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Posts Tagged ‘Food & nutrition’

How to Limit Children’s Sugar Intake During the Holidays

young girl eating donut outside winter

By Jack Maypole, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

As the holidays come upon us, and the cornucopia of delectable desserts and candies and sweet offerings become ubiquitous from late October through Valentine’s Day, consider the following strategies on managing how much is too much for young children in terms of junky food and sugary snacks.

Is it excessive to sequester them to the kids’ table, where they might only access kale chips and dried fruit? Perhaps.

What is most important is stepping back for a moment, and thinking holistically. How many sweet or junky (and no doubt, delicious) foods or drinks do children consume on a typical day? Parents should have a sense of what a child eats. Keeping a food diary for 2 to 3 days may provide an informative snapshot towards that end.

For those kiddos who consume a larger amount of sweetened drinks, candy and junk food (say, several times a week), their parents may want to be more mindful and more vigilant in general, and work as a family to define what is reasonable. Resources like myplate.gov offer some nice resources to start that conversation. And, I’d reckon, a fair number of families may find that their children take in more sugary calories than they think.

So what to do for the holidays, then? A more pragmatic and sustainable approach of limiting sweets and sugary foods tends to eliminate free-range access to candy dishes and cabinets of findable goodies. Simply, don’t buy or leave these items around. They will be found!

Rather, during holiday gatherings, when the breaking of bread and sharing of food becomes a focal point of many family bonding sessions, buy them then, and perhaps in less mega quantity than wholesale brands would have you think you need. And, for the day or two that friends and family are about, set some ground rules and ease up a little. Perhaps if a child finishes a reasonable portion, then they earn a reasonably portioned dessert. Keep it conversational, and children will engage–and even cherish–times when the treats are allowed, and they are given a little liberty to indulge. Done thoughtfully, perhaps sharing that ‘special rules apply’ on these special days, children will understand. Limits will be set. Goodies will be had!

Bon appétit!

How To Get Your Little Ones To Try New Foods

Toddler trying new food

By Jack Maypole, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Getting toddlers and preschoolers to try new foods, or say, eat their vegetables (gasp) is about as easy as getting a newborn to sleep on a schedule or getting a teen to do her chores without being asked a second time. Until they’re 10-12 months or so, children will usually try foods of all types and tastes and textures with gusto, having little fussiness or particularity about texture or taste. In truth, some families have toddlers who are excellent consumers of what is put before them and will hoover up whatever morsel of protein or carbohydrate put within reach. For a lot of parents, however, they find their children, around 12-15 months old, tend to become picky or even avoid healthy foods they previously ate with relish (the condiment or the enthusiasm, as it were). So how do you get your little ones to eat their fruits and veggies before they subsist wholly on the orange food group (mac ‘n’ cheese, cheese puffs, chicken nuggets, etc.)?

Children do require some number of fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, there are great articles (with tables and grids!) to help guide you on your journey. Toddlers should eat two to three servings a day of fruits and vegetables. Portion size for this age group should be about a quarter to half what the grown-ups at the table are served. Toddlers and preschoolers should be offered about a quarter to half a cup of canned or fresh fruits and the number of tablespoons of vegetables for every year of their age.

Correspondingly, children should be served protein two to three times a day and carbohydrates (think snacks!) up to six times a day.

How do you get children to eat broadly, though? In my practice, I counsel parents expressing concerns about picky eaters in their family to offer one new food with two well-established foods to their child’s regimen. For example, if you know your daughter likes pasta and chicken, serve those as usual and add a portion of a new vegetable to her plate. We established early in our house that you at least have to try it, one bite or taste. Research shows that most children will take to a food after up to about a dozen tastings (for some super picky or rigid eaters, such as those on the autism spectrum for example, it may be many, many more times). Set kids up for success by discouraging snacking or tanking up on beverages before mealtime, and try not to feed them when they are too tired or too hungry. Also, keep mealtimes positive by involving kids in food prep and getting enthusiastic in the craft and presentation of food. This may cultivate interest and curiosity which can lead to the development of a more adventurous palate.

