What To Do When Grandparents Feed Your Kids Junk

What To Do When Grandparents Feed Your Kids Junk

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When your kids go to grandma and grandpa’s house, chances are they’re offered some sort of treat or type of junk food.

Fast food for lunch, baking and eating grandma’s favorite chocolate chip cookies and indulging in cotton candy and ice cream at the amusement park: isn’t it what childhood memories are made of?

Yes, according to a 2013 study out of the U.K., which found 83-percent of parents say their kids eat plenty of chocolate or cake while they’re with their grandparents.

Getting your kids to eat healthy not only requires you to plan healthy meals but you also need to be patient and consistent. So when grandparents put the kibosh on all your hard work, it can make your job that much harder.

A treat or two is OK, but when grandparents feed the kids junk food 24/7, what’s a parent to do?

When grandparents feed your kids junk: say something or stay mum?

I think it all depends on how much you care about what your kids eat when they’re at their grandparents house and how often they’re actually eating junk.

Since my kids eat a healthy, whole foods diet, I don’t mind if they have some cookies at their grandparent’s houses or they take them out for ice cream. Since we don’t live nearby to either family, they don’t see them every week so it really is a treat.

If getting your kids to eat healthy is already a challenge and letting it be a free-for-all at their grandparents’ house makes it harder, maybe you should talk to them about finding a middle ground. Perhaps your kids can indulge in a piece of cake but when they’re with their grandparents, all of their meals should be healthy.

Another thing to take into consideration is how much time your kids spend at their grandparents’ house. If they care for your kids when you’re working and you don’t pack their meals, what exactly are they eating? If most of their meals are packaged and processed and they’re still allowed to eat treats, then it’s probably a good idea to say something or start packing their meals and snacks.

If you both agree that your child’s health is important, then you can probably find a solution to make sure the kids are eating healthy most of the time. The key is not to criticize or attack, but to explain why it’s important to you that your kids eat healthy and hopefully the grandparents will agree. If you’re up against your in-laws, ask your spouse to be part of the conversation and back you up.

Think: do grandparents eat junk too?

If grandma and grandpa don’t cook and rely on grab-and-go meals or fast food or they eat out frequently, expecting them to feed your kids healthy isn’t realistic. If they make healthy eating a priority for themselves, then they’ll probably make it a priority for your kids too.

Both my mom and my in-laws cook and always serve vegetables with meals so I am confident that my kids are eating healthy even if they do eat some treats.

Good reasons to push back on junk food

If you know your kids will get hyper after eating sugar or something with artificial food dyes or they’ll get a stomachache or become constipated after eating fast food or over-indulging in treats, then you should say something.

I’m not suggesting you ban treats altogether, but ask the grandparents to be aware of how junk food affects your kids so they won’t go overboard next time.

What do you do when your kids’ grandparents feed them junk?

10 Foods That Relieve Constipation in Kids

10 Foods That Relieve Constipation in Kids

If your kids are picky eaters and you can’t get them to eat fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables or they don’t drink enough water, chances are they’ll become constipated.

Kids who are active and never sit down long enough to poop or those that are afraid to poop at school can also become constipated.

Constipation is common with kids. In fact, nearly 5 percent of pediatrician visits are because of constipation, according to a report in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care.

One of the best ways to relieve your kids’ constipation is by eating high-fiber foods. Here are 10.

High fiber foods: fruits


Kids love to pick up small pieces of food and raspberries are sweet little gems that taste delicious and are filled with fiber: one cup has 8 grams.

Add raspberries to a parfait, plain Greek Yogurt or serve them with breakfast for a delicious and filling way to start the day.

Asian pears

With 4 grams of fiber in one serving, Asian pears are a great way to relieve constipation.

I love to sprinkle cinnamon on top of pears and roast them but you can also grill them or pop them in the microwave. Since they’re so soft, they also make a great first food for babies.


If your kids eat Fig Newtons, why not see if they’ll eat figs? One large fig contains 2 grams of fiber and they’re delicious.

You can also try dried figs but they contain more sugar so it shouldn’t be a food your kids eat all the time.

