Laura Answers Questions About Feeding Her Boys

1. As a Mom, what is the hardest part of getting your kids to eat healthy?

Not being the nutrition gatekeeper of our children’s food is a challenge all moms face. Camp, school and the playground expose my boys to chewing gum, drinking sports drinks and eating low nutrition foods such as crackers and candy during snack time.

As any mom may know, feeding our children can be trying. I created Mom Dishes It Out, a blog for moms to learn from my personal experience in feeding my boys and a place where they can share their experiences and ask questions.

2. How do you explain eating healthy in a context that they understand?
There are everyday foods that we eat to grow, run and think. We need to eat these foods every day. Then there are “sometimes food”—food that we can eat some of the time.  Since the foods are low in nutrition and aren’t the best for growing, they are not considered everyday food.

3. Do you have any tricks to get your kids to eat healthy?
One sure way is to stock the house with only healthy food. I allow all foods but I don’t necessarily have them in the house on a regular basis.

4 Tricks To Getting Kids To Eat Healthy
1. Stock the house with healthy everyday foods
2. Limit boxed or in the pantry packaged food items to three or less
3. Allow all foods but focus on the need for everyday foods
4. Don’t make a big deal about healthy food – offer and expose but don’t overemphasize

 

4. What two kid-friendly recipes did you bring to share today?
Good-For-You Granola Bars – It can be quite challenging to find a granola bar that is nutrient dense, low in added sugar and will not melt in the heat.

My youngest son is a vegetarian so getting omega-3 fatty acids and even omega-6 fatty acids are a challenge. Adding chia seeds to any recipe is a sure way to get vegetarians eating omega-6’s. I give Liam an omega-3 fatty acid liquid supplement to get the beneficial fatty acids only found in fish.

5.  How often do you cook with your kids?
I try to cook with my kids as often as possible and in every little way. Perhaps they do something simple like adding wheat germ to their yogurt, cracking the eggs into their pancake mixture or adding berries into their smoothies.

6. What sorts of foods do your kids crave?
My oldest son loves pancakes with chocolate chips and macaroni and cheese (the chips are dark chocolate and the pancakes are whole wheat or kamut; the pasta is usually whole wheat), while my youngest son favors yogurt, hummus and pretzels (made from spelt or whole wheat).

7. What are your go-to snacks for your kids?
I always offer a carbohydrate with a fat or a carbohydrate with a protein. Then I’ll offer homemade smoothies with fresh and frozen fruits and chia seeds, fruit slices or fruit squeezers with Greek yogurt or cheese

8. Do you guys ever have a cheat day, or treats for special occasions?
I have told my boys time and time again, food is not a treat. A helicopter ride around the city is a treat or a day of bowling is a treat. Food is food. We enjoy ice cream with gummy bears, drink Gatorade and eat cookies some of the time, but not all of the time. Since it is critical that we meet all of our nutrition needs, it is important for parents not to put certain foods on a pedestal, because this will become the food your child will then want.

 

Helping Your Kids Create a Healthy Relationship with Food

*This post was originally published on the Bitsy’s Brainfood Blog. To see the original please click here.

Nutrition Comes in All Forms AND the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Agrees!
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD and Mom

Photo Credit: Arya Ziai via Compfight cc

Sugar has definitely received a bad rap this past year. Its poor reputation is very similar to the negative press that fat received in years past. Research is constant and correlations are often made—while causation is rarely determined. As mothers and fathers, how does this affect they way you feed your child? Do you go with the latest diet trend? Do you impose your food beliefs on your children? If so, how are you talking with your children about these beliefs? Remember, when all is said and done, these are just beliefs—not necessarily black and white facts.

With this is mind, remember all food provides nutrition—even Skittles and saturated fats (i.e. coconut oil). However, I am not implying you should feed your kids a diet of sugar and saturated fats. Rather, I am suggesting that as parents, we must watch our wording and behaviors associated with various foods. Our children are smart and pick up on our food issues. Yet most children—like many adults—are not (yet) capable of separating food and feelings or such strong statements into rational thoughts.

