Fighting back against the food industry

The food industry bombards our children with wonderful bright colors, exciting characters, and products that are actually quite addictive. Everywhere you look these days you see horrible excuses for food, marketed directly to our children. There are shocking pink and electric blue drinks (can you imagine how much dye shocking pink takes?). There is oatmeal in easy-to-use individual packets containing treasures or dinosaurs that actually pop up when you add water and heat it. (Be very wary of the nutrition labeling on these products. One says 6 grams of sugar per serving, but the serving size is only 1/3 of an individual bag. That is a whopping 18 grams of sugar per packet, not to mention the added flavors, colors, and other chemical additives).

The garbage contained in boxes of cereal for kids is astonishing. We wonder why seemingly typical children have behavioral issues. Look at the way we start their day: breakfasts that include toaster pastries, cinnamon rolls, and chocolate chip waffles, just to name a few. Even many of the natural organic cereals (which at least don’t have partially hydrogenated oils, artificial flavorings and colorings) are loaded with evaporated organic cane juice (a fancy name for SUGAR). And in all reality we, as parents struggling to make a healthy diet, are at a disadvantage. So, I guess it is time to fight back.

Let’s be honest, the packaging of most health foods leaves a lot to be desired in the minds of young children. Especially when in the other aisles there is a cool cheetah wearing shades on a brightly colored bag of snack chips. And let’s be real: does the oatmeal that you sweetened yourself with just a little honey and cinnamon stand a chance against bright-colored dinosaur magic?

Quite simply, the answer is “yes.” As a responsible parent you are the expert on your child, not the advertising departments of these food companies. Be your own marketer. Promote the healthy food you make for your family. Take that box of plain oatmeal and some small baggies. Hit the Dollar Store and invest in stickers of your child’s favorite characters. Also pick up some tiny toys, maybe a pack of assorted dinosaur figures. Decorate the bags differently so there is plenty of variety to choose from. Then measure out one serving of oats, cinnamon, raisins (or any other dried fruit they like – remember, you are the expert!) and maybe a sweetener like Xylitol (a naturally sweet substance that can be used exactly like sugar, but is not digestible and actually has the added benefit of being a natural antibacterial) into each bag. Throw in a toy dinosaur – you know, the prize-in-the-cereal-box way of thinking – to make it even more exciting.

The great thing about having all-in-one individual bags is that your child can select the bag they want, pour it in their own bowl, retrieve their prize, measure the water with a measuring cup, and then let you microwave it for them. If your child is on a gluten-free diet, try this idea with Cream of Buckwheat cereal. In order to balance out this fun bowl of carbohydrates, make sure to include protein. Add a side of all-natural nitrate-free bacon or sausage, or an egg.

Use your imagination and creativity to fight back. They are your children. When health problems arise later, the Big Food industry won’t be there to help, and it will all be up to you.

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