High fiber foods: vegetables


Raw or cooked, broccoli is a good source of fiber—2 grams in every cup.

Serve raw broccoli with a bean dip, sauté it with garlic and olive oil or make a broccoli quiche for breakfast.

Sweet potatoes

Swap sweet potatoes for white potatoes because it’s a good way for kids to get fiber. One cup has 7 grams.

Roast sweet potatoes, make sweet potato fries or make a sweet potato hash for breakfast.

Brussels sprouts

A half a cup of Brussels sprouts has 2 grams of fiber and although they might be a hard sell for some kids, the more you offer them, the more likely your kids are to try them.

My kids like roasted Brussels sprouts but you can also blanch them or add a handful of raisins.

High fiber foods: beans and legumes


With 9 grams of fiber in one cup, peas are an excellent way to get fiber into your kid’s diet.

Serve peas as an appetizer, add them to stir fries or pasta dishes or pack them as a snack.

Black beans
My kids love to eat beans and with a whopping 15 grams per cup, they’re one of the best sources of fiber.

Black beans are also quite versatile. Add them to soups, stews and most Mexican dishes.

Like black beans, chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, have plenty of fiber: 11 grams per cup.

Add chickpeas to salads, make your own hummus or roast them for a healthy snack.

High fiber foods: nuts and seeds

If your kids have food allergies, nuts and seeds might not be an option. But if your kids can eat certain types, it’s a great way to get their fill of fiber.

Add nuts and seeds to oatmeal, smoothies or serve as a snack.

5 Healthy Foods Your Kids Will Actually Eat

5 Healthy Foods Your Kids Will Actually Eat

When it comes to feeding your kid healthy food, you pull out all the stops. You beg, negotiate, and try to be sneaky. You make food into funny faces, add cheese to everything and cook the same old meal a different way. But no matter how much you try, your kids won’t even take a bite.

Getting your kids to eat healthy foods can be a challenge but if you’re consistent and do your best to provide healthy meals and snacks, one day your kids might surprise you not only by eating a new food, but loving it.

Here are 5 healthy foods my kids eat and I bet your kids will too.

1. Chia seeds
My kids love chia seeds especially when I make chia seed pudding. Chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Two tablespoons has 4 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber, as well as omega-3 fatty acids which are good for your kid’s heart, brain, eyes and skin. Add chia seeds to cereal, oatmeal, muffins, yogurt or blend them up in a smoothie.

2. Avocado
Rich in healthy, monounsaturated fats, avocados are beneficial for your kid’s brain health and skin. They’re also so delicious and versatile: add avocado to salad, as a substitute for mayonnaise or make guacamole as a snack.

3. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and a great source of fiber and potassium. Cut up and roast sweet potatoes, slice and bake them for a healthy alternative to French fries, or grate them for a breakfast hash.

4. Beans
I know what you’re thinking: there’s no way I can get my kids to eat beans!
But hear me out: kids love little pieces of food. They like to snack and they like finger foods.

Try packing a teaspoon of beans in their lunch bags, serve them for breakfast or offer them on taco night instead of meat. There are so many types of beans, I bet your kids will find a type they’ll love.

5. Jicama
Jicama, (pronounced HEE-kah-ma) is a root vegetable that tastes crunchy, starchy and a bit sweet all at the same time. Jicama is a great source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber to keep your kids feeling full. Cut up jicama and pair with hummus or roast them with a sprinkle of salt for a tasty, healthy snack.

How to Get Your Kids To Drink More Water

How to Get Your Kids To Drink More Water

I’m constantly drinking water throughout the day. It keeps up my energy levels, prevents me from overeating and helps me to take bathroom breaks so I’m not sitting behind my desk for too long.

When it comes to my kids drinking enough water, however, it often takes a lot of persuasion. They tell me, “I’m not thirsty,” even after having a meal. Or they’ll take a quick sip of water to appease me so they can go back to playing with their dolls.

Getting your kids to drink more water and stay hydrated is more important than you may realize.

