Starting Solids in a Positive Way

Starting Solids in a Positive Way
By Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDE, CEDRD, CDN

Photo Credit: kate_dave_hugh via Compfight cc

If you ask a hundred pediatricians or dietitians how to start feeding your baby, I can almost guarantee you’d get a hundred different responses.  Some professionals believe in baby purees, while others believe in baby-led weaning.  Some professionals say start with rice cereal, others say avocado or even sweet potato.  Even when to start feeding your baby solid foods is debatable (although most people would agree between 4–6 months).  I felt confused as a new mom—and I’m a dietitian!!

I got the go-ahead to start feeding from my pediatrician at my son’s four-month checkup, and we started a week later.  I knew with my mom’s intuition that it really didn’t matter what food we started with—we would eventually figure out a good plan.  However, I really wanted to start off with feeding in a positive way, knowing that these were amazing habits to keep for the whole family. I’m definitely not perfect, but here are some guidelines I’m attempting to follow:

1.  Just like breastfeeding or bottle feeding, I’m trying to learn his hunger and fullness cues when it comes to solids.  I remind myself that when he gets annoyed and doesn’t open his mouth, he’s full and the meal is over (even if there is a lot of food left).

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2.  I’m doing my best to limit distractions like having the TV on in the background or toys nearby.  Just like adults, children get distracted by their surroundings.

3.  I’m usually eating with my baby during a feeding.  When he sees me eat, he tries to grab what I’m eating.  It’s never too early to start sharing meals together, even if (for now) we’re eating different foods.

4.  I’m dedicated to spreading positive messages about food, including what I say about my own food choices and my own body in front of my child. My five-month-old may not understand this, but other people I’m with everyday certainly do.  I want my son to grow up learning about health in a way that makes him feel good about his choices and confident about his body.  It’s never too early to make this a priority.

You must read this interview with the one and only, Dr. Linda Bacon!

Health at Every Size and Body Respect—a Discussion with Dr. Linda Bacon
By Erica Leon, MS, RDN, CDN, CEDRD
Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian
Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor


Photo Credit: Michael Newton via Compfight cc

With the ever-present discussion of the “childhood obesity epidemic,” I asked Dr. Linda Bacon[i], an internationally recognized authority on topics related to nutrition, weight, and health metabolism, to describe exactly how best to approach weight concerns among parents and practitioners alike. Dr. Bacon proposes a major paradigm shift from conventional weight management practices to what is now referred to as “Health at Every Size.”


Body Respect

According to Dr. Bacon, the Health at Every Size message starts from respect.

She summarized it by saying, “This respect is for our own personal lived experiences as well as those of our children, as there is no objective truth to what we are ‘supposed’ to eat or ‘how’ to eat it. What is going to work best for our bodies can be learned by developing a critical awareness of our own bodily sensations [emphasis added].”

She offered the following examples of this concept: “‘Eat your fruits and vegetables because they are ‘good for you,’ and stay away from junk foods’ is a parenting message that takes the child’s inner body trust and awareness away from him/her. Instead, allow your child to discover the positive benefits of added fiber (from fruits and veggies) such as easier digestion.”


Another common example of body respect that she discussed with me is insisting that your child or teen eat breakfast. “With body respect,” Bacon says, “we allow our children to discover on their own what the consequences of missed breakfasts are. They may notice difficulty concentrating in school and have low energy. Rather than nagging, we can allow our children to keep checking in with their bodies and connect eating with improved energy.”

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What Does “Healthy Weight” Actually Mean?

“‘Healthy weight’ means different things to different people,” according to Bacon. “There is natural weight diversity across the spectrum.” According to Dr. Bacon’s most recent book, Body Respect, research shows that trying to control or manage weight (through caloric restriction or dieting), may work in the short term but more often results in rebound weight gain. Our bodies can undermine efforts at weight control because the body is enormously successful at regulating its weight. It’s not something we need to “work at”—in fact, this “control” approach ends up being counterproductive.