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Many RDs and parents want to scream, “Corn syrup is bad!” but telling your child this may be more harmful than helpful. I am trying to write this as delicately as possible, but think about it: Does a pack of candy or a bread made with corn syrup versus rice syrup really matter? No. Yet many moms label these as “bad.” As a mother of two boys, I do not completely negate these foods and constantly prefer that my boys eat more wholesome foods. As parents we must walk a very fine line in how we convey healthy habits to children. We may use different educational tools to discuss nutrient density, food processing, and overall diet quality, but it is also our job to prevent children from fearing their food, fearing weight gain, and fearing feeding themselves.

Instilling fear of food and feeding in a child can even be one of the contributors to the feeding disorder known as “Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder” (ARFID,) especially if a child is already prone to anxiety or is a picky eater.

You can be the mom that hands your children M&M’s some of the time. Know that sugar candy is converted to exactly that, sugar in the body. The brain only uses sugar; our muscles store sugar for easy access during long bouts of exercise (playing a long soccer game, playing outside all day long, or swimming in the pool for many hours as kids are wont to do).  While not an ideal food for growth, sugar still provides energy. Take into consideration that when we don’t make a big deal about these sugary foods, kids will be less likely to ask for them in the first place.

– See more at the Bitsy’s Brainfood Blog

 

References:

Stein, K. Severely restricted diets in the absence of medical necessity: the unintended consequences. J Am Diet Assoc. 2014;114(7):986-994.

 

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

Preventing Food Jags: What’s a Parent to Do?
By Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP

*This post was originally published on ASHA’s online blog. The original can be found here.

Photo Credit: r.nial.bradshaw via Compfight cc

As a pediatric feeding therapist, many kids are on my caseload because they are stuck in the chicken nugget and french fry rut…or will only eat one brand of mac-n-cheese…or appear addicted to the not-so-happy hamburger meal at a popular fast food chain. While this may often include kids with special needs such as autism, more than half my caseload consists of the traditional “picky-eaters” who spiraled down to only eating a few types of foods and now have a feeding disorder.  I  even had one child who only ate eight different crunchy vegetables, like broccoli and carrots.  Given his love for vegetables, it took his parents a long time to decide this might be a problem. The point is: These kids are stuck in food jag, eating a very limited number of foods and strongly refusing all others.  It creates havoc not only from a nutritional standpoint, but from a social aspect too. Once their parents realize the kids are stuck, the parents feel trapped as well. It’s incredibly stressful for the entire family, especially when mealtimes occur three times per day and there are only a few options on what their child will eat.

It’s impossible in a short blog post to describe how to proceed in feeding therapy once a child is deep in a food jag. Each child is unique, as is each family. But, in general,  I can offer some tips on how to prevent this from happening in many families, again, keeping in mind that each child and each family is truly unique.

Here are my Top Ten suggestions for preventing food jags:

#10: Start Early.  Expose baby to as many flavors and safe foods as possible.   The recent post for ASHA on Baby Led Weaning: A Developmental Perspective may offer insight into that process.

#9: Rotate, Rotate, Rotate: Foods, that is.  Jot down what baby was offered and rotate foods frequently, so that new flavors reappear, regardless if your child liked (or didn’t like) them on the first few encounters.  This is true for kids of all ages.  It’s about building familiarity.  Think about the infamous green bean casserole at Thanksgiving.  It’s rare that hesitant eaters will try it, because they often see it only once or twice per year.

#8: Food Left on the Plate is NOT Wasted: Even if it ends up in the compost, the purpose of the food’s presence on a child’s plate is for him to see it, smell it, touch it, hear it crunch under his fork and  perhaps, taste it.  So if the best he can do is pick it up and chat with you about the properties of green beans, then hurray!  That’s never a waste, because he’s learning about a new food.

 

To continue reading, please click here to be redirected to ASHAsphere.

Kids Eat Right

On Teaching Healthy Lifestyle Habits to Families
Erica Leon, MS, RDN, CEDRD, CDN
Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian
Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor

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Hardly a day goes by without a headline warning of the dire consequences of our kids’ increasing weights and BMIs (body mass indices). Yes, we know that obesity leads to many chronic health conditions, from diabetes and heart disease to joint and breathing problems. All too often, however, I have seen the negative consequences of focusing exclusively on a child or adolescent’s weight and body mass index. I am seeing an increase in the number of kids and teens on diets, and I am also seeing an increase in eating disorders and disordered eating as a result. I believe there must be a middle ground—and a different way of reacting to expanding waistlines.

