Free Resource Sheets to Teach Healthy Eating Habits


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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 Cookies (12)


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.~ 


There's Good Stuff Inside (And kids still like it.)

It's back to school time and there's a lot of advice for parents on providing healthy foods. 

Providing healthy foods is a good goal, and it's one I support—wholeheartedly.  But you know me, so you know I have some unusual advice: Don't get hung up on nutrition.

Kids don't eat nutrients.  They eat food. And your kids develop eating habits based on their eating experiences—taste, texture, aroma, appearance, and temperature—not on the nutrients they secretly swallow.

Pay too much attention to nutrients and you're likely to overlook habits. Shape habits, however, and you'll get nutrition right.

If ever there was a good example of "nutrition-think" gone wrong it's Kashi's new "kid-friendly" foods.

  1. It looks like a soft cookie.  
  2. Their ad says it tastes like banana bread.
  3. But Kashi wants yout to look at this Banana Chocolate Chip Soft n' Chewy and see fruits and vegetables.

If you were looking at this ad online you would be able to look through a magifying glass to see the fruits and vegetables inside.

There's Good Stuff Inside is great marketing logic.

I'm not going to argue that Kashi's TLC Soft 'n Chewy Banana Chocolate Chip isn't a good bar, as bars go.  And it's certainly more nutritious than a couple of Oreos.  But this stuff doesn't matter.

If your children like Kashi's Soft 'n Chewy bars let them eat them. But give your kids these bars as a cookie substitute, and as frequently as you serve cookies. 

You can "health-ify" a a sweet/treat food but that doesn't mean you should serve it more frequently. Here's why:

1) Eating a sweet/treat food that is secretly stocked with fruits and vegetables doesn't provide the same nutrition as eating real fruits and vegetables and it will never teach your kids to like actual fruits and vegetables.

2) "Healthy" sweets and treats can actually make it harder for you to teach your kids to eat actual fruits and vegetables. "Why eat an apple if the cookie has apple in it?" Read Cookies and the Cycle of Guilty Eating.

3) Give your kids "healthy" sweets/treats more often than you normally would and you'll teach your kids to eat sweets/treats more often than they should.  And healthy eating is all about proportion.

4) Banana Chocolate Chip will send your kids' taste buds towards cookies and away from fruits and vegetables.

Three behaviors translate everything you need to know about nutrition into behavior.  Behavior is the key to healthy eating habits. 

  • Proportion: Eating more fresh, natural (truly healthy) foods than moderately healthy foods like crackers. And of course, more than sweets and treats.
  • Variety: Eating a range of foods from day to day.
  • Moderation: Eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're full (and not eating when you're bored sad or lonely).

Any time you use "nutrition-think" to mess with proportion, variety and/or moderation—like Kashi wants you to do, "Hey, you can give this to your kids as often as you want because it's got good stuff inside,"— you're messing with your kids' habits.

And any time you give your kids something because it's "kid-friendly" you're messing with their minds. Read "Kid-friendly" is a killer.

Don't get sucked in by a food company's "nutrition-think," and you'll be more likely to teach your kids the habits they need for a lifetime of healthy eating.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~