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No Milk Please

Do you have a child who balks at drinking their milk?  While this can be a cause for concern, it can also be a positive learning experience.  Here's some points:

  • If you child is actually allergic to milk, you will need to follow your doctor's or dietitian's recommendations to be sure your child's calcium needs are being met.
  • If your child is lactose intolerant, he or she may be able to eat modest helpings of yogurt, cheese and other cultured milk products.  If not, look into lactose-free milk products or (with your medical professional's approval) the lact-aid type supplements which allow persons with this problem to drink milk comfortably.
  • It doesn't pay to harass your child to drink milk if they really don't want to, for several reasons.  First, it doesn't do much for parent-child relations.  It disturbs the peace of the family and the household.  It's unkind.  Last, and most important, you may be able to force them to drink milk when small, but sooner or later that won't work as they grow older.  The need for calcium is lifelong.  Use this obstacle as a learning experience.  By teaching them about the need for calcium and how to get it from other sources, you will help them establish life-long good eating habits.  

When my youngest daughter was eight or nine, she resisted drinking enough milk.  I talked to her about the need for calcium to make strong bones and teeth (most of this probably went over her head), and the fact that getting sufficient calcium was a requirement.  If she didn't want to drink milk, she had to get it from other sources (this was before calcium-rich orange juice came on the market), including taking a calcium pill with a large glass of fruit juice every day.  I showed her a calcium pill.  Although able to swallow pills, this relatively large one was daunting.   After thinking it over, she decided to drink some of her milk, eat  extra cheese and yogurt and occasionally take a calcium supplement.

Naturally it's a waste of time to explain things to very small children.  Serve them things they'd like. Try flavored milk:  chocolate, Purple Cow or in cold weather, serve Guilt-Free Hot Chocolate.  Serve cereal with milk and "cream" style soups with extra milk.  Go for  calcium-fortified juices, low-fat fruit yogurt, cottage cheese, macaroni and reduced fat cheese (not the boxed stuff), lasagna, grated cheese on pasta, pizza with mozzarella, veggies with real reduced-fat cheddar, even tofu in tiny cubes added to stir fry, salad and casseroles.  Sprinkle shredded cheese on tacos, burritos, fritattas and omelets.  Make Cheesy Grits and low-fat Grilled Cheese Plus Sandwiches.  Add evaporated milk to mashed potatoes, gravies and other side dishes for double calcium.  Try canned salmon patties or croquettes; use the kind that has the crumbly bones in it.  Hispanic children love "dulce de leche", a sweetened milk boiled down until it makes almost a crumbly-hard milk fudge.  Pudding is good, as well as cobbler, flan and custard pies.  Try Creamy Brown Rice PuddingCherry Berry Fake Cheesecake and Perfect Cheesecake Pie.

Don't let the kids deplete their calcium supply by drinking sodas.  Also, if sweetened soft drinks are available, they'll be much less likely to drink milk or calcium-fortified juices.

By learning to like and eat calcium-rich foods, your children will be establishing life-long good habits that will help ward off brittle bones in later life.  You'll be turning a difficulty into a positive experience.  

The Sneaky Kitchen
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