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What Did Your Family Eat This Weekend?

Oh, the horror. Soccer ends for both boys, resulting in two parties/award ceremonies. Add to that two birthday parties, and needless to say, the weekend -- and the boys' bellies -- were filled with their share, and more, of junk food.

Chips? Check. Pizza? Check. Donuts. Check. Cake. Check. Juice. Check.

It's no wonder six-year-old came home from the donut-themed birthday party complaining of a stomachache -- the perfect teachable moment to explain how eating so much unhealthy food comes back to haunt you.

The juxtaposition of all of that is a major project running in The Post this week on the epidemic of overweight kids for which I've been working late nights for a couple of weeks and editing all weekend. While my boys have been galavanting around having their junky weekend, I've been toiling at the computer noshing on a combination of leftovers and too easy to grab crackers and bagged popcorn. What a weekend for us to be low on food and have no time to go the store!

In a Sunday installment of our 5-day on Obesity series of video interviews, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey tells us how we "failed to imagine the consequences" of our inventions and decisions over the years. How we brought this epidemic on ourselves. And how we need 21st century solutions to solve the problem.

In an online grocery store, you can comparison shop a few items in 16 aisles of the store. Many of the less healthy choices -- and a few of the healthier ones, too -- came directly from kids who a couple of us took to the grocery store. In my trip with three boys, I heard which Pop Tarts are the best; I turned to find a six-year-old grabbing four bags of chips at once, and I saw an unhealthy love of one of the least healthy products in the store -- The Lunchable. I also chatted, with amazement, with a fifth-grader who read nearly every food label, closely monitoring food's fat content, before choosing his favorite items in the store.

Whether your family is one that regularly eats healthy or not, this epidemic of too much unhealthy food and not enough exercise affects us all. What did you and your family eat this weekend? How do you handle junk-food-packed weekends? What tricks do you find that anyone can adopt to eat a little better or exercise a little more? What are the real 21st century solutions?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  May 19, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Preschoolers , Teens , Tweens
Previous: GROSS! | Next: Batter Up!

Comments


My toddler just discovered "crackers," which are basically any food item made of predominantly refined grains. Bummer. However, we've found a few non-cracker foods that she digs, and at the top of the list at the moment is grapes on the bunch. They have to be on the bunch. I'm not looking forward to the Lunchable years.

Posted by: atb | May 19, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

"How do you handle junk-food-packed weekends?"

I don't buy junk food, so there are no junk-food-packed weekends.

It's a choice, it's always a choice.

Posted by: Jake | May 19, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

I have to admit that we eat less junk food now that the kids are with us. We are keeping them from junk food because of their teeth. They have multiple cavities and StepS has had two teeth pulled due to unresolvable cavities. And if you don't want them having junk food then you pretty much have to keep out of it yourself.

I guess for us it is pretty easy. We don't buy much and what we do buy is stashed out of their eyesight in the upper cupboards. They like bread and bananas for in-between meal snacks so it actually hasn't been too painful.

Posted by: Billie | May 19, 2008 8:17 AM | Report abuse

My DD's still a toddler, so getting her to eat healthy foods is still relatively easy. Snacks are the most difficult issue, but I tend to rely a lot on freeze-dried fruits and veggies for crunchy stuff, raisins, fruit leather and the occasional cereal bar for sweets. We're nowhere near perfect -- DD eats her fair share of goldfish crackers and dearly loves pizza. But we're doing ok, I think.

Honestly, the hardest thing for me is the peer pressure. It's amazing to me how many of DD's friends regularly munch on "fruit snacks" that are basically candy with vitamin C added. And of course, when DD see them, she wants them. So far, she'll be diverted by a bag of grapes or blueberries, but it's still annoying.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 19, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

We also don't buy junk food. Of course, this past weekend was one son's bday party so we did have a little bit, eaten mostly by the kids. For the most part, though, we don't have it in the house. So their snacks can't (much) be junk - they eat too much cheese as snacks, sometimes, though.

I try to just keep the healthy stuff around, to make things better. It has taken most of the year in kindergarten to explain to son how lunchables aren't healthy and why we don't pack them in his lunch. He's finally understanding. And we didn't want him to buy lunch daily, but we let him once a week - it's not too horrible, but those choices aren't the best. Hopefully we'll keep up with making his lunch (and he can do it soon enough!). I think that's a large key to being healthier.

Otherwise, as mentioned, I try to not have junk in the house - so therefore, for a treat, we'll go get ice cream or whatever. Yes, last night we brought in pizza - not the healthiest, but did have some veggies on it (little one picked off the veggies and didn't eat the rest).

Posted by: atlmom | May 19, 2008 8:30 AM | Report abuse

NewSAHM: wait til elementary school! At least at ours, they have something called the 'star student' which is when your kid is the star in the class. Which is really a ploy to get the parents to bring snacks for the week.

