Moms and Burgers

Readers — Here’s a public service announcement someone posted on Facebook that has started an interesting discussion:

The ttknbaaesk
problem with this ad is that it reinforces a sickening message about parenting: that if you are not optimizing every choice you make for your child — including choosing the best possible foods, every day at every meal  — you are a negligent no-goodnik who is actively harming your loved one.

Kids and parents deserve a little less pressure all around. Fortunately for our species, not every parenting ANYTHING has to be perfect/brilliant/well-balanced/well-planned/encouraging/psychologically attuned/educational/teachable, etc. Whether you’re an organic mama or a fast food fan (and I’ve been known to swing both ways),  we are all more resilient than that. – L

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182 Responses to Moms and Burgers

  1. Mike in Virginia February 13, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    I know the meals I was served at home were not the healthiest. My mom only knew how to cook southern meals with lots of fat, and I refused to eat vegetables of any kind. Fast food wasn’t every day, but I ate plenty of it, and I am pretty sure my mother’s cooking was worse. Yet despite this, I was a very skinny child, as was my brother, and extremely healthy. All of my friends were too, and some of them ate worse than me. How could that possibly be?

    Oh wait, now I remember. We had over an hour of recess every day at school. The school bus picked us up and dropped us off at a central location that we all had to walk several blocks to/from. When I got home from school, the first thing I did was run back outside and ride my bike with friends, or play sports (made up teams and rules on the spot) and I didn’t see another adult until it was dinnertime. And wow, would I be hungry and looking forward to a massive plate of fat and carbs. In the summertime, when there was extra light out, I went right back outside after dinner.

    Its a good thing I didn’t have homework, or I wouldn’t have been able to live such an active life.

  2. Suzanne February 13, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    It isn’t the food as much as it inactivity that is causing the obesity problem. I completely agree with you that parenting doesn’t have to be “perfect.” Actually, the super-parent people are pushed to be is probably just as bad for children as a negligent one and worse in some respects, these kids aren’t learning resiliency or independence and a neglected child will at least get those things skills.

    That ad was wrong on so many levels.

  3. Christine Hancock February 13, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    That commercial is enraging! How can anyone with a brain, half a heart, and a childhood have produced such nasty, mean spirited propaganda?

  4. QuicoT February 13, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    I could NOT stop laughing hysterically through that whole thing – THE MUSIC dear lord THAT MUSIC!! – my wife is looking at me like I’ve lost my mind…

    A literal ROFL – rare gem…

  5. Leslie February 13, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    Yes! Yes! Thank you! Couldn’t agree with you more, Lenore!

  6. Pophouse February 13, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    Ha! I love Australian PSAs. Has anyone seen the one with the young beautiful slackers that can’t read getting blown up on a beach that is an artillery zone?

  7. Marianna February 13, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    What the hell is wrong with Australians? First that horrifying beach ad, now this?? Those people are sick. And Lenore, I think you need to start posting a warning with videos like this. Some of us share your free-range philosophy but don’t want to see such disturbing images.

  8. Donna February 13, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    Makes me want to run out and buy my kid a happy meal.

  9. Kristen February 13, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    Sorry, but I love it! It’s not promoting fear; it’s a wake up. People r numb minded when it comes to nutitrion. Out of every stupid thing people worry over, healthy eating is a legitimate concern. No, fast food here & there won’t kill u but I know several kids that eat it every day of the week and it will takes it toll

  10. Dawn February 13, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    Jeez louise. Heroin does not equal a cheeseburger. There is something called moderation that is available when it comes to eating habits, that doesn’t so much apply to using hard drugs.

  11. pentamom February 13, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Kristen — then THAT should be the message of the ad, not that letting your kid eat ONE hamburger is the equivalent of shooting him with heroin. It’s actually NOT good to use idiotic, easily refuted lies in order to try to improve people’s behavior.

  12. BL February 13, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    Are yet kids are being drugged with Ritalin and the like all the time.

  13. Donna February 13, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    Kristin – It isn’t a wake-up. It is something so totally over-the-top that everyone will simply, at best, roll their eyes and move on with their lives status quo and, at worst, mock mercilessly while still moving on with their lives status quo. It isn’t going to make a single person with the slightest amount of sense reconsider their next Happy Meal. In fact, it may have the opposite result for some. I haven’t eaten at McD’s in many months and now I want to go just for spite. I won’t since I can’t get my car out of the driveway, but the thought crossed my mind.

  14. Timmyson February 13, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    You find the darkest videos. I need to go find some kittens.

  15. Lola February 13, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    Actually, the worst thing about this ad is that it acnowledges no in-betweens. There’s either “good food” or “bad food”, and that’s that.
    Actually, children (who are growing and thus need propotionally a greater caloric intake than adults) tend to avoid fruit and vegetables because it fills their tiny bellies with plain water (and not that many vitamins), leaving no space for “real food”.
    As my mother used to say, just eat a little bit of everything. And that includes cheeseburgers.

  16. Lori B February 13, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    Wow, way to be over the top Australia! I grew up on a farm eating plenty of burgers and other “unhealthy” foods (and of course not much of a veggie eater as a kid), and never had any weight/health problems until getting a desk job. As someone else said, a major contributor to obesity is inactivity. Eating a burger once in a while is not inherently a bad thing.

  17. QuicoT February 13, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Timmyson –

    No kidding! Though this one was well on the other side of the so-bad-it’s-funny event horizon.

    One other thing. It feels stupid to engage with the substance of such a stupid PSA, but that burger looks like it’s home made to me. That makes ALL the difference -> anything that discourages people from cooking is badly counterproductive. Pollan dixit:

  18. C. S. P. Schofield February 13, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    The longer I watch the Obesity Panic the more I am convinced that what I am seeing is the Baby Boomers having a snit because their model of beauty isn’t being worshiped by the generations following. Men are sporting Civl War level facial hair, and both sexes are rejecting the “Skinny enough that you can count their ribs” body image.


    And BTW, could we spend a week celebrating that we have achieved a civilization where, apparently, the primary dietary problem of our poor is that they are too fat? I mean, that hasn’t happened much.

    Off topic; i ran across the following

    and thought of this site.

  19. Puzzled February 13, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    So, here’s my dilemma as a boarding school teacher. We have a gas station right next door where students can walk. Most students get an allowance. Some ask me to take them to buy quality sodas – Virgil’s and others without HFCS. I know their parents don’t want them drinking soda (from conversations.) If I refuse, they will go to the store and buy low-quality soda, and more of it. If I say yes, I’m complicit. Thoughts?

  20. Amber February 13, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    You know what really bothers me about this ad? My husband was raised on nothing but burgers and fries, meat and potatoes. He literally had never even had shrimp that wasn’t fried or tried brussel sprouts before meeting and dating me (when he was 32 years old!!). He has NEVER had a weight problem or any major health problems. I will admit he eats a lot healthier now and is in better shape (at 45 he is in better shape than he was at 25!) partly because of marrying me. He has stopped drinking soda, drastically reduced eating fast food (from daily to maybe monthly), and eats lots of baked lean meats and fresh veggies.

    So here is the kicker. I, the person who has transformed my husband’s health from an average, not exceptional health person to a specimen of a 45 year old man (yes, his doctor did say that!) am “obese”. I eat all the same that he does (except I don’t eat all the chips that he eats behind my back) and in smaller portions. Yet, I can’t lose weight to save my life (oh, and did I mention I walk/jog 10 miles a week?). Weight is a real fricking struggle for me. A constant struggle. And I’m sick of these ads that equate obesity with unhealthy eating. I EAT healthy. I am obese. I’m not uneducated about health. I’m so freaking over educated on what I should and shouldn’t eat, when I should eat it and how much. I’m not lazy. I’m not gluttonous. I watch every little piece of food that goes in my mouth. I track every calorie and monitor my fat/carbs/fiber. And I’ve been doing this for YEARS with no results. These ads just perpetuate the stereotypes that overweight and obese people are gluttonous junk food eating nit wits! And while I’m sure that does exist too…I know way more people like me than I do like the stereotypes insinuate.

  21. Warren February 13, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    Here is a completely different way to look at the message.

    Since I love the occassional cheeseburger and have been eating them for over 40yrs then what the heck, why not try a shot of heroin.

    The way I see it, if someone wants to smoke, drink or eat their way to an early grave, who are we to stop them.

  22. Warren February 13, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    My youngest daughter would take a leftover homemade cheeseburger to school for lunch, the next day. The school called and expressed concern. Even though at that stage in her life, I would have loved for her to have been about 10lbs heavier. She always grows up not out.

    The school told me it was not an appropriate lunch. Simply told them I would decide what was appropriate and what wasn’t, and for them to stay out of my daughter’s lunch.

    That was the end of it.

  23. Donna February 13, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    Puzzled – I’m puzzled. Why can’t the kids go to the store and get the “high quality” soda without you? Is there an age limit?

    To somewhat answer your question, I don’t think there is such as thing as “high quality” soda. Some may taste better than others, but it’s all crap healthwise. Even if it doesn’t have HFCS, it still has tons of another sugar. Virgils is not a marked improvement over Coke or Pepsi. All should be discouraged. I understand that they are going to drink it regardless, but I don’t see the point in selling one as particularly healthier than the other.

  24. C. S. P. Schofield February 13, 2014 at 10:48 am #


    Are you obese, as in fat enough that it impedes your ability to do things, or are you “obese”, as in heavier than the figures on a chart made up by hysterics? From what you say about walking/jogging 10 miles a day, the former seems highly unlikely. So you don’t look like Audrey Hepburn. She was a great actress, but she was also a survivor of the (artificial) famine caused by the Second World War in her homeland. Being that skinny isn’t healthy.

    You sound like a great person, and a loving wife. Please, stop beating yourself up because you don’t conform to a highly suspect ideal of ‘healthy’.

  25. lollipoplover February 13, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    So if fast food cheeseburgers=drugs, what would a Bloomin’ Burger and Aussie Fries (1413 calories, 89 grams of fat)from Outback Steakhouse be?

    Good nutrition is very important, but demonizing food and equating it to serious, hard core drugs like heroin dumbs down the whole “stay away from highly addictive drugs” message we want to impart on kids. It’s just a cheeseburger.

  26. Heather B February 13, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    It’s a very priveledged and condescending view.

  27. Ravana February 13, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. They’d do much better with an ad touting the benefits of moderation.

  28. Jay February 13, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    I dunno, I kind of love this ad. I am morbidly obese and am only now in my 20s getting a handle on how to eat healthy. My mom fed us nothing but pop tarts, canned pasta, and fast food. We’re all suffering because of it. I know I have to take responsibility for my weight now as an adult — but I really wish she would have seen a commercial like this when we were young and smartened up about what she fed us.

    Side note, though, I don’t think burgers are actually that unhealthy. They should have used different foods that are worse – like maybe a coke and a poptart? Not sure.

  29. SKL February 13, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    Aside from the obvious, one thing that concerns me is that people seem to think that kids’ nutritional needs are the same as adults’. Kids have completely different needs. Aside from the fact that we are all individuals, and some of us can eat starches or fats until we puke and still not get fat. And some people can be fat on 1000 calories per day.

    The food I ate as a kid would have been considered terrible by today’s standards of what’s ideal. Yet I was very healthy, slim, and strong. The hours of free outdoor play in all but the most horrific weather probably had something to do with that.

    I was very particular about feeding my kids when they would cooperate. At some point they began asserting their individual tastes and I decided to back off of insisting that every bite be eaten, that every offering be a superfood, etc. My kids do at least an hour of exercise per day, so it’s all good.

  30. Donna February 13, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Two things are bothering me about the comments –

    1) Skinny = healthy. It doesn’t. You can be skinny and be incredibly unhealthy. You can be curvy and incredibly healthy. Short of being actually obese, you can’t tell a person’s actual health by outward appearance. (And even obesity may be a medical issue and not an actual food consumption issue).

    2) That lack of exercise is the sole problem with weight. It isn’t. Sure some people need to move more, but exercise’s only contribution to the situation is to allow you to consume somewhat more calories than you are be able to if you are a couch potato. Crappy calories are still crappy calories.

  31. Warren February 13, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    Let’s actually put this into perspective. This is nothing more than public servants justifying and keeping their jobs..

    1. We have beaten the seatbelt issue to the point noone pays attention to the ads.
    2. We have done the same with smoking.
    3. Same with drinking.
    4. Same with drunk driving.
    5. Bike helmets.
    6. and so on.

    Now they move on to the next buzz word issue. Face it 20 yrs from now their will be PBAs about paperclips.

  32. Really Bad Mum February 13, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    I have honestly never seen this ad or the beach ad, and I can say most Australians will be ignoring this stupid ad made by some d***h***. Most of us realise that anything in excess is unhealthy and in moderation all foods are fine, plus unless the ad has Rhonda and Katut ( amii insurance) in it none of us give a shit.

  33. J.T. Wenting February 13, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    I cook hamburgers once in a while. And they’re pretty healthy.
    Fresh ground beef, fresh lettuce, few slices of cheese, and freshly baked bread.
    Dash of curry or ketchup maybe.

    Which is pretty much how McDonalds or Burger King make theirs btw.

    The whole “burgers are bad” mentality is just a side effect of the whole “fast food is bad” mentality which itself is born out of people eating the stuff often exclusively for 3-4-5 days a week, and then the fat soaked chips and pizza variety most of all.

  34. Steve February 13, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    Personal belief is powerful and often irrational.

    Everyone believes their own personal take on health is correct and that others are wrong.

    But we all know that beliefs are not necessarily Truth.

    Concisely stated arguments can make certain health practices seem to make good sense. School and college professionals teach us facts that are found to be not true a few years later. Then too, political agendas often drive what we are hearing as facts.

    Well-organized arguments can make horrible twisted ideas seem to make perfect logical sense. And these arguments give certain people a feeling that they are The People with the truth. The problem comes when some of Those People want to coerce others into doing their thing.

    In Jasper Becker’s book, Hungry Ghosts: Mao’s Secret Famine, (The First Full Account of the Tragedy That Claimed Over 30 Million Victims), on page 43, in a chapter about a Soviet famine, the author introduces Lev Kopolev, a faithful Communist Party member, who described what he saw in the Ukraine and how he felt:

    “In the terrible spring of 1932 I saw people dying from hunger, I saw women and children with distended bellies, turning blue, still breathing but with vacant, lifeless eyes. And corpses – corpes in ragged sheepskin coats and cheap felt boots, corpses in peasant huts, in the melting show of the Volgda, under the bridges of Kharkov…I saw all this and did not go out of my mind or commit suicide. Nor did I curse those who had sent me to take away the peasant’s grain in the winter, and in the spring to persuade the barely walking skeleton-thin or sickly-swollen people to go into the fields in order to ‘fulfil the Bolshevik sowing plan in shock-worker style’. Nor did I lose my faith. As before I believed because I wanted to believe.”

