A Rant: Are You Feeding Your Kids Junk Food?

by lydia on February 23, 2011

…..if so, prepare for them to behave badly, get sick quicker, stay sick longer, sleep less and quite possibly be overweight, which is not normal for a child. (cover photo credit)

I confess, I used to fall into the trap of feeding my kids garbage convenience food from time to time. Thankfully, I wised up and chose to act on my instinct that processed crapola just wasn’t actually gonna nourish them. Sure, it would fill their bellies and take care of a practical aspect of life, which is feeding them a meal 3 times a day. However, is it really okay to think that just filling their bellies with any old thing is acceptable. Are we truly caring for our children when we go through that drive through window one, two or 3 times per week. Not to mention the school lunches and portable packaged snacks that we consider food, and for a growing body no less. What we have come to consider food in this day and age is rather alarming to me. Do we even know what real food looks like or is anymore? I’m am not trying to lay down a guilt trip on anyone, or judge anyone for that matter, cause I’ve been there done that, but I just want to raise awareness by asking these questions!

I work very hard to feed my kids a nourishing diet,  and believe me when I say very hard! It’s like a fish trying to swim upstream to feed your kids healthy these days. Everywhere you turn there is an opportunity for kids to be offered something that is considered a treat, yet is detrimental to the well being of a child. For example, consider the recent holiday of Valentine’s Day. If your kids are in school, you can bet they are gonna get bombard with gobs of candy. Not just any candy mind you, but tons of RED candy. Do we not realize that this means RED FOOD DYE? I suspect most parents don’t even know, or have never researched the detriments of this horrific substance. If your child has ADD or ADHD you most likely have been informed of the hazards of it, but what about the rest of the parents out there? And if you were to try to keep your kids from being given candy at school, #1 your kid would think you were cruel and #2 the other parents and teachers would either be inconvenienced in some way or annoyed. This is the world we live in. For those of us who want to consciously steward our bodies and our kids bodies, we are considered freakish at best.

So how to handle this complicated battle of convenience food vs. nourishing foods? Is there a happy medium? I am finding that I have to fight this battle on my own anymore. I certainly do not want to alienate people in the process or be offensive, but I find it offensive that my kids teachers hand out candy without asking me first, or they go to a friend’s house whose parents then allow them to have Mountain Dew. I find it offensive that people don’t care enough in general to care for kids through nourishment and that often times convenience and costs trump genuine good health. I certainly can’t assume everyone will want to jump into the deep end of the pool and start taking cod liver oil and making sure their kids get liver once a week, but the junk food thing really pisses me off to be quite frank. And it’s not so much any one person I am mad at, it’s the world at large. How did we get to this point we were are inundated with complete garbage posing as food at every turn? Is convenience food even really convenient? Convenience/junk food only serves one purpose to quickly fill your belly, nothing more. Then once you have consumed said food you are putting your body in jeopardy for illness, because not only have you just consumed something that contains NO nourishment whatsoever, it does contain ingredients that are detrimental to your health. So we do this all in the name of cost and time, yet in the long run we are shooting ourselves in the foot. It is costly to be sick, not only financially but emotionally and time wise as well.  My current solution is to not just go with the flow and give up hope that I can nourish my kids, nor is it to run away and bury my head in the sand, but to one day at a time educate my own kids about true nourishment. I can’t make choices for them all the time, but I can equip them with understanding and knowledge of how to care for their own bodies by what they eat. I also do not allow junk food in my home and discourage them from eating it when out. It doesn’t always work when they are not in my care, but they usually feel gross and act badly and are starting to realize it. I have also made concessions and came up with healthier alternatives to their beloved junk food favorites. We can still enjoy cake, candy, soda and ice cream that is simply homemade and made from REAL food ingredients. It’s not impossible to do folks and my hope is that they will lose their taste for the synthetic stuff posing as food and opt for the real deal.

How about you, what frustrates you about trying to consume real food in a junk food driven culture? How do you realistically tackle nourishing your kids these days? Are you stuck in a junk food mode and need help getting out, share your frustrations in the comments………….

