Laura Answers Questions About Feeding Her Boys

1. As a Mom, what is the hardest part of getting your kids to eat healthy?

Not being the nutrition gatekeeper of our children’s food is a challenge all moms face. Camp, school and the playground expose my boys to chewing gum, drinking sports drinks and eating low nutrition foods such as crackers and candy during snack time.

As any mom may know, feeding our children can be trying. I created Mom Dishes It Out, a blog for moms to learn from my personal experience in feeding my boys and a place where they can share their experiences and ask questions.

2. How do you explain eating healthy in a context that they understand?
There are everyday foods that we eat to grow, run and think. We need to eat these foods every day. Then there are “sometimes food”—food that we can eat some of the time.  Since the foods are low in nutrition and aren’t the best for growing, they are not considered everyday food.

3. Do you have any tricks to get your kids to eat healthy?
One sure way is to stock the house with only healthy food. I allow all foods but I don’t necessarily have them in the house on a regular basis.

4 Tricks To Getting Kids To Eat Healthy
1. Stock the house with healthy everyday foods
2. Limit boxed or in the pantry packaged food items to three or less
3. Allow all foods but focus on the need for everyday foods
4. Don’t make a big deal about healthy food – offer and expose but don’t overemphasize

 

4. What two kid-friendly recipes did you bring to share today?
Good-For-You Granola Bars – It can be quite challenging to find a granola bar that is nutrient dense, low in added sugar and will not melt in the heat.

My youngest son is a vegetarian so getting omega-3 fatty acids and even omega-6 fatty acids are a challenge. Adding chia seeds to any recipe is a sure way to get vegetarians eating omega-6’s. I give Liam an omega-3 fatty acid liquid supplement to get the beneficial fatty acids only found in fish.

5.  How often do you cook with your kids?
I try to cook with my kids as often as possible and in every little way. Perhaps they do something simple like adding wheat germ to their yogurt, cracking the eggs into their pancake mixture or adding berries into their smoothies.

6. What sorts of foods do your kids crave?
My oldest son loves pancakes with chocolate chips and macaroni and cheese (the chips are dark chocolate and the pancakes are whole wheat or kamut; the pasta is usually whole wheat), while my youngest son favors yogurt, hummus and pretzels (made from spelt or whole wheat).

7. What are your go-to snacks for your kids?
I always offer a carbohydrate with a fat or a carbohydrate with a protein. Then I’ll offer homemade smoothies with fresh and frozen fruits and chia seeds, fruit slices or fruit squeezers with Greek yogurt or cheese

8. Do you guys ever have a cheat day, or treats for special occasions?
I have told my boys time and time again, food is not a treat. A helicopter ride around the city is a treat or a day of bowling is a treat. Food is food. We enjoy ice cream with gummy bears, drink Gatorade and eat cookies some of the time, but not all of the time. Since it is critical that we meet all of our nutrition needs, it is important for parents not to put certain foods on a pedestal, because this will become the food your child will then want.

 

Formula Fed—Me and My Boys

Formula Fed—Me and My Boys
Not every mom must breast-feed.
By Laura Cipullo RD CED CEDRD CDN 

Photo Credit: nerissa’s ring via Compfight cc

I know as a registered dietitian I am supposed to encourage breast-feeding, but there are enough dietitians indoctrinating “breast-feed only.”  I am here to share the flip side. I don’t want moms to feel guilty for not breastfeeding because they cannot or simply because they choose not to. I have formula fed both of my sons, who are now ages five and seven. Neither have food allergies, and neither have been on antibiotics (recently, however, it was necessary for the eldest to take them). I, too, was formula fed and am a healthy individual. Opining for formula is based on my personal experience and not science.

