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.

“Fat Talk,” Body Image and Eating Disorders

“Fat Talk,” Body Image and Eating Disorders
By Julie Holland Faylor, MHS, CEDS


After consuming a high-calorie food, have you ever said “I need to hit the gym now!” or “I know that went straight to my thighs!”

Do you call your comfortable jeans “fat pants”?

When asked how you’re doing, have you ever responded with a quip like, “I’d be better if I didn’t have to squeeze into a bathing suit this weekend!”?


At one time or another, we have all been guilty of using disparaging self-talk related to weight, size, or shape. This tendency is so commonplace in today’s culture that there is actually a term for negative body commentary, used by the general public and clinical circles alike: “Fat talk.”

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Whether we say these comments aloud or just in our heads, “fat talk” can have a significant impact on the way we feel about our bodies and ourselves. For most people, disparaging self-talk just makes us feel inadequate or depressed. However, negative body image plays a significant role in the development and maintenance of eating disorders. For individuals that are predisposed to developing an eating disorder (in other words, if eating disorders run in their families), seemingly harmless comments about themselves—or unsolicited comments from others—can contribute to the development of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, or trigger a relapse for those in recovery from these serious illnesses.


Because “fat talk” is pervasive in our society and has the potential to impact our—and our young loved ones’—body image and self-worth, it is important that parents understand this phenomenon. Below are five considerations to help combat “fat talk” and cultivate positive body image in our lives and homes:

Be aware. “Fat talk” is everywhere; if you pay attention, you will find that fat jokes and “fat talk” are speckled throughout movies, sitcoms and books, even those geared towards adolescents and young adults. It is the fodder of seemingly every comedian in the world, and it underscores countless ad campaigns touting products and services promising to make us thinner, prettier and more desirable. For women and girls in particular, “fat talk” has become a bonding ritual of sorts—we often connect with others over mutual dissatisfaction with our weight, shape and size. Awareness is the first step in any meaningful behavioral change, so consciously try to identify the ways you and those around you use “fat talk” in your daily lives.

Be kind—to yourself, and to others. Our body weight and shape have nothing to do with who we are as individuals, mothers, daughters, friends, and employees. When you feel the urge to insult yourself related to your body size, shape or weight, instead think about the value you bring to your family, friendships, workplace or community. Also, avoid drawing attention to others’ body and weight insecurities. Our comments may come from a good place—we may think we’re supporting or motivating others with these messages—but we can never know the true impact of our words on others. Err on the side of kindness and make it a practice to not talk about others’ bodies.

Model healthy attitudes and behaviors. The most important thing parents can do to help their children develop a healthy body image is model healthy attitudes and behaviors toward body weight, size and shape. Kids are behavioral sponges—they watch what their parents do, they listen to what they say and they develop their worldview accordingly. Rather than toning down the “fat talk” around your children, try to remove it from your vocabulary altogether. Adults in your life may benefit from this change as well—family members and friends may notice the absence of “fat talk” from your conversations and follow your lead.

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Normalize eating in your home. Our thoughts and behaviors around food and eating are often closely linked to how we feel about our bodies. With that in mind, don’t allow or encourage dieting in your home. Don’t stigmatize foods as “good” or “bad”—all foods are okay in moderation, and the goal should be to consume a diverse, balanced diet with as much real, unprocessed, natural foods as possible. Do help to cultivate the social aspect of meals by turning off the television, putting down cell phones and making conversation with loved ones at the table. Additionally, talk to your children about their meals outside the home—who did they eat with, what did they eat, what did they talk about—to help them think critically about their patterns.

Frame exercise as fun and healthy. “Fat talk” often paints exercise as a punishment for eating too much or the wrong kinds of foods, or as a means to “fix” a perceived body flaw. Be sure to position regular physical activity as a fun and healthy habit for children and adults alike—in fact, it can be even more fun when families get active together. Exercise doesn’t have to involve a treadmill or weights—it can be walking the dog, building a snowman or playing softball with friends, family or colleagues.


Let me be clear—“fat talk” can adversely impact body image and self-esteem, which is a contributing factor in the development of eating disorders, but it doesn’t cause an eating disorder. Eating disorders result from a complex interplay of biological, psychological and sociocultural factors. However, it is important to understand the connection between “fat talk,” body image and eating disorders, particularly as it pertains to helping our children develop healthy body image and attitudes toward food, eating and exercise.

