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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Entries in Candy (19)


Revealing The Truth in Advertising

You can offset the negative effect of advertising on your kids' eating habits.

In my experience, parents often think that the only way to prevent advertising from ruining their kids' eating habits is to get ads off TV (and all the other places where food manufacturers target ads at kids).

I'm not against advocacy. If you work to change the system, I say, "thank you," and "thank you again." Someone's got to do it.

But you don't have to wait for advertisers to get the message in order to change the outcome for your kids.

Research shows that telling kids the truth about advertising works better than either restricting access to advertising or restricting access to junky food.

How often do you tell your children the following?

  • Advertising depicts products as better than they really are.
  • Advertising does not always tell the truth.
  • The purpose of advertising is to sell products.
  • Not all advertised products are of good quality.
  • Some advertised products are not good for children.

Share these thoughts frequently. It matters and it works.

When my daughter was about 4 or 5 she asked, "What's that?" pointing to some fruit strip-type product. "That's candy that the manufacturers want you to think is fruit," I replied.

Research also shows...

1) Actively talking to your kids about advertising works even with young kids.

They understand a lot more than you think.

2) Restricing access to ads only affects eating habits when kids are young. 

Presumably restriction stops working with older kids because they don't live in a bubble. Kids are exposed to the effects of advertising in lots of different ways: Friends. School. The Internet.

And, think about this: If you restrict but don't talk to your kids about the truth behind advertising, you'll launch your kids into the world unprepared to be savvy consumers.

So, by all means restrict access to TV, but talk to your kids as well.

3) Be careful: Restricting your kids' access to junk can actually increase consumption...

...especially once your kids are old enough to make their own food choices. So instead of restricting, I recommend you consider teaching. Read The How-to-Control-Your-Kids' Candy-Consumption Con.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: Buijzen, M., J. Schuurman, and E. Bomhof. 2008. “Associations Between Children's Television Advertising Exposure and Their Food Consumption Patterns: a Household Diary-Survey Study.” Appetite 50: 231-39.


"Mommy, What is Moderation?"

"Include treats in your diet occasionally." Is there a more useless dietary recommendation?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not against the idea that we eat different foods in different amounts. That's the concept behind the principle of proportion.

I've long argued that the USDA should set guidance about how much crap we can all consume. Read A Cookie a Day...

As far as I can tell, though, no one eats junk occasionally.

Unless by occasionally you mean every day. Sweets and treats: candy, cookies, chips, chocolate milk...

Teaching kids to juggle junk is one of the most important lessons they need to learn. The older kids get, the more junk they eat.

  • 10% of 2-8 yeaar olds consume 100 calories or more from candy each day.
  • 22% of 9-18 year olds consume 100 calories or more from candy each day.

So kudos to the National Confectioners  Association—never thought I'd say that— for at least trying to define moderation.

Yes, I know they have ulterior motives. They want people to think it's OK to consume candy. And they'd like it if everyone thought it was OK to consume candy on a regular basis. But let's put that aside for a moment. There's still value in thinking about this issue.

Two important questions: 1) How often should you consume sweets and treats? 2) And when you consume those treats, how big should they be?

Research published recently in the journal Nutrition Today, and sponsored by the National Confectioners Association makes the following recommendation.

These are recommendations for adults, not kids. (Sorry, the article didn't include kids, but you get the idea.)


Examples of Daily Options (50-100 calories/per day)

Even kids eat way more than this.


15-25 small jelly beans? 2 bite-sized PB cups...aren't those just appetizers? 



Examples of Weekly Options




Whatever frequency and portion size you think is right for your kids...TELL THEM ABOUT IT.

  1. Proportion isn't something you kids can just pick up.
  2. The more arbitrary the eating world is, the more likely your kids are to fight with you. Read Surprise! Surprise! and You Can't Make Me Eat It!

Every candy moment is a choice NOT to eat another kind of treat.

Let your kids choose betwen candy and...

  • cookies
  • sweetened yogurt
  • juice
  • graham crackers
  • Nutella
  • the list goes on.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: Hornick, B., R. L. Duyff, M. M. Murphy, and L. Shumow. 2014. “Proposing a Definition of Candy in Moderation: For Health and Well-Being.” Nutrition Today 49 (2) March/April: 87-94.


8 Steps to More Fruits and Vegetables

Most parents I know wish their children would eat more fruits and vegetables.

But guess what? The pressure tactics most parents use to accomplish this are counterproductive. They teach kids to hate fruits and vegetables, not love them.

Read 10 Ways Kids Learn to HATE Veggies and 10 Ways Kids Learn to LOVE Veggies.

Here are two things I know for sure:

1) What your kids are used to eating determines what they like.

Eating is really a matter of math. Read Pizza and Peas: The Untold Story.

2) Taste preferences are formed more than they're found.

Your job isn't to discover what your kids like. It's to shape what they like. Read You Catch More Flies with Honey.

Still, kids can be very opinionated about what they will and will not eat.

That's what makes this whole feeding-thing a real challenge!

With these two principles in mind...

7 Steps to More Fruits and Vegetables

  1. Pay attention to the flavors and texture you expose your kids to the most. Read Kids Can't Like Food They Haven't Tasted.
  2. Don't justify questionable food choices with, what I call, Selective Attention: You focus on the nutrient you're interested (say calcium) and overlook the "problems" (like sugar). Read Virus Sufferers Choose Granola.
  3. Slowly shift your kids' diets towards the kinds of tastes and textures you find in healthy foods. In practice this might mean starting with canned peaches in heavy syrup, moving to canned peaches in light syrup, to canned peaches in fruit juice, and finally, to real peaches. Read For Extreme Fruit and Vegetable Avoiders...
  4. Teach your kids to be good tasters.This happens separately and BEFORE they'll be good eaters. Read A Cool Way to Teach Toddlers to Taste New Food.
  5. Talk about the concept of proportion, so your kids know the eating habits you're aiming to teach them. Read You Can't Make Me Eat It!
  6. Set limits on how many sweets and treats your kids can eat in a day or a week, but let your kids decide when they actually eat their sweets and treats. Read The How-to-Control-Your-Kids'-Candy-Consumption Con.
  7. Remember that pressure is your enemy. Read The Pressure-Cooker Problem
  8. Be happy with a Happy Bite. Read The Happy Bite.


~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~