When your kids are mildly dehydrated it can make them feel tired, lack focus and make them struggle with easy tasks, which could explain those non-stop meltdown.

Studies show brain tissue can even temporarily shrink without enough water in the body. And even if your kids eat healthy, they could become constipated.

To get your kids to drink more water, here are 5 things I’ve discovered can help.

Buy a new cup
I usually buy my kids glass or stainless steel water bottles because they don’t have chemicals and last a long time. But kids love anything new so when they both of them received a plastic sports bottle at a birthday party recently, they became obsessed. They brought that cheap black and orange bottle everywhere they went and drank up like they were in the Saraha desert.

Use a straw
I don’t know what it is about straws, but kids just love them. Go to Target, pick up a package of colorful straws and watch in amazement by how much water your kid can down.

Add flavor
Forget adding juice or an artificial sweetener to their water—both have too much sugar. Instead, put a slice of lemon, lime, cucumber or a few strawberries in their bottle and it may help your kid drink more water.

Use fruit cubes
Instead of regular ice cubes, try freezing fruit with some water in ice cube trays and add it your kid’s cup.

Tucker them out
My daughters and I often go to the high school track on the weekends and run a few laps together. It’s a great way for them to get exercise, burn off some energy and work up a sweat. Whether it’s the park, an indoor play space or your backyard, get your kids moving and thirsty for some water.

What are some ways you get your kids to drink more?

Should you ask your child’s pediatrician for nutritional advice?

Should you ask your child’s pediatrician for nutritional advice?

“Mommy, will I get a pretzel?,” my youngest child asked as we drove to the pediatrician’s office for her well visit.

Yep, that’s right. Pretzels. At the pediatrician’s office. Lots of sodium, no nutritional value whatsoever. And after a well visit from someone whose main goal is to keep my kids healthy.

I suppose I should be happy it’s not a lollipop.

The first time the pediatrician gave a pretzel to my older child at one of her well visits, I was surprised. It’s not the worst food a kid can eat but it’s definitely not the most nutritious.

Kids are already eating way too many processed, sodium-filled foods. In fact, a study in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that almost 90 percent of children consume more than the upper level of sodium recommended for their age group.

Perhaps what’s even more strange is that the doctor handed her a pretzel after he charted her height and weight, her growth trends and body mass index (BMI), measured her blood pressure, asked about her diet and talked about making sure she was getting enough calcium, iron-rich foods and she avoided juice.

I also wondered why the doctor was giving my kid food in the first place? I doubt it’s for good behavior since so many kids scream bloody murder when they get their shots. To be fair, they also hand out stickers so I suppose they want the children to remember their experience as a positive one.

Don’t get me wrong. My kids eat pretzels but it’s usually at a party or as an occasional treat on the weekends. Packaged food doesn’t make its way into my home or my kids’ mouths very often.

I don’t believe in labeling foods “good” or “bad” for my kids, only healthy or unhealthy. I also don’t want to make any food off limits because this could create an unhealthy relationship with food as they get older. So they are allowed to get a pretzel at the doctor’s. But when it comes to their pediatrician, I take their advice with a grain of salt.

24 Hours Of Nutrition Education

When it comes to your children’s health, your pediatrician should always be your first source of information and advice. They know your children best and can help you find specialists and support from other providers should you need them.

Out of all the types of doctors, I think pediatricians are unique. Most choose the profession because they love kids and want them to have a healthy future. Unlike other types of doctors, they also work with the patient and the entire family to make sure children have the best start in life.

When my daughters were babies, we had one of the best pediatricians around. He would spend well over an hour at each visit to make sure we understood everything and that he addressed our concerns. I never felt rushed and I always thought that he gave me the information and empowered my husband and I to make the best choices for our children. I will forever be grateful to him for his support and care.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that pediatricians play a crucial role when it comes to preventing childhood obesity, and they should be a resource for the community and be a part of the solution, particularly because they typically follow children for years.

According to this report, they state, “Even when families have sufficient knowledge of healthy behaviors, they may need help from pediatricians to develop the motivation to change, to provide encouragement through setbacks, and to identify and support appropriate community resources that will help them successfully implement behavior changes.”