Embracing Our Daughters: Supporting Them as They Enter Adolescence

Embracing Our Daughters: Supporting them as they enter adolescence
By Christie Caggiani

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Truly some of the most humbling moments as a professional come from teachable moments as a mother.  I recently had a conversation with a mom, as our nearly teen daughters were getting together for the day.  She was clearly concerned about her child’s blossoming body, and shared that she had told her daughter she was going to buy her a gym membership. That alone gave me pause, however, when my daughter later recounted that they were encouraged to go for a walk to burn off some calories, it shifted me into anger. Fortunately, the girls said they went outside because it was a beautiful evening and they had a lot of fun walking, but I realized that no matter how much I try to teach body positive attitudes, the forces in this world are challenging those messages at every turn.


It is critical that as our adolescents’ bodies begin to change, we are a solid, reliable resource and support system for them.  This is a time when they are uncertain about their physical self, how to act, and how to feel, so we as parents are key in letting them know these changes are normal and that they are exactly where they should be in their development. Our role is to help them connect with, listen to, and respond consistently to their body’s signals, whether their body is asking for food, sleep, activity, or a good cry.  Our role is NOT to control how their bodies turn out or interfere with their changing process along the way.


One of my favorite books on this topic, Like Mother, Like Daughter by nutritionist Debra Waterhouse, is one I would highly recommend to any female.  Not only does it help us understand what is happening in our daughter’s body, it gives us greater insight into how we can better equip our young women to avoid the traps of weight and food preoccupation.  To quell your fears, and give you some direction, remember the following:

What Society Wants You to Do

What Your Daughter’s Body Naturally Wants to Do (and what we can reinforce)

Mold her body into an aesthetic ideal Find a comfortable weight that is biologically and genetically right for her
Encourage dieting Eat enough food to supply her body with nourishment and fuel
Condition her taste buds Stimulate all of her taste buds and enjoy the taste of sugar starting in infancy, salt starting in toddler years, and fat starting in adolescence.
Feed her low-fat foods Consume enough fat for brain development and physical growth
Feed her by the clock Eat when her body tells her it’s time to eat
Enforce three balanced meals a day Eat small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day
Provide a full-course dinner Eat as much as her body needs at dinner and have a snack at night if she’s hungry


Here are some other pointers that may be helpful as you assist your pre-teens and teens in their journey:

  • Just talk.  Share your memories of puberty, and use it as an opportunity to open dialogue.  Ask her if there’s anything she finds confusing, and encourage her to name her emotions.
  • Arm her with resilience to handle insensitive comments from classmates, well-meaning relatives, and friends.
  • Connect openly with other parents and ensure that they provide a similarly positive body attitude environment.
  • Avoid making comments that tell her she will be okay once she grows taller, loses some weight, or changes her body in some way.  She is exactly where she is supposed to be today.
  • Focus on the internal qualities that make up her person – her creativity, compassion, or strength of character.
  • Never, ever talk negatively about your own or anyone else’s body.  Period.
  • Enjoy food with your child.  Let her see you eat, savor, and enjoy meals and snacks.
  • Encourage movement as a way to connect with the body, unload some stress, and have some unstructured fun!  Never encourage exercise as a way to change the body, burn calories or lose weight.

Recommended reading: 

200 Ways to Raise a Girl’s Self-Esteem, by Will Glennon

Embody: Learning to Love your Unique Body, by Connie Sobczak

Like Mother, Like Daughter, by Debra Waterhouse, RD

Postpartum Body Image

Postpartum Body Image
By Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD

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I had a very easy pregnancy and felt great almost the entire time.  What I didn’t expect was the shock and roller-coaster ride of emotions and body image after giving birth.  Not a lot of people tell you about the intense ups and downs during the postpartum period, especially when it comes to your body.  Everyone says, “Enjoy every minute!!” and “They are only this small once!!”  I remember feeling guilty thinking I wasn’t a fan of the newborn stage and felt so uncomfortable in this new body post-baby.  I would ask myself, “Why do I feel so ‘blah’?”  All I’m supposed to be doing is sitting on the couch and breastfeeding.  The only expectation is to bond with baby Connor, how hard can that be?”