She explained that diets affect self-esteem as we eventually blame ourselves for not being able to maintain a restrictive diet or not losing weight. Her “Health at Every Size” philosophy is based on the idea that a better way to reach a good state of health is to manage behaviors that favor health, for example, good self-care, meaning learning to eat according to hunger and fullness cues, as well as satisfaction, choosing physical activities that are pleasurable, managing our levels of stress, and getting enough sleep. With better self-care, our bodies are more likely to stabilize at their own natural healthy weight. Bacon stated, “often the parents with the best of intentions blame themselves when things go wrong. This helps no one.  Recognize that you can’t control your kids—you can only practice and model good self-care for yourself, so you can in turn support your child.”


Help for Big Kids

When asked how best to help bigger kids, Dr. Bacon explained that “weight tells us little about kids’ health or health habits, but it does tell us a lot about how that kid will get treated in the world. The best way to help kids is provide support: let them know that the problem is in society, not their bodies. The perpetual stereotyping of fatness affects children of all sizes with fat children as the direct targets. When fatter kids are bullied, and many of them are, there may be nobody in their lives telling them that the bully is wrong and that everyone everywhere is loveable just as they are. It takes a strong sense of self-worth to feel safe in your skin in a world where some bodies are dubbed ‘good and acceptable’ and others are dubbed ‘bad and unacceptable’.”


She summarized her overall philosophy: “We need to make this a world where all bodies are good bodies, where children can feel good about themselves in their own unique and precious bodies in all of their glorious diversity. We have the opportunity to stop this self/body hatred and to help kids learn to respect and celebrate body diversity.”


[i] Dr. Linda Bacon, author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight and Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, or Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight, is changing lives through her teaching, research, writing, public speaking, and the transformative “Passing the Message On” multi-day Health at Every Size® (HAES) workshops. Dr. Bacon combines academic expertise and compassionate clinical experience to bring together scientific research and practical application. She shifts the focus from weight to well-being, giving doctors, dietitians, therapists, and people of all shapes the tools for achieving better fitness, health, and even happiness—all without dieting.

Crockpot Chicken and Chickpea Tagine

Are you hosting a New Years Eve party this year? If you are, we have a deliciously easy recipe for you to serve! This recipe is from our friends at Cooking Light and uses a slow cooker. That’s right, all this recipe needs is a bit of prep work, and a few hours of cooking to become a tasty main entree for NYE! While this recipe serves 8, you can adjust accordingly to fit your needs.

Photo Courtesy of Cooking Light


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 8 (5-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • Lemon wedges



1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle meaty side of chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Add chicken to pan, meaty side down; cook 5 minutes or until well browned. Remove from pan (do not brown other side).

2. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add cumin and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, stock, honey, and cinnamon, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a simmer. Carefully pour mixture into a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Stir in apricots and chickpeas. Arrange chicken, browned side up, on top of chickpea mixture. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 hours. Discard cinnamon stick. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve with lemon wedges.


The recipe and photo featured in this post were provided by Cooking Light. To read the original recipe please click here.

A Look Back at 2014

2014 was a wonderful year for Mom Dishes It Out. In late summer, we expanded the website to feature a number of talented nutrition and feeding experts to contribute to our blog and we couldn’t be happier with their contributions. Here’s to another great year in 2015!

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A Look Back On 2013

Homemade Banana Cake

New Years Giveaway!

New Year! New Intentions with Star Charts!

Winter Breakfast Kasha

Real Mom Question – Real Mom Answer

Veggie Chips

Warm Up with Tea (and more)!

A Blueprint for Your Child’s Nutritional Intake

For Moms and Dads, How to Feed and Be Healthy at Work

A Super Bowl Recipe Round Up


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Super Bowl: Round 2

Kids’ Nutrition on the Go…for planes, trains and automobiles

Tuna Wrap

The Kids Cooking with Cacao… DIY Cocoa Tea and Inca Hot Chocolate

A “Massaged” Caesar Kale Salad

Dinner Olympics…challenge your child’s palate!

