10 Ways to Say I Love You

 

So Valentine’s Day is coming up. How are you thinking of showing your love? Do your children celebrate in school? I ask you to take some time to think, “Does your child equate Valentine’s Day with chocolate hearts?” or the message of “We show love with candy?” If your child associates holidays or even birthdays with food/candy, especially “treats,” now is the time to create a new healthy association.

So why I am saying this? Because when kids equate food with love, they may eventually look to food for love when they are lonely, feel empty, and/or feel sad. This situation can domino as an adult and even turn into emotional eating and binge eating. Ideally, we teach kids that food and feelings should not be merged, well not all of the time anyway. Rather, food is fuel for wellness, and feelings are feelings that are best managed with coping skills.

This holiday, show your love with hugs and kisses! Plan a special night for the whole family.

Give your child a card that lists all the reasons why you love them. Gift them a heart picture frame with a family picture. Can you share some chocolate? Well, of course you can! The idea is to teach your child how to express love and celebrate in meaningful and truly special ways. Ideally you want your child to equate love with family or something kind, but not just food.

Here are some ideas to create new Valentine’s Day traditions!

  1. Create construction paper flowers with your children: on each petal, you and your child can write what makes him/her special and unique.
  2. Practice kindness for the fourteen days leading up to Valentine’s Day. Remember that actions speak louder than words.
  3. Frame and gift a picture of the family doing something together that everyone loves.
  4. Plan a family outing on Valentine’s Day to go ice skating or bowling in honor of celebrating your love and the love of life.
  5. Hang a chalkboard in your kitchen with all the ways that your family can express love.
  6. Think of what makes you feel good inside and incorporate that into your family.
  7. Ask teachers at school to have parents come in to read books about love and kindness rather than giving bags of chocolate
  8. Send cards to family and friends listing all the fun times you have shared.
  9. Turn off you iPhones, screens, and mind! Just devote the night to your child/children. Play games, read, and just be together.
  10.  __________________________________________________________________

You can fill in the rest. Let us know what #10 is for you.

The above may not be for everyone, but it is definitely one of the many things I want to do for my kids and clients, with the hope that they never have to experience disordered eating and/or an eating disorder.

Raising a Child to Love Their Body

Raising a Child to Love Their Body
By Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD

I was recently out with a group of “mom friends”, having one of those conversations talking about anything and everything related to our kids, all under 1 year old.  Our conversation turned into an honest discussion about raising our children to be anti-dieting, body image-loving, positive self-esteemed individuals.  My friends were worried about being a good example to their daughters, teaching self-esteem, and hoping that their girls will learn to love their bodies.  These moms were especially worried about raising girls, but this is a topic for every mom- mothers of sons included!  I claim to be an expert in this area but it’s honestly something I’m concerned about too.  I had just talked about losing the last few pounds of my post-pregnancy weight 10 minutes before this part of the conversation came up.  My point is that my advice for moms and dads is something I am going to be working on as well.  I think moms can all learn from one another and support each other to raise confident children.

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Here are my favorite tips:

  1. Eliminate fat talk:  Take a good look at yourself and your environment.  Do you criticize yourself in the mirror?  Do you complain about being “fat”?  Your kids will learn from you.  Eliminate this kind of dialogue in your life to other people and especially to yourself.
  2. Feel good about your body:  Replace the fat talk with positive talk.  Do something each day to make you feel good about your body.  One of my favorite tricks is something I heard from a therapist:  Take a tube of red lipstick and write on your mirror “I am beautiful because…” and everytime you look in your mirror, you have to answer the question.
  3. Model healthy behaviors with food:  Show your child a healthy relationship with food by eating balanced meals and snacks.  Don’t restrict and binge.  Have a wide variety of food in your diet, including food from all food groups, including nutritious and less nutritious foods.  Have desserts and fruits and vegetables in your life, and teach your child how to enjoy these foods in a healthy way.
  4. Make time to move with your family:  Exercise as a way to feel good, not just burn calories.  Pick an activity you love and make time for it.  Treat this as part of your self-care routine.
  5. Introduce the concepts of “hungry” and “full” as early as possible:  Children are born with the skill to stop eating when they are full but gradually lose this with environmental influence.  In order to prevent the dieting “restriction” mindset, it’s important to teach children it’s natural to eat when they are hungry.  Therefore, it will be natural to stop eating when full and satisfied.
  6. Do not label food (or yourself) as “good” and “bad”:  Every food is included in a healthy lifestyle, no matter what.  Restriction of “bad foods” can lead to bingeing.  Don’t say “oh I had a good/bad day” because nutrition is not all-or-nothing!
  7. Never force your child to clean his/her plate:  This will alter kid’s perception of how much they should eat.  If they don’t eat at this particular meal, there is always the next meal or snack to make up for missed food.
  8. Talk about how bodies come in all different shapes and sizes:  Respect other body types and talk about how people look different because everyone is unique and special.
  9. Spread the word:  I love movements like “Operation Beautiful”, which spread the message of positive self-esteem and self-worth.  Teach children to participate and have fun doing so!

