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 Eating Principles (18)


Not ALL Children LOVE Sugary, Salty, Fatty Foods

Think ALL children are predisposed to preferring foods with sugar, salt and fat? Think again.

New Research shows:

  • German and Spanish kids are twice as likely to prefer high fat foods than kids in Cyprus and Belgium.
  • Hungarian, Spanish and Estonian children have a preference for fat, salt and umami (savory), espcially when compared to Swedish, Belgium and Italian children.
  • German children are less likely to prefer sweet juice than Swedish, Italian and Hungarian children.

Want to know something else?

Country was the strongest predictor of taste preference.

That means, culture impacts taste preferences more than: 

  • Breastfeeding vs formula
  • Age at which fruit is introduced
  • Television viewing
  • Whether or not parents use food as a reward
  • Taste sensitivity

Want to know something else?

There are kids who aren't familiar with apple juice.

The researchers couldn't test the sweet preferences of the children in Cyprus because these kids were unfamiliar with apple juice (and the researchers wanted to use a standard sweet medium across the study).

How'd they do it?

Researchers maniuplated the level of sugar in apple juice, and the level of salt, fat and umami in crackers. Then, 1705 six to nine year old children were given paired tastings and asked to indicate which of the pair they liked best.

The study was conducted in Italy, Estonia, Cyprus, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Hungary and Spain.

You don’t need to move across the world to solve a picky-eating problem. You just have to establish a foreign culture at home.

Forget about feeding the American way, and start seriously rethinking what, when and why you offer the foods that you do.  Read Food Culture and What It Means to be "Child-Friendly."

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: Lanfer, A., K. Bammann, K. Knof, K. Buchecker, P. Russo, T. Veidebaum, Y. Kourides, S. de Henauw, D. Molnar, S. Bel-Serrat, L. Lissner, and W. Ahrens. 2013. “Predictors and Correlates of Taste Preferences in European Children: the IDEFICS Study.” Food Quality and Preference 27: 128-36.


Surprise! Surprise!

Shhh, don’t say anything. Maybe he won’t notice this pasta isn’t his usual brand. 

Haven’t you ever held your breath while you waited to see what your child would do when you switched up his regular routine? Or gave him something new to eat?

Of course, kids always notice. And then they react: "I wasn't expecting my ravioli to taste like that."

Kids don't like surprises.

Unless you mean the kind of surprise that is a gift-wrapped box!

When you spring change on your children without warning you are pretty much guaranteed to get a backlash.

Why shouldn’t your kids rebel if you don’t talk to them first? If for no other reason than that they are surprised?

Kids don't want suprises (particularly if they’re caught in a control struggle). What children want is the opposite: they want predictability.

But here’s what happens in most homes.

Let’s say you decide you are going to use the Rotation Rule

  • Before you implement it, you prepare. You think through what, when, why and how you are going to do it.
  • Then, without any advance warning, wham! You start rotating foods. 
  • You expect your children to get with the program instantly. 

Not only that, you expect your kids to react exactly the way you want them to without any guidance from you. (Remember, you’re still holding your breath and hoping for the best.)

Instead of ceding the power you have to influence how things turn out to fate (or to your wily kids), talk to your kids.

Read You Can't Make Me Eat It!

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~


You Can't Make Me Eat It!

Your kids don’t understand why they should ever eat something other than what they want to eat.

That is the source of your control struggle. And parents don't generally do a good job convincing kids otherwise.

Your kids also don't understand why: 

  • They got to eat pasta yesterday, but they have to eat chicken today.
  • You always let them decide what they want for breakfast but you never let them decide what they want for dinner.
  • Sometimes they can have a snack and sometimes they can't.

To your kids, food decisions seem arbitrary. 

  • If food choices are arbitrary, they can be changed.
  • If decisions are made because of what you want, why can’t they be made because of what I want? 

Your children don’t think these thoughts literally, of course, but these are their sentiments. They are also the source of your control struggle.

In an arbitrary environment, every decision is up for grabs.

How many bites of broccoli do I have to eat before I can have a brownie? Let the bidding begin. Read Raising Lawyers.

Give your children a clear decision-making principle and the food fight diminishes.


  • Kids learn how decisions are made and start making the right choices themselves.
  • Parents implement clear decision-making principles more consistently. Kids love consistency.

I’m not saying that parents don’t try to explain their thinking to their children; most parents do. But there’s no one underlying theory or principle that parents can give their children for serving pasta one night and chicken the next, or for why their kids can sometimes have a snack but other times they can’t.

Unless, of course, you teach your kids these three principles: 

  • Variety: We eat different things from day-to-day.
  • Proportion: We eat healthier foods more frequently than treat foods.
  • Moderation: We only eat when we are hungry, and we stop when we're full.

Teach these principles with The Big Fix.

 It will change how you and your kids interact around food, and that will change how your kids eat.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~