 

I believe this middle ground is a philosophy called Health at Every Size (HAES) and a way of eating called “Intuitive Eating.” Simply put, we change the focus from the number on the scale to healthy behaviors from the inside out. We must educate families to take an active role in preventing weight issues in kids. Embracing a healthy lifestyle means honoring and respecting our genetic body types, fueling them with health-promoting, satisfying foods, learning to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger, and moving our bodies because it just feels good!

 

Having taught weight management programs for overweight children in the past, I have seen the stress levels caused by frequent weight checks on a scale. I am excited to implement a wonderful program called Healthy Habits, written by Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, into my practice to teach families how to eat in this healthy, balanced way using a system of “everyday” and “sometimes” foods. This eight-week curriculum is grounded in the health at every size philosophy, teaches parents and kids how to make healthy but non-depriving food choices, and promotes movement and exercise for pleasure. There are no good foods or bad foods. Parents learn limit-setting skills while kids learn portion control, honoring hunger and fullness and coping with challenging situations around food. I believe our best hope at preventing health problems associated with overweight and obesity is involving and educating the entire family about a healthy lifestyle.

 

I would like to share part of an essay that my nineteen-year-old daughter, Rebecca Leon, wrote:

I have what my family calls the “round genes,” which basically means that due to good old-fashioned genetics, I’m destined to have curvier hips and a slightly fuller figure than most. Throughout my 19 years, I’ve struggled with accepting this fact and have fallen in and out of love with my body more times than Justin Bieber has gotten into trouble with the law! Although I’ve never had an eating disorder myself, admittedly, I’ve grappled with some dangerous dieting habits. Last year I auditioned for very competitive musical theater college programs where looks are as important as skill.

“My solution was to eat less (way less) and exercise a lot more, even though I was already dancing 3 hours a day. I won’t go into any more detail, but to make a long story short, for a few months, I wasn’t eating nearly enough food for the amount of calories I was burning. Although happy with my looks and feedback I was getting, to put it mildly, I felt like crap. I felt cranky all the time, had no energy, wasn’t satisfied with the way I was performing, and I would freak out at any sign of bloating. Luckily I have a supportive, nutritionist mother who has been teaching me about healthy eating since the day I was born. The truth is, your body needs fuel in order to perform at its best. I soon realized that by depriving my body of its needs, I was, in turn, putting myself at a disadvantage. When it came time for my auditions, I went back to eating more regularly. Thankfully, I was accepted into many programs, which would have been impossible had I not given my body the energy it needed to perform well.

 “The best way to feel good is to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Living in this manner is the key to honoring and accepting your body. Let’s face it…human beings are lazy. Most of the time we look for shortcuts and the easy way out. Well, unfortunately there is no shortcut or easy way out when it comes to health. Depriving your body of food may seem like the quickest way to lose weight, but in reality, it’s not at all worth the emotional or physical stress, not to mention putting yourself in danger. Even though maintaining a healthy lifestyle is difficult, the hard work pays off. Personally, I feel the happiest when I have a daily exercise routine planned out and stick to a balanced, healthy diet that allows me to indulge in a yummy dessert every other night.”

 

August is “Kids Eat Right Month,” an initiative from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to educate and empower our children towards a healthier lifestyle. I believe Healthy Habits enables families to do just that.

 

For more information on Healthy Habits, click here.

For additional free resources on “Kids Eat Right,” click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ice Cream, Brownies and Sweets, Oh MY!!

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Like I’ve said before, I’m kind of sensitive to the idea of categorizing foods as either “good” or “bad,” not just because I specialize in eating disorders as a professional RD, but also because—on a personal level—I too once restricted myself from sweets and seemingly evil foods. (Really, who hasn’t at some point in their lives?)

My approach may not be black or white, but it’s simple. Rather than distinguishing food as good or bad, I prefer to consider their nutritional value. Some foods, like fruits, vegetables and oatmeal, are wholesome. Others, like brownies and ice cream, are less wholesome (lower in nutritional density). At the end of the day, however, none of these foods should be designated as good or bad.

