How do you handle "junk" food with your kids? - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-09-2007, 04:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I occasionally allow my 3 yo ds to have some "junk" type food, usually 2 small cookies after lunch (either the organic alphabet cookies from the health food store or homemade ones made without refined sugar) or some organic crackers and/or pretzels sometimes. I even give him a few tiny bites of dark chocolate maybe once a week. Other than that, we eat healthful, unprocessed foods.

Well, ds has become obsessed with the junk foods--when he wakes up in the morning he wants to know, "can I have a cookie after lunch?" He'll ask me about it all morning, and then he'll start in on the crackers. "Can I just have a tiny bite of cracker?" If I say "No" to these things, he starts rummaging through the fridge and cabinets for sweet stuff, like jam, honey, OJ, frozen berries (which are fine), etc. He doesn't really want much else, and clearly his sweet tooth is out of control. I've tried talking to him about why we only have "a little taste" of this kind of food, but it doesn't help (he's still too young to understand or care). We have constant battles about it every day, and I feel like I'm always having to say "No" to him.

Soooo, is there something wrong with his diet that he's craving all the sweet stuff, or is he craving it b/c I give it to him sometimes? Do you think I should I just get rid of the junk completely?

Thanks! Kelly
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Old 03-09-2007, 04:30 PM
 
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I let my ds eat as much as he wants of what is in the house. I'm not interested in doling out and regulating every bite, let alone dealing with the bargaining and demands. If we have it, he can eat it. If he eats it all, then it's gone until we buy more. What usually happens is he eats more than you can imagine the first day, a fair bit the second day, and on the third day he asks for it but may not actually eat much.

I think it's too much to ask a 3 yo to not eat something super yummy that is in the house. All he really understands is you have something good and won't share it. 3 is when my ds became aware of all those bright packages in the stores being candy. He wanted to try everything. But at Halloween, he mostly just opened everything up to see what was inside and just nibbled or licked each thing w/o eating them.

I think there is a developmental leap at this age that makes them more able to think about things that are out of sight and to envision food being different than how it is presented. This is when my ds started asking for foods without certain ingredients that I usually included ("I want it without sauce, Mommy!"). In my experience, 3 is when kids don't just eat what they see when they are hungry but want specific things. That makes it tricky to not engage in power struggles if they don't want to eat what you want them to eat.

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Old 03-09-2007, 05:04 PM
 
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If it's something I don't want my kids to eat, I don't buy it. We do have lot's of snacky type stuff in the house, and they can have some in the afternoon. Once in awhile, I'll buy fruit snacks, and then once they are gone, I don't buy it again for awhile.

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Old 03-09-2007, 05:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Ex Libris View Post
homemade ones made without refined sugar


I'm sorry if this is a really dumb question, but how do you make cookies without refined sugar?

Can you link me a recipe? :
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Old 03-09-2007, 06:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies. I like the idea that once it's gone I don't buy any more for awhile.

Sydnee--what kind of snacks do you keep around?

Check out this thread for no-sugar cookies. They are SO good!

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=548992
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Old 03-09-2007, 06:58 PM
 
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I never limited crackers, or turned food into a struggle at that age.

If it's something I don't want my kids to have, I won't have it in the house. If it's in the house, it's allowed, within reason.

I do set more food limits with my kids now that they're older- no cookies until after lunch, only 2 per person per day, that sort of thing. With toddlers, I didn't enforce stuff like that so much.

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Old 03-09-2007, 08:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I let ds have as many of my homemade cookies as he wanted this afternoon and just told him that when they were gone I wouldn't make any more for awhile. He grabbed two more (he'd already had two), ate a couple of bites, and then said "All done." You mamas are very wise!

