5 Toddler Bad Eating Habits to Break NOW

5 Toddler Bad Eating Habits to Break NOW

As parents, we hold the power to set our children up for a lifetime of healthy eating habits and a happy relationship with food and their bodies.  The eating habits we enforce now, from the very beginning of their relationships with food, can determine how they will eat for the rest of their lives. But sadly, in this country (and pretty much only in this country), parents are set up for failure almost from the get-go with bad eating habits that have become the cultural norm when it comes to feeding babies, toddlers, and kids.

In my holistic nutrition practice, all of my weight loss clients have one (or more) of these three bad habits in common: snacking, emotional eating, and eating on the run.  So much of the struggle with losing weight and keeping it off comes down to breaking these three bad eating habits, but when you’ve been eating that way all your life, or when you come from a household where those habits were the norm, it is much, much harder to move past them. Growing up with bad eating habits can set you up for a frustrating years long battle with weight, dieting, stress eating, body hatred, hypoglycemia, and in more extreme cases, even type 2 diabetes!

Thankfully, it’s not too late to break these bad eating habits, even if your child is no longer a toddler!  But it takes commitment, and a bit of going against the grain.  These bad habits are so deeply ingrained in our parenting culture that it can feel weird to be the one parent who’s kid isn’t attached to a cup of Goldfish or Cheerios.  But I promise you, it is so, so worth it.  You will save yourself and your child so many power struggles, tantrums, and frustrations around mealtimes. And down the road, you can feel proud that your kids have healthy eating habits and are set up for a lifetime of healthy weight, strong bodies, and efficient metabolisms.

5 Tips for Healthier Treats This Halloween!

Check out the post I wrote for Metromoms.net, just in time for Halloween!

Halloween stands out as the season for eating unhealthy, gut-busting treats and a real challenge for health-conscious parents whose children are surrounded by peers and media enticing them with sweets. As a certified holistic health counselor, I know it takes an insane amount of willpower to be surrounded by all that candy and not partake; and of course, who wants to be that lame parent who puts the kabosh on sweets?

But fear not! As with everything food-related, there are always healthier, while still yummy, choices to make. Follow these 5 tips to ensure that this year’s Halloween doesn’t spell a diet breakdown for you, or a weeklong sugar rush for the little ones.

  1. Be a chocolate purist. When selecting the sweets to hand out (which invariably equals what sweets you’ll have sitting in your pantry, taunting you for weeks to come), opt for candy that is mostly made up of dark chocolate. For example, Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses (20 cal. each), Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Miniatures (40 cal. each) and York Peppermint Patties (140 cal. each) tend to have way less calories than their milk chocolate or caramel and nougat-filled counterparts. Plus, you’re getting a bit of a health benefit from the antioxidants in the dark chocolate. Need that milk chocolaty goodness? Go for a Three Musketeers Fun Size Bar, which, thanks to its airy insides, packs only 63 calories!
  2. Don’t taste the rainbow. Avoid all those brightly colored candies that are full of toxic artificial flavors and colors. Ever notice how you can’t eat just one of those little “fruity” suckers? Which makes them major calorie bombs – 10 little Starbursts have over 200 calories (and zero nutritional value). Instead, opt for chocolate-based candies, which are less likely to have tons of chemical additives. And if you’ve gotta have some fruity love, go for Natural Sunkist Fruit Gems, which are made with all-natural ingredients and colored with fruit and vegetable juice.
  3. Don’t stock your faves. I know this sounds crazy, but don’t buy a huge bulk-sized bag of your number one favorite candy. You’ll have tons leftover, and it’ll be that much harder for you to resist overindulging. Instead, pick up a few bags of candy that you (and your kids) are pretty ambivalent about, which means the only candies you’ll be fighting over are the ones your kids brought home.
  4. Consider the alternative route. Remember that one weird house in your neighborhood that gave out bizarre candy no one had ever heard of? They were probably the family that was doing yoga and biking to work way before it was cool. Be a trailblazer and order up some healthier treats from NaturalCandyStore.com, which has delicious candy that fit every ethos and health concern out there, from vegan and gluten-free to sugar-free and organic.  Unreal Candy is a new company that makes healthier, versions of popular candy (M&M, Milky Ways, Snickers & Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) with no high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and colors, or GMO ingredients!  Best of all, they’re available at CVS and Target!
  5. Set the rules, and stick to them. A great rule of thumb to keep your kids from turning into psychotic sugar monkeys for the entire week after Halloween is to set some reasonable rules around candy consumption. Lead by example by following the rules yourself. Select a certain amount of candy to keep, and take the rest to share at school or the office — a great way to weed out the bad guys above. Also make sure to set a limit of how much candy everyone gets per day. For example, one piece of candy after dinner keeps the Halloween spirit alive much longer, and keeps everyone from getting pimply and plump.


Natasha Uspensky, CHHC
Holistic Health & Nutrition Counselor
NU Health & Wellness