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

News Flash: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Reports Their Latest Recommendations and Ellyn Satter’s Model Is Part of It.

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We are all inundated with nutrition messages. Messages range from our pediatricians to our mom friends, and of course from the media. Just last month, AND released their position paper on nutrition guidance for healthy children ages two through eleven. Well in 1999, I was introduced to the works of Ellyn Satter called Feeding with Love and Good Sense and Treating the Dieting Casualty.  I was stumped on how to be a RD if diets didn’t work. Well, a more seasoned RD recommended this three-day workshop in Madison, Wisconsin, taught by Ellyn Satter who was both a RD and a LCSW.  So of course I attended the three-day intensive led by Satter called “Treating the Dieting Casualty”. It changed my life and that of my clients. I was hooked and then went on to study her approach on feeding children. The most amazing thing is that upon reading the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ position paper for “Nutrition Guidance for Healthy Children Ages 2 to 11 Years,” I see that Satter’s recommendations are being officially incorporated. This is a great achievement for all.

 

Now, fifteen years later, many RDs know her work but not all parents do. I have cut and pasted some of the important highlights from the position paper that is associated with her approach. Most of the contributors on Mom Dishes It Out follow a similar approach, but if you want the original real deal, buy one of Satter’s books.

 

Encourage Internal Regulationi:

When parents assume control of food portions or coerce children to eat rather than allow them to focus on their internal cues of hunger, their ability to regulate meal size is diminished. In general, parental control, especially restrictive feeding practices, tends to be associated with overeating and poorer self-regulation of energy in-take in preschool-aged children and was predictive of overweight. This may be problematic among girls with a high BMI and may contribute to the chronic dieting and dietary restraint that has become common among American girls and young women.

 

Responsive Feedingi:

Use of a responsive feeding approach, in which the care provider recognizes and responds to the child’s hunger and satiety cues, has been incorporated into numerous federal and international food and nutrition programs. A “nonresponsive feeding” approach (i.e., forcing or pressuring a child to eat or restricting food intake, indulgent feeding, or uninvolved feeding) has been associated with overweight and obesity.

  

Food Environmenti:

Although children seem to possess an innate ability to self-regulate their energy in- takes, their food environment affects the extent to which they are able to exercise this ability. Offering large food portions (especially energy-dense, sweet, or salty foods), feeding practices that pressure or restrict eating, or modeling of excessive consumption can all undermine self-regulation in children.

 

Division Of Responsibilityi:

 As early as the 1950s, recommendations for allowing young children to self-regulate were being made. Ellyn Satter, MSSW, RD, advocates a “Division of Responsibility” approach to feeding children. These premises, which incorporate principles of responsive feeding, have now been adopted by many national groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and USDA (MyPlate). With this approach, the role of parents and other caregivers in feeding is to provide structured opportunities to eat, developmentally appropriate support, and suitable food and beverage choices, without coercion to eat. Children are responsible for determining whether and how much to eat from what is offered.

 

The Food Relationshipi:

Early parental influence is associated with the development of a child’s relationship with food later in life. For example, young-adult eating habits, such as eating all food on the plate, using food as an incentive or threat, eating dessert, and eating regularly scheduled meals were related to the same feeding practices reportedly used by their parents during their childhood.

 

For Further Reading:

 


[i] Ogata BN, Hayes D. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Nutrition Guidance for Healthy Children Ages 2 to 11 Years.” (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2014), 114:1257–76.

Including Your “Picky Eaters” in Social Activities around Food

Including Your “Picky Eaters” in Social Activities around Food

Let’s be honest, a lot of social activities – both for children AND adults – involve food.  Birthday parties?  Pizza and cake.  Sleepovers?  Dinner (and a pancake breakfast the next morning!).  Playdates after school?  Snack time.  For picky eaters, who experience anxiety around new or unfamiliar foods, these fun, innocuous events may be perceived as threatening and unappealing, and thus avoided.  This avoidance is a problem for any child who might miss out on important childhood moments, but is especially harmful for selective eaters who dually present with social language challenges.  As speech language pathologists, we frequently treat children with complex profiles including language, social, sensory, and feeding difficulties.  How can we ensure that we are fostering our children’s social-language development (i.e., building friendships, participating in play and conversation with peers, and problem-solving social conflicts) across a variety of typical social interactions, while also being sensitive and accommodating to their feeding challenges?

