5 Foods I Never Feed My Children


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/25/2013 6:00 AM   :  129 comments   :  47,987 Views

One of my biggest priorities as a mom is providing my kids with a healthy diet.  Sometimes I'm met with success (they love vegetables), but other times it's a little more difficult ("Eww!  What is this?!?"). I try to expose them to a wide variety of healthy foods, so that eating this way becomes a normal part of the rest of their lives.  My kids are 6, 4 and 1, and even though I control most of what they eat at this age, I still shake my head at some of the food that's served when I'm not around.  My kindergartner can't go to a Girl Scout meeting, sporting event or even morning snack at school without adults serving her junk food.  So when I'm given the opportunity to bring something, I see it as a chance to show kids that healthy food can taste good.
Sometimes I get flak from other parents (including my own) because I don't let my kids order whatever they want at a restaurant or limit the foods I bring into our home.  I don't think I'm denying my children the joys of childhood by not serving them many common "kid foods."  If substituting vegetables for French fries or telling them they can't have the corndog on the menu is the worst thing I do as a mom, I think I'm on the right track.   
At the same time, I realize that putting some foods off-limits often makes them the "forbidden fruit," and they can become the food my kids want most.  Just like adults, completely denying yourself the foods you enjoy makes you more likely to binge on them later.  I don't want my child to go crazy at a friend's house because their mom serves chocolate milk and I only serve plain.  My kids get treats and snacks they like, but there are certain foods they will just never get from me.  Recently, I read an article about the top foods nutrition experts won't feed their kids, which inspired me to write this blog.  Wondering what foods are on the "off limits" list for this personal trainer's kids?
5 Foods I Won't Feed My Kids
  1. Hot dogs.  I'm sure I'll get a little flak for saying this, but I have yet to find any significant nutritional value in a hot dog (or a slice of bologna for that matter).   The average hot dog has 4 grams of saturated fat and 540 milligrams of sodium.  The first two ingredients in a hot dog are mechanically separated turkey and mechanically separated chicken.  I don't know what "mechanically separated" means, but I'm pretty sure there's more processing involved than I'm comfortable serving my kids. In addition to that, processed meats, including hot dogs, contain nitrates, which have been linked to colon cancer.   
  2. Prepackaged lunches. A lot of my daughter's friends bring Lunchables to school as a "special treat".  Here's one variety:  Light Bologna with American Cracker Stackers.  Listed on the website as a "good source of protein, calcium and iron," they don't highlight the fact that one package contains 35% of the daily amount of saturated fat and 26% of the daily limit for sodium.  Without too much planning, you can come up with a much healthier lunch for your kids.  In addition, the ingredient list in a Lunchable is too long to count.  My general rule is that if a product has more than 5 ingredients, I put it back on the shelf.  This doesn't happen 100% of the time, but it's my goal as much as possible. 
  3. Soda.  Okay, I can’t exactly say “never” to this one, because my oldest two have had Sprite a few times in their lives.  But it really has been just a few times, on special occasions (like New Year’s Eve or birthdays.)  They never ask for soda because they are used to milk or water with all of their meals.  Soda is loaded with sugar, is bad for their teeth, and it has no nutritional value.  If your kids drink a lot of soda and you want to change that, don’t try and do it cold turkey.  Slowly start replacing soda with water.  If they don’t like the taste of plain water, try flavoring it with fruit.  My kids think it’s fun to squeeze an orange slice into their water. 
  4. Fast food.  The closest my kids have come to eating fast food is going to Panera on occasion.  I'd almost always rather make my kids a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner versus a McDonald's hamburger (which they have never had).  It's cheaper to cook at home and I know exactly what's going into the food being served.  And while PB&J might not be the perfect meal, it's still a pretty balanced meal that I can throw together in mere minutes—and my kids love it.
  5. Sugary cereals.  Growing up, the only cereals we were allowed to have were Cheerios and Rice Krispies.  While my friends dined on Cookie Crunch and fruity puffs with marshmallows, we were stuck with the plain stuff.  Now I'm glad my parents made this choice and I do the same.  Kids are much better off without a sugar-filled start to their day. Instead, our quick breakfasts of choice are peanut butter on toast, Greek yogurt with fruit or Cheerios.