What junk the parents bring! Which is why I try to control what I can (his lunch, what he eats at home) and try to not think about it. Yes, when it was our week (twice) I bought healthy stuff (rice cakes and apples) but realistically, it's more expensive than the junk - so it's not surprising that most parents do the easy thing (and then there's the peer pressure - the kids are really loved by the others when they bring in what the other kids like).

Posted by: atlmom | May 19, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

" it's not surprising that most parents do the easy thing (and then there's the peer pressure - the kids are really loved by the others when they bring in what the other kids like)."

These same mothers tend to to choose to breastfeed and then cave to the junk food...

Posted by: Confused | May 19, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Ooh, nose picking kids who eat too much junk food. You and your family sound absolutely delightful. If you're not feeding your family real food it's because you're lazy. Wake up earlier and prepare some actual food. It's not rocket science.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

It takes constant reinforcement. I don't keep soda or junk food in the house. We rarely have ice cream or other desserts. I have never bought a lunchable. Yet my kids cannot pass the lunchables in the grocery store without asking me to buy some. They would eat junk food all day long if I let them--which is why I don't let them. As others have said, while I can't control what they eat outside the home, I can control what is available at home.

What we ate this weekend: Fri: mac and cheese (homemade), peas, milk. Sat: pancakes, milk, orange juice, yogurt, strawberries, homemade pizza topped with pineapple and turkey pepperoni, apples, milk. Sunday: whole wheat bagel, strawberries, orange juice, milk, leftover mac and cheese, milk, banana, whole wheat pasta with steamed summer squash and homemade alfredo sauce, lettuce salad, milk.

We don't go out for dinner much, because it is too expensive, and because there are limited healthy selections that the kids will eat. Cook's night off is usually either pizza or sandwiches. We like Chinese, but I can buy a similar meal at Trader Joes for way less, and that can count as cook's night off. They actually eat vegetables (steamed veggies or green beans) at Outback, so that is our usual dinner out.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

How do I handle junkfood packed weekends?

I don't know--I've never had to deal with that. I try to look ahead to what we've got going on, and plan healthy meals when I know they are going to have something unhealthy elsewhere--so if a party is on the schedule for the afternoon, lunch is heavy on fruit and vegetables.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

If you have obese kids, it's your fault. Parents provide the food, clothing and shelter. What food they buy ends up inside the kids. Therefore -- junk food diets, bought by parents, are the reason kids become obese. Judging from photos in the Post's series on obesity, not only are kids fat but the adults in their lives are fat, too. Take a look at the photos of the 10-year-old's mother and the people at the funeral of the Flanagan woman.

Having said that, I don't buy junk food. I don't do soccer practice and kids' birthday parties. Meals are prepared at home and eaten at the table, not in the car.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

We consciously avoid junk food. The kids get fruit at all meals, veggies at most, and a healthy diet of whole grains and lean meats as well. We have always eaten like this and always will. We have pizza night once a week, which is probably the closest thing to regular "junk food" they get. Also, the birthday party circuit has it's share of cr*p. I looked at the ingredients yesterday on a Sam's Club birthday cake at a party and I could pronouce almost none of it. Gross.

I simply don't buy stuff like Doritos or candy or cookies. I make my own cakes and cookies and desserts, much better for all of us.

As Jake said, it's a choice, always a choice.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 19, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, went shopping with older son last week and he kept asking for all sorts of stuff that I don't keep in the house (can we get goldfish? can we get yogurt to drink? can we get...?)

So when he asked for kiwis and they were more than I usually spend, I got them for him. When I went the next week and saw cantaloupe on sale (and he had asked for it) I got it for him (and we (the family) ate a whole one Friday night at dinner - definitely worth it to cut it up when you have the kids cheering in the background for cantaloupe).

But each and every time I need to explain to him that we don't buy XYZ cause it's not healthy. I told him: we can make our own drinkable yogurt - so we do - we add some fruit and honey, then put it in the blender, and there you go. Much better than the 'kid's' stuff they have in the store.

Posted by: atlmom | May 19, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

and to confused: you quoted me, who said that I bring the healthiest stuff I can for snack, but I wasn't faulting those who don't.

Posted by: atlmom | May 19, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

"I simply don't buy stuff like Doritos or candy or cookies. I make my own cakes and cookies and desserts, much better for all of us."

How is making crap from scratch superior to purchasing crap ready-made? Refined flour? check. Refined white sugar? check.

All you are doing is teaching your kids to get fat on home-made foods with zero nutritional value rather than consume purchased foods with zero nutritional value. Beats the heck out of me why you think this teaching is beneficial in any way to you or your kids' health.

If you insist on making junk food one of the four food groups in your house, have at it. But don't pass it off as a superior choice.

Posted by: gcoward | May 19, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

gcoward, you clearly know nothing about food and even less about me (though why would you)?

Cranky this morning?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 19, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

It's all in moderation. The kids have some junk food, but they also exercise a fair bit. Middle DD had a softball tournament this weekend - three games on Saturday, two on Sunday (they lost early). Each game lasts 90 minutes, and yes she's sitting in the dugout when her team's at bat and she's not on-deck/ at bat/ on base. But when you include warm-ups and cool-downs, that's about five or six hours of exercise on Saturday and about four on Sunday. So it really doesn't bother me if we stop off for an Italian ice on the way home from the tournament.

