Petitioning FED UP Campaign

By Laura Cipullo, Mom, RD, CDE and Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

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I received this email last week, that sparked a conversation between me and my colleagues and ultimately a petitioning a new FED UP campaign that I want to share with you.

“Hi Laura , 
Hope you are well! I’m reaching out on behalf of FED UP the film that explores the truth about the food industry in an effort to get people eating healthier. Executive Produced by Katie Couric and Laurie David, the film has been a resource and tool for parents, teachers, and student to learn the truth about real food. 
I know you are very busy but I’m reaching out to you today, because I thought you and the Eating and Living Moderately community might be interested in joining our mission to bring Food Education to Schools. We’re 10 days into our 30 day campaign to raise the funds to be able to provide a Fed Up Education Kit to every school in America, at no cost to schools and teachers this fall. 
It’s been shown that once children learn the truth about the food they’re eating, where it comes from, and how it affects their bodies, they’re likely to make better food choices. But kids and teachers need the facts first! Did you know there are over 56 names for sugar? And over 80% of products in the grocery store have added sugar! 
Our campaign is working to give teachers and schools the resources to empower our students.  Check out the Fed Up Campaign here and social press kit with social media graphics and language. 
Please let me know if you have any questions or need any additional information. 
Thanks so much for your time. Please let me know if you have any questions.”

I immediately forwarded the email to some of my colleagues, with this message:

“I am sharing what was delivered to my email box. I think this is really a shame as this movie categorizes foods as good and bad and has children go in sugar free diets. The kids lose weight and end up gaining it back. So sad!”

My feelings and concern were widely shared and Jessica Kilbride, LMSW soon wrote back with this message:

“I drew up a petition, and would be happy to edit it in any way that anyone sees fit. I’m not sure how much of a difference these petitions make, but hopefully it’ll do something. There are enough unhealthy attitudes about food and body in the entertainment world. It’s not necessary to bring this black-and-white thinking, however well-intentioned, into the classroom and I know I wouldn’t want my (hypothetical) children learning about nutrition through this approach. “

Share this post among your friends and peers, to prevent our children from learning from this program that labels foods as “good or bad” and sets the stage for eating disorders and low self-esteem.

Suiting Up For School

By Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

Photo Credit: adwriter via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: adwriter via Compfight cc

School shopping. Two words that come with a bundle of emotions, not the least of

which include excitement, frustration, anxiety and anticipation. As parents, it can

give us pause, as we stop for a moment and notice the speed at which our kids are

growing up. It’s amazing how quickly a school year flies, and more amazing still,

how fast summer seems to evaporate. And now it’s time to shop for school

supplies…..and new clothes.

Clothes shopping is one time when we have an amazing opportunity to dialogue

with our children about the normalcy of growth, bodies and change. While our

bodies as adults can fluctuate and continue to evolve, our kids’ bodies are

transitioning at a pretty rapid pace. It’s vital that we know how to support them

when they have questions, and it’s important that they understand we love them as

individuals, not based on any aspect of their physical appearance. And while that

may sound extremely logical, we need to be aware of the subtle messages we send

our kids. Don’t be surprised when they have grown out of their clothes, in many

cases needing new duds from just a few short months ago. Catch yourself before

commenting, “I just bought that. How come it doesn’t fit anymore?” implying that

she’s done something wrong simply by growing.

One of my very favorite articles discusses how to talk to – or not talk to – our

daughters about their bodies. Read on for some inspiration and reinforcement as

you work to support your own growing kids!

How to Talk to Your Daughter about Her Body

Step one: Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it


Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.

If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that.

Here are some things you can say instead:

“You look so healthy!” is a great one.

Or how about, “You’re looking so strong.”

“I can see how happy you are — you’re glowing.”

Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.

Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice

one or a mean one.

Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.

Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk

about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy

food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say, “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter

should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to

shame about yourself.

Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your

daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality

than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or

mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.

Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better

leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never

stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love


Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.

Teach your daughter how to cook kale.

Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.

Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of

being outside.

Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate

these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a

marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs.

She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.

Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize

her beautiful soul.

Sarah Koppelkam

How to Talk to Your Daughter About Her Body

The Truth About Eating Disorders: Common Myths Debunked

The Truth About Eating Disorders: Common Myths Debunked

by Julie Holland, MHS, CEDS


Because most eating disorders (approximately 95 percent) surface between the ages of 12 and 25, parents are often a first line of defense against the development of these illnesses in their children.* Despite increased prevalence of eating disorders in the United States, widespread misconceptions about eating disorders remain that challenge identification, diagnosis and early intervention. To truly protect and advocate for their children, it is important that parents understand the truth behind common eating disorder myths.

Myth: Eating disorders aren’t serious illnesses.

