April 2016 | Hotlunch.com | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 8, Issue 4]

Sweet or Salty? The Answer May Predict Weight Gain

Lots of kids love sweet foods like cookies, candy, cake and ice cream. And some kids prefer salty snacks, such as chips and pretzels. And, I should think, a lot of kids love both. Is it possible that having a craving for sweets could lead to weight gain? Maybe...

Cookies or chips? Kids' choices may predict weight gain, study finds

This news story describes a study where researchers gave 200 hungry toddlers their choice of snacks such as cookies or potato chips and kept track of what each child ate. Then they found that kids who were more likely to eat sugary treats were also more likely to gain unhealthy weight by the age of three.

I'm not sure why that's the case, and it's not like salty snacks are healthier, but maybe it's worth noticing. If you have little kids that love sweet flavors, steer them toward fresh fruit and berries instead of candy and sweets.

Spice Is Nice, Even for Kids

Sometimes children won't eat healthy foods because they don't like the flavor. Well, probably more often than sometimes...

A lot of adults believe kids will only eat bland foods and don't want to let their children try spicier foods. However, it may be that spicy is the way to go.

Spice can be nice for kids - and improve nutrition

The author of this article at the Huffington Post says that kids would be allowed to try more spices and seasonings such as chili peppers, garlic, and other zingy flavors. He says that seasonings can help adults eat healthier foods too. Great ideas!

What to do at school:

  • In foods classes, spend time on herbs, spices, and other flavorful seasonings.
  • Have kids try bland foods, like cottage cheese, with a variety of seasonings to see what they like.
  • Plant a few herbs in pots and have them in the classrooms so kids can watch them grow and taste them when they're ready to harvest.
Kids Meals Have Fewer Calories

Kids' meals are found on most restaurant menus, including fast food places and sit down restaurants. Even though they're smaller than adult meals, kids' meals still tend to be high in calories, fat and sodium. But, hopefully, that's starting to change.

Restaurants cut calories in kids' meals, study finds

This story from HealthDay talks about a study that examined kids' meals and found 72 percent of fast food meals and 63 percent of sit down meals had fewer than 600 calories.

But, less than one-third of kids' meals met accepted guidelines for fat, saturated fat, and sodium. So, while it's okay to let kids eat these meals now and then, it's important to know just how many calories they're taking in.

What to do at school:

  • Talk about food quality and what makes a healthy meal.
  • Have kids look up the calorie counts and nutrition information for their favorite chain restaurants.
  • Talk about healthier options that kids (and adults) can find on most menus.
Answering Kids' Questions About Nutrition

Kids ask questions about things they don't know or understand. And that includes questions about foods, health, and eating right. Lots of questions. Kids want to know why they need to eat their veggies and why can't they have more cookies or candy.

The easy answer is "I said so" or "they're just good for you." Sometimes those answers may work, but if your kids are inquisitive, it may take a few words about nutrition to help them understand why eating healthy foods is important.

How to answer your child's questions about nutrition

This news story from The Philadelphia Inquirer has some examples of how you can answer kid's questions about healthy foods and why they need to eat right. I think some of these answers are good for adults too.

For example, there's a wonderful description of why everyone needs to eat lots of fruits and veggies. The reasons are to get more fiber and antioxidants, of course, but it's written in a way kids can understand.

Maybe We Shouldn't Reward Kids for Eating Veggies

Dealing with children who don't want to eat healthy foods can be so frustrating. One tactic, that's often successful, is to use a reward for kids when they eat their fruits and veggies. The idea is to build a positive association with eating foods. But, some experts believe motivation to eat right has to come from within.

Rewarding children to eat healthy can be a mistake

This news story Baylor College of Medicine says that rewards aren't necessary and may not work in the long run - once the rewards are removed, kids may go back to avoiding the healthy foods.

What does work? According to these experts, serving a new food over and over again - maybe 20 different times and at some point kids will love to like it.

What to do at school:

  • Talk about why healthy foods are important.
  • Have veggie tasting days and let kids try tiny tastes.
  • Have kids make posters about a veggie they learned to like.
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More About School Lunches, Nutrition and Healthy Kids

School nutrition programs are the first line of defense against diabetes

Nutrition for kids: Guidelines for a healthy diet

Restaurant kids' meals make nutrition strides, but leave room for improvement

At Westford schools, planting the seeds of a healthy diet

Beyond the Classroom: There is no easy fix to improving school lunches

About Shereen Lehman

Shereen Lehman is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master's degree in human nutrition and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website About.com (http://nutrition.about.com), is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies (http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470445394.html) and Clinical Anatomy for Dummies (http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118116437.html). She also teaches Evidence Based Nutrition to nutrition graduate students at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.