Meals on days like that take planning. A healthy breakfast before we leave. We generally take a cooler full of snacks - mostly fruit and cheeses - and lots of drinks. If we know that the park hosting the tournament has a good concession stand, we'll let her get lunch there - and again, I'm not too concerned about a little "junk" in her lunch because I know she's burning it off, and she knows better than to eat heavy, greasy stuff right before a game.

(An extreme - oldest DD's college roommate is a competitive swimmer. She closely tracks her diet and exercise. We're talking a workout routine that starts at 5 am with a 2.5 hour workout; then some running and stretching around noon; then another 2.5 - 3 hour workout in the evening. The girl has to consume 6,000 calories a day to stay even.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | May 19, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

gcoward: you have no idea what anyone puts in things for their kids.

if I'm cooking it (and most of the time I am) you can be rest assured that there is some whole wheat flour, wheat germ and flax seed in it. And don't be surprised if there are grated vegetables in there at times, either. Okay, so i don't put the veggies in cakes, but still...

Posted by: atlmom | May 19, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

When we get home at 530, my 2.5 YO is usually very hungry. So I put healthy fruits and veggies in front of him first, and he scarfs those down while I prepare the less healthy chicken nuggets or whatever. And I take a very long time to prepare those and then let them cool off.

Posted by: MommyK | May 19, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

cast: mom, dad, 10-y.o. kid

paella: all
sushi: all
hotpockets: kid
donuts: mom&kid
icecream: dad&mom
salmon sandwiches: dad&mom
candies&chocolates: all
oranges&apples: all
milk: dad&kid
yogurt&cereal: mom
juice:kid
diet soda: mom

Posted by: all we ate this weekend | May 19, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I always find it funny how many people out there use internet blogs as an avenue for outting their frustrations on other people. I mean do you people actually say this self righteous stuff to your friends, neighbors, and coworkers? Or do you save this stuff for the stranger on the bus. When you speak to other people this way you are dehumanizing both them and yourself. Somehow I think civil-minded thinking, rather than fruits and vegetables, is the biggest missing ingredient in the lives of many of my internet friends out there.

Posted by: rumicat | May 19, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I make tortilla chips--cut up tortillas and bake them for about 10 minutes. These are far superior in terms of fat content than tortilla chips bought from the store. And I also use whole wheat flour for baking cakes and cookies (but yes, they do have refined sugar, so they are not truly healthy, which is why we don't have them all the time).

But the most important thing I do is explain to my children why I do things the way I do. It isn't good enough to provide a healthier option without explaining why. "We're eating [whatever healthy option] now, because you probably won't have vegetables at the birthday party." "I'm using whole wheat flour in this cake because it has more fiber, which is . . ." "No, I won't buy these tortilla chips, but we'll get some tortillas and make our own, which have less fat." And so on. This shows children that you should plan ahead (eat veggies now), use healthier options for junk food as well as limit access to junk food, and explains to them WHY we should avoid junk food in the first place.

Posted by: on making your own | May 19, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

ArmyBrat

"If we know that the park hosting the tournament has a good concession stand, we'll let her get lunch there - and again, I'm not too concerned about a little "junk" in her lunch because I know she's burning it off, and she knows better than to eat heavy, greasy stuff right before a game."

You are missing the point.

Posted by: Spike | May 19, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

golly -- a lot of self-righteousness on this blog today. don't be so quick to discount ArmyBrat's advice on moderation. there's a real world outside of this blog, and our kids live in it.

Posted by: whole grain | May 19, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

i find the comments (especially jake's comment) about choice funny. how do you control your child when he/she is at somebody else's house? how do you plan on controling your child's choices when they get older? the food that you forbid can become all the more desirable when they're at somebody else's house because it is forbidden at their own or because they never get it now becomes a treat. we have doritos in the house. you know what, my son doesn't eat more than about 10 because he's discovered that when he eats more he gets sick. what a concept! he's figured out moderation all by himself. we don't go overboard on junk - doritos, oreo & ice cream are about it. we also have healthy food. we talk about fat, sodium, protein and other ingredients. you have to find a balance between allowing your child to make mistakes & learn from them and making sure they make the right choices.

Posted by: quark | May 19, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, we always had soda with dinner. Every night. None of my friends did.

Guess who drinks lots of soda now, and who doesn't (I almost never drink any soda - never drink diet, so if i drink anything, it's with real sugar, I'd rather that than chemicals).

We always had cake in the house. Always had ice cream. I'd be just as likely (or more so) to choose a piece of fruit to eat as any of that - rarely to never ate the cake. My mom would stop buying chocolate covered graham crackers when my dad would eat the whole box in one sitting. Other than that, it was always available - and no big deal.

I'm trying to give my kids the information, as they get older, obviously, they will do more on their own, make more choices on their own. As with everything else - they will need to make their own decisions, and if I always make the decisions for them, they will not know what to do when they need to make them on their own.