    He believed because he “wanted to believe.”

    Unfortunately, we all hang on to pet beliefs with a death grip because we want to believe. We want to be Right.

  35. lollipoplover February 13, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    Watching this again and seeing the mother as injecting “junk” into her child makes my blood boil. Scrutinizing every morsel of food we feed our children like we are assembling an atomic bomb is not healthy and guilting parents who feed their kids a fast food burger won’t win the obesity epidemic. It is much more complicated than scapegoating the fast food industry or soda industry with blame for fat kids.

  36. Eliza February 13, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    I don’t know – I don’t mind the ad. And I agree with much of what Donna has posted below. Sure, there is totally nothing wrong with hamburgers. But eating too much food of rubbish quality IS what is making us fat. Fat doesn’t matter, but the fact that being fat leads to early death and uncomfortable life whilst you’re alive does.
    People need to get the message that just as much as you’d take your kid to the doctor if they are ill, or help them to learn to read, or support them when tet are sad, you need to nurture their health by providing healthy food MOST of the time. Healthy food doesn’t mean low fat or low calorie, just WHOLE, UNPROCESSED foods, and most often fast food does not fall in this category. Limit white flour and refined grains, limit sugary drinks, store-bought cookies and other store-bought foods with tonnes of ingredients, etc.
    Most may laugh at this ad, but some may genuinely not know that what you eat can have an effect on your health – that in most cases, poor diet IS THE CAUSE of illness., and maybe this ad with sparkan interest. For the rest of us it can just serve as a reminder that fast food is a temptation that’s best avoided.

  37. Emily February 13, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    @Warren–It boggles my mind that the school would have time to police the contents of all the students’ lunches, but more than that, it’s illogical. First of all, most school cafeteria food isn’t known for being especially healthy, since the “health” guidelines are highly suspect–so, a bag of chips with fewer than 200 calories is okay, even though it’s full of unpronounceable chemical ingredients, but a homemade brownie from a bake sale is verboten. Second of all, policing students’ packed lunches doesn’t solve the issue entirely if some kids go home/somewhere else for lunch. Third of all, there’s the income problem. Explaining to little Johnny’s parents that potato chips/dry ramen noodles/a Thermos full of Kraft dinner/dollar store cookies/white bread sandwiches with HCFS-laced bargain-basement jam aren’t an “appropriate lunch,” doesn’t magically enable little Johnny’s parents to get themselves to Whole Foods, and stock their pantry with organic fruits and vegetables, guaranteed to transform little Johnny into a healthy, high-performing, perfect student who’s destined to be successful in life (tongue in cheek here). What if they can’t afford to buy healthy food? What if they don’t have time to cook it? What if they don’t have a car, and the only stores nearby have a poor selection of food, that may also be overpriced?

    When I was in elementary school, there was some “policing” to make sure everyone had something to eat, and, during the younger grades, that everyone was at least eating something, but parents were never questioned or chastised over the contents of their kids’ lunches. As I got older, I often preferred to read or continue working on schoolwork during lunch instead of eating, because in the younger grades, lunch was stressful–it was always rushed, and there were rules about eating your sandwich before your dessert, etc. In high school, lunch time was just a free period, and I liked that the best–I’d usually spend lunch time in high school in the music room, if I didn’t have student council or something then.

    Anyway, your daughter’s school was right out of line by saying that giving her a cheeseburger was “inappropriate.” First of all, it’s condescending, and second, it’s a parenting decision, and third, for a growing child who’s underweight, it’s not such a bad choice. Add an apple and/or some veggie sticks, and you have all the food groups covered. I think that sometimes, school officials take “in loco parentis” too seriously. I mean, the people at your daughter’s school don’t come into your house at breakfast and dinner, and harp on you if you give your kids Froot Loops or French fries as a treat, right? So, why should they get a say on what she eats for lunch, just because she happens to eat it at school? If you picked her up at lunch time for a Happy Meal run, they couldn’t complain about that, so this is really no different….except, I think your daughter might be the first person I’ve heard of who actually likes eating cold burgers.

  38. MichaelF February 13, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    Cause we all know cheeseburgers are the gateway drug.

    I definitely place this one in the so over the top its funny category.

  39. Warren February 13, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    They were not policing, the kids eat in class and the teacher saw it. There is no cafeteria at that school. You bring your own food.

    One of the things I ran into with the school is their dislike of leftovers. When in grade one, I was lectured by the vice prin. about freshly made lunches, as compared to leftovers. I got the feeling it had just as much to do with me being male, and the assumption that men do not know what is right for their kids.

    They were not fans of my kids bringing in leftovers, like the cheeseburger, pizza, chinese or whatever. When we had them. But once they realize that they cannot intimidate you into their plan, they back off.

    Heck my kids would take leftover spaghetti, or whatever. Things that needed reheating, they used the microwave. Most classes had them. They really didn’t like it when my youngest brought in chilli in gr 2, and proudly told her friends it was made with moose meat.

  40. Emily February 13, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    @Warren–Really? Your kids’ school had a problem with leftovers? So, a Thermos full of healthy chili (although I make mine vegan, and therefore free of moose meat), would be frowned upon, but a salt-and-preservative-laced Lunchable would be A-OK? I’ve seen a lot of websites that actually advocate packing leftovers in kids’ lunches, either as a time-saving measure, or as an alternative to yet another sandwich. That brings me to another point–if PBJ isn’t allowed, and you don’t want your kids eating processed lunch meat every day, then at some point, leftover chicken (or moose meat, in your case) from the previous night’s dinner, seems like a pretty good idea. Oh, and another thing–a school lunch that’s been packed in the morning (or the night before) and consumed at lunch time, isn’t exactly “fresh.” So, what’s the difference between packing a lunch for the next day, at 6 p.m. the night before, and making a batch of chili at that time, and packing a portion of that chili in the lunch boxes for the next day? It’s the same basic idea, except you just happened to make enough chili to serve for dinner as well. I don’t think the adults at your kids’ school are really thinking this through.

  41. Andy February 13, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    @Warren How is it possible to bring in freshly cooked lunch? You are supposed to cook it during school and then drive it there or what? It seems to me that if the kid is taking it with him in the morning, then it can not be freshly cooked for that lunch.

    We quite often cook for two days. I like cooking, but not enough to do it every day.

  42. Emily February 13, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    One more thing–I don’t think fast food is the problem in and of itself; it’s more the “fast life.” When you have people working such long hours that they have to eat fast food, or junk food from the vending machine, or go hungry, or when you have parents shoving a McDonald’s Happy Meal down their kid’s craw as they speed from ballet class to piano lessons to swimming, then removing the unhealthy food won’t entirely solve the problem. In this case, the problem is the economy–people having to work longer hours for less money, schools facing budget cuts, and “No Child Left Behind,” which means cuts to recess, gym, and the arts, as the kids are forced into a gulag of test-preparation, and grocery stores marking up their produce and lean meats and other healthy things, as high as they can get away with. If healthy food didn’t get so expensive in the winter, if all full-time jobs actually paid a living wage, and if all schools taught things like music, dance, and swimming/water safety (which most of us here at FRK is essential to keep a child safe in and around water), then people would be able to buy and cook healthy meals, kids would get a more comprehensive education at school (independent of what standardized tests say), and there’d be less need for the after school rush from one activity to the next (or the after school homework marathon), so kids would have more time to play outside, or draw, or pretend, or just be kids. As it is, I think society is supporting “fast-food” lifestyles much more than healthy ones, and so, it’s not really fair or effective to blame people for living that way–instead, we should be working on finding a solution, for everyone. If we just got rid of fast food, then that same hypothetical parent might be shoving, say, a Subway sandwich down their kid’s craw on the way from ballet class to piano lessons to swimming, which would still contribute to childhood obesity, because the child would still be taught to eat quickly, not savour their food, not listen to their body’s hunger and fullness signals, and that eating is a burdensome chore that we have to do so that we can get to piano more quickly. That’s not even looking at the fact that some of these “healthy” options are pretty heinous–I mean, a meatball sub or a tuna melt at some places can be just as unhealthy as a Big Mac, if not more.

  43. SOA February 13, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    bwahahhaha that is about as stupid as the “This is your brain on drugs” commercial from back in the day.

    I guess they can’t afford the good ad agencies to come up with something actually good.

  44. SOA February 13, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    I agree with others that it is mostly the inactivity that is hurting kids now. I am the only parent that walks to school both to and from in the morning almost. Most parents drop them right off at the door because the poor babies can’t walk more than 10 feet.

    Kids are not allowed outside much anymore. They are instead carted around to organized sports and activities that can provide exercise but sometimes not as much as just playing tag in the front yard.

    We also have changed our society where we think we got to be stuffing food in our kids faces constantly. Every little thing they want to involve food. So it makes it a nightmare for moms like me that has a kid with food allergies. Class party-food food food. Not just a cupcake and some chips, they want to serve an entire meal when the kids had lunch two hours before the party.

    If the kids have soccer practice they have to have a snack afterwards. They can’t just let the parents give the kid a snack in the car on the way home if they feel they need to. No, it has to be organized and everyone has to share the snack together.

    I think we need to move away from that mentality. My kids get their 3 meals a day and that is mostly it besides maybe a little snack of fruit or goldfish crackers here or there. They know not to bug me about food constantly.

  45. Lindsey February 13, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    I am autistic and I need my meat and potatoes if I dont eat meat and potatoes I would be stimming till midnight! Autistic children and ADHD children need meat and potatoes or else they would not slow down!

  46. Lindsey February 13, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    Also I would be hungry all the time if I dont eat meat and potatoes it fills me up!

  47. Donna February 13, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    I wonder if the school was anti-leftovers because the whole class can’t microwave lunches during lunch period. With only 20 minutes or so for lunch, there is no possible way that everyone in my daughter’s class could eat if everyone needed to heat up their lunch.

  48. Emily February 13, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    Somewhat quoting myself here, but I should have said that shoving ANYTHING (hamburger, McNuggets, Subway sandwich) down your child’s craw while rushing from ballet to piano to swimming, teaches that child that eating is a burdensome chore that we have to do to get to piano more quickly, AND that piano is a burdensome chore that we have to do in order to get into Harvard. After all, if piano was supposed to be fun, then it presumably wouldn’t be presented in the context of “rush, rush, rush, get it done.”

  49. SKL February 13, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    Someone mentioned bringing more physical activities into school. That would be great! I would love it if my kids could take gymnastics and karate etc. during aftercare. Currently they don’t offer any physical activities after school until 5th grade. Last spring they did have an outside dance school come in weekly for about 6 weeks, which was great, but I wish they’d do it year round and with more options. Or at least during the months when it’s nasty outside and the sun goes down before dinner time.

    I would like to think that other parents would eat this up as well. But honestly, I’m not sure.

  50. Donna February 13, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    I disagree that it is inactivity, although that plays a part. I think it is mostly sugar that is harming kids. Not cookies, cupcakes, candy, etc. Kids have always eaten them and the sugar in them is understood by parents. I mean all the hidden sugar in everything else that many people eat. Americans consume an average of 3.5 times the recommended amount of sugar each day. Even running marathons can’t burn it all off if parents are feeding kids a lot of processed foods.

    Prior generations didn’t eat all the processed food eaten today, so when their kids had a couple cookies each day, that was the bulk of their daily sugar intake. Today kids eat a couple hundred calories of sugar in their non-dessert food and then still eat the couple cookies.

  51. Warren February 13, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    The school basically expected my kids lunches to be more the norm. that the rest brought in. My kids were not like that. From day one they brought what they liked. I sometimes wondered if the other kids were complaining to their parents or something.
    Even when they would take a sandwich, it was on a good bun, usually a quality coldcut, like montreal smoked meat, or real turkey, nice cheese, tomatoe and lettuce. My family enjoys food, to us it is not just fuel.
    And their was plenty of time for warming, as our schools typically have a lunch period of 45 mins or more.

    I have always encouraged them to explore and enjoy food.
    The school just always took the road that left over burgers, pizza, and chinese was junk, and shouldn’t be apart of their lunch. Really only took two or so talks with the school to have them mind their own business.

  52. Warren February 13, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    Back on topic somewhat.

    The major factors with kids being overweight in my opinion are
    1. Convenience of prepared foods.
    2. Inactivity.
    3. Not enough water.
    4. Parents that cannot say no.
    5. Parents that think kids MUST eat. Far too many kids are forced to eat inbetween activities.

  53. Donna February 13, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    6. Ridiculous portion sizes
    7. Obsession with snacks and constant grazing

  54. kate February 13, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    It is not the occasional hamburger or junk food that is causing obesity, it is that we are surrounded by junk food all the time. Somewhere along the way, parents seemed to get the idea that kids cannot wait half an hour to be fed. When we were kids, no one would feed their child half an hour before dinner, it would “spoil your appetite”. Now kids seem to be fed whatever they want on demand. And we wonder why they won’t eat a healthy supper?!

    I think I am seen as a neglectful parent because I don’t pack snacks for every outing and I am the only one I know that does not allow eating in the car or during routine errands. Parents have sent their kids to my home with a bag of snacks so they won’t get hungry.

  55. lollipoplover February 13, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    My kids really dislike fast food. They are very unique in their tastes and preferences but all 3 turn their noses at the thought of a fast food meal. Part of it may be the anti-junk food message from schools and TV but they do like their treats (fruit popsicles, rice krispie treats)- we give them one a day.

    Something I do have a problem with- school messages about eating healthy/eat the rainbow in health class and no treats allowed for birthdays- but they have school spirit night fundraisers at Chick-fill-a and want everyone to attend.
    We don’t go.
    And the school lunch menu? Corn dogs, nachos, traveling tacos (taco meat inside a bag of Doritos), burgers, and chicken fingers. They don’t buy lunch either.

