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Mom Throws Food in Trash to Teach Kid a Lesson (Watch the Video!)

By Aela Mass |

We live in a world with so many conflicting messages. We’re told to love our bodies, but are surrounded by images of too-thin women. We’re told to be ourselves, but risk being ridiculed and teased. We’re told ours is the land of the free, the great melting pot, the land of opportunity, but many of your neighbors don’t have the same rights as you, anti-immigration laws at are an all-time high, and poor people do not have the same opportunities as the rich. We’re told that good eating habits and proper nutrition are keys to a healthy life, but our communities are inundated with fast “food” restaurants on just about every corner. How do we make sense of all this for our children? How to we combat the conflicting messages? How do we best teach our youth that “fighting the good fight” really is worth it? One mother thinks it’s by throwing food in the trash.
Video after the jump

And truth be told, I agree with her. Today, The Healthy Home Economist posted a video on its blog that showed one mother’s tried-and-true method for teaching her children how not to want to eat fast food. It’s certain to catch some backlash and criticism because the mother tosses a happy meal into the trash. I’m sure some will even argue that her method teaches more about wastefulness than anything. But I applaud this woman for trying to instill healthy eating habits in her children from very young ages. It’s no secret that children pick things up so incredibly early on in life and that they are visual learners first, so I wasn’t surprised to hear her teenage son say his mother’s method really worked.

I won’t get on my soapbox about just how terrible fast food really is. I’m sure by now we’ve all seen the pink slime videos that reveal exactly WTF is in the “meat” used by fast-food chains. And I doubt anyone will argue that fast food is good for you when we all know it’s loaded with chemicals.

But even with all the ever-evolving evidence that fast food is not only horrible for you and can lead to numerous diseases, we’ve all (well, OK, most of us have) eaten fast food at some point in our lives. Many people still do. And tons of families feed it to their children. While I recognize the horrible effects of fast food, I also realize that for many of our poorest communities, not only is there little education about the dangers of fast food, but there also isn’t much else to choose from.

So how do you teach your children about nutrition? Do you think The Healthy Economist mom went too far? Will you try this with your kids?


For more information on the dangers of fast food, click here, and here, and here.

Photo: Håkan Dahlström

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About Aela Mass


Aela Mass

Aela Mass is a lesbian writer and editor living the dream on Martha's Vineyard with her wife, Sara, and their dog, Darla. She miscarried her twins at 17 weeks and has undergone numerous IVF, FET, and IUI cycles. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post among other publications. For more of her work, visit her blog Two Moms Make a Right. Read bio and latest posts → Read Aela's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Mom Throws Food in Trash to Teach Kid a Lesson (Watch the Video!)

  1. Erika says:

    Great idea! Thanks for the link…

  2. dadcamp says:

    My oldest is 5. Has never had anything more than an ice cream from the arches. Doesnt even know what McDonalds is, frankly. Has never had a soda.

    He’s a damn picky eater (plain noodles or sushi) so that might be it, but I’m proud of my little guy for not being a drive thru demon.

  3. Katie says:

    Don’t take your kids through the drive-thru! That’s a choice you can make as a parent. Just like you can choose to cloth diaper or use time-out or raise your kid vegan.
    But is throwing food away in front of a child a good lesson? I think waiting until they’re a little older and explaining the health-risks of fast food in more rational terms would benefit a child more than throwing food away. This video only serves to highlight the differences between families who can afford to eat well and throw away McDonalds on principle and the families who buy such food on the way home from their second job. Yes, the conversation should be had with kids about nutrition and their role in their own health. But throwing away a meal that a homeless person would very much appreciate is not the way to have that conversation.
    (And sorry. But let’s not be overly-dramatic and attribute all of America’s health problems to the consumption of fast-food. Throwing away a $4 happy meal will not prevent all future hospital bills. Be balanced. Eat veggies. Exercise. Teach your kids these things. But stop blaming every infection on an immune system weakened by french fries. It cheapens the argument.)

  4. aelahmass says:

    I hear ya, Katie! I had mixed feelings about this mother’s approach when I first read the story. I agree that we need to teach our children the importance of healthy eating habits at a young age, and I even agree that her method is very effective because of its appeal to visual learners (which kids are). My biggest issue with her method is actually with her calling the food “garbage” and that the only place it belongs is “in the garbage” (even though I agree with those statements 100%). Since kids are like sponges and have uncanny abilities to associate images with things, I worry that her message inadvertently teaches her kids that the people who DO eat fast foods are, essentially, garbage.
    I would consider trying a version of her method with my future children, but I’d be certain to explain to them why so many other people do eat these foods. And I applaud any family’s efforts to keep fast food out of their children’s lives.
    Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Rachel says:

    This is so annoying as a working parent. She is teaching her children there are no healthy choices there at all. Even the milk in her eyes is garbage. Thats not a lesson the 2yo child understands. They see the golden arches & think yummy quick food. Not waiting until they get home & dinner having to still be cooked. Does she really think the kids only want the toy? Are her kids that deprived of toys they would take junk that breaks in hours?
    I would think she has never gone on a car trip with her children more than a couple hours long. Then besides the food in a cooler you are kinda stuck. You can stop & look for a sit down restaurant, but many times those menus are also filled with unhealthy choices.
    Sometimes as a parent you have no choice to feed your kids something from a fast food restaurant. You just need to be informed & teach them to get the healthy choices.

  6. Katie says:

    Great point, Aela. I agree that the *economics* of food culture cannot be separated from the health and nutrition discussion. I distinctly remember stopping for fast food when I was a teenager. Our version of fast food was Atlanta Bread Company (soup, salads, healthy sandwiches on whole grain, etc. etc.). My mom used it as an important teaching tool to explain that we were fortunate to be able to afford this kind of fast food.
    Now, as a middle-class, married, employed, insured mother of a 4 month-old, when my husband has his once-a-week band practice and I’m left home to cook dinner for myself/put the baby to bed/clean up/get ourselves ready for the next workday, I see how easy it would be to pick up a value meal on the way home and be done with it. Just that small glimpse into a world of tight-budgeting single-parenting makes me appreciate the other six days of the week when I have help so we can eat fresh veggies and well-rounded meals.
    The conversation should absolutely be had with children that nutrition and a responsibility for your own health are extremely important. But divorcing those concepts from the reality of how many families survive is naive and does a disservice to our kids. Teach them about the broken system of food culture. But not in terms that will have them equating people with garbage. I totally agree with you. Great article!

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