I think I will limit when he can have them, though. Too close to bedtime and he gets fired up from the sugar.
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Old 03-09-2007, 08:43 PM
 
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One thing that jumped out at me from you post was that was how I was... do you think he gets enough protein and fat? My blood sugar gets messed up if i don't have enough fat especially and I'll crave crave crave sugar. I remember stealing honey, cookies, whatever was sweet from our house. Our 'rule' was crackers or pretzels after school for a snack, and one cookie after dinner, which totally would have been fine, but everything else was low fat/nonfat. Now hubby and I eat a high fat, moderate protein diet (not Adkins, but we don't buy skim milk or lowfat anything either) and my sugar craving is totally gone!
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Old 03-09-2007, 08:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Ex Libris
is there something wrong with his diet that he's craving all the sweet stuff
That would be hard to answer without seeing a week-long food diary for him. If he's getting a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein, he should be okay. Is he still breastfeeding?

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Do you think I should I just get rid of the junk completely?
I think it's reasonable to let him have a couple of organic cookies after lunch and some organic crackers and pretzels sometimes and a few bites of chocolate once a week. If everything else is healthful unprocessed food then that's good.

-Alice, SAHM to dd (2001) and ds (2004) each of whom was a homebirth.jpg, who each self-weaned at 4.5 years bfolderchild.gif, who both fambedsingle2.gif'd, who were bothcd.gif, and both: novaxnocirc.gif.   Also, gd.gif, and goorganic.jpg!

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Old 03-09-2007, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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One thing that jumped out at me from you post was that was how I was... do you think he gets enough protein and fat? My blood sugar gets messed up if i don't have enough fat especially and I'll crave crave crave sugar. I remember stealing honey, cookies, whatever was sweet from our house. Our 'rule' was crackers or pretzels after school for a snack, and one cookie after dinner, which totally would have been fine, but everything else was low fat/nonfat. Now hubby and I eat a high fat, moderate protein diet (not Adkins, but we don't buy skim milk or lowfat anything either) and my sugar craving is totally gone!
Hmmm, interesting idea. Well, let's see, he gets plenty of fat from dairy (full fat), but he doesn't eat very much meat. Maybe that's it. I know that deficiencies in amino acids can cause sweet cravings. I wonder how I can counter that if he won't eat meat.

Sustainer--yep, he's still bfing. He eats a wide variety of foods, but as I think about it, he eats a lot of grains (oatmeal, bread, rice, quinoa, etc.). Maybe that plus the lack of meat is contributing to a craving to sugar.
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Old 03-09-2007, 09:14 PM
 
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My DS is 3.5 and I recently brought up how some foods are good for our bodies and some aren't. He was asking for a McD's happy meal one night when we were eating out and I asked him to pick somewhere else to eat because McD's isn't good for our bodies. He took it really well and we decided to eat soup at the deli instead. Even though I haven't brought it up again, DS asks me when he's eating something whether or not its good for his body. I'll answer him truthfully and list some things that are good and some things that are bad. He now insists that cookies are good for his body but at least I feel like we've started a dialogue about it. He's usually takes things pretty well when I have to say no as long as I have a good reason for it. Its something you might consider with your 3 yr old too.

Kim
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Old 03-09-2007, 09:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by kimbernet View Post
My DS is 3.5 and I recently brought up how some foods are good for our bodies and some aren't. He was asking for a McD's happy meal one night when we were eating out and I asked him to pick somewhere else to eat because McD's isn't good for our bodies. He took it really well and we decided to eat soup at the deli instead. Even though I haven't brought it up again, DS asks me when he's eating something whether or not its good for his body. I'll answer him truthfully and list some things that are good and some things that are bad. He now insists that cookies are good for his body but at least I feel like we've started a dialogue about it. He's usually takes things pretty well when I have to say no as long as I have a good reason for it. Its something you might consider with your 3 yr old too.

Kim
I really appreciate the suggesion. Actually, we've had many discussions about this. I've told him about the little "bugs" that make us sick and that if we eat good foods (and exercise and get enough sleep), our bodies can fight off the bugs. If we eat lots of bad food, the bugs start "singing" a happy song and we get sick. I've told him how good foods make our bodies happy and strong. He understands, likes talking about it, but he can't make the connection between that and the cookies he wants to eat. He'll even say things like "We can only have a little taste" and "we don't want the bugs to start singing," but his "little tastes" are endless! Oh well. It's a start anyway, like you said.
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Old 03-09-2007, 10:30 PM
 
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I know that deficiencies in amino acids can cause sweet cravings. I wonder how I can counter that if he won't eat meat.
If he's eating a variety of whole grains and vegetables he should be getting complete protein. Does he eat beans and nuts? Those are good sources of amino acids. Nuts are also a great source of healthy fats. Avocado is another good source of healthy fat. Check out the vegetarian sub-forum for more good sources of non-meat protein and healthy fats.

