I am very strict with my daughter's food. Too strict, in many people's opinions. Take her to a restaurant, and I'll determinedly avoid the 'nuggets and chips with softdrink' kids' menu. Take her to a birthday party and I'll hover when she's near the food, putting the fruit or other savouries in front of her as I remove the lolly bowl.
Why? Because I know the difference food choices can make to your entire life.
I have very specific eating habits. I like to eat every couple of hours, small amounts (that are - oops - sometimes not so small amounts) very frequently. I like to eat as healthily as possible, while still indulging my sweet tooth. I don't believe in diets, I don't believe in deprivation. Everything I like, I have in moderation.
I have what I believe to be a healthy, balanced approach to food.
But these habits took a long time to form. I took any chance to over-indulge my sweet tooth as a kid, and spent my teenage years barely eating during the day and then stuffing my face with hot chips and packaged foods after school. In my early 20s I'd eat takeaway and rubbishy foods every day.
Eat rubbish and I feel like rubbish - no energy, headaches, migraines, digestion issues. Until the last few years I thought it was normal to have headaches all the time, to crash mid-afternoon and feel terrible for the rest of the day.
Eat well and I feel great - energy for anything, no bloating, no headaches, no migraines, rare colds.
So, when people tell me I'm too strict with my daughter's food intake I reply, we all have our focuses and our priorities. We all have different things we believe are worth fighting for. This is one of mine - and I have my reasons. While I don't expect others to adjust their party food or what they do with their children, I have the responsibility to do what I think is right for my daughter. (Side note - this is about balance, not deprivation, and I offer her choices for a limited number of treats.)
So, no, she can't have the lollies when I know she's just as happy with fruit. She can't have the nuggets, chips and softdrink when I know she'll love seafood, salad and milk.
Because that healthy, balanced approach to making food choices? That's a gift I want to give my child.