Take this dessert favorite and give it a
healthy spin to start your kiddo's day.
Between the Internet and misinformed friends and
day care providers (maybe even Grandma!), there's plenty of
nonsense floating around about feeding children. Let's explore some
of the biggest ones.
Myth: Children need special kid-friendly
Reality check: Kids can learn to eat
almost everything mom and dad do.
Some experts blame the food industry for its brilliant
marketing convincing us that little ones will only eat kiddie
foods-highly processed, sugary, salty or so-called fast
It's also a myth that they prefer bland food. Children
brought up in Mexico or India eat spicy food starting when they are
Allow your little one to experiment with food. You may
think of this as "wasting" it or bad manners, but playing with, and
even spitting out, food is part of the overall sensory experience.
Remember, many of the foods he's tasting are brand new to him. Even
the same food prepared in a different way-such as cooked carrots
versus raw-can be totally foreign to a little one.
Myth: Parents decide how much a child
Reality check: It's the parent's job to provide
healthful food. And it's the child's job to decide how much to eat,
according to renowned feeding specialist, Ellyn Satter
Part of the problem? Many adults don't know what a proper
portion looks like for themselves. So they may need even more help
identifying the right amount for their children.
Myth: Children need constant
Reality check: While some snacking is
beneficial, kids today typically snack all day long. According to a
recent study of 31,000 children age 2 to 18, kids eat an average of
three snacks every day, with desserts and sweetened beverages the
major source of calories.
What should your child's snack be? "Snacks shouldn't be
so-called 'snack foods.' They should be foods you would serve at
any other meal, not a pile of orange fish-shaped crackers and a
sugary juice drink," according to registered dietitian Elizabeth
Ward, a mom of three and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to
Feeding Your Baby and Toddler. She says a quarter of a sandwich and
a half glass of milk or 100 percent orange juice would be a better
Myth: Sugar-sweetened foods cause "hyper"
Reality check: Sugar does not cause
Children who indulge in sugary treats during parties may
appear to get wilder than usual. But there are no scientific
studies to prove sugar equals hyperactivity. In fact, sugars, like
all carbohydrates, actually have a slight calming effect. It's
actually the holiday, birthday party or special activity that tends
to get kids overly excited.
Myth: Veggie haters have nutrient
Reality check: "Veggies are not the end
all, be all," says Jill Castle, a registered dietician and child
nutrition expert who blogs at Just The Right Byte, and who's also a
mother herself. Many fruits supply the vitamins, minerals and
phytonutrients kids need to grow well.
"While we want all kids to eat a variety of both fruits
and vegetables, this is a work in progress. In the meantime, make
sure fruit options make an appearance at meals and snacks-you'll
please your child and ease your worries," she says.
Still it doesn't hurt to serve vegetables in a
child-friendly manner. Serve them raw, cut into attractive shapes,
call them fun names and serve alongside a dip.
Christine M. Palumbo, RD, practices nutrition in
Naperville. She invites your questions and column ideas. Contact
her at [email protected]
Christine M. Palumbo, RD, is a nutritionist living in Naperville.
See more of Christine's stories here.
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