It’s getting kids to eat what parents serve that causes so many problems.

Sign up for free parenting support!


Search

The Podcast

Listen Now!


DINA ROSE, PhD is a sociologist, parent educator and feeding expert empowering parents to raise kids who eat right.

Schedule a 30 minute call today Bring Dina to your community Schedule a Professional Development Seminar

Links

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 Sugar (61)

Thursday
Oct302014

Halloween Candy

The essential question about Halloween is, What to do with all that candy?

But here's a better question: Shouldn't parents just prevent the candy problem in the first place? 

(Rest assured, I'm not going to suggest that your prevent your children from trick-or-treating.)

There are three easy ways parents could lighten the candy load.

With regard to trick-or-treating, you could:

  1. Limit the amount of time 
  2. Limit the number of houses
  3. Limit the size of the bag

I gently proposed this on my Facebook page yesterday to one reader. She replied that Halloween is a social time and she didn't want to rain her her kids' parade.

I get it. And I think this reader's thoughts represent mainstream opinion. I really appreciate that she shared it. Moreover, this exchange got me thinking.

Here, in no particular order, is a look into my brain:

1) As a culture, we're psycho. Think Jekyll and Hyde. We glorify and then villify sweets and treats. Just look at how people ooh and ahh over cake and cookie pictures/recipes on the Internet. Then listen to the chatter about how sugar is the devil. Halloween is just one representation of this dynamic.

2) Another mixed message: Bigger is better; Don't eat too much. There's no question that in America we value BIG and Halloween is no exception. There is a lot of excitement promoted about getting as much candy as you can score. But then...after the fact we tell kids they can't eat it all.

3) Not setting collection limits subtly teaches gluttony. "Get as much as you can, regardless of whether or not you like that particular candy, and regardless of whether you'll actually be able to eat it all," is an unintended lesson of Halloween.

4) The Halloween Culture also teaches kids that it's more important to preserve fun than it is to prevent waste. This teaches a cavalier attitude towards food (even if we can all agree that candy isn't really food). Even sending excess candy to the troops sends a mixed message: you can't eat too much candy, but the troops can.

5) What would happen if we taught kids to collect enough? I think of this as "greed" vs "plenty." Collection limits might teach children to collect only the candy they really wanted, giving the stuff they don't love a pass. Now that's a life lesson we should all learn!

6) Why do we think kids can't have fun on Halloween if they're not trick-or-treating the entire time? Consumption limits don't automatically mean that kids have to go home when they hit their limit. The social part of Halloween remains. So why would we want to teach our children that the only way to have fun is to get more candy? Especially when more is the problem.

 7) Why doesn't our national dialogue include a discussion on consumption limits as a viable way to control candy consumption? Put another way: why does preventing the problem feel so un-American, but controlling candy consumption feel so right?

8) We already set limits in ways that can "ruin" our kids' fun. Take bedtime, for instance. Why does setting limits on candy collection, then, feel so bad? (This is kind of the same question as #6, I know. But that's how my brain works!)

I've written a lot about what to do about Halloween candy after the fact.

Most recently I wrote about this in a post on Psychology Today: 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Dump Your Kids' Halloween Candy.

My essential point, which I think you can tell from the title, is that dumping your kids' candy teaches the wrong lessons. What's more, you can actually use Halloween to teach your kids healthy eating.

But now, I'm thinking in a more complex way.

Candy is the Purpose. Candy is the Problem.

And it's this dynamic that makes Halloween a tinderbox for teaching eating habits. Halloween is a one-day event, but the lessons our kids learn are enduring.  

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Thursday
May012014

Nutella vs Cake Frosting!

If you give your kids Nutella for breakfast, you'd be better off giving them Cake Frosting instead!

  • From a nutrition perspective, Nutella is a disaster. 
  • From a habits perspective, Nutella could be a disaster. It depends on how you use it.

Check this out:

I know...you know that Nutella is anything but healthy.

And yet, I see people acting as if it's healthy.

I was at an event with kids recently and Nutella was provided, presumably instead of peanut butter (due to potential allergies). Everyone acted as if eating Nutellas was equivalent to eating peanut butter. It's not.

(There were also yogurt tubes, as another "healthy" option...don't get me started on the difference between healthy foods and treats.)

For me, the issue is about HABITS.

The folks at Nutella want you to think that Nutella is great for breakfast. Have you seen their ad? 

"It's a quick and easy way to give my family a breakfast they'll want to eat," the actress says.
"And Nutella is made with simple quality ingredients like hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of cocoa."

Here are the REAL Ingredients:

SUGAR, PALM OIL, HAZELNUTS, COCOA, SKIM MILK, REDUCED MINERALS WHEY (MILK)... 

No wonder "Breakfast never tasted this good." 

Read about the mom who won the class action suit againt Nutella for false advertising. 

I can hear the objections now. At least Nutella has...

  • Hazelnuts—Over 50 per 13 ounce jar! That amounts to about 4 hazelnuts per serving. Throw a couple of hazelnuts on your kids' chocolate frosting.
  • Protein: 2 grams per serving! 

However...

  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter has 7 grams of protein. And...
  • Your kids can pick up 2 grams of protein by eating 1/4 cup of green peas.

I'm not seriously suggesting that you give your kids cake frosting for breakfast.

But if you did, it would be more honest. 

  • Use Nutella as a substitute for chocolate sauce if you like the flavor of hazelnuts.
  • Don't use Nutella to "get" your kids to eat breakfast, as the ad suggests. It's a compromise that could ruin your kids' habits.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

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.~