Monday, October 31, 2011

Children Don't Like Mushy, Slimy Textured Foods -- Until They Get Used to Them

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

Most children love tomato sauce.  Pizza tops the list of favorite foods for most children, and spaghetti is usually not far behind.

Strangely enough, though, fresh tomatoes are one of the least liked foods for children.

How is this possible?  How can children love tomatoes when they are cooked into a tomato sauce, and hate them just as vehemently when they are fresh?

Tomatoes are Slimy

Although there are some subtle taste differences, the main difference between tomato sauce and fresh tomatoes is their texture.  The inside of fresh tomatoes is slimy.  Children don't like this slimy texture.

The Human Brain Thinks that Slimy = Rotten

Most plants become slimy when they start to rot.  Rotten food is less nutritious and may be contaminated with harmful bacteria.

Human beings have a strong instinct to avoid slimy or mushy food.  You may have had the experience of accidentally eating or drinking something that has gone bad and has become slimy.  It probably felt extremely repulsive and you spat it out.  

Another Reason Why Kids Don't Eat Their Vegetables -- The Texture!

Some vegetables and fruits naturally have a slimy texture.  The infamous tomato is one.  Cantaloupe, okra, mushrooms, onions, cucumbers, and grapes are others.

However, most fruits and vegetables are at least a little mushy or slimy.  This is one of the reasons why children often don't like fruits and vegetables.

Children Need More Repetitions to Learn to Eat Slimy Food

Nature gave us the dislike of slimy, mushy textures as a warning.  But our primitive ancestors would have starved to death if they disliked perfectly nutritious, healthy food that just happened to have a slightly slimy or mushy texture.

Your child's mind can learn to love tomatoes, grapes, and other mushy, slimy food.  But she has to learn to like them over time.  Nature made her apprehensive, but provided the means to "test" these foods for rottenness by eating small portions, and then waiting to see whether there were any symptoms of poisoning.

You can teach your child to like tomatoes, cantaloupe, grapes, and all other fruits and vegetables, by giving them to her often.  Her dislike of the slimy textures will dissipate over time.

Processed Food Makes Real Food Textures Seem Strange and Dangerous

Processed food has textures that are the very opposite of slimy.  Processed food is usually crunchy, chewy, or creamy.

Manufacturers strive for these textures because their foods don't have to go through a "trial period" where people's minds wonder whether they are poisonous or not. Processed food manufacturers want their customers to like a food immediately because they may not buy the food again if they don't like it the first time they taste it.

However, if your child eats mostly processed foods, the threshold for a food tasting too slimy or mushy will lower.  Your child's mind will only find processed food textures "safe".  Natural, real food textures will seem disgusting or unappealing.

By giving your child processed foods, you are teaching her to dislike the texture of real foods.

A child who is used to the taste of fruits and vegetables won't notice their slightly slimy textures.  A child who is used to food that is dry, crunchy, chewy, or creamy will notice even the subtlest of slimy textures and push her plate of vegetables away.

If you give your child fresh fruits and vegetables, she will learn to be tolerant of the many textures that fruits and vegetables have.

Very Fresh Vegetables are Less Slimy

Produce usually takes a week or more to get to the supermarket.  In this time, the rotting process begins.  Supermarket fruits and vegetables are more slimy and mushy than fresh picked fruits and vegetables.

If you want to convert your tomato-hater into a tomato lover, try to find extremely fresh tomatoes.  They are very firm and much less mushy inside. Many tomato haters have been transformed when they first picked a fresh tomato off a vine and ate it.

Grow your own plants, or find a farmer's market or community supported agriculture farm. 

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

Related Articles

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Children Like the Food They Grow Up With

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

My husband likes healthy "foodie" foods.  Some of his favorite foods are samosas, hummus and whole wheat crackers, and broccoli.

But when we visit his parents, a strange thing happens.

A bowl full of an unnaturally bright green, jiggly substance makes his eyes light up with happiness.  It's "Perfection Salad"-- lime jello with chopped cabbage and carrots.

