Training our children's palates with healthy foods

When I first introduced my children to food when they were infants, there was a lot that they truly enjoyed, and none of it had any sugar or salt added. It was all they knew, and they were thrilled. I even made the food myself, and still did not add any seasonings to improve upon the flavor.

A baby's sense of taste is developed based on exposure. And a healthy and consistent early exposure can set the pace for a life long of healthy eating and food choices. If he becomes accustomed to foods that are high in sugar or added salt, he may only opt for those foods with the additives. As parents, we need to carefully train our kids to eat healthy.

As the kids get older, it becomes more difficult to control what they eat, and convenience starts to take over. Sure, it's much simpler sometimes to pour a bowl of cereal for breakfast rather than cook up some eggs, or to cut open a can of Spaghettio's for lunch instead of cooking grilled chicken and steamed veggies. Plus, sometimes you just want to let a kid be a kid.

Well, thanks to General Mills (and other cereal manufacturers) and Campbell Soup, us moms can feel a bit more comfortable serving these foods to our kids occasionally.

Here's why.

Campbell Soup Co. announced recently that it will cut the amount of sodium in its SpaghettiOs canned pastas by up to 35 percent, in an effort to make healthier products for children. Campbell has cut the sodium level in more than 100 of its products -- including V8 juices, Prego sauces, Pepperidge Farm breads and its namesake soups -- by 25 percent to 50 percent over the past four years.

General Mills, which makes Lucky Charms, Trix and Cocoa Puffs, announced that it planned to lower the amount of sugar in its cereals marketed to children. Last year, Kellogg Co. reformulated a number of its U.S. cereals including Froot Loops, Apple Jacks and Corn Pops. The changes vary according to product but decreased the sugar by 1 to 3 grams per serving. Kellogg also added fiber to some of its cereals. Post Foods said it has cut the sugar content in both Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles by 20 percent. And it increased the vitamin D in Pebbles and Honeycomb cereals this year.

Shh, don’t tell the kids.

Moms know best, and some manufacturers are taking heed. Finally! Someone is taking action. Consumers want readily available products that aren't incredibly bad for you. Of course these foods should not be the staple in anyone's diet, but I am happy to see the revisions for when we're looking for convenience, or some simple comfort food. I am assuming these manufacturers will experience an increase in sales, rather than a decrease due to disappointed long time customers. So, as far as I’m concerned, I would have welcomed these changes a long time ago.


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