Whole Living Daily

The Junk Food Diaries: How Do You Control Your Kids' Intake Away From Home?

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Getting my kids to eat healthfully shouldn’t be so hard, right? Lots of fruits and vegetables, some protein and carbs, throw in a treat here or there and you have a healthy diet. Simple. But somehow, it doesn’t quite work out that way when you add in the snack at school, the extra treat on a playdate, or the sugary drink at a sporting event.

For example, here are some things that slipped into my kids’ stomachs during the past week:

  • A ring pop that my daughter got at a friends house (sugar, corn, and some nice Red 40 dye)
  • A lunch consisting of chips, chicken nuggets, and a Rice Krispie treat (a lot of fried stuff and not a single vegetable)
  • A hot dog, popcorn, and peanuts at a hockey game (pretty sure that hot dog was your basic sodium nitrate-filled variety)
  • A sports drink after hockey practice (nice dose of high-fructose corn syrup and some artificial colors)
  • A soda at a book club “because everyone else got one!” (another hit of high-fructose corn syrup)

None of this stuff is too dramatic, but it's a little scary when you add it all up. Documenting these things and pointing them out to my kids seems like a good first step, but do any other parents out there have successful strategies on how to limit the junk?

Francesca Olivieri is co-founder of sage baby, an online eco-friendly baby store offering everything from organic clothes and skin care to furniture. She also runs a green consulting business; blogs for The Family Groove and Scenic Hudson; and contributes to Daily Candy Kids, YogaCity, Citiscoop, and NRDC’s Simple Steps. Please visit her website at FrancescaOlivieri.com.

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Comments (3)

  • Your first steps are great - you have to give your kids the tools to make their own decisions when eating away from you (and tell them that "no, thank you" is a viable option when offered something not so great!). As for the hockey games - you might be able to plan ahead and pack snacks/sandwiches/drinks that are healthier than what's available at the rink. As for birthday parties and unanticipated treats like the soda at the book club, some things you just have to let go and make up for it by pushing extra healthy meals & snacks the rest of the week.

  • Great comments. Thanks!!! It is battle but it is good to be prepared. Thanks for the advice.

  • I, too, feel that I am fighting against the tide. As a natural chef, I educate my kids and feed them quality, balanced meals at home, but with all of their activities, they end up eating more crap than I feel comfortable. I realize that they are kids and do my best to overlook some of this stuff, but why, as parents, do we feed our young athletes hot dogs, chips, soda, candy, and "sports" drinks? I cannot understand the obvious disconnect between how we fuel our bodies and our health. How can we educate parents to make better choices so that our children learn how to eat for health, strength, and performance? We truly are what we eat. I am amazed that, even in the Bay Area, I am in the minority with my thinking.

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