When did people make their relationship with food so complicated? Looking back at old shows like I Love Lucy or Leave It to Beaver, these are parents who provided for their families through full-on meals. Come breakfast time, the mom was typically in the kitchen with her apron on, whipping up scrambled eggs and fresh orange juice. There was none of this gluten-free bread heating in the toaster or almond milk waiting for them in the fridge. Our kitchens used to be so wholesome.... simple.
Somewhere in the late '80s/early '90s though, we took a weird turn in the food industry. Parents decided they were too busy to be cooking all morning for the entire family when they had other things to do; kids were suddenly allergic to everything; people began getting pickier and pickier with what they ate.
Looking at all these changes from the outside are the pros; the real food professionals who have studied tirelessly to know what foods are good for us and why. In the age of gluten-free everything, lactose intolerance, and food fad after food fad, nutritional experts are worn out — they're at a loss for words. Here are 20 things that really set them off when it comes to young families today.
20 Feed Healthy Foods — Not Just Any Food
It's respectable that parents just want to be able to feed their children; it's not necessarily what their child eats all the time, it's the fact that there's even food on the table. If a parent isn't financially stable or simply doesn't have the time to cook meals, grabbing some fast food or heating up a frozen meal may be their best option. However, nutritionists are sick of the excuses. Harriet Worobey, a childhood nutrition instructor, told the NY Times "I think parents feel like it’s their job to just make their children eat something, but it’s really their job to serve a variety of healthy foods and get their children exposed to foods.” Watching them eat crispy french fries doused in ketchup is not hard to do, but making sure they're eating their leafy greens is another story.
19 Sugar Is Sugar
You don't need to be on Pinterest long to know that health-conscious people these days are all about swapping ingredients. Instead of using butter, people are now using coconut oil. Instead of adding maple syrup to recipes, they'll select agave nectar instead. But why? Lauren Haris-Pincus, MS, RDN, and author, told NBC News "Sugar is sugar! It doesn’t matter what you call it. Honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar, cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, and more are all code words for sugar."
She goes on to explain that while there are some potential health benefits to these "cleaner" sugars, they're still added sugars — regardless of what kind it is.
18 Kids Are Not Allergic To Everything
I'm not a teacher, but I can only imagine how many of them are bombarded with a list of allergies their children has. When I was in elementary school, we had a peanut-free eating table in the cafeteria for kids who had severe allergies to nuts (remember, this is an age where peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are king). At the time, there was one to two kids who sat there every day; it was not a big allergy back then. But these days? There seem to be parents who are "claiming" their child is allergic or has an intolerance to practically every food group. The problem is, they're not having their kids tested by a professional, they're simply guessing their kid has an intolerance to nuts, dairy, and wheat due to one weird reaction.
If you're so worried about all your child's allergies, get a professional allergy test taken. Don't guess!
17 Restricting Food Only Leads To Cravings
Think about those moments where you're limiting your food intake or cutting certain foods out of your lifestyle. Okay, now think about how bad you want those things knowing you can't have them... The temptation seems to be so much worse. And the same can be for kids when parents take a specific food away from them entirely.
"Parents worry that children will binge on treats, so they often put them out of sight or on a high shelf. But a large body of research shows that if a parent restricts a food, children just want it more," a nutritionist explained to the NY Times.
16 'Eat Your Whole Plate' Could Be Problematic
I know many people who eat their entire plate at dinner because they grew up being told to finish their dinner plate or they weren't allowed to leave the table. However, what if someone simply isn't hungry enough for the piles on their plate? Why can't we serve smaller portions and if someone's still hungry, they can get up for seconds? "Studies have suggested that focusing attention on eating a certain amount of food may promote overeating and result in a lower sensitivity to the amount of calories consumed," US News states. "In other words, encouraging children to eat more may teach them to overeat."
When you're concerned about food waste, that's one thing. But when it's just to make sure your child won't go to bed hungry, most moms seem to overdo this.
15 Don't Reward Your Child For Eating Well
A parent has a ton of responsibilities; making sure their child gets the right amount of nutrition is typically number one on their list, though. They want to make sure their child has every benefit they need to grow up smart and strong. But what happens when their little one doesn't want to eat the healthy foods you prepared them? Well, apparently some parents will whip out the "if you eat your greens, you can have ice cream card," which happens to be counter-intuitive at times. A professional told US News "The use of sweets to encourage a child to eat healthy food, like vegetables, is another common approach. But research shows kids learn to prefer sweets – the reward food – instead of vegetables, and some learn to dislike vegetables."
The professional also explains that this kind of system allows a child to only do well in certain subjects if there's some sort of reward for them in the end.
