Peanut butter is bliss, isn’t it?

Personally I love it. It also thrills me that my daughter loves it too.  Peanut butter makes lunch time a cinch.  Warning: use it cautiously.

Unless you’re careful, peanut butter can be one of the most dangerous foods out there.  Not from a nutrition perspective — although, you’ll see in a moment, that it’s not always a nutritional winner — but from a habits perspective.

Peanut butter seduces us into taking the easy way out.  It is simply too yummy for our kids, too easy for us and healthy enough in general that it can become our “go-to” meal too often.  But give it to your kids all the time and they’ll start rejecting other foods.

Not many fruits and vegetables – the foods that parents are most concerned about — have the taste, texture and appearance of peanut butter.

Think about what makes peanut butter likable: it’s creamy, sweet and kind of bland.  Add in some jelly and it’s even more so.  And with a couple of slices of soft-textured bread it’s a smushable, soft-ball of delight.  Try getting your kids used to broccoli after that!

The only way to win the “food fight” is to repeatedly expose our children to a variety of tastes, textures and appearances.

From a nutrition perspective, peanut butter fares just fine.  Unless you’re packing in the PB&J from some of our favorite food outlets.

According to Eat This Not That For Kids:

  • Cosi’s Kids PB&J has 560 calories and 26 grams of fat. (60% more calories than in Cosi’s Gooey Grilled Cheese.)
  • Panera Kids PB&J comes in at 470 calories and 17 grams of fat.

Add in some chips and a drink and these favorite meals can easily top out at over 700 calories.  That’s about ½ the calories most under-eights need in a day.  (See USDA intake guidelines.)

If you make it yourself, peanut butter and jelly is just fine. 

According to my friend over at Nutrition By The Numbers, NuVal gives at least one brand of peanut butter a score of 36 (out of 100 for top nutrition), which isn’t too bad. (At least it’s in the ballpark of meats and cheeses – other common sandwich fillings.)

What’s the take-away? If you want your kids to eat broccoli, you can’t give them peanut butter EVERY day.  You need to mix it up.

~  Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~