My goal for my own kids and, for that matter, my clients as well, is to cultivate this neutral mentality. And while my kids may not eat enough vegetables, they at least seem to have mastered this concept.

Here’s a perfect example. On the last weekend of summer, my hubby and I decided to trade in our usual Hamptons weekend for a trip to the Jersey Shore. The kids were thrilled. They love the beach, the ocean and, of course, the ice cream stands lining the two-mile stretch of Wildwood’s boardwalk. They were especially excited to ride the kiddie coaster and eat cups of delicious and refreshing ice cream all weekend. And they did.

On Saturday afternoon, Hubby and Grandpa took Billy and Bobby to the boardwalk to ride the motorcycles, roller coasters and carousel. They topped off the day with ice cream.

Then on Monday, we went back to the boardwalk. Mommy wanted ice cream, so of course the boys asked for ice cream too. Without thinking twice, I said sure. What’s the harm in ice cream, after all?

But what happened next is shocking—even unheard of! (Though in my household, it happens all the time.) Billy took two bites of his vanilla chocolate swirl with rainbow sprinkles before getting distracted by a water gun game and tossing his treat into the nearest garbage bin. Apparently, his desire to win a sword just like Bobby’s was stronger than his need for a sugary snack.

My husband and I stood ogling Billy, who was now ice cream-less. He just threw away a perfectly delicious $4.00 ice cream! It’s not that I wanted him to eat it, especially if he wasn’t hungry, but my hubby and I would have been happy to take it off his hands!

What it comes down to is this: because Billy was never taught to think of ice cream as some taboo form of food, he didn’t feel the need to chomp it down to the last bite. Apparently, he views ice cream as a neutral food. Check!

Recently, I mentioned another example of this while discussing the “one lick rule.” In case you don’t remember, Bobby and Billy had wanted pizza and a brownie, and I allowed the boys to have both. During that instance, the boys were able to use satiation cues as they ate their pizza to save room for their brownie. Even then, they only ate a small portion of the brownie and gave the remainders up. They both did this on their own intuition—so go boys!

Do you discuss different foods in terms of “good” and “bad” in your household? Are your kids able to stop themselves from consuming an entire brownie, or do they prefer the entire treat at once? 

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

Behind their Bite: When your child needs more than mom?
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN and Mom

 

Is your kid a picky eater, or is something else going on?  Read on to learn if your child needs an evaluation by a speech and language pathologist or occupational therapist.

 

The logic behind why a child does or doesn’t eat something is difficult to understand. There is no clear and easy direction to point when determining the preferences of one taste or texture to another. In fact, there can actually be a variety of factors at play.

 

If your child is showing signs of picky eating alongside a series of additional symptoms, he/she may need more than mom. Symptoms would include hypersensitivity to textures, tags in clothing, delays in daily activities such as dressing, brushing teeth, sitting and standing, slow developmental skills in the classroom and with crafts, delayed or slurred speech, excessive drooling while eating, coughing while swallowing, and/or difficulty chewing and swallowing.

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Ideally it is best to work with a team of health care professionals, who can help you assess if your child’s aversion to certain foods is more than picky eating. A team would consist of a pediatrician, a psychologist, a speech and language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a registered dietitian and of course, the parents. In the perfect situation the team would do the following:

Sample case: Greg, age 4, makes a horrible face each time he sees and tries broccoli. He will not swallow it and spits it out. Claims it hurts his stomach.

  • A doctor will test to make sure there isn’t an allergy or sensitivity causing the stomach pain.
  • A psychologist, if required, will consult with the doctor to see if there is any pattern of disordered eating or need for therapy.
  • A speech and language pathologist will assess his ability to swallow, chew, and move the food through his mouth and esophagus to make sure there are no issues with feeding and swallowing.
  • An occupational therapist, in this particular situation, will assess anything that ranges from the plate to the motion of putting food into the mouth and the various factors that may affect this.
  • Using all of this information, and barring any allergies/sensitivities, a dietitian will help to integrate this food into the child’s diet or help find an alternative nutrient and/or food sources to replace this food in his diet.
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Realistically parents do not always have access to this kind of multidisciplinary team. Remember it that it takes roughly 10-15 tries before a child acclimates to a new food. If your parent’s intuition leads you to believe something else is getting in the way, use the tips below to determine who should evaluate your child’s eating.

