Why Have We Decided To Feed Our Kids Crap?

The following is a guest post from Habib Wicks, co-founder of PEERtrainer

Why Have We Decided To Feed Our Kids Crap?
It Is A Decision, And It Seems To Have Been Made...


"Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! And it ain't over now! Cause when the going gets tough.. The tough get goin'. Who's with me?" -Bluto, Animal House

"The modern diet that most children are eating today creates a fertile cellular environment for cancer to emerge at a later age.... In order to have a major impact on preventing cancer we must intervene much earlier, even as early as the first ten years of life"- Dr. Joel Fuhrman

I am trying to be funny, using some common humor to introduce a very very touchy subject. Food and kids. But the reality is that most children today, regardless of the socioeconomic context, eat piles of cheese, pasta, chicken fingers, fries, milk, cookies, pizza etc. Go to any birthday party or play date currently in the U.S. and this is what you see.

When children eat a junk food based diet, the groundwork is being laid. This is something that Jackie and I personally struggle with. We have two small children. We were both raised (thank God) by parents who knew the deal about nutrition. Every meal I ate as a child was served with green vegetables and salad. We ate burgers, ice cream, hot dogs and all the other stuff. But that was the exception.

The rule was greens, salad, local fish freshly caught in the Gulf Of Maine, fruit. The Cuisinart was (and still is) the center of my mothers kitchen. Onions, ginger, garlic-- all sorts of things went into the Cuisinart, the frying pan, pressure cooker. My mom cooked real food. Mac and cheese was something I ate at the babysitters house.

"What we feed (or don't) our children as they grow from birth to early adulthood has a greater total contributory effect on the dietary contributions to cancers than the dietary intake over the next fifty years" -Dr. Joel Furhman, Disease Proof Your Child

Fast forward to the present day. The households that Jackie and I grew up in are probably rarer now. Seems like it at least. The diets that our parents sought to protect us from appear to be totally dominant.

With our kids my objective is to get them to eat as much of the good stuff as possible, knowing that the junk is inevitable. We also work to enable them to make their own decisions as much as possible.

But that is us. We were raised a certain way, we started PEERtrainer. We have a well developed focus. The challenge for us, and me in particular is other parents. The reality of modern child rearing in America is that people are very cooperative and constantly share the load. Our kids are often in the care of other moms, nannies or otherwise in environments that we cannot totally control. There are endless birthday parties, play dates. Lots of cooperative, generous and helpful parents all around.

Yet, junk food is the default. The tough thing for a parent is that you really can't say anything. if you do, you violate the code. The code, as best I can tell is this: "don't rock the boat, and don't disrupt social agendas."

This is something I am really struggling with. And it is pissing off Jackie, because I actually said something recently. I absolutely should not have, but I did. I was tired, the younger child was screaming in my ear. And then it happened. We were all leaving school (last day) headed to some end of school kid parties. A local mom pulled up and very nicely asked if she could pick up some Wendy's for our kids.

She was just trying to be nice. But in the back of my mind I was thinking "why is this always the default"? I had been thinking about this for a while, holding my tongue for a few years now just watching as I said nothing. Unfortunately, this time I said exactly what I was thinking. Imagine being really nice to someone, as she was being to me, and have someone act like a total jerk. Which I was. I had been thinking about this problem, did not know the answer.

The question is though, who is there to bring this question up? Why is junk food the default? I could keep my kids at home and avoid all other contact. That would be insane on so many levels. Yet, the decisions of other parents effect my kids. That is the reality.

So there is no going around this issue. You can't keep your kids away from other kids, and you can't make you kids outcasts by forbidding them to eat foods that everyone else is.

You can't. You can find ways of subtly suggesting things. You can model and you can be patient. But that happens when that does not work? The most interesting question is this- what is really at the root of this phenomenon?

All of the parents we interact with really understand this issue. It is not like they don't know this stuff. Yet for some reason they choose not to prioritize it. Many of the moms will make sale day at Saks Fifth Avenue the top priority. They will give generously to others. Yet they won't make a simple decision to forgo Wendys, Mcdonalds etc for ANY OTHER alternative.

This is collective behavior. Everyone seems to be doing this- not just the one that was at the brunt of the end of my rope. One mom does something (we men generally just do what we are told btw- I think that might be part of the analysis here) and the other moms go along. Zero incentive to rock the boat.