I have to tease him about liking a food that is so out of line with his other tastes.  But it makes me think.  Why does he like it?  Not because it inherently tastes good.  He likes it because he ate it when he was a child.

Children Learn Food Preferences Early

Researchers have found that food that children eat before age 3 sets their preferences for the rest of their lives.  Children who eat vegetables in their first 3 years like them as adults.  Children who eat french fries and pop tarts in their first 3 years like them as adults.

Each time you give your baby or toddler a meal, you are teaching him a lesson.  You are teaching him foods that he will habitually reach for 30 years later.

This is a frightening concept because the foods many parents give their children are foods that could kill them 50 years later.  Diet is now the #1 preventable cause of early death.

The Good News: Young Children Are Programmed to Learn New Foods

Babies and toddlers are programmed to learn to like the taste of new foods.  Young babies will accept anything.  Toddlers are pickier (probably Nature's way to ensure that they don't swallow the potentially poisonous things that they cram in their mouths).  However, even toddlers will learn to like foods as long as eat them often enough.

Early childhood can be an exciting time for parents who are determined to give their children a lifelong love of healthy foods.  What you feed your children now can have a huge impact later.  You can teach your children to have good eating habits for the rest of their lives just by giving them the right kind of food.

More Good News: You Control Their Environment

When your children go to school, they can trade food with other kids. When they are teenagers, they can buy their own food.  But when they are babies or toddlers, you can decide exactly what they eat.

Young childhood is a very easy time to teach children to love healthy food.  Just avoid sweets, bland refined grains, and other junk food.  Focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, and healthy unprocessed meats.

What If My Children Are Older Than 3?

What if you've already passed that crucial age?  Is it too late to teach a 6 year old, a 10 year old, or a teenager to like healthy food?

People of all ages can learn to like healthy food if they repeatedly eat the food, and don't eat the junk foods that make real food taste bad.

Even adults can change their taste preferences.  A vegetarian who decides to avoid meat for ethical reasons finds that after several months he doesn't like the taste of meat anymore.  A heart attack victim who switches to a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains finds that after a while he doesn't miss the hamburger and french fry lunches that he used to love.

If you start when your child is older than 3 it may take longer and not be as complete.  But you can definitely make a huge difference.

What About Teenagers?

Teenagers reach another period where they are open to new tastes.  Their brains are growing and changing rapidly, which makes teenagers receptive to new experiences.

The good news is that teenagers are less picky than younger children.  The bad news is that teenagers usually have the freedom to eat whatever they (or their friends) want.

It's important to have regular family meals with your teenager.  Try to aim for a family breakfast and a family supper.  Your teen will experience at least one or two meals a day of healthy food.

Teach your teen about nutrition (without being preachy).  Related it to something she is interested, like improving her basketball game or reducing acne.  Avoid mentioning her weight or suggesting that she diet because doing these things might trigger an eating disorder.

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

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When Sugar Becomes Love

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

Every parent knows that sugar isn't good for kids.  And yet many parents give their children desserts, candy, and soda.  Why do they do this?

One reason is obvious to any adult who has ever given an ice cream cone to a kid.  Sugary treats make kids happy.  A sad or angry kid is immediately turned into a calm, euphoric child, focused only on the taste of the ice cream.  Even a kid who is already in a good mood acquires a look of bliss when she eats a candy bar.

Because sweets make kids so happy, parents may feel mean if they don't give their children sweets.  Why deprive your child of something that makes them happy, just because it isn't healthy?  Why not let them have some fun?  Don't you LOVE your kid?

The Euphoria That Children Get From Sugar is Creepy!

Because sweets are so prevalent in modern cultures, people rarely stop and think about the euphoria that comes from eating sugar.  Isn't it strange that a substance can so suddenly stop your child's bad mood in its tracks? Isn't that look of bliss a little unnatural?  What's really going on?

The reason children love sugar so much is that it acts like a drug.  Like illegal drugs, sugar stimulates both the dopamine system (also triggered by drugs like cocaine) and the opiate system (also triggered by drugs like heroin).