When it comes to nutrition, however, most pediatricians aren’t the best people to get information and advice from.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that physicians receive an average of 23.9 hours of nutrition instruction while in medical school. That’s not even a day devoted to learning about the one thing that can make or break your child’s health.

What’s more, 71 percent of medical schools in the U.S. don’t provide 25 hours of nutrition education—the minimum amount that’s recommended, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Biomedical Education, found.

Another study found that fourth year medical and osteopathic school graduates who were entering a pediatric residency program could correctly answer only 52 percent of the questions about nutrition.

Surprisingly, pediatric gastroenterology is the only pediatric subspecialty that requires nutrition to be part of its official curriculum and objective. Although most of these doctors say they have an average or above average knowledge of nutrition, 67 percent want to learn more about childhood obesity, a study in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.

No Time For Nutrition

Your pediatrician will probably ask a few questions about your child’s diet but between the time it takes to chart his growth curves, ask all of the questions required for insurance, review all of the developmental screenings, and perform the physical exam, there’s not much time left to take a deep dive into what your children eat, how much and if they have healthy eating habits.

In fact, nearly 50 percent of parents say their pediatricians spend only between 11 and 20 minutes for well visits and approximately one-third say they spend less than 10 minutes, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics.

Although there are some doctors who have more time to spend with patients, or those who are more knowledgeable when it comes to nutrition, chances are, you’re better off finding a pediatric nutritionist to help you tackle things like picky eating, overeating, special diets and food allergies.

Have you received nutritional advice from your child’s pediatrician? Was it helpful or off base?

How To Make Homemade Baby Food—Fast

How To Make Homemade Baby Food—Fast

Like anything else before I was a mom, I never gave much thought to what I would feed my baby.

When I was pregnant, I read about the benefits of breastfeeding and decided that I would breastfeed for at least a year. But starting solids didn’t seem like a big deal to me. Other moms I knew fed their kids baby food in a jar and that seemed like the thing to do. I had written a story about Plum Organics and their organic baby food pouches seemed like a good idea too.

After I read The Baby and Toddler Cookbook however, I was certain that homemade baby food was going to be the best decision for my family. And when I started to steam and puree fruits and vegetables for my daughter, I realized that it was easy, quick and even less expensive than store-bought baby food.

When I offered my daughter all of the wonderful new flavors, tastes and textures, I was so excited. I enjoyed knowing exactly what I was feeding her and I knew that by exposing her to fresh baby food, she would learn what real food tastes like and she would grow into a healthy eater.

The Case For Homemade

Making your own homemade baby food is one of the best things you can do for your baby. You can choose food that is organic, local, from the farmer’s market and those that are in-season so they’re fresher and more affordable.

Although many of the store-bought brands don’t have preservatives or additives, open them up and you’ll smell—and taste—the difference. In 2015, Good Morning America found that water was the most predominant ingredient in Plum Organics’ baby food and other ingredients like fruits, vegetables and meat, were in smaller quantities.

Store-bought baby food may also contain less than 20 percent of the recommended levels of many minerals and micronutrients, a 2012 study out of the U.K found.

Although you may want to make your own baby food, you might be strapped for time. No problem. I can’t guarantee that it’s not work, but it doesn’t have to be time consuming. Here are some tips to make baby food fast.

1. Get the right gear
To make large batches fast, I recommend you purchase a large steamer if you don’t already have one and a blender.

You can also find all-in-one baby food systems that allow you to steam and puree food quickly. Later on when your baby can handle chunkier textures, a food processor will do the trick.

Baby food can be stored in the refrigerator for three days so if you want to freeze larger batches, you’ll also need containers or ice cube trays. After they’re frozen, simply pop them out into a plastic freezer bag to free up the containers.

2. Make it in batches
You might find that making small batches every few days is easier or spending a couple of hours on the weekend to make large batches to last a few weeks is best. You can find time when your baby naps or after he goes to sleep at night if you’re not too exhausted yourself.

