Medical Minute 8-25: Meal Making Mistakes - What Parents Do Wrong

By: Vanessa Welch Email
By: Vanessa Welch Email

With four kids and a full-time job, meal time at Lori Schroll's house is kinda crazy. Keeping her picky kids healthy and happy is her mission.

"We don't do any white bread any more. We don't do any white pasta. You won't find any pop in the house," said Lori Schroll, Mother of Four.

But no matter how hard she tries, mistakes happen here and there and at dinner tables *everywhere!

"Just looking at the label you may be thinking you're eating a healthy food, but you're eating 2 or 3 servings and the calories really add up."

When choosing bread, registered dietitian Amy Lockwood says picking whole wheat isn't enough.

"When you're reading the label you want to look at the fiber. You want it to have 3 grams of fiber and you want to have whole wheat as your first ingredient," said Amy Lockwood, R.D.

Kids need two servings of fruit a day

"You want to look for fruits canned in natural juice or water."

Do the math--heavy syrup has 20 to 25 grams of sugar, compared to 10 in fruits canned in their natural juice. What about cereals, which do you think is better?

Fruit loops has less calories and less sugar and the same amount of fiber. A better breakfast choice? Cheerios! Less calories…less sugar and more fiber. Another health food mistake- the yogurt you choose for your family

"If we're comparing 2 vanilla yogurts, even though they're both low fat, one of them has 220 calories, and 35 grams of sugar, where the other one has 110 calories and 15 grams of sugar. "

If your family likes to snack before dinner-try this.

"One trick you can do is put out cut up veggies on the table for the kids to snack on. If they overeat on vegetables, who really cares," said Bethany Thayer, Registered Dietitian at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan.

And soon your family will be ignoring the bad foods and fighting over the healthy ones.


THE GOOD: There are many foods children need to grow up strong and healthy, including: whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, a good source of calcium, healthy proteins - from fish, poultry, eggs, and meat, or from plant sources. These foods give them vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients they need to build high-quality bodies. Children also need fiber; they need at least 19 grams per day. Most children in the U.S. get far less than they need. White-flour snacks, breads, and cereals are major offenders. Fiber is found in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. (SOURCE:

THE BAD: Children do not need to eat large amounts of sugar. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends 6-18 teaspoonful’s of sugar per day, depending on the total calories in a person’s diet. Parents and educators often oppose that sugar and other carbohydrate ingestion can dramatically impact a child’s behavior, particularly their activity levels. Sugar is not just found in sweets or junk cereal. It's in almost everything. When you look at labels, you find sugar, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, sorbitol, or corn syrup on almost every label. The more simple meals from whole foods contain much less sugar. Refined white flour is another simple carbohydrate that acts in our bodies much like white sugar- empty calories that disrupt energy levels and insulin levels and increase body fat. (SOURCE:

REVERSE BAD HABITS: There are many approaches parents can take to develop healthy eating habits in their children. By guiding your family’s choices rather than dictate foods, children can learn how to make healthy food choices. Also, encourage your children to eat slowly; a child can detect hunger and fullness better when eating slowly. Eat meals together as a family as often as possible and try to make mealtimes pleasant with conversation and sharing. It’s always fun to involve your children in food shopping and preparing meals, and you can lean about their food preferences. Also, discourage eating meals or snacks while watching television. Moreover, it’s very important to not use food to punish or reward children. Withholding food as a punishment may lead them to worry that they will not get enough food. (SOURCE:

For More Information, Contact:
American Dietetic Association

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