I hope this list doesn't make me seem like a food snob, or imply that I'm better than any other mother who serves these foods to their children.  I strongly believe that every parent should do what they feel is best for their kids and within their abilities, finances and priorities. Serving my children a healthy diet full of wholesome food is important to me, so I put a lot of effort into the meals I serve.  Sometimes I get strange looks from friends and family when they see what I feed (or won't feed) my kids.  I've accepted that I'm different than most moms, and I hope that the older my kids get, the more they will appreciate it too.
But it's not about perfection. My kids do get treats.  They love pizza, whether we make it at home or go out to eat.  We enjoy going to the local ice cream stand in the summer, and sometimes we make cookies together at home just for fun.  They eat cake at birthday parties, and enjoy these "fun" foods just as much as any other child.  But in my family, treats are seen as special—not an everyday occurrence.  
If you're interested in changing the diet of your family, A Parent's Guide to Nutrition for Kids or SparkPeople’s Healthy Family Makeover Challenge is a good place to start.  Kids can be stubborn, so don't expect all changes to be well-received in the beginning.  But if you stay consistent, changing a few small things at a time so you don't overwhelm them all at once, eventually they will come around and your family will be much healthier because of it.
Are there any foods you won't (or didn't) serve to your kids?  Do you think my list of off-limits foods is reasonable or unreasonable?

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  • 79
    I admire the sentiment, but for me it's not at all practical. I am a working mom of 3. While I admire your thoughts, I cannot live by them. I allow Nathan's or Hebrew National Hot dogs. I do not allow soda for them. I rely on cereal that does not have tree nuts or manufactured in a facility with them. Yep, sometimes my only choices are sugary cereals. With food allergies that are expansive, I spend most of the time finding foods they CAN eat. And no, that's not always the healthier choice. (Imagine if your child was allergic to 90% of all fruit?)

    I think this post completely as comes off as "holier than thou". I am disappointed that this was featured as something we should read. It's effect is to either get people who already do this to affirm they are better than the rest of us or make those of us who do feed our kids these "horrendous" choices to feel more guilty than we already do. - 2/26/2013   11:55:56 AM
  • 78
    No food snob here...I pretty much have those exact same rule and my girls thank me for it. They've never really liked sodas, hot dogs OCCASIONALLY with chili or something but really they don't like any processed meats. As a matter of fact, I haven't bought lunch meat/processed in about four years. Because no one will eat it! - 2/26/2013   11:32:10 AM
    I think we need to watch their diets, set good examples for them and talk about nutrition. We also need to guard what goes into their "mental diet" as well (exposure to media, etc.) I talk to my six year old about what's good for his body. I do let him have an occassional treat. And I also portion his treats (15 chips or 3 cookies). I think the only thing completely off limits is soda. I do think I need to get better, though. - 2/26/2013   11:14:39 AM
  • 76
    I know they are kids but I do give them some wiggle room.

    They have to eat veggies and fruits, that is a battle I am willing to have with them. For the most part it is not a hard one they both love them. And when in doubt turn it into a smoothie!

    No one in our house drinks soda. My husband and I gave up soda when we were dating and it has never come back in. My daughter(5) gets 1 cup of juice a day, 1 glass of milk, and it's water the rest of the day. My son (1.5) drinks milk and has recently begun requesting water.

    I tried those packaged lunches for less than a month and have never gone back.

    I will let them indulge in "kids" cereals occasionally but for the most part we don't buy them.

    I do give in to the drive thru every so often. Sometimes you are just too tired. However I have found that keeping turkey, veggie, and salmon burgers in the freezer and having a handy dandy George Forman grill has reduced falling back on the drive thru.

    I think the biggest and most important thing is that we don't cook twice. What I make for the family is what the family eats. If my kids want to fight about it and don't want to eat "oh well" eventually they will get hungry and eat it. I also never got the mentality that there are "kids" foods vs. "adult" foods. It's food... it's got no age label. If they have teeth and can chew it and they don't have an allergy to it, they can eat it.
    - 2/26/2013   9:57:29 AM
    That's the way to do it! GREAT JOB!! - 2/26/2013   9:37:15 AM
    I'm a mom of 5. Ages 21,14,11,9 and 2. I have always lived by those same rules. My kids love vegetables and oatmeal. We only eat Cheerios too. My oldest has moved out already and now has good eating habits. They have all been healthy all their lives and within a healthy weight. They have never had cavities. They play outside and video games and tv viewing have always been limited. We don't eat at fast food places. No matter how "healthy" they try to make their menus the food choices are always full of preservatives and sodium. As they get older and on their own, they will have to make their own choices. I know that those choices will be healthy ones, for when we lead by example our children pick up healthy habits. - 2/26/2013   9:36:49 AM
  • 73
    awesome; wish I'd done this! - 2/26/2013   9:29:43 AM
  • 72
    My kids are adults now, but I tried to feed them somewhat healthy when they were young. When my daughter was at a party or function, she would always go to the vegie or fruit platter. People were amazed that this 3 year old little girl loved fresh mushrooms. When I took my son grocery shopping, rather than go to the bakery for a free cookie, I had to buy a banana for him before I started ,my shopping. - 2/26/2013   9:29:35 AM
  • 71
    I agree with you completely and our rules are nearly identical. In our home we try to teach our children to eat a balanced diet. Junk is rarely found in our home and we rarely go out to eat it. I odd time when my husband does the shopping, something will show up but that isn't more than once every few months. - 2/26/2013   9:14:50 AM
    You are right in believing that it becomes forbidden fruit and the kids will get it on the sly if it's denied them. Still, I admire your quest and I actually shared much of it when my kids were growing up. My kids are now in late 30's and early 40's.
    However, I would never give someone else's child anything edible without their parents' permission because of food allergies that can actually be deadly.
    Sugar coated cereals were NEVER on our shopping list.
    I can't say my kids never ate fast food. If they chose a fast food place to be taken out for their birthday dinner, I would not deny them that treat but we went a few times a year not a few times a month or week.
    One on my children was more or less a vegetarian from the time he started eating and eventually, he refused meat entirely. Both of my children were exposed to new and different foods to a point where their school teachers were surprised they even knew what some foods are.
    One of our family activities was to choose food themes from an international cook book and cook it together.
    Soda was something that we rarely had in our fridge. Candy, cake, etc. were special treats, not daily items.Christmas, Easter and Valentine candy were scarce but little toys or books were common in stockings and baskets for holidays.