When I asked this other mom "why is stuff like Wendys always the default?" Her first response was "the entire class is going there." Then she got pissed at me, understandably. And now other moms call Jackie and first ask if I want a Happy Meal. And it's funny on one level.

But the greater question is, for all of us who are parents and want to find some way of reducing the amount of junk that our kids collectively eat- what the hell are we supposed to do? All move to Boulder?

It is a puzzle. And it is serious.

"Most of the animal products eaten by children, such as cheese and milk, are exceptionally high in saturated fat. Saturated fat consumption correlates with cancer incidence worldwide. It also raises cholesterol levels and causes obesity and heart disease."

"Americans eat only 5 percent of calories from fruits, vegetables, beans and unprocessed nuts and seeds" -Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Right now cancer, heart disease and stroke will kill 85 percent of Americans. 85 percent. It may be that after the battles of marriage, career and raising kids many people actually want to die on some deep level.

One thing I do know is that group think can be changed. I just don't know how.

What is an Easy Target For Parents To Hit?

The basic solution to this problem is to attack the equation. Work on growing the 5 percent number. There is another great stat from Disease Proof Your Child that will help end this article on a positive note.

"Recent studies have also found that eating fruit during childhood had powerful effects to protect against cancer in later life. A sixty year study of 4,999 participants found that those who consumed more fruit in their childhood (the highest quartile) were 38 percent less likely to develop cancer as adults."

So if you are a competitive parent who wants their kids to score in the 99th percentile in tests- why would you not also want your kids to score high on their nutrient intake?

As for me, I am already the a**hole for bringing this up with the local parents. I understand I violated a set of social codes. But if you want to criticize me for making this an issue-- who is doing the most harm?

Maybe you are reading this just seething, thinking "worry about your damn kids." Fine, I do. But who is left to say something? Michelle Obama is doing a great job advocating gardening. The Disney channel seems to be doing a good job at running ads about spinach and fruit. Who else is there leading the effort? What is the trend, and who is making the effort?

From my vantage point as a parent there is a ton of work to be done. If you are a parent (or nosy grandparent!) please pick up a copy of Joel Fuhrman's book "Disease Proof Your Child." There is a ton of stuff in the book to chew on- and do you own research frankly. But you will find that this book raises a ton of important questions, and is extensively footnoted. There are seventeen pages of references to research studies at the end of the book.

And if you find a more tactful and more effective way to raise the issue in your community, please let me know.


This article was orignally published on PEERtrainer.com.



Trackbacks (0) Links to blogs that reference this article Trackback URL
Comments (39) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
MAC - June 10, 2010 10:02 AM

Oh, I'm with you. No question this is a big, big problem, and the general mentality is that if you object you're the big jerk. We're trying to raise our kids on real food, too, and while it's nice to see them voluntarily ordering big salads at restaurants, the fact is that the restaurant scenario is the easiest to navigate. For example: the kids are on a swim team that regularly hands out candy, ice cream, cookies, and goes to Dairy Queen after meets. I'd say an easy third of the team kids are obese or heading that way. On my day to bring ice cream, I'm going to bring watermelon and berries. I'm not going to say anything. I'm just going to stiffen my resolve and, yikes, do it. God help me. :)

M Larson - June 10, 2010 10:07 AM

Great commentary. I am struggling with the same issues raising a plant based diet kid. She's only 2.5 so I feel like I have a long road ahead of me. I'm tired of hearing other parents' excuses for shoving fast food into their kids every day. I'm tired of the "She's got to have fun once in a while" response I get when I say my daughter can't have ice cream, cheesy puffs, or sugar candy. Oh and my personal favorite, when people are talking about becoming vegetarian but not "pushing" it onto their children (who are 3 years old), "I want him to make the decision to not eat meat." You already made the decision for him to eat it, so what's the difference?

It's definitely an uphill battle, but I'm not willing to back down. This is my child's HEALTH we are talking about. What could possibly be more important than that?

Amanda Duncan - June 10, 2010 10:35 AM

I agree with M. Larson. My daughter is 4 and has been disease proof from birth and breastfed til she was a month shy of 3. Parents give me the same crap all the time. It is like they think I am neglecting my child because I want her to have the best start possible. When other parents tell me they don't want to force this on them I tell them it is your job to get your child to adulthood as healthy and as prepared as possible. You are the one who has to educate your child to make the best decisions possible for themselves and you do that by making the best decisions you can for them until they are able to themselves. More parents should rock the boat and hopefully one day it will tip over.