Help! My Child is a Picky Eater!

Dr. Heather Maguire is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) and the author of the parent training manual, Get Ready… Get Set… Go! It’s Time to Create Behavior Change! As the mother of two young children, she applies her knowledge of behavioral science to everyday parenting. Visit her website www.drheathermaguire.com for more information.

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Help! My Child is a Picky Eater!
By Dr. Heather Maguire

Kids, food, and behavior… Where should I even start? A story from my own childhood comes to mind. When I was a toddler, I decided that the only food I wanted to eat was saltine crackers. Being a stubborn individual even at such a young age, I gave my mother a run for her money. She offered me peanut butter and jelly, but I said, “No!” She put cereal in front of me, but I refused to touch it. At dinnertime I refused to even look at the spaghetti she had made. In situations like this, what’s a parent to do?! Now that I’m a mother myself, I have come to realize that food can be one of the most challenging parts of parenting. As parents, we are charged with caring for the health and wellbeing of our kids, but it is not possible to force children to eat what they do not want to eat. No parent wants his or her children to “starve,” so we are tempted to cave in to our their requests. Recently I overheard a mother explain that her pediatrician recommended letting her toddler snack on whatever he wanted during the day, as long as she supplemented his nutrition with a popular meal replacement beverage. I’m not saying there aren’t cases where extreme measures are warranted, but to me this sounded like a horrible long-term solution to picky eating! Looking through the lens of applied behavior analysis, here are six strategies that have helped me tame the beast of the picky eater in my own home. I hope they will help you, too!

  1. Say goodbye to packaged snacks

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “If they’re hungry, they’ll eat.” This is very simple, but very true! One way to encourage children to eat is to make sure they’re actually hungry when mealtime comes around. This may mean eating less during the periods in between meals. Now I am not suggesting that you cut out snacking all together, but you can control what snacks you offer your children. Personally, I have made the decision to only offer fruits and veggies as snack options in between meals. As opposed to snacks like chips, cookies, and crackers, fresh produce is less likely to curb one’s appetite for more than a short while. I am not saying you have to cut out packaged foods completely, but it may be better to serve these items right after meals or just occasionally as a special treat rather than as snacks.

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  1. Timing is everything

As parents, we often have to be strategic in interactions with our children. If Sofia is feeling under the weather, didn’t sleep well the night before, and had a rough day at school, it is probably not be the right day to offer her a new food or try to get her to eat a food she has previously rejected. Sounds obvious, right? Well, let me share where parents often go wrong. Rather than using this strategy proactively, they use it reactively. Once they place food in front of Sofia and she refuses to try it, then they give her a preferred food. Unfortunately this often results in a pattern of food refusal that can hang around long after the bad day has been forgotten. Therefore, try to prevent food refusal by offering preferred foods on the hard days, but do your best not to cave in once undesired behavior has been displayed.

  1. Dangle the carrot

This is a simple, yet scientifically verified truth that can be applied to several areas of life. In food terms it equates to, “After you eat your vegetables, then you can have dessert.” Now, this does not mean that you need to offer dessert or other junk food to your children on a daily basis. Rather, choose foods that you feel comfortable offering to your child on a consistent basis (e.g., juice, crackers, popcorn, etc.). In order for this to work, there are two key things to keep in mind. First, the food has to be something your child really likes. Second, this strategy will work best if you keep your “carrot” valuable by not offering it to your child in other circumstances.

  1. Sometimes easier is better

This strategy is specifically geared towards younger toddlers who are still developing fine motor skills. As a human species, we are more likely to do things when they are easier, and it takes more motivation to do things that are difficult. Therefore, even if your son or daughter can independently eat, you may want to help them… at least with their first few bites. You may find that after the first few bites your child eats independently. Why is that so, you ask? Without getting too technical, food is naturally rewarding when we are hungry and so our bodies encourage us to keep eating until we are full.

