When kids want to eat junk
It's so much easier to feed kids healthfully when they're little and you're in charge of everything they eat. You breastfeed, then offer them the most nutritious foods you can make or find.
Then the outside world intrudes, and suddenly nothing is simple any more.
The first casualty in our household was a concoction known as "brown brown oatmeal," made by mixing oatmeal and bran in a bowl with milk and microwaving. I'd add enough brown sugar to make it tasty. That was a standard breakfast for my daughter until she went to kindergarten. That's where she -- and, later, my son -- made friends and began visiting other houses for play-dates.
And that's when I started hearing about the wonders of chocolate-chip pancakes made with Bisquick. Frozen waffles to heat in the toaster. Wonder bread instead of whole-grain. My brown brown oatmeal just didn't cut it any more.
And it wasn't just breakfast that was threatened. The kids made friends with a family whose kids ate very little other than buttered pasta, morning, noon and night. That family was also, I believe, the one that introduced my kids to packaged cookie dough that they ate straight from the tube. And I'll never forget the day I took my kids to have lunch at my friend's house and she made them their first Fluffernutter sandwiches.
It wasn't long before I found myself buying Bisquick, cookie dough and Fluff.
We hear a lot about how television commercials and product placements in kids' shows influence our children's eating behaviors. In my experience, though, other families and other kids have had the strongest impact on what my kids want to eat.
It's not that I'm averse to indulging in fun foods; I imagine that kids who visit our house are amazed by the amount of pizza that gets eaten around here. I don't want to deny my family treats to the extent that they rebel and turn off to the healthful stuff altogether. But there's always a new challenge; as I write in this week's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column, I'm currently grappling with my son's desire to drink energy drinks (which are heavily marketed in ways that appeal to 13-year-old boys).
How do you manage your kids' junk-food yearnings? Please share your strategies in the comments section -- and vote in today's poll.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
May 4, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Family Health , Me Minus 10 , Motherhood , Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity , Prevention , Teens
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