Is Your Child Hiding Food?

You asked Mom Dishes It Out “What can I do if my child is hiding food?” Read on to find out how this mom and RD would handle the situation. Thanks for asking. Keep the questions coming!!

My answer: First of all, don’t assume your child hid the food from you just because it is in the garbage. Food can be considered hidden when you find candy or wrappers under the bed, in the closet, in a shoebox or behind books.

Once you determine whether the food is actually hidden, don’t be reactive. Calmly sit down with your child and ask why they are hiding the candy or whatever wrappers you have found. Try to let your children use their own words to voice their feelings. You may need to help them, but wait until they give you some direction. Otherwise, the child may just say, “yes,” with the hope you will leave them alone.

You may also want to ask yourself a few questions. Does your child think they are not allowed to have it? What has led them to believe this? Do they think they need more food than they are getting? Are you perhaps restricting your child’s intake because you are worried about their weight?

Most importantly, assess your feeding style and whether there is anything that you can do to help your child eliminate this sense of shame around the particular food. Let them know that if they want a certain type of food like candy, it’s okay. However, they should let mommy or daddy know, and the food should be consumed in the kitchen.

Keep in mind which wrappers you have found. To neutralize this food, serve it to your child one day as a side with their lunch or as an afternoon snack. If you incorporate it into your child’s intake, they will no longer feel as though it is forbidden, and therefore the food itself will have less appeal. Remember, when you tell a child they cannot have something, they will want it more. Do the reverse here!

Question 2: What can I do if my child is sneaking food and hiding the wrappers?

My answer:  If your child is sneaking multiple pieces of candy and you “catch them in the act,” stay calm. Quietly assess the entire situation; what else has the child eaten that day? Are they giggling or embarrassed? If the child is giggling, they are most likely just enjoying themselves, meaning this behavior is not typical.

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Whatever you do, make sure not to shame your child. You can laugh with them. You can ask if they are hungry and would like a snack or their next meal earlier. When given the opportunity without being shamed, a child will most likely share their true feelings. If this is at a random time during the day, assess whether eating these foods will interfere with the child’s meal intake.

Is there a good reason to forbid this food, besides the fact that it may be less nutritious than you’d hoped? If the only reason you can come up with has to do with nutrient density, and your child typically consumes high-quality, wholesome foods anyway, then you may want to let your child simply enjoy it. Allowing them to consume it will help to ensure that this type of food remains neutral, and no morals, labels or values, like “good” or “bad,” become associated with that item.

If you think that allowing your child to eat this specific food at a particular time may affect their snacks or meals, you have two choices. The first option is to let them eat the food, and later, to point out to them why they are not hungry for their next meal (because they ate too closely to dinner, if and when this actually occurs). This is a good way to reinforce internal self-regulation, enabling them to recognize hunger and fullness cues and identify how a food can fill them up.

Choice number two is to tell your child that they need to save the rest of the food until snack time. Explain that a meal or snack is coming up, and you want to be sure they have met their nutrition needs before they consume a “sometimes” food (aka a less nutrient-dense food).

Have any other parents experienced this? How did you resolve the issue? Did you hide food as a child and how would you have like the situation to be addressed? Again, thanks for asking Mom Dishes It Out your feeding and eating questions.

Food is for fuel, not love.

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Parents, here is a letter wrote by one of my clients. May it be a lesson to all parents and policy makers that children are worthy and beautiful no matter what size they are. Children should not be put on diets, restricted or told they are not okay because they have a belly, thicker legs, or are hungrier than their siblings. Research and my clients prove that restriction and dieting causes binging, self-loathing and obesity. Read this letter and think what you can do to tell your children that they are special no matter what. Find words to encourage your children to internally regulate their portions based on hunger and fullness. Teach your children that success is balance, trying something, not perfecting it. Tell your children your love is unconditional.

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

At 34 years old I am finally coming to value my worth, my body and my needs. As you know I have struggled with my identity, my weight and my self worth since we did weight watchers together at age 12.

After, 11 years of therapy, and a few months of nutrition counseling, I have finally realized, food is not my problem. My problem is I have lumped food and feelings into the same pot. I used to eat for love, for protection, to feel safe, to prevent myself from failing, to comfort my loneliness every weekend, to feel I deserved.

