Author Archive

“It’s Time to Eat the Peas…” Oh, Please

July 15, 2011

I normally try not to get involved in political discussions, especially anything involving kids and healthier eating, which I hope is a goal that we all share. But one statement made by President Obama this week – in the heat of the Congressional budget battle – made me see red. Or maybe I should say green.

“It’s not going to get easier, so we might as well do it now. Pull off the Band-Aid; eat our peas,” the President pronounced, meaning that we have to swallow some things that may be unpalatable in order to reach compromise. My first thought: How could the leader of an administration that is boldly striving to eliminate childhood obesity say something like that? Michelle, will you please get your husband under control?

Now, this may seem silly and really petty, but any parent who struggles at the dining room table with a young child who refuses to eat green vegetables will understand what I mean. As I discuss extensively in my book My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything (Bull Publishing), one of the most important tactics that parents have in enticing their kids to eat a broad and healthful diet is the power of persuasion. As in, the words and descriptions that we use about different foods.

How often do you hear adults talking about their own dietary limitations, foods they don’t like or even “hate,” and their disdain for cooking? “My husband is a meat and potatoes guy; he would never eat that,” is a phrase I hear often from women. “If the Smiths are coming over, we’d better just order pizza; there are too many things they won’t eat.” Or, “I’m on a diet and I can’t be bad again today and have a dessert.” If young children are in the house, you can bet that they pick up on these statements and incorporate them into their own thinking.

Even worse is when adults make definitive comments about not liking entire categories of food. Personal preferences and negative generalizations become the subject of too much conversation, as in: “I don’t eat spicy foods,” “He doesn’t eat seafood,” “So and so doesn’t like vegetables,” “I tried that once and didn’t like it.” And on and on. As President Obama, the father of two young children should know, all of this chatter is heard and absorbed by little ears, and just gives kids an as-of-yet undeserved license to judge foods.

What’s wrong with the taste of peas, anyway? Fresh from the garden and properly prepared, peas are one of the best tasting vegetables around. Right, kids?

But when the country’s First Father is publically equating the eating of peas with the most dreaded steps imaginable, we have a long way to go in changing a nation’s mindset towards healthful eating.

McDonald’s Kiddie Marketing: Some Interesting Stats!

November 18, 2010

Regarding the Happy Meals posts of the last two weeks, here are a few statistics just released by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. 

In just the last week:

Forty percent of children ages 2 – 11 asked their parents to take them to McDonald’s.

Eighty-four percent of parents of children ages 2 – 11 said they took that child to a fast food restaurant at least once.

And … 15% of preschoolers will ask to go to McDonald’s every day.

Is there still a question about the allure of the Happy Meal?!

Kids and Seafood! Are yours eating enough?

August 9, 2010

At BlogHer, talking about fish in kids' diets.

What a great time at the BlogHer ’10 convention in New York this weekend, talking to mom, food, nutrition and other bloggers about the importance of kids eating a wide variety of foods, in order to ensure that they are eating a healthful diet!

I attended the show on behalf of the Perinatal Nutrition Working Group (PNWG). I spoke at their media lunch at BLT Laurent Seafood about incorporating seafood into kids’ diets, so that they will get the proper amounts of Omega-3s that they need. Seafood is such a perfect food for kids, and yet it is something that so many children don’t eat, often only because their parents think that they won’t!

Little kids (ages 2 – 5) need about 70 mg of Omega-3s every day, according to Mary Harris, Ph.D., RD, of Colorado State University and the PNWG. At ages 4 – 8, they need 90 mg per day, and 120 mg when aged 9 – 13. (Omega-3s are a special kind of healthy fat that play an important role in brain growth and development. Fish contain two important kinds of Omega-3’s – DPA and EPA, and it’s important to consume these because the body can’t make them on its own.) The best food sources? Fish, especially salmon, which has 1,238 mg in a 3 ounce serving, as well as other seafoods like pollock (383 mg in the same size serving); crab (196 mg); canned tuna (190 mg); scallops (169 mg) and cod, clams, shrimp, tilapia and catfish.

Have you ever heard fish referred to as brain food? Apparently, it’s because of those Omega-3s, according to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study that showed that women with the highest intake of fish during pregnancy (2 ounces per day on average) had children 25 percent more likely to have higher developmental scores at six months of age, and almost 30 percent more likely to have higher scores at 18 months.

And it doesn’t stop when the baby is born. “The last trimester of pregnancy and that first year of life are critical to full brain development,” said Dr. Harris. That’s why it’s important for nursing moms to continue to eat fish, and for little ones to consume it in their own diets when they start eating.

I joined Dr. Harris at the conference in praising the benefits of fish consumption for children, noting that eating seafood is one of the best ways for young children to begin to expand their palates and try a wide variety of foods. Seafood offers so much variety; after all, clams do not taste like salmon does not taste like oysters do not taste like halibut does not taste like crab do not taste like shrimp! And the flavor of various seafoods well-supports a variety of herbs, spices and cooking methods used in a wide array of cuisines. As I discuss in my book, “My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus,” you can use seafood to introduce your kids to Asian, South American, Mediterranean, Mexican, Caribbean and so many other flavors.

Fish is also a food that grows with your kids. When they’re really young, start them on canned tuna or a soft fish like cod. From there, it’s an easy and delicious step to full-scale “adult” meals like grilled tuna steaks and more robust seafoods like mussels, salmon and crab cakes.

Are you and your kids eating enough?

Find Us in More Places

December 1, 2009





General Tips



Plan Meals and Eat Together!

December 1, 2009

Mouthwatering Healthy Tuna Pita

December 1, 2009

Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things!

December 1, 2009

Artichokes Can Be Fun Food for Kids

November 5, 2009

Pulling leaves is neat!


glacier bkgrd

Why are so many kids such picky eaters?

November 3, 2009

Find out what you can do about it in My Two Year Old Eats Octopus, by Nancy Tringali Piho,  a food expert and mother of two boys under five. With humor, intelligence and compassion, Nancy lets parents know precisely how they can interest their kids in better food, and get away from the PB&J, grilled cheese syndrome and the sippy cups endlessly filled with liquid cornstarch and worse.

The Octopus Blog is Underway!

September 18, 2009

Welcome to everyone who wants to help kids eat healthier and more interesting food. With the launch November 1 of my book, MY TWO YEAR OLD EATS OCTOPUS (Bull Publishing), I’m hoping parents and other readers will check in often as we exchange tips and ideas on how on earth you get your kids to eat something besides grilled cheese and PB&J. It’s fun! I’m already in the middle of a signing and media tour and hope I can get to as many parts of the country as possible, to share this iCover shot of My Two Year Old Eats Octopusmportant message — Getting Children to Love EVERYTHING!