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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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 Yogurt (15)

Tuesday
Dec032013

Are Yogurt-Covered Pretzels Healthy?

There's no way around it: yogurt-covered snacks are imposters.

They're fakers, pretending to be healthy, but they're not quite the real deal. And even when they're not "so bad," (i.e. they're homemade), yogurt-covered snacks foster the wrong habits.

(Please accept my apologies if you're a yogurt-covered-lovin' fan but, read on...)

About three years ago I wrote about yogurt-covered snacks, and it continues to be one of my most popular posts.

Who knew so many people were searching for info on this topic?

If you're a regular reader, either you can remember or you can guess what I said.

  • Yogurt-covered snacks aren't really coated in yogurt. They're coated primarily in sugar and oil. YUM!
  • Treats like yogurt-covered (or really, oil-covered) raisins teach your kids that both raisins and yogurt should look and taste like candy.
  • Give your kids yogurt-covered foods occasionally.  When you do, teach them to think of them as the treats that they are, not the healthy foods they are claiming to be.

If you're a new reader (or need a refersher), read: Is "Yogurt-Covered" Really Yogurt?

Why bring up yogurt-covered snacks now? It's simple: I want to talk to you about proportion.

Proportion is one of the main lessons you want to teach your kids about surviving the holidays with their healthy eating habits intact.

You can't get proportion right if you're not... 

  • Absolutely honest about what constitutes healthy.
  • Paying attention to the kinds of habits you're fostering.

Proportion=eating really healthy foods more frequently than marginally healthy or down-right junky foods.

The way to get proportion right over the holidays is to bookend heavy-eating days with really healthy days. 

That's right: you don't have to worry about how unhealthy one particular day is if the days around the junk-food-fest are healthy.  For more on bookends, read Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving.

Are Yogurt-Covered Pretzels Healthy?

By themselves, pretzels barely pass the Potato Chip Challenge. But when they're covered in sugar and oil? Not so much.

Yogurt-covered pretzels benefit from the health halo that surrounds yogurt. But health halo foods can ruin your kids' habits. 

Do Yogurt-Covered Pretzels Foster Healthy Eating Habits?

Turning nuts into a sweet treat, for instance, by giving your kids yogurt-covered almonds teaches them to eat sweet treats—not nuts. In other words, yogurt-covered snacks might just be a gateway drug

I'm not against real yogurt-covered snacks.

Although you might be surprised by how much sugar goes into them. I'm just saying that during this heavy-eating, holiday time, it's best to skip the imposters—the pretend-to-be-healthy snacks—in favor of truly healthy snacks, used to bookend the heavy-hitters.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Thursday
Apr042013

The Magic of (Plain) Yogurt

Stonyfield has increased the sugar in its yogurt!

Apparently, it's not sweet enough. A reader on Marion Nestle's blog Food Politics writes:

  • The French Vanilla (6 oz cup) used to have 17g of sugar, now it has 27g! 
  • The Peach (also 6 oz cup) used to have 20g, now it has 26g. 
For a point of reference: an 8 ounce bottle of Coke has 27g of sugar. (I know, and none of the calcium, or protein...) Read Yogurt vs Coke. 
 
You know my opinion:
  • The sugar drives our kids' habits. No matter what form the sugar takes, it's the taste that counts.
  • The more our kids get used to eating sweet foods, the harder it is to get them to eat "real" foods...like broccoli or apples.

Stonyfield’s Vice President for Communications and Social Media, Alice Markowitz explains (also on Marion Nestle's blog):

In 2011, we replaced some of the sugar in our Smooth and Creamy style nonfat yogurts with organic stevia. Our fans didn’t like the switch, so we went back to using just organic sugar with our new Blends. 

Organic sugar...it's supposed to make you feel better.

Ms. Markowitz goes on to say:

In fact, the slight increase is due primarily to an increase in milk in the product, resulting in more protein, more milk sugar.   As with many of our products, Blends has a mix of naturally-occurring sugars from milk and fruit and some added sugars. 

This just goes to show that yogurt with fruit is sweet already. Why add more?

Healthy yogurt is plain yogurt.

 

  • Healthy in terms of nutrition. 
  • Healthy in terms of habits.

 

Here's a post I wrote a few years ago on the Magic of (Plain) Yogurt.

===============================================

Want a magic pill to get your kids to try new foods?

Here it is… YOGURT! Yes, you can teach your children to eat new foods using only yogurt.

I’ve written about yogurt before, about how great plain yogurt is (and how bad sweetened yogurt is) for teaching kids to eat right -- Read Yogurt vs. CokeBut Plain Yogurt is GrossYogurt on the Brain.  

Even still, I never realized before how many things you can do with plain yogurt, and as a result, what a boon it is for parents: you can use the same old food your children already love and eat to expand their repertoire, just by switching things up.

