One mom’s war against cupcakes

June 18, 2009 at 8:59 PM | Posted in cupcakes | 27 Comments

MeMe Roth (pictured above) says she is fighting a crusade. A crusade against cupcakes, donuts, cake, ice cream, cookies and other “junk food” in her fight against child obesity.

You can read more here and here.

“Show me an American that knows what ‘moderation’ means,” Roth said.

Ooohh me! Pick me. Over here. I know what moderation means.

I’m not a parent so take what I say with a grain of salt.

I get where she’s coming from. No really. I do. Her family has a history of obesity and she’s trying to do what every good parent wants to do. Protect her children from making the same mistakes. Her message is admirable but her method is questionable. You know that saying? You can catch more flies with honey…” Apparently she isn’t into sweets even in her actions either.

Giving your child a tupperware “junk collector” and telling them not to eat any sweets at school but rather bring them home to discuss with her before they eat it doesn’t work for me. I won’t lie and tell you that I weigh 100lbs and eat carrots sticks instead of cupcakes but I can tell you from experience that overzealous restrictions don’t work. I feel they have the opposite affect. Haven’t you ever been told you can’t have something and it makes you want it more? Chalk it up to human nature. The first chance you get, you’ll give into your temptation. I know I have. (But that’s a post for another day and time.)

Let me tell you a story. I knew a girl in high school that was so sheltered by her parents that she wasn’t prepared for the real world. She got to college, with boys and booze, no parental control or limitations and went wild. Last I heard she flunked out her first year. The End.

I won’t deny the fact that child obesity is on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the past three decades the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool children aged 2-5 years and adolescents aged 12-19 years. It has more than tripled for children aged 6-11 years.

But let’s forget the restrictive, rude, loud and crude approach. What about some education? Some personal responsibility to ourselves and our kids? What about teaching 3 simple words, “No thank you”? What about a balance between broccoli and Snickers? What about exercising *WITH* our kids? What about guiding our kids to make good choices? Not making the choices *FOR* them like a dictator.

Like I said. I’m not a parent. What do I know?

Hmmm… All this ranting makes me hungry for a cupcake. “Mother, May I?”

* Special thanks to Dawn, Tania and Anna for letting me post their Twitter replies.



  1. i think you’re right–it’s all about moderation. it’s not like the kids will be unaware of sweets if they’re forbidden to eat them. i think teaching kids to make their own choices (to a point) is important too. kids who are forbidden to eat sweets just go over to their friend’s houses and eat them anyway.

  2. I think the biggest thing is that kids don’t exercise. I rarely see a kid outside in my neighborhood. As I kid I lived outside, on my bike, the trampoline, basketball in the driveway, etc. Kids spend all their time watching tv, playing game consoles and the computer, etc today. Kids need to get moving!

  3. I totally agree with your comment about people who want more what they can’t have. It’s just apart of being human. I know lots of college kids that absolutely were sheltered and had much too overbearing parents that went into college and went crazy – in every way possible. I really like my parents because they sort of let me be, let me do whatever. I mean if I gain weight, I just work harder at the gym. It happens.

  4. I am a mom of 17 year old and I do bake a lot at home , lke yo said everything in moderation.
    It is not because you bake you should stuff your kids.
    I know someone who don’t allow her kids to eat sweets at all and everytime the kids are in a friendshouse they just hogg allthe sweets there.
    Then i am like give few sweets at home than kids behaving so greedily on other ppl place.

  5. from Italy … I agree with you all. I love cupcakes, I love to bake, and I think one should know what’s in the food one’s about to eat. So…better home-baked stuff, maybe without food colors, maybe without butter frosting (just once in a while), maybe at breakfast and not after a full lunch/dinner.
    I’m proud when my almost 5-year-old says “no, thank you, I’ve already had one candy today” (and she doesn’t get candy every day), and when she asks me for her second mini-cupcake for breakfast!
    Awareness is the key, not deprivation

  6. So…yeah. I agree. I know childhood obesity is on the rise but so is flat-out every American obesity. Have we all noticed the nutrition information and ingredients on the back of the packages on foods we do eat? Does anyone know what all those ingredients are?! (Besides the guys who concocted that food-thing?)

    There is so much crap & junk in the foods we eat today, it’s no wonder our bodies are reacting poorly. As much as I love ho-ho’s and twinkies, I’m not even sure they are actually food…

    Anyways, back to the point. Our food—as it started to protect us, make us healthy & perserve food so we don’t have to salt cure our meet and hang it in ice-boxes—is so altered from it’s original state these days. Unless you grow your food in your own back yard, you can’t really know what you are eating. And this leads me to conclude…that woman has much more to worry about than what sweets her children are eating.

    It’s pretty much inescapable…the high-fructose corn syrup debate is still a-raging and you can find HFCS in just about everything because it’s cheaper and sweeter than sugar. Do we really know the long-term effects of that decision? Nope, not yet. It hasn’t been long enough. I know there are the commercials that say it’s bad & those that say our bodies metabolize it much like sugar, but it’s still an unatural additive. Can you find HFCS growing in a field somewhere? It’s concocted—much like saccarin.