Never force feed or go to war about making your child eat. Everyone loses. Don’t hesitate to contact your child’s primary care provider if you have concerns that he or she has issues around eating. It happens. It can be a quirk particular to your child, a temporary age and stage issue that will be outgrown, or it can be a marker (rarely) of a child with extra sensitivity to food tastes or textures, or food allergies. If you aren’t sure, ask. Best to be reassured and unstressed. Food is an everyday thing best enjoyed and not worried over!

Our Little Ones and Sugar

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By Jack Maypole, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

As a pediatrician, we talk a great deal about childrenfood and children’s growth. For the vast majority of children, this is a topic easily broached by asking what their favorite foods are (pizza and tacos reign supreme) and what they like to drink (many say water, actually, and only a few admit they guzzle juice or soda). It is a fun way to start a conversation on a very broad and potentially complicated topic.  

After more than a couple of decades in practice, I get it. Food is love. Food is culture. Food is fun. Food is delicious. As North Americans, our love of food comes with a rather demanding sweet tooth. Along with this inclination comes parents who are rightfully concerned about their children’s sugar intake.  

I want to assure you, however, that many times the concern isn’t necessary – parents are well informed and smart about offering children nutritious foods. However, the lure of sugar is strong in children, and sometimes it’s hard to say no to those precious, pleading faces. While limiting sugar may seem daunting at times because it’s in just about everything, there are two takeaway messages we should remember: 

  1. Children are not destined to turn into cupcakes or refuse to eat anything but tablespoons of sugarno matter what Mary Poppins says. Has anyone verified her medical license?  
  2. We can help children develop healthy habits and reduce the amount of sugar in their dietscreate sugar hacks, if you will  when considering a tasty snack, confection, fine beverage or dessert.   

(Sort of a chew on this, eschew that, right?) 

I’ll channel a chat I have with parents who are concerned about their child’s weight. Ideally, we’ve been having this conversation all the way along: limiting sweet snacks as you are able and encouraging a balanced diet. It sounds easy, but if you ever walk into a supermarket, there are a lot of options competing for (and winning over) children’s taste buds. It is our role as grownups to push back on the siren calls of cupcakes and Sour Patch Kids and to set some limit, somewhere.  

I am not one to say never: never dessert, never candy, never soda. Absolute vows tend to fail absolutely. I am more about saying *sometimes* for sugary foods and drinks versus not allowing them at all. Should one eat ice cream for every meal? No, that is absurd, and children get it. Should one have more than a cup of soda or juice a day? The answer here is no, but it may require some explanation. Having juice or soda sometimes, but not all the time, can be okayas long as a child eats balanced meals overall for the day. 

So, if you are setting up a menu for a few days, how could you swap in some healthy alternatives instead of having frosted sugar bombs for dinner?  

Here are a few ideas:  

Hot days will continue well into September, so it may be handy to have a cool and smart alternative to sugary popsicles. Aren’t 100% juice popsicles better than the alternative because they’re natural? Great try, marketers, but no. Many products have additional sweeteners. One might do better to blend some fresh fruit (mixed berries, say, or mango or peach) and put the mixture in an ice cube tray. Delish.    

Is the snack cabinet full of cookies and tasty, carb-loaded sugary items? The best approach to this category is to limit how much fun food you purchase. If you don’t have it in stock, then they can’t senselessly nosh on it. Instead, put a bowl of fresh fruit that is in season on the kitchen table as appropriate for your children’s ages, including bananasapples, peaches or a small pile of washed berries.  

I might go one step further and help your preschoolers work with a peeler to learn how to peel an apple. Can they peel the whole skin in one go? Probably not, but trying can be a fun challenge. Just be sure to limit their attempts to one bit of fruit at a time so you don’t walk into the kitchen to see a pile of naked fruit. A grownup can slice the fruit into appropriate pieces for rapid consumption. 

Beverages are an area where there is some latitude. I advise parents to avoid buying juice or soda altogether if it is too much of a temptation. (If you do buy OJ, for example, be sure to buy the variety with calcium and vitamin D supplements.) For children over two years old, 2% milk is fine, within reason. For you fans out there, chocolate milk is a SUGARY drink, best considered almost like a soda for all the glucose it has in there. Drinking two or three cups of cow’s milk a day is ideal for growing, but many children take far less than that, taking water instead, I find. Flavored seltzer can be a great option instead of sugary sodas. Sugarfree juices like Crystal Lite and diet sodas are a bit controversial (the longterm effects of the artificial sweeteners remain an area of concern) but may be a reasonable concession for some families. 

