When Nutrition Guidelines Backfire

Dear Mr. Dad. A few weeks ago you wrote that parents shouldn’t try to force kids to eat their vegetables because it could backfire. I see the logic in having only healthy foods around the house and letting the kids decide how much they want to eat. But what are we supposed to do when they’re at school? Is there some way to get cafeterias and snack bars to serve only healthy foods?

A: Great—and very tough—question. Yes, it’s possible to get schools to serve healthy foods. This past summer, I read a great article about lunches at one school in France, where all the food is locally sourced and prepared (including freshly baked bread every day), the menus are reviewed by a certified dietician, and the only beverage is water. Unfortunately, attempts to nudge American schools in that direction have been both heavy-handed and unsuccessful.
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Nuts about Nuts–Well, Pistachios, Anyway

Seems like news about a new superfood comes out once a week. Broccoli, oats, spinach, tomatoes, blueberries, pomegranate juice, blackberries, garlic, almonds, and fish oil, just to name a few, have all had their 15 minutes of food fame.

The health benefits of all of the above have been pretty well documented, which was why hearing that pistachios were the latest nutritional miracle didn’t come as much of a surprise. [Read more...]

Picky Eaters

My wife and I love to cook, and we go out of our way to make meals we think our kids will like – or at least eat! But time after time we find ourselves dumping untouched food into leftover containers, or worse, into the trash. Our children seem to eat nothing but macaroni and cheese, and we’re worried that they’re not getting what they need in their diets. What can we do?

This may not make you feel any better, but I’m betting that every parent reading this column is nodding his or her head in agreement. Apparently all our children got the same memo.

Your job as a parent is to encourage healthy eating habits and to provide a good variety of healthy foods. Of course, as you know, providing it and getting the kids to actually eat it seem mutually exclusive. Not to worry. Research consistently shows that despite the frustrating appearance of the almost-untouched after-dinner plate, even the pickiest kids generally meet or exceed their recommended energy and dietary requirements. (After all, you don’t see too many kids keeling over from scurvy on the school playground, right?) The body automatically seeks out the nutrients it needs.
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