Finally Free from Fruit Fears?

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc

By Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

So you may recall my disclosure in a previous blog, sharing that my son is anything

but a fruit lover. He politely refuses whenever offered any – whether it’s the

sweetest, most amazing strawberry, or the crunchiest red apple. When he has tried

the occasional bite, his eyes water, he gags, and just can’t move beyond it. He’s

made it into his teens allowing only raisins, applesauce and an occasional juice into

his otherwise varied nutritional palate. While he enjoyed fruit as an infant and

toddler, something switched when he became a more independent preschooler, and

while I accepted that there must be a lesson of humor and irony for me as his

nutritionist-mom, I inwardly believed that he would just shift out of it as he became

older and around other kids who ate fruit freely.

While I’ve held onto that hope, I’ve become a little more concerned that the mood

may never just strike him out of the blue. I doubt he’ll wake one morning saying,

“Cool – today’s the day I’m super excited to try blueberries”, unless I give him a little

more assistance. And that help must somehow go beyond “just try a little bite”. A

wise friend and extremely gift occupational therapist, Wendy Chen-Sams, MS, OTR,

NDT, actually confirmed my suspicions. She said that the likelihood for young adults

to expand their palates greatly diminishes once these teens have left their childhood

home, particularly when there are strong aversions to flavor and/or texture, as is

my son’s case. Fortunately for him (and me!), he’s become more curious and

actually would like to explore and expand. He’s motivated to grow to his height

potential, and assist his overall health. Cool – the critical first step of motivation is

achieved!

Wendy recommended that we not only move slowly, but also focus on only one

sensory area at a time. Since he seems to have some taste and texture aversions, she

suggested we begin first with introducing a new, mild flavor. Of particular interest

to me was the fact that colder fruits would be much less likely to trigger his gag

reflux, and will slightly numb the sensors so it’s less overwhelming — homemade

popsicles are going to be our new friends!

Our first step will be to combine familiar flavors – banana (which he loves in

pancakes & bread) and orange juice – with a new one, pear. Because we aren’t

exploring texture yet, we will be blending them together until smooth, then pouring

into popsicle molds. Once they’re ready to go, he will explore the taste receptors on

his tongue, particularly on the tip and sides. The receptors at the back of the tongue

are more sensitive, so we’ll gradually make it to those.

Once he’s tolerating (hopefully enjoying, too!), we will introduce some ever-so-

slightly larger pieces of pear within the pops, and graduate to even more texture.

As his acceptance of taste and texture improve, we’ll gradually introduce the same

pear flavor at refrigerator temp. The ultimate goal is for him to eat a pear or new

fruit without any processing. As important as it is for kids to repeatedly try new

and different foods as they begin to acquire a taste and tolerance, it’s also crucial

that we don’t try the new food every single day. A few times a week is just fine, says

Wendy.

So this is part of our summer adventure, and you can be sure that I will keep you

posted as it unfolds!

________________________

Of course there are a plethora of different sensory food aversions, and I am aware

that my son’s are quite mild. If you have a child struggling in a manner that is

interfering with his development or quality of life, it is crucial that you seek some

additional assistance, first checking with your pediatrician who may then refer you

to an occupational therapist, speech pathologist and/or registered dietitian who

specialize in this arena.

 

Two suggested reads:

Meals Without Tears: How to get Your Child to Eat Healthily and Happily,

by Dr.Rana Conway

Just Two More Bites! Helping Picky Eaters Say Yes to Food,

by Linda Piette

New Year! New Intentions with Star Charts!

New year! New intentions with Star Charts!

 

If you’re like me, you need and want to get your kids more involved in their food fare as well as getting excited about the foods they’re eating. With a new year ahead, you and your family can join us as we set intentions to make healthy habits with the help of a star chart. I personally want to get my kids to just try new foods. It doesn’t matter whether they like them but I want them to try. Keep in mind that I eat every kind of food under the sun…from chitlins to kale chips. And my two boys are surely making great strides with new foods at their own pace. However, I’m well aware that my own efforts sometimes get in the way. For example, every Sunday evening I present them options that I’m eager to have them try. But this is just a once-a-week activity…and can be overwhelming for my younger son. Besides, kids like to think they’re calling the shots!

So this past Sunday, the boys and I sat down to create “star charts” to help motivate them to try new foods and to help encourage them to practice self care and/or healthy habits.

 

I drew the basic foundation and added the three most important behaviors (for my boys at present) and then I gave them space on the charts to add three or four behaviors they wanted to achieve.