To support our clients using a “whole child” approach, we are thrilled to have launched our City PALS Pragmatic Language Support Groups, which target social language and peer interaction skills through a variety of office- and community-based activities.  Our field trips frequently include food sites (i.e., pizza parlor, restaurants, 16 Handles, and baking cookies), to best reflect the real-life scenarios our children face outside of therapy and school.  How do we foster social skills (e.g., improving turn-taking, increasing flexibility, negotiating and compromising with friends, and engaging in cooperative play) while simultaneously supporting exposure to new foods and eating situations?  Here are some suggestions below!

At 16 Handles, children took turns preparing frozen yogurt sundaes for each other by pretending to be the “waiter” for their partner.  They had to check in with their partners to ask them what flavor frozen yogurt and what types of toppings they wanted, then prepare and serve it to them.  Why did this work so well for our kids, even those with aversions to certain food groups or textures (e.g., wet, “messy” whipped cream or the entire fruit bar!)?  It gave them an opportunity to interact with more challenging foods (by labeling them, scooping them, pouring them, and watching a friend eat them) without the pressure of needing to eat them themselves.  It also served as a fun, engaging, interactive experience with a peer, strengthening our kids’ abilities to reference their peers, listen and recall information, and take turns cooperatively.  Add in some imaginary play props – their very own picture menus and a “waitress notepad” to circle the frozen yogurt flavors and toppings – and you’ve got some very happy and enthusiastic kids!

At the pizza parlor, we were lucky enough to not just order and eat pizza, but to make it ourselves!  A real treat for some of our kids, a real challenge for others.  Imagine all of the sensory information a child must receive and process to make pizza – the temperature and texture of the dough and sauce, the strong smells of different food items as the pizza cooks, and of course the flavors and textures of the food themselves while eating.  How did we make this a positive, safe, and socially-engaging experience for the group?  First, we made the focus of the activity on creating a pizza pie together, as a group.  Each child could contribute to the pizza in the way that he best could, whether that was simply retrieving the materials and passing them out to the group, touching one finger to the dough rather than rolling or flattening it, or opening and closing the oven door (with adult supervision of course!).  Everyone can be involved in the process, regardless of their tactile, taste, or overall sensory sensitivities.  With our kids’ personalized chef hats, complete with their names on the front, all of the children were able to participate in the group experience successfully, leaving the group with greater social confidence and less anxiety about the next cooking or food activity.

 

Remember that we can explore and gain exposure to food and eating experiences using all of our senses and faculties!  We can start with simply viewing or talking about a food, such as by listing the ingredients or discussing how we would make pizza step-by-step, and then slowly and safely move across a hierarchy to eating.  This can include: handling closed containers (e.g., passing a closed tomato sauce jar to a friend), smelling, serving with utensils (e.g., scooping strawberries onto the frozen yogurt with a spoon), touching with just a finger, touching with our lips, licking, and biting.  When food exposure is embedded in socially-rich activities that focus on team work and peer relationships, we are best able to build our clients’ confidence across all developmental domains, including social language, sensory integration, and feeding.  If we, as therapists or parents, are open to a range of ways to participate, there will never, ever be a reason that a picky eater should feel excluded from a social experience involving food!  If they are working with the group, having fun participating at their level, and developing and deepening friendships, then to us, it is a SUCCESS!

 

For more information about City PALS, our Pragmatic Language Support groups, please feel free to contact Robin and Lauren!

 

Robin Goldberg, MA, CCC-SLP, TSSLD                                                           Lauren Cohen, MS, CCC-SLP, TSSLD
Speech Language Pathologist                                                                                            Speech Language Pathologist

 

www.leapsandsoundsnyc.com

 

 

Fall Remedies For Overwhelmed Mommies

Fall Remedies For Overwhelmed Mommies
By Elyse Falk, MS, RD

Fall is almost here! With school starting and the laid back days of summer ending, schedules begin to get busy again.  Even though I am a dietitian, I am still a mom, and have to admit that even I get crazed with having to decide what to cook for dinner for my family and myself. I have to figure out when to prepare it, and if I have enough time to do so, along with coordinating when to have food ready with my boys coming home at different times. It is exhausting! My clients face these same challenges and oftentimes have no one to help prep, cook, or clean up. So what would I, with these same problems, tell them? First, remember that no one can be superman or superwoman every night. Not every dinner will be a home-cooked meal and that’s okay! Go through your schedule and be realistic; figure out the days where cooking will be the most feasible and then consider this advice:

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  • Pick a weekend day and use it for prep; cut vegetables for soups or salads, cook rice or beans to refrigerate until ready, and chops onions and garlic for easy flavor boosts
  • If you have time earlier in the day, prepare food and save it to heat and eat later
  • Buy one prepared item and use it in a multitude of ways! If you a buy a rotisserie chicken, for instance, you can add it to lots of things:  tortillas, yellow rice and beans, soups, pasta, quinoa, salad, or chop it up to make chicken salad
  • Tacos are fun and easy to prepare, so make it taco night! Chop your toppings beforehand, store, and pull them out while the meat or beans are cooking
  • Stock up on organic, low sodium, high nutrition frozen foods and prepare a vegetable and whole grain to accompany it.   My kids love Amy’s Organic Mexican Bowls, Amy’s Organic Pizza Spinach Munchies, Dr. Praeger’s Fish Sticks, and pre-frozen veggie burgers that you can top with cheese and avocado and put in a whole grain bun. Remember, kids can have carbs!!
  • Everyone loves breakfast for dinner!  Omelet’s and pancakes are quick and easy. Add the chopped veggies from Sunday and throw some fruit in the pancakes and enjoy!
  • Soup is another great “heat and eat” meal! Prepare on a weekend or less busy night and freeze until needed. Chicken noodle with veggies, hearty bean soups, barley soups, or thick chili on a cold night are wonderful. Pair with some crusty bread and top with cheese or avocado and you have an easy meal
  • And last but not least, experiment with a slow cooker. This is a great way to prep casseroles, pulled pork, or even pasta sauces with little effort except for setting it and forgetting it.

A Back-to-School Nutrition Guide

I tell all my young clients (and my own kids!) that I think it’s crucial for everyone from the age of 12–20 to sit down and chat with a nutritionist at some point. Now I know I may be just a tad bit biased, but I truly believe that having a down-to-earth convo about what’s real and realistic when it comes to food, eating, and being healthful can really help sort through the daily confusion that we hear on this topic.   Since this is also an age where even the most well-intended and brilliant parent is considered less than wise by their own children, having a neutral party discuss food can often save much frustration and reduce power struggles.  Here are some suggestions written directly to your kids; this may open up some questions and conversations after they read it, but know that even if it doesn’t, you’ve helped create just a little more info for them to become their own responsible self and a more connected eater.

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Next Stop:  School!
Nutrition Tips for Middle- and High-School Success
By Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

 

Voluminous —your vocab word of the day!  It also describes the amount of confusing and contradicting nutrition info that comes at you on a daily basis.  There’s just so much, how do you know what to believe?  Students are not only bombarded with social media messages about food and bodies, they are influenced by friends, parents, teachers, and coaches who each have their own individual belief and bias about nutrition and health.

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As you head back into the fast-paced routine of school, studying, and extra-curricular activities, it’s important to remember a few simple things to keep you, your body, and your brain in top-notch shape:

 

  • Avoid “diets” at all costs—not only does restricting make it harder for us to access and use our intelligence, it also leads us think more about food, taking away brainpower from other important things.
  • Include complex carbs/grains at all meals—your body is using up food at rapid pace, and it needs to eat about every 3–4 hours most days.  Grains give us immediate fuel and go straight to our brain to help us think.  In fact, carbs are the only macronutrient that feeds our brain.  Protein and fats help keep us satisfied and are also important at each meal, but they won’t give you the immediate mental or physical energy that carbs do.
  • Keep some food with you—pack some trail mix, fruit, and/or a whole grain granola bar for the times when your meal doesn’t come soon enough.  Ask your teachers if they allow food in their class, something particularly important if you’re going longer than 4-ish hours without fuel.
  • Breakfast—yes, it really does set the pace for your day!  Without it, you are more likely to feel and function unbalanced, and you may even eat more later in the day.  A pbj sandwich, yogurt parfait, or leftovers from dinner can all work for a fast, little-effort meal.   And yes, when you eat breakfast, you’ll feel a little more clearly hungry at lunch.  That is a GREAT thing, because it signals that your body is functioning just as it’s supposed to!
  • Try a new food—your taste buds are becoming more diverse at this age, and things you didn’t like earlier (green beans maybe?!) may not be so bad now.  Add your creativity to it—throw some salsa on veggies or melt a little cheese on a new-to-you protein.  And try the new food at the beginning of your meal.
  • Don’t skip meals—if you can’t stand school lunch, pack your own.  Make sure you take a few minutes to sit down for dinner.  Skipping meals will confuse your body and make you over-hungry later.  If you eat regularly, you can better know when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re just right.
  • Include some color—add some fruit and/or veggies at each meal.  Not only do they help you feel satisfied, but they also give you nutrients you can’t get from other foods.  Your whole body system is working at a crazy pace at this age and needs a greater mix of different energy, vitamins, and minerals just to keep up with you.