  • Get Evaluated by a Speech and Language Pathologist if:
    • Coughing or choking upon swallowing
    • Gaging
    • Poor tongue motion or movement
    • Inability to close lips while chewing and swallowing
    • Non-food behaviors (that could indicate challenges in overall sensory integration or motor planning affecting eating):
      • Hypersensitive to textures (e.g. Avoids “messy” crafts or toys such as painting, glue, play dough, sand box)
      • Hypersensitive to tags in clothing
      • Delays in other daily living activities (dressing, brushing teeth, climbing in and out of chair, manipulating toys, writing, cutting with scissors)
      • Late talkers
      • Excess drooling
      • Articulation errors (unclear speech)

 

  • Get Evaluated by a Occupational Therapist if:
    • Hypersensitivity to taste, texture, or tags
    • Refusal or inability to lift silverware
    • Refusal or inability to eat
    • Spiting food out
    • Throwing food
    • Any mechanical or behavioral interruption of feeding before consumption of food
    • Delays in development
      • Dressing
      • Brushing teeth
      • Climbing in and out of chair
      • Manipulating toys
      • Writing
      • Cutting with scissors, crafts

 

Look out for clues that suggest there may be a swallowing disorder or an inhibition restricting your child to self-feed outside of just being a picky eater. And remember, sometimes people just don’t like certain flavors or textures—and maybe that is what’s behind their bite.

 

Is your child a picky eater? What signs do they show that they dislike food, taste, or texture? 

DIY: 7 Steps to Progress Your Picky Eater

DIY:  7 Steps to Progress Your Picky Eater
By Laura Cipullo RD CDE CEDRD CDN and Mom

 

“I just want to go home and eat what I eat everyday for lunch.”

 

Is this your child? It is most definitely my child, as this is what he said to me on Friday when we walked into the burger joint known for its burgers and milkshakes. When he said this, I just let out a deep breath and decided it would be milkshakes for lunch. He doesn’t like change, and therefore he doesn’t like change in food, rules, or where he puts the furniture in Minecraft.

But this does not mean that you or I should take the summer off from exposing our kids to new foods and/or textures. Actually, summer is ideal because schedules are changing, and you can create a new schedule that incorporates trying new foods, say, twice a week. There is no school, stress, or homework, so take advantage of this time.

I am trying to incorporate different foods into dinner meals on Sundays and Wednesdays. Just yesterday, the boys tried fresh mozzarella, which neither would eat. They liked it melted but not cold. Last week they tried vegetarian sushi with avocado (they both licked it). Remember, touching, licking, or just getting it on their plate can help. Of course, they get these new foods alongside their faves or sometimes before their favorites are served. They tried a falafel burger and cocoa-dusted almonds!

My oldest, Bobby, has taken to eating fresh corn on the cob with butter and salt each night with his dinner, while Billy has incorporated strawberries without the skin at each of his dinner meals. That’s right, no skins. One night he said, “Mommy, I like the insides of strawberries.” My husband told me that Billy would eat the strawberries’ flesh, but he could not take a big bite. So I got the peeler out and voila!! He is now my strawberry man. So as summer begins, we will take this opportunity to continue exposing the boys to new foods and even former foods.

The food exposure may follow this progression or something similar.

Recognize that this is helpful for toddlers, children, and even pre-teens.

  1. First, get the food on the same plate
  2. Next, get touch involved.  Maybe your child touches the food with their fingers or puts the food to his/her cheek or lips
  3. Employ the One Lick Rule
  4. Employ the One Chew and Spit—if you must
  5. Use the One Bite Rule
  6. Use the Three Bites Rule if your child has achieved the One Bite with that food
  7. Make the food part of the main meal on a regular basis

 

If you think that your child may have issues with sensory integration, get the expert advice of a speech pathologist and/or an occupational therapist. Books that may help include Happy Mealtimes with Happy Kids: How to Teach Your Child About the Joy of Food by Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP, and Ellyn Satter’s Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook.