Barbra - June 10, 2010 10:44 AM

Totally agree! I am 90% raw and 10% cooked. My daughter is 9 and as we speak she is on vacation with her grandparents who will feed her lots of sugar, grease, and cooked dairy (We drink raw milk at home)and then she will go to her friends to visit and they will do all the fast foods stops because that is how they eat. My best friend relies on this diet for her children and they are absolutely not healthy. I find it amazing how many trips they need to the doctor's and how many pills they need to survive while we rarely (if ever) go to the doctor and take no prescription or OTC drugs at all. It is the mindset that needs to change and then the industry will be forced to change with it. I do speak up and sometimes I get funny looks or laughter, but really, I don't care anymore. I plan to be healthy enough to visit them at their assisted care facilities and tell them about the hike I just took up the mountain and how beautiful it was.

Chari - June 10, 2010 10:51 AM

Great article! More parents need to speak out. I'm already getting smart remarks from family about how my son (who will be 2 in august) will want to go to their house just so he can have a soda! I do not rub my healthy diet into their faces, but after getting remarks like that maybe I should. Their diets are horrifying.

nora manwiller - June 10, 2010 10:57 AM

I would like to have shared this article with friends but cannot b/c of the unfortunate language used. This is a big "group" problem too. Let's clean up our diet AND our language!

Roger - June 10, 2010 11:07 AM

I am a single dad raising two kids... one 8 and the other is 15. I am making progress on this front, but it is slow in the making.

First, whether conscious or not - I found myself not wanting to "fight" over food choices. And then, I have an extra layer of complexity because I don't want to send a message that certain foods are "bad" and then they visit with their mom on a weekend and she only serves "bad" food. You see? Man, life can get complicated.

So I try to stay positive and make good choices myself, and little by little, I find that the kids are interested and curious. The other "trick" is to not forbid the bad stuff, but push the good stuff first when they are hungry. Next thing you know - they are filling up on greens and veggies before the mac n cheese even gets cooked. This works like a charm on my youngest who thinks she hates veggies because that's the cultural norm (which is almost seemingly explicitly *advertised* on TV by the way, for kids to hate veggies). But when I slice veggies for my salad and offer small bits to her, she loves them.

As for what they eat when out with others - I don't have a clue how to fight that yet. All I can do is teach them to notice how they feel when they eat well versus how they feel when they eat junk. My oldest definitely can tell a difference and is already showing signs of making changes when he's out on his own.

The other key is for me to try to be healthy and in a good mood. This is something my kids definitely notice and then it's like they want to know how to get there and see what I am eating and naturally want to follow along. Kind of amazing really... when you consider what we are all competing against with the mega-junk-food-biggie-size-me market that is out there.

Jennifer S - June 10, 2010 11:22 AM

I say something. I say a lot of something. My kids, who are 3 & 4 will tell the other kids that the food they are eating is "bad for your body" or "that isn't REAL food". I want my kids to understand the truth about food because I sure didn't until reading The China Study and ETL. I don't feed my kids perfectly but it is a work in progress. We have such a huge problem with the health of this country. I will speak up, I will be loud!

ABBA - June 10, 2010 11:31 AM

I agree that it's frustrating to see there's no national movement to educate people better on health, the Food Pyramid shown in schools now is a total joke, it's exactly what's causing cancer in so many people today, plus the Big Food lobbyists have too much influence on health education in public schools.

Then we see the opposite: schools doing drastic things such as banning bake sales and cupcakes at birthday parties. Give me a break! Whatever happened to reason and common sense? One cupcake at a birthday party won't kill your kid. Eating cheeseburgers every week WILL.

Sometimes I wish I were a millionaire then I'd pay to run PSA's on TV explaining about plant-based food is much better for you and will cut down on cancer rates. I'd love to run a PSA that shows how fat and disgusting people look when entire families truck into the local Wendy's and stuff their faces full of hamburger grease and fries.

The government won't do anything because there's too much money to be made on people's sickness and misery. Big Pharma is pushing every kind of drug on us to "cure" every stupid little illness that affects us. Never mind that half of our illnesses would be cured if people would stop eating beef and milk and ate more veggies. I don't see ads for veggies in papers, just those celebrities with the milk mustaches and "Beef, it's what's for dinner" ads by the Beef and Milk lobbyists. It all makes me so angry how the lobbyists seem to have all the power and influence on people's health.