 

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Division of Responsibility: Guidelines for Family Nutrition

Division of Responsibility:  The What, Where, Whether, and When versus How Much—Guidelines for Family Nutrition
By Elyse Falk, MS, RD

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Ponder the “division of responsibility” between a parent and a child when it comes to meal time.  I love it. I live it. I recommend it. Taking the power struggle away from the food sounds like a fabulous idea, doesn’t it? No more fighting at the dinner table when trying to get your kids to eat or even stop your kids from eating too much. Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian nutritionist, family therapist, and internationally recognized authority on eating and feeding, pioneered the Satter Feeding Dynamics Model and the Satter Eating Competence Model. She is the author of the Division of Responsibility in Feeding, the gold standard for feeding children. She educates parents on the line between what their job is and what the child’s job is when it comes to the food. The parent is in charge of WHAT food is brought into the house and served, as well as WHEN the food is given (meal and snack times; hopefully three meals and three snacks) and WHERE. The child is in charge of the HOW MUCH he/she will eat and WHETHER he/she eats what is served. When this line is crossed, usually by the parent, or the “feeder,” there begins the fighting and frustration.

 

I have stuck with the division of responsibility rule ever since I went to hear Ellyn Satter speak many years ago. Looking back, I feel lucky that I had the privilege of hearing her speak to professionals when my kids were learning the art of eating. I started to implement her model and still use it to this day with my seven-, eleven-, and thirteen-year-old. I can honestly say that by following the division of responsibility, there has never been any real issue around food at the table, other than the “I don’t like what you made” or the recipe I made tasted awful. Following this model, we can all enjoy a somewhat calm environment (hopefully not getting up from their seats to play with our new dog) and talk about our days or what the day might hold.

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As a parent who does the shopping, I know WHAT I want my kids to have more of and WHAT I want them to have some of the time  (Laura’s foods lower in nutrient density known as “sometimes” foods, such as their ice cream, cookies, brownies, and other foods that fall into this category in her book, Healthy Habits) throughout the week, so that helps my food shopping experience. I am also constantly figuring out the different parts of a complete meal.  Think “MyPlate” sources of protein, grain, healthy fat, vegetable and/or fruit, and possibly a milk/yogurt for snacks or with the meal. I also think about what they can eat that is more or less a complete meal yet is easy to make by themselves (especially for my eleven- and thirteen-year-old).

 

The WHEN aspect of the division of responsibility, for me and my family, is making sure they get their meals and snacks throughout the day to ensure energy during school and after school activities.. For example, I know that my boys have activities starting at 6:00 p.m. on some nights, so I will have a dinner for them WHEN they get home from school (they are always hungry when then get home from school) before their activity and usually WHEN they get home afterwards because they are usually hungry again,. This second feeding time is typically something on the lighter side.  The WHEN aspect for me is not a strict routine but arises when they are hungry; I would never make them eat if they weren’t hungry at the WHEN time, but I find that usually they are ready to eat at pretty consistent times of the day.  The WHERE is usually at home, not so much in the car; however, I know that on some nights the car will be WHERE a snack needs to be given.

 

The HOW MUCH and WHETHER are the hardest parts of the division. Sometimes my boys have voracious appetites and eat huge quantities, and other times they consume smaller amounts. I never comment on HOW MUCH they are eating because I never want to mess up their hunger and fullness cues and force them to stop/continue eating just because I would say “That is enough” or “You need to eat more.” I would rather use that language on homework. I have learned that even then I am overstepping my boundaries and it causes a power play.

 

The WHETHER is another difficult aspect to manage, but if you make something that you know your children will always eat, along with something new for them to try, at least you know they will be eating something. But there are those nights when nothing appeals to your child; when that happens, I settle on what’s easiest to warm up or prepare in a pinch.

 

When helping a parent out with issues surrounding food, I most often recommend Ellyn Satter’s books and methods. Sometimes parents look at me like I’m crazy for even suggesting that they keep quiet about HOW MUCH their child/children eat.  I always recommend trying Ellyn’s way for one week just to experiment with it!  I truly believe that it will make a happier child and a happier home when it comes to the food at the table!

Finicky with Fruit?

Finicky with Fruit?
By Christie Caggiani, RDN, LD/N, CEDRD

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When I was expecting our first child, I had visions of the utopian eating relationship he would have.  After all, I’m a nutritionist and I know the values of a balanced diet, the do’s and don’ts of introducing kids to new and exciting food, and the importance of family meals.  All I needed to do was be patient and continue exposing my little one to different items and he will eventually grow to like them.  I would make sure he fell in love with all things colorful and have a wide array of nutrients in his life.  End dream sequence.

