Colorful Kid’s Snack

Colorful layers

Before we move onto sugar alcohols and non-nutritive sweeteners, I thought I would give you a chance to read labels for “added sugars,” over the weekend and end this week with a little story about what my children were fed for a fun snack when they were 2-5 years old.

First of all, kids like to eat out of “adult like” dishes. They don’t always like the “kid’s stuff”. I had some parfait cups from Tupperware and would layer frozen peas and frozen corn in 3 layers and let them eat the frozen vegetable “parfaits” while watching cartoons at 3:30. The colors were attractive to children and the taste was sweet. I would begin cooking dinner at this time. Peas and corn contain starchy carbs, fiber and phytochemicals. Some people think corn does not have any “nutrition worth”, but I ask you to think it over. The yellow color of the corn has many phytochemicals not found in other colors of fruits and vegetables. I believe all food has some worth and it is always the balance and portion that is important.

Have a great weekend and remember to read food labels, stick to your new house rules, try some new foods in new ways and be thankful for your food.

Ingredients & The Food Label

Ingredients on the Food Label

True or False?

The first couple ingredients listed in descending order on the food label “ingredient list,” means that the product contains the MOST of the first few ingredients. For instance, if sugar is listed first, then sugar is the main ingredient in the product.

While this used to be true, it is not so now. The food industry out-smarted a lot of us. They know people are looking out for sugar on the top of the list so they put teeny tiny portions of several types of sugars in the product so SUGAR does not show up in the first couple ingredients, but listed more toward the end of the ingredient list because of the small amounts of each sugar.

Some common words for sugar include: (this list is not exhaustive)

Organic brown rice syrup                              Evaporated fruit juice
Corn syrup solids                                             Crystallized cane sugar
High Fructose corn syrup                              Turbinado sugar
Raw sugar                                                          Maple syrup
Brown sugar                                                      Evaporated cane juice
Invert sugar                                                       Fruit juice concentrate
Dextrin                                                               Malt syrup
Date sugar                                                         Cane sugar

True or False?

To calculate “added sugar” from a food label, look for the grams of sugar listed under Sugar on the label.

Answer: True and False! It depends on the product and the ingredient list.

Example: Dates – serving size 5-6
Total Carbohydrate: 30 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Sugars: 25 grams

Would you calculate “added sugar” as 25 g because it is listed under Sugar? NO!
Read the ingredient list and you’ll find the only ingredient in the bag is dates. Dates are a natural sugar. No sugar has been added to them. Remember, “added sugars” are sugars that have been added to a product to make it sweet that are not made up of natural sugars. Fruit is a natural sugar/carbohydrate.

Example: Plain yogurt – serving size 6 oz.
Total carbohydrate: 8 grams
Sugars: 7 grams

The ingredient label reads: Whole milk and then lists several different enzymes. No sugar is listed because the sugar that is in the milk is natural sugar made up of lactose and galactose. We do not count these as added sugars.

Example: Peach flavored low-fat yogurt yogurt – serving size 6 oz.
Total carbohydrate: 23 grams
Sugars: 19 grams

The ingredient label reads: Milk, real peaches, organic brown rice syrup, pectin and enzymes. How much is “added sugar?” This is an educated guess. You must remember in the plain yogurt example 7 grams listed under sugar is from milk, a natural sugar. So immediately you subtract 7 from 19 that equals 12 g. Now you see real peaches are in the product along with organic brown sugar. You know peaches are a natural sugar, but organic brown rice syrup is not. I typically subtract ½ of the 12 to equal 6 g from natural sugar (peaches) and 6 g from “added sugar”.

Questions? I know it can be confusing, but do your best in estimation. You get a pretty good idea how much added sugar you are eating or drinking by reading the ingredients and comparing the total carbohydrate with sugar and fiber.

Remember, sugar can be addictive and children’s intake of added sugar should be closely monitored. Stay tuned for sugar alcohols and non-nutritive sweeteners and children.

Added Sugars

“Added Sugars”

What are added sugars?
What is a carbohydrate?
What does “Total Carbohydrate” mean on the label?