If we can collectively kick the cigarette habit then surely we can kick the obesity/fast food habit? Somebody with money and influence needs to take a stand soon!

Sabrina - June 10, 2010 11:40 AM

Amen! I am constantly wondering how to navigate these very dangerous waters. I feel like we have to be social pariahs or hermits because everything social revolves around food and every food it revolves around seems to be crap. I know it's hard to be tactful about these things. I certainly haven't figured out a way to do it right, but hopefully you made those moms think about what they were really feeding their kids, even if they were a little offended. Our culture needs to wake up to the reality that the Standard American Diet is simply a slow painful, medicated death. No thank you!

Valerie - June 10, 2010 11:43 AM

I can so relate to this. Our youngest is 4 and we're raising him vegan. One of the things I've found very helpful is that I make healthy, vegan versions of much of junky "foods" out there. My ice cream maker was one of the best investments I've ever made! lol
When we go to potlucks and parties at friends houses, I always bring something that looks familiar, but is actually full of nutrients and cruelty-free. My logic is that once I've gained trust that my food isn't "weird", then I can start slowly sharing more obviously healthy dishes. -)

Wills - June 10, 2010 11:51 AM

Unfortunately, I feed my kids that kind of food because it's the "easiest" solution (or so I tell myself). I've been trying to take our eating habits one step closer to what it should be - we've been adding fruit and veggies to almost everything. I've been trying to keep a well stocked fridge so that the good stuff is there, and more accessible than the junk.

Surprisingly, I've been finding that if my kids can get over the stigma of what they've somehow learned, they will eat more and more good stuff. The other night my 7 y/o held up a piece of an onion, wanting to know what exactly it was. I knew if I said "onion" he would not eat it. Funny, he loved it when he thought it was a potato. =)

Natalie - June 10, 2010 11:57 AM

A really great article.

Children grow up and carry on the eating habits they learned as children, so it's essential to start early. Monkey see monkey do.

I don't have kids yet but I think there is a current epidemic of parents who just want to be friends with their kids, rather than raising them and training them to succeed in the real world.

People may read this and shoot me down for not being a parent, but I'm only 26 and I remember for well what it was like to be a kid and just how capable I was of eating a proper meal. However, if my parents had been weaker willed and caved under pressure would I have thrown a tantrum to get a chance to eat only junk? Absolutely.

Kids shouldn't be allowed to choose what to eat, period. Harsh, but who knows how awful my health would have been if my mother hadn't forced me to sit and eat my greens. I couldn't leave the table until I did, so it didn't matter if I threw a tantrum or refused to eat it. I had no choice.

It's even more important to teach kids to eat healthfully because they are growing and if you deny proper nutrition while they are forming their bodies. There is plenty of commercially available food that can work as an alternative to McDonalds. Veggie burgers, whole wheat pasta, Kashi cereal etc.

It's pretty steep when people accuse healthy mothers of denying children junk food as 'depriving them' - of what cancer and obesity? I am sure when all these kids reach adolescence and are spared the weight and acne issues most teenagers face and get all the dates they won't feel deprived at all.

I've been a server in a restaurant for years, and it's sad to see young children drinking diet soda and in the latest place I worked - parents complaining we didn't have kids burgers. (It's an Italian restaurant OK?) The staples of kids pasta with marinara or butter, chicken fingers, hot dogs etc that dominate kids menus only exist because that is the demand and that is what society has conditioned itself into believing acceptable food to feed our next generation. Rarely would anyone order anything other than pizza or buttery pasta for the little ones... it was no surprise that the little ones who were ordered proper meals were also in the minority drinking water. When did it become normal to give Coke to toddlers? 80% of them would drink glass after glass and then unsurprisingly become uncontrollable at the dinner table. The whole thing just reminds me of the Children of Appalacia documentary on ABC where mothers were putting Mountain Dew in baby bottles and 10 year olds were toothless. Unfortunately in Appalacia, poverty and a lack of information give this trend a sad but understandable excuse. I just don't understand why in our wealthy well educated society people don't want to accept the direct link between nutrition and health.

