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.
- First, get the food on the same plate
- Next, get touch involved. Maybe your child touches the food with their fingers or puts the food to his/her cheek or lips
- Employ the One Lick Rule
- Employ the One Chew and Spit—if you must
- Use the One Bite Rule
- Use the Three Bites Rule if your child has achieved the One Bite with that food
- 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”?
A Conversation with Kia Robertson from “Today I Ate a Rainbow”
Early last week, I had the pleasure of having a conversation with founder and president of Today I Ate a Rainbow, Kia Robertson. Today I Ate a Rainbow is an interactive program, developed by Robertson, working to increase daily consumption of fruits and vegetables by encouraging children—and parents—to attempt to consume a full rainbow daily.
Here is some of our conversation:
LC: First, why don’t you tell me a little bit about your philosophy at Today I Ate a Rainbow?
KR: Our main goal is to help parents set healthy eating habits for kids. Healthy eating is this big idea and everybody has their own opinion, so we decided to focus in on just fruits and veggies—that is one thing we know that everybody needs. And, let’s be honest, most of us are not meeting the daily requirements—especially our kiddos. We really want to make it fun and easy. So the concept of a rainbow, thinking of the colors, is so simple. Even for little two year olds to grasp. We made it really basic.
I started out doing this for my own daughter when she was four years old. We started doing chore charts, and she loved it—and I love charts—and so we just whipped one together to see how many colors we were eating. I had just come across a little text somewhere saying that kids should be eating a variety of colors, and I had never thought about it like that before. We quickly discovered that she was eating a lot of green and orange, but that was about it. It was a really great eye-opening thing for our whole family to start tracking what colors we were eating; and Hannah, being four, was all of sudden saying, “Mommy, I need some bananas. I need to get my yellow!” or “Blueberries so I can get my purple!” It was so cool to see a little kid taking interest and ownership. So that’s how it all started and we really feel like its something simple, because parents are so busy, we want to put something out there that is quick and easy for parents and for the kids.
LC: A lot of what you talk about it taking “ownership” and “responsibility” over your body as a child. Can you say more about that?
KR: Yes! Usually, [kids] are just going to eat what is put in front of them. They don’t usually have that active role in, say, going out and picking the food at the store or farmers market or deciding together “what should we eat.” Whereas, when we are thinking about the rainbow and the rainbow chart, it really gets everybody thinking about it. I’ve heard from so many parents where they are just like, “My kid is asking for things. This is so weird!” It’s such a strange thing, especially with little ones when they say, “Oh, I need an apple!”
The earlier we can get kids understanding [the importance] of eating these fruits and vegetables and that it feels so good and makes them feel strong and helps them to be smarter—whatever it is—the better; because it is harder to create those habits, or try and recreate habit, as an adult. So setting them when they are really young, I think is fabulous. And connecting the dots for them that the food they eat is going to impact the way they feel and how they go about their day.
LC: As a parent, have you seen any differences in your diet since starting Today I Ate a Rainbow with your daughter?
KR: Oh, yes! Personally, just to give you a little backstory, I was a super picky eater my whole life. As a kid, I would pick out carrots in the carrot cake—I was dedicated to not eating vegetables at all. So, when Hannah came along, I really didn’t want her to go through the picky eater struggles because it’s actually very hard and socially limiting because you don’t want to go to new restaurants, and it’s stressful to go to other people’s houses because you don’t know what they are going to serve.
Being a recovering picky eater, I honestly have a hard time getting all my colors if I don’t do a smoothie. Because it is still not something that is natural for me to do—to just grab an apple or a piece of celery. Whereas, for my daughter, who has grown up with this, it is such a normal thing, and it’s so easy for her that in just two meals a day her chart is filled! It’s such a simple thing for her!
