Food Fights - Getting your Kids to eat healthy foods

The following excerpts are taken from the new edition of Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed With Insight, Humor and a Bottle of Ketchup (American Academy of Pediatrics, March 2012) by Laura A. Jana, MD, FAAP and Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP. For more information about Food Fights, please, the official American Academy of Pediatrics web site for parents.
a juicy update
The answer to whether or not young children should be allowed to
drink juice on a regular basis has been a bit of a sticky one for years.
After all, the fight against childhood obesity has most definitely included
a focus on limiting sugary liquids. And juice—whether it is delivered in
a box or carton, sippy cup or straw—most definitely contains sugar. In
fact, when we set out to write the first edition of Food Fights, the latest
research at the time had us all but convinced that fruit juice was almost
as much to blame for childhood obesity (not to mention tooth decay)
as soda pop. Sugar was sugar, after all, and it was hard to look past
the fact that a 12-ounce serving of 100% grape juice had been shown
to have 11/2 times the calories as grape soda. Additionally, a few small
initial studies suggested a worrisome connection between obesity in
young children and their fruit juice consumption. But unlike soda pop
and its utter lack of redeeming nutritional qualities, 100% fruit juice has since proven itself
significantly more worthy of further nutritional consideration. Several
subsequent large national studies have revealed some interesting findings
about kids, juice, nutrition, and obesity, not the least of which has
been the lack of an association between drinking 100% fruit juice and
an increased likelihood of children being or becoming overweight.
These new findings have led us to reassess our take on juice, and to
reformulate our own juice-related advice for parents accordingly.
A Convenient Juice Box
If and when you plan on incorporating juice into your child’s diet responsibly,we suggest the following approach:
• Make sure it’s pure fruit juice. Fruit drinks that aren’t 100% juice typically
contain added sugars and/or sweeteners that can up both the cavity and
calorie counts.
• Hold off on introducing your child to juice for at least his first year and
refrain from serving it in a bottle.
• Avoid letting your child sip on juice (or any other sugar-containing liquid,
for that matter) for prolonged periods. Whether by bottle, sippy cup, or
cup, bathing one’s teeth in sugary liquids can cause serious tooth decay.
• Consider diluting it with water.
• Encourage your child to eat fresh, whole fruits whenever available.
• Whenever possible, serve juice that contains pulp for added fiber.
• Make sure juice doesn’t entirely drown out your child’s interest in drinking
milk and water.
• Buy only pasteurized products (shelf-stable juices, frozen concentrates,
or specially marked refrigerated juices) to avoid potential diarrhea-causing
• While the American Academy of Pediatrics does suggest 100% fruit juice
as an acceptable part of a healthy diet, be aware that it’s wise to offer it in
age-appropriate moderation (none under 6 months of age and no more
than 4 to 6 ounces a day for older infants and children).
• Keep an eye out for warning signs of excessive juice intake, such as tooth
decay and “toddler’s diarrhea.” Not only do young kids tend to suck on
sugary liquids for prolonged periods when allowed, thus putting their newly
acquired teeth at considerable risk., but kids
between the ages of 2 and 3 tend to have the highest juice consumption—
in some instances enough to cause persistent diarrhea.
Excerpt 2
whining and dining
According to the dictionary, whining is defined as complaining
through the use of a high-pitched or distressed cry. By our definition,
whining is an incredibly annoying yet seemingly unavoidable part
of childhood that at the end of a long day can have the same effect as
fingernails on a chalkboard. As it relates to dining, children are quick
to learn that whining can be an extremely effective way to get what they
want to eat and/or drink everywhere from the crib to the kitchen table
to the grocery store. It’s not hard to see how a child’s persistent whining
about food can cause a parent’s nutritional decision-making abilities to
become temporarily impaired. After all, it is a whole lot easier to yield
to whining for food rather than something you just can’t give in to—
Whining Away
When you find yourself faced with a child who whines about food, the
best thing you can do is come to the table prepared.
• Expect the Expected. Simply being aware that whining about food
(and just about everything else) is inevitable will hopefully allow you
to prepare yourself and keep it from grating on your nerves quite as
much as it otherwise might.
Whining and Dining
• Keep Your Cool. Whining is an intuitive way for your child to get
what she wants. It’s also her way of luring you into battle. We highly
recommend that you refuse to take part. If it’s food she wants, then
resist the urge to give it to her when the whining intensifies and you
find you can’t take it anymore. If whining is met with reward—or
even if you hold out but it becomes clear that it drives you nuts—
you can expect the agony to be prolonged.
• Let Whining Fall on Deaf Ears. Once your child is old enough to
really get into the swing of whining—usually around 3 or so—start
reinforcing the fact that her whining is going to fall on deaf ears.
If she is sitting at the table whining about what she does or doesn’t
want to eat for dinner, tell her as calmly as you possibly can that you
can’t understand her when she talks like that and ask her if she has
something to tell or ask you. If she continues to whine, go about your
business. If, on the other hand, she makes an attempt to rephrase
her “request,” be sure to acknowledge her efforts. Remember that
stopping mid-whine is a tough task at any age, so don’t expect her
to drop the whine entirely. It’s not settling for less to respond to a
toned-down snivel.
Mealtime Milestones:
What’s in a Whine?
• 9 Months. Starting as early as 9 months, kids learn to point with a purpose
as they figure out the benefits of pointing out what they want, including
• 12 Months. Children typically utter their first words, and “no” is often one
of the stand-alone favorites.
• 2 Years. By this age, you can expect your child to put 2 words together—
as in “no way” or “want that.”
• 2–3 Years. Kids begin to make better use of basic manners such as
“Please” and “Thank you.” This, in turn, allows for the development of the
characteristic “puhleeeeeeeze” so commonly employed in the context of
whining and dining.
3 Years. At this age, kids can typically string together 3 or more words in a
single sentence, and 75% of what they say is supposed to be understandable
to parents and other caregivers. This means that the “I want one!” or
“I don’t like it!” is likely to come through loud and clear for all to hear.
• 4 Years. Even innocent bystanders should be able to understand most of a
4-year-old’s speech, whining or not. A more sophisticated form of whining
may ensue, including the classics: “How come she gets to have one and
I don’t?” “You never give me anything good!” and “Please, just this once
can’t I….”


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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate all your tips, advice, and well wishes!


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