But, now I am finally learning to separate food from feelings. I am learning to feed myself and feed myself foods based on how they physically make me feel rather than how they emotionally make me feel or not feel. I have started to exercise for enjoyment and am slowly realizing I am worthy even though I am not what you have deemed skinny.  I have started to rebuild my foundation and nurture myself.  I am learning to accept that what makes me beautiful is not the number on the scale or the size of my jeans, but how I treat myself and how I allow other people to treat me.  Mom and Dad, I know you didn’t mean to do this to me, but you never focused on what made me okay, worthy or beautiful. I need you to know the real me that I am getting to know, the woman who is funny and beautiful, who is smart and in control of her life.  You see, I never needed all of the food, I just needed your acceptance.  But now I am learning to accept myself and now I am realizing I don’t need the food anymore.

With Love,
Your Daughter

Lauren Dishes on Family Food in Texas

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When people think of Texas, they think cowboy hats, tumbleweeds, and cows. Lots of cows. So when other Americans imagine the foods in a typical Texan diet, I’m sure more than a few are thinking steaks, baked potatoes, baked beans, and corn bread. But the truth is that Texas cuisine, and particularly the foods eaten by most families, are as diverse and widely varied as the very people who live there.

That being said, Texas does have a justifiably terrible reputation for being a “fat” state. Two Texas cities (McAllen and Beaumont) were featured in a recent study of the ten “fattest” cities in the United States, which comes as no surprise considering that the state has one of the highest obesity rates in the country. Unfortunately, the obesity problem in Texas (and other states across the country) isn’t limited to adults. Millions of children suffer from obesity in this country, including many children in the state of Texas. It’s a problem that I’ve seen firsthand, and one that I’d like to inform fellow parents about.

T-bone Steaks and Tofu

While the stereotype of steak-eating Texans isn’t exactly wrong, it’s hardly representative of the real food problems facing the state. I think if most families could afford to eat T-bone steaks then people would be better off in general, but that’s another story for another day. No, the main food problem in Texas is fast food. Quick, cheap, and totally unhealthy fast food options abound in the state, and they’re a popular destination spot for families who want a no-hassle and consistent meal. Most kids and parents will choose cheaper and unhealthier foods simply because they cost less and have less impact on finances. But these cheap foods are usually full of sugars, preservatives, and sodium, all of which impede a child’s growth and development when eaten in high doses.

Fast food joints might dominate the Texas landscape for now, but there are healthy oases out there. For instance, the food selection in more rural areas looks nothing like the options available in big cities like Houston, Austin, and Dallas. Small towns in Texas tend to have a few gas stations, a few fast food restaurants, and one or two grocery stores. The healthiest food is in the produce section of those grocery stores, but it’s a rare few parents and children who will choose the items in that section over the much easier to access burgers and fries in the drive through. And honestly, who could blame most kids? If you have five dollars in your piggy bank, would you rather spend it on a few heads of broccoli or a milkshake and fries? Why wouldn’t a college student choose ramen over a salad if it costs a fraction of the price?

Big cities have the same fast food joints and grocery stores, but they also have many more healthy options to choose from. Organic produce stores, farmers’ markets, and vegetarian and vegan restaurants (yes, even in Texas!) offer much more diversity in healthy fare for people to choose from. It’s much more likely that the children who live in these more urban areas will have a healthier diet, but only if they look out for it. You can get a tofu sandwich in Houston, but you can also just as easily get a plate of fried chicken.

Earnest Reform in School Playgrounds and Cafeterias

Fortunately, it’s not all gloom and doom in the state. Texas schools are currently undergoing a huge overhaul to address the obesity epidemic that affects so many children. Government funded programs such as the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) have been founded in order to evaluate and target the specific causes of child obesity. Programs like CATCH have been instrumental in changing the ways that schools approach child health. Their efforts have affected many areas of the Texas school system, including reforms in cafeteria foods that meet healthier standards, increased physical activity in physical education classes, and increased health education.

The goal of such organizations is to ensure that kids are properly informed about the risks of obesity at a young age so as to avoid bad habits when they go to college and eventually becoming independent adults. It’s a huge task considering the sheer size and complexity of the obesity problem in this state (and country), but it’s one that needs to be done if we want our kids to be healthy.

