Julianna Margulies: Son’s Childhood Won’t Mirror My Own

12/21/2010 at 04:00 PM ET
Dave Allocca/Startraks

For Julianna Margulies, history won’t be repeating itself when it comes to raising her 2½-year-old son Kieran Lindsay.

The daughter of “intellectual hippies,” Margulies grew up in a television-free household that followed a strict organic-only diet. However, the first-time mom admits she is taking a much different approach with her child.

“I’m not into any food movement … I want my son to grow up healthy, but I think a little bit of everything is okay. If you don’t have a little sugar now and again, you’re just going to crave it,” The Good Wife star, 44, tells Britain’s You.

“Everything in moderation, I believe. I let my son watch TV at weekends, but as a child we weren’t allowed to watch TV; we didn’t even have a TV.”

That said, there is one area where Margulies isn’t willing to negotiate: family time. After being approached with the leading role in The Good Wife, the actress nearly turned down the offer over filming locations.

“They were planning to make the show in Vancouver because it was cheaper,” she explains. “Nothing against Canada, but my home and my family are here; I don’t want to bring my son up sitting in hotel rooms around the world just so I can work.”

Admittedly once “the sort of person who would always make those five-year plans,” Margulies is now focused on the present with her family of three, including husband Keith Lieberthal.

“Last weekend, we went upstate to our house in the country, walked in the woods, lit fires, made waffles, and Kieran learned how to make blueberry pancakes,” she shares. “I cooked a nice dinner, my husband and I had a good bottle of wine and we made it to bed before 11 p.m.”

— Anya Leon

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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poppykai on

Thank you Julianna! I belive everything is moderation sounds perfectly normal. I know we all want what is best for our children, but so many are on so many restrictive regimes, it makes me sad when they actually discover that the real world actually isn’t sugar-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, all organic EVERYTHING. Nothing against anyone who wants to raise children that way, but I just don’t have the time to monitor EVERYTHING.

t on

Absolutely agree. I remember the kids in very strict households were always the most wild the moment they were out of their parents grasp. My best friend was not allowed to eat anything with refined sugar. So what did she do? Saved every dime and as soon as she was away from her parents she bought as MUCH candy as possible.

Rose on

Well I certainly hope what the previous posters said about rebelling isn’t always true since my children have to be restricted for health reasons. I think (hope) that there are ways of approaching this that will produce better results and less rebellion. The things I try to do to cut down on future rebellion: 1. explaining to the kids why they are eating healthy food and avoiding others, rather than just flat-out forbidding it with no explanation. We talk about what vitamins are found in certain foods, and what those vitamins do to help a person feel good. We also talk about what negative effects certain unhealthy foods have. 2. I try to find comparable substitutes that don’t have off-limits foods in them. I think the approach that creates that greatest amount of rebellion is to make your kid eat carrots while everyone else eats cake. I just make cake for them that has no gluten or refined sugar, not only so they won’t feel deprived, but also so they can see that eating healthy can still be fun and can still include things like baked goods and snacks.

I would imagine that being raised all organic back in the 60s/70s as Julianna was would be a much different experience than being raised that way in today’s world where they have some amazing organic, gluten-free, and sugar-free products that look normal and taste good. The market is being flooded with those products, which has made my life so much easier. It makes me so happy I wasn’t raising children 30 or 40 years ago.

LittleMo on

I don’t believe anything is completey polutant-free and never will be. Just look at what comes out of the tailpipe of a car, out of the smokestack of a factory, etc. Better yet, that space program that everyone is rightfully proud of, where do you think the plutominium in the air from that goes? Right into our ground, air, and water. I’m not a scientist and cant’ be exact, but the point I’m trying to make is that there are things poluting everything around us and that hasn’t changed one bit so no one is ever going to get food that is completely unencumbered by anything.

On a practical note, economic times are hard, especialy for middle income people. Has anyone seen what the price of “organic” food is? If you want a dozen organic eggs be prepared to pay $3.99 for ONE DOZEN!!! Want some organic whole milk? Just shy of $5.00. The person who said everything in moderation was right.

Sarah M. on

I think it’s different if it’s done for allergy/intolerance reasons v. just because we ONLY want to be healthy ALL the time. If someone is allergic to chocolate, then you don’t want them to eat a candy bar or else they’ll have an allergic reaction.

A friend of mine has a 8 year old and a 3 year old. The 8 year old can’t have gluten. When they switched him to a majority gluten-free diet, he told them without being asked ‘I feel so much better than I have in a long time.’. Their 3 year old can’t have soy or eggs. When she gets ANY soy, she gets blisters all over. She looks like a burn victim or something. Those are more extreme cases, though. If the 8 year old is at a birthday party he can have 1 piece of cake, but can’t have any other sweets for the rest of the day. That type of stuff.

