Sometimes giving your kids less nutritious food makes sense — from a habits perspective.

For instance, it makes more sense to give your kids Birds Eye Carrots and Cranberries, which the folks at NuVal give a score of 22 (out of 100 for top nutrition), than it does to feed your kids Kashi TLC Tasty Little Chewy Oatmeal Cookies, which scores a 40.

Why? The mediocre vegetables get your kids used to vegetables.  The cookies, which in this case, are healthier?  They teach your kids to eat… well, cookies.

If you want to get your kids to eat vegetables, even mediocre ones trumps those pretty good grains.

Hoping to expand your kids’ palates beyond the old staples? Or introduce them to a wider variety of vegetables? Some of the foods you find in the market (or the local diner) are ridiculously bad nutritionally but they’re fantastic vehicles for teaching your kids to eat right.

  • Your kids will probably eat the Birds Eye Carrots and Cranberries because it’s made with 3 kinds of sugar, butter and oil: the processed food flavors your kids are used to.

Get adventurous. Here are some other “losers” worth trying:

  • Aunt Nellie’s Ruby Red Sweet & Sour Harvard Beets (canned) only scores an 8 (because it’s loaded with high fructose corn syrup) but if it introduces your kids to beets, who cares?
  • The creamed spinach at Boston Market has more calories, more fat, and more sodium than the corn.  It even has more calories and more fat than the macaroni and cheese, but give the spinach to your kids and you’ll be getting them used to the idea that spinach is tasty – something they already know about the corn and the pasta.

Don’t fear the inferior stuff.  You can always move your kids to healthier versions later.

See Boston Market nutrition information.

Think of your kids as little creatures of habit.  They want to eat the tastes, textures, aromas and appearances they are used to.  And they want to eat them over and over.

The more you expose your kids to the kinds of foods you want them to eat – even if you start with inferior versions of those foods – the better they’ll eat in the long run.

~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~


Sources: accessed 2/4/2010; accessed 2/4/2010