Intentionally Living the New Year

Intentionally Living the New Year
By Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

 

The New Year naturally ushers in an urge to do things ‘new’.  We may have a surge of energy to re-new many aspects of our lives:  our organization, our sleeping patterns, our cooking talents, our parenting skills.  And just as quickly, our intense expectations overwhelm us, creating a feeling of failure before we even begin!  So how can we make improvements in our lives without setting ourselves, and our families, up for disappointment?

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Start by moving out of a goal-driven mindset, shifting instead into living with more intention.  Many goals are number driven, putting the focus on reaching a set number, rather than making manageable and implementable changes.   Not meeting that goal creates a sense of inadequacy, even if there was truly improvement.  If, for example, we stress our kids eat at least three veggies / day, they quite likely will meet us with more resistance than if our overall intention is to include more color in their lunchboxes and on the dinner table.   Some days they may have 1 veggie; other days they may try 4!  Neither makes them a failure or a success.

 

Being intentional includes being mindful.   We can’t make any changes if we aren’t aware of what is and isn’t working for us.  Take note of how many nights a week you eat dinner as a family.   Be aware of how hungry your children are after school.  Notice how repetitive your grocery shopping feels.  Once you tune into the eating rhythm in your home, you can begin to identify areas you’d like to consciously and gradually improve.

 

Then resolve to focus on the positive.  When we have more of a ‘get to’ attitude, we demonstrate that healthful behaviors are not an obligation, or a ‘have to’.   The kids get to help with dinner, get to set the table, get to put away clean dishes, or get to pick out a new fruit at the store.  That even goes for trying a new food – they get to have at least one ‘no thank you’ bite.

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Some general areas to consider as you intentionally move into the New Year:

  • Plan out some of your meals for the week
  • Plan to include leftovers
  • Jot down meal ideas as you see them on a menu, in a magazine, in your inbox (or download Plan to Eat, where you can collect any and all recipes found online), and keep a running list of your favorites
  • Move cut fruits and veggies into pretty glass containers, visibly in your fridge
  • Have your kids pick out a veggie or fruit to add to the week’s grocery list
  • Set the breakfast table the night before
  • Include your kids, as is age appropriate, in kitchen help
  • Have after school snack options ready to go

 

Wishing you a fun, mindful 2015, filled with learning and adventure!

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.

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.   

 

 

Real Mom Question – Real Mom Answer

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Real Mom Question – Real Mom Answer: I’m in Need of Some Lunch Options…
By Laura Cipullo, RD CDE CEDRD CDN 

 

Real Mom Question:

“So we are reaching the picky toddler phase already- my daughters will be 17 months on Sunday and they have decided they do not like a lot of the foods they used to such as eggs, avocado, peas, carrots. They also do not like mozzarella cheese, tomatoes (but like tomato sauce), and no Muenster cheese. – Needless to say, I am in need of some lunch options.”

1. I am thinking of peanut butter and banana sandwiches and tuna with cranberries and apples (they like their tuna plain- weird, but I do not ask).

 

2. Are there healthy deli meat options?

 

3. We usually give whole wheat pasta with ground beef for dinner and/or turkey meatloaf or chicken from chicken soup. They do like brown rice, but now no veggies.

 

What does Mom Dishes It Out suggest?

Real Mom Answer:

I most definitely remember those days and it seems the food adventures continue. Do not fret if your child or children decide they are no longer interested in eggs, avocado, peas or carrots. It may not mean that they no longer like these foods rather they may have grown tired of these foods. Keep these foods in you children’s diet or you will soon be left with no additional options. Instead, continue to offer one of these foods with new favorite foods every few days so that your child continues to be exposed to their former favorite foods. They will also realize they don’t have to eat it. Reintroducing foods is key in food exposure.

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So when thinking lunch options, you can still include a side of avocado or egg, just in a new form. Think outside the box:

1. Peanut Butter with bananas is a great option for lunch. Serve with whole milk and a veggie squeezer.

2. Tuna with apples and cranberries sound delish! Just be sure the cranberries are easily chewed and not a potential choking hazard. Most important, be sure the tuna is chunk light from skipjack and not albacore to minimize the mercury level. Only give the tuna in 3 oz portions and no more than 3 times per month to your toddler.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, canned light tuna is the safer choice (with 0.12 parts per million of mercury). They advise that children “under six years of age can eat up to three 3-ounce portions per month. Older children and adults can safely eat it once a week. But look out for “gourmet” or “tonno” labels. They are made with bigger yellow fin tuna and can contain mercury levels comparable to canned white.” – For more information on this topic please visit the Environmental Defense Fund.

