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 Sugar (60)

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.~

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.~