    Unfortunately, my grandkids routinely took cold hotdogs out of the fridge as a snack, drank Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew like it was water, and seemed to seldom have home cooked meals. When they came to my house when they were small, they turned their noses up at whatever I cooked but now that they are teens then seem to crave wholesome foods with nutritional value.
    My oldest son is still a vegetarian and we prepare vegetarian dishes when we get together.
    My youngest son is more in to gourmet foods but they are wholesome foods. He drinks enough soda to make my skin crawl but I am no longer in charge :)
    - 2/26/2013   9:09:47 AM
  • 69
    Everything in moderation---but for children, there is NO reason to serve them food loaded with preservatives and tons of salt. How much poison is acceptable for giving your kids? - 2/26/2013   9:08:40 AM
  • 68
    The weird thing is that my ex and I always talked about health and making the right eating choices when my son was just a tike. Now at 7 years old, he eats BETTER than I do. I have never once told him he couldn't have something, I actually said he can have whatever and as much as he wants ... but it's not very healthy. Now this child makes GREAT choices whether I'm around or not. I can open a package of candy and put it in the candy jar on the table and tell him to have as much as he wants. He will maybe have one piece, but he usually doesn't touch it. He does drink soda occasionally and I don't mind. For dinner he always wants to ensure that he has enough protein and vegetables. Yes, he eats corndogs and hot dogs, especially if we go to Red Robin - his favorite dinner is a corndog with steamed broccoli as a side instead of french fries. I take him to the snack aisle at the grocery and tell him to pick out whatever he wants - he picks fruit snacks and granola bars and doesn't touch any of the cupcakes or anything. He does eat sugary cereal, but that's usually a snack in the evening. He's been involved in sports since he was 3 years old and he's very active.