3. In terms of deli meat, there are now deli meats that are without added nitrites. However, they can still contain nitrites or nitrates from the salt or celery salt listed in the product. Your best bet is to make a homemade organic turkey or chicken and serve this in small pieces.

4. Brown, wild and white rice or whole-wheat pasta with beef, meatloaf and/or chicken are great options to serve the kids. Think about adding a tomato sauce with pureed veggies to this blend. Ratatouille and pesto are other great options to serve with pasta and proteins.

5. Finally, some serious lunch options:

— Pesto Pizza – Spread pesto sauce over a toasted mini whole-wheat pita and sprinkle with shredded Parmesan or provolone cheese. Serve with sliced apples.
— Hummus Wrap – thickly spread some hummus and a thin layer of avocado on a wrap and roll. Serve with pitted olives, cucumbers, cheese cubes and thin blanched carrots.
— Grilled Cheese with cheddar (use real cheese not cheese food product) melted on each side of the bread and an egg white in the middle for added protein. Serve with something red – grapes and strawberries for color.
— Mashed Cauliflower (try the yellow and or purple varieties for added antioxidants) with a homemade chicken cutlet (or Bell and Evans for a quick fix) and sweet potato cubes.
— Sundae Yogurt Parfait – Mix Greek yogurt with granola, frozen fruits pieces and wheat germ in to a yummy bowl for a an easy lunch. Sprinkle with nuts and top with a berry. Take caution with nuts in case of food allergies.
— Turkey Meatballs with veggies like onions or peppers finely chopped into the meatball. Serve with child’s favorite tomato sauce and multicolor pasta.
— Chicken Soup with roasted asparagus tips (just the tips and roasted with olive oil) and a baked sweet potato.

New Years Giveaway!

2014 is here! And this year we’re focusing on setting new intentions and creating healthy habits! To help with these endeavors, we’re giving away The Children’s Nutrition Tracker: an apple a day. This nutrition tracker is a wonderful and interactive way to get your kids involved in making healthy habits and allows them to view their progress at the same time. To learn more about an apple a day, click here.

To enter complete as many of the following tasks as you’d like:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Q. Are you and your children fostering a healthy relationship with food?

Here is a quick quiz  adapted from my Healthy Habits program. You can use this quiz, to see if you and your children are adept at the non diet approach or you can use this quiz to start a conversation.

I am personally using this piece tomorrow to initiate a discussion amongst the teachers at my son’s school. The head of the school asked me to help the teachers understand how food language can be a powerful tool in fostering both positive and negative relationships with food. Obviously we want to achieve a positive and healthy relationship that aids in the development of self esteem; That means removing subjective morals and values from food.

Answer Key

How This Mom Does It: Guest Blog Post By Suzanne Quint

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This week guest blogger Suzanne Quint discusses parenting books, and incorporating your culture into teaching children healthy eating habits.

I am a mom of 5 year old twins whom I am proud to count as good (but of course not always great) eaters. Being of Greek descent (read: food is everything), it was really important to me that my kids be good eaters.  I couldn’t imagine going through life with them with a rotation of chicken fingers and hot dogs.  So, upon the recommendation of my friend Kate, I followed Ellyn Satter’s Child of Mine book pretty religiously.  It was in fact, the only child development book, on any subject, I read.  I cannot recommend this book enough as a foundation and constant reinforcer for those formative early years.  Satter’s premise, in a nutshell, is that as parents we are in charge of what the kids eat and when – and that the kids are in charge of how much they eat.  She also incorporates the idea of having (some!) choice for your kids – so broccoli and cauliflower at the table, for example, and empower them to pick which they want.   As with most things in parenting, the key was consistency and perseverance, which at times was doubly hard with twins.   I’ll say that while we thought early on that my son was a picky eater and my daughter had the Greek-eating gene, he has really turned it around.  In hindsight, he was more stubborn (and still likes to make a big fuss here and there) but our perseverance on always presenting him with real food choices has paid off.  They don’t like everything but we don’t cater to them at mealtime either.  Some things they enjoy– spanakopita (or “spinach triangles” as we call them)– Trader Joe’s sells delicious and affordable one’s and FreshDirect has them too.  And if we order pizza, I balance this meal with telling them it has to have broccoli or spinach on it (their choice).