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 

Tuesday
Oct212014

Hunger vs Appetite

We have an almost-pathological fear of kids being hungry in this country.

I'm not talking about real hunger. I'm talking about the kind of hunger that people naturally develop in between meals. You know, the old grumbling-in-the-tummy kind of hunger.

So here's the question: "Should I feed my toddler on demand or on a schedule?"

The answer is a hybrid. Feed your child on a flexible schedule that imposes some structure but which is responsive to your child's hunger.

For many parents, helping their children avoid hunger seems like a rational strategy. 

  • Hungry children are prone to meltdowns (and, for some reason, this usually happens when in public)
  • Hungry children don't do well in school
  • Hungry children are sometimes harder to feed

But avoiding hunger is the wrong habit to teach children.

Sometimes a little hunger goes a long way. Read The Upside of Hunger to find out why. Here's one reason:

Toddlers need to learn to connect the feeling (pangs in their tummies) with the problem (hunger) and the solution (eating).  If they never feel hungry, they’ll never learn this connection. 

Help your children build an appetite: Implement the Eating Zones Rule

Eating Zones are regular blocks of time that you create—one for each daily meal and snack. On any given day you can choose one time during each Eating Zone when you will offer something to eat.

Eating Zones help you avoid constant on-demand grazing, but they do not snap you into a rigid schedule.

  • Look at your typical day to see when you normally provide meals and snacks.
  • Account for variables, such as naps, outings, school, or your work schedule.
  • Evaluate when your child is usually hungry, when she is too tired, too hungry, or too distracted to eat. 
  • Use this information to create blocks of time each day when you can serve a meal or a snack.

The importance of Eating Zones is that they designate some times as eating times and other times as NO-EATING times.

You create opportunities for eating, but let your children choose whether and how much to eat.

And if your child wants to eat during a no-eating zone, respond compassionately, but help her wait. And remember...

  • You can always move the next Eating Zone up so the wait isn't too long
  • The wait is where the learning happens

The structure of Eating Zones:

  1. Creates a predictable parenting dynamic. Read You Can't Make Me Eat It! to find out why predictability is important.
  2. Constructively shares control with your child. Read The Hunger Dilemma.
  3. Prevents unnecessary snacking. Read What to Do About Snacks

In the perfect world, children would be taught to eat when (and only when) they were hungry. That's not the world we live in.

But in the world we live in, children are usually required to eat at meal times—regardless of how much or how often they've eaten throughout the day. That is a lesson in overeating.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Monday
Oct132014

Problems and Solutions with Cathy Blythe

I was honored to be interviewed this morning by Cathy Blythe on her program Problems and Solutions.

  • The problem? Teaching kids to eat right.
  • The solution? Switch from the nutrition mindset to the teaching mindset and focus on the three habits that translate nutrition into behavior: proportion, variety and moderation.

We had a lot of fun.

If you haven't read It's Not About the Broccoli yet, think of this interview as the Cliff Notes!

(Do they even make Cliff Notes anymore?)

 Listen Here 

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits~

Tuesday
Oct072014

When There's No Time for School Lunch

One problem when school lunch time shrinks? VEGGIES GET FORGOTTEN!

Of course, not having sufficient time to eat is a huge problem. As is not having enough "down time" to restore young attention spans.

But the veggies? That’s a relatively easy solution to solve (providing your children will eat vegetables under normal circumstances).

1) Talk to your children about the problem.

In my experience, many parents of young children try to manage the problem and the solution without talking to their kids.

This is a mistake.

  • It’s harder for kids to do what you want them to do when they don’t know what you want them to do.
  • Talking to your children about problems and solutions is a way to teach them to problem solve.
  • Problem-solving with your children builds the trusting rapport around food that many families lack.
  • Sometimes parents mis-identify the problem.

"Sometimes there's not enough time at lunch to eat everything. Right? I've noticed lately that you dig right into your sandwich but you don't eat the broccoli." 

  • "Is that because you don't like the broccoli?"

In this case, you'll know not to send broccoli because repeatedly sending food that doesn't get eaten in the hopes that one day it will (magically) get eaten is crazy. Read The Bad News ABout Healthy Lunches.

  • "Or is that because you don't have time for anything else if you eat your sandwich first?"

When children dig into their favorite food first (the sandwich, the pasta, the pizza) they don't have time—and they often don't have a lot of stomach space left—for anything else. That is the problem.

Solving the Sandwich-First Problem with One-One

Here's the lesson: "You need to eat a little bit of everything before you eat all of anything."

Children don't automatically know this.

Here's the technique: "Eat one bite of this and then one bite of that until you've had one bite of everything on your plate. Then take a second bite of this and a second bite of that..."

Read more about One-One here.

One-One isn't meant to be dogmatic—no need to count bites! Nonetheless, it's an important lesson for children to learn: 

"We never know when we are going to run out of time at school lunch. Therefore, it's important to eat a little of everything from the beginning of the lunch period."

One-One is the right habit in general. It's the right habit for this problem.

Let's fight for change at the school-level, but let's not WAIT for change to address the problem.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~