Cindy at Fix Me a Snack is on a mission to develop 101 recipes for yogurt.  She’s up to 80 and all I can say is you’ve got to check this out!  Read the list.

Last night I made a version of the Rhubarb Mango Yogurt (#51), only I used frozen blueberries instead of the mango.  Everyone loved it.

But the recipe I can't wait to try is the Banana Coconut Pie Yogurt (#65).

Look at it.  Doesn't it look yummy?  It's made with mashed banana, coconut extract, shredded coconut and plain yogurt. Brilliant!

The imagination, the creativity and the variety on this list are amazing.  Reading through the recipes, it hit me: You could teach your kids to eat new foods using only yogurt.

Here's how it would work:

1) Start with the recipe that you’re sure will be a winner.  

Look over the list with your child and pick the recipe that looks the best.  Not the healthiest. Not the most creative.  The best. 

Consider the Banana Toffee Yogurt (#61). Or the Smore Yogurt (#79) pictured here. It's made with graham crackers, chocolate sauce, marshmallows and plain yogurt.

 

2) Next, move onto a yogurt that might be a little more challenging, but stay in the Love Domain.

Consider the Cinnamon Toast Yogurt (#73), the Jamtacular Yogurt (#77) or the Banana Nut Butter Honey Yogurt (#12).

By now, your child will probably be thinking that this new food thing is alright!

3) Then, as people of my generation used to say, “Keep on Truckin'."

  • Nutty Yogurt (#69)
  • Yogurt Salad (#46), made with cucumbers. (Pictured here.)
  • Garbanzo Bean Yogurt (#49)
  • Avocado Yogurt with Fresh Mango (#39)

One day you might even find yourself trying out #50! (If you do, let me know how it goes.)

Why this strategy will work:

1) It will get two ideas into your child’s head. The first is that plain yogurt is a good food.  The second is that new foods aren’t always bad, boring and healthy.  Training the brain is just as important as training the taste buds.  Read Mind Over Matter.

2) The familiarity of keeping one dimension of the dish constant – the yogurt – helps reluctant children feel comfortable trying new foods because it helps them know what to expect.  Read Look Into My Crystal Ball.

3) Alternating what goes into the yogurt doesn’t just alter the taste, it alters the texture, the aroma, the appearance and even the temperature.  Mixing up these sensual properties is a huge part of learning to eat new foods.  Read For Extreme Fruit and Vegetable Avoiders....

Half the battle of getting kids to eat new foods is teaching them that "new" can be fun, exciting, and, yes, tasty. 

I’ve contributed some recipes to the list, but that’s not why I’m so enthusiastic about Cindy’s project.  I love it because it offers 101 ways to accomplish one of the most important components of learning to eat right... trying new foods.

But you don't have to stick with just the yogurt. Here's another way to introduce new: try some of Cindy's interesting presentation methods: The fish bowl (#30), the parfait glass (#61), and the bear bowl (#68).  ReadMake "New" Work for You.

Get your kids in the new groove and before you know it, they'll start complaining when you go back to the old standards. Now that's a problem to behold.

 ~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~

Thursday
Mar282013

The Miracle of Yogurt-Covered Cereal

Yogurt is the modern version of the old fashioned "miracle cure" medication. 

You know, those miracle medications that were peddled at circuses and carnivals in the Wild West? They had the ability to cure any disease, even prolong life?

These days, if you put yogurt on anything, especially Greek yogurt, you can make it healthy.

Abracadabra. Hocus Pocus. Presto Chango. Shazam.

Post Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch is the newest miracle.

It's a bit of magical thinking to call the yogurt that's in this cereal yogurt. It's a pinch of yogurt powder mixed in here and there with whole-grain wheat, oats, sugar, rice, corn meal and oil. Yum.

Check out the ingredients.

Maybe that's why the Center for Science in the Public Interest's Nutrition Action Health Letter calls this Honey Bunches of BS.

According to the CSPI April Health Letter:

  • The yogurt powder is heat treated, which kills the active yogurt cultures. And,
  • The protein, which is only 1 gram more than the regular Honey Roasted Honey Bunches of Oats, comes from milk protein isolate, whey, and non-fat dry milk solids...not from yogurt.

If that's not enough...when I looked at the ingredient list I saw that sugar shows up 11 times. Eleven Times!

Give your kids this cereal if they like it—as an occasional treat.

But don't teach them this stuff is actually yogurt.

Read Is "Yogurt-Covered" Really Yogurt? for more on yogurt miracles.

And if you want your kids to reap the benefits of yogurt, give them the real stuff.

Preferably in plain.  Read The Magic of Yogurt.

"I feel healthy" the woman in the ad says. Proof the magic is working!

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~