How Much Junk Food Do You Let Your Kids Eat

Updated on March 24, 2012
S.D. asks from Peoria, AZ
20 answers

I am just curious as to what the kids can eat or not eat in your home. ( candy, cookies, ice cream, milk shakes, ect...) Do you monitor it or do you allow them to monitor. Please state your ages as you respond. I find myself a bit strict so thinking I need to be a little more flexiable, but so afraid they will become over weight and not know when to
stop. Add in the soda intake too if you can. thanks moms

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So What Happened?

okay thank you for all your input. My girls are not over weight, they are very good eaters and do well with most everything. My oldest always want soda or a slurpee and desire that over water. So I have to really limit what she can and can't have . It seems to be a little battle when going out. I feel now that she is older she should moderate her own intake of soda, but she does I still feel like a police. My kids don't get treats after dinner but they get something simple in the lunches. We never order dessert at a restaurant. They will eat fruit but I have to encourage it. It just seems like a hard thing for us to get a handle on. I am always a police in the household to not go to junk food............just felt like I was alone. Many of you that responded had little any of you with older kids 10+ would be great to still hear, although I know it starts early on :0) My kids did not get soda or candy until they turned 6.

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answers from Dallas on

My son ( ten years old ) does not eat a lot of junk food and it's actually mostly his choice. He does like vanilla ice cream which he has a couple times a week. He does not like soda's of any kind, chocolate milk, juice or even chewing gum which is so nice. He prefers either water or milk to drink. Yes, he likes chocolate candy as well every now and then, but likes roasted peanuts or baked cheese fish even better. He eats tons of cucumber and raw carrots too. He also likes chicken nuggets, but only gets them maybe once a month for a treat. I just hope he stays this way! :)



answers from Beaumont on

I have 2 boys, 10 and 12. They probably have 1 part junk to 7 parts healthy. Don't really have to monitor anymore. They get to pick a soft drink on a weekend, have something sweet ( a few cookies, small ice cream) after eating a good dinner etc. If they've had a couple of sweet/bad things that day, they know thats it. Soda intake is about 2/3 glasses per week. Compared to their friends, I think it's below normal. They both love avacados,, carrots, brussel sprouts and bananas so I think they're on a good track. I can't complain about their diets. Good question...

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answers from Rockford on

My kids had junk food, not a lot and not everyday. When they were younger, it was doled out at my discretion. I did not ban them from enjoying things at parties and such. We focused more on what and how to eat, rather than on what they can't eat or don't get. Treats were always treated as such and never a staple or something they could just run to the cupboard to get. Now, they are 16 and 17 and good decision makers. They do not drink pop and barely drink juice. I can buy things like chips, candy, ice cream, and they have some occasionally, and they last a while in our house. They choose things like yogurt, salad, fruit, nuts, veggie juice. On occasion they will splurge and eat a huge sundae or a bunch of donuts, but it is rare and they know not to do it often. I think if you become tense about it and inflexible, they might learn to sneak it or become gluttons later on to make up for the forbidden. A healthy attitude and everyday lessons instill good choices for the long run. Letting them have a little fun now and then shouldn't be a big deal, and by no means should lead to significant weight gain or inability to stop.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My kids are 5 and 2, and our snack intake varies day to day. They don't drink pop, and their juice is limited to 8oz per day. After that 8oz, it's water or a small sip of fat free milk. The trick is having healthy snacks, like apple slices or bananas or cucumbers slices. Even Goldfish or crackers in limited quantities can be healthy. Junk food, though? I guess it depends on your definition of junk food. My definition is chocolate, donuts, cookies, etc, and my kids are VERY limited EVERY day. If we get a donut at the store (which is one of their favorites), then that's considered their sweet snack, and they aren't allowed to have another sweet snack before bed. (My 2yo never eats the whole donut)

I started this rule immediately because it's easier to start out strict then ease up. It's really hard to enforce rules if you've been slack to begin with. Because of this, my kids LOVE fruits and veggies. My 5yo can eat a whole cucumber at one sitting and love it :)

Now if I could enforce that same rule on MYSELF, I'd probably be 50lbs lighter! Because of that, I try to not even bring it in the house. Store trips are done right after I've eaten (most of the time), and I try to be really careful when I'm hormonal/PMS and craving sweets.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I approach food as a neutral and abide by much of what S.H. said. Food is not a reward or punishment. I do not push it. Children are more in tune with real hunger than we are., especially babies and todlers.