Children who eat sweets repeatedly may actually change the neural workings of their brains.  Scientists aren't sure what the consequences of this are, but it may lead to increased susceptibility to drug addiction, or less of an ability to experience pleasure from other things.

A hundred years ago, parents used to put a splash of whiskey in their babies' bottles.  We shudder at the ignorance of these parents.  And yet, many parents are doing something very similar every day!

Sugar May Make Your Child Unhappy in the Long Term

There is a common pattern with mood-altering drugs.  In the short term, they cause pleasure or happiness.  But the sudden, unnatural surge of neurochemicals causes the brain to react by lessening the ability for those neurochemicals to affect the brain.  In some cases, neurons die from overstimulation (excitotoxic death).  In others, receptors change their sensitivity to the neurochemical (downregulate or upregulate).

What this means is that if your child eats desserts (or takes drugs) she may be less able to feel pleasure or joy with everyday experiences.

So you are trading that one moment when you see your child in bliss for a much longer time when she doesn't enjoy herself -- when play seems boring, regular food seems tasteless, and your hugs don't feel cuddly.

Can I NEVER Give My Child Sweets?

It's not realistic, in today's culture, to never give your child sweets.  Restricting sweets completely may even make your child want them more.

But don't give sweets to your child on a regular basis.  It's probably easiest if you let your child eat the occasional cookie at Grandma's house, or free sample of cake at the supermarket, but avoid sweets at your home.  That way your child won't be thinking about sweets when she's at home.

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

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Carbonated, Sweetened Soda Linked to Violence

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

A recent study found a link between the amount of soda that teenagers drink and how violent these teenagers were.

Teenagers who drank soda almost every day were more likely to carry a weapon and to have been violent towards family or peers.

In studies like these, there is always a question of what caused what.  Does drinking soda cause teenagers to be more violent?  Or do violent teenagers drink more soda?  Or is there some other factor that is causing both soda drinking and violence, perhaps neglectful parenting?

Some possible explanations are:
  • Parents who are less responsible will buy their children soda and will be more likely to have violent children
  • Depressed teenagers will try to self-medicate with caffeine and sugar.  Sugar causes a temporary lift in mood (although in the long term it may cause mood problems).
  • Teenagers who don't care about consequences will eat foods that are unhealthy and will use violence.
The list could go on and on.


One Possible Reason for These Results is that Sugar May Cause Violence

Scientists wait for all the studies to come in before coming to conclusions.

Parents shouldn't wait!!

The excessively sweet food that we eat today has a strong effect on brain neurochemicals.  It is possible that soda may, due to its sugar and/or caffeine content, make children more violent.

There are Many Reasons Not to Buy Your Child Soda

Soda pop drinks are a completely empty source of calories.  They don't teach children to satisfy their thirst with healthy drinks like water, herb teas, or milk.  Giving your child soda in his formative years may make him a lifelong soda drinker.

What To Do

It's easy to stop your child from drinking soda.  Simply don't buy it at the supermarket.  Your child may complain for a while, but his thirst will lead him to healthier drinks.  Eventually he will forget about the taste of soda.  If you or your spouse drink soft drinks, now is a perfect time for you to kick the habit as well.

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

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Monday, October 24, 2011

25 Ways to Get Your Child to Eat Vegetables

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

Of all the foods, vegetables are the hardest for most kids to learn to like.  This is not surprising.  Vegetables have qualities that make them hard to learn to like.
  • They're bitter.  Human beings have a natural aversion to bitter tastes because bitterness is an indication of alkaloids, some of which are poisonous.
  • They're low calorie.  Human beings have an instinct to like foods that are high in caloric density.  Our primitive ancestors had to guard against starvation.
This does not mean that your child cannot learn to like vegetables!  It only means that your child has to learn to like vegetables.  It doesn't happen automatically.

These tips will help you to teach your child to overcome his natural aversion to vegetables and learn to love them!

Tips for Babies (and Fetuses!)

