Get the White Out | Seventh Generation
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Get the White Out

Author: the Inkslinger

My kid will eat anything. At the tender of age of 12, she's gaga for garlic, crazy 'bout curries, unchallenged by ripe cheeses, and even psyched for sushi. Why? Because Mom and I have perennially refused to dumb down her dinner plate. From day one, she's largely eaten what we've eaten and the result is a child with a startlingly healthy diet who generally prefers the good stuff over the sugar, fat, and empty calories that fill too many grocery carts.

Without knowing it, we were following Dr. Alan Greene's theory of food imprinting, which says that the foods babies are exposed to in the womb and fed during early childhood actually program kids to prefer them over other choices. Feed your child sugar and worthless carbs and that what's they'll grow up to instinctually seek. Feed them broccoli and Brussels sprouts and they'll become an adult who heads for the salad bar instead.

That's the theory at the heart of Dr. Greene's new White Out campaign. At issue is the white rice cereal that many children get as their first solid food. Dr. Greene posits that, it's a bad choice, and is calling for change. He's asking every mom and dad to make a simple switch to whole-grain brown rice cereal instead. The goal is to end white rice cereal's reign of error by next Thanksgiving, and we can help by joining the the cause and spreading the word.

Making the switch is an easy thing to try. Help set future generations on a delicious path to better health.