    My parenting style was to explain the value of a healthy diet and let him know that his choices matter and I'm not always going to be there to help him make the right choices, so I just let him know the implications of bad choices. I actually tell him "you don't want to be fat like mommy one day by eating that" I know it's harsh, but it's the truth. I never got any real education on eating right (I grew up without much money so we pretty much ate whatever was cheap and on sale - which was usually sugar filled snacks, I can hardly remember having any fresh fruit or veggies, other than iceberg lettuce, in the house when I was growing up). So now I keep tons of fresh fruits and vegetables cut up and put in zip lock bags in the fridge so if he wants a snack he can go grab a bag of fresh strawberries, or grapes, or carrot sticks, etc.
    I don't believe in making food "forbidden" I really think the best thing a parent can do is talk to their kids about good choices and implications of bad choices starting as soon as possible - the younger the better. (My son was 2 when we talked to him about good and not so good choices and it's stuck)!
    But I won't judge anyone's parenting technique. If this works for you and your family - BRAVO! The one thing that I CANNOT STAND seeing is an overweight child. It seriously, SERIOUSLY bothers me. There is no reason for a child to be overweight - that is the parents fault. I am fat (but working on losing it), but I made bad choices, that is MY fault, but I do not want to put my son on the same path as me. - 2/26/2013   8:16:46 AM
  • 67
    I'm glad that I am not the only one who feels this way. I was brought up on sweets and such. Over the past few years I have been gradually changing the way we eat. My husband is the only one that eats the junk food. The only soda that my kids get and myself now is GingerAle (only when sick). My children gets funny looks when they do not know the different kinds of soda, well that is because they don't drink it. I have been making my own peanut butter and jelly. Any snacks are done homemade. - 2/26/2013   8:10:26 AM
  • 66
    I applaud you! I've never allowed hot dogs or McDonalds or sugary cereals. However we need access to fast food because of our busy lifestyle. We like Wendy's chili and fries. My nutritionist says ok to the chili for me and I get a baked potato or side salad. I use Trader Joes organic chicken hot dogs and we love them - so do the kids who visit. I allow pop once a week at the skating rink. The killer in my book are processed foods. The challenge for any novice shopper is to resist all those tempting prepared, easy to heat foods. So I keep organic chicken burritos and organic egg souffles from Costco in the freezer for when someone is running to a sports event or needs a snack. I package homemade soups in the freezer for the weekends. THere is always a large supply of fruit. We have chips and some sweets in the house but I choose what I buy - Trader Joes has the best offering of fruit sweetened and natural colored candies, and high protein soy chips. We like popcorn and make it in a pan, not microwave with that nasty fake butter stuff. Both my kids can feel and tell me the difference in how they feel if they are not eating enough green veggies. I often steam kale and spinach for a snack and the crazy thing is that we all like it. As far as breakfast both my kids prefer to eat last nights dinner leftovers instead of cereal which often just goes stale at my house. My downfall personally is just plain overeating. I've always been a person who wants to eat a lot of food. I agree with the posters who say that forbidding things leads to overeating it. My mom used to hide all the candy and snacks in the house so we would gorge on it when it was brought out. In contrast I saw families who had bowls of candy out for guests and the family ate it sparingly or ignored it.
    As my Dr says, if we all just ate to sustain our bodies, there wouldn't be any obesity. So obesity is certainly caused by more than just the need of nutrients. For me it is all emotion that is for sure. - 2/26/2013   7:58:27 AM
  • 65
    If a parent wants to emphasize this in their child's life that's fine. My energy is going to emphasized on something else in my child's life - intellectual, physical, mental and moral development. If I work on those thing I'll be exhausted. - 2/26/2013   7:57:44 AM
  • 64
    According to serious studies, atherosclerosis and T2 diabetes are "pediatric diseases." That means that the foundations for whether or not your children will have these diseases are laid in what you feed them when they are children. Look at the statistics of the high percentage of children who are overweight. I commend you for loving your children enough to protect their health by avoiding the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet). In my opinion, a fat child is a victim of child abuse, because it is the parents, not the child, who buys the stuff and feeds them the stuff that makes the child fat and unhealthy. - 2/26/2013   7:45:30 AM
    I don't know who did this study but certainly is WRONG!! who in the world you can't give hotdogs to your kids? what about the 4th of July or a birthday party?

    what about a quick breakfast and you give "sugary cereal". "Fast Foods" when you are out of the house and don't want to cook or better say on VACATION, you don't cook and the first thing you give to your kids in fast food. The same goes as "prepackaged food", give it to school snacks.

    Pleople give me a break. - 2/26/2013   7:37:20 AM
  • 62
    When I was a young mom, everyone I knew just fed their kids all the things you mentioned, and advertising convinced us that we were being nice to our kids by serving them tasty foods. I wish I could redo that part of my life; my kids are suffering from poor habits and obesity as adults. - 2/26/2013   7:34:43 AM
  • 61
    Personally, I don't agree with this list. I think as parents we need to limit the treats and make sure they are seen as treats, but totally say no fast food, no soda, no hot dogs? Seems like when they get to college and eating on their own, they may rebell the opposite direction and that may be all they eat. Now, admittedly, I am a tad annoyed that my son seems to order the highest calorie hamburger at almost every restaurant we go to, when at home he gets much more interesting and healthy meals. But we only go out to eat once a week, so to me, no harm really done. He does pack a lunch for school. (Left over homemade lasagna today.) So while we limit hot dogs, soda and fast food, they aren't off limits food. But then that also goes along with my and usually sparks philosophy of no food is completely off limits. Everything in moderation. - 2/26/2013   7:10:25 AM
  • 60
    Sound advice. I wish my parents had done that for me and that I had done it for mine. - 2/26/2013   4:39:42 AM
  • 59
    My children had never had soda until they were 5 and 6, and wouldn't have had it then except they were at a special school celebration and sodas were given out to all the students (kindergarten through fourth grade) "as a treat from the principal." As parents, we were in attendance, but deliberately said nothing - I admit it, I was curious to see what their reactions would be. My daughter (the 5-year-old) took a tiny little sip, made a face, and set it aside completely. My son took a tiny sip, stared at it a moment, took a somewhat bigger one (almost as if with disbelief that it couldn't really taste like that), then also set it aside. The teacher came over to me and asked "Don't your children like soda?" "I guess not," I said, "That's the first time they've ever had it, and they don't seem to be drinking it." Her eyes popped. That was almost 30 years ago. It may be outside the cultural norm (unfortunately, as I think the "norm" needs to be overhauled), but I think people - young and old - are much the better for avoiding sugar- and artifically-sweetened, high-sodium processed, and fat- and sodium-laden foods. Kudos to you, Coach Jen, for a well-designed diet for your family. - 2/26/2013   3:13:22 AM
  • 58
    Good mom! I find the older my son got, the more the rules relaxed... bad on me! :-(
    I think we need to do a kitchen purge. There are chips, some cookies (gifted from a friend) and a few other items, probably, that just don't need to be here. Because since they ARE, they get eaten! Simple as that... - 2/26/2013   3:11:44 AM
  • 57
    I love your list, it totally matches mine :)
    My grandmother is 83 and in perfect health. She never had a cereal or a soda in her life. I believe that a meal that you cook yourself can never be replaced neater on taste or nutritional value! - 2/26/2013   3:09:59 AM
  • 56
    Terrific blog.....I applaud you for working so hard to see that your kids have nutritious food. My daughter gets flak from her husband's family because she doesn't give her two year old soda and does her best to limit fast and fried food. When my daughter takes her little one to Chick-fil-a she orders grilled chicken nuggets, a fresh fruit cup and milk. I can't think of a fruit or vegetable my grand-daughter doesn't like.....they are offered at every meal and as snacks. I agree, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a great substitute for fast food.

