Help moms make better food choices for selves and kids

November 02, 2009

Are our kids at a crossroads, with respect to the foods they eat?

Are our kids at a crossroads, with respect to the foods they eat?

Parents who think it is hip to cultivate their children’s tastes for sushi, shellfish, roast pig, artisanal cheeses, buffalo meat, or other adventurous foods may be inadvertently exposing their young and still-developing immune systems to the risk of parasites or allergies. Soy and peanuts, both common allergens, are common in Chinese and Thai cuisines, for example.

At the other end of the food spectrum are kids growing up with a fondness for burgers, fries, fried chicken, pizza and other junk food – which pose different risks and which we see as primary contributors to America’s obesity scourge.

What are well-meaning parents to do? At, we understand some parents don’t want boring food routines for their offspring, while others can’t afford more than the typical junk food fare. Neither circumstance necessarily leads to a constricted path of food choices – there’s a huge happy middle ground that includes nutrition balanced with treats and the occasional splurge, with plenty of great tastes accessible through seasonings, spices and blends of carefully chosen quality foods. 

Supermarkets and food manufacturers can deliver more households to this mindset, and earn a greater share of the household food dollar, with consistent messaging. 

While one foodie mom penned a book called My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything, she is just one example of a path children can be prompted to take. We see foodies as a fringe group; the shutdown of Gourmet magazine signaled their irrelevance.

By contrast, a recent study by NPD Group, What’s on the Minds of Moms and How Are They Coping, reflects more mainstream thinking. Three-quarters of new moms and 65% of experienced moms say they actively seek out foods with nutrition benefits – yet moms are less likely to actually consume foods with nutrition benefits.

Although 67% of moms think they are “extremely or very knowledgeable” about nutrition or eating, and 81% feel they are their children’s primary source for nutritional education, they are failing to pass the baton – they said a little over half of children between 6 and 17 years old are “somewhat knowledgeable.”

We suggest that rewards will go to the stores and brands that help moms be better nutritional gatekeepers for themselves and their families, and also help moms convey the insights they do have about nutrition and eating to the next generation – so today’s kids can grow up self-reliant and make smarter choices when on their own. There’s a bounty of appropriate choices that fall between octopus and French fries.