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Toddlers eat too much junk food

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
It shouldn't really be shocking, but it is. More than 60% of 12 month olds eat candy or dessert at least once a day!!!

post #2 of 29
That's really scary!! Especially the part about the french fries & the soda!!! My dd does eat sausage regularly, but she's SO tiny, she needs the calories!! (I also give her cereal w/half & half ). In our house, dessert means fruit or yogurt! YIKES. She's NEVER had candy, I can't imaine giving it to her. She doesn't know what it is & is happy with grapes or a banana! I just don't get some people!!
post #3 of 29
I just read this article when I logged on. I was shocked as well.
I had a "damn, I am a good mother" moment after reading it
People really have no clue when it comes to nutrition.
Its a constant battle with my stepfather over the fact that i will not let him give my 14 month old french fries. People really think that french fries count as a serving of veggies?
post #4 of 29
I am totally floored that this study considered french fries to be a vegetable serving. YUCK!

Thanks for the link. Another reminder as to why we try to feed our kids and ourselves whole.
- brookely ash
post #5 of 29
*sneaks in*

OK guys, can you help me? I haven't read this article yet, but I know that my son eats too much junk food. It is very difficult to feed him because he won't eat the same foods within a two-day period. We are on a limited budget as well. We don't eat a lot of candy, but we do have ice cream, cookies, and graham crackers around most of the time. I know a lot of this is my fault, because I have a sweet tooth. DH is the one that loves the cookies. There are so many things I want to eliminate from our diets, but because of the limited things DS eats, and my poor will power and sweet tooth, its very hard for me to just stop buying them.

Please don't jump on me for this, I know its horrible of me already and i really would like some help. Here are things I want to eliminate, what healthier choices could I replace them with?

Fruit snacks
Graham crackers
Ice cream
Sugar Cereals--lucky charms, frosted flakes, etc
Occasional candy as a reward for being good at the store, or for when mommy is PMS'ing.
Hot dogs

That said, I have made some changes. Instead of candy I have been buying a small toy or novelty for him to play with. We all like vegetables and fruit, but again DS won't eat the same thing more than once in a 2 day period. We only eat 100% whole whear bread because I insist, and I cringe when DH wants white hamburger buns or bread.

My son is in the 95 percentile for height and the 98th percentile for weight. He is not overweight, he actually looks skinny, but he eats a LOT for a kid his age. Its 9:20 am and he's already had three meals!!!

HELP PLEASE! I need your ideas!
post #6 of 29

It sounds like we have similar problems, except that my daughter barely eats at all (except breastmilk, that is...)

We've discovered that Karen loves fries and chips, now reserved for the very rare occasions.

In place of fries we've started making our own "fries": sweet potatoes cut in the shape of fries and cooked in olive oil or baked.

In place of cookies we've gotten a variety of crackers. Our favorites are the Kashi TLCs -- no trans fats!

Os or Rice Chex or Rice crackers in place of sugar cereals.

Dilute, unsweeted peppermint tea in place of juice. My daughter loves it.

Other ideas:

Raisins or other dried fruits in place of fruit snacks (? Not sure how old your son is, and my daughter won't touch them).

I have a friend who simply started calling all round crackers "cookies". The toddler bought it.

If the junk isn't available, it can't be eaten. The rule in my house growing up was that if you wanted sweets they had to be made fresh and from scratch. It cut back on the cookies and brownies a lot. (Though I could make a batch of brownies in no time flat by the time I was 8.)

Good luck! We're not the best examples of healthful eating, but we're trying.
post #7 of 29
What a sad study!

Mostly jumping in here to pass on a few suggestions to Normajean. Good for you for posting and asking! Very difficult to change longstanding dietary habits. Some thoughts that I had while reading your post:

1. My DD also often won't eat the same fruits and veggies two days in a row.... While we do always have a variety of fresh fruits and veggies, I've also found its essential to have a good stash of high quality frozen fruits and veggies for this reason. I keep frozen peas, green beans, peaches, blueberries etc... and steam a few up each day so that she has plenty of variety. That way I don't have rotting produce that DD won't eat in the fridge.

2. All hotdogs aren't equally evil. I give DD turkey hotdogs that have no added coloring, preservatives, antibiotics, nitrates...you name it. Get organic ones at the health food store. Another great freezer item.

3. DD adores yogurt. I buy plain and then stir in fruit to reduce the sugar content. She also loves smoothies made with several different types of fruit. Yogurt is our usual alternative to ice cream.