    - 2/26/2013   2:07:43 AM
    I agree; there were definitely foods that my son did not eat when he was younger.I was fortunate that a tossed salad was my "go to" food when he did not llike a new food. The only fast food he would eat was Wendy's chicken nuggets, and he ate his first McDonald's hamburger at 12 (he's 14). I have lost control over his lunch since he entered middle school, and he is gained weight, but two years later he recognizes this and has begun to eat better at school. - 2/25/2013   10:49:10 PM
  • 54
    I never had kids--but I was one! and your list of 'don't' foods is pretty close to my parents' food rules. My bro. and I didn't like soda, so that was no problem. Hot dogs were a maybe-once-a-year at a ball game thing. I never had a fast-food hamburger till I was in college (granted, they weren't as easy to find in the 60s-70s, but many of my friends were already hooked). Any 'sugar' foods we had were home-made, and my mom controlled the amounts pretty carefully b/c her sister had diabetes from age 10. It didn't stop me from becoming over weight, but I can say I did it all on 'good' food! - 2/25/2013   10:06:15 PM
    I consider myself pretty lucky. My son will try new foods and likes most vegetables. He does like the snacks and junk food. If we don't have them in the house, it makes it a lot easier for him to live without them and for me not to worry about what he's eating. - 2/25/2013   8:11:29 PM
  • 52
    We need more parents like you!!! I taught elementary school for 30 years and started the Snack Break in my classroom and the idea gradually spread throughout the school. In my room we made it a health lesson making lists of healthy foods we could bring for snacks. There were always a few parents who sent cookies but for the most part they came up with creative, healthy snacks such as an apple cut in wedges and put back together with peanut butter between the sections. (That was a new one for me.)
    Hope this taught the kids something about eating snacks. - 2/25/2013   7:56:10 PM
  • 51
    Bravo! It can be hard to say No!
    But what a wonderful cause óż - 2/25/2013   6:38:58 PM
  • 50
    i knew a mom that refused to give her kid white bread. she gave them whole wheat only. my mom was friends with her and used to point out that one day the kids are going to find white bread and get upset they cant have it. because the mom acted like white bread didnt exist to her kids. when i was a little kid my mom was a single mom and worked two jobs to support me and my older sister. i was basically raised by my 7 year old sister. so i got hotdogs and the easy fast foods a lot since being a kid herself my sister couldnt cook me healthy meals. my great grandma helped out and like most grandmas she filled us up with sugar and sent us home. my mom wouldnt buy the sugar cereals all the time. occasionally we would get cookie crisp or coco pebbles but when we really had sugar cereals was at grandmas. then even after my mom met my dad when i was 5 and married him when i was 7 and she didnt have to work two jobs anymore my mom was still too tired after work to cook meals. my dad couldnt cook anything except fried burritos lol. we ate out a lot and fast food a lot. then mom would go on a fad diet and pull me a 7 year old and her 14 year daughters on to it to. i do think that the way i ate as a child affects my weight now. i was an active kid and didnt really start getting overweight until junior year of high school when i was doing college classes volunteer work and working at jamba juice. by then my mom was at home more and cooked all natural organic meals but now i had my own money as well as free smoothies that i could have as many as i wanted. i got soda and junk all day then went home to eat half of whatever my mom made because i was too full from junk all day. im slowly getting back into eating better though now along with my boyfriend. ive lost 27 lbs since starting two years ago so im pretty happy with myself. when im a mom i dont think i will have the foods that i will never give my kids but there will be foods they get more then others. the junk stuff they will only get on a special occasion. i dont restrict myself from certain foods so i dont see the fairness to restrict the kids. they will be eating mostly vegetarian as i am vegetarian and i do the cooking. they will get meat once in a while because my guy will never give it up lol so they will be eating like daddy. they can make the choice to be total vegetarian or meat eater when they are older and understand the difference. - 2/25/2013   5:44:40 PM
  • 49
    what a fantastic Mom you are....I think you rock and I bet your kids do too - 2/25/2013   5:23:24 PM
  • 48
    I am with you on most of what you've done - and I don't think it makes you a food snob. Personally, I'm not a fan of hot dogs so we don't have them in the house. Even as a baby with his first foods, my (now) 17 year old wasn't a big fan of really sweet things - unless it's chocolate and he always preferred broccoli to applesauce. I remember being told that I was crazy and that all kids like applesauce. My reaction? Sure, go ahead and try to feed it to him. He didn't start drinking soda until he was around 12 (his choice) and still doesn't really like carbonation. I do believe in moderation tho - after karate, the three of us (him and both parents) treat ourselves to McDonalds - he gets an angus burger, no pickles onions or mayo. We get grilled chicken classics - no mayo. We've always allowed 1 fast food meal per week. And even now, it's easier to get him to eat veggies than pasta. It's really about personal tastes and sensible early training. I think you're doing great! - 2/25/2013   5:10:57 PM
  • 47
    What about alternatives like Trader Joe's naturally cured hot dogs, which contain no nitrates or nitrites? There are certainly healthier alternatives to Ball Park and all of those other (what I assume are unhealthy) grocery store brands. My three-year old daughter loves the Trader Joe's brand, and even Smart Dogs, which are veggie dogs.