KIM - June 10, 2010 12:23 PM

My children are 1 and almost 4, and I don't feed them a 100% "perfect" diet, but we focus on fruits and veg while the other stuff is just peripheral from time to time. The only way that I have found to sort of say something is by serving healthy foods when we have parties or just have people over. For my son's first birthday and my daughter's 3rd birthday parties, we served a raw chocolate ganache cake (not an everyday thing, but a healthier treat), fruit, whole food guacamole, water and veggies with hummus dip. No pop, candy, etc. And, guess what? The kids had a great time playing with the bikes and balls and mini bouncy castle...I guess that old quote "be the change you want to see in the world" is the best feedback I've got.

Anna - June 10, 2010 12:57 PM

I have completely changes my diet after reading The China Study. Now I do not eat any animal products at all, but my son still eats some chicken and fish, though we are slowly working to change the ratio to make it more veggies and less animals (he is extremely picky eater). But I have completely eliminated dairy from my son's diet. One solution I have come up with for myself, to avoid big arguments and weird looks is that I simply explained to my son and to everyone else that he is allergic to dairy. Everyone knows about allergies and no one questions it. It does not do anything to change things on a big scale, but it made it easier for me. But it's funny, how every time we pass MacDonald my son, why is 5 says: "Yak, this food is really bad for your body.

Ginger - June 10, 2010 1:51 PM

Keep these articles coming. I need constant input to stay on track. You guys are the best. BTW-my spinach and tomato lunch wrap and green and berry smoothie was delicious.

Stacy - June 10, 2010 2:20 PM

I LOVED this blog entry! It is my life. We are mostly healthy at home because my kids don't need to get junk from me, they will get it. In this society you can't keep it from them if you have them in school, let them attend birthday parties, etc. Luckily, having eaten so little junk at home, when they do go to parties, if they eat too much junk they feel sick. I love that! They know to eat pizza OR cake. They can't do both or they will feel sick. Both of my kids don't really like those cakes anyway.

Roger - I do tell my kids that some "food" is bad. And when they add a vitamin or fiber or something to junk I tell my kids that it doesn't make it "healthier" it makes it "less-bad". I let them know that the word healthy shouldn't even be used when describing those "foods".

Then my kids go to school and learn that dairy and meat are healthy and necessary for strong bones and body. I do the best I can to tell my 7 y.o. about government funding and how the dairy industry has gotten the school system to do this type of teaching. It has become so ingrained that people can't even begin to think about life without diary. They think their bones will shatter. So my daughter just comes home and we have a laugh about the nutritional info that they try to teach.

My kids are 7 and 9 and we've only been eating this way for about 2 1/2 years (we were never fast-food types but we had meat a lot and I didn't restrict the sugar as much but it wasn't crazy) and I had to deal with a lot of whining and moaning during the transition. But when you don't have anything else to eat in the house the kids make due and they end up getting used to it. You just have to live through the whining. Do it for them. I still get some complaints at dinner sometimes and my son still misses meat but I just remind him of that hamburger he had when he spent the night at his friend's house last week or that hot dog he had at the baseball BBQ. They get enough junk! I don't need to provide it.

Viv - June 10, 2010 2:33 PM

I already know that both my parents and my in-laws will get on my case about how our kids "don't get enough calcium and protein" etc., since the subject has come up more than once - and we don't even HAVE kids yet! I dread the thought of sending my future kids over to Grandma's house of sugar.

My MIL and I have actually had this conversation:

ME: You know, I'm never going to take our kids to McDonalds.
MIL: Not even to play in the playhouse?
ME: No, because then they'll want the food that's there. I will keep them from even knowing what the big M stands for as long as I possibly can. If they don't know it exists, they won't ask for it.
MIL: But *I'LL* be able to take them to McDonalds...?
ME: I really prefer that you don't do that.
MIL: But I'll be the grandma. Everyone knows that you do special things with Grandma that don't happen very often. We'd only get an ice cream or something and then play in the playhouse.
ME: I really prefer that you don't.

And, stalemate. (Again, we don't even have kids yet.) SIGH. The funny part is, at least with my MIL, if I can just get her to read ETL, she'd be converted. She's a big reader and really into being "healthy" - just not ETL healthy. So I guess I have some time to convince her before kids come along....