Throughout my pregnancy I told myself I would get back to my normal self as soon as possible.  I didn’t care much about my weight but just wanted to feel good about my body.  I’m a very active person who loves yoga and exercise.  It felt amazing to participate in those activities while I was pregnant.  I also enjoyed gaining weight, knowing that the baby was growing and I was eating to support a healthy pregnancy.  I went back to the doctor a week after giving birth and had lost twenty pounds right away.  “Well that was pretty easy,” I thought to myself as I walked out the door… “I bet I’ll have my ‘normal’ body back in no time.”  So five more weeks pass by, and I walk in for my six-week postpartum checkup.  Those five weeks were probably the hardest weeks of my life, as the initial “high” of giving birth wore off, and life with a newborn started to actually sink in: no sleep, no activity, and increased anxiety.  I get on the scale at my six-week checkup, and the nurse weighs me and says, “Well, we don’t see that too often!  You actually went up!”  I kept on telling myself that weight wasn’t important to me, but in that moment all I could think about was the annoying negative body image voice winning over my healthy self.

Life went on, but something shifted in me around the three-to-four-month mark. I went back to work and felt fulfilled in my career, Connor started sleeping more, and I started to introduce formula and wasn’t exclusively breastfeeding (which honestly took away a lot of stress).  I also asked for help with babysitting so I could get out of the house more often.  I started to not care as much about my postpartum weight loss and started to focus more on doing something each day for myself and self-care for a healthy body.  I felt myself change both mentally and physically as more self-care happened.  I am now feeling so blessed and happy, and my anxiety has decreased.  I am walking more with my mom friends and babies, going to weekly “Mommy and Me” yoga classes, and am training for a five-mile race on Thanksgiving Day.  I am also slowing down each day, cutting back on my “to-do lists,” and just taking it one day at a time with my son with no expectations.  My body feels strong as it has now fully recovered from childbirth, and I feel almost “back to normal.”  But guess what?  I weighed myself the other day out of pure curiosity and wouldn’t you know—my weight was the exact same number it was at my six-week postpartum checkup.  Thanks to a healthier attitude and lots of self-care, I feel incredible both physically and mentally.  I also feel blessed that I can teach my son what it means to love your body no matter what the scale says.

Is Your Tween Hiding Her Lunch?

REAL GRANDMOM ASKS: My 11 year old granddaughter is hiding her sandwiches and lunchables that are packed for her lunch in her room; sometimes before she even leaves for school. She takes a bite out of the sandwich or lunchable and puts in back in the container and seals it up, then hides it in her room. She doesn’t have an explanation for this and you can tell she is embarrassed when you talk to her about it. None of the food is new or disliked, that is why this is such a puzzle to us. My daughter is going bonkers over this and I simply don’t know how to advice her. Maddie has hidden evidence of “sneaked” food before when she was very young but this is a new behavior.What do you think? Thanks,Debbie A., a perplexed Grammy



Thank you Debbie for your heartfelt question.  I am sure many other grandparents and parents share in your sincere concern for both their daughters and their  granddaughters. There are a few things you can do without alarming your granddaughter. Be sure to keep this a confidential as possible. It is  a very sensitive subject and privacy will help to ensure your granddaughter’s privacy and thus minimize any shame or embarrassment. I will answer the question directed at a mom (or dad) since mom (or the primary caregiver) will need to do the follow through.

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In general when any tween is hiding food, consider checking in with the school nurse or guidance counselor (in private) to see if your tween is:

A)   Eating a different type of food at school?

B)   Eating any lunch at school?

C)   Attending lunch at school (some students hide during the lunch period to avoid social anxiety, bullying or to enable skipping the meal for restriction purposes)?

This will give you a better idea of what is happening for your daughter.  There are many things to consider such as is your child:

A)   Embarrassed to bring a home packed lunch?

B)   Perhaps your child doesn’t like the way their food smells?

C)   Perhaps your child is uncomfortable with their changing tween body?

D)   Has anyone said anything to your tween to make them feel shameful of their body?

E)   Is your child restricting their intake in effort to gain a false sense of control due to changes in friends, family, school…?

F)    Is your tween newly aware of her body and thus restricting her intake to prevent it from maturation?

