Kids and Condiments

By Theresa Albert,

When I am faced with parents who are desperate with a truly fussy kid I advise them to help their child find their condiment.  Choosing at least one flavour that is loved makes just about everything go down a little bit easier. Of course it isn’t the perfect way but it does unbuckle the power struggle and help get more foods into the diet when everything tastes like at least something your child loves.

Not all condiments are created equally, though, and it helps to think outside the squeeze bottle.  Most have their pluses and minuses but their key feature is that the favourite should be freely available whenever “whine” is served.

Be prepared to be creative and flexible when you take your child shopping for his or her choice. Let him choose one bottle each time to try out new flavours and try to guide toward the higher ranking options.  This can be a palate expanding expedition or a hopelessly expensive tromp through the bottled goods aisle.  If the flavours and choices grow with your child, you are on to a good thing! Condiments are not marketed to kids with licensed characters so they are less likely to be swayed by their favourite smiley face.

The best fridges are loaded with many flavours of mustard which is the condiment that is lowest in calories but high in nutritive value. All you have to do is avoid the honey mustards and mustard blends and you can’t go wrong.  Mustard is always made from mustard seed which is a high anti-oxidant spice that has anti-inflammatory properties. If it is coloured at all it is usually with trace amounts of turmeric which is another potent anti-cancer spice. Rarely made with sugar (thus the “avoid the honeyed versions” note) and only mixed with vinegar and very little salt it offer zing for a caloric pittance.

This yogurt dip is in my fridge at all times, it goes on everything from chicken to fish to carrot sticks at snack time.

Condiment Pro Con Nutritional Rank
Mustard zero calories but high nutri sharp taste


Applesauce best if unsweetened good dip/poor dressing


Honey Mustard 10-20 calories/tbsp sodium


BBQ sauce tomato based too much sugar


Ketchup more tomato per tsp high salt/sugar


Relish/chutney Sneaky pseudo vegetable high salt/sugar/calories


Dill relish lower calorie high salt


Bottled Salad Dressing gets veg in high cal/bad fats


Mayo ok if gets more nutri foods in 100 cal / tbsp


Cheese sauce good for cooked veg saturated fat+salt


If and when parents get push back about a new or particular food, it is a worthwhile technique to have up one’s sleeve.  “Go get your condiment, Jojo!” sounds and feels much better than some of the alternatives.


About the Author:

Theresa Albert Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a nutritionist and food communications consultant. Her Food Network show,Just One Bite! aired for 5 years on both Food Network and BBC Kids. She is currently a trusted on-camera correspondent for CTV Newschannel as well as CBC and regular health expert on the daily lifestyle show, Steven and Chris which airs internationally.

Named one of Canada’s Top 25 Tweeters by Today’s Parent Magazine and one of’s 35 Favorite Bloggers, she is called for comment from every major magazine, newspaper and television outlet in Canada. She has a weekly column in the Metro Newspaper and regularly writes features for Today’s Parent, Canadian Family Magazine and blogs at Huffington Post.

Picture of Theresa Albert

Author: Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is an on-camera food and health expert, nutritionist and writer who loves to spread the word on food. She is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. Tweet with her at @theresaalbert & find her daily at

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