Wicks is right though - it must be pretty hard to do the right thing when everyone else is doing the wrong thing with their kids. People get defensive because they don't want to be implicitly accused of being a bad parent (which is the unfortunate underlying meaning). I've also thought about lying about my (future) kid's allergies just to get people to leave off. I like what another commenter said in response to people who think we're "depriving" kids - of obesity?! I'll have to remember that.

Jean - June 10, 2010 2:40 PM

My suggestion is to create a group of parents who think like you do. When my kids were young, I had the same issues with styles of discipline so I found other parents who shared my philosphy - they became my group of friends and I was comfortable letting my kids play at their homes. We also shared a priority on healthy food - what we knew to be healthy then - no sugar, no preservatives, whole grains, & recipes made from scratch with lots of fruit & veggies. Back then I did not know the risks of meat & dairy as I do now, but I learned and shared with my kids as we went. Today they all value and practice a healthy vegetarian/vegan style of eating.

How do you create such a group? Well, I had the advantage of starting with a La Leche League group, so if your kids are little, you could start there. Perhaps you can invite likely parents to your home for a meal and share delicious food - start the conversation from there.

Also look for healthier fast food alternatives - my husband and I now own Nature's Express, a healthier fast food restaurant that is 100% plant-based. We hope to grow to give everyone an alternative to McDonald's that is fast & delicious but much, much healthier! (See www.natures-express.com)

Thanks so much for bringing up this issue, which my infant grandchildren will soon be facing. Good luck to all parents in creating a world that is healthy and safe for our kids :) Jean

coach chris - June 10, 2010 3:27 PM

We need people to stand up to the 'pack'. I've noticed the older I have got, the more peer pressure there is! My opinion is that we should educate kids in nutrition at a very early age so they make informed choices about food. We can't stop our kids mixing with others, but we can make them understand that eating healthy pays you back in later life and can be fun.

Kim - June 10, 2010 3:31 PM

From day one Ive raised all 4 of my kids eating healthy. I did unfortunately raise them on meat and dairy because at the time I was completely unaware that that was cancer causing junk food. I was raised (or brainwashed) to think meat and dairy was health food. Not until recently have I made the switch to vegetarian. Thankfully my oldest daughter followed my lead. But my husband is a meat eater and against me turning the rest of the kids ages 4,7 & 13 vegetarian. But he has been supportive and started buying all our food at whole foods and also buys organic including grass fed meat cuts. So at least I know its safer than the crap we were buying in Waldbaums or Costco. Ive never allowed soda in my home, with the exception of birthday parties, my kids drink water. Nor do cold cuts, hot dogs, chips or any other processed or "white" foods enter my home. Again those are "special occasion foods". After school until dinnertime theres usually a bowl of raw fruits/veggies on the table for the kids to pick on. And they do! McDonalds, Wendys, Burger King is a place grandma takes them, not me. My kids dont complain, actually they feel more loved knowing I am concerned for their health... Yet the ones that do complain that I am "depriving" them are the family members that are grossly obese and on all kinds of meds. The way I see it is that I would be depriving them if I let them eat what all the other kids are eating.I cant control what they eat outside the home, but considering they eat home for 90% of their meals, I dont stress over it.

Kim B. - June 10, 2010 3:33 PM

I am thankful for Disease Proof your child. DH and I grew up on a 95% SAD diet, but since becoming parents 4 years ago we think twice about what we put into our bodies and our children's bodies. Now I would consider our diet 25% SAD, which still is a ways to go, but progress. Dr. Furhman recommends only offer healthy food options and don't force feed...I tried to force feed and that just created stress....doing it his way my kids now enjoy quinoa, raw organic spinach leaves, organic apples with peel, healthy fruit/veggies drinks and ice creams made in the vita-mix, baked falafel, fresh or frozen berries, 100% whole grain bread, Furhman Fudgsicles and much more. Out and about they are offered only junk food and they love that as well; but I offer fruit leather, whole fruit/veggie popsicles, whole grains, and such when playdates are at my house or it is my turn to bring snacks. When we travel to relatives' houses I use the excuse of my 4 year old being a "picky eater" as to why I bring his whole grain bread, natural PB, whole fruit jam, quinoa (as he doesn't eat rice), and organic apples. My 2 year old is in a stage where she doesn't like the texture of meat, so that is a good reason to bring beans for her. Its strange to be "deceptive" instead upfront with family as to why I'm bringing my own food! Guess I don't want to upset the social laws either. I do wish there was a health food fast food place to compete with Wendy's as once and a while we go there (my kids having experienced the "joy" of eating there with grandparents and with me before I started converting them to a better diet)....would love to have the menu options from home to be easily accessible to them at "healthy" fast food place. I would buy stock in the company that comes up with a feasible menu and marketing plan for such a place, LOL.

