Thursday, December 8, 2011

Super-Sizing Healthy Food Makes Kids Eat More of It

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

Children tend to eat more of a food if they see more of it on their plates.  This "super-sizing" has been seen as a bad thing.  Fast food restaurants have been blamed for providing huge portions, which cause people to eat more unhealthy food.

But what if we could turn "super-sizing" on its head?  What if we could help our children eat more of a healthy food by super-sizing it?

A recent study found that serving children double portions of fruits and vegetables made them eat 37% more vegetables and a whopping 70% more fruit!

Give Your Child Super-Sizes of Healthy Foods

If you are serving vegetables, fruit, or other healthy foods for dinner, try giving your child a big, adult-sized portion.  You may be surprised that she focuses on eating this big portion, rather than the other less healthy items on her plate.

This Technique Only Works If Your Child Already Likes the Food

If your child hates spinach, and sees a huge glob of it on her plate, she will not eat more.  If anything, she may be repelled by the large pile that takes up half her plate.

Start by teaching your child to like the food by using these techniques.  Once your child likes the food (or at least thinks it's ok), then give her larger portions of it.

Give Your Child Less of the Main Dish and More Fruits and Vegetables

Another study has found that giving children less of a main dish, like macaroni and cheese, made children eat more of the healthy fruits and vegetables that accompanied it.  Give your child a healthy main dish, but make sure it's a child-sized portion. You don't want your child filling up on the main dish and leaving the extra healthy fruits and vegetables untouched.

Doesn't Serving Big Portions of Fruits and Vegetables Waste Food?

Frugal or environmentally conscious parents might object that giving your child big portions may waste food.  Although your child will eat more of the food if the portions are big, she may also leave more on her plate than she would if she were served a child-sized portion.

You can finish off your child's extra food yourself.  Your child will see you eating it and will be even more convinced that the food is tasty because Dad or Mom is eating it with such enthusiasm. 

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, December 6, 2011

Just Say No to the Kid's Menu

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

It happens every time.  You sit down with your family at a restaurant and the server gives your child a children's menu -- full of games, puzzles, and...yes...junk food!

As unhealthy as many restaurants are, the least healthy food is reserved for the children.  Hamburgers, fries, hot dogs, soda, and loads of sweets.  Our growing children, who need a greater percentage of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to thrive, are served a lower concentration of these valuable chemicals than we, the parents, are!

Food on Children's Menus is High in Fat

The food on children's menus averages almost 50% fat.  Ironically, fast food children's menus have a slightly lower percentage of fat than sit down restaurants.  But both are loaded with fat.

Some fats are fine, and even healthy for children.  Olive oil, nuts, and seeds are healthy fats.  The fat in children's menus, however, comes mostly from saturated fats (meats, butterfat) or oil from deep frying (which can cause cancer by producing dangerous acrylamides and other oxidation products).

Food on Children's Menus is Repetitive

No matter how exotic and exciting a restaurant is, the children's menu has the same tired set of options.  Hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, and macaroni & cheese.

If you wanted to teach your child her multiplication tables, you wouldn't have her study the "two times" equations after she had already learned them.  If you want to teach your child to like a wide variety of healthy foods, you shouldn't keep teaching her the "hamburger" lesson over and over again.  She isn't learning a thing about the taste of new foods.  And giving your child the same foods over and over again can make her into a picky eater.

Food on Children's Menus is Overly Sweet

Children's menus usually come with soda or dessert.  What calories aren't taken up by fat are taken up by sugar!

Food on Children's Menus Have Very Little Fruits, Vegetables, or Other Healthy Foods

Your child can easily eat half her daily calories in one kid's meal without eating a single fruit, vegetable, or other healthy food.   Restaurant owners know that most children haven't learned to like fruits and vegetables, so they omit them from the kid's menu.

Alternatives to the Children's Menu

1. Tell your child that kid's menus are for babies.  Every child wants to be a big kid.  When the server hands your child a kid's menu, tell her that these menus are for babies and toddlers who haven't learned how to eat grown-up food yet.  She can enjoy the puzzles and the crayons, but can happily choose her food from the adult menu.

2. Split a meal with your child.  If the meals are too big, you and your child can decide on a meal that you both like and then split it.  Ask the server for a plate for your child.

3. Eat family style.  Order a few dishes and then allow everyone to take what they want from the dishes.  Your server can bring plates for all of you. 

4. Take food home.  Let your child order a meal off the grown-up menu, and then take the remainder home.  She can enjoy another serving a few days later, which will help her become even more familiar with the dish.

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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