Q: How can I keep my toddler from eating junk food at other people’s houses?
A: If you work hard to keep your kids away from junk food, there is nothing more frustrating than others offering them unhealthy treats when they are visiting. What can you do? Part of the challenge is how well you know the people you are visiting and whether you can have an open and honest conversation with them about your children’s diets. Many people are offended by the suggestion that what they are feeding their own kids is junk or will decide you are overly strict if you do not allow “treats” (particularly common among grandparents). The best strategy, especially with young children, is to bring your own food for all occasions. Pack up healthy treats or healthier versions of treats that may be served (for example, organic alternatives for cookies or snacks without artificial colorings or flavorings) to offer instead. If you are able, try simple conversations about how sugar or artificial colorings affect your child’s behavior and educate your children about the benefits of healthy food. Kids can learn to make wise choices early on. And for those stubborn grandparents: realize that a mostly healthy diet at home is going to do your kids a world of good even if you can’t stop all junk from entering their environment!
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