The Battle: Kid Food Or Food For Kids

Ok, Autumnation. Get ready for me to get on my soapbox because I’m about to preach! Should kids eat kid food or food for kids? Let’s explore the differences.


As you likely know, I am incredibly passionate about healthy eating, especially where children are concerned. The big food corporations continue to perform a major disservice to us and our children. I don’t mean by making unhealthy foods to begin with, as that is an entirely different issue altogether. Rather, far more dubious, it’s their marketing of unhealthy products to our children and misleading parents with pseudo-health labels affixed to junk food. And the line in the sand is drawn: Kid food or food for kids.


But it’s gluten free!?

Case in point, Fruity Pebbles. I know what you’re thinking, “Come on Autumn, no one thinks Fruity Pebbles are good for you.”  But you’d be wrong. Many parents look at these boxes and see phrases like “gluten free” and think that automatically makes it healthy.
Who cares if it is gluten free? It’s fake food, laden with sugar and loaded with things that are terrible for your kids.
Fruity Pebbles: Kid food or food for kids?

Understanding Kid Food Labels

One ingredient found in Fruity Pebbles is Red 40 or “Allura Red.” It’s a very popular food dye and can be found frequently in processed foods. Red 40 or “Allura Red” is produced from petroleum distillates or coal tars and as such, is mandated by the FDA that it be listed out on the ingredients lists as it cannot be considered natural. Ya! No kidding!
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Red 40 and other artificial food colorings can cause allergic reactions in some people as well as hyperactivity in children. Red 40 contains p-Cresidine, a compound which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services classifies as “reasonably anticipated” to be a human carcinogen. This means that Fruity Pebbles, a children’s breakfast cereal, contains likely cancer-causing ingredients.

Fruity Pebbles: Kid food or food for kids?

Please also keep in mind that this is just one ingredient in this one particular cereal. When we continue to dive into the ingredients list, we want to pay special attention to the first three listed as those are what the cereal contains the most of. In this case, Fruity Pebbles is mostly: rice, sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oil.

What does that amount to?

Basically a multitude of people are feeding their children sugar and artificial fat for breakfast. I want to be clear here. Sugar and laboratory modified fat are not what thriving lives are built on. It won’t help their bodies grow properly or help your child focus in school given the sugar and of course the hyperactivity-inducing dyes, and it will increase their body fat and likely impede brain development. Essentially, this choice is sabotaging a child’s day, week, month, year or years depending on how regularly they are being fed in this manner.


You wouldn’t get mad at your car for not turning on after you’ve filled the gas tank with sludge! So, how can we expect our children to excel at school and function with normal behavioral when we aren’t giving them real, human nourishment?


What can we do?

I know as parents we fight the battle with our kids about wanting kid food or food for kids (humans). This is exactly why I feel so deeply about stopping junk food marketing to kids. We stopped big tobacco from marketing to children. With the number one killer in America being diet-related disease, we need to demand change yet again. We have enough to deal with in the raising of healthy, well-rounded, good kids. We don’t need the food industry to keep pumping millions of dollars towards giving us one more battle to fight.
Kids don’t have the cognitive capacity to understand that they are being marketed to which is precisely why it’s so morally wrong that this continues on such a large scale. They see the bright colors, the fun characters, they hear the catchy jingles and slogans and they want it. As parents we are left to fight or reason with them. And sometimes the fight feels like too much and we cave. Then we’ve given our kid something we knew they shouldn’t have and we feel guilty. Following that is enduring the crash off of the sugar high and the ensuing tantrum from their bodies being unable to process the fake food they’ve ingested.
This is a vicious cycle. We must do better than this for our kids, for their future, for the future of society. We have to start demanding more from the food industry.


Demand more truth, REAL food, and respect!

The best way to start making real change is by voting with your dollar. A side effect of feeding your family minimally processed, whole foods is that you are also reducing demand for these unhealthy “foods.”

As more and more people begin to demand fresh, healthy foods in abundance and remain vigilant in reading labels before buying, we will hopefully see this trend of misleading junk food marketing reverse.
Your Partner in Health,

Autumn Calabrese


  • Holly L Endres

    Thank you for this! I have to get better about reading labels. I have a very picky 6 year old. One thing we’ve tried to do is create a rule in our house. If you want a “junk food” snack (for example cookies), you have to eat a good portion of your healthy dinner. If he doesn’t eat enough of the dinner, he has to have a healthy snack (applesauce, crackers, cheese, etc).

    • Julie Tolman

      I have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old (also very picky), and we do the same thing. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but they’ve been getting better about eating healthy meals 🙂

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