Eat vegetables in the last third of your pregnancy.  During the last trimester, your fetus is getting a head start on learning the foods that it will be eating for the rest of its life.  Researchers have found that if pregnant women eat carrots, when their babies are starting solid food, they already like the taste of carrots because they learned it in the womb. Eat the kind of food that you want your child to be eating for the rest of its life.

Avoid sweets in the last third of your pregnancy.  Babies who are exposed to sweet tastes in pregnancy may have more of a sweet tooth later on.  Kids who like and expect foods to taste excessively sweet won't like the subtle sweetness of carrots or cauliflower.

Breastfeed your baby, and eat vegetables during this time.  The food you eat flavors your breast milk.  Nature is teaching your baby the taste of the foods of his future.  Eat a wide variety of vegetables during this time.

If you feed your baby formula, use protein hydrosylate formula.  Protein hydrosylate formulas have the milk proteins broken down by enzymes.  This creates a bitter taste.  Babies who drink this formula are more accepting of vegetables later on because they have learned to like bitter tastes.

Feed your newborn baby tiny tastes of vegetables.  You can give your newborn baby TINY tastes of vegetables, even before he eats solid food.  You can do this by adding a teaspoon or two of vegetable cooking water or vegetable juice to his milk or formula.  Remember, you don't want to add enough to dilute his milk or to add calories.  You are just adding a smidgen of flavor.

Start solid foods early.  Start feeding your baby solid foods at 4 months.  There is no advantage to waiting.  Doctors used to recommend waiting because they thought that early feeding would cause allergies.  Now some researchers are finding that waiting actually encourages allergies.

Give vegetables as an early solid food.  Early foods may have a special influence on your child's later eating habits.  There is no reason to start with bland-tasting cereals like rice or wheat.  They aren't teaching your baby anything about tastes.  Start with vegetables, and work your way quickly to strong, bitter-tasting vegetables like spinach or broccoli.

Feed your baby a new vegetable twice a week for 6 weeks.  It can take time for your baby to learn to like a vegetable.  Give your baby a new vegetable twice a week for 6 weeks.  If he still doesn't like it, wait 3 or 4 months and try again.

Be patient and positive.  Healthy foods like vegetables can take weeks to learn to like.  Junk food takes no time at all.  Even as your baby spits out the spoonful of cauliflower, he is learning to like it.

Tips for Young Kids

Stop the junk food, especially sweets.  Human beings have an instinct to eat high calorie food if it is available.  Our primitive ancestors had to gorge on the high calorie food that they found.  If they filled up on vegetables, they wouldn't have the stomach space available for the high calorie food.  Eating junk food makes vegetables taste bad.

Serve vegetables for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The more taste lessons your child gets, the faster he will learn to like vegetables.  Feed him vegetables at least three times a day, preferably more.

Feed your child a new vegetable twice a week for 6 weeks. It takes children of all ages up to 12 tries to learn to like a new healthy food.  Wait for a few days between servings.

At the beginning, add fat or a tiny amount of healthy sweetener to the vegetable.  Children have a natural liking for sweet and fatty tastes.  You can add butter, sauces, or fruit juices to help your child like the vegetable.

Find good recipes.  Plain vegetables aren't usually very tasty.  Scout around the internet for highly rated recipes.

Serve a vegetable to your child when he's hungry.  Hunger makes everything taste good!  Start dinner each night with a vegetable appetizer.

Eat the vegetable yourself.  Children, like most mammals, look to their parents to learn what is edible and tasty.  Eat the same vegetable yourself, and comment on how good it is.

Play with your food.  Make the vegetable friendlier by playing games with it.  You can cut vegetables into fun shapes, or put pieces together into an animal shape.  If your child has a stuffed rabbit, you can have him feed vegetables to the rabbit.  He may absentmindedly eat them after he's done playing.

Talk about vegetables.  Name each new vegetable, and comment on what it looks like and tastes like.  New foods are scary to kids, and any information is reassuring.  Skip the nutrition lessons, though.  They make it seem like your child should be eating the vegetable because it is nutritious, and not because it's tasty.  Although this may be true, your child will rebel if he knows this.