Real Food Recipes Your Kids Are Sure To Love

Coconut Milk Popsicles

Heavenly Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Homemade Ice Cream Cake

Chocolate Cake Roll

Rich Chocolate Ice Cream

Bread and Butter Pickles

Easiest Crockpot Beef Ever

Homemade Ranch Dip

Homemade Alphabet Soup

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Coconut Flour Brownies

Chicken Wings

Chocolate Pudding Pops

Do you have any tried and true real food/kid friendly recipes you would like to share?  Feel free to post them in the comments…

This post contributed to Real Food Wednesdays.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen @ Eating My Vegetables February 23, 2011 at 10:05 am

I am quickly entering that phase of life as well – my DD wants to have whatever we have, and wants to have cups and foods when we are out. As of now – yogurt is a treat for her, as is butter. She doesn’t know what “sweet” tastes like. When she is older she’ll have homemade brownies and ice cream and maybe even fruit (if we can overcome that allergy!) but the hardest part will be keeping them “treats” – people use to have a “treat” very rarely, such that it truly was what the name implies. Nowadays, myself included, we expect to have dessert with every meal!

A packable “treat” alternative my husband and I are considering meanwhile – Bacon! We’ll make the other kids jealous :)

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Cindy (FarmgirlCyn) February 23, 2011 at 10:18 am

Part of the problem, and I do mean “part” is the mislabeled junk food. Labels that say “no hydrogenated oils!”, or “low fat/non fat”, or…what’s the latest one where they change the name “high fructose corn syrup” to something like “corn sugar”. Folks that don’t know any better think they are giving their kids something healthy. And the FDA doesn’t make it any easier on us….

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Julie February 23, 2011 at 11:59 am

Preach it girl! It’s so frustrating to work so hard to give your children a healthy start only to have people judge you and sabotage you and your children every chance they get. I agree that the best way is educatiing your kids in a fun and encouraging way. My daughter Eva keeps saying “I’m so glad we started this diet because now we know about so many more good foods”. (we did the GAPS diet and then started adding back certain foods) Anyway, maybe the world is starting to change even a little, is that too much to hope for?

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Dawn February 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I am right in the beginning phase of getting the junk out. My hubby and I don’t eat that crap, so why should I feed it to my kids? Why would I do that? I would do that because I didn’t want to be “that” mom. The one with all the weird/special requests and can’t let her kids touch the cake at a birthday party. Know what? That’s bullshit, and I’ve had enough. I don’t care if you think I’m being weird or controlling. I’m doing my job. Taking care of my children. If you don’t like it, tough!! The one problem I have with my older boy is that he goes to his father’s 3 times a week, and there’s no way I’m going to talk his father, his stepmom, and the 3 siblings into doing this. I will try to encourage them, but I have no control over it. Frustrating!

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Jenn February 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Thank you so much for this list of kid-friendly recipes. They all sound like absolutely wonderful alternatives!

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marina @ healthy mom and child February 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm

For 2 years now I am making most of our food and we do not buy anything processed. It is hard but I learned soo many things and cannot tolerate convenience food anymore, it just tastes too sweet or too salty for me. My kids are healthy, husband and I are healthy and we have lots of energy to do the things we love. I still allow kids to have birthday cakes and juice at their friend’s parties because I know they have healthy foods at home and a little of sugar and artificial colors will not hurt them. Soda pop though is a no-no, i do not want it to hurt their developing bones!
If their livers are healthy they will metobalize the toxins properly without any harm to the body.
I aim for 90% rule of healthy foods and 10% of treats. If I buy treats they are mostly dark chocolate and other things with quality ingredients without any MSG or trans oils.
Most of the people I know are totally understaning about this (even if they do not practice real food at home), especially if they know that I am studying to become a holistic nutritionist. Even the kids’ school said to stop bringing cup cakes to school for birthdays and gave options for healthier treats. I don’t mind being judged by others – some people are all for just filling tummies and this is their choice..or is it?

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Archie February 24, 2011 at 10:10 am

I’m amazed that we Americans spend so much money and so much effort on preparing our children for life. We spend a ton on stylish clothes, a comfortable roof over their heads, bedroom sets, toys, schooling, private lessons for music, sports, dance, etc. and as they get older we continue to keep up with the Jones and buy our children cell phones, more clothes, trips, cars…. and yet when it comes to their diet and health we fall down completely. Junk food should not even be dignified with the name ‘food’. Food nourishes the body for energy and growth. Junk food does exactly the opposite. Anti-food is more accurate.

