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 Sugar (59)

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.~

Friday
Mar282014

Are You Sweet or Are You Salty?

Among the many lessons kids need to learn in order to eat right:

  • Liking something (or even, really, really liking something) is not a good enough reason to eat it all the time.
  • There are lots of good tasting flavors out there.

I bring this up now because a new study just came out that "discovered" some obvious findings:

  1. Children enjoy sweet and salty flavors.
  2. Children tend to enjoy sweeter and saltier flavors than do adults.

This study also reported a less obvious finding:

  • People who prefer intensely sweet foods also prefer intensely salty foods.
  • This goes for children and for adults.

In other words, the idea that you're either a sweet or a salty snacker might just be a myth.

It's tempting to think that if it's natural for children to enjoy very sweet and very salty foods, there's nothing you can do except wait it out. After all, over time, these preferences do change (usually).

Waiting it out is a mistake.

Understanding your children from a developmental perspective is not the same thing as knowing how to parent your children through their developmental phases.

  1. Most "child-friendly" foods are very high in sugar, salt and fat. Read The Truth About "Child-Friendly" Foods.
  2. Feeding to your children's taste preferences only reinforces them.
  3. The more your children get used to eating these "flavor hit" foods, the less likely they are to enjoy fruits and vegetables. Read My Toddler Used to Eat Vegetables.

In other words, feeding to your children's taste preferences makes their eating habits horrible and makes your life...hell.

This is important stuff. According to this study:

  • Over 90% of American children 2-8 years of age are getting more than half of their discretionary calorie allowance from added sugars. For more on discretionary calories, read When Calories Don't Count.
  • Sodium intake is approximately 3200mg per day, well above the recommended level of 1,200-1,500mg per day for children 4-13.

The researchers conclude:

"Because children naturally prefer higher levels of sweet and salty tastes than do adults, they are vulnerable to the modern diet, which differs from the diet of our past, when salt and sugars were once rare and expensive commodities."

The researchers go on to say:

"Having children eat diets low in sodium and added sugars requires a social, political, and economic food environment that supports and promotes this behavior change."

And, I would add:

Parents can teach their children a style of eating that takes taste preferences into account, but which isn't dominated by preferred foods. 

It's all in the lessons....

Which brings us right back to the beginning. Teach your kids:

  • Liking something (or even, reallyreally liking something) is not a good enough reason to eat it.
  • There are lots of good tasting flavors out there.

How? Talk about Proportion, and implement The Rotation Rule.

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

 

 ~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~