Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review + Giveaway: Constructive Eating: No More Fights at the Table

Mindful eating promotes joyful eating and joyful eating promotes healthy eating

WHAT: Constructive Eating's  Construction and Garden Fairy Set
INVENTORS: Carter and Jackie Malcolm
DOES: allows your child to be more actively involved in feeding himself/herself
INVEST:  $19.95 (for utensils only) plate ($14.95) additional items available
1+ ? (depends on you and your child)
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: One set includes the utensils, plate, and mat!  Woo-hoo!Your choice theme (garden or construction)

What do the grandparents think of these utensils? I can see them being the most opinionated about this.

Not long ago, I wrote an article for Quartz which was also published in The Atlantic about two areas where I wanted to teach my kids about gratitude: food and play.  If you think about it, we all can't live without these two things, especially kids.  Now as adults, we know that some of our life's struggles will involve these two areas and it may not even matter how wealthy we are or aren't.  Struggling with too much or too little food and/or play depends on how mindful one can be about himself.

Some people will face these demons in their middle age and others will start early.  Parents of the latter type can either spend the time complaining or be grateful that future problems have shown themselves early, giving us a chance to nip them in the bud.

These are my two favorite pieces.  The pusher ROCKS!

You think I'd choose the latter but you know what? I have done a WHOLE LOT of complaining.  I have said everything and done everything!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • "sneaky chef" type cooking -FAIL- my kids' tongues can detect ANYTHING... even the tiniest hint of parsley. UGH!
  • the small portion-frequent feeding approach - FAIL - unrealistic
  • the starving kids in Africa lecture - oh and I even showed videos too - most ineffective method by far!
  • showing them cooking shows on T.V. - good until I realized that these cooking shows were really mean to contestants!  scrapped that idea!
  • yelling- of course, FAIL
I had been eyeing the constructive eating set for quite sometime.  I saw it and said, "Oh, what has the world become? Must we go this far for our kids to eat?"  The answer is different for everyone.  But for me, the answer is YES... or rather HELL YES.

Getting my kid to even look at his plate is a huge deal. One tip: I get more results when I say "hold onto your spoon" than saying, "eat!"

I think this is just so smart. It creates a level of ability that encourages more independence at the table.


My kids' tutor had dinner with us one evening, prior to our constructive eating plates arriving and then she had dinner with us again after they came.  Right away she declared Constructive Eating a "miracle."  #1 Son is a horrible eater (she had seen that) but with the new tools, this boy was eating neatly, not spilling one smidge of food onto the table or the floor and then this was the kicker.....  he was even eating and then TALKING to us like the way grown-ups eat and talk, very natural.... for him, it was alien.

That day, I quietly declared myself The Smartest Mother in America.

Can a little plate and specialized utensils create miracles?  You just have to believe....

But then about a month later, I had to give my title back. Les miracles vanished- POOF!  Why? Well, to a highly fickle and capricious kid like mine, of course, the novelty wore off.  But you know... I still love this product because it is designed to promote independence and mindfulness. As long as he keeps using it, I know we are on the right path.  I was never looking for a miracle anyway, rather I was looking for a tool and this one is great!  #2 is different, but I know this is it for both of them anyway. (#2 sensory sensitivities in the mouth- can't stand fruit and veggies either)  Like I always say, the best products are a good fit for more than one kind of kid.

Very bold in purple and green - I love it!

CAN YOUR KID "DO LUNCH"?  Your social demeanor at work is important too.
Constructive eating encourages the use of two hands to eat without having to teach them how to use a knife. This will help prepare them for when it comes time to learn to eat like civilized people (pushing food onto the fork using their knife and learning where the salad fork goes)  When I was in college, I met a boy who could eat a chicken wing with a knife and fork.  He picked it clean.   Impressive. Apparently, he had learned this in an all boys boarding school. Fancy!  I know some people would be annoyed but it I saw that having such skills at the table were rather cool.  He ate it so neatly and gracefully and still managed to talk to my gawking self.
The fact that each bite using the pusher must be "constructed"is great but the design of the tool ensures that there will be neat bite. No heaping spoonful that you can't fit into your mouth because if it can't fit onto the spoon, the food will fall off. Kids like that.  It's like watching sand fall off the shovel.  Watch the video.  Either way, small bites are the way to go. Small bites allows you to be a conversationalist at the dinner table. Mouth stuffing will only help you to lose girlfriends and job opportunities.