 

Should my child become a vegetarian?

Is It Safe for My Child to Become a Vegetarian?
By Erica Leon, MS, RDN, CDN, CEDRD

Photo Credit: Pabo76 via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Pabo76 via Compfight cc

My daughter was ten when she refused to eat meat because she didn’t want to harm animals. A class discussion had raised this topic and she was sold.  I listened calmly to her rationale, and it made sense. The bigger question for me was how to manage dinner for a vegetarian and a meat-and-potato-loving husband and preteen son!

Preparing different meals is a common concern I hear from parents with kids becoming vegetarian. Additional questions I often hear include: Is it safe? How will my child get enough protein? What other nutrients should I worry about? Here are some suggested guidelines for responding to the topic of vegetarianism if your child or teen brings it up:

Listen. Talk calmly with your child about their reason for eliminating meat. If it is about animal rights or another reason that you feel makes sense to your child, be respectful of his or her choice(s). It is not worth a power struggle and shows that you value what your child feels. If you have any concerns that your child is cutting out a category of food(s) for weight-loss purposes, it is important to talk about balanced eating and healthy habits rather than weight. In some cases, a sudden change in diet can indicate potential eating-disordered thoughts, and you may have to take the opportunity to address this swiftly.

A well-planned vegetarian diet can be nutritionally adequate according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A healthy vegetarian diet will contain a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and calcium sources. Your child must learn that a steady diet of pizza, pasta, mozzarella sticks, and bagels does not constitute a “healthy” vegetarian diet.

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Photo Credit: elana’s pantry via Compfight cc

Nutrients in shortest supply in a vegetarian diet, particularly a vegan diet (one that excludes dairy and eggs), may include:

    • Protein: Vegetarian sources can include eggs and cheese, legumes (beans), nuts and nut butter, seeds, tofu, and other soy products.
    • Calcium: Vegetarian-friendly sources of calcium include: cow’s milk, yogurt and cheese, calcium-fortified soy, rice, oat or hemp milk, calcium-fortified juice, and tofu, broccoli, leafy greens, beans, almond and almond butter, sesame seeds and sesame butter, and soy nuts.
    • Iron: Rich sources for vegetarians include fortified breakfast cereals, enriched breads and pasta, eggs, beans, and dark leafy green vegetables. Soy products such as veggie burgers are generally fortified with iron. It is important to consume a good source of vitamin C in order to increase absorption of iron. Vitamin C is found in citrus, tomatoes, and peppers.
    • Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products including eggs and dairy. If your child is a vegan, he or she will need supplementation. Many soy products and milk substitutes are fortified, so read labels.
    • Vitamin D: Considered the “sunshine vitamin” since our body can make it from exposure to sunlight, some vegetarians who do not consume fish, eggs, or dairy and/or do not spend time in the sun will benefit from supplementation.

 Do I need to prepare two dinners? A vegetarian diet can be healthy for the whole family, so this is your chance to slowly introduce some new foods into the entire family’s diet. I usually involve my kids in planning several meals for the week.

Simple meal suggestions my kids came up with:

    • Whole grain pasta with ground turkey (son) AND vegetarian crumbles (daughter). We added salad and soy milk for calcium and protein.
    • Stir-fried vegetables with chicken AND tofu and quinoa or brown rice.
    • Rice and beans was a great main meal for my daughter and a side dish for my husband and son. Smaller amounts of red meat and vegetables rounded off the meal.
    • I experimented and would make dishes that everyone could enjoy such as whole grain vegetable lasagna using tofu instead of ricotta cheese, with lots of vegetables and soy cheese instead of mozzarella.
    • Turkey tacos and bean tacos were common fare.
    • When I made breaded chicken cutlet, I make breaded tofu cutlet.
    • On hectic nights, I confess that I have used frozen foods such as Amy’s Organic Bean Dishes, Morningstar Farm or Dr. Praeger’s Veggie Burgers, or Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods frozen vegetarian meals. Even a dietitian needs a night off from cooking!