Then, there is dessert. “Should we let children eat dessert? I get asked. Yes, in moderation in terms of amount and frequency. For example, if you have a dessert after dinner of blueberries in a bowl of milk, then no problem. If a child has a hankering for a bowl of ice cream and hot fudge every day, I’d think that through, in terms of how that fits with a child’s or family’s profile. For most children, though, having an occasional bowl or cone of ice cream or some other sugary fare is not an issue.  

I will say that I’d encourage children to eat a reasonable portion of their dinner BEFORE they tuck into a sweet aftermeal snack. Some children get overly clever at this sort of meal replacement and push away their plate and eat a double helping of the afterdinner treat 

Bookstores, cookbooks, family filing cabinets and the internet (such as ChopChopFamily.org – Recipes) are full of ideas for balanced meals and less sugary options for our children. I think we all will be more successful if we think holistically about how our children eat across the days and the weeks. Are they eating a balance of protein, fat and some carbs? Are we offering them, to the extent possible, fresh foods and options that are lessoften sweetened or enriched with corn syrup? Once we have an idea of what we want to offer them, it is important to look at one’s cabinets (or secret candy stashes from last Halloween) and understand where all of their calories are coming from. 

Work with your children to understand their favorite foods, and work with them on a Sunday evening to build a menu for the week using their input for some of the entries (let the children take turns choosing a topfive food for dinner one night each week) and build on their choices and preferences. Fried chicken is okay. Fried Oreos may not be.  

With this in mind, we can get back to the basics that make eating together an occasion of love, culture, togetherness and joy, without the sugar high to follow if you are lucky!  

Bon appétit.  

 

Seven Ways to Help Your Children Develop a Positive Relationship with Food

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Candy is junk food. It’s not good for you.  

You need to eat your broccoli. It’s so healthy! 

You can have dessert after you finish your dinner 

Do any of these statements sound familiar? I’ve heard them throughout my life, so I have always labeled foods as good or bad, healthy or unhealthy and nutritious or junkWe are all trained to believe that foods can only be one or the other 

I never thought about the effects of labeling food until I became a mom. When my son started eating solid foods, I furiously searched for articles by nutrition experts who could tell me exactly what I needed to do to ensure he developed a healthy relationship with food. My own food insecurities took over my brain, and all I could think was, Will my sweet tooth be passed down to him so he’ll gorge himself on cupcakes all day? That wouldn’t happen on my watch! My goal was to raise a vegetable-loving, fresh-foodeating son.  

Did I achieve this goal? Well, no. Is my fridge filled with dinosaur nuggets and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Maybe. Have I given up? No. I’m proud to say that my son loves carrots.  

Is that the only vegetable he eats right now? Yes.  

I’m only human, and I’ve made some mistakes on my journey toward helping my son cultivate a healthy relationship with food. I’d like to share some of the insightful tips that have helped me reevaluate harmful attitudes toward food that I’ve learned. 

Do Not Label Foods as Good or BadThe first and most important step is to make a conscious decision to stop calling foods goodbadhealthy or unhealthywhich is something discussed in a previous article about how to handle sweets at home. Pediatric nutritionist Jill Castle recommends using the words nourishing or fun 

In an article on her website, Castle shares a real-life example of the harm that labeling foods may cause. She discusses a client who was frustrated that her daughter didn’t make healthier choices. The client would ask her daughter, Are you sure you want that?” and “Couldn’t you choose something healthier?” Her daughter did try to make good choices, but she felt deep shame about enjoying her “bad” choices, too. 

“Ultimately, [the daughter] became conflicted about food, which started to eat away at her self-esteem. She didn’t feel good about herself (or the foods she enjoyed eating) and knew she wasn’t meeting her mom’s food expectations,” Castle said. 