Posted by: atlmom | May 19, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Doritos and oreos are disgusting. Have you ever looked at what's in your food, people? Better living through chemistry. NOT.

Get smart and teach your kids to be the same. Don't cop out as a parent just because it's easier.

Posted by: wtf | May 19, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Quark,

I think the point is that you can only control what is in your house. Given that fact, you'd better make sure that what is in your house is healthy. And you help them understand the why of healthy/unhealthy so they can learn to make healthy choices themselves, whether they are in your presence or not.

I suppose the main reason I don't keep junk food in the house is that *I* will eat it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

to 11:14: true, so true. So if we want ice cream, we have to go out to get it. Sometimes we're tired - so we don't - which means, hopefully, we get much less than we would otherwise. Of course, the cost is higher, but it's worth it.

Posted by: atlmom | May 19, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

"Doritos and oreos are disgusting."

That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever read on this blog! What's next... "McDonald's tastes bad!"?

Posted by: whole grain | May 19, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever read on this blog! What's next... "McDonald's tastes bad!"?

And that's one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. Wow. I really encourage you to look at what's in your food. For starters, since you brought up McDonald's, try reading "Fast Food Nation" and then continue with Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma".

Posted by: wtf | May 19, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

haven't had mcd since high school. except for the fries. which i stopped eating once i knew that they use beef fat in them.

When i was visiting my cousin she was so proud to tell me that her neighbor works for hostess cakes, so she gets free stuff all the time. So then I asked her if she knew that there was beef fat in twinkies. She told me I was lying. I told her that only if they have changed the ingredients in the last few years, then they don't otherwise...

So she went to check the ingredients, and sure enough, there is beef fat in there. Once I found that out, I typically don't buy desserts unless they are kosher, so that I have some more idea of what is in there...

Posted by: atlmom | May 19, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Spike: "You are missing the point."

Yeah, I guess I am. What is your point?

Or do you just post snarky one-line responses to random blog postings and then go brag to your compatriots that yours is bigger than theirs are?

Posted by: ArmyBrat | May 19, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Interesting that across the board these posts are from people proudly feeding their kids, and themselves, only healthy, natural food, but the cover story in the Post clearly indicates that this country as a whole just doesn't live like that. The math just doesn't add up here, or "the lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Posted by: Anon | May 19, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Actually, anon, it's both probably true - think about who sits here and reads the blog.

My fault with the post's reporting is how they seem to put the blame with the government - as if no one should take it upon themselves to learn how to eat or how to teach their kids to eat.

Posted by: atlmom | May 19, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Just read a great book called Generation Extra Large. If you're concerned about your kids, you should read this book. Parents are the number one medication for our kid's good health. We need to be the solution not the problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

re: anon 11:55. My kid's not old enough to be obese. She's 16 months. BUT, her father and I are thin people, so hopefully our mostly healthy habits will be enough to teach her to eat appropriately and get exercise. Keep in mind, less than 1 in 5 kids is obese, so it's entirely possible no one who has written so far has fat kids.

Posted by: atb | May 19, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Army Brat, it is moderation and exercise. Eating an occassional Dorito is not going to make you fat. Eating Doritos all day on the couch will.

Kids getting stomach aches from cupcakes at an occasional birthday party has been going on since cupcakes were invented, this is not an emergency. It is called being a kid.

If your children are active and eating good meals, the occasional candy bar or bag of chips will not hurt them. If you make junk food the forbidden fruit, wait till they become teenagers and can buy it on their own.

Altmom made a good point, you can't make all the decisions for your child.

Posted by: Get Real | May 19, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Re: ATB 12:08. I wasn't implying that everybody's kids were obese and they were hiding it on this chat. I just think it is likely nobody is admitting to feeding their kids any junk food at all.

Posted by: Anon | May 19, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Um, I do think McD's tastes disgusting. Yuck. Once you begin "eating clean", it's amazing how processed, junky foods really turn your stomach. A year ago, I definitely would not have said that!

Posted by: Me | May 19, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

How do you all avoid the junk? I can see not purchasing the food for your cubbard - but what do you do about birthdays, goody bags, sports snack, school parties? The ice cream man, stadium food, movies? Do you allow your kids to eat the food? What do you do for an alternative?

Posted by: prarie dog | May 19, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

unless you are eating 100% organic veggies what is on those apples & carrots you oh so self righteous eat can be just as bad as my oreos. as you said, better living through chemistry can also be applied to the fruit & veggies you eat. do you verify that the veggies that you eat are grown in soil that is toxin free? just because something is organic doesn't mean it can pull the toxins from the soil. the point i was trying to make is the by forbiding certain foods you may be making that food more enticing then it should be. i have a co-worker who restricts certain foods from their child & this parent has found the same food hidden around the house. sorta like an alcoholic hiding booze. still convinced you control what comes into your house?

