Tag Archives: children

Sugary death match: Jelly vs Nutella



I have a confession to make. I only started eating peanut butter about 4 years ago. That may seem really strange, but it’s true. Hope glimmered in my life back in 2011/2012, and I have since come around. I still am not as big a fan as many people, particularly of peanut butter and chocolate. Which brings us to today’s topic.

We all know the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Most kids love them. Recently, I’ve had more and more mom friends talk about giving their children peanut butter and nutella sandwiches. At first, my nutrition mind screamed, “A chocolate sandwich?” But then I thought for a minute and realized jelly is basically pure sugar. Outside of taste, I wondered if there really is a difference.

Today, I’m breaking down the nutrition for you. Here’s the sandwich: 2 slices of whole wheat bread, 1 tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter (because creamy is not delicious), and 1 tablespoon of grape jelly OR nutella. All nutrients are in grams, except calories. Ready:

Nutrients       Peanut Butter and Jelly             Peanut Butter and Nutella    
Calories 311 355
Carbohydrates           45 42
Sugars 15 14
Fat 10 16
Protein 12 13

To me, these numbers aren’t incredibly different. I have heard parents argue that there is less sugar and more protein in nutella. While that technically is true in the numbers, one gram either way doesn’t get me excited. The biggest difference is really in calories, which also isn’t huge. In the end, it really comes down to what your child will eat. Either is a decent, if not perfect choice. But don’t try to justify that one is better than the other. Just own it for what it is, the sandwich your child prefers. Happy eating and parenting!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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That food is too tasty for me.

One of my nephews is a bit of a picky eater, and he said this to his dad one night at dinner time. Since it wasn’t my kid, I found it hilarious, but I can sympathize with the pain this brings to a parent.

Kids can be picky eaters. Some of it is learned, but some of it is not. Everyone has different taste and texture preferences. Only a small percentage of the population is actually able to truly taste bitter, so they will naturally be more sensitive to bitter foods. People who struggle with ADHD and some personality disorders can struggle with different textures of food. We can’t control any of that.

What we can control is the environment around food for our children. I believe in Ellyn Satter’s philosophy: parents control what food is available and when the family eats while children control what and how much food they actually eat. As parents, you provide a balanced, nutritious diet of routine meals and snacks. Your child can choose to eat what is provided or not.

As a parent, this is INCREDIBLY difficult at times. I know how frustrating it is to spend time making a meal and then watch your child refuse to eat anything but bread (or fruit or milk) or just refuse to eat at all. For me, dinner is especially frustrating because it is the end of the day which equals the end of my patience. But I know this method works and is worth it.

Some tips on dealing with picky eating:

– Keep trying. Try foods in different forms, different combinations, etc. I loved this article by a fellow dietitian when her onion-hating son asked to order onion rings.

– Expose kids to food away from the table. Take them with you to the grocery store and talk about what you are buying. Point out food in books, movies, TV shows, etc. For example, my daughter received the book “Rah Rah Radishes” as a gift for her birthday. She loves to read it and has since asked for cauliflower. Did she eat it when I made it? No, but she recognized it. Last night, before ignoring the green beans on her plate, she said, “Go green bean!” Recognizing foods is half the battle with some children.

– Make kids feel involved. Let them help you cook or plan the menu as is age appropriate. Even for my two-year old, I let her choose what she eats for lunch from a couple available options. Think about it. So much of life is dictated to children. Letting them feel in control of what they eat can help with some of the power struggles and focus more on the actual food.

– Don’t expect a miracle. Sometimes it happens. Last night, my daughter ate half a fillet of tilapia, which blew my mind. But those moments are fairly rare. Just know that you are creating a good base of food knowledge for your child. And eventually, many kids grow out of it. I don’t think I willingly ate zucchini until I was 17. But now I eat it all the time.

What do you do to make mealtimes more enjoyable with your kids? I’d love to know your tricks or hear your stories in the comments.

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!


Filed under Nutrition

Too much pizza?


A recent radio show broadcasted that research from the CDC stated that kids in America are eating too much pizza, which is not a healthy food. I was a bit puzzled, so I wanted to get a little more information on the actual research.

The CDC report is actually on sodium intakes in children and adolescents in the US. Like adults, children and adolescents are consuming more sodium than they need. And even in children, this can lead to increased blood pressure.

Why do we care? First, we don’t want to start kids off with health problems, like high blood pressure. This will only increase the likelihood of these problems as adults. Second, sodium intake is a taste preference. As children are developing their tastes and dietary preferences, we want to give them a healthy palate. Reducing intake when young will hopefully help prevent them from over consuming as adults.

So where does pizza come in? Pizza is the number one contributor of sodium to children and adolescent diets. Bread, poultry, cold cuts, and sandwiches round out the top five. Noticably, these are foods that naturally have high sodium. This isn’t about teaching kids to not salt their food. It is about teaching them to watch their consumption of foods naturally high in sodium.

So can your kid eat pizza? Of course! But, beware of the amount of cheese and cured meats on your toppings. Stick for less cheese, fresh cooked meats, veggies, and homemade sauce if possible. All of these allow you greater control of the sodium going in. Here are a couple of my favorites for pizza:


Artichoke Pesto Pizza

White Chicken Pizza

Homemade Pizza Dough

What are your favorite adaptations to make pizza more healthy? Share them in the comments!

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