Is There Junk Food in Your House?

A few weeks ago, my friend and her adorable son were over for a playdate.

Our husbands were hanging with the kids while the boys ate a snack, and I was enjoying a brief moment of mom-to-mom conversation with my friend.

We were talking about mealtimes and how tough it can be to get healthy foods in a picky toddler, and just as she was telling me they avoided candy, I noticed my husband approaching the kitchen table with our 2-year-old's favorite snack in hand: a brightly colored mixture of Goldfish crackers sprinkled with a few M&Ms.

I tried to catch his eye, surreptitiously drawing my finger across my throat and mouthing IXNAY ON THE OCOLATE-CHAY, but he was oblivious to my frantic gestures.

Soon all three children were chowing down on candy and "cheese"-flavored crackers, while I mumbled something about how we normally fed our kids broccoli, swear to god. 

The truth is, I'm pretty inconsistent when it comes to mealtimes. Sometimes I get worried about what they're eating (or refusing to eat) and I try stealth methods of ferrying more fruits and vegetables through their whine-holes. Sometimes I just dole out the millionth bowl of macaroni and cheese and hope the addition of a Spider-Man vitamin helps stave off the scurvy.

Both our kids are fairly resistant to new things and could happily live on pasta, applesauce, yogurt, frozen waffles, and peanut butter sandwiches. When our youngest was a baby I was positive he was going to be the adventurous eater -- he chowed on everything from pad thai to dog hair, but once he hit that mystical age of Toddler Resistance he was just like his brother: deeply suspicious of anything not formed of simple carbohydrates.

Healthy food is important to me and I often worry I'm not doing a better job of making sure my kids are eating the right things. I worry about what kinds of food choices they'll make when they're older and how much I can influence that now. I worry about all the crap that's in packaged foods and what kind of effect it might have on a small growing body.

But I also worry about fighting over food, nagging about food, insisting they finish something on their plate. Sometimes I just don't have the energy or time to put together a meal I know they won't even like. Sometimes, to be honest, it's just easier to boil a pot of noodles -- because at least I know they'll eat that.

They don't always get fish crackers and M&Ms, but they sometimes do. They don't always get a healthy meal with all food groups represented, but they sometimes do. Sometimes we eat homemade whole foods as a family, sometimes we order a big fat greasy pizza and take it to the park. I know I could be doing a better job with their diets, but I hope it mostly balances out in the end.

How about you guys? Are you strict about healthy eating for your kids, totally lax, or somewhere in the middle?

eating healthy


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KatieP. KatieP.

there is never any junk food in my house, my 2 year old is a pretty healthy eater but I never force anything on him. I am also not a short order cook so if I put chicken and brocolli on the table his options are chicken or brocolli, I don't think its that huge of a deal if a kids lives on mac and cheese either tho (you can always make it whole grain!). But my mother never ever had junk food in our house growing up and she fed us super healthy (it wasn't until I was older that I learned that most people actually don't air pop the popcorn then top with wheat germ and for most people pizza comes in a box, not made with wheat flour and topped w/ brocolli and tomatoes) so its just my habit, it is something that I am so very thankful that she gave me. I actually enjoy all the "yucky" healthy foods and seriously can not stomach fast foods or cake/cookies etc. 

sheli... shelikespurple

I'm with you, Linda. I'd like Kyle to eat as healthy as possible so we limit the junk but banning it completely? Eh, I don't think that's always the best method either. And it's not a battle I prefer to fight. Instead I'm fighting the battle of WILL YOU EVER STOP WHINING, OH MY LORD.

I grew up in a house without any junk food, ever, and I went nuts in high school and college and, hey!, developed a pretty serious eating disorder. Now, I'm not saying all parents who try to provide a healthy environment for their kids are planting the seeds for an eating disorder (seriously, not at all!), but when you make an issue of something, it becomes an issue, you know?

We do our best and sometimes that's a chocolate chip cookie for dinner. Sometimes it's not. I refuse to beat myself over either option.

KatieP. KatieP.

see I agree with she likes purple, my mom never made an issue of it. It was just the way it was in our house and if we went out to dinner or over to a friends house we could eat whatever we wanted and she did not care AT ALL, if we went to a resturant and I wanted to order pie and only pie for dinner that was fine (we did not go out that often but when we did) and at home it was never a big deal, you know like forcing us to eat healthy, if she put brocolli on the table and we did not want to touch it we did not have to, it was not even mentioned, its just that the other options on the table would also be healthy. She just cooked healthy and kept healthy food in the house and we never really thought about it. I SOOO agree that pushing and forcing things on people are the best way to ensure that they will "revolt" lol. My mom pushed religion on us, college - well I did not develop a eating disorder but developed alot of habits I am not going to post here!  "but when you make an issue of something, it becomes an issue, you know?" totally totally agree!

nonmember avatar SKL

We have 3 other (non-related) adults in the house who believe in spoiling kids; plus the kids go to a daycare whose "candy-free" policy doesn't extend to the soccer coach and is loosely applied come afternoon snack, and has a Saturday nanny who is proud of her cookies and spends Sundays with my food-loving sister who will never buy into "less is more."