Truth: Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) are very real and very serious mental illnesses. Each disorder has clear diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the go-to diagnostic reference for mental healthcare professionals. Another reason to take eating disorders seriously is that they can be deadly. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. In fact, women ages 15 to 24 years of age who suffer from anorexia nervosa are 12 times more likely to die from the illness than any other cause of death.**

Myth: Eating disorders are just about food.

Truth: While eating disorders generally involve obsession with calories, weight or shape, these illnesses are rooted in biological, psychological and sociocultural aspects. Restriction, bingeing, purging or over-exercise behaviors usually signify an attempt to control something of substance in the individual’s life. Because friends and family mistakenly believe that eating disorders are just about food, they will often encourage their loved ones to “just eat more,” “just eat less,” or “just eat healthier” to be “cured” of this illness. In reality, eating disorders often require some combination of medical, psychiatric, therapeutic and dietary intervention to achieve full recovery.

Myth: Eating disorders are a women’s illness.

Truth: While research shows that eating disorders affect significantly more women than men, these illnesses occur in men and boys as well. While males used to represent about 10 percent of individuals with eating disorders, a recent Harvard study found that closer to 25 percent of individuals presenting for eating disorder treatment are male. The widespread belief that eating disorders only affect women and girls can prevent accurate diagnosis of an eating disorder in a man or boy, even among healthcare experts.

Myth: Eating disorders don’t develop until the teenage years.

Truth: Consider this—research found that up to 60 percent of girls between the ages of 6 and 12 are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat, and that this concern endures through life.*** Not surprisingly, the incidence of eating disorders in children is on the rise. Between 1999 and 2006, hospitalizations for eating disorders in children 12 and younger rose 119 percent, according to a 2010 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Myth: Only very thin people have an eating disorder.

Truth: While anorexia is characterized by extreme low weight, many individuals struggling with bulimia, binge eating disorder and EDNOS are normal-weighted. The misconception that an eating disorder can only occur if someone is very thin contributes to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis in many cases, even among those patients seeking support from medical and mental healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, many healthcare experts lack eating disorder exposure and training, which highlights the important role of eating disorder specialists to ensure effective diagnosis and early intervention.

Photo Credit: churl via Compfight cc


In addition to educating themselves about basic eating disorder information and understanding myth from fact, parents should also trust their instincts when it comes to eating disorders in their children. Eating disorders can thrive in secrecy, but parents often intuitively know if something is wrong with their children. While parents may feel terrified of saying the wrong thing, but also not want to stay silent, they are an important champion for diagnosis and effective treatment. If concern arises, consult with an eating disorder specialist sooner rather than later—early intervention is critical to lasting eating disorder recovery.


*Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), The Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), offices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

**American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 152 (7), July 1995, p. 1073-1074, Sullivan, Patrick F.

***T.F. Cash & L. Smolak (Eds.), Body Image: A Handbook of Science, Practice, and Prevention. New York: Guilford Press. 2011.

Kids and the Paleo Diet, Not!

Kids and the Paleo Diet, Not!

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While surfing my mailbox dedicated to RD listservs, my eye caught “Paleo for Kids.” I was getting ready to be upset when instead I happily found Michele Redmond, MS, RDN, at The Taste Workshop’s comments.

She shared with my peers that “restrictive eating and fear of foods is inherent in any diet but particularly paleo which, depending on which paleo model you follow, promotes eating beans and grains as actually dangerous for your gut and health. Involving kids in these eating patterns and beliefs raises lots of nutrition and social-eating questions.”

Michele highlighted the three links below. They are worthy of your time. The TED talk is a must watch!! While the articles are not specific to our children, parents must be aware of the mental rigidity and consequential nutritional deficiencies that are likely to develop if you impose any diet on your children.

Photo Credit: rick via Compfight cc

1. There is no one right diet—Paleo debunked by archeologist:

Debunking the Paleo Diet: Christina Warinner at TEDxOU

 2. From strict and obsessed to balanced:

     My Ever Changong Viewpoint on Paleo and CrossFit

3. From the trenches of Crossfit and Paleo to the gray zone:

     Don’t Be a Fanatic 


You can learn more about Michele Redmond, MS, RD at

The Tricks about Treats

This post was originally published on The Feed Blog, to see the entire article please click here.

By Justine Roth, MS, RD, CDN

Photo Credit: Dave Malkoff via Compfight cc

Children require guidance in all areas of their lives— how to tie their shoes, when to speak in a quiet voice, and, of course, when, what and how to eat. As a parent, I know it is my job to think carefully about the messages I send to my child regarding food to start her on the path towards healthy self-regulation. But even as a dietitian who counsels others on developing a balanced relationship with food, I struggle to navigate this with my toddler.

