Friday, August 6, 2010

Snacks Can Be Good for Kids

By Julia Moravcsik, PhD, author of Teach Your Child to Love Healthy Food

Snacking, Not Snack Foods

 Snacking has a bad connotation.  This is partly because the word "snack" can either mean food between meals OR junk food.  "Snack food" means food like cookies, candy, chips, and other low nutrition, processed food.

Children Need Frequent Meals

Snack food is bad, but snacking is good.  Children, especially small children should get one or two snacks between meals. Snacking helps prevent children from getting too hungry between meals.  If a child gets too hungry, they tend to crave high calorie foods.  If they have a more moderate influx of food, they are more accepting of healthy foods with lower calorie density.  You want to prevent your child from getting stuffed or extremely hungry.

Vegetables for Snacks

Snacks are a great time to give your child healthy foods like vegetables.  At mealtimes, your child will have a variety of foods to eat -- it's easy for her to skip the vegetables.  Snacks usually contain one or two foods, so she can't avoid the vegetables by satisfying her hunger with something else.  Vegetables also satisfy hunger without "spoiling" your child's appetite.

Would you like a simple, easy-to-follow program that will teach your child to love healthy food? See my new book Teach Your Child to Love Healthy Food on amazon.com.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Don't Give Your Child Chocolate Milk

By Julia Moravcsik, PhD, author of Teach Your Child to Love Healthy Food

If you give your child chocolate milk for no particular reason, you probably won't be the type who reads this blog!  But some very conscientious parents give their children chocolate milk because their children have refused to drink unflavored milk.  These parents figure that milk with chocolate added is better than no milk at all.

One of the problems with chocolate milk is that children who drink chocolate milk don't adjust their total number of calories to compensate for the additional sugar.  They eat the same number of calories from other foods than if they had drunk regular milk. 

Chocolate milk has about 75 more calories per cup than regular milk.  So, if your child drinks two cups of chocolate milk per day, he will consume 150 more calories per day than he would otherwise!  This alone will cause your child to become overweight!

Another reason not to give your child chocolate milk, which is in line with the purpose of my blog, is that giving your child unnaturally sweet tastes, like chocolate milk, will teach him to crave the taste of sweetness.  Children naturally like sweet tastes (even newborn babies), but if you feed your child something sweet each day, it will teach him to expect sweet tastes every day.  When he is a teenager or adult, he will be more likely to feel like meals have to include something sweet. 

There are other ways to turn a milk-hater into a milk-lover.  Stay tuned, and I'll post more on how to accomplish this later.

Related Links
When Sugar Becomes Love
Carbonated, Sweetened Soda Linked to Violence
Junk Food Diet May Cause Autism Through Insulin Resistance

Monday, August 2, 2010

Vegetable of the Week: Chard

By Julia Moravcsik, PhD, author of Teach Your Child to Love Healthy Food

Each week, start teaching your child to like a new vegetable. Follow these 4 rules:

1. Feed each vegetable to your child twice a week.

2. Give your child the vegetable two times a week for six weeks. That’s a total of 12 times. After 12 presentations, your child will probably like the vegetable. If she doesn’t, wait for a few months and start the whole process again.

3. Don’t feed the same vegetable to your child two days in a row. Wait a day or two before giving her the vegetable again.

4. If your child tastes the vegetable, count it as a success. She may spit it out, but her brain is still registering the taste.

Six weeks from today your child will probably be an chard lover!

About Chard

Many people have never tasted a cooked green except spinach. Chard, like many other lesser known cooking greens, is much more nutritious than spinach.

Chard has a "green" and slightly bitter taste. The bitter taste is excellent taste training for your child. The more bitter tastes a child experiences when she is very young, the more she will like vegetables and other bitter tasting foods later on.

If your child is younger than 6 months, wait until she is over 6 months old before feeding her chard and any other leafy green. Leafy greens contain chemicals which are harmless to older babies, but may, in rare cases be dangerous for young babies.

Vary the chard dishes so your child doesn't get bored. Here are some quick and easy dishes:

1. Chop and boil the chard until it is soft. Make olive oil b├ęchamel (here's a recipe from the New York Times). Mix and serve.

2. Chop and boil the chard until it is soft. Add a large spoonful of sour cream and a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice. Mix and serve.

Post a comment and tell me how it went!