I am five years late to the #1 New York Times bestseller Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, but I’ve been—har—devouring it this past week. 

I’ve already written here about the monumentally infuriating weaponization of working mom guilt that giant food companies intentionally engaged in to drive profits while creating an obesity epidemic among those women’s kids. Who gets blamed when all that processed, packaged, and convenient fast food had massive unintended and undisclosed or outright misled health impacts? The working moms who weren’t home doing home cooked meals, of course. 

Seriously, f*** you, food giants. You biggest customers are moms and you screwed them over, twice while profiting off of their guilt. 

But also, jeeeeeeez, I gotta stop feeding my kids cereal!!! 

I don’t know about you, but when my kids were born, I was all about making their baby food and not giving them sugar, never giving them juice. The guy who runs our corner store once asked to give toddler Eli some candy and I said he couldn’t, so he awkwardly gave him a dollar instead. 

And then along the way they went out in the world. They had Lucky Charms at the preschool St. Patrick’s Day celebration. They had juice and cake at birthday parties. They were picky, but they’d eat Kraft macaroni and cheese. All those rules started to bend…

My kids are still pretty healthy. It helps that they never see commercials and don’t go to the grocery store with me. (Marketing was as devastating a weapon as these three ingredients.) 

They eat a minimum of processed food, no soda, and only have a small amount of cereal on the weekends. But I’ve been waving off concerns with “They are dancers! They exercise all the time! They’ve got zero body fat!” All of which are true. But those will not always be the case…and I need to make sure they aren’t getting addicted to artificial levels of sugar now. 

More work for me. Thanks, horrific packaged good giants. 

I’ve taken a hard look at what they eat and I’ve come up with a few changes I can make. 

Cereal.

Some of it is more than 50% SUGAR!!! And it isn’t properly disclosed. I tried MAGIC SPOON recently and it’s really, really good. It is basically low carb, low sugar, high protein kid’s cereal. It is $10 a box which sounds nuts, but it’s because it’s not just sugar-coated vitamins. 

It’s the only cereal option I’m going to offer in my house from now on, because cereal is the only thing in the book that we do semi-regularly, and this is just a way better, easy option. 

Soda. 

The only time my kids have ever had soda is a Shirley Temple once in a while at a restaurant. This isn’t a big problem for us. But I feel like the potential for creep is there as they get older. I’ve decided to nip the “allure” of Shirley Temples in the bud, by making a soda-free version. 

I get sparkling water and add in a splash of organic grenadine and a splash of Meyer lemon shrub. It totally cuts out the Sprite, which is the bulk of the sugar. You could probably squeeze a lemon and lime instead of the shrub. Eli loves it and he hates plain sparkling water.

What can I make in advance?

I accidentally learned how to make good, easy pasta sauce making a homemade stuffed shells recipe from the New York Times. My kids loved the sauce and it has no added sugar. So anytime I’m doing “make your own pizzas” or pasta with tomato sauce, I take the time to just make the sauce. Beyond making that meal in particular less sugary, I feel like it resets their taste expectation for how much sugar should be in red sauce. 

I’m also gonna keep a log of what we eat for a week. I’m worried that there are more culprits in there I’m forgetting about. I’d love any advice on where you’ve cut out processed foods (in a totally guilt-free/shame-free way; my kids still get chicken fries from Burger King once a week and will keep doing so. Sometimes fun and convenience wins.)

Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:

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