Now to the extent it's up to me, my kids are rarely offered non-"healthy" food.  They are actually very happy to eat healthy food; my "good eater" loves fruits and veggies and both prefer "brown bread" over white (which they normally don't get).  My skinny one won't touch red meat with a 10-foot pole.  So, I guess it could be worse.  But since one of my kids tends to overeat (and gain weight) and the other shows signs that the shortage of healthy food could be affecting her development, I can't just blow it off when people try to stuff them with junk continually.  I often take the kids elsewhere for the evening rather than let people feed my kids inappropriately day after day.  Once a week, I can be relaxed about it, but some people know no limits.

I wish I could figure out how to counter other adults' attitude that "I care about the kids" translates into "eat this plate full of junk food."

nonmember avatar Sarah

I'm with the rest of you! We mostly eat well (salmon, homegrown eggs and veggies, and lots of chicken and rice), with a few corn dogs and mac and cheese sprinkled in when needed.

But like SKL, I wish we could eliminate the sense that any celebration, special time, or family visit must be accompanied with an exclusively junk food meal. After a week at my family's cabin, I'm practically detoxing my daughters from all of the "special" indulgences.

But then

Carey... Carey2006

My hubby drives me crazy with all the junk food he brings into the house!!!!! I try to encourage healthy snacks, fruit, veggies, cheese.....sweets are for special occasions like when we go to an amusement park or something.

sodapple sodapple

we are somewhere in the middle, as long as she eats healthy i can let her have a candy or any junk food for that matter. like today she has eaten 1 apple and a half of another, cucumber, whole wheat spagetti, tomatoes... not everything at the same time lol but i know that later when we take her to the playground if she ask for an ice cream or a donut i won't mind.

nonmember avatar Jaclyn

I don't have my own kids yet, but my experience growing up was that no big deal was made about food. Junk food was definitely limited in some way but in more of a "you can have a single serving of x per day" rather than any all out bans. Mac and cheese and sugary cereals made regular appearances. I am now a normal, relatively healthy eater. Sure, I don't always eat a balanced diet. But I am good at limiting myself and not eating junk just because it's there.

My fiance is another story. He lived in a house where junk food was absolutely not allowed. At family gatherings and birthday parties his mom was extremely strict about what her kids could eat. Halloween candy was put in the freezer and doled out very slowly. The end result was he and his sister would sneak candy. As soon as they got a little independence they would eat fast food whenever they could. And if there's a bag of chips within reach he will not stop eating until it's done or taken away.

I absolutely hope to follow the lesson from my parents of moderation when I start my own family. I'm sure I'll do it a little differently, (Ideas of healthy eating have come a long way since the eighties, after all) but always with moderation in mind.

nonmember avatar .303 Bookworm

My 8 yr old stepson mostly eats healthy - he doesn't get any other option.  Fruit and wholegrain cereal for breakfast; a sandwich (wholemeal bread), fruit, carrot sticks, nuts & sultanas (not pre packaged), cheese and wholegrain crackers for lunch/snacks; whatever we're having for dinner. 

Exceptions are the rare greasy takeaway and weekly dinner at his mothers (it's always sausages).  The kicker is getting him to eat enough - he'll easily get to 4pm before opening his lunchbox.    

The things he refuses point blank to eat (pumpkin) he gets eats often than he realises.  A celebration meal out was formerly McDonalds but, after a recent visit to a Teppenyaki restaurant, that's what he now wants instead (my purse is going OUCH!).  So much for "I don't like japanese food!".

We just gradually /repeatedly introduce new things while keeping it low key.  "What's that?  Oh it was my fav when I was a kid.  Want some?  No? That's cool, more for me!, You do?  Ok, tell me what you think."

The best advice I've ever been given is you'll never know if the person they grow up to be is BECAUSE or DESPITE your efforts.  Meh. That's my 2c worth anyway.

clean... cleanaturalady

I prefer them to eat healthy foods, but it's a battle I am still fighting with them and they are tweens and teens now.

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