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.
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 

« What Jenny Craig in France Can Teach Your Kids About Eating Right | Main | Does Whole Foods Want to Harm Kids' Eating Habits? »
Tuesday
Jun122012

"Kid-Friendly" is a Killer.

Can we agree to ban the term "Kid-Friendly" from the American lexicon?

It sends the wrong message, sets the wrong tone.

I'm going to go so far as to say that the term "kid-friendly" is killing our kids' eating habits.  (Have you seen the kind of crap that's called "kid-friendly?" Read The Truth About Child-Friendly Foods and Are "Child-Friendly" Foods Really Gateway Drugs?)

But even when "kid-friendly" food is, indeed, worth eating, the very idea that some food is "kid-friendly" is a mind killer. Read Mind Over Matter.

This tip sheet from ChooseMyPlate.gov isn't a resource, it's more like a roadblock.

The term "kid-friendly" denotes that there are 2 types of food in the world. 

  • Food that is "kind and pleasant" to kids.
  • Food that is "mean" to kids.

"Kid-friendly" makes kids and parents think that food should throw its arms around kids and give them a big, happy hug, maybe even a smooch.

"Kid-friendly" makes kids and adults wary of anything "serious" or "mature."

"Kid-friendly" makes kids and adults steer clear of healthy foods.

"Kid-friendly" undermines everything parents are trying to teach their kids about eating right.

Labeling some foods as "kid-friendly" is like telling your children there are some kids they should play with and some kids they should avoid. 

  • Play with kids who are familiar.
  • Avoid kids who look or act a little different. 

Kids have to learn to play in all sorts of playgrounds...with all sorts of kids. The same is true with eating.

"Kid-friendly" is a form of stereotyping.

It has no useful purpose (other than as a marketing tool). It makes kids exclude the bulk of the food world as "not for them."

I'm not saying that presentation doesn't matter.

Everyone enjoys an artful presentation.

But your expectations affect what you serve. Your expectations also affect what your kids will eat.  So open your mind.  It'll help your kids open their mouths.  Read Feed Your Kids Like a Chef—Cooking Optional.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

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Reader Comments (3)

We have just survived several weekends filled with kid birthday parties and end of year/end of season celebrations. Even events hosted by families that are in in the healthy living industry seem to fall apart when it comes to setting up their child's birthday party.

The best of the lot was the most simple. Decorations, games and a treat. End of story. There was a pack of kids, giggles galore and a lot of happy faces.

But the rest have been a nutritional minefields that have made me question the whole birthday party deal. This year we'll continue with our special family outing tradition... and skip the party.

I know what you mean. Parties are challenging. I have to confess, though, that I serve up junk at my daughter's birthday party. I just teach her to take parties into account when she decides what to eat before, and following, the event.

Thanks, as always, for your thoughts.

Dina

June 15, 2012 | Registered CommenterDina Rose

The one that always gets my blood boil is the kids menu at restaurants. Now I don't know about you, but when I go to a restaurant I want to eat something that is a bit special and preferably something that I wouldn't eat often at home or elsewhere. But most kids menus feature chicken nuggets and chips and some variations on that awful theme. I have been known to order my toddler an adult meal to avoid ordering from the kids menu! That is if I wanted to order something for myself that I truly could not get her to eat at that age, like hot spicy food.

And now I'm on the topic of kids menus, the portions are often ludicrous! Serving a 3yo a portion that even a 12yo would struggle to finish is not very productive...

The best restaurant I ever went to had a kids menu that was a simplified version of the rest of the menu, featuring fresh seafood and proper healthy side dishes. And the best thing was, it cost $1 per year of the child's age! And thus the portions were appropriate for their age too.

We don't do 'kid friendly' at home either. I have never understood the benefit of hiding vegetables or making one food look like another to trick kids into eating it. Just like I have always been brutally honest about the fact that the meat we eat comes from dead animals. If my daughter would choose to be a vegetarian, that would be fine. But if she is going to eat meat, she needs to do so in the full realisation of what she is eating. And she does.

We have junk food at birthday parties though. I reckon it tastes all the better if they realise that it is a rare treat and it teaches them about moderation and self control.

June 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLin

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