4. DD eats lots of unsweetened cereals for snacks. Can get great whole grain ones at health food stores. I mix several kinds together with raisins and dried apricots to make toddler trail mix.
She also really likes whole wheat cinamon raisin bread. There tend to take the place of cookies in our house.

5. I carry raisins with me when we got to the store---or anywhere for that matter. Always have raisins and dried apricots in my car. I often pull them out as we are approaching the register with its ever so tempting display of candy.... I also carry small containers of finger fruit with us---grapes, strawberries, blueberries etc...

Hope that helps! Please feel free to PM me if you'd like more ideas or encouragement. Good luck!
post #8 of 29
Normajean, I think you're 90% there for even realizing you want to change something, honestly. Hang in there. I grew up eating Fruit Roll-ups, hot dogs & macaroni and cheese, Fritos, and Lucky Charms, so it's been a big challenge for me to break that cycle for dd and ds. I'm not a big chef, and with twins, I am all about doing something easy, not a big hassle.

So FWIW, here are our tried-and-true healthy but appealing toddler snacks:

* Raisins and other dried fruit, especially apricots, cherries, and cranberries (not too many or too frequently, though - these are awfully sugary)
* Whole wheat graham crackers (Hi-Del)
* Whole wheat crackers
* Cheese dices (mild cheddar or colby)
* Fresh fruit slices, especially apples, bananas, and pears because we always have those around
* Mandarin oranges (canned, packed in juice)
* Roll-ups (roast turkey and cheese "deli" slices)
* Corn chex
* Canned cut green beans. They can't get enough of them... I pulled some of these out one day when I was desperate for a quick veggie, and they gobble up like 1/2 cup each. I make it no salt added & organic, and am just starting to convince myself they're healthy.
* Blueberry waffles (Van's Organic... amazing taste, whole wheat, and low sugar - as an occasional treat)
* I second the plain yogurt w/ real fruit recommendation. We switched from Yo-Baby a couple of months ago... too much sugar.
* Their new favorite is apple butter... the real stuff - no added sugar - just apples, cider, and spices. Yummy spread on toast, added to plain yogurt, on crackers.

I also have been inspired recently to make a few things ahead of time, such as whole wheat zucchini/carrot bread (sweetened only with applesauce and blackstrap molasses) and pumpkin bread (again, whole wheat flour and no sugar). I cut it into squares, and freeze half. The other half, I dice up for snacks or breakfast.

Good luck.
post #9 of 29
Originally posted by TwinMommy
I also have been inspired recently to make a few things ahead of time, such as whole wheat zucchini/carrot bread (sweetened only with applesauce and blackstrap molasses) and pumpkin bread (again, whole wheat flour and no sugar). I cut it into squares, and freeze half. The other half, I dice up for snacks or breakfast.
Do you have a recipe for these breads? I'd love to try it!
post #10 of 29
I know my son eats too much junk but if its the only thing we have in the house...what is he supposed to do? Starve?

Fries--he eats a couple times a week. He loves them and it is something he WILL eat!

He is suh a picky eater that sometimes we are just happy he'll eat anything!

Of course I want it to change but some things are too expensive. We have 20.00 a week for food for our ENTIRE family and it goes in our cart if it is on sale. Otherwise we skip it. And they never put the good stuff on sale...just the crap! It makes me mad but what can I do.

I've made some changes, we don't have soda in the house, he will ONLY drink water. He doesn't like juice or anything else (which is fine by me!), and we never have candy. But most things you would consider junk we eat cause its cheap. I would lvee to have fruit in the house all the time but around here that stuff is too much money.

Hopefully in a few years things will change...

He was almost exclusively bf'ed until 14 months old (I got pg) and is 18 months old and weighs 22 pounds (he is pretty small)
post #11 of 29

We buy the food.

That's right, our kids aren't going to drive themselves to the store and buy their own food.

As for "junk food" being cheaper, I beg to disagree. Buying foods in season is reasonable, as is cooking rice and beans, pasta and sauce, etc.

Also, on the rare occasion when DD eats Newman Os (Oreos) she just eats the cream inside, not the cookie and several hours later is hungry again. So junk foods in my opinion just stimulate us to eat more because they are void, nutritionally leaving us hungry for more.

Where things DO get pricey is organic foods and I don't have a solution for that except to shop specials and watch out for packaged foods.
post #12 of 29
Good suggestions Twinsmommy!

