Will Talking About Food Help Kids Make Wiser Choices?

Since the 1970s, scientists have studied the possible effect of artificial food coloring and dyes on children. The results have been mixed, though some of the studies have linked the food additives to hyperactivity and attention problems, particularly in children with ADHD. Now, a recent Australian study suggested that eating a Western diet (read: lots of processed foods, salt and meat; not a lot of fruits and veggies) might increase the risk of ADHD in kids.

While none of these studies have produced entirely conclusive results, it does make a parent take pause. Sure, we can help monitor what our children eat at the dinner table, but how do we make sure they'll make wise food choices on their own?

Recently, my kids and I were shopping in a local party store. While we waited to pay, we noticed a display of sugar-free gummi bears by the register. The candies had warnings on both the front and the back of the package alerting consumers to possible stomach distress should they eat the product.

My eleven-year-old son, immediately saw the irony in teddy bear shaped candies. They may have seemingly been intended for children , but they warned of intestinal discomfort and offered a chemical-laden list of ingredients.

Did he want the candies? Absolutely not. Kids, when taught from an early age to read labels and pay attention to their intuition, are able to make solid choices about which foods will make them feel good and which won't.

Talk about the food your family eats. Little ones may have small ears, but they still listen.

Like this? Read these!
- Are Foot Loops Really Healthy?
- The Problem with Marketing Food to Kids
- The Perpetual Kids' Snack Attack


Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule. Read all of Cheryl's iVillage posts here.

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