Free Resource Sheets to Teach Healthy Eating Habits


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Entries in Bagels (7)


Why I Gave My Daughter Chocolate Cake for Breakfast

I gave my daughter chocolate cake for breakfast this morning and I had some very good reasons!

Reason #1: We broke our Yom Kippur fast last night with a feast, and when we got to the end of the meal my daughter said she wanted some chocolate babka but she was too full.

So I said I'd save it for her.

My message: It is safe for you to forgo the babka tonight because it will be waiting for you whenever you want it.

Have you ever thought about Dessert Insecurity? It's not believing that your piece of the pie will still be there when you're ready for it.

And so we eat dessert, whether or not we want it, and whether or not we're full.

I grew up with a couple of brothers who would devour everything in sight, so I know a thing or two about dessert insecurity.

By the way, I made up the term dessert insecurity, at least as far as I know.

Kids need to know that what is theirs is theirs.

Think of this as Dessert Security.

I highly recommend thinking about Dessert Security anytime you suspect that your kids are eating simply because they need to make sure they get their share of the goodies.

Dessert Security is a useful tool for teaching the habit Moderation. (The other two habits that translate nutrition into behavior are proportion and variety.)

Moderation: Eating when you are hungry, stopping when you are full, and not eating because you are bored, sad or lonely—or worried that your favorite cake will be gone before you get a piece!

This is why I recommend a candy drawer. Read:

In case you're worried about how unhealthy the babka is, it compares pretty well to other common breakfast foods.

Yes it has a lot of sugar, but not more than pancakes with syrup. On the other hand, it has way fewer calories and lots less fat than a bagel with cream cheese. And the babka has as much protein as Honey Nut Cheerios.

By the way, I served the babka with a glass of milk.

Let me be clear: I'm not saying that cake is a healthy breakfast. I am saying that it isn't much worse than some of the standard stuff. You can see the comparisons below.

Most importantly, my daughter knows that cake for breakfast is a treat.

Most kids don't think of marginal breakfast fare as treats. Yes, I'm talking about pancakes, waffles, sugary cereal, muffins or even a bagel with cream cheese.

One serving (1.5 oz) of Green's Babka, Chocolate, Original

  • Calories=160
  • Fat=5g
  • Protein=2g
  • Fiber=1g
  • Sugar=18g

I didn't serve this brand, but the cake I bought didn't have a nutrition facts label.

(For those of you who aren't familiar with chocolate babka, it's kind of like a coffee cake, or a bread, made with sweet yeast dough and, usually, either chocolate or cinnamon. For some funny about babka watch this Seinfeld Episode.)

A plain bagel and cream cheese from a place like Panera Bread:

  • Calories=490
  • Fat=19.5g
  • Protein=13g
  • Fiber=2g
  • Sugar=3g

Honey Nut Cheerios 

  • Calories=110
  • Fat=1.5g
  • Protein=2g
  • Fiber=2g
  • Sugar=9g

Two Eggo Blueberry pancakes without any syrup deliver about 7grams of sugar.  Add the syrup and you’re up in Coke territory.  Two ounces of syrup– I know it sounds like a lot but those small fast food packets contain-- has approximately 32g of sugar. Read Cookies for Breakfast.

My other reasons for dishing up cake for breakfast...

Reason #2: New braces=sore mouth.

Reason #3: The desire to make my daugther happy...but I've confessed before. Read Hot Chocolate to Soothe the Soul. Then read Falafel for Breakfast.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~


The Bad News About Bread

Have you ever noticed that we're raising a generation of bread addicts?

  • Americans consume more than twice the amount of refined grains than we should. That's old news.
  • Did you you know that to meet the dietary guidelines, we would have to decrease our total grain intake by about 27%?

A 27% surplus in grain consumption is significant!

If you're having trouble expanding the range of foods your children will eat, think about getting rid of bread.

It's a scary thought, I know. But consider this...

From a nutrition perspective, most bread is a wasteland. From a habits perspective, bread is even worse. 

Over-using bread means that the taste and texture of bread (in all it's various forms) shapes the other foods kids will accept.

Remember, for the most part, taste preferences are formed—not found.

Eating is a matter of math: what your kids eat the most, influences the kinds of foods they want to eat the most.

