Free Resource Sheets to Teach Healthy Eating Habits


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Entries in Cookies (13)


Healthy Snacks for Kids: Bars vs Cookies

In the spirit of Eat This, Not That!, I've done a series of posts over the years pitting foods against each other.

But rather than assess the nutrition, I compare how different foods influence habits. Here I discuss bars and cookies.

source: yacobchuk1 /depositphotos.comFrom a Habits Perspective, if a bar seems like a cookie, then it is a cookie. And so...

  • If you wouldn't give your kids cookies every day, then don't give them bars every day. 
  • And if you give your kids a bar one day, don't give them cookies that same day.

Think of this as the if-it-quacks-like-a-duck argument. This is especially true when toddlers are just learning to eat right. 

From a habits perspective, bars and cookies are equivalents.

The only key difference between a bar and a cookie is that people don't generally polish off a box of bars, but a box of cookies? So, from this angle, and pretty much only this angle, bars beat cookies. (Though I do admit, this is a pretty big advantage!)

From a nutrition perspective, many cookies and bars are also equivalents.

Yes, some bars are healthier than others. And I'm sure you're home made bars certain are. But in general, cookies and bars are essentially equivalent.

For instance, compared to a Kashi Soft-Baked Ripe Strawberry cereal bar, a Kashi Soft-Baked Oatmeal Raisin Flax cookie has fewer calories, less sugar and the same amount of protein. The cookie even has one extra gram of whole grains.

Yes, I cherry-picked, but only to get two products that are kind of middle-of-the-road. But the nutrition argument is essentially splitting hairs. I guarantee that for every super-healthy bar out there we could find a cookie equivalent.

In the January/February issue of their Nutrition Action Healthletter, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, rated bars: nut, protein, granola...

"Let's be clear. Even the best bars don't hold a candle to fresh fruit, vegetables, plain Greek yogurt, or a handful of unadorned nuts. (That's why we awarded no Best Bites, just Better Bites.) If none of those will do, a bar could work in a pinch. But are you getting a decent snack or a glorified cookie?"

If you want to read CSPI's nutrition comparisons of all the major bars, consider subscribing to their healthletter. It's a wonderful resource.

In the meantime, make sure you "use" baked goods as if they're cookies.

Sweet beverages as if they're soda. Muffins as if they're donuts. Pretzels as if they're chips. I think you get my point.

And for fruits and vegetables, plain yogurt, etc. for most snacks!

And now, check out these other posts. 

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~


The Girl Scouts' Answer to Fruits and Vegetables: Mango Crèmes

Another "healthy" cookie. This time from the Girl Scouts.

Have you heard about Mango Crèmes?  According to ABC Bakers, the company who makes these cookies for the Girl Scouts, they are made with Nutrifusion. Whatever that is.

ABC Bakers thinks these cookies are the answer to the fact that:

  • 75-80% of Americans do not eat an adequate amount and variety of fruits and vegetables. And
  • 87% of American consumers are interested in learning more about beneficial products that can provide a host of health benefits.

 Read what ABC Bakers has to say here.

I wrote about these cookies yesterday on Psychology Today.

You won't be surprised to learn that Mango Crèmes are not any healthier than the other GS cookies. They also don't contain any mango.

What they contain is a cocktail of concentrates: cranberry, pomegranate, orange, grape, strawberry and shitake mushrooms. Yes. Mushrooms! (Maybe they didn't think calling these cookies Mushroom Crèmes would be as appealing?)

Read the rest of my Psychology Today post, The Girl Scouts Miss the Boat with Mango Crèmes.

Adding fruit and vegetable concentrates to cookies is not the way to increase fruit and vegetable consumption.

  • Nutrients do not provide the same healthful kick when they don't come in their original packaging.
  • Adding fruit concentrate, a euphamism for added sugar, to cookies is like putting icing on a cake: it is adding sugar on top of sugar.
  • Eating cookies teaches kids to eat cookies, not shitake mushrooms.

Give your kids these cookies if they like them. (I'm sure they're delicious.) Just don't buy them as a way to be healthy. 

Give your kids cookies with added nutrients because you worry they aren't getting the nutrition they need from "real" foods and you'll train your kids' taste buds away from "real" foods.

Then what will you do? Give your kids cookies with added nutrients to make sure they get the right nutrition? It's a crazy vicious cycle.

For more on this topic, read Cookies and the Cycle of Guilty Eating.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~


Spirituality & Health: Health Halo Foods Can Ruin Your Habits

I am thrilled to appear in this month's edition of Spirituality & Health.

My article, Why Some Health Foods Aren't So Healthy After All, makes two points:

  • The nutrition on many popular items isn't all it's cracked up to be.
  • You have to consider habits before slurping up too many smoothies, or nose-diving into a bowl of kale chips.

Perhaps you've heard me say these things before?

Did you know: One-half cup of Breyers Natural Vanilla Ice cream has 14 grams of sugar?

Measuring by volume, a comparable serving of Dannon All Natural Vanilla Yogurt has around 17 grams of sugar. 

Did you know: One 12-ounce Odwalla Mango Tango Fruit Smoothie has more sugar than a 12-ounce serving of Coca-Cola (44 g versus 39 g), and as much sugar as nine Oreo cookies.

Here’s a radical thought: it’s not whether you choose the smoothie or the Oreos that matters. What matters is how you fit smoothies (and the Oreos if you like) into your overall diet.  What’s more, the presence (or absence) of a single nutrient shouldn’t sway your decision, because it’s the total food experience that shapes your habits.

You know I believe there's a place in your kids' diets for everything.

And maybe you're surprised that I would advocate Oreos over Odwalla. Read the rest of the article and tell me what you think.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~