14 Exchanging Meals For Energy Bars Is Not A Healthy Alternative
As a generation always on-the-go, we barely have enough time to shower and dress in the morning, let alone cook bacon, eggs, and pancakes for our kids before school. There's simply not enough hours in a day to do everything (and if you are one of those moms that can do it all, good for you!).
Sari Greaves, RD, nutrition director for New Jersey's Step Ahead Weight Loss Center explained how more and more moms are just handing their kids these energy, granola, or protein bars as meal replacements — without even knowing what's in them. "Just because energy bars come in tiny packages that say they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals doesn’t necessarily make them a healthy choice," Greaves says.
These "healthy" meals-on-the-go are actually filled with artificial sugars and ingredients that nutritionists constantly have to tell moms are a waste of time.
13 Demanding Bites Is Going To Backfire
Nutritionists have a tough job. They have to constantly educate adults on why their methods are simply backfiring. Leann L. Birch, director of Penn State’s childhood obesity research center told the NY Times "Parents say things like ‘eat your vegetables and you can watch TV,’ but we know that kind of thing doesn’t work either." This kind of method might work once or twice, but for the long run? It's not promising. "The better approach is to put the food on the table and encourage a child to try it. But don’t complain if she refuses, and don’t offer praise if she tastes it. Just ask her if she wants some more or take seconds yourself, but try to stay neutral."
12 Vitamin Drinks???
This has to be my favorite entry on the list! When I was 18 or 19, I went to my college's nutritionist because I was having some health issues. I explained to her that I was drinking sports drinks like Gatorade for some extra vitamins, and she practically laughed in my face. "Gatorade and Vitamin Water might sound healthy, but a 20-ounce bottle of either thirst quencher still exceeds your daily sugar allowance," one professional told a forum. "Sports beverages like Vitamin Water pack 13 g of sugar per 8-ounce serving, or 33 g and 125 calories in a 20-ounce bottle," she says. And when the national Heart Association recommends six-nine teaspoons of sugar a day.... these drinks are doing more harm than good.
11 Gluten Free Blah, Blah, Blah
Oh, you didn't hear? Everyone and their mother now has a gluten intolerance! Yes, gluten-free bread is now the only option!
But seriously... while people with actual diagnosed medical conditions cannot eat wheat or gluten is one subject entirely, people are simply claiming they're gluten-free without even knowing what gluten is. They simply hop on the gluten-free fan bus and go from there. Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, and author, expresses “While it's important to avoid gluten if you have a medical condition, like celiac disease, being gluten-free doesn't automatically make a product better for you." The same can be said for vegan packaged goods. Just because there's a trendy label on it, doesn't make it great. “Gluten-free products can vary greatly in the amount of sugar, [lipids], and other nutrients they contain.”
10 Processed Sweets
Yes, eating processed sweets has been going on for centuries, but now we have healthier alternatives! With all the moves made in science and food, we now have healthier alternatives to practically every packaged example. Dianne Rishikof, MS, RDN, LDN, told Tumblr "It makes me [shudder] when I hear that someone (or a parent feeding their kid) will eat frosting out of the can. Like, they’ll just scoop it out with a finger—or worse, with a cookie." When you realize how long canned frosting lasts, it should make you realize how much junk's in it to keep it that way. "Frosting has got to be one of the [least wise] things you can eat. Why eat it outside of your birthday? Or even then?”
9 Frozen Yogurt Is No Better Than Ice Cream
It's great when parents want to find healthier options for their kids, however, do your research first. Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN founder of Real Nutrition NYC expressed "My clients treat this as a low calories dessert or even a 'freebie,’ but it isn’t! When you go into a place like 16 Handles and then you load it up with toppings such as brownie bites or cookie dough, you are still giving your body a heavy dose of sugar!" She's right, I can't remember how many times I get a dairy-free frozen yogurt but load it up with gummies and peanut butter. At that rate, I might as well get the normal ice cream!
Shapiro suggests that if you're craving ice cream, just eat the ice cream! "Go and get a kiddie size or a small size and walk away. You’ll be eating fewer calories than you would if you got a large frozen yogurt!”
8 Stop Buying Sodas Already!
It's kind of surprising that people still buy their families large packs of soda... I don't think there's one benefit to drinking soda in the least. The only times we see soda companies in the news for doing good is by making a silly commercial or donating funds to an important cause... It's never because 'Cal-free Coke cures acne' or 'Sprite makes you happier.' On the contrary, sodas do the opposite. When your child is thirsty, don't shove a soda or juice in their hands — give them water. Our bodies are 60% water — we need it to survive. If we didn't have water, we wouldn't live. If we didn't have soda, however, well... we'd probably be healthier.