I stock the house with fruits and veggies, and whole grains so my two-year-old knows that they are staples. Pretzels are OK. Sweets occassionally. I am still battling DH over "healthy" frozen chicken nuggets. We compromised on once a week. When DD is at playdates, she eats what is served. I believe that we set the example at home.

That said, I encourage an active lifestyle.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

My kids, eat and stop eating per their hunger cues. They know when they are full and when they are hungry.
They know that. I taught them that. I never 'made' them eat or made them eat their whole plate, just because they had to or had 'rules' like that. And I never punished them over eating or over food.
They do not eat out of emotion or just because.
They eat per their body's cues.
That is the healthiest way to eat for anyone.
Thus I don't worry that my kids will get over weight.

We don't have much junk in our house. We have food. We don't fixate on food or eating. Sure we may have chips. But its whole grain chips. And we may have some chocolate in the house. But my kids never go crazy about it, even if they do like sweets. Most kids do. They always ask first. We don't have ice cream in our house as a matter of routine. It is only sometimes.
We have juice. But juice that does not have corn syrup in it etc.
But my kids don't only drink juice. They drink water too and milk.

We don't use food as a "reward" or punishment.
We also let our kids snack. Kids need to. Most kids are grazers. My Husband is too. They don't eat a TON at each sitting. Only until they are full. Fine. I don't put a clock on them to eat according to.
But we all eat at meal times together.

It is about balance.
About teaching a child about their body's cues for hunger and fullness.
So that... THEY can moderate themselves.

We don't let our kids drink soda. But if they are out at a party or something, they can have sips from us.
It is about balance. And it is not a daily habit.
We are not soda drinkers ourselves. So we don't have it in the house. Only if we have guests etc.

I don't make food or snacks a forbidden thing to my kids.

Junk food or not, snacks or not, regular food or not, my kids don't go overboard. It is just food. They eat when hungry and stop when full. They don't gorge.
And sure, they know what "junk" food is. They can have it but it is not everyday nor a habit.

A house has food, per what the parents buy.
Thus, you fill it with what you want or need or think is best.

Me and my Husband are not junk food snackers or eaters, and so whatever we have in the house reflects that.
But we also do have fun snacks that are fine. And for treats. But not all the time.
My kids are not forbidden to eat stuff at parties. Or at home. But they ask first. I don't worry because we don't have a lot of junk food at home. And my kids can moderate themselves.
My kids are lean and tall and totally fine per growth/weight per their Pediatrician.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

No junk food unless we are at the grandparent's house:) They(boys 5 and 7 ,girl 17 months old) get treats, but the are wholesome and natural.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Why are you worried they will be overweight?

Were you as a kid, or are they ?
That is what stands out to me in your post.

I worry if I am too strict they it will become a forbidden fruit & as soon as they leave the house they will gobble only those things up instead of healthy choices at grandmas or friends house.
If you think you are strict then loosen up on the weekends.

We don't do soda just because we never started it, but juice & milk is always a choice, often they choose water.
If they have eaten a good meal they can get granola bars or fruit snacks for themselves, but that is usually after dinner.

Everything in moderation, right?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We have 2 boys, ages 8 (birthday this week) and 14.We don't keep dessert-type foods or sodas in the house. We do have sweet cereal (whole-grain peanut-butter cheerios are the current favorite), but no pop-tarts or things like that. The snacks we have are generally healthy, too, and we've stressed healthy habits (rather than weight) since the kids were born. When we go out to eat, the boys can have soda, and on rare occassions we get dessert, but we don't make a habit of it.