Posted by: quark | May 19, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

It's great that so many people can say that their kids lead junk-food free lives. It's a bit of a struggle at our house only because I'm not super strict. I usually pack a healthy lunch and dinner will have a vegetable or fruit serving, but we could certainly do better. The kids eat lots of fruit as snacks, but we do let them have candy (whenever they think to ask for it, which works out only about 2 or 3 times a week), sweets at breakfast (whether it's sugary cereal, syrup on pancakes, muffins, or chocolate chip cookies), all the birthday fare (pizza, cakes - about once a week these days), and figure that it's ok as long as they are active, healthy weight, etc. I also have my own cravings for salty snacks like doritos & pringles and my weakness is chocolate, so we do have those into the house (the chips on occasion, the chocolate a constant).

Posted by: everything in moderation | May 19, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

quark

"the point i was trying to make is the by forbiding certain foods you may be making that food more enticing then it should be."

Kinda like anal sex or a three-way with the missus.

Posted by: Gizmo | May 19, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

The flip side to controlling what is in your house and talking about healthy food and nutrition is, for us, trying to also maintain a sense of loving food and enjoying eating. So as long as my kids have already eaten a bunch of healthy food (like a PP I like to throw out the veggies while I am cooking dinner, while they are *starving*) we have dessert many nights. Maybe not beef-fat ridden Twinkies (!) but ice cream or sorbet or brownies.

Back to the original question, it's not for me so hard to control the weekend food as the random food like the parties or what my kid gets at school (which is lots of carbs + sweets at both places). Like a PP, we let our kid buy lunch every once in awhile so it's not so forbidden and then, you know, parties are parties. And eating cr*p is part of being social, right? I definitely love to wolf down chips and onion dip at parties. Mmmm, cheesy artichoke dip.

Ahem - but I agree with ArmyBrat. If we all got moving more, what we ate would be less important. One final note - my mom had colon cancer and her oncologist-nutritionist told her it's far less important what bad cr*p you eat than that you eat as much of the good food as you can. You know, trying to pack in the 17,000 veggies a day you're supposed to be eating.

Posted by: MamaBird/SurelyYouNest | May 19, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

"I definitely love to wolf down chips and onion dip at parties. Mmmm, cheesy artichoke dip. "

Blech!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

You know, it's really just not that difficult to get your kids to eat healthily. I don't know what the fuss is about. I don't buy Doritos and cookies and stuff because I don't want it in the house for two reasons: one, I don't want to have access to it, and two, I don't want my kids to have access to it. As I said before, they get fruit at every meal and veggies at most, and I don't see why people are sneering at this. I grew up with a mother who fed me carob and homemade fruit leather in the 70s, for God's sake, and believe me when I tell you that compared to her, I am a card carrying member of the junk food junkies.

For my kids' birthday parties, I make the cake from scratch, out of (shocker) refined white flour and wheat flour, sugar, eggs, etc. - the usual suspects. I make my own frosting. Both of these are MUCH healthier than box or premade stuff, and I am proud of the fact that I do this. I don't really care if you think it's gloating.

Of course my children get their share of junk food -- I don't keep them under glass at home. But I want to make sure that what they get from me is good to balance what they might get at little Johnny's party or little Mary's house. This combined with using teaching moments appropriately, usually while we're cooking or eating, is what I'm doing to fulfill what I see as part of my role as a parent: raising my kids to make good choices about eating.

Someone else offered some books to read, and here's my suggestion for a good book to read to your kids: "Chew on This" about what goes into fast food. Life's too short to eat bad food!!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 19, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

atlmom: "haven't had mcd since high school. except for the fries. which i stopped eating once i knew that they use beef fat in them."

Actually, McDonald's hasn't used beef fat (that is, tallow) for its fries in quite a while. They mostly use peanut oil.

However, until recently they used beef flavoring added to the peanut oil, so it was still an issue for vegetarians and others. They claim they no longer even do that.

Just to point out that most times with foods there's a trade-off that the "zealots" don't want to acknowledge. For example, in many places in the US they're trying to ban (or have already banned) trans-fats like partially-hydrogenated oils. If you run a commercial bakery, that's swapping one problem for another. The only viable alternative to trans-fat is butter, which, guess what, drives up cholesterol again.

Even our old "enemy" McDonald's faces that choice with their fries. They used beef tallow; people objected. They replaced that with oils high in trans-fats; people objected. So they've replaced that with peanut oil. Um, with the number of people with peanut allergies, how long before there's a class-action lawsuit against McDonald's accusing them of poisoning someone with a peanut allergy?

Posted by: m2j5c2 | May 19, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"what do you do about birthdays, goody bags, sports snack, school parties? The ice cream man, stadium food, movies? Do you allow your kids to eat the food? What do you do for an alternative?"

When we're going into situations where I know there'll be food pitfalls,I try to plan ahead. For instance, I know DD LOVES juice boxes and will beg for one when we're at playgroup and they're being served. I bring her a water box instead. She doesn't (yet) know the difference; she just likes drinking from a box.

