Poor '90s parents. Sure, few of us know what we're doing as parents in general, but back then so many parents had no clue what "healthy" meant beyond the terms "fat free" and "whole wheat." The '90s food market was filled with products that were so unwholesome and unhealthy, it was almost sinister. For us kids, however, it was a glorious time. The kinds of things '90s parents let their kids eat that no parent would today were exactly the things my siblings and I enjoyed often and with great relish.
The snack cabinet in my house didn't look like my friends', but it wasn't because my mom was any kind of health nut. It was just because buying snacks for us wasn't on the forefront of her mind. She was the kind of shopper who went into the store for exactly what she needed to cook us dinner and make our lunches. If she happened to remember some Fruit Rollups and Lay's chips, we were super happy. Then again, if we were out and saw a package of gummy snacks and said "Mom? Can we?" she'd always oblige. There was never any thought of looking at the ingredients or worry about the amount of sugar. We were good "real food" eaters, too. We ate our dinners, we didn't ask for special meals, and we even went for seconds.
With my own children, I'm constantly worried about balancing their snacks with their "growing food" (i.e. the healthy foods that make up their meals). I try to make their snack foods "healthy," but I'm not a fanatic. My kids eat a whole range of garbage, from salty pretzels, Pirate's Booty, store-bought cookies (organic though!), chocolate bars, Nutella, regular white pasta, and whatever other crap we buy as treats during the day. Yes, it is a huge departure from the foods of my '90s childhood, and I am certainly not a crusader for healthy eating.
But whenever I go down the road of feeling bad about what my kids have eaten on a particularly sugary or starchy day, I think back to what a typical day looked like for me in the '90s as a kid. The kinds of foods we ate back then were way worse than what my kids eat now, and I seem to have turned out just fine.