 

While I was blessed with a fairly easy eater, the normal development of his personality led him to have…opinions.  Preferences.  Dislikes.  And his primary dislike around food was – horror of horrors – fruit! Really?  How could my child who loved berries and melon decide at about three years old that he was done with the sweet stuff?  And so we worked with it, and can now fast forward to the healthful existence of my 15 year old.

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How do you ensure that your child still includes a wide array of foods and is able to be a curious eater, if he tends to shun categories of food, such as fruit?  First, be careful to avoid labeling your child a “picky-eater”.  They are simply eaters making choices, and it’s our job as parents to keep presenting foods in ways that they can explore and gradually develop their own conclusions.  I have also found that approaching food from an adventurous angle, rather than a mission, not only engages kids, but also empowers them.

 

By noting your child’s preferences, you can begin to expand some of their choices.  While these ideas zero in on fruits, you may use the concepts to explore other food groups as well:

  • If your child has consistency or texture preferences, work with them.  It might be that a crunchy apple goes over much better than a soft banana.  A smoothie or 100% juice works beautifully if your little one doesn’t have “time” or a desire to chew their fruit.  Dried or dehydrated fruits are great for kids who may not enjoy the juiciness of the fresh version.
  • While we know that sweet is our first developed taste, some people may still have other taste preferences, finding certain flavors too strong.  Consider a juice that has veggie value, since they tend to be less intensely sweet.  A slightly green banana is a whole different experience from a fully ripened one.  You may also introduce ‘combo flavors’, such as some chocolate with those raisins, flavor-infused cranberries or Trader Joe’s chile dried mango for a kick.
  • Sometimes the temperature of our food makes all the difference.   While I love a good melon in any form, it’s particularly amazing when it’s cold.  Maybe your child likes grapes better at room temperature or completely frozen.  Keep some apples on the counter and some in the fridge, giving your child the opportunity to choose.
  • Toning down the intensity of the food exposure takes the pressure off. Don’t make it all about the fruit.  Try a handful of chopped apricot added to your couscous or my favorite: bananas &/or berries in the pancake batter.  Mixed in your blender, the kids will notice the sweet, but not be distracted by the pieces of fruit.

 

So while my son is still not a lover-of-fruit, I am convinced that the regular, non-pushy exposure to it will give him the willingness to eventually enjoy a little more of it some day.   As we enter fall, here are a couple of my favorite ways to add some fruit into our lives:

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Easy Applesauce

  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I like to leave some of the peel on for more texture and nutrient value)
  • ¾ c water or 100% apple juice
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.  If you prefer a smoother consistency, use blender or food processor.

Photo Credit: [RAWRZ!] via Compfight ccApple Spice Mini Muffins

  • 2 cups peeled, cored and finely diced sweet-tart apples, such as Cortland
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup toasted, chopped unsalted pistachios nuts

Preheat oven to 325° F.  Coat two 12-cup mini-muffin pans with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, toss apples and sugar.  In a small bowl, whisk egg, oil and vanilla.  In another medium bowl, whisk flours, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg and salt.  Add egg mixture to apple mixture; stir to coat.  Mix in flour mixture, then fold in pistachios.  Divide batter among muffin cups, filling ¾ full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean, 10-13 minutes.  Let cool on wire rack.  Run a knife around edges to release.  Makes 24.

Recipes by Liza Schoenfein, EveryDay with Rachael Ray, October 2014

10 Tips to Taming and Transitioning The Type A Child

10 Tips to Taming and Transitioning The Type A Child
By Laura Cipullo RD CDE CEDRD CDN and Mom

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All things indirectly affect each other especially our children’s disposition and nutrition intake. Knowing this, I am sharing with you the advice of my son’s teacher. I asked the teacher, “What are some words of wisdom moms like myself can share with their Type A child when he/she transitions to a new school or grade next year?” Here are her answers:

 

Remind Your Child:

  1. “It’s okay if you are not the first one done with your work.”
  2. “It’s okay to make mistakes.”
  3. “It’s okay to come back to the teachers and ask for help after you have tried on your own.”
  4. “Take your time with your work.”
  5. “You do not need to be right.”
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Give Positive Reinforcement and Stress:

  1. “Are you proud of your work? Which part of the work are you proud of? This work is worthy of feeling pride in.”
  2. “Mistakes are just one way to learn. What did you learn? What would you do the same next time? What would you do differently?”
  3. “The fact that you took your time and tried is what is important.”
  4. “Sometimes slow and steady wins the race.”
  5. “Learning to acknowledge when you are not right makes you a more effective person.”