SRW - June 10, 2010 4:11 PM

Bravo! Fabulous article. BTW Michelle Obama is not only advocating organic gardening she is also on a campaign to radicalize school lunch programs. While bad eating habits are established before kids get to school it is never too late to introduce healthier eating habits en masse. And most important, kids might get to discover how much tastier real food can be!

Mike Crosby - June 10, 2010 7:29 PM

This place is an oasis. Thank you for the post and thank you Dr Fuhrman.

I'm coming upon retirement age. I now have more time to do more healthy things, such as going to the gym.

What I've noticed as the years have gone by, those who are retired and do go to the gym never change their body shape. They don't change. I always thought, "Boy, once I retire, I'll now have time to focus on what's good for me, and then I'll really be in good shape.

The fact is, unless good habits start when young, most likely the habits children learn when young, will stay with them throughout their lives.

To you parents who go against the grain, or as the author called "the default" (I loved that), to you I say "Hooray". Teaching your children to eat nutritious foods in today's age indeed makes you a radical.

I remember as a child eating lots of meats and dairy. Then going to the clinic to get my warts burned off. Painful. Relationship between warts and diet--I believe so.

Emily Boller - June 10, 2010 9:27 PM

Great post!

It's unfortunate that, as a culture, we stress rigorous academics to achieve high SAT scores, and want our children to be successful and happy in every aspect of life; YET, not give a rip about helping them achieve optimal health. In fact, we promote and speed up their disease-riddled futures.

It's so sad that Wendy's is the default.

If we can't raise our children in an isolated bubble - what's a parent to do? I've tried swimming upstream against the acceptable and promoted SAD-diet-for-children current now for almost 2 years, and it hasn't gotten any easier. I'm finding it increasingly more difficult to promote healthy foods with each passing social event.

It truly is time for a genuine HEALTH revolution; not a revolution based on hype and incorrect information that will only continue to perpetuate food addiction and chronic disease, but a revolution based on accurate information that will truly rid our children and grandchildren of a future plagued with unecessary and costly illnesses.

Bravo for this post and all commentators! There's momentum and power in numbers. Our children and grandchildren's future health and quality of life is at stake . . . we must take a stand and stick together and declare that SAD and resulting diseases and suffering will not take over their lives!

Cheers to all!

kels - June 10, 2010 11:56 PM

This is where Jamie Oliver deserves huge praise for at least attempting to take this on. Go Food Revolution, Go Jamie!

Marsha Paisley - June 11, 2010 9:14 AM

Great post....one detail though in Dr. Fuhrman's post. The German's didn't bomb Pearl Harbor the Japanese did. Blessings, Marsha

Marsha Paisley - June 11, 2010 9:17 AM

Bluto from Animal House got it wrong in implicating the German's in the bombing of Pearl Harbor, it was the Japanese. The post is great and very true. Blessings,Marsha

Deana Ferreri, Ph.D. - June 11, 2010 9:43 AM

Just to clarify, the movie quote about the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor is purposely incorrect in the movie.

M Larson - June 11, 2010 12:44 PM

@ Natalie -

For what it's worth, I am a parent and I totally agree with you. I can't count the number of times I've said "Kids shouldn't get to choose what they want to eat." It's ridiculous to think this is reasonable.

I see a big trend of people having kids, but not really wanting to be parents. It's not really FUN to be a parent. I mean, it is rewarding and fun at times, but it's a lot of work, a huge responsibility and quite stressful at times. It's a job that I enjoy and one that I take very seriously. It's much easier to let the kids do and eat whatever they want. Pawn them off on a babysitter for more "me" time etc. And then they'll decide to have more kids. Ugh!

I also agree with a previous poster about saying it's a dairy allergy. People will respect an allergy, but not a parent's choice in how they want to feed their child. Sad but true.

LaurieInOklahoma - June 11, 2010 1:41 PM

The parents of today were once innocent children who grew up in an already-quite-bizarre food environment, and became addicted to junk foods.

