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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 Vegetables (106)

Thursday
Jun302016

Are Veggie Chips Better for Toddlers than Potato Chips?

It's counterintuitive but potato chips are better for toddlers' eating habits than veggie chips.

Source: elenathewise/depositphotos

Maybe this idea is catching on. Recently, an older—or should I say more mature—blog post, Potato Chips Win Again!, has been getting a lot of attention.

Here's a recap:

  • The Nutriiton Perspective: Nobody thinks veggie chips are healthy, per se. However, many people think veggie chips are healthier than potato chips. Wrong. If the chip really has vegetables, the product will contain the nutrients found in vegetables.
  • The Habits Perspective: It's easier to teach kids proper eating habits when you give them actual potato chips. Nobody tells their kids potato chips are healthy.

The difference between Lay’s Classic potato chips, Terra Chips and Garden Veggie Crisps boils down to ...marketing.

Potato Chips almost always "win." For a side-by-side comparison, read Potato Chips Win Again!

“I try to get the kind with kale,” one mother recently said. Sound familiar?

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Tuesday
May102016

Teaching Toddlers to LIKE Veggies: The Most Important Public Health Challenge of Our Time

The New York Times has published two articles lately that that highlight the importance of preventing obesity before it takes hold.

The first article:

Contestants on "The Biggest Loser" ended up with slower metabolisms after losing weight than they had before losing weight. And, their metabolisms never rebounded. The result? participants regained 70% of their lost weight.

The second article:

The problem is not willpower. It's neuroscience. Your brain figures out your body set point, based on genes and life experience, and then works hard to keep you at that weight.  

Obese people who exercise, eat enough vegetables and don't smoke are no more likely to die young than normal-weight people with the same habits.

Source: kondratya /depositphotos.com

1) There may be no more important public health initative than teaching young children to enjoy vegetables.

Teaching kid to enjoy vegetables is a fundamentally different task then getting them to eat vegetables.

Enjoying vegetables=Habit. The rest=lecture.

Kids who enjoy eating vegetables do so without being reminded or bribed. And they do it when their parents aren't even around! They have the habitude!

2) Nutrition education will NEVER produce a nation of veggie-lovers.

Nutrition education is premised on the idea that when people know what they ought to eat, they eat what they ought to eat.  In other words, "when you know better, you do better." Research shows otherwise.

Read my Post: Even Nutrition Savvy Kids Choose Cookies.

Researchers were surprised that 3-5 year old children who were exposed to nutrition education could readily identify healthy snacks, but they still chose cookies when given the choice. (Yes, the researchers were surprised!)

Here's another study:

Children 7-12 years old could correctly identify healthy/unhealthy snacks using an online grocery store simulation, but they still chose more than twice as many unhealthy items as healthy items. Why? They perceived the unhealthy items as being tastier.

And, it's not that the children didn't think the healthy items were tasty. It's just that they thought the unhealthy items were tastier.

So what's the solution? 10 Steps:

  1. Recognize that people eat for hedonistic reasons and that taste preferences are shaped much more than many parents believe.  8 Steps to More Fruits and Vegetables.
  2. Make veggies taste good. Stop with all the steaming. Vegetable Anxiety.
  3. Stop talking about health. How to Help Your Kids Hate Spinach; Junk Food=Yum, Healthy Food=Yuk.
  4. Consciously vary the taste and texture of the food kids are served. The Variety Masquerade.
  5. Early variety matters. Forget the go-slow-weaning approach. How do I Introduce Baby Food? Think Variety.
  6. Describe new food. Don't just say, "Yum." Look into My Crystal Ball; Introducing New Foods: Growing a Good Taster.
  7. Forget juice. It kills the chances kids will eat their veggies. Water vs. Punch and Soda.
  8. Minimize salty snacks. It also kills the chances kids will eat their veggies. Are You Sweet or Are You Salty?
  9. Settle for a Happy Bite. The Happy BiteSalad Days.
  10. But serve veggies throughout the day...and do it every day. Fruits and Vegetables at Every Meal and Every Snack--Every Darned DayThe Snack as Mini-Meal Mistake

 ~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~ 

Tuesday
Sep152015

Let's Stop Growing a Nation of Guilty Eaters

What's your guilty pleasure? Translation: What's the thing you enjoy even though you know you shouldn't?

Source: depositphotos.com

Admittedly, your first answer may have nothing to do with food. But food always makes the list. Brownies. Ice cream. Gummy Bears.

It's time to stop growing a nation of guilty eaters. If you enjoy something, shouldn't you just enjoy it?

Healthy eating doesn't mean banning sweets and treats—or eating them secretly—or eating them alongside a sizable serving of guilt. Healthy eating means building sweets and treats into the diet in a healthy way. And teaching kids to enjoy healthy food. There's a list of things you can do at the end of this post.

Guilty eating is a consequences of a phenomenon I call, "The Medicalization of the Meal," i.e. thinking of food like medicine.

Eat spinach, we are told, because it is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, folate, manganese, iron...

In this model, there is no legitimate space for unhealthy food. Honestly, I just saw a post on how to put vegetables in a chocolate dessert smoothie and a recipe for kale chocolate chip ice cream. The only thing that drives this trend is our belief that every bite can and should be healthy.

Is guilt really the lesson you want to pass on to your children? Read Cookies and the Cycle of Guilty Eating.

In America, the food world is divided into good and evil. 

  • Apples? Good. 
  • Brownies? Evil. 
  • Brownies with ice cream?

This would be OK if we thought evil foods tasted bad, but we don't. We think they're awesome. This also is an outgrowth of medicalizing the meal.

By medicalizing the meal we have inadvertently reserved all the good-tasting descriptors for sweets and treats. As a consequence we have come to believe that healthy food tastes bad and junky food tastes GREAT.

 When we talk about healthy food we stress nutrition. 

  • Eat an apple. It's good for you.
  • Eat an apple. It is full of vitamin C.
  • Eat an apple a day. It'll keep the doctor away!

When we talk about sweets and treats we talk about how good they taste.

  • These brownies are soooo chocolatey.
  • These brownies are rich and creamy.
  • These brownies are delicious. 

And the sad news is that even if you think healthy food tastes good, the research shows you subconsciously think junk food tastes better. Read Junk Food=Yum, Healthy Food=Yuk.

One way parents teach kids to be guilty eaters is by making the dessert deal: "Eat your peas and then you can have some pie."

We know we shouldn't do this, but most of us do it anyway. The pressure to get kids to eat vegetables is enormous and nothing gets peas down a kid's gullet faster than dessert.

As you probably know, making vegetables the price your kids have to pay in order to get to dessert makes your kids—shall we say appreciate?— dessert more than they already do. It also reinforces the idea that vegetables are necessary, but eating them is a chore. Yuk.

If this is news to you, or if you want a refresher, read Wheelin' & Dealin': 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Trade Peas for Pie.

5 things you can do to grow a healthy, not a guilty, eater.

1. Teach your kids about proportion. Then teach them to eat their sweets and treats with gusto, to enjoy every morsel. Read Have Your Cake and Eat It Too! and Mark Bittman's Dream Food Label (or how Bittman stole my ideas)

2. Never make kids earn dessert. Read Should My Child Get Dessert If He Doesn't Eat Dinner?

3. Don't talk about "good" and "bad" foods. Read "The Look": How Your Emotions Shape Your Kids' Eating.

4. Increase vegetable consumption by serving veggies more frequently. Read 10 Ways Improving Your Kids' Snacking will Improve YOUR Life and Fruits and Vegetables at Every Meal and Snack -- Every Darn Day

5. With veggies, implement The Happy Bite. Read The Happy Bite.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~