Same when we're meeting up with friends around a meal or snack time. I try to bring the stuff I want her to eat, so she's got something available. Sometimes, she doesn't notice that the other kids are having cookies.

That all said, I am very far from perfect. DD has eaten at Chickfila and Burger King. I just try to make it an occasional thing and try to avoid the worst stuff.

And I will admit that part of the reason I'm kind of a freak about what DD eats is that I don't want her to turn out like me. I am fat, and I love junk food. I could happily eat Cheetos every single day (I don't, but I could). I'm hoping that if I focus on developing good habits and a love of healthy food in DD now,she won't have such a hard time making healthier choices when she's an adult.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 19, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

NewSAHM

"For instance, I know DD LOVES juice boxes and will beg for one when we're at playgroup and they're being served. I bring her a water box instead. She doesn't (yet) know the difference; she just likes drinking from a box."


Sounds like your kid is retarded....

Posted by: Duh! | May 19, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Oh come on Duh!, have your ever met a kid with a clever parent?

some kids eat prunes because their parents call them fruity treats

some kids believe a dollop of sour cream on their brown rice is whipped cream

some kids believe their parents that the local grocery store doesn't sell juice boxes

some kids believe that their tv is incompatible with a video game box

eventually, they catch on to these misstatements, but by then, the power of "NO" has taken over

Posted by: whole grain | May 19, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Also, she's 2.5. The only way she'd be able to tell the difference is actually to drink from another kid's box.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 19, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"eventually, they catch on to these misstatements, but by then, the power of "NO" has taken over"

Or they simply start believing that since Mom and Dad have been lying all along about something, Mom and Dad are probably lying about everything else.

Jumping off the roof must really be something fun!

Drinking alcohol is good for you!

Unprotected sex is just something else Mom and Dad have been lying about!

Don't lie to your kids unless you want them to treat everything you say as suspect.

Posted by: m2j5c2 | May 19, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

m2j5c2:

Lighten up, Francis.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 19, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I make my own cakes and cookies and desserts, much better for all of us.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 19, 2008 9:20 AM

gcoward, you clearly know nothing about food and even less about me (though why would you)?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 19, 2008 9:55 AM

I know what you tell me about you. Today, what you have disclosed is that you are kidding yourself about the nutritional value of what your family consumes and you are mighty proud of yourself. Go ahead, feed yourself and your family crap, but there's no need to foist that attitude on others. Cutting out the preservatives does not somehow render a homemade brownie a good nutritional choice. Even if you buy into the silliness Seinfeld's wife is pushing.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous Coward at 3:00 says "Go ahead, feed yourself and your family crap, but there's no need to foist that attitude on others."

May I suggest that you cease reading blogs or listening to what other's say or anything else that might count as rational discourse? Truly, you seem to have nothing constructive or useful to say. Posting insults will make me not one whit less proud of myself for making good choices for my family. I hope you take your bitter self to the mirror for a long, hard look very soon. Try a yoga class and some deep breathing. You'll be a changed . . . whatever you are.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 19, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

NewSAHM

"And I will admit that part of the reason I'm kind of a freak about what DD eats is that I don't want her to turn out like me. I am fat, and I love junk food."

Fat is code for obese. Stop being obese and stop being a freak about what your DD eats. Neither behavior is healthy, nor good modeling for your DD.

Start loving yourself instead of the junk food.

Posted by: Self-destructive behavior | May 19, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I did not let DD try juice until about age 5. She could live on milk. She only drinks it socially.

Our worse meal was a picnic this weekend.
DD ate about two bites of a hot dog, macoroni salad, and most of a brownie. Otherwise the weekend was balanced but we had no birthday parties.

Posted by: shdd | May 19, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that across the board these posts are from people proudly feeding their kids, and themselves, only healthy, natural food, but the cover story in the Post clearly indicates that this country as a whole just doesn't live like that. The math just doesn't add up here, or "the lady doth protest too much, methinks."
Posted by: Anon | May 19, 2008 11:55 AM

----------
Well, I'm willing to admit that our family eats plenty of non-healthy, non-natural food. And (gasp) we give the kids ice cream and cookies and cake and candy. I've noticed that our boys are pretty good at limiting their own portions, though, without us having to enforce a lot of limits or keep the cookies hidden. Maybe because they know that since treats are not forbidden, they don't have to over-indulge at any one time.

Oh, we're all skinny too. We get a lot of exercise, though, which is what I think a lot of the kids in the WP articles are missing. And we come from skinny families. DNA is a big factor in all this, don't forget.

A donut-themed birthday party! Now why didn't I ever have one of those? :)

Posted by: acorn | May 19, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

"the food that you forbid can become all the more desirable when they're at somebody else's house because it is forbidden at their own or because they never get it now becomes a treat."

Ding ding ding ding ding!! I have totally lived this. My mom was the original "junk food is evil"; snacks were always fruits or veggies, everything was homemade, nothing processed, etc. I hated it. With a passion. All my friends had Cheetos for lunch; I had an orange.