Because this is the way we've always done things, my husband and I don't have to enforce anything. It's just the way things are. The boys can help themselves to snacks anytime they want to because they are healthy snacks, and they know when mealtimes are, and we eat meals together. When we do go out, and they order a soda, they don't order refills. They drink one soda, and then get water. Both boys like water, and love milk (skim).

We eat fast-food about once a week, and eat out at a "real" restaurant about once, or twice if we go out for breakfast, a week too. Other than that we eat at home, and make our lunches for work.

None of us have weight issues, but we're really more concerned about staying healthy than anything else. My youngest son and I tend to be underweight. My husband and oldest son are just right.

I hope this helps. :)



answers from Oklahoma City on

If we go to McDonalds, which might be 1-3 times per month the kids can choose what they drink. But I fill their cups up to the brim with ice. That way they are getting minimal pop. The younger one will often choose orange, sprite, or chocolate milk. The older one will often choose tea or Dr. Pepper. She occasionally will want a coke.

They are absolutely forbidden to do diet of any kind. I do not allow artificial sweeteners of any kind to be eaten.

They usually get the big kids meal, her nuggets always, him 50/50 nuggets of cheese burger. He eats the apples first, she eats her nuggets then fries. He hardly ever eats the fries and will always want a parfait.

They are total opposites in the foods they eat.


answers from Orlando on

My son is almost 6 and weighs 70pounds, and no he doesent eat junk food all day, he takes medicine for early onset bipolar disorder...his idea of junk food is homemade oatmeal fruit bars...hes never been a big sweet and chips kind of kid. He hates juice, so he mostly drinks water. When we are out and about he will get a shake or smoothie depending on what he wants. I offer him treats but he doesn't want them....wish i was like him!



answers from Kansas City on

We tend to practice the "everything in moderation" around our house.

I'm not sure how this happened, but our kids do not like soda. They were never given any when they were young, so they have never developed a taste for it, nor do they have any desire to even try it. They are now 12 and 14. They drink water, milk and hot chocolate and that's about it.

We do not keep chips/cookies/ice cream in the house on a regular basis because I, myself, have problems practicing the "everything in moderation" when this stuff is in the house. I will eat it ALL. So if we have a picnic or are having friends over, we will buy this chips, but it is gone by the next day.

Our downfall is breakfast food. We do have frozen waffles and cerial that is questionable. On occasion, the kids will get a box of pop-tarts, but that is rather rare.

Overall, no, I do not monitor my kids eating. I have never made a big deal about food and so it's not an issue around here. My kids aren't snackers either, so if they do want a snack, they are more likely to ask for yogurt or our homemade pumpkin muffins.

I think this is an intersting post and I hope it helps you find the answers you were looking for!


answers from Los Angeles on

mine are 4 and 20 mo.
Soda is almost never, the exception is root beer when we go out to pizza
candy- a few times a week, and in very small doses
dessert- a few times a week, but dad can get into dessert kicks and its every night for a while at times. we keep portions small.
Chips- 2x a week or so but has to eat an acceptable amount of real food first.
I say stay strict as long as you can, and who cares what everyone else does. You'll ease up naturally as they age, it can't be helped.



answers from Los Angeles on

I guess it depends on what you classify as "junk" :) My daughter is 4 (other is 10 months...doesn't apply), and she has some kind of chips/pretzels with lunch. I usually try to avoid sweets until after her nap. She can have a snack like a granola bar, popcorn, or a cookie after nap. Other snacks are fruits. Sometimes she has a diluted cup of hot cocoa (her new "thing"). After dinner, she always has some kind of sweet...usually 10 mini marshmallows or yogurt, occasionally a small dish of ice cream or fro-yo. If we go to Starbucks, she sometimes gets a milk with a shot of raspberry and a little whip.

