Eat This, Not That! For Kids
By David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding Rodale Inc. (2008) Reviewed by: Melinda Johnson, MS, RD
With thousands of food swaps that can save children from obesity, this nutrition and fitness guide to raising children to be their happiest, healthiest selves will help parents make the right choices each and every time.
Synopsis of the Diet Plan:
As the title implies, the theme of this book is about making healthier food choices by opting for some popular foods over others. With calorie, fat, sodium and (sometimes) protein and sugar contents of each food to demonstrate why certain food swaps are beneficial, chapters are dedicated to fast-food and chain restaurants, supermarket foods and school cafeteria and vending machines. The book also includes tools for decoding typical menus (such as Indian food or Italian food menus); a week of sample home-cooked meals with some recipes; tips for packing a healthy school lunch; and fitness pointers with fun games for kids.
The first chapter outlines some basics of nutrition, including a table on the nutrient needs of kids and a colorful section dedicated to eating the rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
Nutritional Pros and Cons:
Because the book is fun and eye-catching with a ton of pictures and a glossy magazine feel, kids may not even realize they are learning about nutrition as they flip through the pages. There are tips and facts sprinkled throughout and most of the nutrition information is solid and science based.
What is not clear are how some foods made it onto the "Eat This" list, while others are sent to the "Not That" list. For example, the authors recommend a package of vanilla creme sandwich cookies (170 calories, 7 grams fat), but not a package of mini Chips Ahoy! Chocolate chip cookies (170 calories, 8 g fat). Other questionable "Eat This" items include a kid's fried shrimp and french fries meal or a KitKat candy bar, while some puzzling "Not This" items include Del Monte Whole Kernel Corn (no salt added) or white rice.
Many food swaps would have been better positioned as "If You Like This, Try That." For example, Sun-Maid Mixed Fruit (100 calories, 17 grams sugar) made the "Eat This" list when compared to Welch's Mixed Fruit (130 calories, 21 grams sugar) on the "Not That" list. As a registered dietitian, I would hesitate to put either dried fruit product on a "Do Not Eat" list.
Because of the emphasis on national brand foods and chain restaurant menu items, this book quickly will become outdated as new products are launched, ingredients and recipes are reformulated and restaurants change their menus. Also, if readers were to use the recommendations as the basis for an eating plan, their diets would be heavily focused on processed foods. For this reason, the book should not serve as one's only source of nutrition information.
While this could be a great tool to pique an interest in nutrition and start a dialogue about food, it does little to educate readers about maintaining an overall balanced diet and it is certainly not the "complete nutrition and fitness guide for kids" it claims to be.