So what happened? Cheetos became the holy grail. When I went to the grandparents' houses, I whined my way into Captain Crunch and vienna sausages. My first job was in a pizza parlor, with cheesesteaks and fried dough and Hostess cakes to boot. When I went to college, I survived on box macaroni and cheese and brownie mix. Instead of learning to love the healthy, fresh vegetables she grew in her garden, I loathed spending hours weeding in 98-degree weather, only to be rewarded with having to eat zucchini at every meal for 3 solid weeks (zucchini pizza, anyone? how about zucchini boats?).

Over the past 20 years, I've realized the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating. But it is an ongoing, everyday struggle. I abhor vegetables (well, unless they're stewed in bacon fat for 3 hrs), but I force myself to fix and eat them because they're good for me and set a good example for my kids, and have even learned to tolerate broccoli. Anything breaded and fried still tastes waaaaaay better, but I choose to roast or bake or saute in a small amount of olive oil, and limit Chick-fil-A to once or twice a month. When I bake, I experiment with whole-grain, no-fat recipes -- my new holy grail is to make healthy food that tastes good enough that my kids think it's a treat.

So I refuse to treat the occasional Big Mac as the End of the World. I make a point to make and serve and eat homemade, healthy meals at home, but my kids also get the occasional candy or ice cream or fast food. Today, my girl got a soynut butter roll-up, applesauce, and cheese stick for lunch; tomorrow, it may be a lunchable. If we do go out, they don't get multiple crap; if they want chicken tenders, then they get applesauce and milk; if they want french fries, they can choose a healthier main course. I don't bring chips and that kind of stuff into the house, but I do let my daughter choose one kind of cereal at a time, which we treat the same as her Halloween candy (eg, rarely, and only after the healthy food is eaten). Nothing is forbidden; we just manage it in all in moderation.

So far, it's worked like a charm with my girl -- she plans out her snacks and the like based on what's healthy; her favorite food is sushi; and she is even making healthier choices with her "treat" cereal (eg, fruit-oat clusters vs. Lucky Charms). She takes pride in showing me that she knows how to make healthy choices. The boy is going to be harder, since he's naturally much more meat-and-potatoes than she was (she loved any kind of fruit; he won't even touch fruit or juice). But he's only 2 1/2, so we'll see how that develops.

Posted by: Laura | May 19, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

WMX, You sure are defensive, if I were you I'd take a gander at Laura's post. I had a friend like Laura, we were allowed to have Capt Crunch and Coco Puffs occassionally at our house, and the first thing she would ask when she came over to spend the night was what kind of cereal we had. If you are as obnoxious with your food speeches with your kids, as you are on this site, your kids will be rolling their eyes and sneaking twinkies before you know it.

I personally don't care how/what someone feeds their kids as long as they are healthy and have a healthy attitude about food and exercise, which seems to left out of the equation in almost all the posts today.

My grandparents and parents generation grew up eating bacon, eggs, lard and lots of beef and homemade cakes, cookies and pies. Nary a one of them was overweight. Their eating changed over the years, but so far no one has had heart disease or other weight related issues because they got up off the couch and walked. They spent their lives moving instead of sitting and eating fatfree or organic muffins.

I prefer to spend my time telling my kids to get moving and try to eat healthy, then depriving them of every preservative or sugary treat. Life is too short, I agree, please go out and live it.

Posted by: Get Real | May 19, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

"Fat is code for obese."

I love how every time I mention the word fat on here and on On Balance (and even sometimes when I don't), somebody comes out and calls me obese. Like it's some kind of dirty word.

Ok, I'll own it. I'm obese. No, I'm not happy about it. Yes, I am doing something about it. But I don't have a magic wand I can wave and poof! suddenly not be fat. In the meantime, I'll work on doing what I can to make sure my kid doesn't inherit my own issues.

And that'll be the last I say to the trolls on this issue.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 19, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Growing up was pretty bad. We did not have much, but my mom compensated with "bad" food to make us happy. Add that to a southern tradition of cooking, with the miraculous microwave so I could heat my own dinners on the frequent nights she had to work late...my eating habits were not good at all. And I hated both milk and water.

It's actually in the past two years that I've a) had enough personal income to make all food choices easily available and b) seriously cared enough to change my habits.

I still enjoy some treats every day, so I don't feel deprived and binge, and weekends are definitely my "more relaxed" times to enjoy going out. But I make it a serious commitment to have fresh veggies every dinner, white breads/rice ARE a treat now, snacks are not ignored, and I actually feel bad if I do NOT drink water.

So I get why not every parent can be super nutritious with what their kid eats, and it does not necessarily spell doom forever.

I was also an insanely picky eater, I believe in part due to ear/nose/throat problems from early on combined with moderate OCD. When I started eating salads in college my mom almost fainted.

Posted by: Liz D | May 19, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

@NewSAHM--

You go, girl! Take care of yourself and be healthy. And don't let anyone make you feel shame--you have NOTHING to be ashamed of.