Do your children start the day with toast, cereal, bagels, waffles, scones or other kinds of bread?

And then move onto a...

  • Mid-morning snack of Goldfish crackers?
  • Grilled cheese sandwich for lunch?
  • Cookies or a granola bar in the afternoon?
  • Pizza for dinner?

One bagel is the equivalent of 4 slices of Wonder Bread.

What would happen if you removed all the bread from your children's diet? 

If you can't imagine how your child would survive, you're definitely raising a bread addict.

But don't worry, you don't have to get rid of all the bread....Think Proportion. (It's one of the three habits of healthy eating. Variety and Moderation are the other two.)

There's a place in your children's diet for bread. Just don't let bread dominate your children's diet.

I know...grains/bread made up the bottom rung of the Food Pyramid, but that was BAD ADVICE. In the new My Plate icon, grains make up only a quarter of the plate. But that's from a nutrition perspective.

From a habits perspective, it would be good to start thinking about all grains as bread-equivalents...and minimize their appearance -- as a category -- in your children's overall diets.

Bread masquerades in lots of different forms.

Toast, bagels, muffins, pancakes, cereal, waffles, English muffins, sandwiches, pizza, tortillas, croissants, crescent rolls, quesadillas, scones, pretzel rolls, corn bread, banana bread, and then there are crackers, crackers crackers.

Add up all the bread and other grain-stuff your kids load up on. Then compare this group to everything else your kids eat. See what I mean?

For more on BREAD, read: 

For other BREAKFAST options, read:

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~


When There Are No Good Food Choices

Imagine you’re at a lunchtime event with your toddlerThe menu: bagels with three flavors of cream cheese, cookies, and cupcakes.  What do you do?

Here’s what the dad standing next to me did: “Son, you have to eat your bagel before you can have that cupcake.”

I hate it when there are no good options.  Even though bread is basically my favorite food group—Read Manna from Heaven—bagels are not up there on the nutrition index.

That’s why I’m always surprised when parents make their toddlers eat a bagel before they eat a cookie.  As if the bagel were a salad.

In this situation, the only thing you can do is abandon any notion of nutrition.  Instead:

  • Tell your kids that the hosts decided to put out treats for lunch.  (In other words, tell  your kids the truth.)
  • Let your kids eat whichever items they want (since they’re all nutritional losers).
  • Take the hunger “edge” off, and then go get a real lunch.
  • Limit goodies for the remainder of the day, since your kids will have already eaten their treats.

Most parents will probably think this is a radical strategy, but I think it’s time for these habits to come “out of the closet.”

Teaching kids that a bagel with cream cheese is the healthy part of the meal is like teaching them the world is flat.

I didn’t do a nutritional analysis of the cookies and cupcakes that were served that day.  But, compared to a typical bagel with cream cheese (which has about 480 calories and 20 grams of fat), one slice of Entenmann’s Chocolate Fudge Cake is a bargain: it has 200 fewer calories, and about half the fat.  The cake even has the same amount of fiber!

True, the chocolate cake has less protein and more sugar than the bagel and cream cheese, but it has roughly the same amount of protein and more calcium than the cream cheese. (Maybe your kids should eat the cake on the bagel!)

If you’re brave enough to face the truth about bagels, read La Crème de la Crème

When there are no good food choices, the most important thing you can teach your kids is HOW MUCH to eat.  

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that parents are more focused on teaching kids what to eat than they are on teaching kids when, why and how much to eat.    This strategy works OK when there are healthy foods on the menu.  “Eat these peas; they’re good for you.”

But when there are no good foods on the menu, instead of searching around for the “best” food option—and then erroneously labeling whatever you’ve found as healthy—try shifting gears.

Here are the things your kids should consider:

  • How hungry are they?
  • How much junk have they had lately?
  • Are they likely to want sweets and treats later in the day?
  • Is there are particularly tempting treat they haven’t tasted before?

How your kids answer these questions will help you (and them) determine how much they should eat: 1 cookie?  1 cookie and ½ a bagel? 1 cookie, ½ a bagel, ½ a cupcake?

Children need to know how to manage bad choices.  The world is full of situations where there are no nutritional winners.

Think pancakes, muffins or bagels.  Grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, French fries.  How your kids manage these moments will dictate how well they eat—both now, and forever.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~