food for thought

Viral Reddit Thread Asks WTF Were '90s Parents Thinking When It Came To Feeding Their Kids

"I remember going a full week without eating a whole fruit or vegetable!"

A '90s kid Reddit user wondered how they went a full week “without eating a whole fruit or vegetable...
mark peterson/Corbis Historical/Getty Images

An interesting question was brought to Reddit about the kind of food ‘90s parents provided for their kids. The OP wondered what the hell ‘90s parents were thinking with some of the foods they bought and served, especially considering how some of today’s parents cook for their kids. Not to mention how some are shamed for packing a bag of chips or cookies in their kid’s lunch box. Oh how times have changed!

Now a parent themselves, the OP wondered how in the hell they went a full week “without eating a whole fruit or vegetable,” asking fellow Redditors to weigh in with their own childhood experiences.

“I often look at the focus on nutrition in today’s parenting and think back to my own childhood, growing up in the 90’s,” the OP wrote in the Parenting subreddit.

“We grew up fairly poor in parts of my childhood, so this may not be relevant to everyone. But I remember going a full week without eating a whole fruit or vegetable! We had oven fries, Salisbury steak microwave meals, instant mashed potatoes, hot dogs, go-gurts, canned spray cheese, and ham and cheese sandwiches. If we were lucky, we would get a can of corn or green beans with dinner. Or maybe completely unseasoned peas/carrots mix with a lunch at school. And Jesus, so much milk, soda, kool-aid!” they wrote.

“Of course, our general knowledge about nutrition is so much better now. Information is more readily available with the invention of the internet. But did they not stop to think what all of these obviously ultra-processed foods filled with chemicals and preservatives were doing to our bodies and brains?”

They go on to say that, as a kid, they remember craving whole foods like vegetables despite a lack in their home.

“What gets me, is I was a kid that craved vegetables. When we would go out to eat, I would often order just a salad. Broccoli and tomatoes were my jam. It wouldn’t have been hard for my parents to throw in a real vegetable and have me eat it,” they wrote.

“I look now at what I feed my kids, and it makes me sad for younger me. I was clearly undernourished and malnourished (very underweight, which my parents blamed me for), which turned into very unhealthy habits as a teen and caused me to become overweight.”

“My kids just ate an avocado, white bean, spinach, tomato wrap with some tortilla chips and a ton of pico de gallo. They ate more vegetables in one meal than I would eat in a month, sometimes! Just wanted to share my thoughts on this, as it’s been on my mind recently. Anyone else ever think about how sh**ty we ate as kids?!”

After the post gained traction, several fellow Reddit users shared their own childhood experiences and the food they consumed when they were young.

One Reddit user related to the OP and wrote, “I didn't have a fresh vegetable until I was an adult and moved out. We had canned vegetables sometimes which I hated. We sometimes had bananas, but it was rare so not really any fruit either. I had watermelon one time and it was one of my happiest memories. My mom didn't really cook unless it was hamburger helper and mostly partied/wasn't home. We ate a lot of ingredients or sometimes nothing depending on the day.”

“I also only ever really drank water if I felt like I was going to die of heat exhaustion and that was out of the hose. I mostly drank sweet tea or koolaid. I had friends who's parents really cared about their nutrition and ate fruits and veggies every day including when I was over, but I was too shy/afraid it would be rude to ask to try any of it. I always felt like I was eating healthy at my grandma's because she would buy the ramen with the dried up veggie packets in them. Which as an adult is a very depressing thought.”

“I couldn't imagine my daughter not having food to eat or eating just pasta and cheese or a packet of ketchup on toast. I'm glad she has nutritious meals and stays hydrated.”

Another shared a differing perspective about maybe why ‘90s parents cooked they way they did.

“Looking back I honestly think the 90s was when it became super common to have both parents working full time. So even if they could have been a good cook they weren't because who has the time to learn? No Internet to look up how tos, just random cook books that maybe someone gifted you,” they theorized.

Other users noted that the OP’s diet growing up could be attributed to their parent’s economic standing at the time with one user noting, “That is a low income diet. When you only have so much money, you get as much calories as you can and nutrition is secondary.”

Several other Reddit users agreed with this notion, leading to the OP making an update on the original post.

“Apparently this was most likely a very low-income thing. We bounced around between the hood and the broken down trailer parks in the woods. Because of the school districts I attended from living in these areas, I think this explains why all my friends also ate like me...,” they wrote.

“I think considering this, plus seeing all of the commercials on TV with kids eating all this crappy ‘kid food’, I just assumed everyone did. I’m really glad to hear most of you had rather balanced diets, and I’m sure yall are passing that onto your kids, too!! :)”