Using two hands (as opposed to picking up cut up pieces with one fork) also allows one to be more "present" in the moment: being more mindful.  We all strive for mindfulness here- we need to eat with our body in mind- learn to listen to our bodies.  I do worry that my kid who hates eating will be really big one day.  We must train our kids to be more mindful eaters alone and socially.  I like Geneen Roth's tips for women but you can modify for the family.

PROMOTE ADVENTUROUS EATING- For self-confidence and health
There are small compartments for sauce or for "unpopular" food for the kids who are anxious about trying new foods.  Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Susan Roberts, author of My Kid Eats Everything, would often tell me that exposure first is important and even getting the child not to toss it off his plate is progress.

Using the same plate that ensures small bites can be helpful for introducing new foods to anxious children.  #2 has been much better about trying new foods. This was an unexpected result.  All we wanted was #1 to stop eating like a caveman but who knew that #2 would become as much more confident eater (he's 6).


Are you under the impression that things make in the U.S.A are of particular good quality?  I didn't want to be one of those people who just naturally assumed this and I but say that this plate makes teh "MADE IN THE USA" label look darn good. The material is outstanding.  They are super sturdy and do not stain like other plastic plates and utensils and I have used those super stainers like tomato sauce and curry which contains turmeric, and leaves the same color stain that it does on newborn onesies (you know what I'm talking about).

I rarely own plastic like this anywhere in the house.  Oh, and by the way, we've had these guys for almost six months now.  They still look great. Nothing has fallen off.  Nothing has broken.  I will say that I wish my dishwasher wasn't broken but it is much easier to clean this with a dishwasher with hot soapy water.  It can get at those cracks and crevices better.  Seriously, with plastic that doesn't look dull after using it almost everyday for six months... what else is there to say? It's worth every penny.


Better eating habits means no more making three dinners for your family. (my goal before they go to middle school.)  This saves time and money and that prevents emotional stress too.  Emotional stress causes its own expenses ie. wine drinking and stress eating after yet another food battle between Iron Chef Mom and Picky Child Judge whom she'd like to eject from the table.

You might find this pricey for what you think a kid's plate should be.  As someone who has purchased 3 sets, I can say that if you think you really need this then I'm sorry to sound like a saleswoman but I do feel strongly about this. You are wasting an opportunity and the window is only open for so long.  I can't see 12-year-olds using this plate. In fact, to a parent of an 18 month old, I'd recommend this set too. I wish I had this for #1 when he was a wee toddler and showing signs of distractability at the table.
Eating was never an issue for him but fear of new foods is. This does help! He also needs to practice bilateral coordination more anyway so it's a double win! 

MINDFUL EATING: It's for Everyone

I know I complain about my kids and their eating troubles which you or may not consider to be typical kid behavior.  The truth is, it really doesn't matter - at least not with this product - because you don't have to have an eating issue to gain a lot from Constructive Eating.  I think the practice of having two hands working in sync with each other to take small bites promotes focus and mindful eating and anything that promotes mindful eating is good for all small young humans. Think about all the very big old humans who have very serious food-related health issues right now (gulp- this includes me!). But there is hope!!!!!!!!! Thanks to the husband and wife team of a designer and pediatric speech and language pathologist, who are parents just like us, they have created an awesome product that children can use to practice being mindful at the table.  It's simply genius.

And now try to win your own Constructive Eating Set and build more mindful eating ASAP!

Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win!
educational toy, best educational game, best educational toy, learning tools, toys for learning, toys are tools, child development, therapeutic toys, special needs toys, gifted children toys, games for gifted kids, 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Where to buy:

Try My Amazon Links and Support Toys Are Tools


Try My Links to Ark Therapeutic- where they have tons of feeding solutions!! These links support Toys Are Tools too!!!  You'll also find placemats there too!

Constructive Plate $14.95
Garden Fairy Plate $14.95
Constructive Utensils $ 17.49
Garden Fairy Utensils $17.49

Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturer for the publication of this review.  The reviewed items were provided to Toys are Tools to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised. 



  1. In order to teach my children and grandchildren to love vegetables, I introduced many different vegetables at an early age before too many fruits were introduced. As toddlers they were involved with planting, growing and picking vegetables from our garden. I love that they now all enjoy veggies - makes mealtime much easier and healthier!

  2. Our magic meal is teriyaki chicken, rice and broccoli!

  3. The one meal that works for everyone in my house would be hamburger and fries(my son has autism and doesn't eat many foods)

  4. I wish there was a suction machine that you turned on at the table during meals and it would catch all the crumbs and mess my son leaves behind.

  5. the truth is my son eats best when he is watching tv or listening to music so I often have to try these to get him to eat