Co, a teacher, visible learning coach, environmental rehabilitation business owner and NLP practitioner; but her claim to fame is having the best taste in music and the hippest Mom dance moves you have ever seen.