Posted by: OldBAM | May 19, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I get my back up over being INSULTED. What do you expect? It's an honest response to some of the trolls that post on this blog (and over on On Balance). God forbid anyone take a stand that's not smack in the middle, or be proud of breastfeeding their kid or bottlefeeding, or feeding them good food or letting them have McDonald's, or wearing designer clothing or not wearing designer clothing, or vaccinating or not vaccinating. You get slammed either way if you have the termerity to voice an opinion.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 19, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

thank you, laura. zealots of any stripe are hard to take.

Posted by: quark | May 19, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

termerity = temerity. Frustration can make it hard to type and spell at the same time.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 19, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

WMX, Why are you responding to trolls? It is what they want.

Posted by: Get Real | May 19, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

As to the question of why "everyone" is bragging about how well they feed their kids...

My suspicion is that anyone who isn't exactly proud of their kids' diet, knowing it could be better, isn't going to post about *that*. Attracting the attention of the trolls isn't much fun.

And I'll note - before anyone else gets the chance - that I'm not discussing what my family ate in the last few days.

Posted by: Sue | May 19, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

God forbid anyone take a stand that's not smack in the middle,. . . You get slammed either way if you have the termerity to voice an opinion.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 19, 2008 4:59 PM

errr. You can get defensive all you want, but the fact is, you are not getting slammed for voicing an opinion. You are getting slammed because your opinion is irrational. You are kidding yourself that feeding yourself and your family homebaked desserts is somehow healthier than feeding them Little Debbies or SaraLee products. The calorie doesn't know whether it was created by Sara Lee or WMX. I'm sure your kids will thank you when they grow up though for the results of your defensiveness. Not.

Posted by: ding ding ding ding | May 19, 2008 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Tactic: if you are going someplace (zoo, amusement park) where a junk-food "treat" seems inevitable, then I always pack sandwiches, fruit and water, and then they get an ice cream if they ask for one. Cheaper, healthier than caving in to buy a (gross, expensive) hot dog and soda. At the movies, I buy the tickets, kids use allowance to buy their own popcorn. But now they've gotten sticker-shock and the two of them share one bag. Works for us.

Posted by: katy | May 20, 2008 6:31 AM | Report abuse

I missed the convo yesterday but for me it's just a ratio. I make healthy meals and provide healthy snacks, the vast majority of the time. And I admit that one of the big deal factors for me in choosing a daycare (after kind and caring staff etc.) was healthy meals and snacks. No nuggets!

BUT if we're out or at someone's house and there's some junk food, no big deal. Occasionally we buy a treat and bring it home, too. All things in moderation.

My son isn't into the full-on peer pressure yet, but he does recognize the goldfish bag in the store. :) We talk about growing foods (healthy) and non-growing foods and ask him if he's had all growing foods today, that kind of thing.

I probably just have not gotten there yet but I don't see why a snack after soccer is what's creating obesity - the kids have just run around for an hour right? Somehow I think the problem has to run a little deeper than that.

Posted by: Shandra | May 20, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I was pleasantly surprised this weekend at Disneyland when I could buy a huge bowl of fruit for lunch. 5-y-o had some of my fruit and some of dad's burger. 4 adults and 1 child split a medium-sized chocolate-chip cookie. 5-y-o will not touch soda, and will also not eat anything she has learned is unhealthy, though she does covet anything pink (inculcation), which makes going into a bakery (for turkey sandwich on whole wheat for husband) where they have Strawberry-Flavored Milk at eye-level bloody annoying.

In terms of kids' parties, it's not HARD to avoid junk food, especially in So Cal. Rice-based cakes with slices of mango instead of frosting and fruit hidden like jewels inside are readily available at Chinese bakeries. On the whole, the kids raised around here don't mind fruit and veggies, and don't know what donuts are. 5-y-o likes fresh, super-mild salsa and LOVES pita and pita-chips (fried in soybean oil). A sesame-oil-and-miso dip is also great for veggies, as opposed to ranch. 5-y-o will also gobble up tofu, broccoli, snap peas, and whole-grain rice if it means she gets to use her special chopsticks.

The thing that DOES make it hard is that her father will NOT eat food that does not come in a fast food wrapper, and she watches what daddy does a LOT.

Posted by: Kat | May 20, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Thank you "get real" - ask any doctor - everything in moderation. Do I buy twinkies (sp?) no, of course not. Do I make cookies for my kids? Sure I do - not every day - but not rarely either. My goodness what is with you self righteous people, you can't let your kid eat a good chocolate chip cookie? I would love to see your kids in the dining hall at college when they are finally free of your whole wheat carob flax seed cookies. I also think it is hysterical how some of you love to pat yourself on the back - like this is what is making you a better parent than everyone else. I have 3 kids, none are overweight, we grow our vegetables and berries, I buy healthy food at the grocery store, pack them healthy lunches with bottles of water, involve them in sports and activities and don't stress about every last sweet that goes into their mouths. Sometimes, I would rather throw in a pizza and have family game night than spend the time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning up. That's not negligent, that is just the way it is sometimes when times get busy.

Posted by: Vermont | May 22, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

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