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Tuesday
Jun222010

Slackers Rule.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the time, the interest or the skills to track the nutrients my daughter consumes.  But even if I did, I’m much too lazy.  Quite frankly, just getting food into her multiple times each day is about all I can muster.  I’m a slacker.

That’s why all the nutrition advice out there is useless to me: Not only can’t I keep track of how many servings of vegetables my daughter is supposed to eat, I don’t even know how many vegetables are in a serving.  Do you?

And I have only one child.  I can’t imagine how someone with a brood keeps track of all the data:

  • All those different ages translate into different calorie needs. 
  • Different calorie needs translate into different serving sizes.
  • On top of this, the nutrition approach also asks us to remember how much juice everyone drinks, how much spinach is in their slice of lasagna…

Maybe this is why we are all slackers.

Food manufacturers take advantage of slackers by selling us foods that appear to meet our children’s nutrition needs, but which ruin their habits instead.  Read How Brands Bite You in the Butt.

You can rule as a slacker.  All you have to do is change your approach.

There’s an easier – and more effective -- way than nutrition to feed kids: Just get the ratios right.

But it’s not the ratio of protein to carbs, of fats to fibers, or of processed to refined grains that you need to track. (That’s too taxing.)

You only have to consider one thing: Do your kids eat real food more often than they eat:

  • Processed food-like substances (to borrow a phrase from Michael Pollan)
  • Junk

Tweak the basic Healthy Food/Junk Food model most of us use when we’re making decisions on the fly.

Of course you know more about nutrition, but when pressed, most of us boil everything down to one thing: is it healthy or is it junky? So take what you're already doing and modify it like this:

Then, instead of thinking of Fun Foods as alternatives to Growing Foods, think of them as sharing time with the Treat Foods.

 

Most parents feed their children more Fun Food than anything else because it's easy.

From a nutrition perspective Fun Foods might not be so bad. (Although the more you know, the harder it is to believe that.)  Read: Are Chicken Nuggets Really Chicken?, Mac & Cheese Scores Again! and Is "Yogurt-Covered" Really Yogurt?

But from a habits perspective relying on Fun Foods is a disaster. These foods all point kids in the direction of junk. That's why they have to share time with the treats.  Read Cookies for Breakfast?

Contrary to popular advise, it's the habits, not the nutrition, that shape how your kids eat.

So be a slacker and forget about nutrition.  You'll be doing your kids a world of good.

For more on this read Why Nobody Needs Nutrition Labels and Nutrition by Numbers.

~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~

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Reader Comments (2)

Excellent post--and so true! I like how you presented the ratios here. We have been talking about "growing foods" since my kids were toddlers but have lost sight a bit of using that language as they have entered elementary school. They are just exposed to so much more--whether it be what their friends bring to school, they have at friends' houses, or whereever. I think this model is simple enough though for them to 'get it' and hopefully learn to make better food decisions for themselves.

June 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeal Plan Mom (Brenda)

Brenda,

Thanks for your comment.

I like this model precisely because it's so easy. And with the amount of nutrition information, marginal foods, and total junk out there, we need something that is easy to understand and even easier to implement. I meant it when I said I was a slacker!

Let me know how it goes with your kids.

Dina

June 25, 2010 | Registered CommenterDina Rose

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