It has really improved my diet a lot because when you have the chart up and you have one magnet and your kid has five already… it’s a little embarrassing! Let’s be real. The competitive side of me is like, “Oh! I need to get some more colors in!” And the really cool thing is, with all these colds going around, we rarely get sick anymore; eating all these fruits and vegetables have just boosted our immune system so much. There have been benefits for the whole family.
LC: Would you say, and I think I know the answer to this one, that your daughter is a more fearless eater than you are?
KR: Oh, absolutely, yes. Her attitude, just a willingness to try, is so good and just so much better than mine. She totally is. One time, we were with our good friends and they offered Hannah some octopus. [She ate it!] And there is no way I would, even now. Not happening.
LC: There are a lot of resources on your site for parents. Do you have any tips or advice for emphasizing positive change to your child when you’re exhausted, and tired, and at the end of a long day and just at your wits’ end?
KR: Just to go with really small steps. Ridiculously small steps that seem silly. It’s a slow process; don’t expect them to go from picky to adventurous right away. It takes a lot of time and patience. If they are willing to have that grain of rice or that half of a pea, celebrate that because one day, they are going to eat a lot more.
There are going to be some foods that people just don’t like – and that has to be alright. But what we have learned is that a lot of dislike comes down to texture. It’s easy to give up because it’s hard and its frustrating to make something for your kid and they don’t like it—especially if they reject it over and over again, you kind of start to take it personally. Studies show that it takes at least ten times to try something before they accumulate a taste for a new food.
LC: You spoke about texture and how that is a trigger for a lot of people. What are some other food sensitivities that you see with kids?
KR: Visually, they will just refuse to eat something if it doesn’t look good. Or if it’s green, in a lot of cases. I don’t know what it is about that color, but a lot of kids are just not into it.
If you look at it sensory wise; the way things look make a difference, the way things smell, that’s a really big thing. If you look at it from the perspective of sensors, that can be helpful when trying to feed a picky eater. You can see, based on the sense, what may be triggering it for them.
LC: You also say on your site not to overdo it, in terms of modifying a food. What would be a good example of this?
KR: I always suggest breaking it down. If eating a rainbow in a day is too much or too overwhelming, make it a rainbow a week. A color a day!
We don’t want to vilify food, that “good” and “bad” stuff – kids can really play into that. It’s more about asking how it makes you feel and not so much about what the food is. I think parents have so much on their plate already that adding that extra stress of “my kid isn’t eating right” is so hard, and it’s such an emotional thing – feeding our kids.
LC: It sounds like patience is a huge factor here.
KR: Yes, absolutely. Patience is huge. And persevering. You know, don’t give up. Don’t give up on your kids.
For more information, or to contact Kia and the Today I Ate a Rainbow team, check out their website at todayiatearainbow.com.
Also, stay tuned for the exciting new Eat a Rainbow project coming out of the Today I Ate a Rainbow offices. It is an integrative program connecting teachers and parents, the two biggest role models our kids have, to get one another on the same page while encouraging healthy eating habits!
Dining Out With Your Young Food Allergic Child
*This post was originally published on The Tender Foodie Blog. The original article can be found here.
DO YOU DINE OUT?
Many parents feel overwhelmed at the thought of bringing their child with food allergies to any restaurant for fear of exposing him/her to an allergen that could make them horribly ill or worse. Yet, according to Restaurants USA Magazine, Americans eat out for 4.2 meals per week! Dining out with our families and friends is part of our social routine. It’s possible to enjoy this time together as a family, but it requires a bit of planning. One strategy that may soothe some fears is assembling your own “Restaurant Backpack” filled with everything you need to create a safe and fun dining experience for your entire family.
While it might be tempting just to wrap the chair in your coat, as this parent has done (above picture), start instead with a washable highchair cover to shield your little one from those germy, possibly allergy-laced wooden restaurant highchairs. Fisher Price™ makes a padded version that includes tether straps to attach to toys so they won’t fall on the equally dirty floors. The carry pouch is included. Tuck a package of sanitizing wipes in the carry pouch so that when you arrive at your seat, the first thing you do is wipe down the table, highchair and anything that is within reach of your child. Then add the cover, then add the kid. Speaking of toys, it’s ideal to bring quiet toys that won’t disturb the other patrons, lightweight toys that keep the backpack manageable and socially interactive toys that focus on you and your child being together and enjoying the moment. My top three favorites?