As far as gluten-free, while there are more and more options out now, it’s still SO hard. Gluten is in just about EVERYTHING. It’s in shampoo and conditioner, fruit snacks, cakes from just about any shop, bread from just about any deli, etc. So you have to read EVERY label thoroughly and that takes time until you get used to what has it and what doesn’t. It tends to be easier to just buy the ingredients and make the stuff yourself than to try and find shops that have it. When you find it, it is more expensive than the ‘regular’ stuff. Fortunately, labels are very clearly labeled when the product is gluten-free.

I do agree that everything in moderation is best for most people, though. When you really want something, if you have just a little bit then you usually stop there. If you try too hard to avoid it, then you tend to go crazy and have WAY too much of it.

Sorry for the book, I just don’t think people realize how much stuff gluten is in until you try to avoid eating it for health reasons!

CelebBabyLover on

Sarah M.- I agree! I’ve known a few people with celiac diesease, and it almost gives me a headache just thinking about what they have to go through to make sure a food is safe for them to eat. And for kids, there’s the matter of making sure they don’t get exposure at school. One of the people I’ve known with celiac diesease was a classmate of mine in elementary and middle school.

To this day, I am touched when I remember how understanding the school was about his condition and the fact that there were a lot of foods he needed to avoid. In fact, the cooks even took the time to prepare his lunches sepertly, using a special gluten-free flour (it was usually the same thing the rest of the students and teachers were eating, but with the regular flour replaced with the gluten-free stuff).

Sadly, a lot of schools don’t seem to be quite that understanding any more. 😦

Nella on

I totally agree with Juliana on this one. Everything in moderation! I am all for having a healthy lifestyle, but also for not restricting things such as cake or seeing a movie every once in a while. It’s important to teach children healthy habits from young age, but that doesn’t include restricting so many things. We teach them these things as children so as adults they can make the right decisions for themselves. Allergies are one thing which obviously has to be restricted toward certain foods. Also, while organic food is healthy, it can also be expensive and not everyone can afford it. In my opinion a good way to go is keeping everything in moderation.

mt on

I just want to say that I was raised in a home without TV and I wasn’t obsessed with it, and now I’m happy that my parents thought that way. I have to say, tough, that we weren’t banned from seeing it if we were at other houses were there was TV.
I plan to raise my own children that way too.

bepen on

I have a friend who tried to raise her kids with a similar type of diet and no tv. When the youngest was 6, they came over for Thanksgiving and he ate an ENTIRE pie all by himself!

Also, growing up I knew a couple kids like that who were restricted and they went wild growing up. Whenever they were out of their parents sight,they were the ones who ate the most candy/sweets!

Kristine on

All children are different. Whether you restrict or not all children will not turn out the same. Love your kids the best you know how and stop worrying and obsessing about everything.

jessicad on

I like her and agree with everything she said! I let my daughter indulge in a treat of her choice usually once a week, moderation is the key. I was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease and I have a new appreciation for people with allergies, it’s so hard to find foods without gluten and most of my favorites foods are now forbidden. Even with a tiny bit of gluten I react and feel terrible for days, I’ve noticed more gluten free brands coming out and I’m happy for that, but it’s still difficult and time consuming!

jessicad on

I also meant to add that Julianna looks AMAZING. I don’t know if she still follows a strict diet or had plastic surgery, but whatever it is works! Her skin is flawless and gorgeous.

Astrid on


As other posters have also said, I would assume that most parents have their children on organic-only, gluten-free and dairy-free diets for health reasons due to their child’s intolerance/allergy reasons. My son is on the autism spectrum and since removing dairy, gluten and soy, his behaviour and language/communication skills have improved hugely.

It’s not just a ‘lifestyle’ choice for us, but an absolute necessity for our son’s wellbeing and future. We are not doing it to be trendy or snobby, but to improve our child’s quality of life. Believe me, I would love to not have to follow such a strict regimen and be able to take my kid to any restaurant and give him whatever he wants from the kid’s menu or on a day when I’m tired, just give him a store bought pizza. I can’t do any of these things, so if you have kids and can do this stuff, count yourself lucky that you don’t have to prepare everything from scratch and have to scrutinize food labels constantly.

Some people’s ignorance amazes me.

poppykai on

My son has had a host of problems including ulcerative colitis and for health reasons I have had to find alternative foods at times for him. Like another poster said, I try to make it as similar to what his sister may happen to be eating. I certainly know every child is different (mine are night and day!), and obviously there are children who need special diets. I strongly encourage my children to make healthy food decisions (as much as a 6 and 3 y.o. can) and I feed them a balanced diet including an occasional “treat”. I live in an area where options for just about any diet are abundant and I know alot of “all organic” families. I just feel that it is healthier for children to be exposed to the gamut of foods even full sugar, full fat ice-cream occasionaly. Sorry about the novel, It was just refreshing to see a celeb speak about this 🙂

Daniella on

Wow, I never realized food allergies were so prevalent. I have over 40+ first-cousins & I am the only one that I know of with any kind of allergy to food: pretty much every kind of seafood out there. I still feel bad at family gatherings since absolutely no seafood can be used or cooked with me in the vicinity, so they’ve all given up eating any kind of seafood at special occasions for me. Then again, that time I went into anaphylatic shock may have been a motivator. But avoiding seafood seems really easy compared to these other allergies, such as gluten or dairy.

