Let’s face it, pizza is great for parents: It’s easy, our kids will eat it and pizza passes the “nutritious enough” test that most of use to decide what to feed our kids. But giving your kids pizza on a regular basis will ultimately make YOU miserable.
Train your kids to the taste, texture and appearance of pizza and you can forget about the peas. You can also forget about any of the other fresh, natural foods you are constantly trying to convince your kids to eat.
Much of what your kids will eat is simply a matter of math.
Exposure is the key to food acceptance. The more your kids experience a particular food, the more likely they are to eat – and like -- it.
But it’s not just that when you feed your kids pizza you aren’t feeding them other foods. Nothing about the taste, texture and appearance of pizza is like the foods you wish your kids would eat. So each pizza makes peas a harder sell because they're different. (They still eat toast, Goldfish crackers, chicken nuggets and mac 'n cheese because they're kind of the same.)
Research shows that eating high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt foods makes people want to eat more high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt foods.
And what is pizza if not a convenient delivery system for sugar, fat and salt? That’s why it is so yummy.
Most commercial pizzas contain most of your child’s daily allotment of fat (much of it saturated) and more than an adult’s daily serving of sodium. For instance,
- Cosi’s Kids' Pepperoni Pizza has 43g of fat and 2,731 mg of sodium.
And even though you don’t think of pizza as a sweet food, there’s typically plenty of sugar in the sauce.
The fat, sugar and salt content in pizza may be why NuVal only gives frozen pizza a median score of 11 (out of 100 for top nutrition).
Sure you can find “healthy” pizza. NuVal gives ...
- South Beach Living Pepperoni Pizza with Harvest Wheat Crust a score of 25.
But most of us are more likely to feed our kids ...
- Tombstone Brick Oven Style Pepperoni Pizza which gets a NuVal score of 9
- DiGiorno For One Traditional Crust pizza which gets a NuVal score of 6.
So what should you do?
- Think of pizza as a treat, not a staple.
- Mix up the taste, texture and appearance of the foods you feed your kids the most.
- Recognize that even if you make your own really, really healthy pizza you are still reinforcing your kid's pizza habit.
~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~
Kessler, D. A., MD, 2009. The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. New York, NY: Rodale.
Zinczenko, D. and M. Goulding, 2008. Eat This Not That for Kids. New York, NY: Rodale.