  56. Emily February 13, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    @Warren–Wow, your kids’ school spends so much time nit-picking parents for thinking slightly outside of the box; it’s a wonder that they have enough time to educate the kids…..unless they paradoxically try to interfere with parenting decisions, while simultaneously farming the “education” part of school out to the parents, with multiple hours of homework each night. Sadly, with the level of crazy that you’ve described in this thread, and in other threads, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they did just that. But, as for the food thing, would the school seriously prefer you to send PBJ/processed lunch meat on white bread, and other “traditional” school lunch box offerings, if your kids aren’t going to eat them? I mean, they’re the ones who’d have to deal with hungry, inattentive kids all afternoon, if they didn’t eat their food. So, you’re doing the right thing, even if it doesn’t quite match with what “everyone else” is doing.

  57. Donna February 13, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

    @kate – One of my friends totally does that. She feeds her kids dinner too late so they are hungry long before dinner, she then lets them eat junk right up until dinner, and then wonders why her kids never eat their dinner. It bugs me every time we go over there for dinner because I am telling my kid no while her kids are walking around with candy bars.

  58. Kimberly Herbert February 13, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    Maybe we could make a similar ad equating locking kids in school for 8+ hours with no exercise with something horrible. (At least Texas requires physical activity each day at school).

    I’m a teacher and can count on one hand the times I’ve contacted parents about lunch issues.
    1. Kid already skinny as a rail was refusing lunch and getting all the other girls to swear not to eat so they could diet together.

    2. Kid on medication for a medical issue (NOT ADHD) would turn green at the sight of lunch, but an hour later be starving. We arranged (504ed) for him to not get a tray at lunch, but go get one a hour later and eat it in the room during lessons. During lunch he would sit with his friends and talk, kid around with them. (This was elementary and all 4th grade math classes are at the same time so switching teachers wasn’t an option. Also he was GT and we only had 1 GT cluster class)

    3. Kid was showing up with a sack of ding dongs, and chips as his lunch. Knew the Mom – and either she had had a 180 personality change or something was up. He was stealing money from her purse and buying the junk. Hell rained down from on high he had to sell some of his video games to pay mom back the money he stole.

    4. Kid was a vegetarian. Parents were not. They had consulted her doctor and a nutritionist to do this right. Problem was an aid that monitored lunch. She was hassling the poor kid, who could more than stand up for herself. After the aid refused to drop it – and admin kind of backed her (Texas the beans have meat in them), I called the family and they sent (at my recommendation) a sternly worded letter about pressuring their child to eat meat. No more problem.

  59. hineata February 13, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    @Warren – your kids’ school was/is (?) totally bizarre. We tend to focus on making sure the kids actually have some calories of some variety in their lunchboxes, and we’ll take any variety (though obviously encouraging healthy stuff). We have a fruit break anyway, with fruit donated by parents and/or a local store, so the kids get at least some fresh fruit daily.

    Speaking of leftovers, when I was pregnant with the first, one of the five year olds in my NE class was Indian, and his mum made wonderful samosas etc., which he would refuse to eat because he didn’t want to be different from the other kids. All the cultural diff stuff didn’t make any impression on him :-), so in the end I used to give him my sandwiches and eat his lunch, which was so much better than mine, LOL! And the seventeen year old loves Indian food (still, he loves anything spicy…).

  60. SOA February 13, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    What someone else said about not enough water. My kids are some of the only kids I know that don’t drink a bunch of sugary sodas, juices, etc. They drink milk with meals and water the rest of the time. No sodas ever. They can occasionally at parties or at the movies, etc have lemonade or koolaid to drink. Sometimes rarely orange juice.

    Kids need to learn to drink plain water. If you have them do it as a baby, it will be perfectly natural to them. Don’t start out giving them apple juice. Give them water.

  61. Randy February 13, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

    So extreme it all but invites backlash. This is not helpful to the discussion.

  62. Lindsey February 13, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

    I believe young children are meant to eat meat not fruits and vegetables!

  63. Steve February 13, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

    Part of the increasing obesity is portion size. How many others remember when the quarter pounder was the LARGE burger. Now, at many places the small burger is the third pounder

  64. Reziac February 13, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

    Someone says:
    Actually, the worst thing about this ad is that it acnowledges no in-betweens. There’s either “good food” or “bad food”, and that’s that.

    And that’s the problem. It’s just like all the other overprotective nonsense. Either you’re bubble-wrapping your kid, or they’re neglected. Either you’re feeding them perfectly, or it’s all garbage. What happened to moderation??

    As to what’s actually healthy or not… the craze for high fibre (by definition *devoid* of nutrition) and the obsession with low fat are the two causes of the ‘obesity epidemic’. Your primary calories have to come from somewhere just to survive, and if it’s not fat, it’s carbohydrates (which includes ALL types of sugars). Trouble is, we didn’t evolve to gracefully handle a high carb diet, hence obesity and Type II Diabetes.

    An important article that lays it all out:

    A blog from a doctor who makes this his primary concern:

    A lot of the U.S. (and probably the world) has not been hit by obesity, and has not yet seen routinely-obese children. But I lived in SoCal for 28 years, and there, chubby teens are the norm, and increasingly, even preschoolers are overweight. I’ve seen 5 year old kids who weigh close to 100 pounds, and could barely move. I’ve seen 8YOs who weigh 150 pounds. Not just once, but often enough to realise the problem has arrived at all ages. If kids don’t get enough protein and fat, they crave sweets instead, and that messes up the insulin response, which in turn leads to laying down fat instead of burning calories. Sedentary lifestyles don’t help, but even vigorous exercise burns very few calories compared to what it takes just to stay alive. Sources matter, because how they’re processed by the body differs. Cut the fat and chances are you will gain weight.

    [My background is biochemistry. I actually grok this stuff, which is all just first-year biochem material.]

  65. Warren February 13, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

    Have gone to bat over a few things with the schools. Like I said with the lunches it may have been some of her classmates bothering their parents about their lunches. The why can Warren’s daughter have pizza or chinese food when we don’t type of thing.
    See Thurs. nite was treat nite. Since I did all the cooking, and payday was Thurs. (my old employer still to this day pays by check) by the time I made it to the bank and then home, I did not feel like cooking. So it would be pizza, subs, or whatever on Thurs. So every Fri, the kids had great leftover lunches. And I got a break.

    Gone to bat with the school on various things. It can be a pain, but when it comes down to it, they back off.

  66. Warren February 13, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    Our family doctor and I have laughed at the dietary crazes over the years. High this, low that, more, less, no this, only that……………and so on.

    Nothing to date beats a balanced diet, and staying active.

  67. Emily February 13, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

    @Warren–Wow, you’re batting a thousand in this thread (is that the right baseball term for perfect? I’m not a sports person). Anyway, I totally agree about the “fad diets” thing–first it was low fat, then low carb, then local everything, and vegetarian/veganism has peaked and waned in popularity over the years as well. I’m vegan, but that’s for ethical reasons, not for health reasons, or because “everyone else” is doing it. I also get annoyed with people whose whole lives revolve around eating healthy, and who try to be “holier-than-thou,” or “healthier-than-thou.” So, eating mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat, plant-based proteins isn’t enough–instead, I need to be eating local, free-range, fair-trade, pesticide-free everything, available only on Saturday mornings at the local farmer’s market, for five times the supermarket price. Umm, sorry, that doesn’t work for me, I have yoga then. Apparently, I’m also supposed to swear off all pop, even diet, and never, EVER consume sugar, or caffeine–nope, it’s nothing but honey, agave nectar and green tea for them. Generic vitamins are no good; they’re full of chemicals, and I “just need to get informed,” and buy the vitamins that are $100 per bottle instead of $10. It’s not good enough that I exercise daily, and practice and teach yoga; apparently, I should be doing Crossfit, and also meditating every day. The worst is the “sanctimommy” crowd, because their poor kids are going to be set up for a lifetime of being denied Halloween candy, birthday cake, Popsicles after swimming (or running through the sprinkler) on a summer day, and so many other simple joys of childhood. Anyway, I’m sure that some doctors, somewhere, endorse some of this, for some people, under some circumstances, but when people try to do it all at once, or surf from one fad to the next, that’s when it gets a little neurotic. Also, not to be sexist, but has anyone else noticed that there’s no popular vernacular for the male/father equivalent of the sanctimommy? That seems a little telling to me.

  68. SKL February 14, 2014 at 12:01 am #

    Well, don’t forget that the media has made parents fear to ever tell their kids that they can’t have more food. If they ever say no, their children will surely develop anorexia or bulemia and end up dead.

    I am in a sub-community where childhood obesity is rampant. Our kids are getting to the age where they are feeling bad about themselves and getting teased in school etc. Parents are now talking like this is a big shock and surprise. 6 years ago I asked a question about ways to work on my baby’s chubbiness, and I was accused of child neglect, not loving my child, and having my own pathological food/body issues. No, I just had enough foresight to know that if I let things go, my kid would have to deal with all kinds of unpleasantness once she was school age. So anyway, now people are asking what they should do, and at this age, nobody wants to do anything drastic because (a) their kids are still growing and (b) they are afraid of the emotional damage of actually admitting to their kids that they are too heavy.

    I am sorry that the path I took was/is so scary and unpopular. That is, to be willing to give the child something different from what she requested – water instead of more milk, carrots instead of more mac’n’cheese, a walk on her legs instead of a ride in a stroller/car. Even daring to talk about the reasons for my food choices.

  69. SOA February 14, 2014 at 8:13 am #

    Lindsey: That is an ignorant belief. A healthy vegetarian diet or even vegan diet is perfectly okay if done properly. The problem is not all vegetarians or vegans eat the proper amount of protein but it can be done.

    As long as the kid is doing so then there is nothing wrong with it. I am a vegetarian and have been since I was 14. I did it by my choice. I don’t eat properly but that is my own fault.

    I know plenty of vegetarians who do eat properly and they are all super healthy. I have friends who are a seventh day adventist family and their religion promotes vegetarianism. They are all super healthy and not a single one of them is chubby.

  70. pentamom February 14, 2014 at 8:16 am #

    Agreeing with Warren (it IS a red letter day.) For all the criticisms that could be made of the traditional (I mean really traditional, as in pre-1970) American diet, and the improvements that could be made to it, funny thing is that back in the day when we DIDN’T worry so much about the details, we had less obesity and less Type II at young ages. As I said it wasn’t perfect and some changes were necessary, but all this obsessiveness seems to have gained us exactly nothing, in the aggregate. Maybe a little more “meat and potatoes but don’t forget your vegetables and don’t eat between meals” would actually be an improvement over where we are now. (That’s not to say that there aren’t specific people for whom that’s really a bad idea. I’m just saying that back in the day when that was the norm, were we really *worse* off in the aggregate?)

  71. Donna February 14, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    pentamom – But back in the day, we ate pretty much homemade food in reasonable portion-sizes. Processed foods were a rarity as was going out to dinner and nothing was super-sized. So my vote would be to truly go back to a 1950’s diet – eat whatever you want that is made from scratch and in appropriate single serving sizes – and throw a couple veggies on the side; a mid-afternoon snack of something other than chips and candy is fine but constantly snacking isn’t.

    As much as I agree that we are too obsessed with diet and that is doing more harm than good, I do think that just about everyone in the US needs to buy a food scale and measuring cups and take the time to actually measure out every meal to the proper single serving sizes for awhile just so that we can educate ourselves as to proper portion size because we truly have no clue whatsoever anymore.

  72. SKL February 14, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    There’s a natural law that says the more you focus on something, the more you get of that.

    We’ve been focusing on obesity / overeating too much, and you can tell by looking at us.

    The long-term solution isn’t to tell people what they can’t have. It’s to teach kids from babyhood to understand that they should eat wonderful food, in balance, *until they are satisfied.* Period. Except for a few people who have metabolic or sensory problems, this is enough.

  73. pentamom February 14, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    Donna — I do agree. Portion size is a lot of the problem.

    I guess I’m thinking something like this: not that we should go back to eating WHAT we ate back in the day the WAY we eat now, but that we should (or at least could, without any net loss and probably some gain) go back to eating WHAT we ate then the WAY we ate then. IMO at least in my generation, nutrition in those days got a really bad rap. The worst thing you could was eat the way your mom did. But it turns out we’ve just made it worse, and all focus on this thing over here that is “power food” or is “bad” and that thing over there is just a distraction from the fact that our whole attitude toward food and how we take it in is messed up.

    Another thing is eating circumstances. I know people get annoyed at talking about how families (however constituted) eating regular meals together is really better, because you hear about how some people are “too busy just surviving” and so forth. Well, I understand that, but no one screams that you’re not allowed to tell people to exercise, which takes time, or a lot of other things that are promoted for well-being, because people are just “too busy surviving.” Eating in a more regular, relaxed fashion is really essential to eating well and shouldn’t be waved away. If someone really can’t do it, that’s really unfortunate, but that doesn’t mean it really isn’t better to do that way, and that we can’t say it.

  74. BL February 14, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    While I have no doubt there are *some* people “too busy just surviving”, I have trouble believing it’s commonplace as long as there are 300 stations on cable TV, most of them supported by commercial advertising. Somebody (a lot of somebodys) has time to watch them.

  75. C. S. P. Schofield February 14, 2014 at 10:19 am #


    “Prior generations didn’t eat all the processed food eaten today”

    This is only true if you go back to before World War II. Processed food started appearing in the American diet around the Civil War, and had become a major part of daily life by the 1950’s. The “It’s all the sugar in processed food” narrative doesn’t match the observed trends in Obesity. It probably doesn’t HELP, but it seems unlikely to be that cause.

    Now, I have observed (my Lady is both lactose and gluten intolerant) that processed foods that come from “Health conscious” labels, or which are touted as low fat, low salt, or in some other ‘healthy’ way non-standard, are MUCH sweeter then what they are to replace.

    Make of it what you will.

  76. Donna February 14, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    Most people are “too busy surviving” the life that they’ve created for themselves. Cut back on the lifestyle and it becomes a whole lot easier to survive.

    Although I have to admit that our dining room table broke while it was in storage (you’d think a moving company would have understood that you can’t store a 300 lb tv on a table for 2 years), so we now eat all our meals in front of the TV. It is such a bad habit.

  77. Andy February 14, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    @ C. S. P. Schofield Low fat low salt label means exactly that. It does not mean low calories and that is why it tastes sweet – there is a lot of sugar in it.

    Which is the main difference between “old” and “new” processed food. Current one contains much more sugar. Corn sugar is cheaper and fat was considered as the main cause of all bad at some point.

    If you eat a bag of sugar, it is going to be low fat low salt too. It will not be healthy in any way.

