As the mom of two middle-schoolers and the aunt of lots of grown nieces and nephews, I’ve long been aware of how hard it is to make sure kids eat a balanced diet. Even parents who can afford the groceries, have the time to stock up on healthy ingredients and know their way around the kitchen can end up squabbling with their children over what’s for dinner and dessert. But what I didn’t realize until now is that food is often fraught because parents can use it as a proxy for their feelings.

Boston University dietitian and nutritionist Stephanie Meyers prescribes four steps families can take to overcome this problem by finding “other ways to celebrate and soothe that don’t depend on food.”

This week we also liked stories about who women have in mind as they get dressed, the right way to feed birds in your neighborhood and a dog psychologist’s insights about presidential candidates and their pups.

Ice cream cones can convey joy and love. YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV/

How to stop using food to reward and punish your kids

Stephanie Meyers, Boston University

There are better ways to convey your emotions.

Wardrobe choices can be part of a delicate social dance. Everett Collection/

How women dress for other women

Jaimie Arona Krems, Oklahoma State University

Recent research explores how women 'dress defensively' to avoid the aggression of other women.

A patriotic pooch. JStaley401/

Could a dog pick the next president?

Clive Wynne, Arizona State University

A dog psychologist looks at the presidential candidates' relationships with dogs.

Today’s video


We need your help today to bring fact-based journalism to the public