These are good questions!

“Added sugars” are sugars that have been added to food and are not found naturally in that particular food.

For example:
Oatmeal is a natural “sugar” or carbohydrate.
Brown sugar would be an “added sugar” that has been mixed with the oatmeal.
A banana is a natural “sugar” or carbohydrate. It is not an added sugar.
Milk and plain yogurt are natural “sugars” or carbohydrate. They are not an added sugars. However, once companies add honey to yogurt or chocolate syrup to milk, added sugar will be listed on the label.

Females should limit added sugar from 0 to 25 grams per day
Males should limit added sugar from 0-37 grams per day

Carbohydrate means sugar. Therefore, the “total carbohydrate” on the food label means all sugars, (natural and added), combined.

Sugars listed on the label are the grams of added sugar in the the product. We will go into more detail tomorrow and list some of these added sugars you will find hidden in labels.


Read labels for Total Carbohydrate and Sugars.
Start reading the list of ingredients and look for added sugars. Count how many you find.

Think Twice

Processed verses Whole Foods

While sometimes an Emergency Meal (July 15th Blog) is needed, we must be careful in regards to processed foods as routine eating. There are times we may need to use processed foods for convenience sake, but whole foods are always best. Label reading becomes of upmost importance, even though labels can be “off” by several percentage points.

Whole foods are much better and should be your first option.

Whole food examples:
Fresh fruits – raw or cooked
Fresh vegetables – raw or cooked
Dried beans, cooked
Plain yogurt, milk, eggs, hard cheeses, cottage cheese without additives
Nuts and seeds
Fresh beef, poultry, fish

5 important “looks” when label reading

# 1 Look at the list of ingredients. If there is more than 3 or 4, think twice.

# 2 Look for the serving size

# 3 Look for the sodium (if 200 mg or more for a serving, think twice)

# 4 Look for the calories from fat (if 25% or more comes from fat, think twice)

# 5 Look for “added sugar” (no more than 25-37 g of added sugar per day)

We will discuss added sugar another day. It is too much to tackle today. Stay tuned.

The Dilly Bar Dilemma

A childhood story of mine really captures the impact of sticking to what you say, as difficult as it can be.

I was about 8 or 10 years old and my 3 sisters and my parents were on a Sunday drive to visit our relatives in Rockford, Illinois. My dad stopped at a Dairy Queen about half way from home and Rockford as he sometimes did to surprise us and buy us a Dilly Bar. Back then, parents usually ordered whatever food the family was going to eat and we just ate it. There were not choices…usually. However, this time, my dad bought 3 cherry and 3 chocolate dilly bars. I wanted a cherry dilly bar. I did not get one. I got a chocolate dilly bar. I pouted and whined, arguing that I wanted a cherry dilly bar. I will never, ever forget what happened next and the lesson I learned stayed with me forever. My dad took my chocolate dilly bar away and I got nothing. My sisters and parents ate their dilly bars while I cried and watched. It taught me not to complain over food and to grateful for what I was given. You know it was hard on my parents to do, and probably broke their hearts, but they loved me and wanted me to grow up grateful.

I went to a seminar a few years ago that said parents today are: “Loving their children to death”. What a scary statement. I believe it is true as I see kids getting their way all the time when it comes to food. I beg all of you young parents out there. Teach your children gratitude and stick to healthy principles that will teach them manners and obedience.

New Dietary Rules

Newton’s Law of Gravity

Like Newton’s Law of Gravity There Are Dietary Rules Communicating Change.

As you know, Sir Isaac Newton discovered the Law of gravity. Everyone knew that an object suspended in space when released fell to the ground. When objects fall to the ground many of them like eggs, for example, end up like Humpty Dumpty. A dietary pattern, surprisingly enough, is almost as fragile. The good news is that a dietary pattern can be repaired and restored.

Every home needs to understand the rules of gravity (diet). Start now!