I prepare a lot of DD's food for the week on Sunday so DH can watch her and I can actually get soemthing done in the kitchen! LOL.

some of DD's favorites:

Orange wheat pancakes. I make them and freeze them.
quick pasta salad - spiral pasta wit lots of veggies cut up - broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, tomatoes, olives. She loves it.
cut up fresh fruits - though she is on a grape kick now.
make fresh chicken nuggets - cut up breasts and roll in low-sodium breadcrumbs and bake. Freeze. She loves these too and they are better than the "spicken" ones at the store (Spicken is the chicken equivalent of SPAM).

gotta go - DD waking...
post #13 of 29

Re: We buy the food.

Originally posted by tessamami

As for "junk food" being cheaper, I beg to disagree. Buying foods in season is reasonable, as is cooking rice and beans, pasta and sauce, etc.
We eats lots of rice cause you can buy it in bulk. And eta quite a bit of pasta. But a box of macaroni and cheese is 45 cents and spaghetti O's is only 48 cents. thats pretty darn cheap and 1 can of O's is 2 lunches for ds. That is pretty darn cheap!

Sad thing is I think it is our area. We could eat much better on the same amount of money back home in IN than we ca here in VA. But lets face it. You can't buy much of anything for 20.00 a week. If it were just 20.00 for dinner it would be different since you can have a meal for the 3 of us for around 3 or 4 dollars total. but that is also breakfast lunch and dinner. We don't eat breakfast (except ds) but that is 10 meals on 20.00. That is 2.00 a meal for 3 ppl. That is kinda hard to do. Ick, now I'm depressed

But I agree...sometimes the junk is cheaper is jstu an excuse. The deal is that I'd rather eat different but our funds don't allow it
post #14 of 29
I read the article and it is very telling. I do, however, disagree that french fries and pizza are junk food.

If the only fries the child gets are fast food fries, welll, then that is junk food. But ones that are hand cut and baked, there is nothing wrong with that. Even if they are frozen, same thing.

Why is pizza junk? You have sauce (tomato), cheese, bread and veggie or meat topping in some instances. If you make your own pizza you control the type of crust and the quality of the other ingredients.

I guess that being the parent of a hugely picky eater makes me think this way. He is just starting to do a little trying of other things. If he eats one or two pieces of pizza for dinner and has a big old glass of milk, I conider it a good dinner. This is from the kid who can eat as many as three or four peanut butter sandwiches in a day and not want anything else.

You can always help kids eat better by not having cookies, candy, and chips all the time and by not even having soda in the house ( I would include the disgusting kool aid in this area as well.) We have these things once in a while, but it is a treat and he knows that. He does not get any soda at all but will have chips or some other kind of snack once in a while.

One thing that I am always cautious about though is not to make a big deal over junky food. If you do, they will rebel! Believe me, I live with a rebel. His mom was the biggest sugar avoider when he was growing up and now he will chow down anything sugary without hesitation. He also can't limit himself. I, grew up where we were allowed to have it once in a while. We were allowed to buy the occassional penny candy, have some chips or a soda. It wasn't regular in our house, but if it was on sale we might get treated. There was never more than one bag of chips or one bottle of soda per month. We thought this was normal.

I know that eating is a huge issue here in the states, but we need to be careful to teach our kids healthy eating habits and not be alarmist. The more we push kids in one direction to do something the more they push the opposite direction.
post #15 of 29
Thank you all so much for your thoughts, ideas, and comments. I really appreciate it. As I have been reading this thread, I have noticed that we have come a lONG way since I started paying attention to this. My DH is a McDonalds ADDICT, we used to go at least 2 times a week. I admit, I LOVE fries. Now however, we go MAYBE once a month, and when DH wants a hambuger and fries, we do make homemade.

I ONLY buy juice with calcium and vitamin C added, and I have cut way back on the Kool Aid that DH loves. I don't buy soda anymore either.

I have cut back on white rice as well, because it is the same thing as sugar. We have cut down on potatoes and are eating more sweet potatoes. So its a start, but I stitll have a LOOOONG way to go.

THanks again guys!
post #16 of 29


You are building new habits and it will take time. Baby steps, baby steps.
post #17 of 29
I agree that the best way to keep junk out of your kids' mouths (and your own) is to keep it out of your house. I buy no junk food. Really, almost none at all. There are no potato chips or candy or even cookies in my house on a typical day. We keep ice cream in the freezer on occasion and pudding in the fridge for dd's occasional desserts, but that's it. I'll admit I have a weakness for Diet Coke, but dd doesn't drink soda - she even tried some Sprite at a party once and said she didn't like the fizz.