 To avoid unintentional harm, I like to use registered dietitian Jennifer Anderson’s method for discussing foods without labeling them. Read the text in her Instagram post to learn how to tailor your conversations to the ages of your children.  

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Do Not Pressure, Force or Bribe Children to EatPressuring children to eat can include pleading with them to take another bite, spoonfeeding them as they resist or bribing them with dessert. 

Young children are experts at understanding their bodies’ cues about food. They know when they’re hungry and when they’re fullIf we plead, force or bribe children to eat, we’re teaching them to ignore those cues. Using dessert as a bribe can lead over- or undereating as children focus on getting to the sweets. 

Alisha Grogan, a pediatric occupational therapist, says,“[] in the long run we’re accidentally reinforcing that the food that’s on their dinner plate really isn’t as good as the dessert. It sends the message that the food during the meal is something that just has to be endured to get the real prize.”  

Do Not Restrict FoodsSweet treats, fried foods and sugary drinks are everywhere. At some point, most children will develop a taste for themIf you don’t allow these foods in the house, it could cause a greater desire for them. This can lead to secret eating, binge eating and overeating 

Like adults, kids want what they can’t or don’t have. It’s human nature,” says Castle. 

Take away the candy, and kids can’t stop thinking about it. However, unlike adults, kids have less control over their biological drive to eat. 

 Maintain an eating schedule, and don’t stray from it. My son was a grazer, so we gave him snacks with milk or diluted juice throughout the day. Then, we were flummoxed when he wouldn’t eat during our main meals. Well, why would he? He ate all day. Once we set specific times for meals and snacks, we fell into a stressless feeding routine.  

Remember the Division of Responsibility. Renowned therapist, author and lecturer Ellyn Satter developed the Division of Responsibility to help make feeding your children less stressful. Basically, parents are responsible for what, when and where they serve their children food, and children are responsible for how much and whether to eat. Once I started to practice this method, mealtimes became much less stressful. I didn’t feel any need to pressure my son to eat, which meant he could listen to his own body and his hunger cues. I highly recommend reading through all of the resources from the Ellyn Satter Institute. 

Serve dessert with dinner. Wait, what? By serving a small portion of dessert with dinner, you’ve removed the feelings of restriction that can lead to cravings while making fun foods less of a novelty or soughtafter reward. When children know they get to have dessert and no foods are off limits, it can lessen their feelings of deprivation and guilt. They learn what a moderate portion is and how to incorporate fun foods into a balanced diet 

You don’t need to serve dessert every night or provide a fun food free-for-all. You can still set boundaries with your children, but your goal is to teach them balance. Jill Castle has some great tips for how to get started setting food boundaries. 

Repeatedly introduce new foods. Let your children get used to seeing new foods. My son’s reaction to them is usually “EWWW!” and that’s fine. Let your children know that they don’t have to eat the new food if they don’t want to, so there’s no pressure to eat – and no battles about eating! It can take children anywhere from 12 to 30 exposures to a new food before they’re willing to try it. 

Here are some other great ideas: 

  • Plant a garden together; 
  • Take your children grocery shopping and let them find fruits and vegetables they want to try; 
  • Prepare meals together; 
  • Try serving family-style meals. 

 Even if your children refuse to eat a rainbow of foods, it’s okay! It takes time, and your children’s limited eating habits don’t make you a bad parent. Give yourself a break, and please don’t compare your family’s dietary habits to anyone else’s. Even though my son isn’t interested in expanding his vegetable palate right now, we have gotten to a point where he will try a few new things – even if it’s a quick lick and a grimace. That’s a win in my book!  

Healthy Fruit Ice Pops Your Child Is Sure to Love

With so many delicious seasonal options, fruit-based treats are a perfect way to cool off in the summertime! These healthy ice pop recipes are sure to be crowd-pleasers, and the recipes are so quick and easy that little chefs can help make them, so get out your popsicle molds and start freezing!