  78. SKL February 14, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    I think the whole “eat every meal together around a table” thing is just another way to guilt moms whose life is not picture perfect.

    There are plenty of healthy people who take their meals when and how they can. In my most healthy period of life, I used to stand in the coffee room at work and eat fruits, yogurt, cereal bars, and carrots on my breaks.

  79. Donna February 14, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    @C.S.P – Yes, processed foods started in about the 1950s, however, they were not the main components of every meal. Store-bought sliced bread, cereals, lunch meats and the like were very common, but most parts of the meal were still made from scratch. Even in my childhood in the 70s, processed meals were the exception rather than the rule at all my friend’s houses. The occasional taco shell and jarred pasta sauce but that was really it. Not like today where I know many kids who eat nothing other than items that come from the freezer or a box.

  80. Andy February 14, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    @pentamom I do not know much about traditional food in USA,but traditional food in here is fattening a lot.

    The thing is, what we remember as traditional food is often

    a.) traditional special occasion food eaten once in a while,
    b.) traditional winter time food designed to pack in as much fat as possible.

    It is not only that we do less physical labor. It is also that our houses and cars have better heating and clothes are better too, so we do not need that much calories to survive the winter.

    The meat was expensive and most people did not ate it every day. Cake was not something you could buy in supermarket for cheap every day, someone had to spend time doing it. My grandparents attitudes towards food were formed during second world war and it was not exactly the time of overeating.

    You did not needed special self control in order to be thin, most people stayed thin just by eating everything that was on plate. “Eat everything that is on the plate” was good rule to teach children.

    Even when I was a kid, neither elementary nor high school had buffet selling sweat things. It was either eat lunch or bring it with you and buying it was expensive for me anyway. I did not needed self control or ability to say “no” to offered food in order to stay thin.

    Calories are cheaper now and everywhere around easily available. I have cheap instant access to infinite amount of chips if I want to. Environment changed fast, but society changes much more slowly.

  81. lollipoplover February 14, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    The problem with processed, unhealthy foods and fast foods is their heavy advertising budgets, especially to children, they’re in every store (can’t go into a gas station without a chip display or a Target without the food court right at the front of the store), and they offer attractive, low pricing. Think Dollar Menu. It becomes a constant battle of willpower both for parents and children.

    This ad still bothers me because it puts all the power in the mom’s hands- and yes, parents definitely shape the eating habits (and exercise/activity habits) of young kids but why can’t we transfer some of it to the kids? Educating kids at early ages on where food comes from (not just the processing plants, the farming, transportation, biology of food) and include them in family menu planning (and takeout/dining out choices)so they can take on the responsiblity of making wise food choices. Growing a garden (and eating fresh strawberries that need to be consumed within hours or they rot) and comparing them to the ones that are perpetually red for days sold in the grocery store. Helping kids understand their nutritional requirements and what foods they enjoy are solid choices and ones to limit.

    And I could still REALLY go for a burger right now- we can’t even see our grill, it’s under a few feet of snow.

  82. SKL February 14, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    OK, I read the links in Steve’s post, and there is not one thing in there that can’t be accomplished without daily family sit-down meals.

    What if your family customs and values don’t center around old family recipes? Is that really a problem? What if your kids are from a completely different heritage and you have zero interest in learning to cook and eat the food from that culture? What if you don’t find from-scratch cooking enjoyable in the least?

    What about the time spent learning together, reading together, traveling together, exercising together, worshiping together, attending cultural events together, etc.? None of that negates that fact that you eat dinner on the fly every Tuesday night? Or that you let Panera do the cooking on Thursdays?

    That time spent packing healthy lunches while my kids are eating breakfast must also be destroying them, bit by bit.

    Or is it the concern that we must be watching TV and drinking soda if we aren’t in the kitchen eating a roast chicken? If I say we don’t watch TV or drink soda, should that ease the guilt a little?


  83. Stacy February 14, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    Hilariously over-the-top. My high-metabolism very active boy couldn’t live on “healthy” food if one hamburger is comparable to heroin. His pediatrician recommends peanut butter sandwiches and milkshakes to keep up his weight. I don’t feel bad that about once a month he consumes a double cheeseburger and large fries. Moderation and physical activity are all that any kid needs, no matter their body type, but some of us have to consume more fat and calories to maintain a healthy weight.

    Regardless, it odd that there is so much focus now on the physical, including healthy foods and obsessive safety, not on minds and souls.

  84. SKL February 14, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Maybe the “eat dinner together” is based on the idea that food is the only thing that will attract dads to whatever their kids are doing. Well, lots of families don’t have a dad in the picture, so that’s not relevant to everyone. (Of course it goes without saying that unmarried moms have ruined their kids regardless.)

  85. Warren February 14, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    I have found that most of those who claim they do not have time to cook, are the ones that do not know how to cook. So many people have no concept of how long it takes to cook things, either because of lack of knowledge or fear of under cooking.

  86. Donna February 14, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    Andy – I think pentamom means common every day food in America, not traditional food per se.

    For America that would vary considerably based on region, but baked chicken, pork chops, stew, spaghetti, hamburgers, mashed potatoes and gravy would be typical examples.

  87. Rob O. February 14, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    I loathe the guilt-mongering that’s creeping into society, but at the same time, maybe this kind of overt, slap in the face message is exactly the wakeup call that some apathetic parents really do need.

    I still see plenty of very little children showing up before school with a Cinnabon as big as their head and a Monster drink for breakfast. Or an 18 oz chocolate milk and an order of Sonic French Toast sticks. The parents who thoughtlessly give their kids rocket fuel to start the day need to be flogged.

    Sure, I have to resort to shortcuts sometimes too, but I make sure that what I send my son out the door with is at least nutritionally dense. With minimal effort, he probably gets exponentially more protein than 90% of the other kids in his class.

  88. Papilio February 14, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Wow. I’m glad this discussion has shifted from whining over the form of an ad to discussing the actual problem brought up by the ad. Sheesh, all I see it saying is that junkfood is not healthy food kids should eat every day, and given that neither you, Lenore, nor your kids are obese (and the FRK commenters are presumably generally middle and upper class and therefore smart enough to know this message already, too) I’d say it’s fairly easy to deduct that this ad isn’t aiming at you. So why take it so personally???

    Junkfood is not healthy food. It generally contains too much fat, sugar, salt, conserving chemicals and too little minerals, vitamines and other useful ‘building blocks’ a child needs to grow up healthy and reach his/her potential height and intelligence (yes, yes, among other things). So, is low quality food a contributor to bad health? Yes, certainly. Are ridiculously big portions a factor? Yes, certainly. Is lack of exercise a factor? Yes, certainly. They all play a role, therefore they all are a problem that needs to be addressed.
    I see this ad as an attempt to address one of them, though admittedly a bit over the top.

  89. Emily February 14, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    @Donna–Actually, you don’t really need measuring cups to measure standard portion sizes. I’ve read that you can use your hands–a palm is the size of a portion of meat, a thumb is the size of a portion of cheese, a fist is the size of a portion of rice, pasta, potatoes, or similar starchy foods, and I forget what it is for fruits and vegetables, but nobody’s going to get fat from eating those.

  90. Amanda Matthews February 14, 2014 at 12:35 pm #


    “I have found that most of those who claim they do not have time to cook, are the ones that do not know how to cook. So many people have no concept of how long it takes to cook things, either because of lack of knowledge or fear of under cooking.”

    That, and the fear of having kids help cook, or even be in the kitchen. Or maybe the idea that kids can’t help.

    I have had several people tell me that they would rather stop at McDonalds after work, so that they can have a little more time with their children. That the kids can’t really help, but would only be pretending to help and would make more of a mess, which they (the parents) would have to spend more time cleaning up. That cooking and eating on plates would mean more time washing dishes away from the kids.


    If parents don’t want their kids buying soda at all, yet can’t deal with that between them and their child, they should stop sending an allowance. That’s something that is parents’ job to deal with, not yours.

  91. Donna February 14, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    Emily – I realize that, but honestly, Americans are so out-of-whack with portion sizes that it would be best to see EXACTLY a serving size rather than estimating. Besides, that is really only good for some things. Eyeballing a half cup serving of mac&cheese or a casserole is more difficult, especially when we are used to being served 3 times that amount.

    I don’t think it is something needed forever. Just until they get used to seeing what an actual serving size looks like.

  92. Emily February 14, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    @Rob O.–Are you a teacher or a principal? When you talked about “seeing kids arriving at school with large Cinnabons and energy drinks for breakfast,” and seeing a lot of this, I got the sense that you worked in a school, in some capacity or another. So, what I wanted to ask you was, does your school serve breakfast? Maybe if the school started serving healthy breakfasts (simple, portable things like juice boxes, fruit, toast/bagels, protein bars, trail mix, and MAYBE cereal if there’s time to sit down), and publishing the breakfast menus in advance, then the parents would either start sending their kids to school in time for breakfast, or they’d get an idea of what a quick and healthy breakfast is.

    I mean, maybe they’re doing the Monster drink/Sonic/Cinnabon thing now, because they have the misconception that a “healthy breakfast” is a big, elaborate, Leave It To Beaver-style meal, with eggs, pancakes, bacon, orange juice, etc., etc., etc. Maybe they don’t have the time, money, or energy to do that regularly, and maybe their kids couldn’t stomach it if they did, so they get overwhelmed, and run for the drive-thru instead. Now, neither of the Cleaver boys (or their fictitious friends) were obese, but that’s probably because they walked to school, Boy Scouts, and their various sports practices and games, and they spent their spare time playing outside. However, a quickie drive-thru breakfast typical of a rushed, micromanaged, bubble-wrapped kid, can rival the Leave It To Beaver breakfast in terms of calories, while being almost completely devoid of protein, fibre, vitamins, and the other good things that kids (and adults) need to fuel them through their day.

    However, I think the “junk breakfasts” are a blessing in disguise. First of all, the parents are at least seeing the importance of feeding their kids breakfast, or else they wouldn’t bother–if their child didn’t want breakfast, they wouldn’t try to placate them with French Toast sticks and whatnot; they’d just let it go. Second, the fact that these “junk breakfasts” are showing up at school, helps to get the conversation started. The parents are probably frazzled enough in the mornings, so you could pitch the school breakfast program as a way to save time and money (one fewer stop in the morning, on the way to school and then work, and no more paying inflated prices for a fast-food or convenience-mart breakfast). That way, the parents wouldn’t feel judged; they’d feel like the school was trying to work with them. Even if the breakfast program cost money, the per-child cost of something like that would be much less than a Cinnabon run every morning.

  93. Emily February 14, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    Edited to add: I think that school meal programs (both breakfast and lunch) should be optional, but providing and publicizing the option would be a subtle and non-judgemental way to educate parents on what constitutes a healthy, convenient, and palatable breakfast or lunch for their child.

  94. J.T. Wenting February 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    “Weight is a real fricking struggle for me. A constant struggle. And I’m sick of these ads that equate obesity with unhealthy eating. I EAT healthy. I am obese. I’m not uneducated about health. I’m so freaking over educated on what I should and shouldn’t eat, when I should eat it and how much. I’m not lazy. I’m not gluttonous. I watch every little piece of food that goes in my mouth. I track every calorie and monitor my fat/carbs/fiber. And I’ve been doing this for YEARS with no results. These ads just perpetuate the stereotypes that overweight and obese people are gluttonous junk food eating nit wits! And while I’m sure that does exist too…I know way more people like me than I do like the stereotypes insinuate.”

    I’m with you. Pretty much the same here. After a traffic accident left me incapable of cycling 20 miles a day, hiking 10 miles a day, and swimming 3 hours a week I started bloating despite cutting my diet way back.
    I eat about a third of what most people do, exercise when and what little I can (hike a few hundred meters, swim half a lap, or bike for a kilometer and my knees and back hurt like hell), no candy, no soda, very little fruit and juice (I try to avoid all sugar…), tried over a dozen different diets for long periods, nothing works.
    Medical diets that are supposed to make you lose a pound a day make me lose less than a pound a week, and the moment I stop the diet it’s all back on in days (think gaining almost more weight per day than I eat per day, total).
    Yet without ever asking, people assume “oh you must be a lazy sod who eats way too much. Just cut down on the burgers and chocolate, you glutton”.
    And that includes my physicians.

  95. pentamom February 14, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    “Sheesh, all I see it saying is that junkfood is not healthy food kids should eat every day, ”

    How can that be all you see it saying when it is clearly saying that a hamburger is in some relevant way like heroin? That’s not anything we’re just inferring, that’s the *intended* message of the commercial.

    It’s not the idea that people should feed their kids healthy food that anyone is objecting to, it’s the over the top, dishonest, and ultimately counter-productive way of doing it.

  96. hineata February 14, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    @Emily – if you believe the Jamie Oliver cooking show, school food is a part of the problem in the US anyway, not a solution. Of course it’s TV, but one so-called dietician insisted that his healthy salad meal had to be served with chips, because he didn’t have enough vegetables. Evidently she seriously considered chips a vegetable!

    And portion sizes do appear to be crazy out of whack. Thought my
    rellies were joking when they said on a trip to the US that they routinely ordered one meal between the four of them (two were only children) but then an American cafe opened in our city, and while I enjoyed the food, I had to get just the one meal for me and the kids. It was not physically possible for one person to eat all the food on the plate….unless that person was engaged in heavy laboring work, maybe, and not many are these days.

  97. Donna February 14, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    hineata – Our local school lunches are not that bad. No chips served, except occasionally Sun Chips. The lunches appear to have improved nutritionally in the years we were gone, however, they also taste like cardboard now and my daughter won’t eat them. And she is a veggie eating kid so it is not that they’ve become healthier; they just taste like crap.

    But the breakfasts can be awful. They regularly serve “fortified donuts.” Now if someone is really uneducated about nutrition enough to be looking at the school breakfast menu for nutritious food ideas and sees “fortified donuts,” they are totally going right down the road to Dunkin Donuts to buy a dozen and feeding their kid a donut every day. I don’t even know what a fortified donut is!

  98. bmj2k February 14, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    Yes, great ad, because of course heroin and burgers are just as bad. Typical reactionary scare tactics.

  99. SKL February 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    School lunches – this varies around the country. They are still pretty bad around here. Perhaps not the worst ever, but significant degrees worse than what I pack.

    My kids’ school doesn’t serve breakfast.