 

Where can I read more about vegetarianism? Some great websites for vegetarian nutrition include:

 

 

 

 

Looking for Lunch Ideas?

Back-to-School Loveable Lunch Ideas
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD and Mom

When meal prepping, be sure to include a carbohydrate, a protein, and a fat at lunch time (or any meal time) to help ensure that your child is adequately fed, evenly energized throughout the day, and without a blood sugar roller coaster. Combining macronutrients is KEY especially if you have a child who is easily distracted, acts out in class, or comes home wiped out.

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Here are some suggestions to get the first week of school off on the right foot.


Monday Lunch

Pasta/bean salad with cubed chicken sausage

Side: mandarin oranges; milk

Tuesday Lunch

Whole wheat quesadilla with pineapple salsa and red peppers

Side: Mango and yogurt

Wednesday Lunch

Lentil soup with corn muffin

Side: Carrots and pretzels with hummus; milk

 

Thursday Lunch

Teriyaki chicken satay with edamame and sticky rice (or rice crackers)

Side: Bitsy’s Brainfood Cookies (zucchini gingerbread carrot flavor is my favorite!)

 

Friday Lunch

Apple and cheese sandwich (can get fancier with different types of cheese like brie or goat cheese)

Side: Olives (one for each finger) and yogurt squeezer

 

– See more at: http://bitsysbrainfood.com/blog/#sthash.9QU75bpn.dpuf

 

Back-To-School Pancakes

We love to make pancakes for breakfast on the weekends at our house. The kids each have their roles in the preparation and we all get to sit down and enjoy a leisurely breakfast together. One thing I love to do is make large batches at one time and save them for the week! All you need is a zip-top bag or a food container and you’ve got weekday breakfasts at the ready. Check out this video of my son and his friend helping me with a fun pancake recipe.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9bhLOgtvOY]

What is your favorite pancake recipe or topping? Let us know in the comments below!

How We Do Dessert

“What’s For Dessert?”
By Adina Pearson, RDN of Healthy Little Eaters

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Why I Serve Dessert With The Meal

In most households, dessert is served at the end of the meal.  When everyone has gotten their fill of the main course and sides and is patting their full tummy in satisfaction, the hostess clears the table, vanishes into the kitchen, and then reappears flashing a proud smile as she presents…DESSERT:  The decadent reward for getting full on nutrition!  The hard work is done, you may now enjoy a moment of pleasure.

^Not teaching that lesson is one reason why we now serve dessert with the meal in our house.  I don’t want to teach the unintended lesson that dessert is for full bellies.  I want my children to stay tuned in to their signals of fullness and satisfaction.  Sweets are desirable enough to children that they can learn to override their fullness if they have to do it to get cookies–especially if cookies are scarce.  A small study in Appetite demonstrated that kids will eat more calories in order to squeeze in dessert if it was served at the end of the meal.   The study authors interpreted the results as a way to help kids eat fewer calories.  But that’s not really what I take from this.  I’m not into micromanaging calories because I think kids do an adequate job of regulating themselves when they get reliable meals and snacks.  What I take from this is that the way we feed our kids can either support their natural self-regulation and ability to respect their fullness or it can teach them to overeat to get what they really want.  My personal experience is that if they know it’s coming, they’ll just get antsy at the table or become preoccupied enough with the-sweet-thing-to-come that they won’t stop to eat the main meal.  It certainly was the case with my 4 year old before we made the switch.  But each child is different and older kids may be more willing to do the required ‘eat your veggies first’ work in order to win pie at the end.

