Lies I Tell My Kids, And The Ones I Won't... (sorry Kraft)
Have you seen the new #LieLikeAParent advertising campaign from Kraft? Here's what's happening....
Kraft has re-packaged their ranch dressing using a kid friendly, festive look, and called it "frosting". They're rolling it out to parents, asking for us to submit the best lies we tell our kids saying in their press release that, “Innocent lies parents tell their kids help alleviate the pressures of everyday parenting, and if it gets kids to eat their greens, so be it." Also, "Kraft Salad ‘Frosting’ is one lie you won’t feel bad telling your kids.”
Hold The Phone! They want me to what?
Now, I know many of you have picky eaters and I don't want to diminish your frustration with that. I'm sure you go to great lengths to get your kids to eat vegetables and many of you are at your whits' end. But Kraft 'frosting' is not the answer to getting your child to eat healthier. Have you seen the ingredients in this frosting? We can do better.
If your kids like dipping, use the opportunity to get more healthy fats and other nutrients into them by whipping one up in your blender. Try one of these 5 dip and dressing recipes (I included one for ranch).
Am I over-reacting to a simple sales strategy? I don't think so. I agree with my colleague Dr. Nicole Beurkens that this kind of advertising is "promoting the damaging stereotypes that children can’t or won’t eat food that is good for them unless coerced, and that parents are so inept and desperate that the only tool they can resort to in shaping their child’s eating habits is deception." (Read Dr. Nicole's wonderful breakdown of where Kraft went wrong on this here and then read this post to get started on a step-by-step plan to broaden your child's pallet).
We need to radically change the messages our kids get about healthy eating and healthy living, and that means calling out advertisers for the role they play in perpetuating damaging stereotypes.
If advertisers keep telling our kids that veggies are yucky, our kids will continue to think veggies are yucky. If we keep pouring chemicals on their food, they will learn and expect that that's actually what food should taste like.
Advertising is powerful stuff. One of my colleagues, Cathy, responded to my Facebook post about this Kraft campaign that, "I'm finding some people still think that ketchup is a vegetable because they were kids during the Reagan administration when ketchup was classified as a vegetable as a cost saving measure for school lunch programs. They have perpetuated that lie to their children and grandchildren." Cathy works with type 2 diabetics.
Powerful messaging and impressionable minds can be a dangerous combination.
Now, I've told the odd lie to my kids and I'm sure you have too... gosh, this must be a super busy time of year for the tooth fairy, let's check tomorrow (because I fell asleep before putting $2 under the pillow). But I don't lie to my kids about their food or about what it takes to take care of their bodies.
Instead, I teach them exactly which foods I use in our kitchen that keep their bodies strong and their minds sharp.
I teach them what chemicals do to their bodies and how to avoid them.
I teach them to cook with whole foods and we sample new foods together.
Our kids need to learn this stuff (and goodness knows, most of them are not learning it in school). Part of parenting is equipping them to be able to make good decisions. And putting chemical-laden frosting on salad just isn't a good decision.
Statistically, our kids have a 1 in 2 chance of developing a chronic illness before they finish high school. And if we don't teach our kids about healthy eating they will end up on the wrong side of that statistic. So Kraft, please stop perpetuating the idea that kids are incapable of liking veggies. You have the power to flip that messaging on its head. And that is what will actually "help alleviate the pressures of everyday parenting".
I'd love to know what you think... am I over-reacting to a simple sales tactic? Or does this need to be called out?