Aquadoodle Travel N Doodle is a soft, mess-free, portable and foldable drawing mat that includes a refillable “water pen” that magically makes red appear on one side of the mat and blue appear on the other. The most your child gets on him/herself is a bit of water. One suggestion: store the pen in a re-sealable plastic baggie or empty it before going home. It can leak in the backpack.
We know how hard it can sometimes be to please the palates of your kids. Sometimes thinking of a new recipe to make for your kids can be put on the back burner because of other things that might come up. Luckily, we have asked our friends at Cooking Light for some inspiration. Their Chewy Coconut Granola Bars are a fantastic recipe. It’s a new and refreshing recipe and you can even get your little chefs baking with you in the kitchen!
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2/3 cup)
1.6 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whole-grain granola
3/4 cup chopped dried mixed tropical fruit
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Coat a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan with cooking spray; dust with 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour.
- Weigh or lightly spoon 3 ounces all-purpose flour and 1.6 ounces whole-wheat flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Combine sugar, oil, milk, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until smooth. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Fold in granola and fruit. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with coconut.
- Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.
Helping Your Large Child Thrive in a Fat-Phobic World
by Julie Dillon, MS, RD, NCC, LDN, CEDRD
“As a parent of a larger child, the difficult challenge is the voice inside my head telling me that I am doing something wrong. It’s telling me I am ‘letting’ her get fat and not doing something about it.” —Jennifer, mom
We live in a world where fat bodies are discriminated against, bullied, and considered unacceptable. What if your child is larger than what society deems ok? It is important for you to teach your large child how to respect his or her body since our society will not. You will be your child’s advocate for healthy ways of experiencing food, exercise, and body image. Where do you start?
Let your child know through your words and actions you accept him or her unconditionally. If your child comes to you upset about his/her large body, let your child know you love them as he/she is, that you love them no matter what and no matter what size. Do not suggest a diet or exercising together. If you were to do so, the suggestion sets up a condition. It says, “No, you are not ok as you are. I will help you change.”
Meals and Snacks
Set up regular meal and snack times so your child knows when food will be served. Older children and teens may start to feel ashamed of eating enough in public. They may restrict themselves to low-calorie foods when eating with friends. This way of eating is often referred to as “eating for show.” It means that even though your son or daughter is hungry for a variety of foods, he/she may feel like he/she should be restricting in order to repent for their large body. This leads many kids (and adults!) to eat more in private and even binge eat.
If your child knows your meal and snack times and falls into this “eating for show” trap, he/she can avoid binge or secret eating by consuming enough at the next meal or snack time.
Consistent eating times also offer the opportunity for every child in your home to learn how to detect, respect, and satisfy hunger and fullness cues. Besides promoting healthy eating, this also promotes positive body image.
High-Calorie Fun Foods
By banishing certain fun foods, you may set your child up to sneak foods or binge eat. Be sure to stock your house with a wide variety of wholesome nutritious foods. This variety will include fun foods too. Fun foods include cakes, cookies, and chips. I encourage all families (no matter what body size) to offer cookies at snack time once a week. I also encourage a few fun sides such as potato chips a couple times a week with meals. Offering fun foods alongside nutrient-dense foods helps in many ways. It satisfies cravings, models moderation, and prevents shame and binge eating high-calorie low nutrition foods.
Jennifer has found strength thanks to professionals and others who have gone through the same thing. “I have to get grounded by people who understand. While I know my family is concerned, their way of ‘shaming’ her or me because of her food choices or size and trying to manipulate her diet makes helping my daughter so hard. Having other parents to talk to that have been there, BUT also agree with the Body Positive philosophy is essential for support. I also have needed the support of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to help me let go of my anxiety about this.”