 

So far…so good! As you can see per my older son Bobby’s star chart,  he is enthusiastically awaiting his prize for his healthy habits and even my younger son Billy is motivated. He actually tried cod, broccoli, a new yogurt and peanuts in just two days.

 

On Monday, Billy refused to try a hard-boiled egg as well as his dinner when I failed to ask him for his choice. I quickly realized my mistake and asked him what he would like to try; he willingly ate the new yogurt and peanuts.

 

As you might have noticed, both boys like to select their own veggies and their own new food to try. This is typical. So don’t forget this step as you create your own star charts with your child.  Making the chart with the child and letting them have opportunity to make choice is essential. This is where we give them “control”—the ability to speak in their own voice. Read below on tips for stellar self-care star charting! Join my boys and me. Download our PDF Star Chart to start teaching your child healthy behaviors and to make this process easy and fun for both parent and child. Let us know how it goes.

Tips to Stellar Star Charting:

For creating healthy habits…

1. Parent chooses two to three behaviors.

2. Child chooses two to three behaviors.

3. If the behavior is open ended like trying a new veggie, let each child choose between at least two options.

4. Encourage each child to help decorate and make their own stars so he/she can proudly show off their efforts. Be sure to display – perhaps on the refrigerator.

5. Rewards are most effective when immediate. Young children may benefit from rewards every three days rather than just once a week.

6. Ideally, set the goal at 60 percent stars (success) per day. This allows for flexibility and the option to opt out and not be penalized on days when your child feels overwhelmed, overstimulated and/or just tired. If your child continuously earns all his/her stars, make the behaviors slightly more measurable; try a quarter cup of veggies with dinner or just reset the goal at 90 percent.

7. Have fun and change some of the goals each week. For instance, when your child loses interest in a goal, you can replace it with a new goal like clearing his/her dishes from the table. When a goal becomes a habit, it no longer needs to be reinforced, so just remove it from the chart.  You can even change a few goals—maybe two out of six per week to keep your child on his/her toes.

8. And of course, remember not to strive for perfection or just set end goals – rather set goals of trying foods and activities to encourage the process of trying.

 

Eating New Foods

Well, moms and dads, I finally did it. My husband and I had been talking about the boys’ limited intake a.k.a. lack of variety. Last weekend I spent $150.00 on taste-test Sunday, and my boys groaned while carrying on for every food.

 

I worry that my younger son’s smaller stature is due to lack of adequate protein. We continue to expose the kids to more protein, but the pantry always seems to win. On Thanksgiving my dad commented on my sons’ diet and height too.

But I think those words, along with the blog of Dr. Heather McGuire, finally propelled me forward! Because after making the boys cheese and bean quesadillas and watching them pick out every freaking bean, I just did it—I grabbed a bag and filled it with our pantry stock, including the gummy vitamins. The kids liken them to candy.

 

I announced our family mission to eat more foods. “I am not talking about clean food or veggies. I am just talking about eating foods that are not your favorites, eating foods that you may not be in the mood for. I am talking beans and chicken and pasta for Billy.”

So we packed up all packaged snack-like foods. I served the boys chicken parm and eggplant parm for dinner. And you know what, they ate it. Was dinner drawn out? Yes. Was it a wasted meal? No. Five days later, Billy has only skipped one meal. And I have loosened up, being that it is the school week. I still give them their same lunches every day. But breakfast has been different daily, and on Mondays both boys ate a chicken quesadilla, mind you only a quarter of it, plus half of a cheese quesadilla. But I am just happy to see a willingness in them—without all the drama. I don’t want food fights or feelings of deprivation for my kids. I just want a willingness to try foods and eat certain favorite foods just some of the time. So I encourage you, read our stories here, especially Heather’s!

 

May you have happier eating and being days ahead!!

Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN
Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition
www.LauraCipulloLLC.com
www.MomDishesItOut.com

Planning for Holiday Meals with a Picky Eater

By Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP

*This post was originally published on ASHA’s online blog. The original can be found here.

Photo Credit: slightly everything via Compfight cc
As an SLP  focused on the treatment of pediatric feeding disorders,  there is one common denominator among all the families on my caseload:  The stress in their homes at mealtimes is palpable.   Now that Thanksgiving and other food-centered holidays are approaching,  the anticipation of an entire day focused on food has many parents agonizing over the possible outcomes when well-meaning relatives comment on their child’s selective eating or special diet secondary to food allergies/intolerances.This time of year, I try to find practical ways to reduce the stress for these families.   One of the first steps in feeding therapy is for parents to lower their own stress level so that their child doesn’t feed into it (pardon the pun).   I often address parent’s worries with a “What IF” scenario.  I ask, “What’s your biggest fear about Thanksgiving?”   The top 3 concerns are as follows:

 

What IF Junior won’t take a bite of Aunt Betty’s famous green bean casserole?