We’re not so different from the rest of the country

All in all, the Texas landscape closely resembles the rest of America. We’re struggling to crack down on unhealthy eating habits and a shortage of physical activity, but we’re trying. I’m sure all parents would agree with me when I say that we don’t want to see our children grow up to become unhealthy adults. If children are raised to understand the values of healthy eating and proper exercise, then they’ll at least have a good start at a healthy life.

How would you describe the state of children’s health in your state or city? Let me know!

 

Lauren Bailey is an education writer and freelance blogger. She frequently writes about online colleges and courses and welcomes comments and questions via email at blauren99@gmail.com.

Raising Children With Different Nutrition Needs

By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE with Elyse Falk, MS, RD

Photo Credit: Marina K Caprara via Compfight cc

A Real Mom’s Question

How should a parent handle instances when one child has a HUGE sweet tooth, and is underweight but the other kids in the same family are a normal weight or overweight?  For example, at dessert time, all the kids want ice cream – maybe one child shouldn’t have a ton and the other really could use it.  How does a parent deal with this situation in a way that doesn’t create food issues?

Two Real Moms’ Answers

Focus on Equality

First and foremost, everyone should be treated equally at the dinner table. In order to prevent any type of discord between the kids, you’re far better off teaching them the importance of nutrition and their health in a more neutral setting.

Regardless of weight, children need to focus on eating balanced meals and snacks. Sweets, like cake, cookies, and candy, are what we like to call “sometimes foods,” because they are foods that are okay to eat some of the time.

The child with the huge sweet tooth has to learn to eat an array of flavors – not just those made mostly of sugar – otherwise they may develop nutrient deficiencies or simply close their mind to the idea of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, eggs and low-fat dairy. Even an underweight child should not make sweets his or her primary source of nourishment. Instead, teach them to focus on increasing the amount of nutrient-dense foods they consume throughout the day. Young children need to learn to eat the kind of food that’s necessary for their bodies, and observe healthy role models who guide them, so that they can grow into confident eaters.

Reassess

Did your family’s pediatrician recommend that your child gain weight, or are you assuming this? Do your children’s height and weight fall into in the same percentiles on the growth chart? If so, it is probably safe to assume that both of your children are at appropriate weights. In general, the focus should not necessarily be on gaining weight. Instead, it should be on eating enough nutritious food on a daily basis. Consider seeking counseling with a registered dietitian.

If your child’s weight is truly beneath their height on the growth curve, your child has not grown in a year, or if a physician prescribed weight gain, then you’ll need to focus on increasing the quantity of food your child is consuming while simultaneously looking for ways to add nutrient-dense foods to their intake (this refers to a small serving of food that is high in calories). As Mommy Faulk reminds, children have smaller stomachs than adults and often can’t consume large amounts of food at a time. Because of this, they may need to eat smaller, nutrient-dense meals more often.

You may also want to ask yourself: Is my child a picky eater? Don’t forget that, just because school sets aside time for lunch doesn’t mean your child is eating. Perhaps something happened at school that is causing them not to eat, or maybe they don’t have enough time to eat. This may be the problem, especially if your child has lost a significant amount of weight in the past 2 months (>/= 2%) and could possibly put them at risk of developing an eating disorder. In other words, in order to remedy the situation, it’s essential to first determine why your child is not meeting their nutrition needs.

Quick Tips to Increase Intake Without Increasing Quantity

  • Add 1-2 tbsp of wheat germ to yogurt, meatloaf, cereal, muffins, etc.
  • Add an extra slice of cheese to their sandwich.
    • Add granola to low fat yogurt or allow them to eat it plain.
    • Put peanut butter on their muffin.
    • Make smoothies with protein powder and lots of berries.
    • Add a morning snack of raisins or nuts at around 10 a.m.
    • Provide a snack of crackers and a spread like hummus before bed.
    • Encourage healthy fats such as avocado, olives, olive oil, nuts, and nut butters.
    • Have all-natural nutrition bars and packaged low-fat milk available on the go.
    • Let them have a mini-meal when they get home from school, like a sandwich, grapes, low-fat cheese, hearty soup, homemade English muffin pizza, etc.
    • Add olive oil to whole-grain pasta and veggies; let child dip whole-grain bread into olive oil with their meal.