That’s something else I don’t want to teach.  I don’t want the meal to be considered ‘work’ while the dessert is elevated to a higher status.  When it comes to picky eaters it is all too easy to slip into the dessert-for-broccoli power struggle: Okay, darling, eat another bite of your chicken and two more bites of your broccoli and then you can have dessert.  I see this happen in the families who come to me for nutrition counseling.  I see it happen with picky eaters whose parents are worried because of their low weight and with picky eaters whose parents are concerned because of their higher weight.  It’s not working for either group.  Broccoli is wonderful!  Chicken is wonderful!  Dessert is wonderful!  Yet we certainly make a big deal out of sweets.  When dessert is a reward it takes on more power.  Kids are already naturally drawn to strong sweet flavors, we don’t need to make those sweet flavors into a bigger deal.  Plus bribery & coercion as well as other types of pressuring kids to eat typically makes them eat worse, not better.

What If That’s All They Eat?

You might now be wondering, what if that’s all they eat?  How can it be okay for kids to survive off of cake and cookies until their tastes mature?  Well, for one thing, I don’t serve dessert at every meal or every day.  How often you serve dessert is entirely up to you.  And portion size matters because, it’s true, dessert may very well interfere with the nutrition of the meal if it is served ad libitum.

It’s Okay to Limit Dessert Served with a Meal

At meals we only serve one portion to each person at the table.  And kids get a ‘child-size’ portion rather than a full adult portion (translate that to suit your preferences).  It’s treated very much like a scarce food item (filet mignon, $9-a-pint raspberries, etc) and there are no seconds.

Some examples of portions I’ve served: 1 square of chocolate, a lollipop, small slice of pie/cake, 1 coconut macaroon, small brownie, 2-3 tiny candy pieces, teacup full of pudding, teacup full of yogurt mixed with fruit, 1/2 to 1 cupcake (depending on size).

If my kids want to start with their cookie, fine.  I know it’s not all they will eat.  And even if my kids gobble up their dessert and consequently decide they are done eating for the meal, they  probably weren’t terribly hungry to begin with.  If that is the case, without that dessert at the table, they would not have eaten much of anything anyway.  The dessert didn’t ruin any appetites, it just masked their lack of appetite.

With my kids, it seems the presence of dessert actually warms them up to the idea of coming to the table and relaxes them immediately, improving their attitude about the meal overall.  They don’t eat any worse, and possibly better with such a sweet ‘appetizer’ on the table.  I love when I catch my oldest going back and forth between bites of dessert and bites of the meal.

Unlimited Portions as Snack

Any food that is scarce, especially one as desirable as sweets, can create a strong preoccupation in a child.  For some kids with a strong sweet tooth, that desire or preoccupation can lead them to overeat the desired food when they get the chance.   Serving only a small child-size portion of dessert creates a kind of scarcity.  To mitigate this scarcity and to allow my kids a chance to regulate their own portion size of dessert, I will, occasionally, serve an unlimited portion of sweets at snack time.  If snack time is appropriately timed (so it’s not too close to the next meal) it won’t interfere with meal food.  Serve the dessert with a glass of milk (for example) and you’ve got a balanced snack.

I have to admit, the first candy experiment left me practically biting my fingernails as I waited for my daughter to complete her snack.  But with each ‘ad lib sweet snack’ I’ve served, I’ve never ever been disappointed in my kids’ ability to stop.  They have never eaten a whole cake, half a cake, or even a quarter of a cake.  And I’m confident that my trusting them teaches them to trust themselves around sweets.  After all we have serious structure in place.  Eating happens seated at the table, not running around.  Eating happens at set meal and snack times, there’s no all-day grazing.   And I get to choose how often I serve various foods.  But within that structure, the freedom of the Division of Responsibility, teaches some important lessons that I don’t think I could teach if I micromanaged every bite.

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How Often Should Dessert Be Served?
Honestly, I think only you can answer this question for yourself and your family.  I love desserts and baked goods.  I love chocolate.  I could live without them, but I sure prefer not to.   For me I serve dessert often enough for us.  I know I’ve gone perhaps too long when my kids start begging for dessert–or if I’m longing for it.  And if I serve something sweet just to keep them from feeling too deprived, it doesn’t take much to accomplish my task.

 

Adina Pearson, RDN has been a registered dietitian for 12 years. Before having children of her own, she had no interest in pediatric nutrition. Kids change things! She’s now most thrilled when she sees a child patient on her schedule. Her new passion for helping parents feed their kids well inspired her to start a facebook page and blog. More recently, she has started an online toddler feeding course in collaboration with another dietitian.  Adina lives in southeastern Washington with her husband, two kids, and two labradoodles. To read more on Adina head to her website: www.HealthyLittleEaters.com

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.