Just Say No to Fast Food: It’s Time to Own What Our Children Eat

Posted November 18, 2010 by

We’ve all seen the sad statistics regarding childhood obesity and the associated long term health issues. Many have also put the fast food industry squarely in the cross hairs. I am no fan of the nutritional content or marketing techniques associated with fast food, but ultimately parents have to take responsibility for what their children eat.

I was listening on the radio to an interview with a County Supervisor from Santa Clara CA discussing their plans to ban the Happy Meal. This person’s position was there is no way a parent can say no to a child when they want the meal with the toy in it. I was heartened to hear numerous parents call in to tell this person they had it backwards. Parents are the true authority when it comes to what their children eat.

Like most things in parenting, this can be a constant struggle. My son asked to go to McDonalds after school every day for a week, and then the following week switched it to 7-Eleven for a Slurpee. Out of those two weeks of pleading, he got a firm”not today” nine times and one Slurpee, because it was 85 degrees out. When asked, “But why?” we give him a simple explanation that treats are not an everyday thing, and that does the trick. Even though he may not be happy about that, I think that is part of growing up.

Since it can be difficult to regain control in this regard, here are some helpful tips:

  • Just one fast food meal per week: It should be less, but let’s start with one.
  • No processed sugar at breakfast: Fruits, grains, dairy and some pure fruit juice instead.
  • Make your child’s lunch with your own hands: A sandwich, carrot sticks, apple or orange will do fine.
  • Cut out soda and processed juices: Soda should go back to once-in-a-while status, like fast food.

This will be a challenging transition at the start, but the payback down the road is well worth it.

About

John McPherson is a leadership and management consultant in Salinas, CA. John and his wife Christina have two children, Fiona and Carson. Both John and Christina’s parents had a great influence in their upbringing, which helped them define how they would parent their children. Over the past ten years, John observed how many parenting practices have strayed from the principles he and Christina have found to be successful, and this led him to write a book on parenting, entitled "Ten Simple Rules for Being a Parent in a World Turned Upside Down".

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