    I manage to feed my kids reasonable breakfasts despite the mad rush that our morning often is. I can’t imagine a situation where it would be quicker to buy them fast food on the way to school.

  100. lollipoplover February 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    @Emily- I couldn’t pay my kids to eat either the school breakfasts (for kids in morning care) or to buy any of the lunch offerings. The food is reheated and gross. Maybe it’s different here, but our district pays an outside contractor for food service to be cheaper and it’s not cooked on premise, just reheated. And it’s served directly on reusable plastic trays that are dripping with bleachy chemicals. Healthy? Maybe. But not at all appetizing.

    Besides, kids can make their own breakfast. Mine love hot oatmeal with bananas or a greek yogurt and fruit. Not hard for them to prepare and eat. Cereal and milk isn’t rocket science either. My kids wake up ridiculously early. Always have. And they are very good at making good food choices given healthy ingredients. But my oldest will still eat cold pizza for breakfast whenever he gets the chance.

  101. SOA February 14, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    We don’t really do sit down family perfect meals and I don’t feel bad about it. Try feeding our family. I dare you. We have a child with a peanut allergy. A husband with a shellfish allergy and lactose intolerance. A vegetarian wife. Find something that we all can eat. There is not much we all can eat and like to eat. Plus I hate to cook and have a small kitchen.

    So my husband cooks his own meals since he is big on high protein low carb meals for weight loss and getting cut. I eat what I want. I fix meals for the kids. We eat sometimes at the same time but not the same things. Often times though we eat at different times. I don’t think it means a damn thing. My kids are super thin and both of them have six packs because of exercise for 6 year olds! My husband is super hot too. I am the only one who has pounds to lose.

    We would rather spend our time together reading or doing homework or playing outside or watching a movie together or cuddling or whatever. We don’t feel we are missing much with the perfect family meals. Because they are kinda impossible. No way to feed all of us the same thing and us all be happy.

  102. SOA February 14, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    I would not judge the kids eating “Junk” breakfasts. For my son with autism it is eat a pop tart or he won’t eat anything. He hates breakfast for whatever reason. I think he gets it from me. I hate eating when I first wake up too. I like to be up for 2 hours or so before I feel like eating.

    But with school starting at 8:10 he does not get that two hours. So its get him to eat anything like a chocolate pop tart or chocolate chip muffins or let him go to school on a completely empty stomach. He does eat healthier stuff but not first thing in the morning on school days. He sometimes will eat one slide of wheat toast with butter if I can harass him enough.

    I talked to the teachers and they agreed it is better to give him anything he will eat than nothing at all. We also sent in some snacks for the teachers to give him later in the day if he gets hungry.

    So a lesson to everyone out there. You don’t know everyone’s story or situation, so don’t judge unless you know them very closely.

  103. Warren February 14, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Sorry but all your going’s on about how your family eats just sounds like a long list of excuses. One’s that are just easier for you to give up on, instead of fix.

    My youngest daughter, now 14, was not one to eat as soon as she got up, but was hungry by the time class started. So she started getting up half an hour earlier, and eating a light breakfast before leaving. There are always ways. Other than I cannot be bothered.

    The whole time with the kids thing is laziness disguised. Before my kids were old enough to help, they would be hanging around me, telling me about their day, listening about mine, or doing homework at the kitchen table.
    Fresh cooking does not take that long. I can have a homemade spaghetti sauce, the pasta, and a salad on the table in 30 mins. from the time I get home. It would take people that long, to get to McDonald’s, wait in line, order and pay.

  104. Andy February 14, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    @Donna Those things does not sound terribly unhealthy or fattening to me. It of course depends on how much additional unnecessary fat you put in. I would not consider baked chicken, stew, mashed potatoes or gravy to be especially fattening. Pork chops little bit.

    That kind of food with occasional hamburger (real American hamburger, not McDonald one) does not sound that bad to me.

  105. Andy February 14, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    @SKL My solution to problem you described (not wanting to cook and wanting to do something else) is to cook things that either require as little work as possible (baked chicken/spaghetti) or as little time as possible. E.g. put it in pot and wait or in wok and stir for less then 10 minutes. Plus as someone mentioned, you can talk with family or read or watch tv during most of that time.

    Cooking does not have to take whole evening. An average dinner has to be reasonably good, it does not have to be elaborate masterpiece.

  106. Donna February 14, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    Andy – Back in the day there were a lot of breading, frying, and unhealthy add-ins involved, more in the south probably. But, no, it really isn’t bad if you just eat one serving and not a chicken breast the size of your head. And if you make it from scratch rather than relying on a lot of prepared marinades and boxed/frozen side dishes filled with plenty of crap.

  107. Emily February 14, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    @SOA–If your son doesn’t want to eat first thing in the morning, how about a fruit smoothie instead? I make mine with frozen berries, soy milk, sweetener, and a bit of spinach, which sounds like it would ruin the smoothie, but the berries mask the flavour entirely. If you gave him that, plus something with protein and fibre, like whole wheat crackers with peanut butter, and if he was willing to eat it, then that’d make a much better breakfast than a Pop-Tart. It’d also be portable (if you put the smoothie in a plastic water bottle or a reusable “take out” style cup), and easier for a still-sleepy, not-hungry child, than being confronted with a big bowl of cereal, or a plate of toast and eggs.

  108. Donna February 14, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    Really it breaks down to whether or not it is a priority for you. There are ways that even the busiest person can eat home cooked meals every meal. It simply takes planning and desire.
    I definitely can’t say that I cook nice, healthy meals every day, but I do know that it is because I didn’t really want to and not because I can’t no matter how busy I get.

  109. pentamom February 14, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    First, I didn’t say “perfect” family meals and I didn’t say anything about everyone having to eat the same thing.

    I just believe that eating according to some established routine rather than catch-as-catch-can is more conducive to healthy eating. You seem to manage anyway, but I’d suggest that for the average person, having regular meals together *promotes* healthy eating. I didn’t say it was impossible any other way, and your situation doesn’t make my point wrong.

  110. pentamom February 14, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    Sorry, that last was for SOA.

  111. pentamom February 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Sure, SKL, because my life is picture perfect, just like lots and lots of other people with perfect lives, so I’m really interested in making people feel guilty who aren’t. Just this morning, I woke up and thought, “There are too many people out there who aren’t as perfect as me, how can I make them feel guilty about it today?” /sarc

    I didn’t think anyone would think I meant *every* meal since no one does that and practically no one ever has. But as a regular practice, yes. That doesn’t mean my kids don’t miss meals at home for some planned activity now and then, or that we don’t have some of those grab and go meals, but our normal habit is sitting down together for one meal a day, more on weekends.

    And yes, of course you CAN eat healthy in other ways. But the breakdown of mealtimes is a contributing factor in the bad relationship we now have with food. That doesn’t mean I think that people who eat alone or away from the table are doing something bad, just that a change in habits has (collectively) led to a poorer approach to eating.

  112. SOA February 14, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    Warren: Yeah I mean I can fix autism and food allergies. Oh wait….no you can’t. Till you have my exact kids, your opinion means crap. As I said my son has a freaking six pack of cut abs. So tell me again why him eating a pop tart is a problem again? I guarantee he is probably in better shape than you. Now if he was fat, sure, let’s figure out something but as long as he is skinny with a muscular body I don’t see the issue.

  113. SOA February 14, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

    Oh yeah and Warren-sure its easy when your family can all eat the exact same meal. Can you cook 3 separate meals in 30 minutes while dealing with your kids? If you can I would love to see that.

    Instead of insulting others just be grateful your family is easy to feed without multiple food allergies, food intolerances and special diets.

  114. SOA February 14, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    Just because you like cooking and eating together does not mean it is the established way or standard. The scale to judge is “Are the family members a proper weight with no health problems?” Does everyone get enough to eat every day?

    If the answer is yes, then you are doing good.

    I guarantee I do other things involved with parenting way the hell better than you. And you probably do some things better than me. So what? Thats life. Everyone is different. Everyone has different priorities and wants and needs and talents.

    That is what free range is about. Stop criticizing and policing other people and raise your kids as you see fit.

    Now if my kids are unhealthy and fat, sure you can pick apart what I feed them and how we eat. But till that day comes, shut it because you just come off as the biggest santicmommy of all. My other son is a dancer and everyone knows you can’t dance if you are not healthy.

  115. E February 14, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    So many people are commenting about the definition of obesity and whether or not junk food or lack of exercise leads to obesity…whether its actually a problem or not. Obesity is increasing, as is diabetes (which are not always linked), and that is a huge health concern. Obesity is a multi-faceted problem that can’t be solved with one life-style change. But, this ad is infuriating because it is equating one hamburger to a shot of heroin….HEROIN!!! And it uses GUILT to put forward the ridiculous message that if you give your child one hamburger, you might as well shoot them up with heroin….HEROIN!!! Most people know about healthy food choices, and they know that “junk food” in moderation is fine (and won’t cause an extremely addictive high that interferes with school/work/family etc). Sure some people could use some education on healthy choices, physical activity etc…but this is not education. This is the type of fear mongering, judgemental, uneducated message that pits one parent against the other. It’s just stupid.

  116. SKL February 14, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    I’m still not convinced that going home to sit and eat spaghetti is so much better than grabbing a couple McD sandwiches at the drive-thru on the way to the gym. My kids are a half hour into an hour-long gymnastics class by the time they would finish clearing their plates at home.

    I agree that routine is generally good, but you can have routine without having sit-down dinners at home. We in fact have a very clear routine, which happens to include a stop at the McD’s drive through every Tuesday around 6:15pm. 🙂

    We have a good relationship with food. But we don’t give it more power than it deserves.

    All those horrors that are “correlated” with not eating a traditional family dinner at home sound very familiar. They are the very same horrors that are correlated with having a single parent, and with being a person of color. (So I guess my kids are triply screwed!) But correlation does not equal causation, as is often stated here. The causation is whether the parent gives a damn about the kids and has half a brain. If you have that, you are pretty much set.

  117. Donna February 14, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    Again, in no way does skinny = healthy. Nor is how skinny your child is a determination of how healthy he is or his diet is. Some of the skinniest children I know are also by far the worst eaters that I know. Heck, I would probably consider the time I was the skinniest in my life as also the time that I was the least healthy in my life. And, no, it wasn’t as a result of any illness, e.g. I wasn’t super skinny because I had cancer or anything.

    The two words are just not synonymous. Even if you eat absolutely nothing other than candy, you can be rail thin if you eat less calories than you burn. You are still getting no nutrients and your body will eventually breakdown.

  118. Andy February 14, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    @SKL Honestly, if every evening is quick grab eat run to gym run back to get some sleep, then it sounds stressful and too fast paced for me. I actually can eat before exercising, but many people can not.

    We prefer to have slower time before sleeping and eat after we exercised not before. It is possible that my kids will have sport later in the evening, but they will be half way independent and transporting themselves at that point.

    Btw, yes that quick cooked food can be made healthier then McDonald without any effort. Spaghetti sauce is essentially onion and tomato, additional calories (sugar/fat) or whatever unhealthy are all optional.

    If the donald works for you, then it works and it is ok. I have some theoretically unhealthy habits too and happily leve with them. It is just that home cooking is way easier then some people make it sound (I do not necessary mean you).

  119. Emily February 14, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    Yeah, I agree with Andy. I’m trying to picture myself wolfing down a pita or a sub (my equivalent of McDonald’s, because I’m vegan), and then having to put on tight clothing and do jumping jacks, multiple cartwheels in a row, flip over bars, etc. It’s making me sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

  120. lollipoplover February 14, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    @Donna- my *biggest* child (she is not overweight) is by far my healthiest- eating habits (mostly vegetarian), sleep, and never sick (she’s gone 3 years without a sick visit). She is very tall for her age and an exceptional athlete. No one would ever call her skinny.

    My sister has a son (who has Asperger’s) who only eats pizza and Taco Bell but is skinny. He plays video games all day and night and looks like a ghost. How anyone would equate skinny with healhty is beyond me.

    Parents can think because their kid is skinny that it’s fine to feed them Poptarts every day but it’s crap your giving your kid and it adds up in their body, both mentally and physically. Kids bodies are like Ferraris, they need quality fuel.

  121. Jessica February 14, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    I am agree with this ad, people who feed our children with healthy food feel a lot of more pressure than this everyday, wherever we go we are offered junk food and we are also forced to explain why we don’t eat them. Some us have had to pay big price for the food we were fed by our moms in childhood, so, as we are able to work on our emotional traumas to not to repeat them with our children, we should work on giving our little ones the best food, so they’ll have better chances of being healthy when they grow up. We better remember we are probably no going to be here to take care of them when as adult they suffer from problems caused by junk food.

  122. SOA February 14, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    Lollipop- there is a correlation psychologically with autism and picky eating issues. Has to do with sensory issues. So again don’t be so quick to judge because until you have a kid with autism that will eat whatever you give him, you can’t run your mouth about them. It is such a thing that they have eating food therapy at our local hospital for children with special needs that actually will try to help them with this.

    It is not just your typical I am being a brat and won’t eat veggies and the parents letting them get away with it.

    This board sure is becoming judgmental. I thought this board was like the anti-santicmommy board. Guess I was wrong.

  123. Puzzled February 14, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

    Donna – they can’t go get Virgil’s without me since no store in walking distance carries it. Even if sugar isn’t better than HFCS (but I suspect it is), Virgil’s does have the advantage of being more expensive – if you get $20 per week, and you spend it all on soda, you’re getting less sugar from Virgil’s at $2/bottle than Coke at $1/2 liter. Also, it’s more satisfying.

  124. SKL February 14, 2014 at 11:27 pm #

    I think people need to get off SOA’s case about feeding her autistic child. I have an autistic cousin and believe me, you don’t get to feed him what you think kids should eat. Forget it. If you don’t have an autistic child or close family member, you don’t get it.

  125. SKL February 14, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

    No, I don’t think cooking is that hard, but the whole coming home, cooking, eating, cleaning up does prevent families from doing other things. I am a working mom so I pick my kids up at 6pm from aftercare. My house is 15 minutes from school and 10 to 30 minutes from wherever they can do physical activities in the winter. If we come home, cook, eat, clean up, and then start thinking about going for some serious exercise / skill building, we are limited to whatever starts at 7:30pm – usually no options at all. Then by the time we’d get back home it would be bedtime. What about practicing school work or piano? Reading together? Bathing? Therapy? It makes more sense to go straight from school to the activity, stopping for food on the way.