    I’m getting off in a long-winded tangent and semi-hijacking your comments, but food period is cause for concern whether it be the cookies, candies, pop-tarts & pancakes or the canned vegetables, frozen foods, & breads in our grocery aisles. This woman’s approach is ludacris. You are right. Education is the key. SO many people blindly follow what “they” say about food that it’s no wonder people’s eating habits are subject for debate.

    America period needs food education and frankly I think the food system here needs reform (FDA, USDA, etc). However, even though I feel like this…I don’t really do anything about it like boycotting. I try to avoid overly processed things like those delish twinkies but I don’t bend myself backwards & as much as I’d like to raise my own food, I don’t do that either. It’s not practicle. The insidence of disease, diabetes, and other ailments that have sky-rocketed this generation over other genearations—in my opinion can be attributed to what we feed ourselves. It’s not totally our fault though. I’d like to compare frosted flakes of the 1920’s to the frosted flakes we eat today (and many other foods, like chickens & cows from the ’20s—I wonder what they weren’t injected with that our animals are today).

    Basically, this chic needs to lighten up. Let your kids be kids!! Nobody wants to eat crap, but what are we going to do about it? Being a dictator nazi about what your kids ingest is a volitile recipe for a nice eating disorder complex when these kids get older…just sayin’

    //serious opinon comment—thanks for listening.

  7. I hope that someday when I have children I will teach them about healthy eating habits. I personally will eat every vegetable out there and I hope my kids will too. I can also tell you that my children will be allowed “sometimes foods” like homemade cupcakes, but I will SERIOUSLY try to limit crap like Kraft macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. It’s all my nieces and nephews will eat. Blecch.

  8. What are her kids going to remember from their childhood? That their mom is a crazy loon who wouldn’t even let them have cupcakes when a classmate had a birthday. Like everyone has said in the comments, it’s all about moderation and teaching your kid that it’s okay to say no.

  9. Right on girl!! Try teaching your kids moderation not restriction… lets raise a bunch of kids with eating disorders *sweets are evil!!!*… yeah that sounds like a healthy idea

  10. I know a mom who wouldn’t let her one year old daughter have any cake on her 1st birthday! She placed a cupcake in front of her for photo op but wouldn’t let the poor kid eat any. According to her, the child does not eat empty calories. CRAZY!

  11. love you clara. love you. my kids have access to sweets a lot. hell, im baking all the time. and you know what? they rarely ask for them when they want a snack. free access has almost made it where they dont want it. works for me!

  12. I’m a parent and I 1000% disagree with that whack job. The only food I tell my daughter she can’t have is peanuts and tree nuts and that is because she is allergic. I bake. A LOT. I always have at least 5 dessert choices in the freezer. We always have ice cream in the freezer. We have a candy jar that is always filled with an assortment on the kitchen counter. And I have the equivalent of 2-3 bags of Hershey kisses in the living room.

    And do you know what my kids like to snack on? Fruit, tomatoes, cheese, and crackers. Sure they have candy sometimes. They ask for chips sometimes too. And they have dessert every night. But I make my kids exercise. I make them run around. I show them a good example by working out at least 4 times a week. I make balanced lunches and dinners. They’ve learned they can eat what they want in moderation as long as they exercise.

    The parents who helicopter parent and are control freaks, are the ones who as soon as their kids go to college are going to go wild. How do I know this? I did. My mom was strict and my freshman year at college I was drunk 75% nights. I passed out I don’t know how many times. I gained 20 pounds. You can’t just teach your kids no. You have to teach them moderation and how to live in the real world.

  13. As a mother I get where she is coming from, my daughters fathers family has a long history of diabetes, therefore I do not allow her to eat lots of sweet or drink soda. Its up to the parents of the child to decide what they eat. My daughter would honestly rather have an apple or an orange as a snack and that’s because that’s what I have taught her and I don’t sit her down in front of a tv and walk away… we play and run around and that is also key in keeping children healthy.

  14. One school district around me mandates that treats may be brought to school for birthdays with these stipulations…

    No homemade treats
    Individually wrapped prepackaged treats only
    Sugar cannot be one of the top three ingredients

    What does that leave for a birthday snack?

  15. I just went out to dinner last night with my group of “crunchy friends.” We spend our days sharing info about raw milk, kombucha, kefir, reducing or eliminating refined sugars, and baking with soaked grains. However, we went to a normal restaurant, everyone ate normal food, and almost everyone had dessert. It is possible to live a very healthy lifestyle (everyone needs something different, we don’t all fit one USDA food pyramid) and still treat yourself occasionally. That’s why they’re called treats and aren’t (supposed to be) a major food group.

    I’ve made some pretty darn good gluten, refined-sugar, nut free cakes lately and while they’re still a treat, they are less unhealthy than traditional batters. They even have fiber & protein in them. I wouldn’t feel bad letting a child have one of these because they aren’t all empty calories.

    I’d rather see our society educate themselves about food, learn alternative options to what’s on the grocery shelf, and lead happy healthy lives, rather than ones of restriction. Kids, especially, shouldn’t have to deal with it unless they have a medical concern. Let them be kids.

