Reading List: Better School Lunches, "Normal" Food Allergies & Overcoming Picky Palates

In this week’s nutrition headlines: how parents are contributing to the obesity epidemic, kids with eclectic palates and a disturbing new video game that stars a "Fat Princess."

From this week’s nutrition headlines: it's all about the kids -- more info on how parents are contributing to the obesity epidemic, raising children with more eclectic tastes and a disturbing new video game that stars "Fat Princess."

Parent’s Role in the Obesity Epidemic

If you're a parent, it's important that you buy nutritious foods, cook wisely and offer up healthy choices, but what you say to your kids also matters. Telling them "you can't drink soda or eat cookies" seems to have the exact opposite effect. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, girls whose parents restricted their food gained more weight than those who did not -- especially those who already struggled with self control. Remember: restricting food in any manner (either by severely limiting portions or not allowing it altogether) will just make the food more attractive. Try to find a middle ground and have open communication.

School Lunches Are Scoring Higher

Does your child eat lunch at the school cafeteria? Then you’d be happy to know the recently released State of the School Nutrition report showed that school lunches are getting better grades. More than one-third of the school districts surveyed offer locally grown produce, and 91% of the districts serve salads or have salad bars. Meatless options have increased by 12% over the past two years, and about one in 10 districts don't allow peanuts at school to help reduce allergy risks. Curious about more healthy lunch initiatives? The New York Times also had a great piece reviewing some of the government programs and other initiatives that are gaining steam.

Some Food "Allergies" Are Normal

Speaking of allergies, according to a Denmark study, it’s normal for young kids to be more sensitive to foods like milk, eggs and peanuts. They may show some physical reactions when eating them, but they may not actually be allergic to them. If you have suspicions, proper testing is essential. You don’t want to eliminate foods or entire food groups from your kid’s diet on just some anecdotal evidence -- the sensitivity could pass with time.

Saving the "Fat Princess"

This "Let Them Eat Cake" Playstation game has players trying to save their princess -- a.k.a. the “fat princess” -- who’s been captured and, as punishment, forced to eat tons of cake. You have to call upon your entire army to carry her out since she’s so heavy. I’ve read some reviews of the game, and some folks find the premise funny. I just don’t see any humor in it. What sort of message is this sending? That it's a punishment to be obese? That it's funny to need an army to carry you? This is definitely a game I won't be adding to my son’s collection.

Kids with Big Palates

Ever think your kid would chow down on a roasted broccoli with garlic pizza? What about steamed clams? This Miami Herald article examines how some parents get their kids to eat more “grown up” dishes. Did you know that studies show that one predictor of your future diet is what you ate at age 2? If you don't continue to offer up a new food even after one or two rejections, you’re giving up too soon. Studies show that you need to expose a child to something new eight to 12 times before they accept it.

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