    Of course we eat at home several days per week – whooptie doo. I don’t see any difference in the value of the meal at home vs. out. Most of the time is spent with me hopping around cooking and cleaning while the girls do something else. The little bit of chore sharing or sitting together at the table while eating – you just aren’t going to convince me that this is make-or-break for my kids’ lifelong success. Sorry.

  126. Warren February 15, 2014 at 12:07 am #

    Well our son is on the autism spectrum, and food was a problem. We had two choices, the easy route of letting him eat his favorites all the time, or work work work, and now he eats alot better. We have also found that with the better diet his attention span is better and he has been seizure free for almost four years.

    It is worth the effort.

  127. Donna February 15, 2014 at 5:41 am #

    I’m not giving Dolly a hard time about feeding her kid a pop tart. With every kid you have to pick your battles and with autistic kids even more so. My kid is a picky eater and I really couldn’t care less. It has simply never been a war of wills that I’ve wanted to fight.

    My problem was her insistence that skinny = healthy. It simply doesn’t. Skinny kids can be healthy or unhealthy. A pop tart is completely devoid of any nutritional value whatsoever. It is not a healthy breakfast just because your kid is skinny.

  128. SOA February 15, 2014 at 7:16 am #

    I am actually proud of what my son will eat. Both of my kids eat better than I did as as child. I was a super super picky eater as a child. I ate nothing but french fries and peanut butter crackers and white bread and cookies for 3 years.

    My kids eat tons of apples, bananas, strawberries, lots of milk, chicken nuggets, whole grain bread, whole grain bagels, soy butter. Its more variety than I ever ate as a kid. I can’t keep enough apples in the house. They eat them all day long.

    They could eat a lot better but I don’t stress over it. Skinny does not equal healthy but muscles equal healthy and both of my sons have lots of muscles. My autistic son has calves like you would not believe because part of his stimming is bouncing and he bounces all day long.

  129. Donna February 15, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    Muscles don’t equal healthy either. Healthy equals healthy.

  130. Z-girl February 15, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    SOA and SKL

    I used to get so irritated by Warren’s comments that I stopped reading the comments for a while. Then I decided to just not read Warren’s comments (I just scroll down until his comment disappears at the top of the page. I also don’t read comments from others addressed to Warren.) Now I enjoy reading the comments again! I recommend you also boycott Warren if you find his comments offensive, as I do.

  131. SKL February 15, 2014 at 11:11 am #

    Donna, again, having an autistic cousin I can tell you that it isn’t about skinny. These kids are physically busting their butts all day long because they could not stop even if they wanted to. It isn’t really “healthy” in the holistic sense, but it is certainly more *physically* healthy than most American kids. And they need calories that much more. And by the way, chocolate is a most underrated superfood.

    Sugar and starch may not be at the top of *my* list of health foods, but we are all individuals. Milk is full of sugar, as are fruits and a lot of other wonderful natural foods. And the amount of starch found in a pop tart is not going to harm anyone. So let the kid eat a pop tart to start his metabolism in the morning so he feels hungry for something more nutritional later on. What is the problem? This child’s health is not at physical risk because he eats a chocolate pop tart for breakfast.

  132. Emily February 15, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    I agree with SKL. Her kids go to gymnastics class on Tuesdays. They enjoy it, and she’s decided that it’s a valuable experience that she wants them to have. I agree that it is–they get exercise, socialization, and improved confidence, co-ordination, and so much more. However, it doesn’t matter what the activity is–enrolling SKL’s kids in gymnastics, is SKL’s choice (and the young gymnasts’ choice as well, hopefully). So, in order to make Tuesday evening gymnastics happen, they have to stop at McDonald’s for dinner along the way, or else the kids would get nothing to eat from lunchtime until gymnastics, which starts in the evening. That obviously wouldn’t work, so dinner on Tuesday evenings is a Happy Meal or similar–which isn’t even that bad, since they added the option of apple slices instead of fries. Like I said before, I can’t eat before participating in strenuous activity, but SKL’s kids evidently can, and do. So, this works for her family, and the other six nights of the week, I’d imagine that they eat healthy food at home. I think I misspoke earlier–I didn’t mean to say that eating on the run was NEVER okay; I just meant that it shouldn’t happen the majority of the time…..and, even that is a pretty hypocritical statement for me, because when I was in university, I’d eat on the run quite often–a protein bar and a Diet Coke scarfed down en route from the gym to the music building, a sandwich or a pita eaten on the walk from painting class to orchestra, a sleeve of roasted peanuts eaten WHILE painting, so I wouldn’t get too into my work and feel shaky from forgetting to eat for hours on end, and so on, and so forth. Nobody’s perfect, and sometimes making an imperfect choice is necessary so that life can happen.

  133. Donna February 15, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    SKL – I don’t know why you are lecturing me. I said that I have no problem with the kid eating pop tarts. I have a problem with Dolly’s insistence that skinny and muscles equal healthy. People can be, and are, skinny and muscular and unhealthy.

    But yes, pop tarts are pure junk food. They are no different than eating cake or cookies for breakfast (both things my child has done on occasion). I honestly couldn’t care less what some stranger on the internet feeds her kids, but insisting that these are somehow healthy options and that there is no other way than pop tarts is ridiculous. Of course they’re not and of course there is, autism or not.

    Again, if someone wants to feed their kid pop tarts every day it isn’t my business to care. My kid often eats dry cereal in the car on the way to school so that is not a huge improvement. But own the decision and stop trying to make it healthy and some position being foisted on you that you have no control over.

    I get frustrated by this a lot on this board. Many of the parents here are in essence guilty of everything Lenore fights — this need for every parenting decision to be perfectly (and defensively) justified rather than saying “yep, I’m an imperfect parent who chooses to feed my kid pop tarts for breakfast because that is what works best for us.”

  134. SKL February 15, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    I would add that kid + McD does not equal Happy Meal. And, you don’t have to buy soda or fries just because you’re at McD. One’s brain doesn’t magically get sucked out as one enters the drive-thru. A parent who makes good health decisions at home is going to make reasonable decisions everywhere else too.

    I would also add that I have never seen anyone try to feed their preschooler a hamburger the size of the one in the above ad. So I’m not sure who the ad is really aimed at. It just seems like a total dud all around.

  135. SKL February 15, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    But Donna, surely you can agree that a very toned, slim, active child eating a pop-tart is different from an overweight, inactive child eating a pop-tart. I think that is all Dolly is saying. Her kid is not at risk, while some kids definitely are.

    I don’t think it’s inappropriate to make food choices partly based on whether anyone in the family is at risk of a particular issue, be it obesity or anything else. And it’s also appropriate to take into account food / sensory issues etc. It’s all part of choosing our battles.

    And yes, it does sound like you and some others are judging / second-guessing, instead of just saying, “competent parents are in the best position to decide for their own kids.” Why the need to repeatedly point out that slim / muscular does not automatically mean healthy? Does anyone really think they do? Obviously Dolly believes her child is healthy; so what if she didn’t choose the exact perfect words to express it.

    I don’t even know why we’re talking about pop tarts. The point of this post is that hamburgers (and pop-tarts and such) are NOT the beginning of the end of the human race.

  136. Papilio February 15, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    “this ad is infuriating because it is equating one hamburger to a shot of heroin”

    Well, then this ad must be infuriating too:
    After all, it uses guilt (the text translates roughly to “Imagine being responsible for this”) and urges you to ‘drive alcoholfree’. Oh no! We can’t have any fun anymore, even ONE SIP of alcohol before driving and something like this WILL happen!
    Come on. This is simply how such warning public service announcements work. No need to get all worked up over it.

    Re portion sizes and nutrients: I’ve recently seen a Supernanny episode in which Jo showed that if you serve an 8yo twice the amount of food that’s recommended for that age, (s)he will eat about 80% of it*. There were also some recaps from earlier episodes about young children who’d eat so few different things altogether that they literally became ill.

    *Given the context of a campaign against childhood obesity: Has anyone pointed out yet that the ‘just one’ hamburger was far too big for that small boy?

  137. lollipoplover February 15, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    @SOA and others who think I was judgemental about poptarts- I honestly don’t care what you feed your kids for breakfast. I just can’t wrap my head around your logic, Dolly. You say:
    “My kids are some of the only kids I know that don’t drink a bunch of sugary sodas, juices, etc. They drink milk with meals and water the rest of the time. No sodas ever.”
    But a can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar (140 calories from sugar) while a serving of cherry poptarts has 34 grams of sugar (136 from sugar). So do you just have a problem with sugar in the liquid form not the solid form? You wouldn’t give your kid a soda, ever, but you give them the equivalent of it every day for breakfast and pointing out the absurdity (I swear, I will never speak of poptarts ever, ever again) makes me judgemental because your kid is autistic and I just don’t understand. You are right. I don’t.

    As for skinny and healthy, and again, I won’t dare talk about this anymore- if it were so easy to judge overall health based on weight(skinny) alone, wouldn’t most of our doctors be out of work? But you say:
    “Now if my kids are unhealthy and fat, sure you can pick apart what I feed them and how we eat. But till that day comes, shut it because you just come off as the biggest santicmommy of all. My other son is a dancer and everyone knows you can’t dance if you are not healthy.”

    Yes, because dancers don’t have eating disorders (1 in 5 do) and just by doing this activity, he is healthy. Have you seen Black Swan?! Those creepy eyes haunt me still….

    Lenore posted this (and I agree with her!) because not every nutritional choice needs such ridiculous scrutiny. Who am I to judge a mom who feeds her kid a whopper or a poptart?
    But honestly Dolly, I just can’t follow your logic. Sorry.

  138. Emily February 15, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

    @Lollipoplover–I think MAYBE the reason why Dolly/SOA feeds her kids Pop-Tarts, but not Coke, is because Pop-Tarts may have the same amount of sugar as Coke, but they’re a bit more substantial, so they actually fill a child’s stomach for a little while, whereas Coke is just a liquid source of sugar that makes kids crave more sugar. I don’t really agree with this, because ANY sugary food-or-drinkstuff will precipitate a rapid sugar spike-and-crash scenario, which means more hunger, and more cravings for sugar; at least in theory. Maybe Dolly’s son is different–she said that he’s willing to eat healthier foods later in the day, but the breakfast Pop-Tart is just to get him to eat something before school, because he doesn’t like to eat as soon as he wakes up. For the record, I don’t either–I’ll have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, then do an exercise video, shower, and THEN eat breakfast. With Dolly’s son’s schedule (up at 6, school starts at 8:10, and he rides the bus), waiting to eat breakfast isn’t an option. I don’t agree with the thought that it’s “healthy” just because he’s thin and muscular, but this goes back to what works best for her situation–just like SKL and her pre-gymnastics McDonald’s stops every Tuesday evening, and my frequent “breakfasts in transit” in university. Sure, I could have had a sit-down breakfast at home, but I wanted to go to the gym in the mornings, I don’t like to exercise on a full stomach, and there wasn’t much open first thing, so the protein bar and Diet Coke (and usually a piece of fruit if it was available) was the most logical option for me. Most people I knew regarded me as a “healthy person” because I found time to exercise regularly, even if it meant sacrificing “Leave It To Beaver” breakfasts to facilitate that. Of course, I didn’t decide how to live my life based on other people’s opinions; I was just doing what worked best for me. Dolly and SKL are doing the same thing. It’s only when you claim that your way is the best way, or the only way, and try to shame those who deviate from it, that you become a sanctimommy, or a Sheldon Cooper.

  139. Warren February 15, 2014 at 11:23 pm #


    Outward appearance does not equate to good or bad health.

    And yes a poptart will fill the void physically more than the equivalent liquid coke. Only making it worse, because the body senses the mass, and does not signal for fuel. Mind you the fuel it has is 100% crap.

    SOA, just like with the strangers at the door, on this subject you are full of excuses and defences, of poor choices. You don’t want to do the work, fine, but do not justify what you do as being right. I would much rather prefer you be honest and say you do not have the energy or ambition to make effort.

  140. SOA February 16, 2014 at 12:07 am #

    Not once did I say at pop tart was a healthy ideal breakfast. I said that is what I feed my son because on school days when we have to rush out the door that is all I can get him to eat and I figured that is better than nothing.

    I did say he is healthy because as far as I know he is. He passes his yearly physicals with flying colors so I assume that is about the best way to gauge health in kids.

    SKL had a good point that autistic kids burn a lot more calories than typical kids. Because stimming burns calories. So for now at least he can eat a pop tart and he will burn that right off and it keeps his tummy full enough till lunch time which is pretty freaking early at like 10:30 because they eat early starting with the lowest grades. A soda won’t fill a tummy up at all and just make them have to burp.

    Now for lunch he eats a nice complete meal with protein and whole grain bread and fruit and water. But he is hungry at that point. He hates eating in the morning period.

  141. Emily February 16, 2014 at 12:13 am #

    @Warren–You’re missing the point. By today’s standards, “right” would probably entail waking the kids up gently but firmly, and guiding them through a round of family yoga before feeding them a breakfast of organic, free-range, local steel-cut oats and fruit, then they’d quickly shower, get dressed in clothes laid out the night before, pick up their backpacks (also packed the night before), and be driven to school. After school, their parents would pick them up, drive them to gymnastics/swimming/karate/dance/music lessons/Kumon/whatever, then home for a perfectly balanced dinner of couscous or quinoa with chick peas and vegetables, lay out clothes and pack backpacks for the next day, and put the kids to bed by 8 p.m., so that they can get their optimal ten hours of sleep before embarking on the next day of perfection……except, reality doesn’t work that way. Parents work, kids often get assigned hours of homework each night, extra-curricular schedules don’t necessarily match up in a household with more than one child, and things are spread out more, and less walkable–so, the days of the Brownie troop that meets right after school in the gymnasium, or just down the street at the local parish hall (for example), are mostly over. That’s not even counting the “safe school pick-up” insanity that requires each child to be “checked out” individually by a parent, and the patchwork of “after care” options for kids whose parents’ jobs finish later than the end of the school day, or “before care” options for kids whose parents begin work before they begin school. My point is, something’s gotta give–it may mean McDonald’s once a week on the way from school to gymnastics with healthy dinners the remaining six days of the week, or it may mean a Pop-Tart in the morning, with relatively healthy food consumed the rest of the day. My point is, perfect is impossible, and falling short doesn’t equate to “making excuses.” I mean, you feed your kids take-out food once a week as well because you don’t want to cook, don’t you? How is that different from what SKL does? You’re coming home from work/the bank late, and you don’t want to cook, and SKL is driving her kids to gymnastics, and she doesn’t have time to cook. Either way, it’s a practical choice, and having a designated day for take-out, makes it pretty clear that take-out is a “sometimes food.”