Watermelon Kiwi Ice Pop

Ingredients

  • 3 kiwis
  • 3 to 4 cups of cubed watermelon

Directions

  1. Peel the kiwis and blend them in a blender for one minute or until smooth. Have your child help you pour the juice into your popsicle molds until the molds are about one-quarter full and freeze the molds for one hour.
  2. Slice a watermelon into chunks. Blend three to four cups of watermelon in a blender for one to two minutes on high until smooth.
  3. Have your child help you pour the watermelon juice into your popsicle molds and freeze them for another one to two hours.
  4. Once your popsicles are frozen, remove the molds from the freezer and run the outside of the molds under warm water for a few seconds so you can easily remove the popsicles.

Sourcehttps://www.soljinutrition.com/blog/2017/6/8/watermelon-popsicles-the-perfect-treat-for-those-hot-summer-days

Peach Strawberry Yogurt Layer Ice Pop

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of strawberries
  • 3 cups of peeled and sliced peaches
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • ⅔ cup of vanilla Greek yogurt

Directions

  1. Puree the strawberries with four teaspoons of honey, and set the mixture to the side.
  2. Puree the sliced peaches with two teaspoons of honey, and set the mixture to the side.
  3. Have your child help you create layered popsicles by adding two teaspoons of strawberry puree, one teaspoon of yogurt and two teaspoons of peach puree to the molds and repeating until your molds are almost full. Make one of the fruit purees the last layer.
  4. Tap the mold on the counter so the layers settle, then have your child use a spoon to drag vertically from the bottom of the mold to the top a few times to create a swirled pattern. Tap the molds on the countertop again to remove air bubbles.
  5. Freeze the popsicles for at least six hours.

Source – https://www.jessicagavin.com/make-your-own-homemade-fruit-popsicles/

Orange-Banana Smoothie Ice Pop

Ingredients

  • 1 6-oz. container of Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of thawed orange juice concentrate
  • 2 large bananas
  • The zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice

Directions

  1. Puree the yogurt, thawed orange juice concentrate, bananas, lime zest and fresh lime juice together.
  2. Have your child help you pour the mixture into six three-ounce popsicle molds, or divide it among the cups of a small muffin tin and add a popsicle stick to each cup. Freeze the popsicles for four hours.
  3. Once your popsicles are frozen, remove the molds from the freezer and run the outside of the molds under warm water for a few seconds so you can easily remove the popsicles.

Sourcehttps://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/recipes/a2845/orange-banana-smoothie-pops-recipe/

The Benefits of Cooking with Children

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By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Cooking with children is a terrific way to enjoy a special time with your children and support learning as well. When you are all homebound, it is a great way to relieve stress and add some laughter to the day. It is sometimes difficult if you have different age ranges and abilities with children when trying to keep them learning and entertained at home. Cooking is great for all ages, and you can include even the youngest of children.

Getting started

  1. Start with a plan. What shall we make? Work with your children to list the ingredients.
  2. Talk about what your children like while you are doing this on the fly and pulling ideas from the refrigerator, and plan from there.
  3. Offer choices to simplify the activity. Do you want carrots or celery in the salad?

Your children will be practicing decision-making skills, learning collaboration as well as planning and practicing organization. These are essential skills all children need for success in school and in life.

Using a recipe – where everyone has a job

  1. Children can help with the measuring.
  2. Younger children can assist with pouring tasks, such as placing a piece of tape on the measured line to help them pour the correct amount.
  3. Older children can read out the recipe and measure ingredients as you cook.
  4. You can set the timer and talk about cooking temperatures.

Recipe activities help your children with reading, math and science skills.

Enjoying your labor

  1. Everyone can help by setting the table.
  2. Someone can make personalized placemats with paper and a few crayons or markers.
  3. Everyone will enjoy the meal you have created together. Ask your children what they liked best.

Preparing the table and enjoying the meal teaches sorting, counting, creativity, organizing and fine motor skills.

Reading books about cooking helps to build an understanding of all that goes into cooking while supporting the development of language skills. To provide inspiration, this can be fun at bedtime after you have been cooking together or before you make your meal. I have a few favorites:

  1. Be Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
  2. Feast for Ten by Cathryn Falwell
  3. Froggy Bakes a Cake by Jonathan London

Feeling Thankful Around the World

On Thanksgiving, families across the United States gather together to show their appreciation for all they have by having an abundant feast. But our country isn’t the only one to dedicate a day to give thanks. Nations all over the world celebrate similar holidays with food-based traditions throughout the year.