Keep a veggie and dip tray on the counter.  In general, don't let your child forage in the kitchen.  You should decide what he should eat.  However, a tray of vegetables lets him satisfy his hunger and gain some independence.  

Have all-vegetable meals.  Once or twice a week you can have vegetable dinners.  Give your child two or three dishes that have vegetables in them.  They can have other ingredients too, but make sure the vegetable is one of the main ingredients. 

Grow vegetables. Your child will be more likely to eat vegetables if he helped grow them himself.  If you don't have room for a garden, you can grow some herbs or a tomato plant indoors.

Use fresh vegetables.  Vegetables take a week or more to get to the supermarket.  Fresh vegetables from a farmer's market or community supported agriculture taste much better.

Tips for Older Kids and Teenagers (You can use the tips in the previous section too.)

Help them ignore peer pressure.  Kids brag about eating junk food.  Your child may feel left out if other kids get chips and candy for lunch and he doesn't.  Try to find genuinely healthy food that looks appealing.  Try to elicit the support of other parents in providing healthy meals for all kids.  

Teach them about nutrition.  Don't preach, but do teach your children that some foods have extremely bad consequences.  Diet is the #1 cause of death in modern cultures.  You want to reassure your child that you love him and you want the best for him.  

Teach them about the immediate consequences of healthy food.  Most children have noticed that eating too much candy or chips makes them feel sick.  Gently call attention to this. 

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

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

How to Get Your Child to Love a Brand New Food

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

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you knew a way to get your child to like any food you wanted?

Imagine walking down the produce aisle of the supermarket and picking up asparagus, kale, or turnips, and knowing that in 6 weeks your child would be eating it enthusiastically.

Researchers have studied the processes by which children come to like new foods.  If you randomly feed your child different foods, you probably won't hit on the correct formula.  But by following these steps, you can systematically teach your child to like any food.

Lesson 1: Introducing a New Food for the First Time

Wait until your child is hungry.  Hunger makes anything taste good!  Give your child the new food before his meal, as an appetizer.

Make it taste good.  If you're trying to get your child to be an asparagus fan, don't just boil the asparagus and plop it down in front of him.  Find a 5 star recipe on the internet and make a delicious asparagus dish.

Make it taste familiar.  If asparagus is covered with your child's favorite cheese sauce, it won't seem so scary.  Use ingredients that your child loves in your asparagus dish.

Use fat.  Most mammals, including humans, have an instinct to eat high fat foods.  Covering the asparagus with cream sauce or sprinkling it with parmesan cheese will make it taste better.  Don't worry about the fat being unhealthy.  Children need more fat than adults, and you can gradually reduce the amount of fat as your child learns to like the asparagus.

Don't force him to eat it.  It doesn't matter whether he ignores it, eats a bite, or gobbles up the whole thing.  He's still learning to like it.  Any exposure to a food will make it seem more familiar, and therefore less scary. 

Lesson 2: The Next 6 Weeks

Don't feed your child junk food during this 6 weeks.  Junk food, especially sweets, will make healthy food like vegetables not taste as good.  A few days without junk food will cleanse your child's palate and make him more open to the tastes of real food.

Give the food to your child twice a week.  Wait a few days before you give your child the asparagus again.  Mammals have an instinct to wait a few days after eating a new food to make sure it isn't poisonous.  During this time, the food isn't as appealing.  

Give it to your child at least 15 times.  Scientists have found that it can take up to 15 times for a child to learn to like a food.

Eat the same food yourself.  Your child should see you eating the same food as he eats.  This reassures his unconscious mind that the food is tasty and safe.  Baby mammals have an instinct eat the same foods as their parents because food that their parents eat are not poisonous.

By this time, your child will probably be a confirmed asparagus-lover!  If not, wait for a few months and repeat the process.  Your child's tastes can change radically over time.  What he doesn't like now, he may love a few months later.