    She has never had soda, sugary cereal or a Lunchable, so I am with you there. I see NO nutritional value in any of those things, so we don't bring those items into our house. And fast food is, for the most part, off-limits as well (with the exception of the occasional Taco Bell cheese roll-up or bean burrito).

    We are label-readers in my family; adament about avoiding partially hydrogenated oils, MSG, high fructose corn syrup and "fake" sugars. But I don't feel like we are extreme, by any means. Our daughter eats a wide variety of things that most other toddlers her age won't touch, so I think we're doing something right in that department, without making her feel like she's missing out on the junk her friends are eating.

    On another note, although I do believe that it's smart to teach our children the importance of making healthy choices at a young age, I do see how some people go overboard. I won't say that I will NEVER take my daughter to McDonald's or let her try a few sips of soda. When you are denied something, you just want it more! I think my husband and I are FAIR when it comes to letting her try things we don't necessarily want her eating, like candy and other sweets. We've allowed her to try things enough that when we, for instance, go to a birthday party, she is the kid who will eat three licks and one bite of her cupcake before saying, "I'm done". Everything in moderation! - 2/25/2013   3:53:36 PM
  • 46
    I completely agree with your sentiments. My children (9 yo girl and 4 yo boy) have been raised with these thoughts in mind from the beginning. In our house, we talk about nutrition in terms of balance rather than 'can't haves'. I see the investment with my children on a daily basis and am proud of what I see.

    It has helped to involve them in grocery shopping and menu planning. One of their favorite activities between June - October is going to the local farmer's market and helping in our garden.

    It especially makes me proud when I'm not with them and they come home telling me of good choices they made because they are proud of themselves for making them or saw something nutrition related they question.

    Just last week, my daughter commented how she didn't understand how parents of her classmates could let them bring Doritos or candy bar for mid-morning snack. She asked me in a heartfelt way - don't they know those aren't balanced? - 2/25/2013   3:17:11 PM
  • 45
    Aw, I wish I could put these in place in my household--it seems like every time I turn around my husband is buying himself and my daughter candy or some other processed food, when I'm trying to keep only healthy foods in the house. He and I both have a history of diabetes, and that's something I'd like my children to be able to avoid... having a hard time of it, though! - 2/25/2013   3:13:49 PM
  • 44
    I agree with some of the items like sugary cereal and sodas. I think you are a little obsessive about hot dogs and fast food. I allow those in moderation but I make sure they are paired with healthier foods. My grandkids loved going to McDonald's for a treat and a chance to play in the playroom. That is just being a kid. Everything in moderation. - 2/25/2013   3:13:12 PM
    Another "strict" mom here. My MIL recently asked what my 9yo's favorite soda was, and I had to answer that I had no clue, because while she certainly gets soda on occasion, that's just not the sort of thing we're in the habit of buying in this house - not even for special occasions. - 2/25/2013   2:37:17 PM
  • 42
    Food snob, nothing ~ it makes you sound like a very caring and smart mom. ;) - 2/25/2013   2:36:08 PM
  • CDK1971
    I SO totally agree with this list and the full list of 10 items. However what can we do about all the situations in which we are not there to help them make that choice?
    It has gotten SO pervasive at school and any other activity that kids are being offered sweet junky treats that I seem to have no control over. Everyone seems to think, oh it's okay, just one treat (but it becomes so frequent its NOT just one.)
    WHAT CAN WE DO to make other parents aware they are not helping kids in the long run by feeding them junk? Check out this blog article form an MD. But again, we need HELP to make a change in kid's environments...

