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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Dinner Together Building Healthy Families One Meal at a Time.

Food Politics Marion Nestle's intelligent take on the politics of food and nutrition.

Fooducate Like Having a Dietician on Speed dial.

Hoboken Family Alliance A terrific resource for people living in the great city of Hoboken, NJ.

The Lunch Tray Everything you need to know about improving school lunches.

Parent Hacks Forehead-Smackingly Smart Tips

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

Real Mom Nutrition Tales from the Trenches. Advice for the Real World. From a mom-nutritionist who knows!

Stay and Play The best indoor playspace on the East Coast. Oh yeah, and it happens to be owned by my brother.

weelicious Great Recipes for Kids 

Entries in Picky Eater (13)

Thursday
May072015

The Argument Against Making Food Fun for Toddlers

Experts are always telling parents to make food fun. I’m here to tell you that this is misguided advice.

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with fun food. Everyone enjoys a little levity in their diets. I’m just saying you don’t have to make food fun. 

I’ll even go one step farther: regularly making food fun teaches kids the wrong lessons.

Who came up with the idea that children shouldn't be expected to eat food unless it's fun? And that this is especially true for healthy food? 

Now, I admit that for years, I plopped food on my daugther's plate in the shape of a face. But that was artful plating, not food art. And I didn't have to do it. Indeed, if I had ever felt that my daugther required (or demanded) the food art in order to eat, I would have stopped immediately.

The "Fun Food Factor" not only puts the pressure on parents, but it also distorts the power relations between parents and children. 

Right? If you've got to present food in a way that pleases your kids, who is in charge? You or them?

Now, I'm not saying that parents shouldn't create some levity at the table. In fact, enjoyment— you know the kind where everyone likes being at the table— can improve how toddlers eat.

But I’m not talking about the “draw some ketchup happy faces on your kid’s plate” kind of fun.  I’m just talking about garden-variety fun. You know, where your child actually enjoys eating. At the table. With you!

Research shows that eating enjoyment reduces picky eating.  In other words, feed your picky eater some enjoyment, and your picky eater might just stop being so picky.

What lessons should kids learn about eating?

  1. Food nourishes the body.
  2. Hopefully, the food tastes good too. But sometimes, you have to eat a clunker.
  3. Kids should eat the food you serve because it makes them good family citizens.

Of course, in order to be good eaters, kids have to learn how to try new foods. If that's your struggle, read my step-by-step, blow-by-blow guide to introducing new foods.

It is the stress, not the lack of food art, that kills how kids eat.

Many kids simply shut down when they feel stressed about eating. And that's true even when the food is "fun." And that's why searching for the right design, or the right recipe, can't solve a picky eating problem. So make food fun when you want to, but not when you have to.

 ~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: van der Horst, K. 2012. “Overcoming Picky Eating. Eating Enjoyment as a Central Aspect of Children's Eating Behaviors.” Appetite 58: 567-74

Saturday
Nov012014

The 52 New Foods Challenge: Change the Way Your Kids Eat Forever!

If I were ever going to write a cookbook, it would be a lot like this one, The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee.

It's like Jennifer has been living inside my head for the past decade! I'm not joking.

You know how I'm always talking about the importance of reducing pressure? About using variety to lay the foundation for new foods? About how teaching kids about the sensory properties of foods eliminates fear and resistence?

Well, it's all in there. Concrete, practical steps. (Use it as the handy compendium to my book!)

The 52 New Foods Challenge is not so much a cookbook as it is a how-to guide:

  • How to get kids used to the idea of trying familiar foods in new ways.
  • How to create an engaging game that makes children eager to try new foods.
  • How to help your children explore food with all their senses: sight, smell, touch, sound and taste.
  • How to get your kids into the kitchen.
  • How to reduce tension around the table so you can stop being a dictator and start being a teammate.
  • How to help your kids feel safe around unfamiliar foods.
  • How to leverage your children's intrinsic motivation to be healthy eaters.
  • How to use rewards effectively.
  • How to stage meals to encourage veggie consumption.
  • How to shop, cook and plan meals efficiently and effectively.

And then, as if that weren't enough, The 52 New Foods Challenge, actually provides recipes!

Not hard, complicated recipes. Easy and tasty ones.

Here's the plan:

Every week your family picks one new food to taste test. One new food. That's not so hard. And then there are a handful of recipes for each new food so your family can sample it multiple ways.

The book is organized seasonally so you'll be trying foods that are fresh, easily available, and which you're probably already in the mood for. 

  • Fall calls for families to try foods like sweet potatoes, pumpkin and brussels sprouts.
  • Winter is all about kale, leeks, Asian pears, quinoa.
  • Spring will move you onto asparagus, zucchini, strawberries and cherries.
  • Summer introduces corn, peaches, lavender and chickpeas

Get your copy of The 52 New Foods Challenge here.

My family has a pretty diverse diet already, but I have to say that this book put a little more spring into our step.

Reading this book reminded me about foods we like but which I rarely buy—foods like leeks. And while I had a quibble or two about the guidelines for families, this book has already helped us break out of the go-to recipe rut.

Last week my family made Brussels Sprouts Chips. They're like Kale Chips...only a teensy bit better.

We all dove into this dish with gusto—and huge smiles. 

You should definitely try making this. Here are Jennifer's directions (page 77).

 

Brussels Sprouts Chips

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2. Using your fingers, peel away the leaves from the sprouts.

3. Place the leaves on a rimmed baking sheet. Add 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Toss to combine.

4. Bake for 10 minutes, then toss the leaves in the pan. Reduce the heat to 250° F and bake the sprouts for 15 minutes more, or until the leaves are crispy and almost burnt. Let your kids watch closely to figure out the best timing for your oven.

Jennifer's tip for peeling the leaves: Cut off the ends, turn the sprouts over and gently pry the leaves away starting at the stem. Keep trimming off the ends as you go to make it easier to peel off the layers. This takes patience (and time), but it's a fun activity for your kids. As you get closer to the center, the leaves will become too tight to peel, so simply save the small pieces for sautéing or roasting.


Recipe reprinted from The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright (c) Jennifer Tyler Lee, 2014

Want to know more about The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee?

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Tuesday
Jun032014

3 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruits & Vegetables

I've often been critical of modeling as a technique for increasing kids' vegetable consumption.

It's not that I think modeling isn't important. It's that I think modeling just isn't powerful enough.

Imagine someone telling you that the best way to teach your kids how to dress themselves is to let them "catch" you wearing clothes.

Kids need to see you eating fruits and vegetables, for sure. But they also need to learn how to taste new foods, to develop a foundation of eating a variety of foods, to become more familiar with the sensory properties of fruits and vegetables. The list of the skills kids need to learn to develop healthy eating habits goes on.

Having said that...

A new study shows that not all modeling is equally effective. So...

Parents, start eating:

  • Fruit at dinner
  • Green salad at dinner
  • Vegetables at snack

It's not that these modeling moments are more powerful than modeling, say, eating vegetables at dinner. Rather...

Teaching children to eat fruits and vegetables throughout the day increases their total consumption.

Read Change How Your Kids Snack

The same logic applies to adding salad and fruit to dinner. Read Salad Days and Dishing Up Dessert.

Rather than fight with your kids to eat a few more bites of vegetables at dinner, give your kids more opportunities to eat only a few bites.

  • A few bites add up across the day
  • Eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day is simply the right habit

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: Draxten, M., J. A. Fulkerson, S. Friend, C. F. Flattum, and R. Schow. 2014. “Parental Role Modeling of Fruits and Vegetables At Meals and Snacks is Associated With Children's Adequate Consumption.” Appetite 78C: 1-7.