Quinn on Nutrition: Magnet makes meals fun for picky eaters

May 23, 2016

After sharing that my almost 4 year-old granddaughter is going through her "I donít want to eat anything green" stage, my friend Trish invited me for coffee.

"This might be something you can use," she said as she handed me a flat package enclosed in clear plastic. She explained how ó troubled by the obesity and poor eating habits she observed in this generation of young children ó she had developed the Magic Mealtime Magnet with guidance from registered dietitian and licensed medical nutrition therapist Kristin Kesterson.  

I was intrigued. Along with its paper doll-like magnet that can be converted with various hairstyles into a boy or a girl, this teaching toy provides current recommendations for feeding kids ages 3 to 12 years. And it includes magnetic pictures of various foods to help children learn nutrient groups.  I promised to try it out on my granddaughter.

When Miss Frances came to visit, I told her I had a surprise and plopped the magnetic picture on my refrigerator door. I had her attention.

As her mom watched, I asked, "Tell me what you ate for breakfast this morning?"

"Yogurt," her mom volunteered. I pulled off the magnetic yogurt carton and handed it to Frances. She placed it in the dairy group, which encourages children her age to eat 3 small servings of high calcium foods each day.

By lunch time, she had accumulated granola, egg and cheese on her Mealtime Magic board. She could also see that two food groups ó fruits and vegetables ó had not been added to her collection of magnetic pictures for the day.

Itís no surprise that most young children do not consume their recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables which is about 1 cup of fruit and 1 cup of vegetables. And according to research reported in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the formula to encourage a positive relationship between little people and these foods is Ö complicated. 

Simply serving fruits and vegetables to kiddos, say experts, may not be as effective as we would wish. 

How did a refrigerator magnet toy that helps kids count and classify the foods they have eaten help Frances? By the middle of the afternoon, she and her mom realized they would for sure include a fruit and/or vegetable with dinner tonight. And her mom remarked, "I need to get about five of these kits to send to my friends with young kids."

It remains to be seen if this fun refrigerator activity will magically change the way Miss Frances views green foods. Magic Mealtime Magnet is just one of many available encouragements for helping kids learn good choices. Itís a fun way to start. Contact Trish at for more information.




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