I guess that just shows how spoiled most of us are in that we can eat practically whatever we want without having to worry. Really makes me appreciate my food more (seafood excluded). As for the organic-only diets, that’s great, if you can afford it. I personally don’t know hardly anyone who could follow such a diet simply because of the price of organic foods, which is outrageous. As Julianna said, moderation is the best route.

Terri on

Well obviously there will be children that will have many restrictions due to allergies and medical conditions, but I don’t think Julianna is referring to those children.

Tee on

This was a really refreshing article to read! It sounds like Julianne has found a really good balance for her son and I agree with her line of thinking. Just yesterday I got involved in a discussion on a message board regarding giving juice to your children. I was really surprised at the number of people that were so dead set against their child EVER having juice. I agree that it shouldn’t be the only thing a child drinks but don’t see the harm in a glass of juice with breakfast a few times a week. I serve 100% juice and usually cut it with water for the baby’s sippy cup. It’s all in moderation and everything in life should be done in moderation.

Of course, I’m not referring to food allergies or foods that have to be avoided because of health reasons. I can’t eat certain dairy products because of an allergy and while I don’t have to be nearly as careful as other people I know, I do understand that some things have to be avoided altogether. That’s a different story.

Astrid, may I ask you a question? You said some people’s ignorance amazes you. Are you referring to a comment here? I ask because I don’t see anything that I would interpret as ignorant and I was trying to see things from your point of view.

Heather on

Kudos to her for trying to inject some balance into her child’s life. I too was raised in a restricted (though not excessively) household and it’s made me cognizant of how balanced my children’s lives are. Everything in moderation!

Jeanne on

Everything in moderation, it’s really that simple. A restrictive diet because of allergies or other heath reasons makes perfect sense but to restrict a diet just for the sake of restricting it is ridiculous.

I have one set of cousins who were raised a lot like Julianna: everything organic, no refined sugar, no junk food ever. So guess who would scarf down the candy and soda as soon as they came to my house? They’d all be literally bouncing off the walls from the sugar. The three boys all gained a significant amount of weight when they went away to college because it was the first time in their lives they could eat what they wanted. The girl battled eating disorders for most of her adolescence and through college, she’s much better now though still really skinny. If they’d been allowed to have everything in moderation I don’t think they would’ve had so many health problems.

Cici on

I’m shocked by how many women on here got all defensive and started explaining the sob stories that forced them to have restrictive diets for their children. Did Julianna say anything about forcing an allergic child to eat things that will make them sick? She talked about her restrictive parents and how she wasn’t going to be the same kind of parent. I’m not sure if these posters just like to whine or are just overly sensitive.

She is right about moderation. I have all these stupid friends who have their heads up their rears and think that making their kids eat organic and sugar-free means the kids will be adults who eat the same. Uh, how about teaching your kid that eating a piece of candy isn’t some seductive thrill? I mean don’t most teenagers and young adults want to do what they’re NOT supposed to do. Aren’t they just encouraging their kids to overeat when the power is in their own hands?

My kids eat junk food along with all the normal healthy foods. They’re active and healthy and none of them is obsessed with junk food because it’s not something that feels forbidden or overly special. I think too many people today have unhealthy relationships with food which leads to eating disorders that then lead to obesity.

Julianna’s a healthy weight and her kid looks healthy so I’d say moderation works for them.

Tee on

Cici, I see your point. I honestly think that most of the people that are talking about food allergies are just trying to make sure everyone that reads the comments are seeing that there is another side to the restrictive food picture. It doesn’t really apply in regards to Julianne but I like the fact that people that have experience with food allergies are trying to educate others!

Sarah M. on

Thank you, Tee. And no Cici, I’m not trying to be defensive nor am I overly sensitive (much of the time). And my comment wasn’t directed toward Julianna’s comment, it was actually meant to be directed toward poppykai’s (the first in the comment section) comment. I actually don’t see anywhere where I even implied that Julianna would ever do such a thing. I just think that more and more kids are being placed on restrictive diets because more and more kids are being diagnosed with allergies that instigate the need to do so. For the parents that are doing it just because they feel like it and for no other reason are the ones that I don’t really understand. I’m sure they’re doing what they think is best for their kids, but I guess I just understand where they’re coming from, is all.

I’ll try to be more clear at who my comments are directed toward in the future.

And really, the more people know about food allergies, all the more people will learn how to deal with said allergies when they encounter them. I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all!!

Lyn on

LOL…..gotta LOVE that a kid who was denied television is now making a pretty good living DOING it! I love the actress and the wife/mother she apparently is.