We recently had an exciting interview with RD, Cara Rosenbloom. For three years, Cara worked as a dietitian at The Hospital for Sick Children, and has a passion for ensuring that children are well nourished. We discussed with her the positive implications of adjusting children’s diets to be healthier, and the importance of including the child in the process!
Have you heard of the Rainbow plate as far as integrating nutrition for young kids? At my daughter’s camp they introduced it from the time she was 2 1/2 and sent home a plate on a magnet to put on the fridge.
Their is an interesting study out of Cornell University. Kids tend to like to have 6 different colours and 7 different items on their plate. Whereas we as adults tend to prefer 3 items on the plate in three colours. We are plating for our children, what we find appealing as adults. The best way to make the plate more appetizing to kids, is to use an array of vegetables and colourful food because kids are more responsive to colour. It could take kids 20-25 times before their taste buds register that they like the food, but having a variety of food, textures and colours encourages them to try more.
Mcdonalds has been changing its menu to have healthier options such as smoothies, salads and snacks wraps. How do you think the restaurants, and world is changing. Is it worse or better with all the gmo’s and artificial colouring and flavouring and the animals being pumped with antibiotics.
In regards to the artificial growth hormones, there are stricter regulations than the US, so they are not allowed as much in Canada. Eating out is not the worst thing, if it is only the odd time. Families should cook at home, more often, and with whole foods. Foods that aren’t processed, or are minimally processed, are better for our health, they also help prevent cancer, heart disease, obesity and health crisis. Although it is just a little thing to eat at home and cook with whole foods as often as possible, it can have huge (positive) effects on society.
When cooking at home, is eating organic fruits and vegetables, and eating farm raised antibiotic free meats important?
Of course organic and hormone free antibiotic free, freerange products are the best, but this is what I would consider as Step 2. The problem we are having in Canada right now is that families aren’t even eating chicken and vegetables at home. First we have to get families starting to eat at home regularly, using whole foods. Once the families are cooking at home, that’s when the specific foods your cooking with become a concern. People aren’t getting enough vegetables, whole foods, whole grains or cooking with them, when they do cook at home. Too many processed and frozen ingredients are still being used. We need to get back to the basics.
Do you think parents know how to cook and really know about healthy eating?
There is a disconnect, parents know they should eat at home, but aren’t sure what to give there families when at home. 77% Canadian families cook in the home 5 nights a week, but the questoin is WHAT are they cooking. To some people cooking at home means that they are cooking from scratch, but some others are cooking for 15-30 mins when eating from home. So therefore they are, for certain, using something processed whether that is the entire meal or only a portion that is unknown. We need to teach families not just to cook but to cook from scratch not from prepackaged and processed.
What tips would you give parents or think they should know and pass down to their kids in terms of nutrition and cooking?
Its great to get kids in the kitchen! Start with letting the kids help with the pouring and measuring. Ensure that they know the names of each of the ingredients that they are working with, and any facts about the foods. Let their involvement be a gradual process, allow for, say, 2 out of 5 nights a week be a teaching night! Then, they will pointing things out in the grocery store, the whole ingredients that they recognize. It is teaching them early on the importance of knowing what they are eating, and once they have grown and have families of their own, they will not have to relearn healthy choices, it will already be a second nature to them.
At what age should parents introduce vitamins?
You can’t give a blanket statement about that.Vitamins, at what age and which vitamins, are based on an individuals diet. It is based on what they eat: for example if they don’t eat fish or eggs, they may need more omega. But it is always best to give nutrients in the form of food they eat. Parents should consult their pediatrician to learn what is best for their child.
What are your feelings on milk vs. Almond Milk or goat milk or dairy in general?
Again, it really depends on the individual. Dairy doesn’t fit all diets, but it does have nutrients. It really depends on what they personally want to consume.
What should parents do if their kids refuse to eat veggies or healthy foods and only want staple “kids foods” like chicken nuggets & fries, and mac n cheese? Why is this, all of the behaviours around that. why time will it be? where it will be?
Both the parents & Kids are playing a role. If parents don’t buy & cook them then those nuggets & fries wont be in the house, and therefore wouldn’t be an option. The parents role, is what will be offered and what time dinner will be offered. It is the parents control, and if it is something the kids doesn’t like then force them to try it. It could take kids 20-25 times before their taste buds register that they like the food. The division of responsibility is key, it sounds so simple, but it is a learning process for both parties, the child and the parent. But, when I put kids on this path it works! If the child is a picky eater and letting kid partake in the process can help, while the parents still have ultimate control over the foods. For example ask: What sides do you want tonight, carrots or broccoli? This way the child has a choice on what they are eating, but the parent still has ulimate control over what types of food are allowed on the plate. It may be difficult at first, but children are hungry, they will eventually eat good looking food, which will make meal time more peaceful for everyone.
NOTE: The questions and answers for this interview have been paraphrased.