Next and most importantly, sit down with this wonderful child and let them know you are there to listen. Let them know you promise not to be angry (if you truly do) and can help to support them. Validation is the most important piece. Moms don’t need to solve every problem rather we just need to listen.  Tell your tween you love them and are there for them when they feel ready to share. Giving your tween an unbiased outlet and a few hugs may get them to be honest with you.

If your tween is not ready to confide, you can also offer to take the tween food shopping to see if that helps to resolve the issue. This may give you a better sense of what is going on if your tween actually takes you on the offer.

If the issue continues, it is best to have your tween see a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (therapist specializing in eating disorders) or a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian (RD specializing in eating disorders). This accreditation is only given to experts trained in the  prevention and treatment of eating disorders by the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (

A Look into Beauty

A Look into Beauty
By Lauren Cohen, MS Nutrition and Dietetics Candidate

Hey moms and dads, with bathing suit season around the corner, we need to be sensitive about our children’s body image. Read on for our Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services student volunteer’s take on body image.

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Google must read my emails—that is the only explanation.  The pop-up advertisements that I regularly endure are riddled with images of weight loss, new diet fads, and ideal ways to get fit and fab in time for bikini season. Even with everything I know about nutrition and health, it can be overwhelming and tempting.


Body image is a big component of health. It’s easy to feel pressure to lose weight or tone-up when every magazine in the stand has “The Best Way to Cut 10 inches in 10 Days!” The Internet can be a firestorm for Photoshopped images of celebrities and friends trying to reach a threshold for beauty and health. In a now infamous quote from Cindy Crawford, she laments how she “wished [she] looked like Cindy Crawford.” The most important fact we can take with us as we move forward is that images on a screen do not reflect reality. They are airbrushed, red-eye removed, filtered and can only speak to a flash of a moment. Social media pages like Instagram and Pinterest are created with the sole purpose of making our lives appear beautiful through a filter. And while they continue to be useful tools in our professional and personal development, a certain type of pressure comes along with the territory—a pressing need for beauty.


It would be of little value to try and work a definition of beauty into this blog post when its reach extends so far beyond our simple understanding of it. I like to think of beauty as a complex, personal, and intimate experience of appreciation for something. But even that is too specific and too general at the same time.  So when photos and quotes surfaced of a girl calling herself The Human Barbie, I felt a compulsive need to learn more.


Valeria Lukyanova, a 5’ 7” Ukrainian Model, boasts measurements of 34-18-34. This is a very dramatic hourglass shape. Just to put that into perspective, Judy Garland (one of the many women Lukyanova cites as an iconic image of beauty) was 4’11” and measured out to 33-25-31. Lukyanova began to pop up onto my radar through ads on body image; I didn’t click on anything until a quote appeared from a GQ Magazine interview.


“Everyone wants a slim figure. Everyone gets breasts done. Everyone fixes up their face if it’s not ideal, you know? Everyone strives for the golden mean. It’s global now. Remember how many beautiful women there were in the 1950s and 1960s, without any surgery? And now, thanks to degeneration, we have this.”

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After this I was hooked. Her sweeping generalizations and overwhelming misunderstanding of health (and humans) was intoxicating. How did her opinion of beauty become so superficial and why does she assume we all feel this way? I loved my Barbie Dolls growing up; does this mean I was programmed to believe that beauty is strictly superficial? Is Barbie a sin against body image? Or does an interest in her just mean I loved playing dress up?


Certainly Barbie can take some of the blame—the same way that pop-culture and our Instagram accounts can—in that they generate an ideal concept of physical beauty. It forces us to think that beauty is a series of dimensions that, if we work out enough and become an Breatharian (someone who lives on air and sunlight alone as Lukyanova preaches) we will attain the ideal look. It perpetuates a theory that beauty and wellness is something that we can see rather than feel, experience, or share.


Beauty is one part physical but a great deal more emotional. Consider Disney’s newest film Frozen. While the film still features two slender female leads, it takes a bold step towards understanding the emotional elements of beauty. It’s the story of two sisters; one of which harbors a secret talent to freeze the world around her. While at first, it seemed like an ugly and dangerous compartment of an otherwise beautiful girl, she was able to overcome her fear and learn to love this unique trait that was distinctly her. It wasn’t just beauty she could see, it was beauty she could feel. It was a love for herself, just as she was.


