It’s getting kids to eat what parents serve that causes so many problems.

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DINA ROSE, PhD is a sociologist, parent educator and feeding expert empowering parents to raise kids who eat right.

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Links

Dinner Together Building Healthy Families One Meal at a Time.

Food Politics Marion Nestle's intelligent take on the politics of food and nutrition.

Fooducate Like Having a Dietician on Speed dial.

Hoboken Family Alliance A terrific resource for people living in the great city of Hoboken, NJ.

The Lunch Tray Everything you need to know about improving school lunches.

Parent Hacks Forehead-Smackingly Smart Tips

Raise Healthy Eaters One of the best blogs (other than my own) for learning to raise healthy eaters.

Real Mom Nutrition Tales from the Trenches. Advice for the Real World. From a mom-nutritionist who knows!

Stay and Play The best indoor playspace on the East Coast. Oh yeah, and it happens to be owned by my brother.

weelicious Great Recipes for Kids 

Tuesday
Jan272015

Moving recess to before lunch increases fruit and vegetable consumption

Having recess before lunch increases fruit and vegetable consumption!

Don't you just love it when researchers study— and then discover—the obvious?

Hmmm...let's see...requiring kids to take a fruit or a vegetable doesn't increase consumption, but making sure kids are extra hungry before lunch does. 

When lunch is scheduled before recess, kids are encouraged to minimize eating time. And that usually means cutting out the fruits and vegetables.

This is especially true for kids who value playing and running around.

Two takeaways for feeding kids at home:

  1. Structural changes can have a big effect. For instance, sometimes feeding children dinner at 4:30 solves all the evening eating/meltdown/control struggle problems. (Still want a family dinner experience? Let kids eat their dinner early, so that you're not fighting about snacks and then let your children eat dessert when the adults eat.)
  2. Often parents inadvertently create an incentive for children to do the opposite of what we would like them to do. One example that comes to mind is the strategy of providing an appealing after-dinner snack that kids really like. This encourages some children to skip (or minimize eating) at dinner. After-dinner/before-bed snacks should be acceptable but not preferred.

Moving recess to before lunch increased the number of fruit and vegetable servings by 65% in one study.

It also increased the percentage of children eating fruits and vegeatbles by 69%

Other benefits schools have reaped from moving recess to before lunch:

  • More food being eaten overall (decreasing, presumably, excessive afternoon hunger that often leads to poor academic performance and unhealthy snacking).
  • Less wasted food.
  • Calmer lunchroom atmosphere.
  • Decrease in disciplinary problems.

And remember, changing the timing of recess is free. 

As are the structural changes you can make at home!

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: Price, J. and D. R. Just. 2015. “Lunch, Recess and Nutrition: Responding to Time Incentives in the Cafeteria.” Preventive Medicine 71: 27-30.

Tuesday
Jan132015

Cognitive Scripts: How Kids Learn When and What to Eat

When you go to the movies, do you always get popcorn?

If you do, that's probably because you have what's called an cognitive script for going to the movies. Congitive scripts tell you what normally happens in different situations--and in what order.

  • Buy movie ticket.
  • Buy popcorn.
  • Watch movie and eat popcorn!

Cognitive scripts work because they simplify decision-making and guide behavior. 

Kids have congitive scripts too.

And guess what: they develop those scripts early on. Maybe even by the age of 2. Certainly by the age of 3.

Maybe you know where I'm going with this...

Every time you serve food in a given situation, you're helping your children write a cognitive script.

My infant daugther cried every time she was in the car. It didn't take long for me to learn that if I fed her in the car she didn't cry. It didn't take long for my daughter to learn that every time she was in the car she got a snack.Talk about a bad eating habit!

Here's the study: Kids between 4 and 6 years old were asked to tell researchers about what usually occurs during playdates, when they go to the movies, or when they attend a sporting event.

The children were asked to name four things that occured on each of these occasions. And this is what the reseachers learned. 

  • 54% of the children mentioned eating on playdates
  • 74% of the chidlren mentioned eating at the movies.
  • 54% of the children mentioned eating at sporting events.

When researchers asked kids who didn't mention food if they ever ate during these events, the numbers jumped. For instance, now 71% said they normally ate on playdates.

This was a small study, but it makes perfect sense, especially when you think about how habits form...and how hard they are to break.

I know what you're thinking: what's wrong with eating on a playdate?

My answer: nothing. Unless your children develop a cognitive script which makes them think that playdates and food always go hand-in-hand.

  • Or a cognitive script that tells them that playdates mean cookies.
  • Or a cognitive script that tells your children that tantrums are followed by food. 
  • Or a cognitive script that dinner=pizza. (I know kids like this.)

Cognitive scripts shape people's behavior and expectations in the long run.

That's something to consider. Especially because research shows: 

  • Children today consume more calories and eat more frequently than children did 30 years ago.
  • One study found that, for school-age children, snacks account for 27% of total daily calories. In comparison, breakast=18% and lunch=24% of total calories.

And while it's tempting to thing that snacking is a healthy habit, the research shows that most kids snack on pretty bad stuff. Read The Snack Attack and Snacks: The Gifts That Keep on Giving, and Change How Your Kids Snack.

What cognitive scripts are you writing with your kids?

And how are these scripts shaping your kids' eating habits? Now that's food for thought.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: Musher-Eizenman, D. R., J. M. Marx, and M. B. Taylor. 2015. “It's Always Snack Time: an Investigation of Events Scripts in Young Children.” Appetite 85: 66-69.

Wednesday
Dec242014

Thank You For Another Fabulous Year!

Thanks for making this another fabulous year for It's Not About Nutrition.

Can you believe we've been talking here for five years? When I launched It's Not About Nutrition in May, 2009, I had no idea how much work it would take. I also had no idea how rewarding it would be.

What a journey this has been. And I thank all of you for coming along with me—for sharing your thoughts, your questions, and your solutions. Most of all, I thank you for helping me change the conversation from nutrition to habits!

In 2015 I'm looking forward to:

  • Starting an online course to help parents introduce theiir kids to new foods (especially fruits & veggies)!
  • Figuring out how to create interesting and informative "how-to" videos. (This will be no small feat for me...one of the technologically-challenged!)
  • Bringing the Rose Habits Approach to more communities across the country.
  • Connecting with new pediatricians, dieticians, speech therapists, early childhood educators.
  • Recording additional episodes of The Happy Bite podcast with my fabulous cohost Sally Kuzemchak.
  • Meeting lots of amazing parents!
  • Hearing your suggestions for content you'd like to see on It's Not About Nutrition.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday, filled with family, friends and fun—and maybe even a little quiet, relaxation.

All the best to all of you,

Dina