 

Keep your eyes open for MDIO’s (Mom Dishes It Out’s) upcoming blog on when to get a consult from a speech therapist versus, occupational therapist or dietitian.

 

And of course, let us know what works for you. Does your child fit the description of Potock’s case examples, or does your child easily follow the flow set by Satter’s “Division of Responsibility”?

Mother’s Day Dinner

Mother’s Day Dinner:
A perfect opportunity for every picky kids’ food issues to surface.
By Laura Cipullo, RD CED CEDRD CDN and Mom

For Mother’s Day, we went to Marc Forgione’s American Cut—a very fancy steak place. The décor was beautiful and masculine. The food—well, just incredible, as expected! Normally, I would not bring my kids to such an expensive restaurant but they are usually pretty cheap eaters. And it was Mother’s Day as well as our family’s celebration of my birthday which was the day before.

 

Bread

First, we were served an “everything” biscuit with vegetable cream cheese. The boys quickly grabbed the biscuits (despite all of the seeds on top) and took giant bites. And they both quickly realized they didn’t like what they were tasting! Not one bit! That was the end of their bread experience for the night. Meanwhile, I thought the biscuits were so delicious that I ate two!

 

Menu Selection

There was absolutely nothing listed on the menu that my younger son Billy would eat—and, of course, the bread was no longer an option. But oh, there were French fries—something to save the meal! But I was only saved until the fries arrived at our table. They were large slices of potatoes—heavily salted and spicy. Billy did try them, but nope, they were just not his thing. As usual in a situation like this, he sat happily in his seat but ate nothing. We played “tic tac toe” and he loved the evening.

Dinner Served

My older son Bobby had filet mignon. Now, I did not buy him his own steak, rather I know he eats only an ounce of steak at a time so my husband cut him a slice of filet from his dish. Bobby noticed that the meat was softer than usual. He asked if it was a different steak. I explained that it was filet mignon—a very good, very tender cut of meat, thus very soft.

 

So I watched Bobby performing his normal routine when chewing steak and even chicken. He munched on a bite for what seemed like five to ten minutes. (A homeopathic MD might say this is great as one should be chewing food at least 30 times per bite.) However, I find this similar to a toddler who plans to pocket the food in his/her mouth. Without jumping to any conclusions, I simply observed and he did eventually swallow. I know it’s purely because meat has a different feel and can truly be difficult to chew.

 

I remember hating steak for this very same reason. Who wants to work that hard to eat? Not me! I don’t even want to debone my fish, nonetheless eat chewy meat. Bobby recognized that this meat was softer and I assumed it meant he’d take a few less chews. Nope! I guess it really is just what it is. I’m just happy he eats some form of high quality (biological value) protein.

 

I also ordered cavatelli for Bobby. No sauce. No butter. No anything! He ate a few pieces and then said it tasted funny. It sure did; it had butter on it. I wasn’t going to return it though. So I ate it. I asked him to eat a few bites and finish the rest of his steak. And he was content. The boys just really like going to fancy restaurants with great fancy décor. Most especially, they really like the fancy-looking desserts!!

Dessert

The boys’ favorite time of the meal had finally arrived! Of course, they didn’t want to actually eat the fancy desserts. They just like their desserts to look fancy! Bobby ordered peanut ice cream with chocolate sauce; for Billy, I ordered sweet cream—the closest flavor to vanilla. Billy also decided to eat the peanut brittle that came with his grandparents’ Cracker Jack Sundae. Bobby wouldn’t even try! Mind you, Billy wouldn’t try the cavetalli –or even guacamole when we ate out on Friday night.

 

Well my super taster, Bobby, noticed right away that he was served the wrong ice cream. They accidently had given him coffee ice cream. And it happened twice! He finally got his peanut ice cream and chocolate sauce. Meanwhile, Billy gleefully spooned up his sweet cream and chocolate sauce. The boys were in ice cream heaven and so was I. I ate the scoops of coffee Stracciatella ice cream!