3. Mash it up
At 7-months-old, all types of fruit except for apples can be pureed or mashed without being cooked, Liza Huber, Founder of Sage Bears, LLC and creator of Sage Spoonfuls told me for this Fox News story.

4. Feed your baby what you eat
As your baby gets older and you introduce new foods and textures, you can set aside your own meals and put them in the blender or food processor so it has a consistency he can handle. If you have a pot of rice already on the stove for example, set some aside for a vegetable risotto for your baby.

5. Get help
Feeding your family should be a family affair so ask your partner or another family member to help out. Or make part of the process easier—and faster—by having your groceries delivered every week.

The #1 Reason Kids Need To Eat Healthy (Hint: It’s Not Picky Eating)

The #1 Reason Kids Need To Eat Healthy (Hint: It’s Not Picky Eating)

Google “picky eating” and you’ll get 5,220,000 results on everything from “How to Handle Picky Eaters,” to “Is Picky Eating An Eating Disorder?”

It’s a topic that is on the minds of most parents today.

In fact, according to a survey by Abbott, 58 percent of moms say the most significant challenge they deal with on a daily basis is making sure their child eats healthy and nutritious meals.

Another recent report found that although most parents know that healthy eating habits during childhood will affect their children’s health throughout their lives, only 17% say their children’s diet is “very healthy.”

As a mom of two young kids, I know that picky eating is frustrating. From snubbing vegetables and shunning new tastes and textures, to refusing to eat altogether, meal times can be a real challenge.

But picky eating isn’t the problem. Kids need to eat healthy because their lives depend on it.

Food is Medicine

You already know that healthy food nourishes your children’s bodies and minds and gives them the nutrients they need for normal growth and development.

But what your kids eat today will affect them for the rest of their lives. Feed them plenty of saturated fat, packaged, processed foods, refined grains and sugar-laden treats and you can almost guarantee your kid will be at risk for the laundry list of medical conditions and diseases that are killing Americans at an alarming rate.

Things like type-2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, leaky gut syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), autoimmune disease, sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, thyroid disease and cancer.

Of course genetics and lifestyle play a role too, but nutrition has a lot to do with it.

Whether your children are overweight or stick thin, they need to learn what healthy food looks like, how to eat healthy and how to have a healthy relationship with food.

The time is now

When you were pregnant, you did everything you possible could to ensure your pregnancy was a healthy one. You ate healthy and exercised, selected the best medical provider and stayed away from sushi. You knew that the health of your pregnancy would ultimately affect the health of your baby.

When kids become toddlers however, things change. Of course you care more than anything about raising a healthy child, but many parents loosen up about what they feed their kids.

Sure, what you feed your kids now may not have any affect on their health. But if you truly want to raise a healthy kids, you need to start now.

In the U.S., our medical model isn’t built around wellness and disease prevention. For example, although heart disease is the number one leading cause of death, we only pay attention to middle age men and women who are at risk instead of preventing heart disease by teaching kids how to eat healthy and exercise when they’re young.

But they’re kids!

You might think, “But kids should be kids! I don’t want to rob them of their childhood.”

To me, that sounds a little extreme. And absurd.

Feed your kids healthy=take away their childhood?

That’s like saying you shouldn’t discipline them, or teach them right from wrong, or instill a sense of responsibility and independence in them because it could potentially ruin their childhood.

I’m not suggesting that kids shouldn’t enjoy cookies, ice cream and birthday cake. Of course they should. But a majority of what they eat should be healthy, whole foods.

Like anything else that comes along with parenting, it won’t be easy but it can be done.

Welcome & Why I Started This Blog

Welcome & Why I Started This Blog

Whether you found me through Google, on social media, or I sent you a link (thanks for reading, mom), I’m so glad you’re here

Although I’m new to the blogosphere under my own brand, I’m no stranger to writing informative, engaging content for news outlets, magazines and corporations.

Since 2011, I’ve written the Healthy Mama column for Fox News where I cover everything from pregnancy and pediatricians to picky eating and beyond. I even get to write some great stories like the one about women who are obsessed with losing their baby weight or this one about women have orgasms during childbirth.

