Dr. Brandi’s Media and Food 101

We have all heard the adage, “You are what you eat” and as important as it is to know this for ourselves it is even more vital to impart this knowledge to our children. The never ending battle to get our kids to avoid junk foods is compounded by the exposure they have to it from catchy marketing and product plugs; it is estimated the food industry spends almost $10 billion per year marketing food and beverages that appeal to children and adolescents, including $1.6 billion to target our little ones directly with soft drinks, fast-food, and cereal promotions (Federal Trade Commission).  The most alarming part of all this (aside from the astronomical waste of resources!) is that it works! How many parents have had to pry a perfectly positioned, eye-level candy bar from the clutch of their screaming child at Publix?

As the adults in the lives of these tiny people, we have to forge the battle against these tricky messages, because research has shown food marketing contributes to unhealthy diets and risk of poor health among our children (Institute of Medicine, 2008). So how do we fight the fight for the health and wellness of our babes? Below are a couple simple things you can do in your home:

  1. Make healthy food fun! Take your children on a treasure hunt in the produce department. Give each of them a color or shape and allow them to choose one fruit or vegetable that matches for the family to try.
  2. Engage the kiddos in food prep. Even preschoolers can place pre-cut toppings on a homemade pizza or scoop hummus onto a plate to eat with colorful veggies.
  3. Talk to them about “all the time” food and “sometimes” foods. All the time foods include whole grains, proteins, fruits and vegetables. Sometimes foods include things like ice cream, cookies, chips and candy. Teach them all the time foods are what our bodies need to run and jump like superheroes, race friends on bicycles, play like pros in soccer games and most importantly fuel our brains!