June 17, 2013

Good Parenting: Battling the Food Industry

Just a few minutes ago, I read a very informative article regarding the power food companies have through their advertising strategies…especially when it comes to children. The article was written by Michele Simon and is entitled The Dark Side of Marketing Healthy Food to Children,  if you like to, you can read it here.

While I agree with what the article is saying in regards to how low food companies have stooped in order to market their products to young children in order to increase profits. However, the entire time I was reading this article, I couldn’t help but think that if parents just took a more proactive role in their children and what they are eating, then the marketing strategies of food companies wouldn’t be that big of a deal. This is only my opinion, but I have come to this conclusion based on my own experience with raising my 5 year-old.

I can honestly say that very seldom do food advertisements catch my attention. In fact, most of the time I get up when these commercials come on and do something else while waiting for my program to come back on. And when reading magazines, newspapers and other stuff that contains advertisements, I skip those pages altogether.

When it comes time to head to the grocery store, I make a list and stick to it. I have always been one who is interested in feeding my family healthy meals, especially my kiddos. Therefore, when we go to the grocery store, the bulk of my food is bought on the “outside” aisle. I stick to the produce, meat and dairy sections when I shop.

I know the way in which I shop has affected my son because he is not a huge candy eater. He will often pick fresh fruit over sugary treats…even if they come in cleverly wrapped packages with his favorite cartoon character on them. My son also has a huge appetite for fresh salads, which he has had since he was about 2 ½.

So, what’s the purpose of this article?

Basically, I just want to raise the issue that it’s time for parents to start being more proactive in their kids’ health. Look for ways that you can encourage your children to eat healthier foods instead of blaming the food companies and their advertising techniques. After all, they are out to make money.

So, how can you be more proactive?

1. Buy more healthy foods. Make a point to buy healthier foods for family when you visit the grocery store. For example, instead of buying your kids more fruit snacks, buy cantaloupe and watermelon to cut up and serve for next week’s snacks.

2. Don’t keep cereal in boxes. A lot of the times, kids pick their cereal based on who is on the front of it. To avoid this issue, buy plastic cereal containers and pour the cereal them when you are putting groceries up – and throw away the boxes immediately. When you do this, you are taking away the constant advertisements and forcing your kids to think about the cereals they like based on the taste.

3. Say “no.” Finally, learn to tell your kids “no” when they start “the gimmies” at the grocery store. Sure, I don’t like arguing with my son, but when it comes to buying him junk food all the time, I’m not going to do it. Think about it – your kids can only eat the foods you bring home to them, right? So, limit the amount of junk food you bring home. Don’t be afraid to tell them “no.”

Do you agree that parents should take a more proactive role in their children’s nourishment or do you think food companies and their marketing teams are solely to blame for the current state of our children’s health?