…Consider doling out a donut instead.

  • Donuts score better in the nutrition department. (Now that’s something I never thought I would say!)
  • Parents are also more honest about them.  We teach our kids that donuts are indulgences, not healthy foods.  I wish they would tell their children the same thing about muffins.

This may be one of the most controversial entries I’ve ever posted.

People are pretty attached to the idea that muffins, or at least their muffins, are healthy.

But I stand behind my message: no matter how healthy your muffins are, they teach the wrong habit if you use them as if they’re anything but cake. Keep reading to find out why.


After reading the stats on muffins, you’ll be tempted to start searching for healthier muffins. Don’t do it! 

The nutritional gain only seems good because the numbers start off so bad.  The effect on your kids’ eating habits, however, will always remain the same—even if they’re eating super-de-duper, beefed-up, nutritional-gold-medal, powerhouse, mighty-muffins.

Regular muffin-eating doesn’t just teach your kids to like muffins, it teaches them:

  • What kinds of food people eat in the morning.
  • How often people should eat muffins compared to other foods.  Every muffin morning isn’t an egg morning, for instance.
  • To gravitate towards the taste and texture of baked goods, rather than towards the experience of fresh foods.

And the list of lessons goes on…  Read When is a cookie NOT a cookie?

Muffins have mistakenly acquired a halo of health.

Don’t be conned.  Think of muffins as the Lady Gaga of baked goods— they’ve acquired a better reputation than they deserve.  At Dunkin’ Donuts, though, even the cookies fare better than the muffins.  Check out the Dunkin’ Donuts Nutrition Guide, and you’ll see what I mean.

Could the muffin-halo-hype really be about the bran (which muffins rarely contain anymore)?

Dunkin’ Donuts sells 70 different kinds of donuts and 7 different muffins.  Here are the numbers.

Donuts have FEWER CALORIES than muffins!

  • 50% of the donuts deliver 310 calories or less.  Only 3 donuts pack in more than 490 calories and theworst one has only 555 calories.
  • All of the muffins have 450 calories or more; 40% have more than 600 calories.

Donuts have LESS SUGAR than muffins!

  • 97% of the donuts contain less than 24 grams of sugar.
  • The muffins all have 35 grams or more.

Donuts have LESS FAT than muffins!

  • The average donut has 16 grams of fat.
  • The average muffin has 20 grams of fat.

Donuts have LESS SODIUM than muffins!

  • 50% of the donuts have 340 mg of sodium or less; 81% have less than 400 mg of sodium.
  • All the muffins exceed 400 mg of sodium (and the corn muffin tops out at 840 mg).

Wondering about the good nutrients?

Muffins WIN on protein!

  • Each muffin delivers 5 grams or more of protein.  In contrast, only 27% of the donuts pack the same protein punch.  Most donuts deliver between 3-4 grams of protein instead.

Donuts and muffins TIE on fiber.

  • Donuts and muffins average 2 grams of fiber each.

“But my kid only eats half.”

Instead of thinking of half a muffin as portion control, think of half as a challenge.  It’s like saying to your child, “You can only handle half now, but wait until you’re a little older. Then you’ll eat the whole thing.”  (Don’t believe me? Think of the last time you saw a non-toddler-type person stop at 1/2 a muffin.)

But even full-grown adults don’t benefit from downing a gargantuan glob of baked goodness.  Does anyone really need to blow ¼ of their daily calories on a sugar-laden land mine?

Treat all baked goods as if they were donuts and you’ll teach your kids how to fit them into their diet in the right way. 

Kids who eat muffins more often than they should become adults who do the same—unless they retrain their habits later in life.

 ~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~