It’s not about the bite, it’s about wanting Aunt Betty’s approval.   Focus on what Junior CAN do.  If he can sprinkle the crispy onion straws on top of Betty’s casserole, call Betty ahead of time and ask if he can have that honor.  Explain how you would love for him to learn to eventually enjoy the tradition of the green bean casserole and his feeding therapist is planning on addressing that skill in time.  But, for now, she wants him to feel great about participating in the process of creating the green bean masterpiece.  If Junior can’t bear to touch the food because he is tactile defensive, what can he do?  Pick out the serving dish perhaps and escort Aunt Betty carrying the dish to the table?  Taking the time to make Aunt Betty feel special by showing interest in her famous dish is all Betty and Junior need to feel connected.

 

What IF Grandpa Bob reprimands Junior for “wasting food” or not eating?

Keep portions presented on the plate quite small – a tablespoon is fine.  Many families use ‘family-style” serving platters or buffet style, where everyone dishes up their own plate.  Practice this at home.  It’s not wasting food if Junior is practicing tolerating new foods on his plate.  That food went to good use!  If Grandpa Bob grew up during the Great Depression, this might be tough for him to understand.  If he reprimands Junior, change the subject and tell Junior your proud of him for dishing up one whole brussel sprout! That requires some expert balancing and stupendous spoon skills!

To continue reading, please click here to be redirected to ASHAsphere.

Finicky with Fruit?

Finicky with Fruit?
By Christie Caggiani, RDN, LD/N, CEDRD

Photo Credit: Tetra Pak via Compfight cc

When I was expecting our first child, I had visions of the utopian eating relationship he would have.  After all, I’m a nutritionist and I know the values of a balanced diet, the do’s and don’ts of introducing kids to new and exciting food, and the importance of family meals.  All I needed to do was be patient and continue exposing my little one to different items and he will eventually grow to like them.  I would make sure he fell in love with all things colorful and have a wide array of nutrients in his life.  End dream sequence.

 

While I was blessed with a fairly easy eater, the normal development of his personality led him to have…opinions.  Preferences.  Dislikes.  And his primary dislike around food was – horror of horrors – fruit! Really?  How could my child who loved berries and melon decide at about three years old that he was done with the sweet stuff?  And so we worked with it, and can now fast forward to the healthful existence of my 15 year old.

Photo Credit: athene.noctua via Compfight cc

How do you ensure that your child still includes a wide array of foods and is able to be a curious eater, if he tends to shun categories of food, such as fruit?  First, be careful to avoid labeling your child a “picky-eater”.  They are simply eaters making choices, and it’s our job as parents to keep presenting foods in ways that they can explore and gradually develop their own conclusions.  I have also found that approaching food from an adventurous angle, rather than a mission, not only engages kids, but also empowers them.

 

By noting your child’s preferences, you can begin to expand some of their choices.  While these ideas zero in on fruits, you may use the concepts to explore other food groups as well:

  • If your child has consistency or texture preferences, work with them.  It might be that a crunchy apple goes over much better than a soft banana.  A smoothie or 100% juice works beautifully if your little one doesn’t have “time” or a desire to chew their fruit.  Dried or dehydrated fruits are great for kids who may not enjoy the juiciness of the fresh version.
  • While we know that sweet is our first developed taste, some people may still have other taste preferences, finding certain flavors too strong.  Consider a juice that has veggie value, since they tend to be less intensely sweet.  A slightly green banana is a whole different experience from a fully ripened one.  You may also introduce ‘combo flavors’, such as some chocolate with those raisins, flavor-infused cranberries or Trader Joe’s chile dried mango for a kick.
  • Sometimes the temperature of our food makes all the difference.   While I love a good melon in any form, it’s particularly amazing when it’s cold.  Maybe your child likes grapes better at room temperature or completely frozen.  Keep some apples on the counter and some in the fridge, giving your child the opportunity to choose.
  • Toning down the intensity of the food exposure takes the pressure off. Don’t make it all about the fruit.  Try a handful of chopped apricot added to your couscous or my favorite: bananas &/or berries in the pancake batter.  Mixed in your blender, the kids will notice the sweet, but not be distracted by the pieces of fruit.