Behaviors to Implement

  • Talk to the school to help your child to remember to eat.
  • Help your child relax before meals and decrease anxiety to prevent emotional fullness.
  • Encourage your child to help choose the menu.
  • Do not discuss food issues and/or weight at the table.
  • Focus on your child’s behaviors around food and commend them for trying new foods or practicing self-care.
  • Make meals an enjoyable time so they are not rushing to finish and leave the table.
  • If the pediatrician is concerned, have them talk to the child with a parent in the room and explain why they need to get more nutrition.

Send the Message with a Cookie

My son’s school recently invited parents to share their jobs with the students. I happily agreed, but as the event got closer, I continued to struggle with what to do with the class. There are so many fun options. And while I had already made the new MyPlate with both Bobby and Billy’s classes (see the picture), I was still left to decide between taste testing different fruits and dips, coloring placemats portraying everyday foods like fruit, veggies, legumes and low-fat dairy products, or something else.

Anytime I participate in an event like this, my goal is for the kids to have fun learning about different foods so they realize that nutrition and being healthy is both easy and delicious. Easier said than done though; they are, after all, only four to six years old.

One of my ideas was to use a lesson plan from my program, Healthy Habits, to educate the kids on what it feels like to be hungry and full, and then have them take a quiz using their newly learned cues. When working with such young pupils, however, I also want to make sure that the message touches their bellies—not just their brains—and I was afraid that this activity wouldn’t achieve that.

Unsure of what to do, I went to my oldest son, Bobby, and asked what he would’ve liked me to do. He said he didn’t know. So instead, I tried another tactic: I asked him if he knew what I did—what a dietitian does. After thinking momentarily, he went on to share this very insightful response. “You teach people what is healthy and what is sometimes food,” said Bobby.

I don’t know why, but I was amazed that Bobby was able to give such a brief, succinct description of what I do, and I especially loved the fact that he used the phrase “sometimes food.” My efforts and practices are most definitely influencing my son. As an RD, but most importantly as a mother, I felt proud.

This is when I prosed the idea of making healthier cookies. From my encounter with Bobby, I knew that the kids could understand the idea of “sometimes foods” and “everyday foods.” (It doesn’t have to be cookies either; you can modify any recipe at home, like turning traditional spaghetti and meatballs into whole-wheat pasta with turkey meatballs and all-natural sauce.) For the purpose of my upcoming show-and-tell though, cookies would do just fine. They take just 20 minutes to make, and they’ll certainly send a kid-friendly message. Better yet, the kids may even bring the recipe home and share it with their siblings and parents.

So that is what I’m planning to do for bring your parents to class day: to turn a “sometimes food” into an almost-everyday-food and a decidedly healthy and delicious snack option.

Here is the recipe for our wholesome chocolate chip cookies (dark chocolate that is) if you want to try them out too:

Wholesome Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tina Sweitzer – Mom to Young and Chef

 Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE – Mom to Robert and Dietitian

For ~ 2 dozen cookies

 

Ingredients Wet

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (not imitation vanilla)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white

Ingredients Dry

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup whole grain oats rolled
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt

Finishing touches

  • 8-10 oz. package of Whole Foods Dark Chocolate Chips or 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Now just mix and bake them like a batch of normal chocolate chip cookies. In a mixing bowl, combine all the wet ingredients (partially soften the butter in the microwave, just be careful not to melt it too much). Stir them together with a spoon. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Now carefully stir in the dry ingredients in with the wet. Now stir in the dark chocolate chips. 
Place cookies on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 10 – 14 minutes.

Download a PDF of the recipe here.

Guest Blog: Fluffer Nutters vs. the Apple… which one really wins???

This weeks guest blog is written by Collen Colletti and addresses school lunch. Colletti is a mom, teacher, writer and equestrian. She describes herself by the contents of her purse: “In the contents of my purse you would most likely find the normal necessities, with a few exceptions.  First there is my USB stick filled with lesson plans to teach my students.  I love the feeling I get when I see a child’s mind exploring and learning.  Next one may come across a pair of spurs, I have spent countless hours at the barn with my horses.  Riding is both competitive and therapeutic for me.  If you dig a little deeper, there is a small writers leather bound journal that goes with me every where. It is constantly capturing my story ideas.  Lastly, a package of Barbie bandages for my girls, the most rewarding job I have ever had.  They bring more joy to my life then I ever could have imagined!”