So how can we sift through the ads and the images around us? The trick has to be learning to strike a balance. These ads aren’t going anywhere. We aren’t about to delete our Facebook pages, or Instagram accounts. We are not going to stop purchasing People Magazine. There will always be a Heidi Montag or Valeria Lukyanova (and don’t worry, men, there is also a Human Ken!) We have to remember that when we look at them, we are not looking into mirrors. Keeping in the very front of our minds that beauty and wellness aren’t only defined by how we look and our body’s dimensions but by a combination of who we are and how we choose to conduct our lives and choices.


How do you think beauty and health is portrayed in social media and pop culture? What changes would you like to see made to improve the concept of beauty and wellness?

A Jen G. Yoga Giveaway!

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We are happy to host this giveaway with one of Laura’s favorite instructors, Jen G.! With tomorrow’s blog post focusing on beauty and body image. We wanted to focus on internal health as opposed to external health and appearance. Yoga is a wonderful way to treat your body to a restorative workout. Jen has been kind enough to donate an hour in-home private yoga session with one of our lucky readers! (P.S. moms-to-be, Jen is certified in prenatal yoga!)

Restrictions do apply: expires one year from issue; only valid for travel to Manhattan and certain areas of Brooklyn.
If you live in Manhattan we encourage you to enter below! 

For more info on Jen visit her site here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do 13 year olds really think about six-pack abs?

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Do 13 year olds really think about six-pack abs?
By Mom and RD, Elyse Falk


Boys and body image! Wow…what a perfect topic for me to be blogging about right now. The scenario goes something like this: My almost 13-year-old son comes home after a Bar Mitzvah party for one of his friends. It’s 12:00 am. I drag my butt out of bed to make sure he’s OK and to ask him how his evening was. As I walk sleepily down the hallway, I unintentionally catch a glimpse of his reflection in the bathroom mirror. He’s standing there, shirtless, flexing his muscles in the mirror and pulling in his abdominals. “Really?”…I think to myself. Not knowing quite what to say at that exact moment, I utter something innocuous: “OK. You can look at yourself tomorrow. It’s past midnight. Get into bed.” He quickly pulls on his shirt, and I, in turn, make a mental note about it.


As the days followed, I became aware of a noticeable decrease in his food intake…especially one night while we were eating dinner together. So I asked him: “Aren’t you hungry?” He answered: “Well, I’ve just been watching how much I eat and my stomach looks smaller when I eat less.” Because I’m a registered dietitian who specializes in counseling clients with eating disorders, I almost had a heart attack when I heard his response! “Listen to me, dude!” I said. “Your body is strong from karate and the recreational sports you participate in during the year. Your body is healthy from all the different foods you eat. You’re getting bigger and taller because you’re a teenager. Your body is changing so much right now! You’re starting to become a man! Your belly has gone through many changes throughout the last two years. It’s gotten bigger and then, when you grew taller, your belly became smaller again because that’s precisely what happens when you go through puberty!” He seemed to listen to what I was telling him, looked at me briefly, and simply said “Hmm….” He came into the kitchen a little bit later and, without any hesitation, ate some cookies. I didn’t say a word. The conversation hasn’t come up again since!

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Here’s what I’ve learned: The knowledge that boys (as well as girls) can and do fall prey to those troubling messages in the media about body image and dieting. In addition, puberty is often a very difficult life passage for any tween. When our bodies undergo various changes during puberty, our psyches do too. Many suffer with dismal thoughts and awkward feelings; throwing in the need to “fit in” by “looking a certain way” during this adolescent stage directs even more attention to their bodies. Please understand that it’s natural for your tween to be curious about his/her body’s new changes and how food affects those changes. And it’s most important for you to know that this is a crucial time for us, as parents, to watch our words and to keep our eyes pried wide open for the little (sometimes almost microscopic) clues our kids may be displaying. A particularly vital task at hand is helping our boys understand how food helps their bodies and that the changes to their tummies, their voices, and their broadness are all normal and need to be balanced with the consumption of healthy foods and fun physical activities…but most definitely not controlled!


Elyse Falk is a registered dietitian who specializes with clients who have disordered eating/eating disorders and practices in Northern Westchester and can be reached at