Global Eats: Falafel Style

Pizza Hut tunes to Pardo’s chicken…how to eat with your kids while traveling

Quinoa Cornbread (gluten & dairy-free)


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Do 13 year olds really think about six-pack abs?

Spring Asparagus

What eating right means to this mom and RD…

St. Patrick’s Day Brown Soda Bread

A Guide to Hard “Boiled” Eggs

Egg Salad

Get your kids cooking in the kitchen!

Salmon Patties for Breakfast!


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Healthy Habits is coming to a school near you!

Artichoke Antipasto

Is There Such a Thing as Healthy Fast Food?

Coconut Macaroons with a Chocolate-y Drizzle

Join Our Network!

Easter Bunny Carrots!

Positive Interactions: How Friends Affect Our Health

Pancakes Revisited: Low FODMAP Recipe


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Likable Lunches: Citibabes’ Style

Chipotle Pork Tenderloin

Food Antics

Sun-Dried Tomato Polenta

Mother’s Day Dinner

Chicken and Strawberry Salad


Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

100 Thoughts While Shopping at Whole Foods

GF Recipe Roundup


Mom Asks, MDIO Answers: Are your children hiding bites of food?

West Indian Snapper and Uruguayan Bean Salad

A Look into Beauty

Garlic Shrimp with Spaghetti Squash and Spinach

DIY: 7 Steps to Progress Your Picky Eater

Summer Veggie Pasta Salad

MDIO Measurement Conversions

Argentinean Pork with Chimichurri Sauce


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Does your child need a Speech Language Pathologist or an Occupational Therapist?

Fourth of July Fruit Kabobs

Ice Cream, Brownies and Sweets, Oh MY!!

Qi’a Superfood Sesame Dressing

Formula Fed—Me and My Boys

Heirloom Tomato Salad

RAW vs Pasteurized Milk – Which one is right for your child?

Fancy Fish Sticks

Growing and Changing—MDIO IS EXPANDING


Photo Credit: AFN-Pacific Hawaii News Bureau via Compfight cc


Summer Ratatouille

Breastmilk or Bust

One Mom’s Story on Breastfeeding

Baked Tomatoes with Quinoa and Corn

To Breastfeed or Not To Breastfeed?

How important is breakfast?

Want to Learn How to Teach Your Child About the Joy of Food?

What does your child’s sense of balance have to do with trying new foods?

Raising Children With Different Nutrition Needs

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Kids Eat Right

This One is for Moms

Is Your Tween Hiding Her Lunch?

Rice Pudding

How We Do Dessert

Back to School Lunch Ideas with Laura

10 Tips to Taming and Transitioning The Type A Child

Back-To-School Pancakes

Dessert as a Reward?


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Get Creative with Art Therapy!

Looking for Lunch Ideas?

Apple, Almond, and Cheddar Sandwich

Should my child become a vegetarian?

A Back-to-School Nutrition Guide

Exposing Your Kids to New Foods

Mediterranean Summer Salad

Preventing Food Jags: What’s a Parent to Do?

Fall Remedies For Overwhelmed Mommies

11 Tips for Happy and Healthy Eating

11 Tips for Happy and Healthy Eating

Including Your “Picky Eaters” in Social Activities around Food

Food Cravings: Consuming Peanuts and Soy During Pregnancy

News Flash: The AND Recommendations Feature Ellyn Satter’s Model

On-The-Go Breakfast Burrito

No Time To Shop

Helping Your Kids Create a Healthy Relationship with Food


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Tips for Eating Well with a Newborn

A Plated Meal: Zucchini Pappardelle Arrabbiata with Chickpeas and Almonds

Laura Answers Questions About Feeding Her Boys

When To Eat Dinner During Sports Season

Children as Intuitive Eaters: How Parents Unintentionally Sabotage This Innate Cueing System

Litehouse Foods’ Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

Weight Gain in Puberty: Is It Normal and Healthy or Something Else?

Finicky with Fruit?

Fun with Fall Flavors!

