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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Entries in Vegetables (71)


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


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.~


The Downside of Healthy Eating: Why, Its Not About Nutrition

It's not enough to know what to eat. You have to know how to eat as well.

After being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, health afficionado Jennifer Berman finds out that the kale juice she drinks every morning is a no-no. Writing in The New York Times Berman says:

Kale, which I juiced every morning, tops the list [of foods to avoid], followed by broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels Sprouts and collard greens—the cruciferous vegetables I consumed in large quantities because they are thought to prevent cancer, which runs in my family.

Read Kale? Juicing? Trouble Ahead.

Every morning. Large quantities.

Over-consuming even healthy food has a downside. What you choose to eat is only part of the healthy-eating equation. You have to think about why, when and how much too.

When, why and how much get short-shrift in the current culture of nutrition.

But they shouldn't. Knowing these behaviors is the key to healthy eating habits.

The rest of Berman's healthy diet has a downside for her hypothyroidism too. Also on the list of no-no's?

And flax—as in the seeds—high in omega 3's, that I sprinkled on cereal and blended in strawberry almond milk smoothies. Also forbidden: almonds and strawberries, not to mention soy, peaches, peanuts, corn, radishes, rutabaga and spinach.

I want to be clear, here's what I'm not saying. I'm not saying that:

  • Berman is responsible for her hypothyroidism.
  • Kale and other vegetables are harmful and should be avoided.
  • It's time to run out and buy a box of Twinkies. (Though you might be surprised by what Berman writes about Twinkies at the end of her article!)

Berman writes that her world was rocked further when she went to the dentist. Do you snack on candy and sodas all day long, he asked.

What did he take me for? No, I answered. I don't eat sugar and drink only fresh vegetable juices—no longer kale, of course, but carrot and celery, which I'm still allowed. And filtered water with lemon.

Sounds healthy, no? Like the diet we all aspire to adopt.

"You'd be better off with chocolate and cola," he said. Apparently the natural sugars in fruit and vegetable juices can cause decay, and lemon, though high in vitamin C and bioflavonoids which may prevent cancer, had eroded the enamel that protected my teeth.


What's this got to do with feeding your kids? Spend less time focusing on what your kids eat and more time teaching them how to eat.

Three principles of healthy eating translate nutrition into behavior:

  • Proportion
  • Variety
  • Moderation

This is not giving up!

When your children know how to behave in relation to food (the when, why and how much of eating) they will automatically get the what right too.

Read 10 Habits MORE Important than Vegetable-Eating.

It's something to think about. It might even be something to read about! 

 I discuss all of these ideas in It's Not About the Broccoli. It's out tomorrow!!!

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~


Should You Sneak Kale into the Thanksgiving Stuffing?

No. Definitely not. Don't sneak kale into the holiday stuffing.

Put it there if you like kale and if it will make the stuffing taste good. But don't put it there to "healthify" the holiday.

Here are two other things you don't have to think about this Thanksgiving:

  1. Making sure you stuff your kids with healthy snacks before the main meal. 
  2. Make sure your kids eat their veggies before they nose-dive into the pie.

Unless you want to risk teaching your kids to overeat. 'Cause really, no one passes up the pie just because they're full.

The pressure to make Thanksgiving healthy is misguided. It's part of a trend towards the medicalization of meals.

I recently saw a video where a Registered Dietician was showing some children how to make tacos that followed the MyPlate guidelines. Everything that went into the tacos was "justified" by its health benefits.

The tomatoes, the RD offered, should go in because—and I don't remember the wording exactly— they were packed with healthy things like vitamins and Lycopene. As an afterthought the RD added something about how great tomatoes taste.

As long as we continue to talk about food in terms of health, and not in terms of taste, we'll never sell the "good" stuff, and we'll keep selling the "good" stuff—if you know what I mean.

I'll write more about the medicalization of meals another time. But it's important to think about this during Thanksgiving because you don't want to put too much pressure on this lovely holiday.

Besides, how valuable is "healthifying" Thanksgiving if you don't teach your kids some healthy holiday habits?

The skills and habits you teach your children about how to handle holiday eating will last a lifetime.  So, what are you going to teach them?

I’d like to suggest:

  • Have fun.
  • Enjoy the food.
  • Don’t throw up.

I’m only partially joking.  An incredibly important holiday survival strategy is learning to indulge without grossly overeating, i.e. without throwing up. 

So much attention is placed on one or two celebratory days.  When really, if you have developed the right eating habits, you should be able to go wild—if that’s what you want—for each and every holiday of the year.

There are three habits that translate nutrition into behavior. 

  • Proportion: Eating healthy food more frequently than mediocre or junky food.
  • Variety: Eating different food over time.
  • Moderation: Only eating when you're hungry, and stopping when you're full (and not eating because you're bored, sad, or lonely). 

During Thanksgiving focus primarily on teaching Proportion and Moderation. (If you want, you can include variety during step 3 below: Bookends.)

Here are three strategies to teach your kids that will serve them well over a lifetime of holiday eating.

  1. Eat What You Want
  2. Pace Yourself
  3. Bookend the Holidays with Healthy Eating

For tips on how to implement these strategies, read Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~