Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pediasure-the answer to all your feeding worries!

I'm a little more than dismayed at the ads recently for Pediasure. It plays on the worst fears of parents. "Be 110% sure!" (My goodness, Timmy didn't eat the food pyramid yesterday. That could effect his brain development! I need to do something! Or Becky is at the 3rd percentile, and the doctor is threatening me with a 'failure to thrive' diagnosis! Help!)

On TV, a pyramid of wholesome foods float in the air. Slowly, foods disappear from the pyramid as little Ashley refuses to eat more and more foods. Phew! Thank goodness there is Pediasure which magically floats in and fills the holes!

Did you watch the ad? Please do, then answer these questions:

How do you feel about your kids eating? Anxious? Worried?
Do you want to "feed your child's potential?"
What if your child IS missing some nutrient. It can't hurt can it?
What emotion are they attacking? Guilt? Are they reassuring or fear-mongering?
What if my child's development is being effected!

OK, and why is it that in all the ads (I watched them) the kids don't eat any real food, but all LOVE the taste of Pediasure...

How could you NOT "feed your kids potential."

The quick fix. The prescription (literally) for picky or small kids. Many physicians who don't have the time or training to address feeding problems, will recommend Pediasure. WIC (supplemental food assistance for women, infants, children) participants need a prescription.

At a recent WIC workshop, a nutritionist mentioned that there are "great recipes" using Pediasure. When asked if she had ever tried any, she said, 'no.' I wouldn't either. The dietitians bemoaned that fact that the docs all rush to Pediasure and don't address feeding at all.

Yummo! Cooking with Pediasure! (Sarcasm in case you missed it.)

Here is an example of a recipe...
Banana-Chip Muffins (not endorsed by FFD...)


1 14-oz package Pillsbury® Banana Quick Bread & Muffin Mix

1 8-fl-oz bottle Vanilla or Banana PediaSure
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Are the recipes balanced, or a way to sell more products owned by the umbrella company...

I don't deny that there are some children who really do need nutritional support or even exclusive or supplemental tube feeds (those with certain rare medical or physical conditions,) but that is not who Pediasure is marketing to. They are marketing to the average parent who worries about nutrition, who struggles with feeding and likely a picky child. I would also guess there is an army of attractive sales reps making the rounds with free lunches to pediatricians offices too...

My friend, who's child fell of the growth curve after a GI illness was instructed to offer food all day long with Pediasure being the central food. She literally chased her toddler around with a sippy-cup full of Pediasure for weeks. It didn't help and intake continued to suffer. A feeding clinic work-up later, and they were basically sent home with a list of recommendations from Ellyn Satter's work: structure, no grazing, sit-down meals and snacks, no pressure, Division of Responsibility...

Because in fact it is less work- for the physician and for the parent (less effective I might add) to reach for the quick fix, the "pill" in bottle form to fix the problem rather than to delve into feeding. Less work to have a sippy-cup of Pediasure than it is to shop for, plan and prepare 3 sit-down meals and 2-3 sit-down snacks. It is less work to hand the child a bottle than to sit with them and eat.

What could my friend have done (she didn't ask, so I didn't offer...) First, grazing, or drinking supplements all day in small quantities doesn't work. Kids don't develop a proper appetite and studies show that they will eat less well and grow less well.

(Note, this is general info, and is not intended to replace an evaluation or work-up. In other words I don't want to recommend stopping Pediasure in case you, gentle Reader have a child who really needs it.)

So, if you are using Pediasure, start by bringing it into sit-down meals and snacks every 2-3 hours for smaller children and every 3-4 for older. Offer balanced foods with those meals and snacks. Sit and eat with your child as much as possible. Don't let them graze in between. Allow them the opportunity to get hungry. Not too hungry, but come to the table with some hunger. Stop pressuring or bribing. In other words, follow the Division of Responsibility in feeding.

OK, that's it. My mini-rant on Pediasure, a whirlwind bit of advice.

Folks, what have your experiences been with Pediasure?


  1. Have you seen the commercials where they try to sell Pedisure by literally turning kids into what they eat...donuts and french fries running around on the soccer field made to look slow/lazy and un-athletic. Talk about assigning guilt and fear to foods, right? Then the kid who drank the Pediasure comes sprinting into the game and scores the winning goal right through the donut kid's hole? Admittedly funny visuals but with sad and dangerous consequences...the kicker is that this ad ran during an eating disorder documentary! Mixed messages. :(

  2. Thanks Kate, I did see that one. I think I was watching the same documentary. Did you notice the Victoria's Secret ad at the end of the second episode? Talk about mixed messages...