Division of Responsibility: Guidelines for Family Nutrition

A Creative Approach to Food Allergies and Trick-or-Treating

Halloween Recipe Round-Up

Marinated Eggplant + Video Tips

Restaurant Style vs. Family Style: The way you serve food to your kids matters.

No Tricks, Just Treats!

A Mom & RD’s View on Halloween Candy

The Tricks about Treats


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Deep Roots & Tall Branches: Farm Life for my Little Oak Tree

Are Your Words the Cause of Your Child’s Eating Disorder?

Tips to Communicate with Your Teens

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Postpartum Body Image

The Other Kind of Clean Food

Snacking Sense

Pumpkin-Applesauce Muffins

One Size Fits All?

What Starts As Name Calling…

Planning for Holiday Meals with a Picky Eater

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Start a new “Family Meal” weekly tradition… beginning with Thanksgiving this year!

5 Tips for Welcoming Herbivores to the Holiday Feast

Fruity Baked Oatmeal: A breakfast my kids adore!

Get Artsy This Holiday Season!

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Our Perception of Taste: What’s Sound Got to Do with It?

Staying Healthy During the Holidays

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipe

Ingredient1: App Review

Help! My Child is a Picky Eater!

Eating New Foods

Walnut-Stuffed Apples

The Way We Gingerbread…

Embracing Our Daughters: Supporting Them as They Enter Adolescence

Short on Time to Cook Tonight? Try These Fast Fajitas!

“Fat Talk,” Body Image and Eating Disorders

Self Care For Your Teen and Tween

Self Care For Your Teen and Tween

6 Strategies To Prevent Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse in Youth
By Laura Cipullo RD CDE CEDRD CDN and Mom

Photo Credit: pcfishhk via Compfight cc

Start the New Year, with self care! Moms and Dads, here are 6 tips to help your tweens and teens create a healthy self-care regimen that will decrease the likelihood of developing eating disorders and substance abuse.

  • Focus on overall self care, not weight.
    • Ask your children: “How does your food choice make your body feel? Energized or tired? stable or shaky?”
  • De-emphasize dieting.
    • Health is achieving mental and physical wellness through lifestyle changes.
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  • Encourage expressing negative feelings via words, art, and music.
    • Gift journals or crafts for your teen to use to express their feelings when upset.
  • Help your child expect and accept body changes during adolescence.
    • Educate them on hormones, body changes and social changes in a neutral tone. Honor each individual’s body shape and help buy clothes to suit their individual shape.
  • Educate your children on feelings and coping skills during puberty.
    • Encourage your children to sit with feelings even if they are uncomfortable doing so – this helps to teach resilience.
  • Involve the family.
    • Allow family members to lend a listening ear or give a hug when needed. Parents do not need to have all of the answers.

“Fat Talk,” Body Image and Eating Disorders

“Fat Talk,” Body Image and Eating Disorders
By Julie Holland Faylor, MHS, CEDS


After consuming a high-calorie food, have you ever said “I need to hit the gym now!” or “I know that went straight to my thighs!”

Do you call your comfortable jeans “fat pants”?

When asked how you’re doing, have you ever responded with a quip like, “I’d be better if I didn’t have to squeeze into a bathing suit this weekend!”?


At one time or another, we have all been guilty of using disparaging self-talk related to weight, size, or shape. This tendency is so commonplace in today’s culture that there is actually a term for negative body commentary, used by the general public and clinical circles alike: “Fat talk.”

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Whether we say these comments aloud or just in our heads, “fat talk” can have a significant impact on the way we feel about our bodies and ourselves. For most people, disparaging self-talk just makes us feel inadequate or depressed. However, negative body image plays a significant role in the development and maintenance of eating disorders. For individuals that are predisposed to developing an eating disorder (in other words, if eating disorders run in their families), seemingly harmless comments about themselves—or unsolicited comments from others—can contribute to the development of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, or trigger a relapse for those in recovery from these serious illnesses.


