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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Raise Healthy Eaters One of the best blogs (other than my own) for learning to raise healthy eaters.

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Entries in New Foods (78)

Monday
Apr142014

How Much Sweet is Too Much Sweet?

One serving of Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce has the same amount of sugar as an entire pouch of Dora Fruit-Flavored Shapes.

And did you know the spaghetti sauce has more sugar than Oreos and Kisses?

* Two Oreos=6.5 grams of sugar

* 2 Hershey Kisses=4.7 grams of sugar

 

Sugar is lurking everwhere. But if you're anything like me, you're probably thinking, No Big Deal.

I can't get myself worked up about sugar in my condiments:

  • Heinz Ketchup: 4g per Tbsp; HFCS=3rd ingredient; Corn Syrup=4th ingredient
  • Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing: 1g per 2Tbs; Sugar=4th ingredient

But...

Have you thought about what you're (inadvertently) teaching your kids about what foods ought to taste like?

We don't typically think about the pasta we're serving as delivering a sweet punch. But...

  • If Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce tastes sweet (maybe even as sweet as an Oreo) then...
  • Kids come to expect sweet flavors. No wonder many of them don't like apples...or broccoli.

I'm sure you've noticed...most kids don't need "help" learning to like sweet foods!

The question is: How Much Sweet is Too Much Sweet?

I recommend that you deliberately vary which flavors you feed your kids.

For more on this topic read My Toddler Used to Eat Vegetables.

I discuss all these ideas in It's Not About the Broccoli.

 

 ~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Tuesday
Apr012014

A Cool Way to Teach Toddlers to Taste New Foods

Have you ever done paired taste testings?

It's how the researchers who conducted the study that I discussed in my last post figured out that a preference for super-sweet and super-salty foods often go together. 

(If you missed that post read Are You Sweet, or Are You Salty?)

Give paired taste testings a try. Most kids will find it super cool.

Paired Taste Testings are Mini Contests

The "winner" of each round gets into the next round until there's only one food "standing." 

In the study:

  1. The kids were given two tastes of sugar water: one barely sweet, the other a little sweet.
  2. The preferred sample was put up against another sample of sugar water that was a little sweeter.
  3. The kids picked their preferred sample from this round. This "winner" was then put up against another, slightly sweeter, sample of sugar water.
  4. This went on until the child picked the same sample twice in a row.

Because the foods are presented with different concentrations of sweetness, the food that "wins" twice in a row is preferred over both a sweeter and a less sweet food.

The researchers also presented the foods on a second occasion in reverse order to make sure that the kids weren't always picking the first choice.

Make sense?

You can do something like this at home and it would be super cool. 

  1. Give your child two samples of the same kind of food: Let's use apples.
  2. Ask your child which apple she prefers.
  3. Put the favored apple up against a third kind of apple.
  4. Put the favored apple from the last "contest" up against another kind of apple.
  5. Keep going unti your child picks a favorite apple.

For more ideas on how to structure the tasting read: Unleash Your Toddler's Inner Food Critic

Remember, this is a TASTING exercise, not an EATING exercise.

Use very small tastes. Pea-sized. You do this kind of taste test with different kinds of pairs.

  • Carrots prepared in different ways.
  • Different textures (think mushy, crunchy, soupy)

You could even do completely different kinds of foods: crackers and mac 'n cheese, for instance.

Follow up the tasting with a conversation about what was tasted. But don't, I repeat DON'T, ask your kids if they want to eat whatever they've tasted.

For a list of questions you might ask your kids read Nix the Negativity.

Also read Two Hundred Tantalizing Terms to Move Beyond, "I Don't Like It!"

Don't take your child's taste preferences too seriously.

It will be tempting to find the food your child likes the most and then serve it over and over. That would be a mistake because it would constrict rather than expand your child's palate.

Also, children younger than 5 don't have stable taste preferences. So use this method as a way to increase your child's exposure to new foods and flavors rather than to discover what she tastes she prefers.

For more on this read Kid-Approved Meals.

I discuss all these ideas in It's Not About the Broccoli.

 

 ~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Tuesday
Jan282014

The Argument for a Junky Breakfast

Parents tell me all the time that they can't get their children to eat breakfast. 

"But," I usually ask, "would your child eat a junky breakfast?" The answer is usually, "yes."

(Actually, it's usually, a "yes, but...")

Which would you rather do? Send your child to school: 

  • Having eaten something...and without a fight?
  • Not having eaten something...but still having had a fight? 

Sounds like two bad choices, I know. But sometimes, those are the only choices you've got. And sometimes, as parents we've got to get out of our own way.

I know that a healthy breakfast is your goal, but...

From a habits perspective, the choice is clear. 

  • Establish a breakfast-eating habit first.
  • Gradually improve the quality of the breakfast that is eaten.

Believing any change is permanent—and that you get only one change per problem—trips parents up.

In practice, you may have to go through a sequence of changes to get where you're going.  

  1. Consider a concession that makes you crazy.
  2. Reduce the pressure. 
  3. Resolve the original problem.
  4. Correct the correction before it becomes entrenched.

Read The Road Less Traveled.

I've made this argument before when talking about the struggle parents have introducing vegetables.

Sometimes The Less Nutritious Choice is Right.

Think about how good you'll feel when: 

  • Your child willingly (maybe even eagerly) eats breakfast.
  • You no longer get all twisted up inside worrying about sending your child off to school hungry.
  • Mornings lose the drama.

Once you've got a good breakfast-eating habit going...Use the Rotation Rule to switch things up.

If you don't know what I'm talking about (or if you need a refresher), read End Picky Eating with The Rotation Rule.

I discuss all these ideas in It's Not About the Broccoli.

 ~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~