  3. What struck me about that commercial was that the Pediasure was given in the kitchen (unlike the fast food, which was likely eaten in the car). If you're home in the kitchen to have Pediasure, why not try a snack of "real" food?

  4. totally agree. And, you'll note she grabbed a banana too. A banana and milk would be great. A lot less processed, and likely less refined sugar than Pediasure... there was a move to make chocolate flavored formula recently. The company pulled it after a mountain of complaints.

  5. It makes me so sad... There are so many feeding problems out there. Recently, my daughter ate at a friend's house. The mother said to my daughter "you're a great eater! How should we get K to eat like you?" My daughter said "well, my mom just cooks dinner and if you don't eat it you get hungry." I loved it!

  6. I think this is another problem that comes from making eating to "scientific". (It's not that I'm against science, I just think that the complexity of eating is better regulated by culture than science.)If we're not following the food pyramid our kids won't eat the right combination of things. (How DID we survive as a species before the food pyramid????) Even if we're trying to follow the pyramid how will we know if we are doing it correctly?

    Since we can't get an instant nutritional anaysis of what our kids eat in a day we are forced to rely on faith. Faith that our bodies have knowledge about how much and what to eat. Faith that our food culture will offer us a adequate range of nourishing and good tasting food as well as the time to enjoy it.

    But, if we use pediasure we don't have to have faith! Science to the rescue! We don't need to follow our bodies' cues. We don't have to question or change our food culture.

    I find this very reminiscent of the way infant formula was first introduced. It was better because it was more scientific. With breastfeeding you never new how much the baby was getting. If you don't know how much the baby is getting, how do you know that it is getting enough?

    On a side note, my friend was having feeding difficulties with her son and was told to feed him Boost (or something like that). Not surprisingly, he refused to eat it and she expressed to the health care worker that it didn't help that it tasted bad. The response she got was: "But it's chocolate!". As in, it's got chocolate and sugar in it so it must taste good. REALLY? Adding chocolate to something suddenly make it taste good? Is that what I need to do to like Haggis. Just add some chocolate in with the viscera and then I'll like it?

  7. So, my daughter was small as an infant/toddler. I was given the "give her Pediasure" line... after I got the "she needs more weight or she'll be labeled 'failure to thrive'" line. I TRIED to give her that disgusting Pedisure. Even drank some myself to show her how "yummy!" it was. Ugh. It was awful AND she wouldn't touch that stuff with a ten foot pole!

    She's 9 now and I have long since accepted both her size and the rate she grows at. There is NO food pushing in this house (at least not with the kids.. I still remind the hubby to eat fruits and veggies occasionally!).

  8. Mmmmmmm, chocolate haggis!

    My only experience with Pediasure was when my daughter had the stomach flu at 18 months old. The next time she had the flu, at 4 years old, we skipped the Pediasure and went for time-honored Saltines and fizzy water. The only thing I can say about Pediasure is that it's less messy to clean up, not exactly a ringing endorsement.

    But I have experienced those Pediasure commercials way too often and they always give me a chill. Another horrible commercial shows kids listing all the food they don't like with a grimace or shudder until a plate of texturized chicken product (aka "nuggets") is put in front of them and then they all eat happily. Way to reinforce the idea to my child that kids aren't supposed to like to eat anything but chicken fingers and ketchup...thanks America!

    My solution? Never watch live TV. I record everything and then zip over the commercials as quickly as possible. This technique is also useful for skipping the bajillion toy options that we also do not need.


  9. i tried pedialyte with a GI illness with my infant. She wouldn't drink it, and we went back to apple juice... much cheaper and she actually drank it! i agree. The messages on TV are horrid. Kids and adults begin to believe that it's normal for kids to react like that, and to eat like that. It normalizes the abnormal...

  10. Pediasure was recommended to me from a physician when I tried to discuss my child's picky eating issues. We used it at meal times. It filled him up. He didn't want or need to eat any other foods at dinner. Almost two years later, I have banned it from my house and am now struggling with an even older and pickier eater thanks to that ill advice. Wish I had learned about D of R long ago. We're almost 3 months in to D of R and he's yet to try something new, but my 5 year old has and that gives me hope. However, the 4 year old is almost giddy about his independence in serving himself the foods on the table that he chooses.