Free Resource Sheets to Teach Healthy Eating Habits


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Entries in Candy (23)


How to Stop Stressing About Halloween Candy

It's time for the Halloween hysteria to begin: What should you do with all that Halloween candy?


I've written about this a lot. Every year, in fact. And I always say pretty much the same thing:

  • Take this as an opportunity to teach your kids some healthy eating habits.
  • Rather than stress out about how to get rid of the candy, why not use some smart strategies for lightening the load.
  • Hiding, dumping, buying back, and switch-witch'n are all ways to teach your kids the wrong lessons.

All the stress about Halloween highlights the mixed messages our culture sends our kids about the role of sweets and treats in their lives.  

Show of hands: How many people delighted in the theirs baby's first birthday cake? I just saw a video declaring, "Smash cakes are all the rage!"

How many parents give their kids the chocolate cake "look"—I know you know what I mean—every time they bring out sweets and treats?

Or say to their kids, when the ice cream they order is bigger than their bodies, "Can't wait to see you eat that!!!"

And how many of us talk up the Halloween candy in advance, only to talk it down the morning after?

It's a little crazy, our culture glorifies, then vilifies, sweets and treats. Halloween is just one example of this phenomenon.

Here an inventory of my past Halloween posts to help you cope

  • Lighten the Halloween haul so you don't have to resort to dumping: Halloween Candy
  • How to avoid the hidden problem with Halloween—it teaches kids to eat what they have, not what they want: A Better Buy-Back

And just because the Halloween "problem" is not limited to Halloween...

Is it fair to dump your kids' candy if they've "earned" it? I doubt my answer will surprise you: All's Fair...In Love, War and Feeding Kids!

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~


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 Power of "Fruit"

Q1: Which contains more fruit, Strawberry Pop-Tarts or Mott's Apple Juice?

Think that's a trick quesiton? Tempted to say, "neither?" Well here's the shocker: the Strawberry Pop-Tarts win because they have trace amounts of dried strawberries, dried pears, and dried apples. The Motts Apple Juice? Nada.

Source: depositphotos

  • Of course, the Pop-Tarts are loaded with sugar. My quick count reveals at least 4 different kinds of sugar. 
  • But here's the thing: the Mott's Apple Juice contains only water, sugar and Vitamic C. In other words, it's vitamin-fortified sugar water. Read Water vs Punch and Soda.

Q2: Which is healthier, Strawberry Pop-Tarts or Mott's Apple Juice?

If you're like most people, you'll say it's the juice. And on some dimensions, you'd be right. After all, the Pop-Tarts are loaded down with preservatives.

But here's something else....

Research shows people think products that contain "fruit sugar" otherwise known as "fruit concentrate," are healthier than products that contain plain old sugar. It's the power of symbolic wording.

Here's one study.

Participants were asked to evaluate two children's cereals that were identical in every way except:

  • One label said "sugar." 
  • The other label said, "fruit sugar." 

(The study was conducted in a German-speaking part of Switzerland where they call fruit concentrate fruit sugar.)

Participants consistently evaluated the "fruit sugar" cereal as healthier than the "sugar" cereal. Even people who were rated as being health conscious were just as susceptible to this belief.

You know the power of marketing. And that marginal foods can benefit from the health halo emanating from healthy foods.

The health halo isn't limited to fruit. For instance, adding yogurt to raisins, nuts or pretzels can make them seem healthier. In reality, though, that yogurt coating is some combination of partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, whey powder, yogurt powder and sugar. YUM! Read Is "Yogurt-Covered" Really Yogurt?

But consider this...

One reason consumers are swayed by the fruit health halo is the pressure to get fruit into our kids makes us do crazy things.

Use "Fruit" To Teach Your Kids Healthy Eating Habits

1. Talk to your children about food in terms of the kinds of food they are and the habits they produce, not what ingredients they contain.

In this model, muffins are cake, juices are sugary beverages, fruit strips are candy.

2. Don't ban muffins (or cakes), juices (or sugary beverages) or fruit strips (or candy).

Think about proportion (how often your kids eat different kinds of food). Teach your kids to eat these treats infrequently. (Yes, that daily muffin habit has got to go.)

3. Stop talking "up" fruit. Just start eating it.

The real stuff. And the more often, the better.If you must talk it up, talk about how tasty it is, not how healthy it is. Read Fruits and Vegetables at Every Meal and Every Snack--Every Darned Day.

4. Educate your kids about the health halo marketing strategy.

Research shows that parents can disrupt (though not eliminate) the influence marketers have on our kids. Read Revealing the Truth in Advertising.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: Sutterlin, B. and M. Siegrist. 2015. “Simply Adding the Word "Fruit" Makes Sugar Healthier: the Misleading Effect of Symbolic Information on the Perceived Healthiness of Food.” Appetite 95: 252-61.