The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

10 Foods You Shouldn’t Feed Your Kids


The Recipe of the Week: Healthy Mac and Cheese

A friend recently sent me an article titled “Ten Foods You Should Never Feed Your Kids.”  I was appalled to read the list and realize it was pretty much a list of my kids favorite foods.  In fact, if I told my kids these were the only ten foods they were allowed to eat, they would be ecstatic:

  • Sugary cereals
  • Hot dogs
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Fruit snacks
  • Pop/sports drinks
  • Lunchables
  • Hard candy and lollipops
  • Pop Tarts
  • Fast food kid’s meals
  • Packaged mac and cheese

The article listed lots of good reasons why these foods were unhealthy, most centered around them being too high in sugar, fat, sodium or chemicals.  I don’t disagree, but I do have a 7 year old who may die of starvation if his diet doesn’t have some form of mac and cheese in it.  And don’t tell me to try to sneak pureed veggies in his mac and cheese – tried that, it failed.

So as a mom of 7, who has had to deal with more than one picky eater, here’s how I approach the list above.  There are a few foods on that list I never, ever buy: pop, sports drinks, and fruit snacks.  Pop is just too full of chemicals for me to ever feel okay giving it to my kids and fruit snacks are just gummy bears.  I absolutely love gummy bears, but I don’t kid myself that they are fruit.  There are some foods on the list that I will allow my children to eat on a fairly infrequent basis like Lunchables, which are reserved for school field trips, and lollipops and candy, which they talk their father into buying.

Then there are some foods like Pop Tarts, kid’s cereal, and mac and cheese, that you will usually find in my house.  Do I have even the faintest belief that they are healthy food?  No.  But I also have lots of fresh fruit and veggies and yogurt in my fridge and I hope that balances out the PopTart they may eat a few times a week, or the evenings I swing through a fast food restaurant and come home with chicken nuggets.

Personally, most days I consider myself successful if I have managed to get some servings of fresh fruits and veggies into my picky eaters and I call it a day.  I also take heart that my adult children are pretty healthy eaters, so if we can make it through these picky childhood years, everything should end up okay!

The Recipe of the Week is for a healthy mac and cheese, maybe your kids are less picky than mine!


Holli Seabury, CEO

McMillen Center for Health Education

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