It was truly a wonderful evening and a positive eating experience too, but…

 

Two Points:

Despite constant role modeling and their continuous exposure to all foods, my sons purely prefer plain and simple foods. Ironically, it remains beneficial for me to continue the positive food role modeling and exposure to all foods. Why? Because that’s how Bobby began to eat steak and Billy had the desire to try both the bread and the peanut brittle.

 

So, moms and dads, keep trying to do what you know is best for your kids. Recognize that your food and nutrition efforts are realized in sometimes very small ways over many years of positive reinforcement. You are not wasting your money! When your children don’t eat their meals or don’t like particular foods, you are helping your children create opportunities to neutralize foods and flavors, create positive food memories, and ultimately learn what they truly like to eat.

Food Antics

Food Antics
By: Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN and Mom of two

 

Is there ever a dull moment in your kitchen? Well, there sure isn’t one in mine! My husband and I have noticed that our older son continuously asks for food all evening long—from dinner on until his bedtime. And he’s not actually asking for food; rather, he’s telling us that he’s hungry. Since Bobby has always been my famously “intuitive eater,” one might readily think: that’s terrific. Just feed the growing boy!

 

But of course, nothing is as simple as it seems when it comes to food. Bobby is most definitely growing and can easily consume an entire box of mac and cheese with spinach, an apple and a chicken cutlet—and still be hungry! This is completely fine with me if it isn’t every night just before bedtime arrives. What we have noticed, however, is that Bobby is responding to all statements concerning getting ready for bed, or even going to sleep, with “But I’m still hungry.”

 

Attempting to find out what Bobby is really “hungry” for, I ask him: Do you want more dinner? Would you like a yogurt stick? How about some ice cream? An apple? A yogurt? Maybe a smoothie?

We tried giving him larger dinner portions, serving dessert with dinner and even calling “last round” for kitchen requests. But it never fails to happen just like this…

 

Last night Bobby was in bed. The family had read books together and we even shared some “silly” time. Just as I was saying goodnight and leaving his room, he said: “But I’m still hungry.” By this point in time, I don’t want to care if my kid is hungry. Either he needs to learn to be more mindful and check in with his belly and brain before bedtime…or he’s really needing and wanting something else!

 

Now, as I sit here writing…an important concept leaps into my brain: I’m not sure if I ever asked Bobby if he wanted something else. Like a little more time with mom. Or to talk about a bad dream he may have had. Or perhaps he’s just trying to defy the boundaries his dad and I have set. There are so many possibilities in this scenario.

 

When I consider this difficult situation from an RD’s perspective, I know just what I would suggest to any of my mom clients dealing with this type of issue: “Have a real heart-to-heart talk with your son. Ask him during the day time—at a non-meal moment —what he’s truly feeling and wanting at night.”

 

There are a variety of life changes that may be affecting Bobby that he, along with his peers as well as adults, is not aware of feeling. Or perhaps he may just be hungry! The lesson for me and my readers is this: Consider creating an open dialogue at a non-food time to find out if the problematic situation is indeed about food—or about feelings. What you learn will surely help you to resolve the issue. Sometimes the answer may be serving more protein and fat with dinner…and sometimes the answer may be spending a special day alone together…just mommy and me.

I’m so glad I was able to give myself a free nutrition session!

 

And by the way, my younger son Billy told me he eats his fish sticks with his dad because daddy makes him. But he won’t eat them with me! Yep, that’s a whole other can of “gummy” worms! Maybe the subject of my next blog. Of course, don’t forget you can always ask us your questions by submitting them right here:

Likable Lunches: Citibabes' Style

Need nutritious ideas for likable lunches? Here are some flavor favorites you can add to your child’s springtime lunch box: remember exposure to new flavors and textures are key to increasing your child’s nutritional repertoire.

If you have a picky eater, introduce one new flavor with other favorite lunch foods.

* Whole-wheat wrap with thinly sliced fresh roast beef with thin layer of olive tapenade and an apple.

* Sushi bowl: Rice in a bowl with edamame, baked terrakyi tofu cubes, fresh corn and side of pickled ginger or cucumber slices.

* Whole grain sandwich with Cheddar, hummus, grilled red peppers, spring lettuce on whole grain bread with side of mini heirloom tomatoes.

 

To read more on likable lunches head over to Citibabes to read the rest of Laura’s article by clicking here.