Every body is meant to move—not just fat bodies. Encourage all of your children to find activities they enjoy. If time and finances allow, let your children pick one organized physical activity per week. Maybe they will enjoy soccer, tae kwon do, salsa dancing, or ice-skating!
Do not make your large child do an activity that he/she does not feel comfortable doing. Avoid “no pain no gain” cliché philosophies. Instead of motivating, they will only shame your child more. Also do not single out any child and make him/her do an exercise while others do not. Moreover, don’t encourage more exercise in relation to foods consumed nor discuss completing a certain amount of exercise to burn off calories consumed. Thinking about food in this way is disordered and could set up genetically predisposed children to start practicing an eating disorder.
Jennifer states: “I try to listen to my daughter’s sadness and frustration about not fitting into ‘skinny jeans’ and not tell her she is wrong for feeling that way. But I also talk to her about how her body is going to change and grow forever and how learning to love it is the best gift. I talk to her a lot about how strong her legs are and how graceful she is when she is figure skating. Not about what her body looks like but the amazing things it can do.”
Your large child needs you to communicate unconditional acceptance in order to thrive in a world stereotyped against his/her body type. Avoid shame-based language, singling out, or punishment. Rather engage in modeling healthy eating, pleasurable movement, and respectful body image for all your children, no matter their size.
Tacos are a great and fun dinner to make especially when you are low on time. Instead of using taco meat, try fish as your protein! We love this Chipotle Shrimp Taco recipe from Cooking Light. This recipe gives you a flavorful blast of chipotle chile powdered shrimp tacos in 15 minutes!
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder
32 peeled and deveined large shrimp (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 teaspoon olive oil
8 (6-inch) white corn tortillas
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1 ripe avocado, peeled and cut into 16 slices
3/4 cup salsa verde
- Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add shrimp, tossing to coat.
- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp mixture to pan; cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from heat.
- Heat tortillas in microwave according to package directions. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates; arrange 4 shrimp on each tortilla. Top each tortilla with 1/4 cup lettuce, 2 avocado slices, and 1 1/2 tablespoons salsa.
The recipe and photo featured in this post were provided by Cooking Light. To read the original recipe please click here.
Easter is only 10 days a way! Besides your traditional Easter egg hunt and dying of Easter eggs, what do you have planned? Have you ever thought about starting a new tradition with your family in the kitchen? Don’t just create Easter eggs with your family this Easter, establish the new custom of designing your own Easter egg cookies! Let your imagine go wild with the unique designs and vibrant colors of spring. Share your creations with us on Facebook or Twitter!
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour (about 6 ½ ounces)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Food Coloring Optional
1. To prepare cookies, spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
2. Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla and egg. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended.
3. Place dough between two sheets of plastic wrap. Roll dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Chill 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 375°F.
5. Cut dough with a 2 ¼ inch egg-shaped cutter. Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375°F for 8 minutes or until edges of cookies are browned. Cool cookies 1 minute on pan. Remove cookies from parchment; cool completely on a wire rack.
6. To prepare icing, combine powdered sugar, milk, and ¼ teaspoon vanilla; stir until smooth. Add food coloring, if desired. Stir well. Spread or pipe icing onto cookies.
My Virtual FitBit Group Promotes Health, Self-Care, and Body Acceptance!
Changing our behavior is never easy, especially as we get older. As a former aerobics instructor, fitness was always a passion for me, and exercise was built into my workday. After a serious injury and getting tired of the gym, I began looking for new ways to move my body for both physical and emotional health. I found it in a most unlikely place—the Internet.