Fluffer Nutters vs. the Apple… which one really wins??? by Colleen Colletti

“Ring, “my alarm clock yells, indicating that Monday morning has arrived and the usual craziness of getting my husband, two children, and I ready and out the door for the day begins! Each morning I select a delicious energy filled lunch for my children, drop off at school and wish them a splendid day.

I arrive at work, a middle school classroom. Throughout my teaching career, I have watched as many of my students arrive to school sluggish. At lunch I see those same students enjoying a processed filled lunch, or trading aspects their nutritious meal for a bag of chips. The problem is simple, you send your child to school with a healthy balanced lunch and instead of eating it, it is traded for a sugar or additives overload. Not only does an unhealthy diet affect your child’s energy, it also may have health implications later in life. Yet how do we get our children to eat the lunch we send them? In kids eyes how does healthy food compete with what other students bring into the lunch room. Are we really reaching our kids or do the Fluffer Nutters win out?

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So how does one fight against the endless sea of fast food restaurants, bakeries, treats brought into the classroom, and the food exchange at lunch. In my household, we believe in providing a variety of food choices. My husband and I feel that banning certain foods simply makes the child want it more. Instead we allow our children to enjoy goodies, but provide healthy alternatives to the processed foods. For instance, instead of store bought chocolate chips, we offer cookies with all natural ingredients and dark chocolate instead of milk. Another big hit in our home are the fresh fruit ice pops. I liquefy strawberries, pour them into a kid friendly mold, and add a few strawberry or raspberry chunks and freeze over night. In the morning, they always love to have a fresh ice pop, and I don’t mind giving it to them, because it is all natural. An added bonus to these sweets is that it fosters quality time with my children. They love to put the cookie dough on the tray or berries in a bowl. I agree that between little league, ballet, or any other after school activities, it is much easier to simply buy pre-made treats, but are we really helping our kids? So in reality, how do I find the time to bake or cook? The answer is simple… make extra! I don’t bake or cook like my mother, whom every time you walked in the house the aroma of fresh goodies filled the air. Instead, I create fresh meals every few nights allowing for healthy leftovers. In terms of snacks, every few weeks I enjoy a Sunday afternoon with my children baking. Half our delicious snacks, I place into a jar and the other half go in the freezer. My children have become accustomed to natural fresh ingredients and in many cases shy away from the lack of quality and taste that processed foods offer. As a result, this method has helped expand my children’s taste buds in a way that is fun and healthy for them.

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What about those of you with a younger or older clientele? Daycare or nanny is prevalent even more today with a two household income. These environments are wonderful both socially and academically, except children are also exposed to sickness at a younger age. A wholesome diet, aides a healthy immune system cultivating their emotional, cognitive, and developmental skills. Some may say that the little ones are much easier to feed then the big ones. So how do we reach those opinionated teens? My experience with the young adult age group reaffirms what I do at home. Teenagers who have enjoyed fresh fruits, vegetables, essentially an all natural diet since they were little, continue those habits through their adolescent years. They are active members of the classroom throughout the entire day. No late afternoon sugar crashing! While, the students who have grown up on macaroni n’ cheese or Ramen noodles, will pack just that for themselves when they are in charge of their lunch. I always cringe when I see a growing child diving into a fast food lunch and diet coke on a daily basis. How do they have the energy required of them to study, play sports, and become active participants in their educational career?

In conclusion, as long as we teach our children to make the right choices, healthy choices… we are one step closer to winning the battle!

Yummy for the Tummy and Allergy Free

Living with food allergies can be challenging but it doesn’t have to be boring. The boys and I took a walk to the lower east side to test taste the Famous Baby Cakes’ sweet somethings! Baby Cakes NYC is certified Kosher, parave and vegan. They are happy to overnight you their yummies. They have bakeries in NYC, LA and at the Walt Disney World Resort. Bobby, Billy and I loved the chocolate chop cookies and banana bread. Second place was the donut and third place was the cupcake. Baby Cakes also has a cookbook available if you want to try the recipes at home!! If not you can always check out the magazine Living Without for other delicious allergen free recipes.

Baby Cakes donut