Living Columns & Blogs

Giving our kids a real chance

If my 3-year-old daughter had her own way, she would eat chicken nuggets and fries every day, all day. She would wash it all down with juice, and then she would top it off with ice cream.

Now, as you and I know, one cannot possibly expect to live a quality life when subsisting on only nuggets and fries. Of course, my kid doesn’t know better. Aside from hearing me and my wife tell her that she can’t have that stuff all the time because it isn’t good for her, it’s probably going to be a while before she truly understands why we say that.

If you’re a parent, you know that when it comes to feeding your kid good food, the struggle is real. You’ve experienced how it is to have the battle of the wills when you try to feed your kids vegetables, and you’ve also seen the totally opposite reaction from them when you give them the stuff they really want, which is often called “kids’ food.”

I was recently thinking about this so called “kids’ food,” and I was reminded why we, as parents, must endure the struggle with our kids to feed them fresh, healthy foods.

For this column, I wanted to go into detail and talk about what’s in common kids’ foods such as colored drinks, fries, hot dogs, candy and chips. For the sake of saving space however, I will talk more about that on an upcoming podcast, but just know this. All of those foods are cheap, addictive, and are heavily advertised toward children. They are filled with chemicals, fillers, texturizers, trans fats and sugars that serve no other purpose than to make them appealing to kids. Nutritional value is nonexistent, save for the addition of vitamins after the fact that make us, as parents, feel like we’re making a good choice when we give our kids junk food.

There is a common rationale that “hey, they’re kids…they can eat that stuff.” This kind of thinking is honestly so harmful that it’s nearly comical. For one, kids are in the times of their lives that they are growing into what will eventually be adult bodies. Their bodies are in constant need of raw materials in the form of food and drink, and if junk is all they’re getting, their bodies will be junk when they get older.

Shawn McClendon BEAU CABELL

On top of that, according to a recent CNN article, the number of obese children and teens was 10 times higher in 2016 (124 million) than it was in 1975 (11 million). Increasing numbers of kids are being seen with lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure, gall stones and type 2 diabetes; conditions which were long considered to only affect adults. In other words, just because they’re kids doesn’t mean they can eat junk with no ill effects. To be honest, they need healthy food even more than adults do.

So when you put that plate of vegetables in front of your kid and he or she says, “yuck,” I encourage you to endure the struggle and remember that our children need their parents and caregivers in their corners so they can have a real chance at a future healthy life.

Macon resident Shawn McClendon is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, podcast host and owner of the health/fitness blog E-mail him with your questions at or at @ShawnB2B on Facebook.