Those junk foods are now so ubiquitous that they are accepted as the norm, and it seems cruel and absurd to these parents to suggest not eating their favorite foods. Cruel to suggest that the parents not eat them, much less their children.

Since parents themselves are not willing to stop eating the disease-promoting foods, how in the world can their children ever experience a health-promoting diet?

Today's children are simply the latest round of victims. Unless something changes, they will grow up and inflict the same and worse foods on a new set of victims, their children.

Adults who recover their own health by changing to a truly healthy diet are part of our best hope, as their children will witness the transformation that takes place.

But I surely don't know the solution to this terrible problem...


Mitzi - June 12, 2010 7:29 AM

When I was an infant being introduced to solid food, I was introduced to the fairly typical SAD diet- with devastating results. A connective tissue disorder means that I HAVE to have a LOT of fiber to push food through my system, and "normal", junky food causes painful constipation. My parents learned that oatmeal with fruit was a MUCH better choice than sugary breakfast cereals for me. I loved the vegetables and fruit we got from our garden and my grandparents' farm (except for cooked cabbage). As I got older, their bread turned from white to brown to whole grain. Sodas and salad dressings were for Mom, because she worked hard and deserved a treat. I never really learned to like them, except for clear sodas when sick. And back then fast food was miles away from home, so we couldn't access it easily. It was a once-a-week treat, too. High school lunch was raw broccoli with a plain peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat, which would never get stolen. If junk makes your kids unhealthy or ill, informing your friends of that fact should not be offensive. I have to tell people at work why I bring my own lunch on "free pizza" days all the time. They understand that I want to avoid pain. And quietly the older gentlemen at the table have switched from freezer dinners to fruit and yogurt for lunch. It helps everyone to see you make changes- and to understand why you do.

MIke Rubino - June 14, 2010 8:34 PM

Great blog. Im firmly convinced that the average person doent know any better and has been brainwashed to believe that SAD foods arent half as bad as nuts like us make them out to be. Inteligent people who would never run out in a line of traffic deliberatly put themselves and their children in harms way out of both complte ignorance and denial. Were killing our young with our knifes and forks!

Over one million people per year are dieing from heart disease and cancer most of which have been brought about by poor nurtition when young contuined thru adult life very few want to stand up and say whats wrong!

Ellen George - June 15, 2010 12:04 PM

Thank you so much for this thoughtful article! My friend and fellow mom, Holly, and I started a healthy snack food company called WooHoo Foods because we were sick and tired of lots of the alternatives. It's just dried fruit, nuts, and flax - real food plus the benefit of 375mg of omega-3s. Our Gudernoobs come in 4 flavors. Although we are just in our 2nd year we hope to grow and expand further in the years to come. Thanks for all the support and let's keep ALL our kids healthy!

JRM - June 15, 2010 3:23 PM

Okay...first time I've come across your site... so I have a question... What is a "normal" dinner? Please provide an example and also what do you do suggest if both parents aren't on the same page... Thanks

Andrea - June 15, 2010 3:44 PM

Great website
Interested in knowing if anyone has a difficult time keeping on track as bad habits are hard to break.

Mottke - June 22, 2010 2:04 PM

It is not the people's "decision" to give their children junk. It is conditioned reflex, in which conscious thought processes have been extinguished, that makes the apparent decision, and the conditioning is done by the corporate media, schools, etc. along with their own brain-deadening junk food diets.

April - June 23, 2010 9:04 PM

Great post!
I have had those thoughts over and over. It's been well over 3 years since we have had McD's and it's very seldom my children even bring it up now. It's like a drug. Once it (processed food) gets in their system, they crave it. We crave it. It's our fault as parents. We allow what they do or do not do.

Education begins with the parents and then trickles to the kids. We have to be the ones to say, 'NO, we will eat this and this is why...'

Thankfully my children are young and it's sweet to see them munching on hummus, spinach & mushroom bagles for lunch. However, when time comes to go to grandma's house...out comes the cheese sandwiches. *cringe*

But, like the post said, do you completely isolate them from everything? Not really, but do teach them and show them the best way to eat, and when they grow old, pray they do not depart from the way they were trained.

Lisa - June 29, 2010 7:57 AM

Great post! Our whole family loves fruits and veggies, but our 2 year old daughter refuses to eat them. I hope she will change.

Post A Comment / Question Use this form to add a comment to this entry.

Remember personal info?