Because “fat talk” is pervasive in our society and has the potential to impact our—and our young loved ones’—body image and self-worth, it is important that parents understand this phenomenon. Below are five considerations to help combat “fat talk” and cultivate positive body image in our lives and homes:

Be aware. “Fat talk” is everywhere; if you pay attention, you will find that fat jokes and “fat talk” are speckled throughout movies, sitcoms and books, even those geared towards adolescents and young adults. It is the fodder of seemingly every comedian in the world, and it underscores countless ad campaigns touting products and services promising to make us thinner, prettier and more desirable. For women and girls in particular, “fat talk” has become a bonding ritual of sorts—we often connect with others over mutual dissatisfaction with our weight, shape and size. Awareness is the first step in any meaningful behavioral change, so consciously try to identify the ways you and those around you use “fat talk” in your daily lives.

Be kind—to yourself, and to others. Our body weight and shape have nothing to do with who we are as individuals, mothers, daughters, friends, and employees. When you feel the urge to insult yourself related to your body size, shape or weight, instead think about the value you bring to your family, friendships, workplace or community. Also, avoid drawing attention to others’ body and weight insecurities. Our comments may come from a good place—we may think we’re supporting or motivating others with these messages—but we can never know the true impact of our words on others. Err on the side of kindness and make it a practice to not talk about others’ bodies.

Model healthy attitudes and behaviors. The most important thing parents can do to help their children develop a healthy body image is model healthy attitudes and behaviors toward body weight, size and shape. Kids are behavioral sponges—they watch what their parents do, they listen to what they say and they develop their worldview accordingly. Rather than toning down the “fat talk” around your children, try to remove it from your vocabulary altogether. Adults in your life may benefit from this change as well—family members and friends may notice the absence of “fat talk” from your conversations and follow your lead.

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Normalize eating in your home. Our thoughts and behaviors around food and eating are often closely linked to how we feel about our bodies. With that in mind, don’t allow or encourage dieting in your home. Don’t stigmatize foods as “good” or “bad”—all foods are okay in moderation, and the goal should be to consume a diverse, balanced diet with as much real, unprocessed, natural foods as possible. Do help to cultivate the social aspect of meals by turning off the television, putting down cell phones and making conversation with loved ones at the table. Additionally, talk to your children about their meals outside the home—who did they eat with, what did they eat, what did they talk about—to help them think critically about their patterns.

Frame exercise as fun and healthy. “Fat talk” often paints exercise as a punishment for eating too much or the wrong kinds of foods, or as a means to “fix” a perceived body flaw. Be sure to position regular physical activity as a fun and healthy habit for children and adults alike—in fact, it can be even more fun when families get active together. Exercise doesn’t have to involve a treadmill or weights—it can be walking the dog, building a snowman or playing softball with friends, family or colleagues.


Let me be clear—“fat talk” can adversely impact body image and self-esteem, which is a contributing factor in the development of eating disorders, but it doesn’t cause an eating disorder. Eating disorders result from a complex interplay of biological, psychological and sociocultural factors. However, it is important to understand the connection between “fat talk,” body image and eating disorders, particularly as it pertains to helping our children develop healthy body image and attitudes toward food, eating and exercise.

Short on Time to Cook Tonight? Try These Fast Fajitas!

With the busy holiday weeks ahead, we’ve been looking for quick and easy dinners to make. The following recipe is one of my favorites for a simple, yet healthy weeknight meal. It takes less than 30 minutes to make and is great when served with a side of rice and some vegetables.

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Fast Fajitas
Makes 6 fajitas – 2 adults and 2 kids


  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 scallions sliced along their width
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 3/4 lb. thawed thin cut chicken breasts – sliced
  • 1 cup frozen unsalted corn
  • 1 bag frozen mixed peppers
  • 6 whole grain tortillas 
  • ½ cup sour cream (dairy or non dairy)
  • 1 cup salsa of choice
Photo Credit: Matt McGee via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Matt McGee via Compfight cc


  1. Heat canola oil over low heat. Add scallions. When scallions are tender add the chicken slices. When the chicken is slightly pink in the center, add the  corn, peppers and garlic. Sauté until the veggies are cooked and warm.
  2. Warm the tortillas in the microwave for 20 seconds or over a sauté pan.
  3. Spread about 1 tbsp sour cream down the center of each tortilla. Then spread 1 -2 tbsp of salsa over the sour cream. Spoon the chicken pepper combo down the center of the tortilla. Roll and serve while hot.