That's not to say dd doesn't ever eat any sweets or junk. But I tend to buy her the sweet treats on an outing - a cookie at the bakery, for example - rather than keep it in my house, so that it just isn't an option when she's hungry.

As far as salty snacks are concerned, I buy some organic things like pirate's booty or pretzels or tortilla chips, but if the kid eats a potato chip or a cheese doodle, it's at someone else's house. And she is allowed to eat whatever is offered at others' homes - I don't "ban" anything.

I think of snacks as just an extension of a meal and usually offer cheese, fruit or yogurt. And plenty of healthy snacks are portable - apples, bananas, raisins, etc., so we eat fine on the go, too.

It's great that you want to change your son's eating habits. HOnestly, I would just eliminate the stuff you don't like and offer healthy alternatives, and if he complains for a while, let him - he'll get over it!
post #18 of 29
i just found this thread....as far as ideas of what to eat, I'm kind of surprised no one mentioned dips yet. (or maybe they did and I missed it). I did daycare for a few weeks for a 3YO. His mom was amazed at what he ate at my house. (Basically what I served was what we had for dinner the night before)....my trick was to have something for ivan to dip the food in. Beans dipped in yogurt, apples dipped in peanut butter, green beans (raw) dipped in yogurt + dill, you get the picture.

apparently the running joke at their house is to tell ivan to dip things and he'll eat it. as in "ivan you can dip your hotdog in your ha,mburger" and he loves it. His Mama is happy because ivan is now eating beans (who knew you could strain the beans from the chilli, serve the sauce in a cup and the beans on the plate).

(and we are done with our dcp's maternity leave. whew back to feeding my 12 mo).
post #19 of 29
I agree that pizza and fries aren't necessarily junk. Personally, I think that's a pretty rigid way to look at food.

I understand that some people are against adding fat to foods, and that's reasonable, though not my viewpoint. However, if you have a child who won't eat avacodo and is too young for nuts, I think it's reasonable to make some foods prepared in healthier oils. I prefer for my son to have some fat that doesn't come from animal sources. I make fries with the peel on (higher in vitamins) and fry them in olive oil, and to me, that's a fair dietary choice. I think it should be a part of a balanced diet, though.

I wonder if bread, cheese, and tomatoes are considered junk food individually or just together.

I also agree that the organic foods really add up. We spend so much more money now that we eat mostly organic/natural food. I feel better, though, and I hope my son feels good, too.

Today was Trick or Treat, though, and I was pretty lenient about nutrition.
post #20 of 29
I didn’t want to be the one to ask what I was afraid was a stupid question, “What’s so wrong with pizza?” Thanks for asking, mirlee!

This thread did get me back on a better path with my daughter’s diet but she still has some “junk”. For us, we focus on moderation as much as we can. I have no problem with pizza...even a couple of times a week, especially if it's home made. We have ice cream, candy, french fries...and even soda in moderation.

I admit that some of my daughter’s dietary problems are created by me; by buying junk (yes, having it in the house is the biggest pit fall) and not making enough time for healthier options we fall into bad habits.

Some of my daughter’s dietary problems are just her thing though. She has a taste for junk. I wish I could relate to a child that doesn’t even like soda…must be nice. My daughter doesn’t get soda unless it’s a special occasion, out of the house and it’s always a small glass with half water (good soda tip, btw). Also, she doesn’t eat some foods that I would be thrilled to offer her. To be quite honest, I think this comes as being a kid. I was a terrible picky eater as a child despite a good start with healthy foods (my parents ran a family vegetarian restaurant and grew their own veggies and kneaded their own gluten). My mother used to puree home grown spinach and freeze them in ice cubes, apparently I we ate them frozen. My brother was even worse than I am but we have both evolved into good eaters. We just spent the week together cooking and eating wonerful meals.

Some ideas that have worked for us are introducing the same healthy foods frequently. ---
-My daughter eventually tries something that is being served for the 5th time that week.
-Keep junk out of the house and try to have a plan for eating when you’re out or traveling (traveling is our other pitfall because it’s so hard to cheaply feed a kid on the go unless you plan ahead)
-Make some good food in the morning or the beginning of the week! Great tip…I forget that too often!

Food ideas (which, admittedly some of you wouldn’t serve but they meet my standards)

-whole wheat French toast with jelly
-olives (so many kids I know love them)
-fried zucchini or sweet potatoes…in olive oil is great
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