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kim February 24, 2011 at 10:19 am

THANK YOU so much for this post! I teach at my kids’ school and at lunch, I see what all the kids are eating (we are a very small school, with no hot lunch program, the parents pack the kids’ lunches). SHOCKS me! Especially when I know many of the kids are on ADHD meds and/or have been diagnosed with various things (Asperger’s, etc). So many people don’t see (or don’t WANT to see) the correlation between kids’ health and diet. My kids are 10 and 12 and we have radically changed how we eat over the last few years. They fought it at first, but are now developing their own convictions b/c they see the difference in their skin, bodies, energy levels and ability to concentrate. I see it as pure laziness why many parents do not choose the healthy alternatives, and I hope and pray daily that this will change. Otherwise, what kind of future do our kids have???? Again, thanks for posting

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Christine February 25, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Those are great kid-friendly recipes Lydia! I have two recipes posted on my blog that my kids love! The first is soaked pumpkin muffins (which can be easily interchanged for applesauce, banana, zucchini, etc.): http://www.butterbelle.ca/recipe/recipe-soaked-pumpkin-muffins/, and zucchini chocolate chip cookies made with sprouted flour: http://www.butterbelle.ca/recipe/recipe-sprouted-chocolate-chip-zucchini-cookies/

Thanks!

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Michelle February 26, 2011 at 7:09 am

I love your RANT!!! So honest and unforgiving, just like our bodies as they age and suffer the debilitating illnesses of a bad diet over the years! We live in Australia and my children go to a Waldorf/Steiner school which has very strong guidelines for what is acceptable for lunches and snacks, no candy, chocolate, or packets of processed crap allowed. This makes it much easier for the children because the rules are the same for everyone. I don’t have much need for the supermarket but today I needed a few things and I took my girls aged 10 and 6. Well OMG, I wont do that again! The breakfast cereal and museli bar isle was across from the dairy case and they picked up everything they could to try and get me to buy it even though they know we dont eat it because of the sugar, etc. It is just such a crime that these pretend foods are even allowed to be made, how much healthier the world would be if we just didn’t have access to this stuff that passes as food!
Keep fighting the good fight :)

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Wendy March 4, 2011 at 11:35 am

I love this post! I haven’t seen it written it better, and I’m about to post it on my FB page to share! Thanks! Ever since I figured out I could battle my Hashimoto’s with a gluten free, paleo, truly nourishing, PURPOSEFUL diet, I’ve been on a warpath with all the garbage processed foods and grains out there. I’m seeing/blogging great results in my Autoimmune numbers, and I started teaching the kids early about marketing tricks and impulse buy placements. My son said, “Ohh, I get it! CVS sells candy low by the check out for the small kids to ask their parents for, then they sell medicine in the back for when they get sick! And CVS makes money!” (Loved that epiphany) It also makes me mad when I see “Excellent source of Vitamin D” on a box of Marshmallow Fruity Pebbles. I mean, really? The SAD (Standard American Diet) is just that. SAD.
It’s a big blessing when your kids have friends with similar standards for their food choices.
@Michelle- That is awesome about your school in Australia! Here in America, many teachers would just as quickly request a psychotropic drug be given to the hyper kids in the class.

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Rachel October 10, 2011 at 11:03 am

Great comments! I’m saving this to my favorites, so I can always refer back to these healthy recipies. My son will turn 1 this week, so I’m just beginning with the snack thing. He was only breastfed till about 7 months when I started introducing solids like plain yogurt and egg yolks, and even that was just every now & then. He pretty much eats a WAP diet. Now he’s eating 3 meals a day, but his main source of nutrition is still breastmilk. Does anyone have any ideas as for what kind of snacks he could have at his age? His snacks are still boobies! :)
Every Sunday in the church nursery, he ends up being fed some kind of teething biscuits or Puffs. I send a bottle with him…he drinks that and they still give him snacks, even though I tell them not to feed him. I think because there’s so many kids and quite a few adults in the nursery, they just tend to forget or not everyone knows. I was really mad at first, but then I thought it’s not gonna hurt if he has that junk once a week, but I don’t want him to develope a taste for it and I was holding off on grains for AT LEAST a year or more. Any ideas of what non-messy snack I could send along with him and I’ll make sure the nursery staff knows he’s only to eat what I send with him?
Thanks!

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lydia October 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Hi Rachel,

Sounds like you are doing a great job, starting your little guy off on the right track. Kudos to you! Breastmilk is great – does he seem to want snacks, if he does, you can try some avocado. I would also try to introduce foods like liver and cod liver oil while he is young to get him used to it. As far as finger foods, maybe some scrambled eggs with butter cut in little pieces, mini meatballs, well cooked veggies like carrots or squash, of course with butter. I guess that is more for home. Take along snacks may be harder. Since you have introduced yogurt, maybe you could try cheese and give him cheese cubes. But make sure they don’t feed him anything anyway – they could spoon feed him if they need to and you could send a thermos of soup, or some yogurt. I am sorry my brain is not working, because it’s been so long since I’ve had to feed a one year old. Hope that helps though!

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