Embracing Our Daughters: Supporting Them as They Enter Adolescence

Embracing Our Daughters: Supporting them as they enter adolescence
By Christie Caggiani

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Truly some of the most humbling moments as a professional come from teachable moments as a mother.  I recently had a conversation with a mom, as our nearly teen daughters were getting together for the day.  She was clearly concerned about her child’s blossoming body, and shared that she had told her daughter she was going to buy her a gym membership. That alone gave me pause, however, when my daughter later recounted that they were encouraged to go for a walk to burn off some calories, it shifted me into anger. Fortunately, the girls said they went outside because it was a beautiful evening and they had a lot of fun walking, but I realized that no matter how much I try to teach body positive attitudes, the forces in this world are challenging those messages at every turn.


It is critical that as our adolescents’ bodies begin to change, we are a solid, reliable resource and support system for them.  This is a time when they are uncertain about their physical self, how to act, and how to feel, so we as parents are key in letting them know these changes are normal and that they are exactly where they should be in their development. Our role is to help them connect with, listen to, and respond consistently to their body’s signals, whether their body is asking for food, sleep, activity, or a good cry.  Our role is NOT to control how their bodies turn out or interfere with their changing process along the way.


One of my favorite books on this topic, Like Mother, Like Daughter by nutritionist Debra Waterhouse, is one I would highly recommend to any female.  Not only does it help us understand what is happening in our daughter’s body, it gives us greater insight into how we can better equip our young women to avoid the traps of weight and food preoccupation.  To quell your fears, and give you some direction, remember the following:

What Society Wants You to Do

What Your Daughter’s Body Naturally Wants to Do (and what we can reinforce)

Mold her body into an aesthetic ideal Find a comfortable weight that is biologically and genetically right for her
Encourage dieting Eat enough food to supply her body with nourishment and fuel
Condition her taste buds Stimulate all of her taste buds and enjoy the taste of sugar starting in infancy, salt starting in toddler years, and fat starting in adolescence.
Feed her low-fat foods Consume enough fat for brain development and physical growth
Feed her by the clock Eat when her body tells her it’s time to eat
Enforce three balanced meals a day Eat small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day
Provide a full-course dinner Eat as much as her body needs at dinner and have a snack at night if she’s hungry


Here are some other pointers that may be helpful as you assist your pre-teens and teens in their journey:

  • Just talk.  Share your memories of puberty, and use it as an opportunity to open dialogue.  Ask her if there’s anything she finds confusing, and encourage her to name her emotions.
  • Arm her with resilience to handle insensitive comments from classmates, well-meaning relatives, and friends.
  • Connect openly with other parents and ensure that they provide a similarly positive body attitude environment.
  • Avoid making comments that tell her she will be okay once she grows taller, loses some weight, or changes her body in some way.  She is exactly where she is supposed to be today.
  • Focus on the internal qualities that make up her person – her creativity, compassion, or strength of character.
  • Never, ever talk negatively about your own or anyone else’s body.  Period.
  • Enjoy food with your child.  Let her see you eat, savor, and enjoy meals and snacks.
  • Encourage movement as a way to connect with the body, unload some stress, and have some unstructured fun!  Never encourage exercise as a way to change the body, burn calories or lose weight.

Recommended reading: 

200 Ways to Raise a Girl’s Self-Esteem, by Will Glennon

Embody: Learning to Love your Unique Body, by Connie Sobczak

Like Mother, Like Daughter, by Debra Waterhouse, RD

Get Ready, Get Set, Giveaway!

