Free Resource Sheets to Teach Healthy Eating Habits


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Entries in Bread (4)


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.~


Feed Your Kids Like a Chef—Cooking Optional

If you want your kids to be stellar eaters, start thinking like a chef.

You don't have to cook like a chef—although I'm sure it doesn't hurt if you have the know-how—just think like one.

Bon Appetit recently asked a bunch of renowned chefs what they do to get their kids to eat right.  If, like me, you thought the chefs would talk, first and foremost, about the amazing creations they whip up to dazzle their little delights, you'd be wrong.

Instead, most of the chefs said they:

  • Don't feed their children special "kid" food. 
  • Expect their children to eat whatever is being served.
  • Routinely expose their children to a wide variety of tastes and textures.

They sound a little like the French! Read Early Vegetable Variety: The French Advantage.

The chefs also talked about shopping, gardening, cooking and dining with their children, but these strategies don't constitute the core of anyone's eating "curriculum."

Read the article, Chefs: They're Just Like Us, the Parental Edition

In contrast...

The other day I was eating at Panera, and—sorry Moms for snooping— I noticed that all the mothers were eating some version of soup and salad.  All the kids were eating some version of bread and cheese.

  • A bagel with cream cheese
  • A grilled cheese sandwich
  • Macaroni and Cheese

I'm not saying that chefs don't feed their children bread and cheese. I'm sure that they do. But the uniformity of the feeding choices across all the tables at Panera really struck me.  It made me wonder what we're teaching our kids.

Child-friendly isn’t just a kind of food. It’s a mindset.

I'm not going to talk about the nutrition of bread and cheese.  Suffice it to say that bread and cheese isn’t really a bad meal. It isn’t really a nutritional winner either.   Read What’s the Problem with Cheese? and La Crème de la Crème.

From a habits perspective, though, a steady diet of bread and cheese can be a disaster:

  1. When kids eat a steady stream of bread and cheese, they want to eat… more bread and cheese.
  2. When parents eat different foods than they feed their kids, children learn they should eat differently than their parents.

I know, you're probably thinking you don't feed your child bread and cheese that often. But what about bread and cheese look-alikes?

From what I see, most toddlers eat a steady stream of:

Toast, bagels with or without cream cheese, waffles, pancakes, muffins, cereal, grilled cheese, crackers with cheese, crackers without cheese, crackers that claim to have cheese, plain pasta, pasta with cheese, quesadillas, pizza, cheese sticks, string cheese...

Not exactly the chef's special, and all versions of bread and cheese. Read Pizza. Pizza. Pizza. and The Variety Masquerade.

Chefs know that eating is a matter of math.

Chefs also know that when parents eat different foods than they feed their kids, children learn they should eat differently than their parents. Read Mind Over Matter

What your kids think they should eat is what they’ll want to eat. 

Not should in the broccoli way—you should eat this—but should in the “child-friendly” way—you should want to eat this because this is what kids eat. You can change all that.

Chef Suzanne Goin caters to her kids' taste buds and to their expectations to "sell" them new stuff.

[M]y kids LOVE Asian food so I use those flavors especially when serving something new or that I think they might not love (or that they think they don't love.)

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~


Pizza. Pizza. Pizza.

Some parents feed their kids pizza every day.  Some parents even encourage their kids to pound down the pizza 2 or 3 times a day. Can you believe it?

No? OK. Maybe most parents aren’t exactly passing out pizza 2 or 3 times a day, but they are giving their kids pizza-equivalents: grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, mac & cheese…

From a nutrition perspective, these foods all have basically the same nutrition profile. 

More importantly, from a habits perspective, regularly eating pizza and pizza-equivalents reinforces your kids’ love of pizza; it does nothing to teach them to eat peas, broccoli, or mushrooms…  That's why pizza makes it onto my list of The 10 Most "Dangerous" Foods.

When is pizza not pizza?  When it's pasta! Pizza equivalents are all made with the same ingredients. 

Flour. Cheese. Tomato.  Here are 10 equivalents.  See what I mean?

  1. Pasta with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese
  2. Grilled cheese sandwich
  3. Quesadilla
  4. Bagel with cream cheese
  5. Macaroni & cheese
  6. Ravioli
  7. Cheese and crackers
  8. Cheese sandwich
  9. Lasagna
  10. Calzones (AKA Pizza Pockets)

So a child who wakes up to a bagel and cream cheese, moves on to a grilled cheese sandwich at lunch, and finishes up the day with a bowl of pasta has eaten...well...a lot of pizza.

Read What's the Problem with Cheese? and La Crème de la Crème.

Pizza equivalents have the same nutrition profile.

Here are the numbers for a slice of pizza from Pizza Hut compared to a Kids Grilled Cheese from Panera Bread.

 Honestly, I don't make this stuff up!

Pizza equivalents constrict rather than broaden the number of foods your children will accept.

It’s true that pizza is crunchy and pasta is gooey, but if you go down the list of pizza-equivalents you will see that they offer a limited range of mouth-feel experiences.  And it's mouth-feel that determines what your kids will eat. 

Read Pizza and Peas: The Untold Story.

There are lots of other equivalents out there. 

Most “child-friendly” foods are sweet, gooey or crunchy.  If you have trouble introducing new foods, overusing child-friendly foods may explain why.  Even if you think you are offering up a diverse diet, your kids are probably not experiencing a lot of variety.  

Read The Variety Masquerade.

You don’t have to introduce new foods to expose your kids to different tastes and textures. 

I’m going to say that again: You don’t have to introduce new foods.

You simply have to start examining the foods you offer from your kids' perspective, and then consciously rotate through foods based on flavor, texture, aroma, appearance and temperature. For instance, serve eggs for breakfast one day, cereal the following day, and yogurt smoothies the next.  Read House Building 101.

Remember, every time you feed your kids, you are:

  • Training their taste buds.
  • Teaching them how often to expect certain flavors.
  • Shaping their ideas about what foods they should want to eat and when.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~