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

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Junk Food Diet May Cause Autism Through Insulin Resistance

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

Michael Stern, a Rice University biochemist has theorized that the same junk food diet that causes diabetes may also cause autism.

Dr. Stern found that genes that cause autism impact insulin signaling.  When they eat a poor diet, children with these genes may develop autism.

What to Feed Your Autistic Child

Stern suggests that a simple research study could verify his theory.  If autistic children are given a low carb diet, and their symptoms subside, then there would be evidence for his theory.

There is no need to wait for the published study.  A low carb diet is generally a healthy one, as long as it doesn't contain excessive amounts of meat.

Here are some steps to a healthy low carb and low glycemic index diet:

  • Eliminate all the sugar and other sweeteners from your child's diet.
  • Eliminate all refined flour from your child's diet.  Only feed her whole grains, especially whole grains that haven't been ground up (like sprouted wheat breads).
  • Step up the number of vegetables she eats.  Try to aim for 9 per day.
  • Give her lots of protein, but avoid too much meat, especially fried or grilled meats.
  • Give her at least one, and preferably two, servings of beans per day.  Buy a few bean cookbooks.

Insulin sensitivity can also be improved by these diet changes:

  • Eliminate most sources of saturated fat.  Milk is ok, but make it lowfat if your child is two years old or older.
  • Avoid fried foods.
  • If your child is overweight, help her lose weight by giving her real, whole foods.

Eat a Healthy Diet During Pregnancy

Eating a junk food diet during pregnancy may also increase the chances of having an autistic child, possibly through the same mechanism.  Big swings in blood sugar may affect the fetus if it has autism genes.

Avoid sweets, refined flour, and fatty foods during pregnancy.  Eat lots of vegetables, beans, and whole grains.  Feel free to eat fruit, but eat it with meals.

Ignore friends and relatives who encourage you to eat junk food because you're "eating for two."  These nine months are the most important months in your whole life to eat healthfully. 

More Information

For more information on the study, see this news release.

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

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The One Bite Suggestion - Help for Picky Eaters

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

You've probably heard of the One-Bite Rule.  Maybe your mom followed it.  "Eat just one bite!" she may have said as she handed you a plate of strange green glop.

The One-Bite Rule says that a kid should eat just one bite of a new food.

This rule has a lot of merit.  If a child tastes a new food about a dozen times, he will probably like it.  The One-Bite Rule may encourage a fussy eater to take that first step.

Downfalls of the One-Bite Rule

There are a few problems with the One-Bite Rule.
  • Your child may feel like he is being forced to eat a food that is repulsive to him.  Being forced to eat a food makes a child less likely to eat it, not more likely.
  • You may get angry with your child if he doesn't follow the One-Bite Rule. Your child will then associate the food (and eating in general) with stress.  This will make him like the food less, and possibly become more of a picky eater in general.

Your Child Learns to Like a Food Just By Looking at It

It may seem strange, but your child is learning to like a food just by having it sit on his plate.  How is this possible?
  • Eating is more than just taste.  Children may not like the smell or look of a new food.  As the pile of green goop sits there, it becomes more familiar to your child, and therefore less scary.
  • Your child is watching you eat the food.  The primitive parts of his brain are taking note of the fact that you don't seem to be falling down dead.  Baby mammals are programmed to eat the same foods as their parents.  Your child is learning to like the food just by watching you eat it.

The One-Bite Suggestion

The One-Bite Rule has its merits.  But it should be delivered with a gentle hand.  I call it the One-Bite Suggestion.

When you give your fussy eater a new food, suggest that he try a forkful.  If he refuses, let it be.  You want the control to be on your child's side, not yours.

You might want to casually explain to him that most people don't like a food the first time they try it.  With repetition, it tastes better.

The One-Bite Suggestion will help your child become less of a picky eater and make mealtime a happier time.

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

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Family Meals Help Children Like Healthy Foods: Part 2

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

Last week I posted an article talking about how family meals reassure children that their food is safe, because children see their parents and siblings eating the same food.  Baby animals, including humans, have the instinct to eat the same food that their parents are eating.