Here are a few highlights:

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China – Mid-Autumn Festival

While Americans prepare for Thanksgiving, people in China celebrate the harvest with the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar, usually in September or October. Originally a time to make food offerings in honor of the moon after a good harvest, the holiday is celebrated today by spending time outside with friends and family; watching the moon; and eating traditional dishes, including mooncakes, sticky red-cooked pork belly and stir-fried seasonal green vegetables

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The United States and Canada – Thanksgiving

Beginning as a day of giving thanks for the yearly harvest, Thanksgiving has expanded across the United States and Canada to commemorate family and food. On the fourth Thursday of November (or the second Monday of October if you’re in Canada), families come together to eat dishes like roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. What are your family’s favorite Thanksgiving dishes? Share them in the comments below.

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Germany – Erntedankfest

In Germany, Thanksgiving, or Erntedankfest, is celebrated on the first Sunday of October. While it began as a time to celebrate the harvest, the holiday now places an emphasis on giving back. Observers of this tradition deliver baskets of food to poor families throughout German communities. While there isn’t as great an emphasis on a big meal as with the American Thanksgiving, families celebrating Erntedankfest enjoy roast goose or turkey as well as Mohnstriezel, a special Austrian sweet bread with poppy seeds.

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Norfolk Island, Australia – Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving on Norfolk Island off the coast of Australia comes from an American trader who held a traditional Thanksgiving celebration there during his travels in the 1800s. Observed on the last Wednesday of November, Norfolk Island’s Thanksgiving meal features some foods that stand out from typical American fare, including cold pork and chicken, pilhi and bananas. One American dish that has stuck, however, is pumpkin pie.

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Korea – Chuseok

Korea’s harvest festival, Chuseok, which is much like American Thanksgiving, spans three days and is celebrated close to the autumnal equinox. Koreans spend time during the holiday visiting their families and sharing a meal complete with songpyeon, which are small rice cakes containing a variety of fillings, including sesame seeds, honey and sweet-red-bean or chestnut paste. The name songpyeon is derived from the Korean word for a pine tree with needles that are used as a base that infuses the dish with the scent of pine when the rice cakes are steaming.

How to Overcome Your Child’s Picky Eating Habits

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You were a picky eater when you were a child. Now your own child is, shall we say, highly discriminating on what he or she eats, too. Coincidence? A recent study says maybe not.

The study, by researchers from the University of Illinois, gathered information from the parents of 153 preschoolers. They found that while many factors can play a role in a child’s choosy eating, genes that are linked to a child’s sensory responses could be one of them.

What does this mean if you’re the parent of a picky eater? Do you simply throw up your hands and say it’s genetic?

Keep trying

Don’t give up on efforts to entice your child to eat a broader range of food, says Jennifer Hyland, RD, CSP, LD of Cleveland Clinic Children’s. It’s important to continue to expose children to new foods over time to get them to try them, she says.

There is a wide spectrum of behavior when it comes to picky eating, Ms. Hyland says. But for most children, picky eating does not go away on its own unless parents really work at it.

Research has shown it can take anywhere from 10 to 20 tries for a child to like a particular food, she says.

But you don’t want to force foods upon your child. Keep meals an enjoyable experience, Ms. Hyland says. One strategy is for parents to ask their children to take no-thank-you bites – which means they can say, “no thank you,” but they have to at least try the food. This leads to continued exposure, and over time, it’s hoped they will learn to develop a taste for these foods.

At meal time, Ms. Hyland says, it’s helpful to have at least one food on the plate that you know your child will eat. Also, but be sure to give everyone at the table the same foods.

“Try your best to cook the same meal for the whole family,” she says. “The child may not eat all of it, but it’s important that you encourage them to at least try, and that you set an example of trying these foods yourself, so that over time, they will learn to eat these foods.”

It begins during toddlerhood

It’s typical for picky eating to start during the toddler years, Ms. Hyland says.

“Normal picky-eating can start anywhere as early as age 2 or 3,” she says. “Usually during infancy, children are adventurous eaters and they’re trying new things. The picky eating really creeps up around the time they become toddlers. Parents will say, ‘My kid ate vegetables and they liked this and they liked that and now they don’t eat anything.’ We see that pretty frequently.” 

