I get a lot of feedback about the difficulties of getting a toddler to try new foods. One big one is regarding food waste. Parents don't want to buy a whole head of cauliflower if they're not sure their toddler will eat it. Not sure if it's cool to break that head of cauliflower in half? No worries, we've got this.
This morning, I interviewed Dylan who is an Assistant Produce Manager at my local grocery store. He gave me the lay of the land regarding grocery store etiquette.
Here's what you should know:
Oftentimes we tend to simplify the meaning of "being healthy" by focusing on singular measures such as weight. Health is really defined in terms of one's overall condition, which includes factors such as dental hygiene.
Developing good oral hygiene habits early in childhood is critical to longterm health. While I spend a significant amount of my time working with mothers and children, I also have experience working with older patients. One question I always have to ask these patients is, "How are your teeth?" I even follow up by asking them to actually show me their teeth. Why? I need to know that they can eat!
To pave the way for long term oral health, keep in mind that food choices over time can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Overall, foods and beverages that are high in sugar or are acid can be particularly harmful as they erode enamel and decay teeth.
Some basic rules of thumb:
My toddler had one juice box and never looked back. I bet this is the case for most of your kiddos. It's almost as if sugary drinks tattoo the tongue, leaving a permanent impression. In some respects, it makes sense. Our bodies get energy from sugar, which means we need it and ultimately might crave it.
However, certain sugars are better than others. For instance, fruits are healthier than candy because they provide fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Alternatively, things like sugary drinks (e.g., many juices and sodas) are usually comprised of "empty calories" - meaning they provide calories, but little nutritional value.
One of the less obvious downfalls of sweetened beverage consumption is that those who drink them do not feel as full as if they had eaten the same calories from solid food. In the end, this results in more calories consumed and increases obesity risks. One study indicates that for every sugary beverage consumed by a child, their risk of obesity increases 60%. Similarly, sugary beverage consumption increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Overall, we have learned that people who consume sugary drinks are inclined to have relatively lower quality diets.
Besides the negatives of sugary drinks, there are many positives to drinking water; they include:
One last thing...if you believe your child is dehydrated or ill (e.g., he or she has signs or symptoms of sickness such as diarrhea) consult your physician before re-hydrating with anything other than water. Products such as kool-aid, boxed juice and broths may have the wrong make up of sugar and/or salts that could ultimately make your child sicker.
Meatless Monday is a global campaign with the goal of reducing meat consumption by 15% to decrease stress on our bodies and the planet.
I like Meatless Mondays for a variety of reasons. For one, I am reminded to include beans and other legumes into my weekly menu. I especially like leveraging organic canned beans on Mondays because it's a stress-free way of easing back into the work week. If you are not regularly including legumes in your meal planning, you are missing out!
Plant-based sources of protein, like beans, have my family eating more fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium. In addition, when we're consuming plant-based sources of protein we are NOT consuming proteins high in trans and/or saturated fats (e.g., steaks).
One other huge benefit of Meatless Monday is that my family learns to "deal" with not having their favorite meals every night. We all try new things together. This doesn't mean that we all like the new things we try. In fact, my husband is on the same learning trajectory as my toddler in terms of green vegetables. They are learning to broaden their tastes together...how sweet.
Here are a few of my favorite Meatless Monday recipes:
1. Meatless Monday. "Why Meatless?" Retrieved from http://www.meatlessmonday.com/about-us/why-meatless
2. Meatless Monday. "About Us". Retrievefd from http://www.meatlessmonday.com/about-us/
I recently ran across a genius tip sheet about how verbiage can really affect (both positively and negatively) children's eating behaviors. What and how you communicate about food can make all the difference in achieving healthy eating goals you have set for your family.
Some must do things include:
Adapted from “What You Say Really Matters?” in Feeding Young Children in Group Settings, Dr. Janice Fletcher and Dr. Laurel Branen, University of Idaho. Retrieved from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/sites/default/files/audiences/PhrasesThatHelpAndHinder.pdf.
My toddler didn't exactly ask me like this...it was more like, "Mom, I eat this?" So long as the rind is not man made, then it's usually edible. Simply put, you don't want to eat rinds that are made of wax, plastic, paper or cloth. These materials are actually used in replace of a true rind.
Also, if you find that a natural rind is particularly hard you might use it to flavor your dishes rather than eat it as a stand alone item. One example here is using parmesan rinds to flavor soups.
Yoav Perry, an artisan cheesemaker and blogger, provides somewhat of a list of cheese rinds to either avoid or eat.
Overly-tough, dry and hard rinds include:
Let's be real...feeding toddlers can be frustrating. Beyond this, ensuring our kids get nourishing food can be down right mind-boggling. If you're to the point where you're starting to pull out your hair, here are a few simple, yet helpful tips you can implement now.
He also might go a step further and say "I want snack from there" as he points to the pantry where those pesky little gold fish live. I tell him that it is lunch time and that the plate in front of him is his lunch. I make myself clear.
And then I wait...most often it takes about ten full minutes for him to try the plate. The behavior within that ten minute period can be fairly easy to handle or downright exhausting. I just vocalize what's happening and then sometimes do the dishes to let him know that he'll need to sort through the dilemma in front of him alone for a few minutes.
No lie...he always eats the plate I make.
1. Van Kleef E, Van Trijp JCM, Van Den Borne JJGC, Zondervan C. Successful Development of Satiety Enhancing Food Products: Towards a Multidisciplinary Agenda of Research Challenges. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2012;52(7):611-628. doi:10.1080/10408398.2010.504901.
2. Harris G. Positive mealtimes with toddlers - responsive feeding and distraction. University of Birmingham.
Registered Dietitian, Austinite, Mom with a 2-yr old, Dog lover