I received a FitBit fitness tracker as a gift. Now all the rage, fitness trackers “count” steps, miles, fitness intensity, and other data depending on the brand. To my surprise, the pride and satisfaction I felt when reaching 10,000 steps, or any other goal I set for myself, proved to be the boost I needed. I embarked on a mission to find other women who, like me, wanted support becoming healthier using their fitness trackers and setting realistic and achievable goals. I found several communities on the FitBit website and learned that members often form private Facebook groups to support one another.
I joined a few groups and recognized the flip side to using fitness trackers that are important to keep in mind. Some people can become quite obsessive about tracking their steps, much like tracking calories or points. I rejected any group with members whose focus was dieting, weight loss, or any type of obsessive behavior. I found several women my age just looking to be healthy.
Over the past few snowy months, our merry little group of “FitBit Women Warriors Over 50” has grown in size and in friendship. I have shared ups and downs with women from almost every U.S. state, as well as those from Canada, Australia, and England. We motivate each other to move more and eat in a healthy, balanced way. In short, we encourage each other to care for our bodies by eating for satisfaction and hunger and moving more because it feels good—especially seeing our step counts increase.
We have a fearless leader who took it upon her self to organize group challenges on Sundays. We all push each other to be accountable for our goals. One Sunday while shoveling show, I imagined myself walking on a sandy beach with warm ocean breezes. We cheered each other on as we spent a full week walking 35.02 virtual miles around the Cayman Islands. On another Sunday, we worked together to complete a puzzle challenge. Pieces of the puzzle would be revealed each time an individual met her own personal exercise goal. Said one group member, “the challenges have triggered my competitive side and made me get my rear in gear!!”
When asked to describe what health meant to them, here were some responses:
“Health means taking care of your body physically, nutritionally, spiritually, and emotionally! It means living each day to the fullest.”
“Finally enjoying foods that are good for me as opposed to snack foods and finding that my body responds well to them.”
“I finally feel good in my own skin.”
“Having vibrant energy to go and do all the things you want to do. Your options are limitless!!!
Women at every stage of life can benefit from discovering their own paths to improved health. We often take ourselves for granted and care for other people first. Finding time for balanced exercise, healthy and regular meals, and friendship and support is equally important.
My friend asked a simple question “I don’t personally like cow’s milk so do I have to give it to my baby when she turns 1?”. The question slowly turn into a conversation with other moms about organic vs. non-organic, grass-fed vs. non grass-fed cows, and why other milk options are or aren’t as beneficial to babies. Every mom involved had a strong opinion! Who knew a simple question could spark a debate?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children delay receiving cow’s milk until after they are 12 months old. The organization recommends pasteurized, whole cow’s milk for most babies because of the high fat content helping to absorb vitamins and minerals and for brain development. If there is a history of childhood obesity, 2% milk may be recommended but families should talk to their pediatrician. (Source: www.aap.org)
But what to do if you’re not a fan of cow’s milk? Or worse, what if your baby has a milk allergy or intolerance? Cow’s milk is important for calcium, vitamin D, protein, fat, and hydration. There are so many milk options out there: soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, and more coming to a store near you! Their nutrient compositions are similar to cow’s milk but nothing is exactly the same. It’s a very personal decision how to feed your child, and one that you should talk about with your pediatrician and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. If you decide to switch to an alternative milk, make sure you supplement with other foods that contain the important nutrients your baby needs.
I was shocked that some moms would argue against cow’s milk, but why not try to see where they are coming from? There are a lot of nutrition myths out there about food and I heard a lot of them that day, ranging from hormones in milk to absorbable calcium. Nutrition information is everywhere, but moms should really look to pediatricians and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists for advice. I took the opportunity to educate my friends about dairy products and nutrition, and also stressed the importance that all foods fit into a healthy diet. Moms and dads shouldn’t feel ashamed about any nutrition decision they make for their family. After all, it’s a very personal decision as to how to feed your children. So what is this dietitian going to do? I will give my baby whole cow’s milk when he turns one year old. I will also let him try different kinds of milk with an attitude that all foods fit into a healthy lifestyle.