    And take action here: TELL the USDA you support healthy food and drink options for snacks and meals in schools
    561 - 2/25/2013   2:31:12 PM
  • 40
    Your example in #2 said that some parents let their children have Lunchables as a special treat, but apparently that's not good enough and you don't want your kids to EVER have them. While that's your call, that's where you sound judgemental - I understand this shouldn't be a staple but what's wrong with other parents letting their kid have one or two Lunchables a year? You'll find very little advice on this site advocating that certain foods should be outright banned. Moderation is key. - 2/25/2013   1:45:16 PM
  • 39
    My kids are in their thirties so we knew less about what is healthy than we do now, but my kids knew that soda is a dessert not a regular beverage to eaten as a snack or with meals. We never ate hot dogs or bologna at home and though I couldn't get my kids to eat much green food we scarved up fruit like it was going out style. Now I get to see how my boys run their own households and I can see that what we ate has given them great habits when feeding my grandsons. - 2/25/2013   1:43:09 PM
  • 38
    I'm frugal which is why I was able to raise five children while other people only had two, but my rule was always that I did the shopping and if I didn't bring it in the house, they couldn't eat it. So I never bought sugary cereal, cheap hot dogs (I did buy wieners (pure beef)) and avoided cheap box foods like mac N Cheese. I got them to eat veggies and fruit by putting them in a container in the fridge with a sign saying "Don't eat, Mom's diet food." Of course, they HAD to eat my food. They all love salad and veggies now. - 2/25/2013   1:35:06 PM
    Must be nice that your kids never have to eat fast food. We live 30 minutes from anywhere, and if we are out then there are times when fast food is going to happen. It is just a fact of life. My daughter is not overweight. She is a picky eater. She can eat at McDs and be okay. Just because you don't trust your kids to have a balanced diet doesn't mean that the rest of the world can't handle it.

    Sorry but you lost me on this one. There is a balance in life. We can enjoy a piece of cake without gaining 100 pounds. My kid can have a Sprite once a week without rotting her teeth.

    We have tried the lunchables but my daughter just doesn't like them. Cereals are well.. my kid doesn't let her foods touch so cereal IN MILK does not happen in our house so that one is not so bad. However hot dogs happen once in a while, and a root beer or a sprite with a fast food meal is going to happen once or twice a week too. I really don't think it's the end of the world. - 2/25/2013   12:42:25 PM
  • 36
    Thank you for being a parent. I am a teacher. What I see in my children's lunch boxes is deplorable. I read several comments that said let children make their own choice.... WHAT!!! They are children. It is your role to guide them, and I applaud you for putting limits and restrictions. There is a reason we have sparkpeople.com and other weight control websites, because we were not taught properly concerning food. I am not the most religious person, but I firmly believe, "Train up a child ......." - 2/25/2013   12:09:43 PM
  • 35
    While I'm not quite as strict as you are with what I allow in my home, I agree with you. What you bring into your home and what you prepare for your family on a regular basis contributes significantly to the tastes and preferences they develop. I make it a point to always have as big of a variety of fresh fruits and veggies as living in my rural area allows me to. We participate in Bountiful Baskets, a food co-op that allows us the opportunity to get fresh produce every other week at a low price and order 2 baskets, one organic and one not to get the greatest variety of the freshest food we can find. My daughter absolutely adores fresh fruit and will take a mango, kiwi or handful of strawberries over any candybar or junk food snack she's given. I've had other parents ask me how I got her to do that--refuse an unhealthy snack or give it away--I tell them we talk about nutrition and how putting good things in means you get the very best out. If you put junk in, you get junk out and feel like junk, but what it really comes down to is that she PREFERS the fruit to anything else. My boys have been a little harder to convince, but they're doing so much better and feeling better too!
    I remember my parents giving me food "prizes" for doing something well, being offered ice cream or buttered popcorn as a nightly treat, and not being taught to limit sweets and treats. My mom was eternally on some fad diet or another when what she really needed was to make small, sustainable life changes she could find and experience true success with. I choose to buy, grow, and prepare the best foods I can find for my family. I don't forbid them from any food, I just won't buy it! I love to try new recipes and come up with healthier versions of things they already like or to sneak in pureed veggies in all sorts of dishes. There are a lot of substitutions (like using unsweetened applesauce for oil in baking) you can do they won't even notice and you're setting up your kids for a happier, healthier future. You can do the same with exercise--so many kids are driven everywhere they go. Why not have them walk with a friend (or parent) or ride a bike? Whether they choose to follow your example and what you've taught them is ultimately up to them, but they can't say you didn't try or teach them about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle :) - 2/25/2013   12:02:30 PM
    I am a 52 yr old father of two wonderful grown daughters, and I so wish I had followed something like this when they were young. My son-in-law, though, is on the right track and ensuring that my youngest daughter and their son (my grandson :-) ) are eating healthy and that includes not eating the items on this list. I am glad that he is starting them out this way. It is never too late to start but it a lot easier when they are young. - 2/25/2013   11:47:52 AM
  • 33
    What do you eat when you go to a ballpark or amusement park? - 2/25/2013   11:42:32 AM
  • 32
    I think that it is worth mentioning that most of peer reviewed science that links nitrates to colon cancer has been focused on high levels in drinking water and not the occasional hot dog.