1. Communicate changes to all family members.
2. Make a booklet of new rules to refer to
3. Have children help make up the new rules

Some new rules may include:
* Hours the kitchen is open.
* No children allowed in the cupboards or refrigerator without permission.
* Designate specific snack times and types of snacks allowed.
* All food is to be eaten at the table.
* “Feasts” allowed once per month. (Birthdays, Holidays)
* Dinner menu will be posted daily.
* Lunches will be packed the night before.
* Know what will be served for breakfast the night before.

The parent is the “Gatekeeper”

Children do not drive or pay for the groceries.
Adults are role models.
Children are to be obedient and honor their parents.


1. Did you call your family meeting yet?
2. Are you willing to make new rules for your home?
3. What “feasts/birthdays/ occur this month?

This Week:

Be a good role model
Children must obey

Emergency Meals


Emergency meal plans are necessary.
Planning is everything.
Emergency meals should take less than 15 minutes to make.

Steps for emergency meal planning

1. Plan 3 emergency meals.
2. Stock your your pantry and/or refrigerator and freezer with ingredients.
3. Write and post emergency meals together to prevent complaining.
4. Try emergency “theme” nights – Mexican, Italian, and Asian
5. Try ¼ to ¾ rule (see below)

Colors, Shapes, and Temperatures: Food Fashion?
Important tips to remember when planning meals.

1. Think color – at least 3 different colors
2. Think shape – at least 3 different shapes. Examples might be: carrot strips mixed with round peas and a triangle of toast on the side.
3. Think temperature: room temperature, hot and cold combined in a meal.
4. Think flavor: salty, sweet, spicy, earthy (herbs).
5. Think texture: Always have a crunch! Chewy & smooth too.
6. Think entrée variety: Fish, chicken, beef, pork, soy, beans, eggs.
Serve a protein source, starch, vegetable, fruit and milk/dairy with every meal

Emergency Theme Nights

Cheese quesadilla, refried beans, salsa, and fruit with yogurt
Meat-sauce, pre-made and frozen (can be easily thawed), angel hair spaghetti (can be cooked in 4 minutes), toasted garlic triangles, green beans, fruit and milk.
Egg and vegetable stir- fried dish with rice, mandarin oranges, milk. Rice can be picked up from a Chinese restaurant, mixed with frozen oriental vegetables in a hot skillet. Add several scrambled eggs and mix together.

¼ – ¾ rule: ¼ of your meal is purchased, the other ¾ whole foods from home.
1-2 small pieces of pizza from a pizzeria, served with sliced cucumbers and ranch dressing pre-made with plain yogurt, 3 pieces of fruit (banana slices, strawberries, watermelon, and a Dixie cup of ice cream
Hamburgers from a burger place, baked beans, fruit and milk.

More Emergency Meal Samples
1. Burrito: Amy’s Frozen burrito with chipotle or salsa dressing, refried beans, chopped lettuce , and canned, fresh or frozen fruit. (5-10 minutes preparation time)

2. Chicken Parmesan: Morning Star Farm Veggie Chicken Patties baked in oven with pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese for 10 minutes. Serve over cooked pasta with low sodium canned green beans, fruit and milk.

3. Shrimp Dish: Shrimp Scampi: Frozen shrimp peeled and deveined stir-fried in butter and garlic powder. Add canned mushrooms. Serve over angel hair pasta with a vegetable of choice, fruit and milk.

Take Action:
1. Will you make the effort this week to plan 3 emergency dinners?
2. Where will you post your dinner menus?
3. Can you find time this week to get organized?

This Week:
Add color, shape, temperature and texture to meals
Write and shop from a grocery list
Plan some 1/4 – 3/4 rule meals

Preventing Overweight Children


Helpful hints to remember as we get started:

Do not use food as a reward or if your child gets hurt.
Do not tell your child to eat certain foods so they will feel better.
Do not use food as “guilt”.
Do not deny certain foods due to bad behavior.
Do not make the child eat certain foods to get what they want.
Do not coax the child to eat foods he or she does not want.
Do not forbid any foods such as sweets.
Do not significantly restrict the amounts of food the child eats.
Do not overemphasize an ideas beauty or body shape.
Do not criticize your body or your child’s body size or shape.
Do not promote dieting behaviors.

