Table Training Principles

Training and practice moves people toward goals.  Try practicing the following with your children.  Being a role model is very important.  Most of these you probably have heard over and over, but you may not be making them into a habit.

Top Ten Table Training Principles

1.  Practice chewing food well, until it is like an applesauce consistency.

2.  Practice putting down your eating utensils between bites.

3.  Sit straight and 1/2 arm’s length away from the table to allow for “drop space”.

4.  Eat with your less dominant hand.  This trains you to be thoughtful of eating.

5.  Cut food into small pieces so not to put too much in your mouth at one time.

6.  Do not talk with your mouth full.

7.  Try eating with chopsticks.

8.  Participate in pleasant conversation.

9.  Take 20 – 30 minutes to eat, and sit at the table.

10.  Remember to thank God for your food.

The Money Dish

The Secular and the Spiritual

The Secular

While on a walk with a friend, she spied a penny on the ground and immediately picked it up and said, “Find a penny, pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck”.

The Spiritual

While on a walk, my friend Debbie found money on the ground, immediately picked it up and said, “In God We Trust”.  She proceeded to tell me a story about how finding money reminds her to trust God in all things.

The one saying was secular “luck”, and the other had a spiritual message.  I have never looked at money found on the ground the same again.  It is a truth that trusting God is everything.

The Money Dish

Place a “money bowl” on your dining table.  When you go on a walk with your children, have them look for money on the ground.  You will be amazed at how often you will find money when looking for it.   Teach them to place the coins in the “money bowl and show them the imprint on the coin, “In God We Trust.”  When it gets full, have your children bring it to a food bank or give to someone in need.  Tell them how God can do much with little.


Non-nutritive Sweeteners

Non-Nutritive Sweeteners

 Non-nutritive sweeteners are virtually calorie free.

 Be careful when products use the term “natural” because “natural,” has no legal FDA definition. My doctor always says, “If you don’t pick it off a tree or a plant and eat it immediately…it’s not natural”.

 My problem with most of the non-nutritive sweeteners is they haven’t been ingested all that long, so I don’t think we really know exactly how some of them can affect us. I was a kid when most of the non-nutritive sweeteners were approved and I am not even 60 years old. We will know more when people born in the 1970’s are retired and have used these products their entire life.

 HIstorical Dates

1965 Aspartame – Equal, NutraSweet – USA approved: 1981

1967 Acesulfame potassium – Sweet One, Sunette – USA approved: 1988

1976 Sucralose – Splenda – USA approved: 1998

1879 Saccharin – Sweet N’ Low, Sweet 10 – USA approved

Stevia (Rebaudioside A, a highly purified compound of stevia plant) – Truvia,Pure Via – USA approved 2008

Neotame – USA approved 2002 – not available for consumer use

Thaumatin or Talin is approved GRAS in United States: (used mostly abroad) found in the Katemfe fruit from West Africa.

Tagalose – approved 2003 in United States 1.5 calories per gram (sold as Tagetesse)

1980 Alitame (used in Canada)

Stevioside (Rebaudiana) from leaves of the Stevia plant

      My concern is the length of time a person uses these sweeteners that are “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS), but are they? Do we know without a doubt? The only one that someone may have used for 70-80 years is Saccharin. The others are just too new. Most of these products have ADI (acceptable daily intakes) based on weight. Many of these may not be a problem for someone in adulthood or with an “adult weight” 100+ pounds, but for a child weighing 30-70 lbs., the “acceptable” level may be too much; One that I would not want to risk with my child.  

Think twice before offering your child too many products filled with these alternative sweeteners.

Kids do not constantly need to be “tasting” sweetness, thus developing a “need” or “want” for it.





Sugar Alcohols

Sugar Alcohols

• Sugar Alcohols are called nutritive sugars because they contain calories.
• Sugar alcohols are considered a low calorie food and are often found in “diet foods,” candy,   cookies, and gum.
• Sugar alcohols contain about ½ the calories as regular sugar.
• Sugar alcohols are found naturally in some foods, but most are manufactured.
• Sugar alcohols are not “alcohol” because they do not contain ethanol.
• Sugar alcohols are not converted to acids by oral bacteria so they may not cause dental cavities.
• Sugar alcohols are absorbed more slowly than sugar.

Examples of sugar alcohols

Mannitol, sorbitol, erythritol, isomalt
lacititol, maltitol, xylitol,
and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates.

You will find sugar alcohols listed on the food label under the Total Carbohydrate section if the product contains any sugar alcohols.

Total Carbohydrate
Sugar Alcohol

• Sugar alcohols can promote gas, bloating and/or diarrhea if eaten in large amounts.
• A safe limit to prevent these problems is to eat less than 10 g at a time.
• Children or adults with bowel problems such as IBS, Crohn’s, colitis, UC, short bowel, or other gastrointestinal issues should avoid all sugar alcohols.

I personally don’t like sugar alcohols because the products that contain them are usually not very nutritional and often are full of food colorings that I think are terrible for children and adults. The less food coloring the better!

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.

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

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!