    In general, I think that banning foods send the wrong message to kids. I had a hot dog or two when I was a kid and still enjoy a low fat beef hot dog occasionally or while at a baseball game. - 2/25/2013   11:39:38 AM
  • 31
    Okay. I have to say, in the 1970's, when I was a young one, my parents insisted that me and my siblings eat wholesome food, no refined sugar, no food coloring, no artificial anything. I tell you, I grew to truly hate carob covered raisins!

    A natural part of growing up, is rebelling against our parents, to prove that we have control over our own lives. What you have set up with your obsessive micromanaging of your offsprings' diet is that they will rebel big as adults, and will probably bathe in soda, and eat meals filled entirely with fried foods. As teenagers, they will hide their junk food eating from you. They will see all those foods you frown upon as being delightfully naughty.

    The better way to deal with this is to eat healthy food yourself, and allow your children to make their own choices. They will mirror your behavior without even realizing it (that's what kids do). Remove the taboo from food. - 2/25/2013   11:27:19 AM
    I agree with most of these and only have questions about myself concerning the fast food thing more as a case study than anything else.
    I was a strange kid growing up in the rural south. Everything was fried or sweetened or buttered, battered, or salted, or all of these. I cannot remember my mother ever giving me anything but milk, juice, or water to drink, and every meal was prepared at home, although sometimes "southern style" (see above) but we always ate at the table with no tv or background noise allowed. I was strange in that I never had a taste for the sweets, or the processed foods, or the sodas and processed juices (Sunny D...yack). I always made myself big salads as long as I could remember and remember "hating" the sweet tea at an early age. I was never allowed fast food except during Star Wars and Smurfs glassware season and being rural only attended a limited amount of children's birthday parties. I have been active all of my life and some might consider me an athlete in my younger years. I do remember as a teenager just starting to drive and having a job and my own money that I went from big salads and vegetable plates for lunch and dinner to getting busy with high school sports and what not after school and loving that I could go through the drive thru and buy as much of that cheesy, salty, greasy food that I wanted, even with my low paying after school job. It became another "freedom" of sorts. I was very active but that part of life stayed with me as I started my career and driving to and from work and became less and less active. That is when I really started noticing the effects of my bad diet habits and realized that I had a fast food addiction. At that point it was really hard to tame and get the craving for the taste of fast food out of my system. I have never smoked, but I think for me it was something like quitting smoking. I have been back on the big salad and vegetable plate thing for some time now and I am finally seeing the pounds start to cease. My energy level, self-esteem, sleep quality, etc is so much better once you get all of the chemicals, salt, and fat out of your system. As far as fast food, I can't go near the stuff. I have great control as long as I have a "streak" going, i.e. I have not had fast food since Christmas of 2010, etc. If I ever fall off the wagon, so to speak, then it will be a few months of fast food binging before I will pull it all together again. This has happened in the past, so now I know my limits. I change the channel in the evenings when all the pizza, burger, chicken finger commercials start and for the most part I prepare dinner in the evenings and my wife and I dine at the dining room table with music playing. Sorry as most of this seems to be more of a confessional, but the topic struck me as asking the question about "treats" or fast food and maybe hoping some of you mothers out there may be able to use my example to steer your decisions. - 2/25/2013   11:25:08 AM

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