    As for Dolly and her autistic son who eats Pop-Tarts for breakfast, well, I don’t know EXACTLY what it’s like to be autistic, but I do know that there are some foods that I just won’t touch–rice pudding and applesauce come to mind, because of the texture–it just makes me gag. I’m also vegan (for ethical reasons, NOT pickiness), but for our purposes, let’s use rice pudding and applesauce as an example. So, I’d imagine that, from Dolly’s son’s point of view, there are a wide range of foods that are as disgusting to him, as rice pudding and applesauce are to me. Now, add in the fact that he doesn’t like to eat immediately upon waking up, which I can relate to first-hand. So, for Dolly’s son, being confronted with a “healthy” breakfast first thing in the morning, would probably be like me being woken up and forced to eat rice pudding and applesauce–it’d be a complete non-starter, because even if I put it in my mouth, I couldn’t swallow, so if someone were to offer me a Pop-Tart (without frosting) instead, I’d take it. It wouldn’t mean that I’d spend the whole day eating junk, but it would mean that I’d get to start the day without feeling sick to my stomach, like Dolly’s son does with his morning Pop-Tart as a “compromise breakfast.” In his world, the alternative isn’t going to be eating the healthy, well-balanced breakfast that Dolly wants him to eat; it’s going to be heading off to school on an empty stomach. I know that this is a bit of a “First World Problem,” but again, I think most people have at least a handful of foods that they just can’t stand. For an autistic person, those aversions are more severe, and more numerous, because of sensory issues that they can’t control. Since “food therapy” is a real thing, then doctors know that these strong food aversions are a real thing, that exist for medical, NOT behavioural, reasons. In other words, Dolly’s son is not just being a brat. For all we know, Dolly is working on it with her son, but it’s a process. Maybe his “most adventurous” eating time is at lunch time or at dinner, since he’s not really awake enough in the mornings to want breakfast, so she’s “choosing her battles” by feeding him healthy food for lunch and dinner, and allowing the Pop-Tart to slide for now. Maybe that’ll eventually be phased out in favour of something similar but healthier, like whole wheat toast and jam. My point is, every kid is different, every family is different, and nobody gets to be the “parenting police,” except the ACTUAL police, and only then when true abuse is involved. It’s not a perfect system, but it sure is better than people insulting one another left and right, and calling CPS/Children’s Aid Society willy-nilly whenever someone feeds their child a Pop-Tart (which they may even chew into a gun shape) or lets them play outside alone.

  142. SKL February 16, 2014 at 5:20 am #

    I still don’t understand why people who have never met Dolly’s kids keep talking like she isn’t qualified to say they are healthy. I frequently disagree with Dolly, but I have zero reason to believe she isn’t capable or caring as far as keeping her kids healthy.

    And yes, I think it’s 100% reasonable to believe that if your kid is slim, active, muscular, and does not show any obvious symptoms of illness, then he’s probably healthy. Because that is going to be true almost always. What are parents supposed to do, administer a blood test every morning to confirm? What do other parents here look at to decide if their kids are healthy, and what makes you think Dolly is somehow missing some important health info about her kids? Maybe she should buy one of those anklet monitors Lenore posted a while back?

    Do FRK parents really think, “my kid looks healthy, but what if he has a hidden disease? I’d better treat him as if he were at risk, just in case.”

    As for the comment that dancers have eating disorders – please. We’re talking about a little boy. A little boy who eats.

  143. SOA February 16, 2014 at 7:53 am #

    Yeah the dancer comment is hilarious. Dancing takes a ton of energy and I don’t really know any 6 year olds who are anorexic. I don’t think a 6 year old knows what anorexia even is. The dancer is my other son and he is even more ripped than the other son. Mostly because at dance if you act up they make you do crunches or push ups as punishment. And he acts up a lot. So the result is he is buff. I wish I was that buff.

    Emily nailed it. I am laughing that this board of all places is turning into harass other parents about their choices. I thought the whole point of free range kids was to trust other parents to do the best they can and the kids will turn out fine. Duh.

    And yes typically muscles are a sign of health. You can’t build muscle if you don’t eat enough protein.

  144. Donna February 16, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    “surely you can agree that a very toned, slim, active child eating a pop-tart is different from an overweight, inactive child eating a pop-tart.”

    Honestly, I don’t. Either way that is 1/3 of the child’s daily meals being completely devoid of any nutrients whatsoever. It has absolutely nothing to do with calories or activity or body shape or appearance. It is about eating a meal that contributes absolutely nothing positive to the body and removes an opportunity for obtaining some of the important nutrients that our bodies need to be healthy.

    Healthy eating is about well-balanced meals full of nutrients to fuel your body and keep it running optimally, not about appearance. Attaining an appearance that is valued by society in 2014 is just a happy side effect. That seems to be what Dolly, you and some others are missing in this discussion. Skinny kids who don’t get the appropriate nutritional input are no healthier than fat kids who don’t get the appropriate nutritional input. They just look more attractive by today’s standards.

    I certainly do not feed myself or my daughter healthy meals 100% of the time. Far from it actually. So I am not judging Dolly as anything other than a normal 21st century mom. But I do understand that those choices impact my daughter’s health, despite the fact that she is skinny, active, and never ill. I strive to do better, not because of appearance which is already fabulous (hers not mine), but because of health, both current and future.

  145. Emily February 16, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    @Donna–Dolly said upthread that she sends her son to school with healthy snacks to eat between breakfast and lunch, if he gets hungry again. So, that morning Pop-Tart isn’t really “one third of his daily meals.” He does end up eating healthier food over the course of the day; just not first thing in the morning before school. If the alternative is a major battle every morning, with Dolly’s son getting worked up and agitated before eating, and sick to his stomach afterwards, then that “healthy breakfast” that we all think he should eat, doesn’t seem quite so healthy anymore, does it? Meanwhile, in Scenario B, he eats a Pop-Tart before school, then maybe a piece of fruit, peanut butter crackers, and a Cheestring for a snack during morning recess, so he gets the same nutrients, but without any of the tears. It’s like an old ad for Frosted Flakes that I saw once–“No breakfast is healthy until somebody eats it.” Well, it also stands to reason that no breakfast is healthy if someone is force-fed it, and then throws it up. I’m sure Dolly doesn’t actually force-feed her son, but nutritionally, offering the “healthy breakfast” with no alternatives would have the same effect on her son whether she force-feeds him, or not. If she doesn’t force-feed, he doesn’t eat it. If she does, he throws it up. Either way, everyone’s upset and anxious, which is no way to start the day. So, a Pop-Tart it is.

  146. SKL February 16, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Well Donna, we’ll have to agree to disagree. Dolly has explained why her kid doesn’t eat an awesome breakfast. Knowing autism personally, I am inclined to take her word for it. She has explained that her kid gets plenty of nutrition, just not at the same hour of the day your kid does. Not that she needs to explain this in the first place. In no way did she imply that looks are more important than underlying health. But obviously we have eyes because, in concert with mom instinct, they tell us important stuff.

    I suppose if she’d said her kid eats fruit for breakfast and cookies for an afternoon snack, you’d all be fine with that even though it would add up to the exact same daily nutrition. The whole “poptart for breakfast” seems to have set off an intense reaction that I really don’t understand.

    I stopped eating breakfast when I was 12 (before that it was Cheerios, milk, and lots of added sugar). As a teen, I used to stop on the way to school and buy pop. I blew away the “fitness test” they gave us in school. I’ve always blown away every fitness test I ever took. Breakfast is nice but it does not make or break a human being.

    FRK isn’t supposed to be about whether we could be more perfect. I thought it was about trusting parents and kids and the forces that have kept us all alive up to this point.

  147. lollipoplover February 16, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    SOA- Again, you contradict yourself.

    You say:
    “I am laughing that this board of all places is turning into harass other parents about their choices. I thought the whole point of free range kids was to trust other parents to do the best they can and the kids will turn out fine. Duh.”

    But upthread, in response to Lindsey’s comment that she is autistic and needs meat and potatoes to fill her up, not fruit and vegetables.
    You say:
    “Lindsey: That is an ignorant belief. A healthy vegetarian diet or even vegan diet is perfectly okay if done properly. The problem is not all vegetarians or vegans eat the proper amount of protein but it can be done.”

    So which is it? You can call out someone who is autistic and knows her individual needs as ignorant but think others are harrassing you when we question your logic (or lack thereof)?

    Finally, this:
    “Mostly because at dance if you act up they make you do crunches or push ups as punishment. And he acts up a lot. So the result is he is buff. I wish I was that buff.”

    So, instead of addressing the behavioral issues that make him act up in dance class and interupt the instruction for other students, you are think the punishment of push ups and crunches are great because he is so buff? Got it.
    It all makes perfect sense now.
    Thanks for clarifying.

  148. SKL February 16, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    lollipoplover, when did this site become a forum for bashing Dolly’s parenting? Or, what does her kid’s discipline over dance class behavior have to do with anything discussed here?

    Physical work is an excellent discipline method for a young boy. The health benefits are just one part of it.

  149. SOA February 16, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    Well since I don’t run the dance studio or dance class, I have little to no say in how it is run. It is a closed classroom meaning I am outside and cannot see or hear what is going on in there. I find out after the fact he had to do push ups and crunches. If he was an actual problem they cannot handle they send him out to me which has happened a couple times. The push ups and crunches are something they do often. Sometimes the entire class has to do them together for whatever reason. I think its a great way to make them behave.

    I stopped eating breakfast before school around middle school. I stopped eating lunch at school too about that age. I was a dancer who exercised about 4 hours every day. I preferred to eat at home because the school food sucked and I never felt like eating breakfast at 6:30 in the morning. I still don’t.

    Funny the same things you said to describe why your kid is healthy apply to my kids too. Who would have thought?! So I guess if you want to continue to call my kids unhealthy you will have to call your kids unhealthy too. Mine are rarely sick, muscular, active and growing at normal rates. Just as you said your kid was.

  150. Donna February 16, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    SKL – No, I would have the same reaction to fruit for breakfast and cookies for snack on a daily basis. Cookies are dessert, not meals and snacks. For example, my child just ate a healthy smoothie for breakfast. She then asked to have a cookie. I gave her the cookie. I see no reason that you can’t have dessert after breakfast instead of dinner, but I would not have agreed to just the cookie for breakfast (or snack or lunch or dinner). Junk has its place in our lives, but you have to get in the nutrients before you go to the junk.

    And pop tarts don’t rate of a force that has kept us all alive since they have only existed for a couple generations – generations where something has clearly gone very out-of-whack with our eating and health so not exactly a ringing endorsement for pop tarts.

    I find the whole pop tart debate a very interesting statement on marketing. Most would not be surprised when others questioned feeding kids, no matter how skinny, chocolate chip cookies or chocolate cake for breakfast every day, but god forbid we question chocolate pop tarts, the nutritional equivalent. It is an amazing feat of marketing that people even consider pop tarts a viable breakfast option.

  151. Donna February 16, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    “Funny the same things you said to describe why your kid is healthy apply to my kids too.”

    If this is directed at me, I don’t remember ever once claiming that my child is healthy. I think that she is healthier than some and less healthy than others. There is room for improvement, but she isn’t like to drop-dead tomorrow unless she is hit by a bus.

    “So I guess if you want to continue to call my kids unhealthy you will have to call your kids unhealthy too. Mine are rarely sick, muscular, active and growing at normal rates.”

    Nor did I ever say that your children were unhealthy. I don’t know your children nor have I seen their medical reports. I said that those things that you listed are not conclusive evidence of a healthy diet. You can eat absolutely nothing other than crap and still be all those things. You can eat perfect and be none of those things. Genetics, interests and coordination have a sizable impact.

  152. Donna February 16, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    I also think that some are overlooking that the reaction against Dolly and her pop tarts is the every day nature of it more than the pop tart itself.

    Every single meal of every single doesn’t have to be optimal. Every once in awhile, we walk to the local coffee shop and my daughter eats a donut for breakfast. On Saturdays in the summer, we walk to the farmer’s market and eat muffins (and strawberries and blueberries) while we shop. We have the occasional burger, fries and milk shakes for lunch or dinner. We’ve been known on rare occasions to have popcorn and candy at the movie theater for dinner. I see nothing wrong with that and have no interest perfection over the occasional treat.

    But I think that junk for meals on a daily basis is problematic. And I don’t think our ability to disagree with other people’s nutritional choices only extends to those who are over weight or obese.

  153. SOA February 16, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    Well all I can say is if you are okay critiquing other’s parenting don’t get pissy when someone critiques yours. I will remember this and next time you say something on this board I find disagreeable, I am going to harp on you about it as much as you harped on me in this thread. Don’t dish it, if you can’t swallow it.

  154. Emily February 16, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    About the “push-ups and crunches in dance class as punishment for bad behaviour,” well, I think Dolly is actually being very Free-Range for being okay with that, and not trying to change it. Helicopter/bubble-wrap/snowplow parents often try to remove punishment/discipline/adversity for their kids, by saying that that’s “not what he’s used to at home,” and “it isn’t fair to confuse him like that.” In Dolly’s case, she’s letting it slide, and teaching a valuable lessons–that different places have different rules. So, at home, acting up gets your phone taken away (for example), and acting up at dance class means doing push-ups. Jeans are fine for school, but not for church, and it’s okay to wear shoes in the house, but not at the traditional Japanese restaurant. I know you don’t believe in Santa Claus, but your friend Sarah does, so don’t ruin it for her…..and so on, and so forth. Now, there are limits, and this “discipline” should never be abusive–for example, you don’t make a child do calisthenics until he cries, and you don’t punish honest mistakes, only true misbehaviour. So, falling out of a turn wouldn’t be a push-uppable offense, but laughing at another dancer for falling out of a turn might be, and then it might be five, or ten, or twenty push-ups/crunches, depending on the severity of the offense. However, the idea of allowing others to enforce different rules, in a different (but not abusive) way outside the home, and telling your children that yes, the dance teacher/babysitter/soccer coach/band director IS the boss of you when he or she is in charge, is a good thing for kids to learn. These kinds of early lessons help kids to become flexible, resilient, and able to cope with change. So, for example, if they ever travel to a foreign country, the idea of “not everything is exactly the same as it is at home” isn’t an entirely new concept to them. I’m sure that, if it ever became abusive, Dolly would intervene.

