Kids and Junk Food

"Toddlers shouldn't be fed junk foods like candy or sweets. Once you start giving it to them, when it's time to eat the healthy stuff, they're going to reject it and want the junk because they don't know any better. Why are they going to want carrots when candy tastes so much better? They're going to think that Mommy is being mean by giving them foods that don't taste as good as the sugary ones. They don't understand that sweets are the bad choice, that it's harming their body. That's what's wrong with our society; bad habits instilled in children. That's why diabetes and obesity are out of control in America"

...and this is why I love our pediatrician. What he said will always stick with me. I've shared that spiel several times, mainly when I'm having to defend my stance on why the kids don't need a bunch of candy or any soda.

I've gone back and forth about writing this. I don't want to seem judgy. How people feed their kids is none of my business. It goes both ways though. I shouldn't be judged as "crazy" for wanting Finley and Carson to eat foods that are going to keep them healthy, thriving and are likely to improve their quality of life as adults. Don't get me wrong, we are far from perfect. Finley gets an icee when we go to Target. She gets a few M&M's at my Mom's house. They eat Cheez-It's. Our kids aren't deprived, but we do attempt to form good habits and keep them on the right track. Junk doesn't make up their normal diet. Sweets are a treat. Admittedly, our pediatrician was right. If there are sweets around, she asks for them constantly. One or two pieces is never enough. I'm dreading having Halloween candy in the house for this very reason. Finley even begs for more gummy vitamins because those taste because they taste like fruit snacks!

This post is prompted by my visit to Walmart yesterday, every visit there really. I know, I know....Walmart. It's close by. Don't judge. I see kids chugging down orange soda and grubbing on happy meals in the cart while their parents shop. I want to believe that maybe that's just their "treat" but I suspect that's isn't the case. Then again, someone could easily think the same about Finley with her icee at Target.

I know I'm not the only "crazy" out there. I'm also glad I have a husband who shares the same beliefs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past thirty years. Kids are now expected to live shorter lives than their parents and grandparents. I think it's great that schools are starting to crack down on nutrition by removing junk food and soda from vending machines. Fast food places are under more scrutiny to offer healthier options and provide nutrition info. Restaurants are offering "fit" options. That's all a step in the right direction. Something has got to change.

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  1. I totally agree! I have 2 year old twins, and while they get an occasional cookie at Starbucks or chicken nuggets on a long car trip, we make a huge effort to keep them away from too many prepackaged snacks or sugar. The backlash from my family has been insane! Relatives upset that I won't let them feed my kids constant junk. I really wish your (common sense) approach was the norm in our society, instead of the "extreme".


  2. Exactly! How cruel of us to not give our kids a package of Oreos and a coke to go wild with!

  3. I'm right there with you, as a mom and as a nutritionist.

    At 3, my girls are little foodies. They eat almost everything. Food is exciting and fun in our house. I will often involve them in cooking as well. I make everything from scratch. We eat a mostly dairy-free, wheat-free and organic diet. This is our choice and what works for us. I try not to judge other parents for their choices. With that being said, I do not deprive my kids either. They get the occasional juice, ice cream or cookie when we're out. If we are at a party or a friend's house, I let them eat what they want. Interestingly, they rarely eat the kids meals at restaurants (although they love fries!).

    My goal is to start them off on the right foot. Eventually, they'll be out there making their own food choices. Hopefully what I'm instilling in them now will have some influence :)

  4. Well that makes me feel good that even a nutritionist gives her kids the occasional cookie or ice cream.

    That's exactly what I want though, for junk foods to not be habit. It'nice when my daughter asks if the veggies I'm cooking are from the garden or when she can spot kale or spinach in her food. That's not the norm these days :/

    Hopefully what we are teaching now sticks!


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