andiecande picture
I don't have any children of my own, but I have heard anecdotal stories about the picky eaters. Often, children who are involved not just in the growing/shopping but in the preparing and cooking part of the meal will eat the food more readily. My fiance is a picky eater and it's hard to get him to try new foods, especially vegetarian options. It can be frustrating. Good luck, Jenwayland.
KarolJean picture
What kids eat is definitely dependant on what they are exposed to in utero and first foods. I nursed my daughter until she was able to eat table food which I prepared from my own dish with a small hand turned food mill. She is now 15 and has always loved vegetables and grains of all kinds. She is rarely ill and also likes to prepare her own meals.
tabbyday picture
I am offended when my kids act like picky eaters (it's my personal pet peeve) I just don't think kids get to choose. Call me old skool, but I hear myself saying the same things my grand parents and mom said "you don't have to like it, but you do have to eat it!" I'm not saying the whole plate, but at least a 2 bite kids are only 4 and 2, they go through picky stages I get that, but they still have to eat a little of what I make. As long as they do and don't make a fuss, they can have something else later.
robincat picture
Hi Jen, Thanks for the tips. I'll remember not to try the Ethiopian method. Youch. Also, the fruit in yogourt bit sounds familiar - despite being a good eater, my son has a very sensitive gag reflex, and things with certain textures will all come back up. But he knows how to handle that now. I have a cousin who ate everything - even knew every single french cheese by name at the age of 3. Her brother only ate hot dogs and fries, try as they might. He's now a fully functioning, healthy adult with a penchant for ethnic foods. I think they must really grow out of it. Good luck! Catherine
jenwayland picture
Hi Catherine, When my 13 year old was 4 or 5 we always had to say "ok, slow down on the veggies and eat your meat and potato/rice" so it brings back memories. :) The relatives always thought that was so funny. But it was different for us as it wasn't an issue of him not liking what else he had on his plate he just really loved the veggies! So, my 7 year old does get different meals than what we cook at times. Sometimes he'll eat one or two of the items we make and sometimes he won't touch a thing. We do make him try everything - which is a battle in itself since he fights us EVERY step of the way. Of course after such a scene, he never likes the item either because he's worked himself up so much about not wanting to try it or just to prove his point (he is a very stubborn child). Once in a great while we have a small success. It's tough. I've had many opinions thrown at me about how to handle it. One pediatrician said let him eat what he wants, he'll grow out of it eventually. Another pediatrician said to make him eat what we eat or let him go hungry. After a while he'll give in and eat because he'll be hungry. I remember him using a reference to kids in ethiopa and how there are no picky eaters there because they don't have a choice. I wasn't so sure but my husband wanted to try it. So we did. But after four weeks of trying it just failed miserably. He would opt for time out instead eating, he went to bed without eating, we would hold the dinner and save it for the next night and he would still not eat. He started asking what was for dinner as soon as he got home from school sometimes even before he left for school, he even developed a nervous tick. He was so anxious over it that he started to fear mealtime. I couldn't do it anymore. I said what's the point in battling this out. Look what it's doing to him (and us) and he's not eating. At least with giving him his own meal he would be eating. So depending on what we make for dinner we will substitute items that he likes for the ones he doesn't. Some of the items that he won't eat doesn't always make sense. He used to love eggs, scrambed or omelet, but now he will only eat the white part of a hard-boiled egg. He has always refused to eat vegetables of any kind but loves vegetable juice. (We did get him to eat a little sweet potato just the other night.) He won't eat a chicken breast but will eat chicken nuggets. A lot of the issues with food seems to be a texture thing. He won't eat yogurt with fruit pieces in it (regardless of how small they are) but loves fruit flavored yogurt. So, we try to make sure that we have the items he likes on hand and at dinner if he doesn't like the veggie, I make him eat a fruit instead and have some vegetable juice. I do my best with giving him as balanced a dinner as possible with what he will eat. I also give him a multi-vitamin every morning. Which is something I didn't do with my oldest because he always ate so well and such a variety of foods. Will he grow out of it? I don't know. We grow a garden every year with our own veggies and herbs. We thought by getting him more involved in the garden and picking what to plant, that would help get him to eat some of the food - didn't work. At the end of the season, in the fall, he asked if he can have his own garden next year. I said sure, "we will mark a plot just for you so that you can sow, plant, weed your own garden". I was a little excited because I was hoping to try the experiment again, but he doesn't want veggies - he wants a flower garden! :) As frustrating as it can be, perseverance is key. We just keep trying. All the best, Jen
robincat picture
Hi Jenwayland, Sorry to hear about your troubles. My youngest is only 8 months, so we don't know how that will develop (she'll eat puree if it includes yogurt, and little chunks of pretty much all the food groups). But just so I know, what DO you do to feed your youngest? Do you make him his own meals? Do you present him with things you know he won't like and hope he'll try them anyway? The other day I had a big row with my Mom because she told my eldest that he couldn't have salad until he ate his mashed potatoes (of all weird things, one of the only things he won't eat is potatoes - wouldn't touch a french fry for almost 4 years). It was ridiculous. How do you avoid these sorts of stand-offs? Thanks Catherine
jenwayland picture
I have two boys and we started both on the eat what we eat method, using very little baby food. We would just mash up what we were eating. They definitely preferred the flavors of adult food over what was in those jars. My oldest (13yrs) has always been a really good eater - eating all kinds of vegetables never afraid to try anything new. My youngest (7yrs)... well, let's just say that as he got older he started eating less and less. He went for weeks where he wouldn't eat hardly any dinner, some nights nothing. He stopped eating items that he previously loved (ie: one summer he refused to eat any tomatoes including any tomato pieces found in sauce and he absolutely loved them before where I would have to limit him before he would end up making himself ill). It's been extremely difficult to get him to start eating some of the items he used to like let alone trying something completely new. Meal times for my youngest have become a source of anxiety for him. It's not that easy sometimes and I agree with robincat - you can't condemn all parents of picky eaters without knowing the story. For all the parents out there that have children who will try and eat anything (like my oldest son) - congrats. And for those parents who struggle with ensuring their picky eaters get the nutrition they need to grow healthy and strong, I feel your pain. It's not easy and can be frustrating because you don't always know what the best way to move forward is especially when what works for one child is not what works for another. Good luck!
robincat picture
Food imprinting is undoubtedly important. But some kids will be picky eaters nonetheless (not mine so far, luckily, but I know plenty of children who are horrible eaters but whose siblings eat everything). Let us not condemn all parents of picky eaters.
klynn0216 picture
people still start their babies with white rice cereal out of a package? do they all still stick it in their formula bottles at one month, too, "so they sleep longer?" i skipped the rice cereal altogether...and the purees. my 10 month old is learning that "candy" is dried cherries, blueberries, strawberries, and raisins. she only gets "baby cereal" when i dust her avacados and bananas with it cause theyre slimy and a bit difficult for her to pick up without them completely smooshing...and its easier for me to pick the thrown [i mean, accidentally dropped] pieces off the carpet, too. my daughter also eats carrots and squash and asparagus and broccoli and WHATEVER i happen stick on her tray. she makes a funny face when its something new, but after a few tries with it, she has a whole new flavor and texture to love! that being said, she does eat rice, but its whole- brown or wild rice...just like i eat. i feed her like this because III eat like crap. meat and potatoes and a lil vegitables every now and then...and i loath fruit. im trying to change my bad habits, but as im working on that im hoping that i can mature her palate in a way that she wont have bad habits to change. at least, not when it comes to healthy eating. :)
sabrai picture
We have a rule in our house that we all eat everything. When my kids were younger, if they wanted seconds on one thing, they had to have seconds on everything. If they didn't eat the other seconds, they had them cold for the next meal. This only had to happened once. My kids are 13 and 15 now and they will eat anything and they are always willing to try new foods. It is like a big adventure anytime we try a new ethnic restaurant. I've had to also learn to eat better in order to be a good example.
AnastasiaB picture
Most parents are surprised when I tell them that my two year old likes cucumbers, cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, etc... I definitely attribute her 'unpickiness' to eating healthy while I was pregnant/exclusively breastfeeding and giving her the same foods we eat once she started solids. She does not know what candy is, I've been able to ward off attempts by grandparents to give her candy! We stick to real food and I make everything from scratch, even bread. :)
organicmontessori picture
Our three children started with brown rice cereal. They ate one box each and then moved on to oat cereal. They still enjoy real oatmeal in the winter (not instant). They have been fed a variety whole food dinners and encouraged to try new things. They snack on multi-grain bagels, vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit and crackers and cheese. Their favorite dinner out is sushi. I think Dr. Greene is on the right track. I wish more parents understood the importance of healthy eating for educational success.
Adica picture
My parents practiced this with my brother and me without even knowing it. Any time some parent would try to impress other parents by saying, "My 6-year-old loves to eat [some vegetable or other healthy food]," that was supposed to show of their parenting skills by its rarity, my mom would be able to one-up them by saying that when my brother and I were 4, we'd not only eat but also ask for saurkraut, with pork chops and saurkraut being my favorite food as a child. No one could ever top it. All my parents did was make the food and see if we liked it, never assuming we wouldn't like it. If we tried it didn't like it, *then* we could eat a bowl of cereal (which were always low-sugar and whole grain--to this day I can't stand eating sugary breakfast foods).
heidisue88 picture
I completely agree. What's more, baby cereal isn't necessary at all. I did use it for a very short time with my little guy but I think I'll skip it altogether the next time around and just give our future babies whatever it is we are eating (with regards to highly allergenic and hard-to-digest foods of course).
alternativehousewife picture
I saw the sister-in-law on the Duggars make whole-grain brown rice baby cereal on 19 Kids and Counting and it looked super easy! I'm not sure my kid will get baby cereal but I might make it for myself. We have a book of baby recipes (Don't really need recipes but it was fun so we put it on our registry) and I chose this particular book over the countless others because it has onion and garlic included. Most of the baby cookbooks are full of super bland food. And you wonder why your school-aged kid expects you to be a short order cook.