 

So while my son is still not a lover-of-fruit, I am convinced that the regular, non-pushy exposure to it will give him the willingness to eventually enjoy a little more of it some day.   As we enter fall, here are a couple of my favorite ways to add some fruit into our lives:

Photo Credit: elana’s pantry via Compfight cc

Easy Applesauce

  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I like to leave some of the peel on for more texture and nutrient value)
  • ¾ c water or 100% apple juice
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.  If you prefer a smoother consistency, use blender or food processor.

Photo Credit: [RAWRZ!] via Compfight ccApple Spice Mini Muffins

  • 2 cups peeled, cored and finely diced sweet-tart apples, such as Cortland
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup toasted, chopped unsalted pistachios nuts

Preheat oven to 325° F.  Coat two 12-cup mini-muffin pans with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, toss apples and sugar.  In a small bowl, whisk egg, oil and vanilla.  In another medium bowl, whisk flours, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg and salt.  Add egg mixture to apple mixture; stir to coat.  Mix in flour mixture, then fold in pistachios.  Divide batter among muffin cups, filling ¾ full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean, 10-13 minutes.  Let cool on wire rack.  Run a knife around edges to release.  Makes 24.

Recipes by Liza Schoenfein, EveryDay with Rachael Ray, October 2014

Fancy Fish Sticks

It was over a year ago that I wrote a blog on my sons’ eating habits and their preferences for frozen fish sticks. While their food preferences continue to develop and change, I have this recipe at the ready for a night when the boys want to join me in the kitchen and make homemade fish sticks.


Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise with olive or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Creole mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • Cooking spray (I like to use canola oil spray)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons creamy mustard blend (such as Dijonnaise)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
  • 1 pound halibut or other lean white fish fillets (such as cod or pollack), cut into 4 x 1-inch pieces (about 12 pieces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 lime wedges

Preparation

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cover and chill.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°.
  3. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, and spread evenly with oil; heat in oven 12 minutes.
  4. Combine flour and black pepper in a shallow dish. Combine 1/2 cup chicken stock, mustard blend, lime juice, egg whites, and egg in a shallow dish; stir with a whisk until foamy. Place panko, cumin, and chipotle pepper in a food processor; pulse 20 times or until coarse crumbs form. Place panko mixture in a shallow dish.
  5. Sprinkle fish evenly with salt. Working with one piece at a time, dredge fish in flour mixture. Dip in egg mixture, and dredge in panko mixture until completely covered.
  6. Remove preheated baking sheet from oven; place fish on pan, and return to oven. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork, turning once. Serve immediately with sauce and lime wedges.
  7. Sustainable Choice: If Pacific halibut is not available, you can use Alaskan pollack and U.S. Pacific cod as alternatives.

 

 

This recipe was adapted from Cooking Light, the original can be found here.

Does your child need a Speech Language Pathologist or an Occupational Therapist?

Behind their Bite: When your child needs more than mom?
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN and Mom

 

Is your kid a picky eater, or is something else going on?  Read on to learn if your child needs an evaluation by a speech and language pathologist or occupational therapist.

 

The logic behind why a child does or doesn’t eat something is difficult to understand. There is no clear and easy direction to point when determining the preferences of one taste or texture to another. In fact, there can actually be a variety of factors at play.

 

If your child is showing signs of picky eating alongside a series of additional symptoms, he/she may need more than mom. Symptoms would include hypersensitivity to textures, tags in clothing, delays in daily activities such as dressing, brushing teeth, sitting and standing, slow developmental skills in the classroom and with crafts, delayed or slurred speech, excessive drooling while eating, coughing while swallowing, and/or difficulty chewing and swallowing.

Photo Credit: whologwhy via Compfight cc

Ideally it is best to work with a team of health care professionals, who can help you assess if your child’s aversion to certain foods is more than picky eating. A team would consist of a pediatrician, a psychologist, a speech and language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a registered dietitian and of course, the parents. In the perfect situation the team would do the following:

Sample case: Greg, age 4, makes a horrible face each time he sees and tries broccoli. He will not swallow it and spits it out. Claims it hurts his stomach.

