Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pizza Night! Treats! Balance!

By: Holly L. Goroff MS, RD, CDN

Part of teaching and living in balance is replacing the terms ‘good’ and ‘bad’ with ‘anytime’ and ‘sometimes’. The objective is to stop polarizing foods and show how to enjoy the less nutritious but tasty foods like pizza and mac and cheese without feeling like you were ‘bad’ or ‘cheating’. Polarizing food can cause a ‘binge-purge’ effect. For example, if someone says cookies are bad and never has them in the house, then one day, buys a box and finishes the whole thing in one sitting - they binged. Why? Because this was - in effect- their chance!  Go big or go home! Right? No! Instead, it’s important for this person to prove to themselves that they can have one or two cookies and put the rest away.   It’s easy with the right perspective.  Harder when you’re relying on willpower - we can talk about that in another blog.
It’s also important to intentionally show a family how to balance the nutritional and social elements of meals. For example if you never, or even almost never, allow your child to have ‘junk’ food or treat foods, when they go to their friends birthday party, you can bet they are going to over indulge in the pizza and treats because it’s their only chance! You can help prevent that reflex by not making it the ‘forbidden…food’.

This can be done by scheduling a ‘treat food night’ and letting the children have a say in the treat food. Add a healthy side to show that even for treat foods, a healthy element should be added for a more fulfilled feeling and health benefits. A good example for families is when you have a pizza night, add a salad. Or when you have burgers, swap out French fries for corn on the cob or a baked potato.


Here are a few tips to help children embrace healthier meal options:


  1. Get creative for both you and your children with healthy meals: No need to have grilled chicken salad every night. Learn how to make easy, healthier versions of your favorite meals by using healthy fats to increase fullness and practice portion control.
  2. Try different preparations: Instead of steaming, try roasting or sautéing vegetables with garlic and olive  oil. Flavors change palatability. 
  3. Involve children in choosing or preparing the meal: Let them look at the cookbook with you and make a list of what you will need to purchase at the store. Have them help you find those items when shopping and teach them little facts about each product.
  4. Make a balanced meal: Include a protein, carbohydrate, healthy fat and a vegetable or two.  That way if they legitimately don’t like something they have other options. 
  5. Involve them in planning the treats: See what treats they pick out. This can be both educational and eye opening for parents as you’d be surprised what children consider a treat.
  6. Make the plate look fun: Use a variety of bright and colorful produce since colors appeal to children. You can also cut their meals into fun shapes and make faces with the food. My friend once made a ravioli dish look like a spider web using strips of peppers! How cool is that!?
  7. The “Polite Bite”: I can’t take credit for this one, but again I learned this from a seasoned mom. The rule is that everything made requires at least a bite (or at least taste). The child is free to not like it and will not be forced to eat it, but they are required to taste it to be polite and will be reminded that this IS dinner.  
What are your suggestions for involving children in eating healthy meals? Do you have rules like the “polite bite”?

About the Author: Holly is an experienced dietitian in both clinical and community nutrition. She is currently serving as the Clinical Nutrition Manager at now guest blogger for Choosy Kids!

She received her Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Studies from the Steinhardt School at New York University. She is published through her research and contributing work at Burke Rehabilitation Center investigating nutritional factors impacting neurological rehabilitation in stroke patients.

In addition to managing her staff of clinical nutritionists, she has a passion for serving at-need and underserved communities. She teaches outreach programs focused on mindful eating and strategies to make healthier lifestyle choices to at-risk community populations. She has recently been made lead in her hospital for teaching and managing the outreach classes to reduce childhood obesity.

She has expertise in: weight loss and management, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dealing with polypharmacy and achieving nutrition goals, achieving wellness goals in a creative and resourceful manner and motivating change.

55 comments :

  1. I always do the polite bite with my kids.. but I never called it that! I will from now on though!

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    1. Isn't it a good title? We don't like EVERYTHING that we eat so it is a great way to get kids to try whatever is in front of them and for them to truly TASTE everything that is served.

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  2. Great tips. I don't have picky eaters and I have always just treated food like food. I don't say, "you might not like this."

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    1. Prefacing with "you might not like this" would probably lead to a child NOT even wanting to try it for fear of not liking it. If you think about it, children will eat what others around them are eating. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. You don't call it a polite bite. Honestly I expect my child to eat whatever I put in front of them, but I don't have unreasonable expectations I do know what he really does not like. He actually eats pretty healthy on his own accord which I love.

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    1. I think all parents expect their children to eat what is put in front of them but there are just times when kids won't eat and it can be really frustrating. The polite bite might help encourage them to take a bite so that they realize it is good food and that they are actually hungry. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. The thing is to keep tryingdifferent tips.

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    1. Exactly! Not everything is going to work for every person so it is important to keep trying new things.

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  5. I like the polite bite idea for picky eater although not sure if it will work for some children.

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    1. I'm also not sure it will work for some children. Everyone is different but this is just one way to encourage children to give food a try.