New Beginnings

1. Have you called a family meeting to decide new rules?
2. Have you posted new rules on new organizer board?
3. Have you started to purge the pantry?
4. Always have healthy snacks prepared and portable.
7. Always have emergency meals ready in your freezer.

We will work on emergency meals tomorrow. Be sure to include your children in the meal planning.

Quote of the day:

“This very moment we can change our lives; Sit down and start doing the work”

– Steven Pressfield




Purging Your Pantry

Purging Your Pantry

I can attest to the fact that if you do not have tempting foods in your pantry, you will not be able to eat them. I read a study once, I believe by Brian Wansink, on temptation and eating pertaining to candy dishes at work. He found when candy dishes were placed on worker’s desks, an average of 9 candies were eaten daily. When the candy dishes were placed in their desk drawers, the average daily candy eaten was 5. The candy dishes were then placed down the hall in a file cabinet and the number of candies eaten dropped to 3. We have always learned in various weight loss programs to place your temptations high up in a cupboard or closet where you have to make great effort to get to them. For example, a chair must be carried to the closet and boxes removed to get to the temptation. As you perform this feat, it makes your realize you really should not be eating these temptations and the tedious process may stop you. But…better yet, don’t even have them in your home!

We will begin slowly, with 3 simple starters for purging your pantry!

1. Processed bakery treats (Little Debbie’s, Hostess treats, Pop-tarts)

2. Chips or crackers with cheese or flavoring powders

3. Sugared drinks

These are the first 3 food items with empty calories, sugar, fat and/or sodium.
They provide absolutely nothing that you or your child needs for good health. When “put off” something, we must “put on” something in its place. This will take effort. You will probably have to put up with a lot of whining and crying, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Suggestions for alternatives

1. Apples and peanut butter
2. Dates and cream cheese
3. Chocolate dipped dried apricots
4. Peanut butter balls (peanut butter, wheat germ, honey, powdered milk)
5. No bake cookies (cocoa, oatmeal, peanut butter, honey)

1. Blue Corn tortilla chips
2. Matzoh crackers
3. Ak-Mak crackers
4. Triscuts (no flavor powders)
5. Rice crackers or rice cakes

1. Flavored waters (cucumber, carrots, fruit, basil, parsley)
2. La Croix or flavored sparkling water such as Perrier or Target’s brand.
3. 1/4 100% juice mixed with 3/4 cup water
4. Ice cubes with a raspberry, cherry or strawberry frozen in them
5. Plain water (begin a real appreciation and thankfulness for plain water)

We will learn more about label reading, what to watch out for and why. Many products you think are good can contain some unhealthy additives that thicken products and give a creamy consistency. Until Monday… try some of these ideas, have your family meeting, and get started! You will feel better eating intelligently and eating real food!

Controlled Eating

Controlled Eating

Because food, food ads, the television food channels, food billboards, and “yellow arches” are in our face, subliminally we believe we need something to eat almost all the time. This has become a real problem, especially with children. The busyness of life has also contributed to our ‘grab and go’ society. We need to take a step back and learn what controlled eating is, and why we need to practice controlled eating.

“If you want to enjoy life,
pay attention to what
you are doing”

7 Reasons for Controlled Eating
1. It glorifies God when we thank Him for our food and water or pray for help
2. It frees us from food lusts and addiction
3. It makes us good stewards of our time and money
4. It makes us realize what we eat matters
5. It causes us to care for our temple, where Christ lives
6. It improves our digestion
7. We become good examples to others

“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for
The Glory of God.”
– 1 Corinthians 10:31

Are these not good things to strive for? If so, let’s get started!

The first step if you are going to make some family changes, is to call a family meeting to explain your motives and new actions that are forthcoming.
Explain how your family has not been on a “straight and narrow” road and how together, your family will work towards a “new life.”

Take Action Today:
Call a family meeting.
Explain things are going to change.
Ask your children to name 3 of their favorite foods and write them down!
Encourage them to cooperate and help make these needed changes.

Tomorrow we will start to purge the pantry!