  16. I completely concur with your reference to the college moderation problem. I live and go to college in the bible belt, and as a peer health educator at my school, most of the problems I see are kids coming from homes and schools that taught nothing but “just say no,” but not necessarily how to be safe, especially when they are inevitably around alcohol and other drugs. Without the proper tools, most people of any age will quickly fall to peer pressure, and it’s our jobs as parents, educators, and responsible peers not to just set rules, but to give these kids the tools they need to resist per pressure and make healthy choices in the long run. Scare tactics don’t work either; you may be able to convince a preschooler that they will drop dead from heart failure if they eat anything with sugar and butter, but any older kid is able to look around the room and see that their peers, after eating a cupcake, are alive and well. It destroys the trust factor that is necessary between educators (including parents) and the children as they grow up, making it even harder to educate them about more serious things later on. Teaching moderation and healthy behaviors is important, but we need to remember that “it’s evil, you’ll die, just say no” rarely works for alcohol, drugs, and sex, so it isn’t likely to work on food either.

    Personally, my biggest problem with my weight growing up was that I was basically taught to hate exercise. Running in gym was a punishment for not being able to complete another activity, etc. The fact that our cafeteria food was fried in lard didn’t help much and created a cycle of not liking exercise, gaining weight, and being able to do less physically. It’s taken a lot of work for me in college to get over that, but between cooking all my own meals, walking to class, and joining an all-female exercise program, I lost 35 pounds my freshman semester. I’m in the minority, though; the “freshman 15” is actually closer to 30 pounds on average, so a big part of our health education program is reaching out to new freshman to teach them the things they most likely missed in school about nutrition and exercise. In short, I think changing the mentality of exercise programs like gym class in schools will do a world more good than trying to ban sweets.

  17. I am a 19 year old who is constantly controlling her weight. I’ve gone through phases where I quit on sweets completely, and I agree, doing that makes you crave them soo much more! It becomes like forbidden fruit! Now I’ve lifted all restrictions, only live on moderation, and exercise. And its working amazingly for me! :) I pity her kida!

  18. I’m a mom, and baker with a blog. My kids have some of almost everything I make. They are not fat at all. They are active kids wiht a balanced diet where I monitor their meals and I think there’s nothing wrong with treats now and then. (Shhh, I bake almost everyday.) Their tv/electronic game time is limited and they have to earn it. They would rather run around outside and play with friends. I’m not worried. (A lot of my baking is done with healthy ingredients, rather than store bought processed stuff.)

  19. Quick – get that woman a cupcake! She looks like she could use one – and make it chocolate – with sprinkles!


  20. By the way – I wanted to tell you (off the subject) that I am making three of those cupcake flowerpots as teacher thank you’s for the end of the school year – they will absolutely love them!


  21. Please.

    I love cupcakes. My husband loves cupcakes. My 17 year old loves cupcakes. My 2 year old loves cupcakes.

    None of us are even close to being overweight because we don’t binge everyday and we spend the majority of our time outside. Yep, we eat fast food and junk food, too. And we go to the gym, ride bikes and scooters, walk to the park … moderation! We know what it is!!

    Maybe she needs to live in California where she could go outside and get some much needed play and sunshine. What a …. ummm …. hmmmm … shouldn’t say that word here … oh, better five letter one: Grump!!

  22. Keeping in mind that individual metabolisms play a big part. I think moderation, education, and regular physcial activity are the keys for both adults and children.

  23. Part of the appeal of your cupcakes is that they are by definition portion controlled. Right now I’m making an intense orange cupcake that is made with almond flour,imitation honey (doesn’t raise blood sugar) and a whole orange. I’m thinking of a cream cheese frosting using erythratol sweetener that is actually GOOD for you. This style of cooking works well for me but I wouldn’t force it on anyone.

  24. I totally agree. When I was in school, you could always tell which kids were completely sheltered at home because they went CRAZY every opportunity they had.

  25. She doesn’t look very “healthy” in that picture. Classic physical stance/pose that makes one look thinner…3/4 turn…the belted top…
    So sorry she had health problems growing up. She probably needs the attention now or she would have gone with a healthy psychological approach. What a relief that all the comments above show healthy balance. Maybe if she tried learning how to cook and/or bake both she and her kids would prefer home made with less sweetening/more flavor to packaged/bought treats. I still occasionally buy candy bars, maybe 2 or 3 times a year. I make rice crispy treats with them. Oh and thank you so much for your blog and recipes CB!!

  26. What worries me the most is when, at the end of the article, she admits that she hasn’t eaten for the entire day. I can’t think that starvation is the better choice versus the occasional cupcake.

  27. I’ve seen it first hand with a niece of mine. The mom kept her off of sweets and prohibited fattening foods. But once the child was at my house, and the mom wasn’t around, the child would splurge on sweets and chips. I agree, once she is off to college she is going to Balloon because her mom won’t be there to keep control of her actions. The child is so inclined to sweets from all those years of not being able to eat them.

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