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  6. I wholeheartedly agree.
    I don't look at foods as bad or good, I use the terms useful or not useful. Balance is key.

    I love the idea of the "polite bite". If kids aren't forced to eat something they don't like, they may keep an open mind all on their own.

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    1. Keeping an open mind on food is key. There are so many yummy things out there!

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  7. We have always used the polite bite (though I had no idea it had a name). Funny enough, my husband did the same to me when we met and I gained a whole new love for food.

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    1. That is a great story! I know a couple that is like you and your husband. The husband loves food but the wife strays away from anything but chicken. He encourages her to try a bite from his plate every meal when they dine out so she can at least taste something new.

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  8. If the rest of the family eats healthy as well, that's really going to help. These are awesome tips, they're effective.

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  9. Hey Holy, as I was reading the first paragraph, I was sure you knew my bad relationship with cookies. I can't be trusted with them. A pack and I will get through them. I loved the idea of, if it was made then you at least have to have one bite. Great idea and not too confronting. Involving kids in meals I think is one of the best things you can do. This sets them up right throughout their life. Informative post. Really enjoyed it.

    Rachel.

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    1. Haha...and Girl Scout cookies are on their way! They are so good and it is hard to just eat one and walk away but if you try to build up your willpower, you will be able to do it!

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  10. These is very helpful. It is so important to teach kids healthy habits early on so they can continue them into adulthood.

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  11. I used to let each kid plan the entire meal one night a week. They made the shopping list and helped prepare it. They are much better when they had a vested interest in the meal.

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    1. A lot of kids like to do this. Christine, our own Choosy Mommy, has a 3 year old daughter and she has told me that even when her daughter helps with planning and preparing, there are still times she won't eat that meal. Kids can be tough!

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  12. so many good tips here! My daughter used to be a great eater but she's now SUPER picky. She basically survives on hot dogs, chicken fingers, and plain pasta. it's really sad!!! definitely need to implement some of these changes soon...!

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    1. Sounds like a typical kid...try offering other items WITH those staples so that she can start to branch out. Maybe a fruit or veggie!

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  13. This is a great tips. Its important to teach our kids to eat a healthy food and all the family member as well.

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  14. Here in my house, it's like eat what is on the table.. if you don't like go and find a place with the food that you want :) It always works.

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    1. That is a good plan! Thanks for stopping by!

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  15. Feeding time is always a challenge for me and my bub. Thanks for this great tips!

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    1. I'm sorry! I hope these tips can help you out! Good luck!

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  16. We try our best to get our little ones to eat the right things. We believe as long as she tries new things and eats a balanced meal she's okay!

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    1. Exactly! Kids won't starve themselves!

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  17. These are wonderful ideas. When the girls help me in the kitchen, they love to eat what we have prepared. I wish we could always do this.

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    1. That is awesome! Keep up the good work!

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  18. Eating a balanced meal is so important for all of us. These are helpful tips.

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  19. Maybe I have been blessed and I have,But my children eat whats placed before them with enthusiasm. Period. Glad you are geting yours to eat creatively!

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    1. Yes, I think you have been blessed :) Although I do know some boys that eat anything and everything put in front of them. Do you have boys?

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  20. We have a very picky eater, very picky. The only way I have found to have her try more is to help me pick it out. If she picks it out at the store she is anxious to try it. If she doesn't like it then we move on but she always tries it! We also have the polite bite.

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    1. At least you have found a way to get her interested in what she is eating! Keep up the good work!

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  21. I love this!!! The WHOLE idea is awesome, and I really think it is something we fail to talk about sometimes. Everything in moderation is a GREAT idea :)

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  22. We do the polite bite here too. It gets them to at least try it.

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  23. I love that you call it the polite bite! We use that too. They have to at least try it. I love all your ideas for creating balance in meals too.

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  24. I don't have kids but I do have a Cheating day on every weekend where I eat everything whatever I like and rest of the week, I try to eat only healthy stuff.

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  25. Omigosh! I love the distinction between anytime and sometimes food in contrast with good and bad food! I think that's such a smart way to look at food. I don't have tiny humans, but I will absolutely be putting this into my vocabulary. Love it!

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  26. Omigosh! I love the distinction between anytime and sometimes food in contrast with good and bad food! I think that's such a smart way to look at food. I don't have tiny humans, but I will absolutely be putting this into my vocabulary. Love it!

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  27. Great tips! Every parent must read this. Will share this.

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  28. These are great tips. Anytime and sometimes is a great idea. I can see putting that into practice.

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  29. These are great tips. My major tip would be to start earlier with healthy food. Once they are familiar with it, it's less of a struggle.

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  30. I love the idea of the Polite Bite! I am going to make that a rule in my home starting tonight!

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  31. I just love all your tips. I am so much caring when it comes to giving healthy foods to my kids, but they have picky eating habits, which makes it a bit harder to manage. I really like the polite bite idea to keep going.

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  32. These are all practical tips. I love Polite Bite, I'm thinking of doing that in my home.

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