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Old 03-10-2007, 01:33 PM
 
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I love to grind almonds (in my coffee grinder) and throw them into baked goods (cookies, pancakes, waffles, etc) as a way to lower the glycemic index of a food.

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Old 03-10-2007, 04:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Great idea, 4evermom! I'll start doing that.

Sustainer--yes, he does eat beans and nuts, but not as much as I'd like. And he won't eat avocados. I'll check out that forum for more ideas. Thanks!
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Old 03-11-2007, 06:14 AM
 
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I allow junk food in moderation. I refuse to make it a point of struggle with kids who already have enough dietary limitations due to allergies.

So yes, my kids get oreos, pop tarts and potato chips... enough to where they don't feel deprived, but not so much that their teeth are rotting out of their heads or being overweight or anything like that.

My MIL was the sort that strictly limited sweets... once he was old enough to eat them away from her, he'd eat a lot when he could get it. One of my cousins who was raised the same way did the same thing.
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Old 03-12-2007, 11:20 AM
 
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If we have it in the house, it's fair game.

So in the couple days after grocery shopping, everyone snacks on chips and crackers until they're gone. Then they have to snack on fruit or wait until someone makes a batch of treat/snack food. I also don't consider fruit snacks (the organic 100% fruit leather stuff with nothing added to it) to be junk. I allow it whenever the kids ask for it. It's sweet so I make sure teeth gets brushed afterwards.
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Old 03-12-2007, 03:44 PM
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It has been a struggle with my two girls. They think I am controlling with food because they always ask if they can have something to eat. I always reply with "if you're hungry eat you don't have to ask, just make a healthy choice". They go to my inlaws and they are given junk out the wazoo. I'm tired of that battle.

I really hit home last week though. My dad went into the hospital for major surgery on his gut. They discovered he has Crohn's disease. That prompted for a good talk about life long nutrition with the girls. I explained that the reason I buy/make good healthy food is because I don't want them to be sick with they are grandpa's age. I explained that how they treat their bodies now, with good nutrition and excersize, will help them to have a strong healthy body when they are my age and older. That was the first time they really understood why I'm so annal about good nutrition.

Ultimately it's up to them. If I have good healthy food choices in the house, then I don't have to limit their choices. Even my cookies/treats are healthy as long as I make them. I don't buy packaged cookies/snack. I do buy whole grain organic crackers, but to me that's not junk food. The odd time when I do buy a treat, my philosophy is when it's gone it's gone. It doesn't happen often.

If he wants cookies after lunch make your own using good wholesome ingredients. I make a great pumpkin cookie the kids love. I also make a nice oatmeal cookie. Let him eat them.

Have you ever goarged out on something sinful because it was just so darn good? What happened? I know that when I eat too much of a good thing, it doesn't taste so wonderful after a while. It also looses it's appeal if I eat too much of it.
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Old 03-12-2007, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I appreciate all of you sharing your ideas.

cjr, I sometimes feel controlling about food, as you described. Over the weekend I tried just letting ds have junk whenever he asked since it's in the house. It's all homemade (oatmeal cookies and carob cupcakes made with ww flour, honey, etc.) but it's still sweet. Not only did he keep eating and eating them, but I also noticed that he started refusing to eat other foods, or very little of it, even those things he would normally eat. Even with crackers, which I still consider processed but at least more healthful than the sweets, he gorged on them until he wasn't hungry any longer.

So I'm torn about what to do. We've finished the cookies but still have some cupcakes left (it was ds' birthday yesterday) and a few crackers. I've declared today a "no junk day," and tomorrow we'll figure out a new plan. I'll study what everyone has said here and try to find a way to limit it without him feeling deprived.