My daughter loves food. Meal times are not stressful, and in fact are usually very enjoyable.  She usually finishes everything I give her (and that she often picks out) without an issue. If she doesn’t finish a meal, I just assume she wasn’t that hungry to start. But, it is a different story when we are around others. She often asks for food just because she sees friends or family eating it and, unlike most kids who do this but lose interest in the food once they get it, she will usually finish whatever she is given. Sometimes this results in her not feeling well. This is where it gets tricky. Do I give her food every time she asks, so as not to “restrict her,” or do I try to limit excess snacks and food outside of meal times to help her learn to identify her hunger and fullness cues?

Some parents may think I am too strict with my daughter.  The parent of a picky eater, for example, is likely to have different struggles than me – and to arrive at different solutions. Parenting is hard enough without us judging one another. Instead, perhaps we can learn from one another. Because although young, our children are certainly capable of starting to learn about their body and to establish healthy habits, and we must lead the way.

To continue reading, please click here.

A Mom & RD's View on Halloween Candy

How Much Halloween Candy Do You Let Your Children Eat?
By Elyse Falk, MS, RD, CDN

My kids, like all of yours, will be trick-or-treating soon.  The age-old questions always arise amongst my friends, “How much candy do you let your kids eat?”  “Do you throw it all out?”  “Do you donate it?” “Do you let them have a little bit of candy all week long?”  “Do you let them have the candy all at once?”

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I think my kids are like any other kids and love to eat their treats the night of Halloween.  Heck, I love to eat the candy we are giving out and the candy my kids collect too!   As a family, we know that too much candy in one night will make us feel sick (evidenced by real-life events).  So, I have the kids pick a few pieces to eat on Halloween night, put the rest in zip-lock bags labeled with their names for safe keeping, and place the bags in the pantry closet.  I find that if it’s not spread out on the kitchen counter all day, every day, it’s less likely that they will mindlessly snack on it.  I guess my sons would say that I let them enjoy their Halloween candy but put a limit on it only when the other food groups are being left out.  I may tell them to pair some pieces of candy with a nutrient-rich meal or snack.  Pairing some candy like this is always an option … it gives less value to the candy.


Interestingly enough, as the week progresses, their desire for the candy diminishes.  My truth is that the more I limit it, the more my kids want it.  It’s a great opportunity for them to learn moderation and to always know the candy is there when they want it and that I am not going to make a big deal about it.  If on any one Halloween night they do overeat the candy, it is certain that they will not feel good.  I chalk that up to a teachable moment.  If you treat the topic of the candy more neutrally, with less emotion or judgment, the Halloween candy won’t be a “thing” between you and your children.

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Lastly, I believe that eating some candy with your kids is a must!  They need to know that eating a few pieces of candy on Halloween is okay and normal.  This is especially true when you have a child who may have heard sugar and candy is a “bad” food from a friend.  Remember, we as parents are role models.  I hope that we can teach them that there is no “bad” or “forbidden” food and that sometimes, on occasions such as Halloween, it is okay to enjoy some candy.  Happy Halloween!


We only call it treats due to Halloween but they are really candy, food, or food with lower nutrition.

How We Do Dessert

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

Photo Credit: Alexis Fam Photography via Compfight cc

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:

This One is for Moms

Is Restricting Really Normal?
By Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD


“We don’t keep bread in the house.”  “One serving is enough – kids don’t need seconds.”  “We just have protein and veggies at dinner.”  “Why is my child sneaking food and snacking all the time?!”


Hmmm – at first glance, these may seem like separate, unrelated statements.  There is, however, a common thread and a chain reaction that is in play throughout the scenarios…and it all starts with restriction.   If you consider the unrelenting headlines that tell us obesity is an “epidemic”, that individual foods will either kill or save us, and the sneaking messages that lead us to think we’ll only be happy if we are a certain size, then it makes some sense that people are grabbing at the latest food rule (aka, restriction), to take control of their or their kids’ lives.   Yet the more we reach for restriction, the more out of control we become.


Let’s keep it straightforward.  There are some basic side effects of over-controlled under-eating:

  • It confuses body chemistry, triggering it to more readily lose muscle and regain weight as fat
  • It causes feelings of deprivation and depression that often rebound to overeating
  • It creates a lowered self-esteem, and disconnects individuals from their emotions and sense of well-being
  • It creates irritability, decreases concentration and memory, (especially if carbs are limited) and can cause tension in relationships
  • It can disrupt a female’s menstrual cycles
  • It makes exercise ineffective, because there isn’t enough fuel to run your body’s basic processes


So when you feel the need to snack on cookies and chips after the kids have gone to bed, notice if you’ve eaten enough during the day or pulled carbs out of the meal prior.  We can’t function effectively if we are depriving ourselves of enough fuel – and we are destined to swing the pendulum the other direction to try to create balance.


And the next time you feel the emotional tug to try the latest fad diet, label carbs as evil or tell your kids to stop eating, take a deep breath and remember:

Eating is Normal. Restricting is Counterproductive.