David Grotto is one of the top nutritionists in the country and a former spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). He has gone from owning a health food store to heading up a robust private practice as a registered dietitian (RD) and is also a three-time author and popular speaker. I was excited to get the chance to interview him.
David is also a married Dad to two girls and has wielded a frying pan with aplomb for years. We talked about what’s changing in today’s school lunch programs.
How do we get our kids to eat more vegetables?
A lot of people will say McDonald’s is the problem, but I know that they would be happy to sell a salad vs. a burger if there was a market for it. Whether fast food creates the palate is another discussion, but the market for veggies starts at home … you have to create the desire there.
Is the school lunch program getting better?
The number of green and orange vegetable servings per week has been ramped up, but when I heard that one of the guidelines is serving “identifiable vegetables” on the plate, I found that to be a personal frustration.
Presenting kids with vegetables doesn’t mean they’re going to eat them, especially if you have inner-city kids who don’t have a lot of vegetables in their diet. What about if you take those vegetables and incorporate them into foods that kids love? Pureed spinach to taco meat, pureed carrot in a smoothie, or pureed butternut squash in mac and cheese?
I was just at a conference, and it’s not published yet, but there was a study that said many of the school lunch vegetables that kids are identifying are being identified in the trash can.
How do you feel about milk?
Fluid milk consumption is actually on the decline. There is an entire generation that isn’t having the traditional glass of milk with meals. The cool thing that is happening is there are some dairy innovations that are concentrating the protein and the calcium and leaving out the lactose. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a liquid beverage … kefir, liquid yogurts, they’re fine too.
But I’m the biggest fan of making the majority of your fluid simply hydration. What I find is that even nutritious fluids can fill kids up and they won’t eat their food. Water would be ideal.
What about sugar and kids?
I think the present Academy of Pediatric Guidelines are probably the best out there. It’s really about making added sugars part of the discretionary calories and distinguishing them from naturally occurring sugars.
What about juices?
We can’t use a broad sweeping brush. It’s a bit more complicated than equating soda to juice, for example. Juice delivers far more nutrients than a soda does. It is pretty clear that moderate portions of juice are not associated with obesity. But a serving of juice is four ounces, not the 16 to 20 ounces people drink now.
Grape juice may actually be good for you. There are some phytochemicals that may actually effect glucose uptake in the digestive track. One thing we do at the Grotto house is the girls loved infused waters, so we will do fruit-infused or a “kiddie wine” with a little bit of Concord grape juice and cut it in half with sparkling water.
If you’d like to read another great interview I did with David, please check out my post on Lisa Johnson Fitness where we talk about “What is ketosis?”