Learning to shop healthy

June 25, 2012
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

As a mother I want to involve my children in the process of purchasing our foods, learning about money, etc, etc.  However, lately our grocery store trip has become a high powered negotiation of what my boys can and cannot put in our grocery cart.  Angry Birds, Sponge Bob, Star Wars, Super heroes, the list goes on and on.  Somehow food (and non food) is just more appealing when it has a beloved character on it (or any character for that matter).  Now, this is not new information and maybe I am preaching to the choir here, but it is a topic that keeps coming up. 

Take children’s breakfast cereals, one of the biggest sources of sugar and refined carbohydrates in our children's diets.  A recent “Cereal Facts” study from Yale University noted that while cereal companies are making healthier cereals, they are still spending top dollar to promote their unhealthiest products.  On average, children consume 2 servings of breakfast cereal meaning that presweetened cereal consumption can put them at their sugar maximum (20 grams a day) before they even make it out the door. 

I wish in writing this blog I had the answer, but being a dietitian does not give me magical powers and honestly sometimes I just don’t want to fight with my children in the grocery store.  But that doesn’t mean I am going to constantly load my cart with pint sized Oreo’s, M & M’s  and everything else at their hand level during checkout.  So, my “answer” right now is to allow some “treats” as my boys call them, talk to them about food costing money (Oliver says “you mean its not free”) and set a good example by making wise food choices myself (which I often think they don’t pay attention to, but I still try). I combat my grocery store challenges by taking them to the farmer’s market on Saturdays (no media advertisement there) and letting them help me pick out the food.  Oliver had a ball picking out baby squash for us to grill, getting a thrill out of the “twins” that were in the bin.  We have a small garden, which allows the boys to check the “progress” on our tomatoes and maybe someday they will actually take a bite of that juicy fruit!

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