PYP 123: Dina Rose on Helping Parents End the Food Fights

dina-roseDina Rose, PhD, grew up in a household rife with dysfunctional lessons, attitudes, and behaviors related to food and eating. Her mother struggled with food and obesity, and ultimately died of obesity-related illness when Dina was 5 months pregnant with her daughter.

Dina did not want to repeat history, so she dove into the question of how to teach kids to eat healthy and develop a positive relationship with food. Her background in sociology allowed her to step back from the parenting fads of the moment, and look at the big picture issue of socialization: how we pass values and habits and mindsets to our children.

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die-hard-buildingWhat was obvious from the start was, we’re doing it all wrong. Parents who know the difference between healthy food and junk food still end up giving in, giving up, and negotiating every bite like it was the entire building of hostages in Die Hard.

Or enforcing their iron will on every meal and turning family time into bitter, glaring battlegrounds (Howard sheepishly raises his hand and owns this one).

Dina’s book, It’s Not About the Broccoli, turns all this around with grace and common sense. It’s fantastic, and I hope every parent of an infant, toddler, or child gets the message.

not-broccoliDina is not a nutritionist, so her views on healthy and unhealthy are fairly mainstream, rather than reflecting the plant-based evidence I share so abundantly on this podcast. But that didn’t matter to me, and it shouldn’t matter to you. The principles apply, and perhaps even more precisely and usefully, when you want your kids to adopt a whole food, plant-based diet.

Because this information is so powerful, and because so many parents struggle with this issue, I predict that this interview will quickly become the most downloaded and listened to of the entire Plant Yourself Podcast catalogue.

In our conversation, Dina and I discuss:

  • her journey of discovery (and the incredible nugget she found buried in the fine print of a US government website)
  • the problem with the “nutrition mindset”
  • the difference between “winning the meal” and building healthy habits for a lifetime
  • the nutrition traps that parents fall into
  • the danger of being a “hunger avoider” parent (and eater)
  • the surprising problem that comes with knowing developmental psychology
  • the difference between tooth brushing, bath time, seat belts, and food
  • why we should focus on taste rather than nutrition in talking to our kids
  • why kids rely on two phrases to gain control over their food – “I don’t like it” and “I’m not hungry” – and how we can expand their eating vocabulary and influence their behaviors in a more honest way
  • the principle of proportion
  • the principle of variety
  • the principle of moderation (the good kind)
  • why the supermarket now reminds me of Amsterdam’s Red Light District (not entirely safe for children 😉
  • the dangers of making healthy versions of common junk foods (i.e. plant-based pizzas and cookies) – a perspective that really challenges one of the plant-based community’s staple strategies
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.


It's Not About the Broccoli – on amazon – Dina's website

The Pleasure Trap – by Alan Goldhamer and Doug Lisle

Bonus book that I was thinking about but didn't bring up during the interview: Punished by Rewards – by Alfie Kohn


The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,

One Response to “PYP 123: Dina Rose on Helping Parents End the Food Fights”

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  1. Thank You says:

    Lots of good information. Bought the book to give to a family member. Hopefully this gift will go over well and they actually read it; and apply it. Kids you know are the future and without good guidance, they will have a much harder life than necessary.

    Thank You

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