 

But it can be heartbreaking to want to breast-feed your child and be unable to do so. Moms, please don’t feel guilty. Formula feeding is not to the detriment of your child. You can still bond, and you can still provide your child with nutrition. As a matter of fact, the first six months post birth are important, but our job as mothers is even more important as our babies get older. Providing pure nutrition goes beyond the breast and the bottle. How we feed the baby, what we feed them as their first foods, and the relationship between us and our food—and our child and his/her food—is a lifelong balancing act that is more crucial than breastfeeding.

 

There are also other times when it may be to the mom’s or the baby’s advantage to choose formula rather than breast-milk.

Photo Credit: nerissa’s ring via Compfight cc

Why it may not always be better to breast-feed:

  1. Mom may be malnourished and unlikely to give baby adequate nutrition.
  2. Mom may be decreasing her bone density, sacrificing her health in order to give baby enough calcium.
  3. Mom may not be eating fish, and therefore baby is not getting enough DHA, the essential fatty acid obtained through eating fish.
  4. Mom may be drinking diet soda and eating diet foods to lose the baby weight. (But do you want to bottle-feed artificial sugar to your baby? Is this different healthier than sugar in formula?)
  5. Pump and dump?? Let’s face it, many moms imbibe in drinks such as wine, while others even smoke tobacco and proceed to breast-feed!
  6. Baby may not be getting enough nutrition, and formula may be better choice.

 

Consider, are you doing this to benefit baby or yourself? If you do breast-feed, make sure you take a multivitamin with minerals, drink enough water, and eat enough real, wholesome food. If you choose formula, know your baby is getting calcium, DHA, and the necessary macronutrients. The sugar in formula is not ideal, but remember milk is a form of carbohydrate, which is sugar. The focus for you and all moms and dads can and should be on what you feed your child for the rest of his/her young adult life rather than on the first year alone.

 

More on breast-feeding: 

Food Antics

Food Antics
By: Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN and Mom of two

 

Is there ever a dull moment in your kitchen? Well, there sure isn’t one in mine! My husband and I have noticed that our older son continuously asks for food all evening long—from dinner on until his bedtime. And he’s not actually asking for food; rather, he’s telling us that he’s hungry. Since Bobby has always been my famously “intuitive eater,” one might readily think: that’s terrific. Just feed the growing boy!

 

But of course, nothing is as simple as it seems when it comes to food. Bobby is most definitely growing and can easily consume an entire box of mac and cheese with spinach, an apple and a chicken cutlet—and still be hungry! This is completely fine with me if it isn’t every night just before bedtime arrives. What we have noticed, however, is that Bobby is responding to all statements concerning getting ready for bed, or even going to sleep, with “But I’m still hungry.”

 

Attempting to find out what Bobby is really “hungry” for, I ask him: Do you want more dinner? Would you like a yogurt stick? How about some ice cream? An apple? A yogurt? Maybe a smoothie?

We tried giving him larger dinner portions, serving dessert with dinner and even calling “last round” for kitchen requests. But it never fails to happen just like this…

 

Last night Bobby was in bed. The family had read books together and we even shared some “silly” time. Just as I was saying goodnight and leaving his room, he said: “But I’m still hungry.” By this point in time, I don’t want to care if my kid is hungry. Either he needs to learn to be more mindful and check in with his belly and brain before bedtime…or he’s really needing and wanting something else!

 

Now, as I sit here writing…an important concept leaps into my brain: I’m not sure if I ever asked Bobby if he wanted something else. Like a little more time with mom. Or to talk about a bad dream he may have had. Or perhaps he’s just trying to defy the boundaries his dad and I have set. There are so many possibilities in this scenario.

 

When I consider this difficult situation from an RD’s perspective, I know just what I would suggest to any of my mom clients dealing with this type of issue: “Have a real heart-to-heart talk with your son. Ask him during the day time—at a non-meal moment —what he’s truly feeling and wanting at night.”