Should parents worry about a picky eater? If your child is underweight, you might be worried that your child isn’t getting enough nutrition. This results in parents giving their children whatever they want to eat to make sure they’re getting enough calories.

If this is you, it’s a  good time to meet with a registered dietitian or physician, because there are ways to combat that problem, while still improving the picky eating habits, Ms. Hyland says.

The most important thing a parent can do with a choosy eater is be consistent and not give up, Ms. Hyland says.

However, if a child has chewing or swallowing issues, or shows severe anxiety about trying new foods,  talk to a doctor, because you child may need the help of a behavioral specialist or multidisciplinary feeding program.

Complete results of the study can be found in the Journal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics.

 

 

This article was written by Children’s Health Team from Cleveland Clinic and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Five Benefits of Teaching Children to Cook

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Cooking is as important a life skill as swimming or riding a bike; however, like those other skills, cooking is not generally taught in school. Parents are usually responsible for teaching their children to cook. Here are five benefits of teaching children this valuable skill.

  1. It’s a great bonding experience. If you teach your child how to make a favorite family recipe, she will have a memory that can last a lifetime.
  2. It leads to healthy eating habits. By purchasing fresh, healthy ingredients and using them to prepare a meal at home with your child, you will give him a better understanding of what healthy eating looks and tastes like.
  3. It helps build math skills. Cooking involves math, such as measuring out a cup of milk, counting eggs or doubling a recipe. Using math practically in the kitchen helps bolster those skills.
  4. It helps boost confidence. If you serve spaghetti and meatballs and announce to the rest of your family that your child helped prepare the meal, it may give him a sense of accomplishment, which will increase his self-esteem.
  5. It encourages the development of communication and collaboration skills. If you and your child are baking a cake, you have to talk about what you are doing, such as measuring flour or stirring batter. You must also work together to assemble the cake.

5 Easy Tricks for Better Lunch Boxes

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 Here are some ideas for a  lunch box reboot:

1. Pack LESS. This is my number-one piece of advice when parents complain that their child doesn’t eat what they’ve packed. Cafeterias are busy, noisy places with lots of distractions—and there’s not much time to eat anyway. When you pack less in your child’s lunchbox, portions will look doable (not overwhelming), so he may just eat more food. Sounds counterintuitive, but it works for my kids!

2. Include a veggie every day. It could be a piece of lettuce on a sandwich, a few baby carrots, or even a little container of salsa. No, your child may not eat the veggies every day—or eat all of them—but she’s getting the important message that veggies are part of lunch. And she’s getting a chance to get vegetables beyond what’s on her dinner plate. Vary what you pack, and include her favorite dip in a leak-proof container (research shows kids eat more veggies when they’re paired with dip).

3. Rely on fewer packaged foods. I get it: Individually packed items are heaven-sent on hectic mornings and can truly streamline lunch packing (I use them too!). But with rising concerns about plastic waste, it makes sense to trim back when possible (and teach our kids to generate less waste too). Pick just one item at first to buy in larger quantities—like a large tub of yogurt instead of cups or a family-size bag of pretzels instead of small snack packs—and use a bento lunch box or reusable containers to portion them all week.

4. Get real about sweets. Sugar can add up fast in a lunch box, and beyond the obvious lunch box desserts, it can crop up in a lot of other places you may not think about, like granola bars, flavored milk, homemade muffins, and gummy fruit snacks. Take stock of which items are sugary, then try to include just one. Kids get added sugar in so many places during the day, it’s good to tilt the lunch box balance toward less sugar whenever you can.

5. Teach them to pack all by themselves. If you’re sick and tired of packing lunches every day, it might be time to pass the job onto your kids. Even kindergarteners can help portion items into a lunch box and locate a cold pack from the freezer. It’s liberating to take lunch-packing off your to-do list, trust me. Ready to take the leap? Here’s a guide to making it happen.

Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and mom of two who blogs at Real Mom Nutrition. She is the author of

 

This article was written by Sally Kuzemchak from Parents and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.