What Kristen Bell actually packs in her kids' lunch boxes

Plus, how she divides parenting duties with husband Dax Shepard.

May 15, 2024, 9:31 AM

Like many parents, Kristen Bell regularly flips over food labels to read the nutrition facts -- only to find herself dissatisfied and exhausted after scanning packages with overwhelmingly high sugar contents. In an effort to effect positive change, the actress and mother of two announced she's teaming up with former first lady Michelle Obama to help champion a healthier generation of kids nutrition.

"I am at a constant impasse with my kids of encouraging them to consume healthy options -- particularly food," Bell told "Good Morning America" on Wednesday about her daughters, Lincoln and Delta. "I'm trying to encourage them to pay attention to the building blocks of their body and also learn how what they consume makes them feel."

Kristen Bellattends the Education Through Music Los Angeles 18th Annual Benefit Gala at Skirball Cultural Center on December 05, 2023 in Los Angeles.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

She continued, "it bothers me how much added sugar I see put into their diet just haphazardly."

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the National Institutes of Health, recommends children under the age of 2 "should consume less than 10% of total daily calories from added sugars," and that children over 2-years-old "should avoid consuming added sugars."

Kristen Bell, Michelle Obama team up for kids nutrition

To address this -- and avoid dreaded glucose spikes while trying to please the palates of her own 10- and 8-year-olds -- Bell announced Wednesday she is joining as a brand partner and investor in PLEZi Nutrition, the Public Benefit Company co-founded by Obama that recently launched a new line of children's carbonated fruit drinks with zero added sugar.

Kristen Bell is the first celebrity partner to join former first lady Michelle Obama and PLEZi Nutrition.

"I wasn't finding anything that satisfied me as a mom that I was comfortable giving them," she told "GMA," adding that she was "shocked" to hear, according to the American Heart Association, "that kids consume 53 pounds of added sugar per year."

The Obama-backed beverage brand brought a fruit drink to market with 75% less sugar than the average leading brands and zero added sugar, according to the company. The brand also touts 2 grams of fiber as well as vitamin C.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, water is the ideal beverage for children "at all meals and during the day," and whole fruit is encouraged over fruit juice.

Obama, who launched PLEZi in 2023, said in a statement she was "thrilled" Bell would be joining the team, adding "it’s a perfect match."

"She shares our deeply held vision of doing whatever we can to help parents raise a healthier generation of kids. She’s passionate, genuine, and funny, too -- I can’t think of a better partner to help us reach even more parents, kids, and families," Obama stated.

Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during WSJ's Future of Everything Festival, May 3, 2023, in New York.
Mary Altaffer/AP

Bell, 43, told "GMA" she's long followed the former first lady's lead "as far as educating my kids on nutrition and a healthy lifestyle -- she does it in such a welcoming and engaging way."

"We have to meet kids where they are, and we have to give them healthier options that are still delicious and make those options available to families across America -- if we are going to make any dent in the amount of added sugar that we're all consuming," Bell said.

What Kristen Bell actually packs in her kids' lunch boxes

"I think trusting your gut and paying attention to what you think is right for your kids is usually the best option," she said. "I do put snacks in my kids lunches -- I put some chocolate in there every now and again -- potato chips -- everything in moderation, their food should not be a burden."

Bell even said the initial sample pallets of PLEZi drinks -- particularly the tropical fruit punch flavors -- she received went on to get traded amongst her daughters' classmates.

PLEZi Nutrition's first product—a kids' drink called PLEZi—has 75% less sugar than average leading 100% fruit juices, no added sugar, plus fiber and nutrients, like potassium, magnesium, and zinc.

"There were so many missing within the first 48-hours I had to have a sit down -- apparently there is a black market trade on the playground," she said with a laugh. "They couldn't move the product fast enough."

Additionally, Bell said she adds "a lot of whole foods in their lunches" such as avocados, red bell peppers and lately, "they've been very into requesting BLTs."

"I am trying to keep them happy by giving them food that tastes good, while encouraging them to eat healthy," she said.

How Kristen Bell balances parenting decisions with Dax Shepard

"To be honest, because my husband and I are both somewhat stubborn Alpha personalities, we have divided up the labor," Bell said, adding that she assumes most responsibility for "paying attention to their diet."

"There's a trust factor in the division of labor," she explained. "The reality is there is a ton of invisible labor in parenting -- I'm somewhat in control of what's in the fridge and what goes in the lunches, and he very graciously follows my lead."

Kristen Bell's best parenting advice

In a world full of watchful eyes -- whether at a school pickup line or behind screens on social media -- judgement among parents can prove particularly difficult. But Bell shared some sage advice for other parents -- and anyone -- dealing with critics.

"I think it's a waste of time to worry about what other people think of you, across the board," Bell said. "I say that to myself in the mirror sometimes, I say that to my kids. Nobody knows what's best for your child except you."

Circling back to the former first lady, Bell said, "I've always been so impressed with what [she] has done with the education around nutrition and activity -- and really walks the walk with Plezi -- to answer questions when it comes to kids health and being really transparent -- serving as an educational platform."

PLEZi's seeks to engage with parents and caregivers to bring transparency to kids' health, like encouraging drinking water and eating fruits and vegetables, because PLEZi Nutrition’s products are not intended to replace water and whole foods.