Thanks everyone!
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Old 03-13-2007, 04:01 AM
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It's all homemade (oatmeal cookies and carob cupcakes made with ww flour, honey, etc.) but it's still sweet.
See, to me that's not junk. There are some very wholesome ingredients, no preservatives or other refined junk. I try to find low sugar recipies, or I just cut out up to half of the sugar. Sometimes it comes out crumbly and sometimes not. I found great muffin recipies with very little sugar in them and you can always sub carob for part of the flour.

I also don't have them out all at once or all day long. I make a batch of cookies or muffins and I freeze them in a container. I will pull out a few cookies, muffins and put them on a plate. The rest stay in the freezer for another day. If Carter or the girls want muffins and cookies for lunch, fine...but I don't refil the plate when it's gone. It is somewhat controlling, but they don't know that. All they know is that there are cookies and muffins out and they can eat them, when they're gone they have to eat something else. I do know that if all I give them is chocolate chip cookies they do get sick of them and stop eating them.

The only thing negative about the goodies you are making is a little sugar. Your treats are still nutritious and tasty. There are lots of lower sugar recipies out there.
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Old 03-13-2007, 10:36 AM
 
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It's all homemade (oatmeal cookies and carob cupcakes made with ww flour, honey, etc.) but it's still sweet.

It's not because it tastes sweet that it's junk. And imo, it's perfectly normal for your child to only want that and binge on it if he's not used to being offered those foods. All kids end up self-regulating at some point.

It's like the kid whose parents keep a jar of hard candy on the counter. He rarely has any yet all his friends who come over and aren't allowed candy on a regular basis just gobble the candy up when they come over.
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Old 03-13-2007, 02:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess what's bothered me is that the more he eats the sweets the more he seems obsessed with them and refuses other things. He starts asking first thing in the morning if he can have a cookie after lunch. Or when he's hungry he'll ask for only sweet things--OJ, jam, honey, cookies, etc. And then he refuses other things he used to eat, like veggies.

I guess I'll try putting out a plate of stuff like cjr suggested, and hope that he'll self-regulate eventually like you're saying, Malva. And I'm going to stop buying the store-bought junk and instead just make my own. I'll feel better about it then.

Thanks.
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Old 03-13-2007, 06:32 PM
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I have 3 girls, two of which are old enough to desire sweets. With my oldest, I was pretty strict (my family thought I was very strict) about her food. With my second, I was more relaxed. Now, at 7 & 4--neither of them will eat candy all day but it is the 7 year old who had the "sweet tooth". I sometimes wonder if the strictness didn't backfire. However, as far as junk food is concerned, I make sure that healthy choices are made first (they don't get a junk item if close to mealtime--they can have a healthy snack) and then we have a portion of the treat later. For example, a scoop of ice cream rather than the whole carton.

I think if you suddenly lift the "ban" on junk, your son will become a "junk food junkie" for a while. Then, when it isn't such a novelty, he will be satisfied with occasional treats.

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Old 03-14-2007, 03:30 PM
 
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My DS is 3.5 and I recently brought up how some foods are good for our bodies and some aren't. He was asking for a McD's happy meal one night when we were eating out and I asked him to pick somewhere else to eat because McD's isn't good for our bodies. He took it really well and we decided to eat soup at the deli instead. Even though I haven't brought it up again, DS asks me when he's eating something whether or not its good for his body. I'll answer him truthfully and list some things that are good and some things that are bad. He now insists that cookies are good for his body but at least I feel like we've started a dialogue about it. He's usually takes things pretty well when I have to say no as long as I have a good reason for it. Its something you might consider with your 3 yr old too.

Kim
I second this idea! I take this approach with my 4.5yo DD and am starting with DD2. They really do care if it's good for them or not.
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Old 03-21-2007, 01:12 AM
 
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I teach my 3.5 DS about healthful foods by saying that it is "feel-good-food."

All the time he asks me "Mom, are carrots feel good food? Are donuts feel good food?" etc...
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