It’s Not About the Broccoli: Book Review

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It's Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating by Dina Rose, PhD

Daunting? Intimidating? Maybe slightly annoying? These were the thoughts that skipped through my mind as I glanced at the words printed across the top of Dina Rose’s new book.

Rose is a sociologist, a parent educator, a researcher, and—importantly, to me—a writer. She has a lot to say and says it well. These titles gave her credibility and readability in my biased eyes. But she also has “feeding expert” in her list of what-I-dos. And, at first blush, that’s what gave me pause.

As a woman bombarded with food issues on the inside and out, I thought Leave my kids alone. Do not let this—all of this—touch them.

But when I cracked open Rose’s book, what I gulped in—in just a matter of days—is this: Rose’s message is to change this conversation from food to habits. And that gave me pause in the good way.

Rose uses her 15 years of education, research, and parenting to speak to the shifts we need to make to create three new habits that all kids can learn.

Her claim drew me in: “When parents focus solely on nutrition, their kids—surprisingly—eat poorly. But when families shift their emphasis to behaviors—the skills and habits their kids are taught—they learn to eat right.

This book is broken into only two parts: How We Got Here and Teaching Habits. I like that. It’s hard to use the word “daunting” about a two-part book with three habits to teach. Rose backs up her ideas with research and gives the why-s and the all-important how-s to teach these three eating habits:

1. Proportion
2. Variety
3. Moderation

The theory is to move from making it meal-to-meal to creating a lifetime of good habits and ways and relationships with food. It’s parenting the issue. And if I’m honest, these habits are important lessons learned for adults—for me—too.

One of the only negative comments readers gave Rose’s book is that she doesn’t address how to handle this teaching when you have more than one child with more than one bad habit to break. I think this works like everything else in parenting more than one child at the same time—you create the family framework, see how each child responds, and go from there one step at a time.

I do recommend this book for both parents of younger kids who feel like they’re in the thick of hearing But I don’t like it! But also for parents who’ve been at this for awhile and whose families might be ready to change their conversation around food.

This is a quick read and the “what’s in it for me” (WIFM) is pretty enticing: A lifelong good relationship with food via learning three healthy habits.

What do you think of Rose’s claim? Is it about the broccoli?

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