I have a 9-year old son and we have changed our way of eating dramatically in the last year. He is very conscious of what is "good and good for you" and what isn't. However, when we go pick up the dry-cleaning, our sweet and wonderful dry cleaner always gives "the boy" a lolly pop. He always graciously accepts but I don't always let him eat it. We inevitably have a lengthy conversation in the car about why he might not be able to eat the lolly pop. Sometimes my explanation is that it's full of bad stuff like HFCS and articifial coloring and flavors and sometimes I might say it's just too close to dinner time.
Everytime I want to take it away from him with a dramatic snatch and "no, it's not good for you," I remember that as a child, we were given wine to drink, mixed with soda water. We were never forbidden to drink wine or alcohol in my family (my mother didn't drink at all and my father drank maybe one small glass of wine at dinner and that was all the drinking he did). In college, I lived at home and my mother would fix me a drink when she thought I looked too stressed pouring over my books! When I visted my dorm friends, they would make fools of themselves by drinking too much and then running half-naked down the halls shouting at the top of their lungs. I always wondered why they behaved that way.
When I forbid my son to eat or drink something because it's not good for him, I wonder if I am setting him up to be like those drunken fools in college. I am hoping that I am shaping him so that he puts the reigns on his own food and drink choices. I don't want the Twinkie to be such a mystery to him that he really, really wants the Twinkie, or glazed donut, or whatever, when mom isn't looking.
The other day he came home from a weekend playdate and said, "mom, I don't feel good and I think it was because I put whipped cream on the strawberries we had!" He put 2x2 together on that and I was thrilled.
Of course, this may all change tomorrow, next week or next month, when he turns 10 but for now, I think that not prohibiting him from eating whatever his buddies have on a playdate but giving him a few alternatives to take with him if he wants, is a good meeting ground. This is obviously not so easy if your children have food allergies, sensitivies...