We are happy to announce that we are giving away a free copy of Dr. Heather Maguire’s book Get Ready… Get Set… Go! It’s Time to Create Behavior Change: A Self-Administered Parent Training Program. Dr. Heather Maguire was so kind to share her tips and expertise with us last week in the blog titled Help! My Child is a Picky Eater! In fact, her post inspired my family and I to try Taste-Test Sunday.

To enter to win, check out the details below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Way We Gingerbread…

Can cookies, gingerbread homes and baking be a part of a healthy holiday season? Yes, they sure can. Do the cookies and candies need to be low fat or just a healthier version? No way!!! Read on to learn how to turn cookies and candy into just another food in the pantry.

One of my family’s favorite holiday traditions is to make Gingerbread Houses! There are some places around NYC that supply endless amounts of candy and a pre-constructed, edible gingerbread houses for families to visit and decorate houses. This can produce a complete sugar meltdown or become the ideal opportunity to let children explore how food makes them feel.

When baking or making holiday yummies with the kids, it’s most important to make sure they are well fed and not hungry before they reach for the candy bags. So, first thing, I feed my boys lunch. I was actually quite surprised at how very little they picked on the candy while decorating their homes. When they did want to eat a piece, they looked to me…to get a nod of approval. And I nodded yes…each and every time. Of course they could eat the candy. It was part of the fun. In the back of my mind, however, I hoped that it wasn’t the only fun for them.

Amazingly, when we got home, they didn’t want to eat the homes they’d created. Rather, they were so proud of their “masterpieces” that they quickly put them on display. My oldest son Bobby’s home still sits on our console as a holiday decoration. Unfortunately, I must also admit that my youngest son Billy’s gingerbread home had to be displayed on a much higher level. Because he still has a hard time understanding that this food is low in nutrition. One day he’ll understand that if he eats just this, not only will he stay up way past his bedtime, but he also won’t be hungry enough to eat a food that his body really needs.

When Billy asks for his house, I ask myself: Did he eat something denser in nutrition yet? I ask him if he ate his meal yet? I more often than not take it down from the higher shelf for him. My hope is that he realizes he can have the candy…just not at every whim. He can have it some of the time, because it is a “sometimes food.”

Just today, Billy asked for his gingerbread house because his brother Bobby was having a candy or two from his house; two weeks later, Bobby’s house still displays most of the candy. I asked Billy if he’d eaten lunch yet and he said yes. But then he walked away and went off to the kitchen to eat a yogurt. He didn’t ask me for the candy house again; he just ate his yogurt and went to play with his Legos.

So I think he is getting the message about “sometimes foods.” He knows he can have them some of the time but is less able to manage this concept without parental guidance because he is so young. My oldest son has mastered this thought and impresses me every day with his ability to leave food on his plate. Bobby even leaves cookies in his lunch box to save for another day, or the afternoon, when he knows he will really enjoy them.

As parents, think about teaching your children internal self regulation. Rather than restricting your children and sending messages that junk food equals bad food, help educate them on the need for eating nutritious food the majority of the time and eating less nutritious food just some of the time.

 Tips for making some foods “sometimes foods”:

  1. Explain what nutritious food is. For instance, it may be high in vitamins, minerals and nutrients to help kids grow or help their hearts to be strong.
  2. Explain what “sometimes food” is. Educate your children that certain foods are not necessary for growth but still can help by providing some energy. Let your children know that certain foods are lower in vitamins and minerals and should only be eaten some of the time…and only if your children regularly eat enough of the foods that help them grow, feel energized and prevent them from getting sick. These foods taste yummy but will not be so yummy if eaten all of the time.
  3. Let your children have a “sometimes food” with lunch three days a week so the food becomes neutral; you’ll be teaching moderation.
  4. Don’t make a big deal about “sometimes foods.”
  5. Allow your children to eat all foods so they don’t hide or sneak food.
  6. Role model eating all foods in front of your children.
  7. Limit the amount of “sometimes foods” in your house to about three per week so your children aren’t forced to make too many decisions about these foods.


For more information on “sometimes foods,” please refer to the Healthy Habits workbook at