Here’s an oldie but a goodie.  In light of all the renewed conversation about childhood obesity, school lunches and marketing of foods to kids, I thought readers might enjoy this post a second time around.


I want to be clear: the items on this list aren’t dangerous in the sense that they are poisonous.

But they are dangerous in the sense that they poison your children’s eating habits.

Danger #1: Regularly eating any of these items will constrict rather than expand the range of foods your children will accept.

Nothing on the list looks, smells, tastes or feels like any of the new foods you’re always coaxing your kids to eat. This matters because kids eat foods with sensory properties they’re used to.  Instead of introducing new tastes and textures, the foods on this list reinforce the ones your kids already enjoy.  They’re all…

  • Bland or Sweet
  • Liquid/non-chewable goo or Chewy/Crunchy

Danger #2: These foods all point your children’s taste buds in the direction of the junk you’re trying to control.

When “healthy” foods mimic junk they encourage your children to eat more junk. For instance…

  • Chocolate milk has more sugar than some chocolate bars and drinking it regularly teaches kids to like chocolate, not milk.
  • Oatmeal breakfast bars taste more like cookies than oatmeal (and are usually less nutritious than oatmeal cookies).

Danger #3: These foods trick YOU into teaching your kids these foods are healthy.

These items seem to pass nutritional muster — if barely — and because you’ve got your eyes on monitoring vegetables and junk, these items slip right by.

Even worse, because these foods (and I use the term loosely) seem “good enough” (even though they’re really not) they fill in for healthier fare, and that’s what we teach our kids. Who hasn’t made their kids finish their mac & cheese, their pizza, or their bagel (because it’s the “good” stuff) before moving on to dessert?

“Dangerous” Foods can be used safely, they just have to be used sparingly.

  • Be Unpredictable: Make sure there’s a gap of at least one day between “uses” so your kids don’t expect these items as daily fare.
  • Be Selective: Don’t use more than 1 or 2 items from the list on any one day.
  • Be Choosy: Consider these items as stand-ins for junk (even if they’re healthier) and then let your kids choose between these foods and the junk they clamor for. Make it sweet yogurt or ice cream, chocolate milk or cookies…

10 Most “Dangerous” Foods (in no particular order):

1) Cheese Read What’s the Problem with Cheese?

2) Sweet Yogurt Read Yogurt vs. Coke

3) “Healthy” crunchy snacks like veggie chips, pretzels or Goldfish crackers. Read Goldfish vs. Bunnies and Potato Chips Win Again!

4) Bagel and Cream Cheese Read The Snacking Minefield and Manna from Heaven.

5) Granola or Breakfast Bars Read Cookies for Breakfast?!

6) Chocolate Milk Read Chocolate Milk vs. Chocolate Bars and Chocolate-Flavored Formula Rocks!

7) Juice Read Training Tiny Taste Buds

8) Sports Drinks Read Soccer Moms, BEWARE!

9) Pizza Read Pizza and Peas: The Untold Story.

10) Macaroni & Cheese Read Mac & Cheese Scores Again!

You may have a slightly different group of dangerous foods, but if you’re having trouble getting your kids to eat something exotic (like tuna, tomatoes or turnips) evaluate the foods you feed them on a regular basis.

And then start mixing it up. Read House Building 101.

~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~