On November 1, the National Pork Board invited dietitians, caregivers, health professionals and researchers to a webinar where they learned how language can nudge children toward healthier eating habits.
Opening Remarks from the National Pork Board
NPB’s director of nutrition research, Kristen Hicks-Roof, PhD, RDN, LDN, CLC, FAND, welcomed attendees by letting them know that pork has a huge role to play in discussions around food choice, exposure, language, and acceptance in children.
She shared that multiple factors influence dietary habits and are reciprocally interacting, so they cannot be viewed separately.
Exploring Food Exposure Across a Child’s Lifespan
Dr. Hicks-Roof then shed light on the crucial role of pork in shaping children’s food preferences and dietary habits, emphasizing the early onset of food exposure, and highlighting how biological predispositions such as taste and pleasure, can influence the choices a child makes.
She noted that using certain phrases when describing flavors or amid food exposures can directly impact children’s eating behavior. Phrases that help point out the sensory qualities of food could encourage children to try new foods. Dr. Hicks-Roof let attendees know there are over 90 natural flavor nuances in pork.
She also shared the science behind hunger and satiety, emphasizing the pivotal role of protein intake and importance of lean pork in informing conditional satiety.
Dr. Hicks-Roof then explained the role of conditioned satiety, or, how children learn what foods make them feel fuller for longer, can affect food experiences.
Dr. Hicks-Roof also emphasized the influence parents have on their children’s eating patterns and benefit of family meals to increase diet quality. Additionally, she shed light on pork’s affordability, nutrition and cultural significance as pork is a widely consumed meat globally. She shared research from the USDA Thrifty Food Plan which highlighted lean pork and its role in promoting healthy food choices, making it a significant driver in children’s dietary behaviors.
Dr. Hicks-Roof highlighted how animal proteins like pork can be used to expose kids to new food experiences and help kids overcome fear of new foods or neophobia.
She presented researched that showed children tend to require up to 15 exposures of a new food before it is “trusted” and thus tasted and a further 10 to 15 exposures to bring about a liking of the food.
Dr. Hicks-Roof clarified that pork is the ultimate carrier food for busting through food neophobia in children, unlocking a new world of varied food exposures, and supporting opportunities to use positive, inclusive language during conversations about food with children.
The Power of Language
Isabel Ramos-Lebron, MS, RDN, LD, of the National CACFP Sponsors Association then explained the importance of language, neutral phrases, and avoiding food shaming around food to increase consumption of nutritious foods among children.
Ramos-Lebron then shared how the foods we consume are impacted by our culture. She highlights how pork was used in her household as a kid.
Lastly, she shared food descriptors to use when talking about pork, emphasizing how food descriptors can expand children’s vocabulary and help them improve communication with parents, guardians, teachers and peers.
During this activity she explored the five senses – sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste and encouraged participants to describe various dishes featuring pork. She emphasized how individuals may have different ways to describe food, but by using food descriptors during snack and meal times, children can explore new foods while also enhancing their sensory perception. She also highlighted how pork is an optimal food for children due to its flavors, diverse textures, and ability to complement other foods.
The Role of Health Care Professionals: How Can They Support?
NPB’s Director of Health & Wellness Initiatives, Emily Krause (Parent), MFCS, RD, LD, FAND, explained how healthcare professionals can encourage foods that reflect a family’s culture and budget.
Krause then emphasized the significance of variety, moderation and exposure of food, using pork as a case study in both retail grocery and outpatient settings. She shared multiple tips that HCPs can present to families to improve exposure.
NPB partnered with experts in the field of food and nutrition assistance programs to provide three new handouts that you can use in your practice
1. Nutrition for Your Baby’s First Bite: Helping you make every bite count at any age
2. Phrases that Help and Hinder
3. Nutrition on Demand
Watch the Full Recording
Claim Your CPEU
This webinar has been approved for 1 Continuing Professional Education Unit (CPEU) from the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This is an ethics-related CPE activity.
If you are seeking Continuing Professional Education credit and have feedback about this activity, please send comments to [email protected].