  155. Warren February 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    I have a couple of 60s muscle cars. They are in great shape and are powerful. They look fantastic, but if I continually put low quality fuel in them, their performance will suffer, and they will eventually break down. But they will still look great.

    No different than the human body. You may look great but performance and longterm, you are only as good as the fuel you put in.

  156. SOA February 16, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    I like the crunches or push ups as punishment too. Because there is a benefit to the punishment. They are learning discipline and teamwork while getting exercise that helps their dancing. They have to do it for stuff like not paying attention, talking over the teacher, goofing around, Whining. I am all for it. He could use some of that.

    If he gets sent out of class because he is acting up like crying and refusing to do his stretches, I give him a talking to and send him back in there. He loves the fun part of dance class but whines sometimes about the skill learning part. But he has to learn they go hand in hand. And he does. As does all the other kids.

    Yeah I am not the type of parent to baby my kid about that. I tell him to get his butt in there and practice your splits and quit whining about it. If he wants to dance and perform which he does, he has to do all parts of it even the painful non fun parts.

  157. Emily February 16, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    @SOA–Does your son whine because he doesn’t want to practice his splits, or because he physically can’t do a full split? I’m not trying to stir up trouble, but I practice and teach yoga, and one thing that gets drilled into our heads from day one is, don’t go further into a pose than your body is able to, and if you’re teaching yoga, make sure your students understand and follow this guideline as well. I know that dance is different from yoga, but there are some stretches that are common to both (plus gymnastics), so that’s why it stood out to me. Bratty whining is one thing, but whining from true physical pain should be taken seriously.

  158. SOA February 16, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

    He whines because he does not want to do them at all. He won’t even try to go as far as he is capable. As a former dancer I realize you have to stretch far enough till you get some resistance and it will hurt a small amount. He is whining about having to have any discomfort which is just part of dance. You can’t dance without stretching and trying to become more flexible.

  159. SKL February 16, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    No, Donna, I don’t think a pop tart is a breakfast food. I just believe Dolly when she says her kid won’t eat anything else. And I personally think a pop tart is better than nothing in the situation as described.

    You have a situation where your kid will eat breakfast, and you give her a treat after. (I wouldn’t but whatever, it’s your kid.) You have a kid who will eat breakfast. Dolly does not. When you have an autistic kid who will not eat breakfast, check back with us on that.

  160. Eliza February 17, 2014 at 3:06 am #

    Donna – I just wanted to let you know that I found everything you wrote to be entirely sensible. Thank you for your reasonable and informed voice in this discussion.
    And yes, pop tarts are pure crap. Don’t buy them and your son won’t be able to eat them for breakfast, simple as that. Don’t waste your money. Like so many of you have mentioned, you hate breakfast and don’t eat it and it hasn’t seemed to do you any harm. Be free range and let your son go without breakfast if he so chooses. And make breakfast options within your house contain at least some SCRAP of nutritional value., if he decides to select one of them.
    And yes, I’m being judgy. I call myself out on it. But when so many of us are obese and unhealthy, when that’s become the norm, somebody has to state the obvious – pop tarts are not food, and it is our job as parents to provide our kids with nutritious food.

  161. SKL February 17, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    “But when so many of us are obese and unhealthy, when that’s become the norm, somebody has to state the obvious – pop tarts are not food, and it is our job as parents to provide our kids with nutritious food.”

    This is the exact same logic that people use to give terrible parenting advice. “Because someone else’s kid ran in front of a car, your kid can’t be allowed to walk down the street.” “Because infants can die in a hot car, you mustn’t let your kid sit in a cool car for 3 minutes at sunset.” “Because some people abuse their kids for potty accidents, all parents must be advised not to potty train their toddlers.”

    The child in question is NOT obese or unhealthy, and given his situation (poptart or no poptart), very unlikely to become so. So the obesity epidemic has nothing to do with this mom’s choice. A person who uses more calories gets to eat more calories, period.

    And a treat is a treat whether it is served first thing in the morning or after a meal. The fact that *some* kids won’t eat well unless they have to wait for their treats does not mean *every other* kid has to be parented accordingly.

    Honestly, this is so dumb. There is no parent on this board who has never indulged her kid in something that isn’t strictly “healthy” (according to the current definition thereof). I tend to be on the food nazi side of the continuum myself, yet I can see that the “nutritional quality” of every meal doesn’t make that much difference in the scheme of things, especially for growing, active children. The bigger problems are quantity and activity levels.

  162. SKL February 17, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    In fact, if my kid thinks there is a treat to be had after a meal, she will “budget” her appetite to leave ample room for the treat, thus eating less of the “real food.” Therefore, for *my* kid, timing treats as post-meal desserts is the worst thing I can do. All kids are different.

  163. Eliza February 17, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    I agree, treats are fine. What I’m advocating for is that more foods move from the ‘everyday’ category to the ‘treats’ category. This has all gone way off-topic, I know, but nutrition is my bugaboo. I honestly do think that a big part of our problem nowadays is that too many foods have been moved or are placed in the ‘everyday’ category. Junk is fine, but it should be a treat, and pop tarts are junk, ie a treat. Same thing goes for goldfish crackers, juice, etc. All tasty but none nutritious. Not bad, just to be eaten sparingly, not everyday, like pop tarts everyday for breakfast.
    I think I’ve got facts on my side when I say that pop tarts are nutritionally void and shouldn’t be eaten in replacement of a meal, if at all. Those who advocate things like ‘no kids in cars ever’ or ‘no playing in the street’ do not have facts on their side. So, in that sense I disagree with the above poster.
    It’s not about calories. It’s about the quality of food. And I don’t think it’s anti-free range to harp on about the importance of the quality of food we feed our kids.

  164. SKL February 17, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Actually I just looked up the nutritional values of a chocolate pop tart. They include 20% of the daily value of calcium, vitamin A, and iron, as well as 8% of the daily value of dietary fiber. They contain 5g of protein vs. 3.5g of fat, a reasonable balance. They contain zero cholesterol.

    Chocolate is a good source of flavenoids, which act as antioxidants and help relax blood pressure and balance certain hormones.

    One could do a lot worse than a chocolate pop tart for a healthy, active kid who otherwise would not eat breakfast.

  165. Emily February 17, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    Is it bad that this thread is making me really want a Pop-Tart? It’s not going to happen, because the unfrosted ones aren’t available here in Canada, and I can’t eat Pop-Tart frosting because it contains gelatin, and I’m vegan…plus I just don’t like it. Anyway, I agree that Pop-Tarts aren’t healthy, but for all we know, Dolly is trying to phase them out. Maybe the transition could be something like, Chocolate Pop-Tart, whole wheat toast (or whole wheat white toast) with Nutella on it for a few weeks, then toast with Nutella and jam, then toast with just jam, and then maybe toast with peanut butter and jam, for some protein.

    My point is, you can’t just “lay down the law” with an autistic child–changes have to be made slowly, and then established as a “new normal.” That’s just at breakfast too, so it’s the very beginning of the day. Chances are, Dolly is already working hard with her son to teach him other things, like how to be kind to others, use empathy to try to see others’ points of view, clean up after himself, turn in his homework on time, be ready to leave on time for school and other time-sensitive engagements, etc., etc. So, maybe the breakfast battle is one that can wait, because there are simply bigger mountains to climb right at this moment. If Dolly were to choose breakfast as her “hill to die on,” then she and her son might have less energy later, for things that affect other people. So, it might mean that Dolly’s son chokes down his scrambled eggs and toast and orange juice at breakfast (with much difficulty), but then goes to school and tells his teacher her dress is ugly, and doesn’t see a problem with that, because it’s “the truth” Dolly would correct him, but he’d have less mental energy to apply that, because his focus would be split between “empathy” and “nutrition,” and Dolly would have less mental energy to reinforce it, for the same reason. Forgive me, Dolly, if I’m oversimplifying, but my point is, I think we can agree that eating a perfect breakfast, should take a back seat to manners, kindness, and things that affect others, if the nutritional void of the not-so-perfect breakfast is made up later in the day.

    Also, I just found a recipe on the Internet for homemade Pop-Tarts, which still contains quite a lot of sugar, but at least there are no scary mystery chemicals, like the commercial Pop-Tarts have:

    It’s a vegan recipe, but it could be very easily “mainstreamed” by using cow’s milk and butter in place of soy milk and vegan margarine. Also, vegan or not, I have a feeling that it probably tastes better than commercial Pop-Tarts.

  166. Warren February 17, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    Have nothing against poptarts as a once in awhile thing. Personally would rather eat sandpaper with tar on it.

    The problem is the excuses, the justifying for poptarts being the everyday standard, and it is bull.
    Been there done that with an autistic son with food preferences. The answer is not to give in because it is easy or you a lazy. Eliminate the poptarts altogether, and you can slowly introduce them back in as a special breakfast that he looks forward to. It is not hard, just a little time consuming. Be a parent, not an enabler.

  167. Eliza February 17, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    SKL, if you can look at the nutritional info of a pop tart and not even mention the ingredients list, then there is no point in even having this discussion.
    By your logic, I could grind up a vitamin and mix it with some wet cardboard and you’d call it food.

  168. Emily February 17, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Well, then….Warren, it sounds as if you just volunteered to get Dolly’s son out of his Pop-Tart rut. What time will you be arriving at her house? Okay, I was kidding, but seriously, I think the two of you would probably have a lot to talk about, maybe over Skype, since you both have autistic children. I didn’t know you had an autistic son until this thread, but now that I do know, I think you just might be the best person on here to help Dolly help her son.

  169. SOA February 17, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    If you have met one autistic kid, you have met one autistic kid. Just because something works with one of them does not mean it will work with another. Autism is a spectrum and every kid on there is completely different from one another in 100 ways. If your son has autism, I think you would know that.

  170. SOA February 17, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    Eliza: I tried the whole “Eat what I serve you or go without”. He went without. Then I had the school calling me up questioning me about why he whines he is starving all the time before lunch and then I keep hearing about the teachers feeding him their snacks and lunch because they think he is starving to death. So since you have all the answers, how am I supposed to deal with that? How am I to deal with the school and teachers calling and bugging me about it?

    I told them he refused to eat the healthy breakfast I offered him. So they told me to send snacks which I did. They also suggested letting him eat something he will eat.

  171. SOA February 17, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Um goldfish crackers are not junk. Not the whole grain ones at least which is the ones we eat. They are way healthier than chips.

  172. Emily February 17, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    Dolly–That’s exactly what I was trying to get Warren to understand. Because of your son’s strong aversions to so many foods, you had to “choose your battles” between “eat this healthy breakfast or go without,” and “focus at school.” You chose “focus at school” for now, and in order to make that happen, you fed your son a Pop-Tart first thing in the morning, and then packed healthy snacks to tide him over from his morning Pop-Tart until lunch time. Nutritionally, that’s no different from feeding him a healthy breakfast, and then packing him a Pop-Tart, cookie, or another sweet snack to eat as a snack during morning recess. The only difference is, you presented the nutrients in such a way as to ensure that they actually make their way into your son’s body with minimal struggle, whether or not you end up phasing the Pop-Tarts out later. Also, some people believe that it’s better to eat unhealthier foods earlier in the day, because that way, the body has time to burn it off, unlike if someone were to, say, eat a piece of chocolate cake after dinner, and then have it just sitting in their stomach all night while sleeping.

  173. SKL February 17, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    Ingredients list? People are losing it here. The ingredients list on a box of “whole grain” Cheerios is scary too. So now are we going to trash every parent on FRK who buys foods that have more than 4 ingredients on the ingredients list?

    I’m beginning to dislike this place if we’re going to be so mean and rude about how a mom manages to get some morning calories into her special needs kid so he can go to school.

  174. Buffy February 17, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    And, quite possibly, we need to remember that this blog is not all about Dolly, no matter how much she tries to make it so (in this and every other current thread).

  175. Emily February 17, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

    @Buffy–That’s not quite fair. Warren was goading Dolly a fair bit, and she was mostly just replying to his, and other people’s, questions and comments. Anyway, I think that at this point, everyone except Warren agrees that a Pop-Tart for breakfast, in the context of an otherwise nutritionally sound day, is preferable to a daily battle around the breakfast table, also preferable to sending a child to school hungry, upset, or sick to his stomach after being force-fed food that’s unpalatable to him.

  176. SOA February 17, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    Buffy: Its called scrolling. If you see something you don’t care to read, scroll right on past it. 🙂

  177. Warren February 18, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    If it was a true aversion to food, he would only eat poptarts morning, noon and night. This is enabling or laziness, and not be bothered to put in the effort to do what is best. Been there done that.

  178. Emily February 18, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    @Warren–That’s not necessarily true. Maybe Dolly’s son has an aversion to all “breakfast” foods, or anything that could reasonably be prepared during a rushed school morning, other than Pop-Tarts. Maybe he has a short list of foods that are palatable to him, and Pop-Tarts are on that list. We don’t know for sure, but like I said before, I think you just might be the best person on this board to help Dolly with her son and his picky eating issues, since you also have a son with autism. I know that every autistic kid is different, but still, you have a common ground with her that the rest of us don’t, so you’d probably have the best shot, if you were to approach it from a place of kindness and genuinely wanting to help. I mean, I know you’re a good person, because you put all that time and effort into helping with your kids’ extra-curricular activities, and planning pool parties for the whole neighbourhood, so you strike me as someone who’d have not only the ability to help Dolly help her son, but the inclination as well.

  179. SKL February 18, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    Warren, you’re the first person to cuss people out (and even talk about physical violence) if they dare to question your parenting choices. Therefore I think your comments are completely out of place as far as the pop tarts go. Mind your own business.

  180. Gravy February 19, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Lenore, Are you going to address the little 10 year old girl who was abducted by a stranger and killed in Springfield, MO? She was walking to her friends house. You and your followers claim that the risk of abductions by strangers isn’t high enough to take heed. You slam “helicopter” parents because they see the risk of abduction and murder for their children as too high. You are basically encouraging parents to make their child the one that gets abducted. I hope that we find out that her parents followed your teachings and the media slams you for encouraging parents to be neglectful.

  181. Emily February 19, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    Gravy, stop it. Posting the same comment in multiple threads (and directly attacking Lenore’s work while you’re at it) is called spamming, and it’s rude and inflammatory.