This week I will talk about another way that family meals help children learn to love healthy food.

Food Can Be Scary

It's hard for an adult to imagine, but food can be frightening to children, especially children who are picky eaters.  They don't have the experience that we adults have in knowing the various textures and tastes of food.  It can be scary to bite into a forkful of food, especially a new food, and not know whether it will be repulsive or not.  Children have much a much more acute sense of taste than adults.  What might be mildly unpleasant to an adult may be overwhelmingly repulsive to a child.

Food is Love and Love is Food

Children are reassured by the presence of their family around them.  Your child will be more likely to do scary things, like playing with new children, riding a bike for the first time, or going on a ferris wheel ride, if encouraging, happy parents are around.

Eating dinner with friendly family members makes children braver.  The food doesn't seem as threatening if parents are joking and laughing.

Happiness makes food taste better.

Dinner is a Happy Time

Meals should be a time of happiness and fun.  Save the lectures, lessons, and scolding for another time.  Let the happiness of the meal encourage your child to like his healthy food.

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

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Getting Your Kids to Like Whole Grains is Easier Than You Think

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

What if I were to tell you that there was a simple change you could make to your child's eating habits that:

The Whole Grain Switch: Your Child Won't Even Notice!

One of the easiest switches you can make is to serve whole grains instead of refined flours.  Amazingly, researchers have found that children often don't even notice when whole grains are served instead of refined grains!  And they often rate the whole grain products as just as tasty as the refined grain products!

Whole Grains are Easy

Vegetables may be hard to peel and cut.  Home-cooked meals may take time.  But it takes no more time or effort to use whole grains than it does to use refined grains.

Grabbing a package of 100% whole wheat bread is just as easy.

Selecting a bag of whole wheat flour is just as easy.

Buying the pizza with the whole wheat crust is just as easy.

How To Tell If a Food is Whole Grain

Manufacturers will try to trick you.  They know that many shoppers will buy food that looks healthy, and won't check the ingredients.

Beware of these manufacturer scams:
  • Using the word "wheat".  Real whole wheat products will say "100% Whole Wheat".  Even Twinkies are made with "wheat"!!
  • Using phrases like "made with whole wheat" when the first ingredient is refined white flour.  Always look at ingredients!  The first ingredient should be "whole wheat" and there should be no mention of "enriched flour" or "wheat flour" on the ingredient list.
  • Making the packaging look healthy by using brown or green colors, pictures of trees or wheat plants, or other healthy imagery.
The ingredient list cannot lie.  Always make sure that "whole wheat" is the first and only wheat ingredient.

What Foods Have Whole Grains?

Your child will enjoy:
  • Bread and rolls -- Almost all supermarkets have 100% whole wheat breads and rolls.  Some are delightfully light (which appeals to kids who are used to white flour).  Some are wonderfully chewy, with whole kernels of wheat (which appeals to kids who are used to whole grains).
  • Pancakes -- Homemade pancakes are just as easy to make as packaged pancakes.  Pancake mixes simply combine flour with baking powder and a few flavors. Use this recipe (but use all whole wheat flour) to make pancake mix that will last for months.
  • Tortillas -- Most supermarkets sell 100% whole wheat tortillas.  Burritos will have much more flavor if you use these tortillas.
  • Pasta -- Spaghetti, tortellini, linguini, lasagne -- whole wheat noodles come in all  shapes and sizes.
  • Baking -- Most recipes will be virtually indistinguishable if you use whole wheat flour.  Experiment to see which ones work the best.
  • Oatmeal -- All oatmeal is whole grain, even instant.
  • Popcorn -- Yes, popcorn is a whole grain! 

Start Today!

This simple change takes no time and effort and can reap huge health benefits.  Throw out your white bread and resolve to only eat whole wheat bread from now on.

For a great resource, check out the Whole Grains Council.  They have a huge number of articles, tips, and recipes.

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

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