I preach a lot about moderation when I talk about sugar, but how do you introduce this concept to kids? It’s so vague. Shoot, even I have a hard time knowing where to draw the line. I don’t have an awesome answer or solution, but here is one tip that can give kids a visual and teach them the difference between healthy, foods and “sometimes foods”. It all takes place in the grocery store.


I know taking the kids to the grocery store can be a mess! I am the first one to admit it (see my post 4 Kids in a Grocery Store).


Later in this series I will be sharing my new found love obsession with online grocery pick up services. However, I still take my kids with me on occasion.

I think it’s important for them to see that food doesn’t just grow on trees. Wait, some of it does. Bad analogy. What I mean is I want them to know that a lot of work goes into planning, prepping, and feeding a family. I want them to hopefully have some appreciation for all of the steps that I take to keep them nourished and also to learn something for when the day comes that they are on their own and have to do their own grocery shopping.

The following photos are actually from a lesson I taught Z back when he was a preschooler. Isn’t he stinking adorable in that top photo? Look how much he changed and grew by the following photo four years later. Sorry, mommy rabbit trail. Back to the moderation lesson.

The concept is to allow kids to help you shop, but they have to put the healthy foods in the cart and the junk food in the small basket.


Once the junk food basket is full that’s the limit. The kids can see the difference in size between the shopping cart and the smaller basket to see how the moderation balance works.

Teaching kids moderation

This is also a great opportunity to discuss what makes something healthy for your body or harmful. It’s interesting to watch them evaluate which basket to put certain items in. Obviously this lesson took place BEFORE our sugar challenge. Our healthy cart is full of juice and our “sometimes” basket is loaded with foods we later banned. Next time I do this I will make the small basket specifically for processed food because after doing our sugar challenge I know realize that basket is too big to be full of junk food.


Speaking of which, this is going to vary from family to family. Some people will have mountain dew in their little basket and for us that would be a never food. The other extreme might put raisins in the sometimes food basket because they are processed. Either way the point is to start a dialogue with your kids about health and moderation.

It’s worth a shot.



This post is a part of a 31 days series called Captain of the Kitchen. For the rest of series click here.