She usually asks for a donut at church. We use it as a reward....she probably ends up with it every other week.

We aren't big soda unless she's with Poppa or Gramma, no soda. As she gets older, I may allow it on special occasions or pizza night. I'd rather have her drink chocolate milk...I just am not a fan or soda in general. :)

Hope that helps! A friend recently shared with me that she will ALWAYS give her kids a snack of a fruit or vegetable, even if it is right before dinner, because who cares if their appetites are spoiled by healthy food. I liked that idea. It's helping us avoid sweets a lot more.

I'm so with Gretchen K...I should be so limited myself! :)



answers from Kansas City on

My kids 11year old(52 inches tall & 52lbs), 6year old(47inches tall & 50lbs), and my 4 year old(39 inches tall & 31.8lbs) get their share of chicken nuggets and frozen pizza. We also eat a lot of grilled chicken, carrots, peas, apples, and strawberries. Their snacks are always fresh fruit or veggies. I limit the amount of sweets(cookies) and chips they get. As for soda, they only get that if we are out to dinner or if it is a special occasion. I'm not saying my kids eat really healthy, but they are not overweight by any means.



answers from Bellingham on

I came home yesterday to find my husband had done the shopping (good), but bought an enormous bag of chips which the children were munching their way through (bad).

Our kids don't have soda unless it's their birthday. They are allowed a small chocolate for dessert if they eat their dinner. We have too many cookies in our house, but I don't mind so much when they're home-baked.

They usually snack on fruit, yoghurt crackers and sandwiches.



answers from Philadelphia on

Soda is mostly out. I just don't have it around. Anything with caffeine is pretty much out too.I limit chocolate and other candies.

They're 9 and 11. I probably let them have more than they should, fruit is always available and a lot of their snacks are granola, nuts and yogurt. I wish I were better at it.



answers from San Francisco on

I don't really have to monitor my GD much - she self-monitors. She's not really into candy or ice cream, milk shakes, cookies or soda. Also, she doesn't tolerate chocolate very well and she knows her limits. So, even though we have cookies in the cupboard, ice cream in the freezer, and candy in the candy dish, she VERY rarely eats any so I don't have to monitor her. She would rather have a frozen burrito for dessert than a bowl of ice cream or cookies!



answers from Phoenix on

Mine are 4.5 and 1.5. The older one has free access to a water jug with spout, 2 drawers in the fridge that have fruit, veggies, yogurt, and cheese, and 1 shelf in the cupboard that has crackers, pretzels, granola, and dried/freeze dried fruit. I only limit him if we are about to eat a meal, in an effort to develop good table manners. No soda- the older one doesn't like the way bubbles feel, the baby is too young, we just don't offer it. We have dessert fairly regularly, most often ice cream. I allow candy on holidays and at birthday parties. My mom sometimes sends Swedish Fish, which are my older son's favorites. He gets "4, because he is 4." On Halloween, Christmas, and Easter they get pretty free access to their candy haul, then I take the remainder and dish it out a piece at a time. In general, I limit sweets to dessert after dinner only. Lunch does not get dessert and sweets are dessert, not a snack.



answers from Dallas on

Mine is almost 3. We don't buy junk food as a regular item here. My son IS allowed some junk food, but it's only as a treat. It's never ever as a reward for some kind of behavior. We don't buy juice, I just don't understand the point to be honest. He likes eating fruit, so why would I make an inferior substitute? My husband and I don't drink soda, so we don't even have it here. Junk is NOT an every day thing here. It's not even an every week thing. (He's not really old enough to want junk, yet. When it's something he actually wants, we'll be a little more flexible. While I have control over it, I try to keep it as a rare thing.) Anyway he is allowed it as a treat enough, that he doens't go nuts when he gets it. He is allowed to eat whatever is being served at birthday parties and holidays.

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