Free Resource Sheets to Teach Healthy Eating Habits


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Entries in Breakfast (17)


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.~


Three Ways to Get the Most Out of Breakfast

Yes, breakfast is important nutritionally, but it is also the biggest missed opportunity for teaching your kids to eat right.

You’ve heard the nutrition news a zillion times before: kids need to eat breakfast.  It makes them healthier and better students at school.  (Though I’m not sure kids need the chocolate chip pancakes at IHOP which come in at over 600 calories, or the flapjacks at your local diner which are probably just as fantastic.)

But you probably haven't thought about breakfast from the habits perspective.

Used correctly, breakfast can teach kids to eat new foods.   Used incorrectly... well, you probably know what happens.

Here are three ways to get the most out of breakfast:

1) Use breakfast to get kids used to the idea that they eat different foods on different days and they’ll be more open to new foods.

Most parents settle on the same 1 or 2 things to feed kids in the morning.  It’s a busy time, and we want our kids to eat breakfast (after all, we know how important this meal is).

But feeding kids the same stuff all the time gets them used to eating the same stuff all the time.  No wonder they balk when different stuff comes around - even if different comes later in the day.

Read Make "New” Work For You.

Tip 1: Rotate the breakfast foods you serve.  You don’t need to introduce foods your kids have never eaten.  Simply establish the procedure of not serving the same food two days in a row.  If you must serve cereal every day, at least switch up the brands and the flavors.

2) Use breakfast to expand the taste, texture, appearance, aroma and temperature of foods your kids will eat and they’ll be more open to new foods.

Most parents think they are providing a variety of foods, but they’re not. Breakfast foods tend to all have basically the same taste, texture, aroma, appearance and temperature. 

Toast, cereal, bagels, muffins, French toast, pancakes … they’re all relatively bland, bready products.  Some offer a little more sweet, or a little more crunch, but the variation is minimal.  That’s because the main ingredient is the same: refined flour.

Read The Ingredients Game.

Tip 2: Pay attention to which tastes your kids gravitate towards and then slowly introduce them to other flavors.  Do the same thing with texture (do they only like crunchy?), appearances (are they white or beige eaters?), aromas and temperatures.

Read The Variety Masquerade.

3) Use breakfast to reduce your kids’ dependence on sweet and fat-laden foods and they’ll be more open to new foods.

A lot of what we feed our kids in the morning fosters eating habits that run counter to the healthy stuff we’re always begging them to eat.

Do our kids really need to develop a lifelong taste preference for butter, cream cheese, and sugar?  Not if you want them to eat broccoli.

Tip 3: Teach your children that …

  • Butter is an ingredient in food, not a topping on food.  Yes, it’s yummy but it’s also 100% fat, and nothing else. Get your kids in the habit of eating toast topped with peanut butter, cottage cheese, hummus, guacomole... anything but butter. 
  • Cream cheese is a treat, not a staple. According to the USDA cream cheese doesn’t fulfill your kid’s daily dairy requirement because it doesn’t have enough calcium.  Instead, it’s a fat delivery system - thinkcream cheese - that packs in 100 calories per ounce. Most people slather on at least 2 ounces. Read about USDA Milk Group.
  • “Children’s cereals” – which have up to 85% more sugar than those marketed to adults -- are treat snacks, not breakfast foods.  Maybe this is one reason most kids have such a sweet tooth! Read A Spoonful of Sugar? 
  • Syrup.  Is there really any point?  Think Coke without the bubbles.  Ounce for ounce Aunt Jemima’s syrup has 5 times as much sugar as Coke.  (Coke has 3.3g sugar per ounce; the syrup has 16g per ounce. A point of reference: those little packets of syrup served at fast food joints are approximately 2 ounces.) Teach your kids to enjoy pancakes with jelly, fresh fruit or -- here's a radical idea -- plain naked (then they'll know what pancakes really taste like).

When it comes to teaching kids to eat new foods every meal counts, especially breakfast.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~


Source: Zinczenko, D. and M. Goulding, 2008. Eat This Not That for Kids. New York, NY: Rodale. p. 74; product labels.