If you read FIRST for Women magazine, the second best-selling women’s consumer magazine in the U.S., you may have seen my stories about women who overcame extreme fatigue and serious health conditions, lost a ton of weight and tips to help your child deal with stress.

I’ve also written for brands like What To Expect, Disney’s Babble.com and Care.com.

But I’m not just a writer, I’m a mom of two daughters, ages 3 and 5, who are watching my every step and ask a ton of questions all day long. Everything from—do you like Peppa Pig? And why are you wearing that sweater? To is your belly button and innie or an outie? And why can’t we have chocolate for breakfast?

They also want to know why I go to the gym most mornings while they’re still sleeping. To that I answer: because it makes me happy, fit, and balanced. It makes me a better mom.

Why I started this blog

It sounds cliché but my goal for this blog is to change the world, starting with how we feed our kids.

Although your child’s picky eating probably makes you want to pull your hair out, I want you to stop thinking that your goal is to stop picky eating. Instead, I want you to think about why your kids should be eating healthy now and throughout their lives.

Obesity is an epidemic in this country, not to mention the thousands of people who are diagnosed each year with diabetes, heart disease and a slew of health conditions that can often be prevented through diet alone. Although childhood obesity persists, I think that whether your children are overweight or stick thin, they need to learn how to be healthy so they always will be.

I think what many parents get wrong is thinking kids should be kids. They don’t want to deprive them of their favorite foods because they think they’re somehow robbing their children of their childhood.

Yet in reality, they’re robbing them of a healthy life. Maybe not now, but definitely in the future. Make no mistake that the foods you feed your kids today will affect them for the rest of their lives.

That’s not to say kids shouldn’t enjoy treats and get to indulge once in a while, but what they eat most of the time should be healthy, real food.

When I had my first child, I was given The Baby & Toddler Cookbook as a gift. As I read about how to make healthy, delicious homemade baby food, I was couldn’t wait to try all of the recipes and introduce my daughter to the new and interesting flavors, textures and tastes.

When she started solids, I realized that feeding her was way more important than I had ever realized. By choosing healthy foods, I was setting the stage for her health throughout her life.

Now that she’s older, she loves to eat salads, lentils and salmon. When dinner is served, she’s excited and embraces new foods. My other daughter is a bit more picky but she’s just as adventurous.

I’m convinced that part of the reason my children are healthy eaters is that I ate healthy while I was pregnant and breastfeeding, which studies show make a big difference. If you’re pregnant, I encourage you to do the same. But whether your child is 2 or 12, you can still convert your picky eater into a healthy, adventurous foodie.

I’m not a nutritionist and I don’t have all the answers, but through this blog, it’s my goal to share what I have learned and what has worked for me so that it may be able to help you too.

Every time you read my blog, you’ll get my personal stories, new research I’ve read, tips from leading experts and some healthy, delicious recipes along the way. Have a question, suggestion or a comment? Always feel free to drop me a line.

I’m just like you.

As a child of the 80’s, I ate a lot of TV dinners, meals in bags and boxes, and anything that was easy, fast and convenient. To this day, my stomach turns when I think about Tuna Helper.

Vegetables were served but not nearly as often as I serve them to my kids. I don’t blame my parents—that’s how most families ate. But since I didn’t learn how to eat healthy or learn healthy eating habits, I struggled with my weight throughout my 20’s until I finally took control. You can read more about my story here.

Like you, I’m a busy mom who is overwhelmed and stressed out. One minute I’m churning out a work project and the next I’m wiping tears and giving hugs. I wipe butts and bloody noses, clean up vomit and give baths and deal with everyday meltdowns and bedtime battles.

Like you, I spend my time as if I’m a 1950’s housewife: cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and ironing the clothes. On top of that there’s an endless list of errands, lunches to pack, school forms, homework, afterschool activities, doctor’s appointments, budgets to stay on top of and bills to pay.

Like you, I want only the best for my kids. But I’m not perfect and each day I’m learning and striving to do the best I can with what I know.

Thanks again for finding me. I’m excited to share this journey with you and I hope we can learn from each other along the way.