 

There are a variety of life changes that may be affecting Bobby that he, along with his peers as well as adults, is not aware of feeling. Or perhaps he may just be hungry! The lesson for me and my readers is this: Consider creating an open dialogue at a non-food time to find out if the problematic situation is indeed about food—or about feelings. What you learn will surely help you to resolve the issue. Sometimes the answer may be serving more protein and fat with dinner…and sometimes the answer may be spending a special day alone together…just mommy and me.

I’m so glad I was able to give myself a free nutrition session!

 

And by the way, my younger son Billy told me he eats his fish sticks with his dad because daddy makes him. But he won’t eat them with me! Yep, that’s a whole other can of “gummy” worms! Maybe the subject of my next blog. Of course, don’t forget you can always ask us your questions by submitting them right here:

Mom Jeans

When I think of mom jeans, I think of my mom’s jeans. I honestly don’t know any young moms wearing those jeans. You know – the ones that SNL did a skit on. They make our butts look square, are high waisted and not are not found in the department store. My favorite jeans are AG, and JBrand, but my sister did tell me my butt looks like my mothers. Not sure what to think about that.

We all different bodies and different jeans fit us. Like anything else, moms must embrace their bodies especially during pregnancy and after. I found this great blog entry for moms out there wearing what they call :mom jeans.”

http://www.blogher.com/frame.php?url=http://elizabethhallmagill.wordpress.com/2011

Introduction

You know that quote about how the shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot? In a way, I’m a lot like the shoemaker. Let me explain.

Hi, I’m Laura. I’m a full-time Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, a social savvy New Yorker, and most importantly, a mom of two fabulous kids. Two fabulous, very picky kids who are tough to please come mealtime!

Professionally, I specialize in eating disorder prevention and recovery, weight management, family health and diabetes. So as you can imagine, I’m constantly helping moms much like myself to understand how they can make small behavioral changes in order to raise children who appreciate the value of nutritious, fulfilling foods—at least most of the time.

My husband and I do the best we can to foster this same mindset in our own household. Our philosophy is simple. In so few words, food is just that—food. An apple is an apple, and chocolate is chocolate. “Good” and “bad” foods don’t exist in my home or office, nor do right and wrong, or perfect and imperfect body types. (Beware: The word “fat” is practically taboo; all who enter know this.)

But let’s be honest here. Instilling these ideals is no easy task in this fast-paced, image-obsessed world, even for a mommy RD.

Which brings me to why I decided to start this blog:

Reason 1: My three-year-old son, Billy, won’t eat bananas unless they come from a fruit vendor on the city street. He prefers hummus with spelt pretzels for dinner and dried mango to snack on. While this sounds like a well-rounded toddler, Billy rejects pasta, meat and a lot of typical “American” foods. While, in true New Yorker fashion, he’ll never reject a slice of pizza (yes, my kids are allowed pizza in moderation), he’s nearly impossible when dining out.

Reason 2: My five year old son, Bobby, was every mother and RD’s dream. He seriously ate everything. I made him homemade organic baby food; and he loved grown-up flavors like sweet potatoes, ground turkey and beef, tomato sauce and oatmeal. Now, he won’t eat any of this. Like many finicky five-year-olds, Bobby loves macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jam, and only two flavors of ice cream. Chips, cake and crackers are verboten—that’s his choice, not mine.

So there you have it. These are my kids, and this is my family. We are far from perfect and, despite my professional insight, every day is a new culinary adventure.

What I’ve come to realize is that, whether you’re a New York mom or a Midwest dad, raising a child to have a neutral mindset toward food and body image can be a struggle for any parent. The line of “moderation” is a fine one to walk, and yet it’s one of the most important responsibilities we have as parents.

My hope is for you, my reader, to be able to learn from my own experiences in the kitchen—the successes, the challenges and the comedic anecdotes—as a dedicated RD and mom. Follow along, and keep a notepad handy. Eventually, I hope that you can find it easier, more fun and less overwhelming to nourish your own children. Because, at the end of the day, it’s about working together to explore the best ways that we can all raise healthy and happy eaters.