7 Fast And Nutrition-less Breakfasts
Most young moms work more these days than ever before, which means they don't have much time in the mornings because they have to get the kids ready for school and then find time to go to work. However, this doesn't mean feeding them cereal or granola bars is a healthy choice for breakfast. Easy? Absolutely. Healthy? Not so much. "Skipping protein at breakfast and then wondering why you’re hungry is a pet peeve of mine," Marisa Moore, MBA. RDN. LD., Owner, Marisa Moore Nutrition explained. "Granola bars, a couple pieces of fruit, or plain toast don’t get you very far in terms of satiety." However, adding things like eggs, nuts, or even leftover rice and beans are a much suitable means for breakfast that will keep hunger at bay.
6 Social Media 'Experts'
If you have social media accounts, then you've seen the thousands of people selling health supplements, meal delivery options, and telling you what to eat and how much of it. But can we really trust these "experts"? Most are just super in-shape men and women who like to bodybuild. They're not a professional nutritionist.
If you're looking for advice and knowledge about food and the industry we live in, you need to take it seriously and see an actual professional — not someone who looks the part on your feed.
It's accounts like these that "educate" many young women, who then go see a professional thinking they already know everything they need to when that's not the case. It's then the pro's job to debunk it all.
5 Giving Up Too Soon
The easiest way to get your kid to eat their veggies is to start them young. If you wait until after your child learns how to say "no," you could be in for a rude awakening. Harriet Worobey, a childhood nutrition instructor, told the NY Times she hears parents say "My kid would never eat that" all the time. However, she urges parents to keep trying. Cut up and prepare a variety of healthy snacks and meals. Place them on the table at snack time and let your kids try new things at their own disposal. "In young children, it may take 10 or more attempts over several months to introduce a food."
4 Fad Foods For The Family
It seems like every few months there's a new food fad being unleashed to the universe. One day everyone is Paleo (eating like a caveman) and the next day, everyone is on the Whole30. With so many trendy ways to eat, which one is right? Well, according to these up and coming experts on the rise, none of them.
Harriet, Elisabeth, and Caroline told Not Plantbased that they are in the process of becoming registered pros, and they're making their dislike for these trendy fads known.
After seeing countless 'road to health' stories on social media that have no facts behind them, they took their worries to the government to be able to protect the words 'nutritionist' and related professional titles because so many bloggers are throwing the words around. But what are the fads that bother them the most in young families? Sugar-free, detoxes, superfoods (what even is a superfood?), gluten, and supplements.
3 Buy Fresh Fruit, Not Canned
Fresh produce can get expensive depending on the season and supermarket you buy them from. However, these days there are so many options to get the fruits and veggies your family needs without costing you a month's worth of rent. There are Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs where you can get produce weekly/monthly from a local farm. There are also farms that get rid of their "ugly" produce for cheap, solely because it won't sell on shelves. Knowing how many options there are, parents should try and avoid canned/jarred fruits. Amy Gorin, MS, told MSN "You could swap a slice of cake for fruit cocktail and your body wouldn't know the difference." That's right, not all fruit is created equal.
If you are buying canned fruit, Gorin says to look for ones without added sugar or juice.
2 Baking Is Fun, But Skip On The Food Dyes
Every holiday season we're bombarded commercials of mommy and child baking in the kitchen. "What an adorable activity to do together!" every mother says to herself. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with bonding with your child, giving them the food-dye dox and letting them go to town on practically everything they eat is not a good look. MSN explains that nutritionist Julie Pech says she"discovered she was allergic to food dyes" a few years back. "Anytime she would eat or drink something that contained a food dye, she'd become depressed within 24 hours," the site explains. "I know when I've [made an oops] because my mood will change for no reason. Usually, everything is back to normal in a day, once my body has a chance to get rid of it. Many people are allergic to food dyes, and I'm a big advocate for clean-eating," she says.
1 Safe-Choice Everything
I'm a big label reader. When I go shopping and buy packaged food, my husband always knows to turn the container over so I can read what's in it. If there are more than 20 ingredients in there, with words I can't even pronounce, I typically put it back. Our health is too important. This is why I giggle every time I see something that says it doesn't contain lipids. Is that supposed to mean it's healthy now?
Tanya Freirich, MS, RD told MSN "When the food company takes out the [lipids], they usually add a lot of sugar or man-made ingredients to achieve a similar taste." If you're looking for healthier options, try "Healthy [alternatives] like olive oil, avocado, and nuts," she says.