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How to Talk to the Kids about the Hot Dog/Lunch Meats study

Posted on 29 October, 2015 at 8:55 Comments comments (79)

DISCLAIMER:  I am not a therapist but as a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist I do work with many children and adults with eating disorders and disordered eating.  These tips are meant to be used as a guideline. Thanks!

Wondering how to talk to the kids about the recent WHO studies which showed a link between hot dogs, lunch meat, etc. and cancer?  

My advice:  don't create panic.  I would just explain (only if they are old enough for this conversation) that they should not eat those foods on a regular basis but if they are offered a hot dog at the BBQ or ballpark they will not suddenly get cancer.  It's probably better to have this discussion with the older children because they may start hearing about it in school.   With toddlers and young elementary students you have the control to not serve these foods.  They are probably too young for this conversation.

The reason this is a delicate subject is that you don't want to create a fearful situation around these foods.  Children need to know that this study was about what would happen over time.  

Children may develop anxiety if they think one time eating the food can cause cancer.  The more you can reinforce once in awhile is ok, and not all the time can help to take away the "all or nothing" way of thinking out of the picture.  This explanation may help to alleviate some of the anxiety if they were to eat one of these products. 

Hope this helps!