  • A doctor will test to make sure there isn’t an allergy or sensitivity causing the stomach pain.
  • A psychologist, if required, will consult with the doctor to see if there is any pattern of disordered eating or need for therapy.
  • A speech and language pathologist will assess his ability to swallow, chew, and move the food through his mouth and esophagus to make sure there are no issues with feeding and swallowing.
  • An occupational therapist, in this particular situation, will assess anything that ranges from the plate to the motion of putting food into the mouth and the various factors that may affect this.
  • Using all of this information, and barring any allergies/sensitivities, a dietitian will help to integrate this food into the child’s diet or help find an alternative nutrient and/or food sources to replace this food in his diet.
Photo Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov via Compfight cc

Realistically parents do not always have access to this kind of multidisciplinary team. Remember it that it takes roughly 10-15 tries before a child acclimates to a new food. If your parent’s intuition leads you to believe something else is getting in the way, use the tips below to determine who should evaluate your child’s eating.

  • Get Evaluated by a Speech and Language Pathologist if:
    • Coughing or choking upon swallowing
    • Gaging
    • Poor tongue motion or movement
    • Inability to close lips while chewing and swallowing
    • Non-food behaviors (that could indicate challenges in overall sensory integration or motor planning affecting eating):
      • Hypersensitive to textures (e.g. Avoids “messy” crafts or toys such as painting, glue, play dough, sand box)
      • Hypersensitive to tags in clothing
      • Delays in other daily living activities (dressing, brushing teeth, climbing in and out of chair, manipulating toys, writing, cutting with scissors)
      • Late talkers
      • Excess drooling
      • Articulation errors (unclear speech)

 

  • Get Evaluated by a Occupational Therapist if:
    • Hypersensitivity to taste, texture, or tags
    • Refusal or inability to lift silverware
    • Refusal or inability to eat
    • Spiting food out
    • Throwing food
    • Any mechanical or behavioral interruption of feeding before consumption of food
    • Delays in development
      • Dressing
      • Brushing teeth
      • Climbing in and out of chair
      • Manipulating toys
      • Writing
      • Cutting with scissors, crafts

 

Look out for clues that suggest there may be a swallowing disorder or an inhibition restricting your child to self-feed outside of just being a picky eater. And remember, sometimes people just don’t like certain flavors or textures—and maybe that is what’s behind their bite.

 

Is your child a picky eater? What signs do they show that they dislike food, taste, or texture? 

Mother’s Day Dinner

Mother’s Day Dinner:
A perfect opportunity for every picky kids’ food issues to surface.
By Laura Cipullo, RD CED CEDRD CDN and Mom

For Mother’s Day, we went to Marc Forgione’s American Cut—a very fancy steak place. The décor was beautiful and masculine. The food—well, just incredible, as expected! Normally, I would not bring my kids to such an expensive restaurant but they are usually pretty cheap eaters. And it was Mother’s Day as well as our family’s celebration of my birthday which was the day before.

 

Bread

First, we were served an “everything” biscuit with vegetable cream cheese. The boys quickly grabbed the biscuits (despite all of the seeds on top) and took giant bites. And they both quickly realized they didn’t like what they were tasting! Not one bit! That was the end of their bread experience for the night. Meanwhile, I thought the biscuits were so delicious that I ate two!

 

Menu Selection

There was absolutely nothing listed on the menu that my younger son Billy would eat—and, of course, the bread was no longer an option. But oh, there were French fries—something to save the meal! But I was only saved until the fries arrived at our table. They were large slices of potatoes—heavily salted and spicy. Billy did try them, but nope, they were just not his thing. As usual in a situation like this, he sat happily in his seat but ate nothing. We played “tic tac toe” and he loved the evening.

Dinner Served

My older son Bobby had filet mignon. Now, I did not buy him his own steak, rather I know he eats only an ounce of steak at a time so my husband cut him a slice of filet from his dish. Bobby noticed that the meat was softer than usual. He asked if it was a different steak. I explained that it was filet mignon—a very good, very tender cut of meat, thus very soft.

 

So I watched Bobby performing his normal routine when chewing steak and even chicken. He munched on a bite for what seemed like five to ten minutes. (A homeopathic MD might say this is great as one should be chewing food at least 30 times per bite.) However, I find this similar to a toddler who plans to pocket the food in his/her mouth. Without jumping to any conclusions, I simply observed and he did eventually swallow. I know it’s purely because meat has a different feel and can truly be difficult to chew.

 

I remember hating steak for this very same reason. Who wants to work that hard to eat? Not me! I don’t even want to debone my fish, nonetheless eat chewy meat. Bobby recognized that this meat was softer and I assumed it meant he’d take a few less chews. Nope! I guess it really is just what it is. I’m just happy he eats some form of high quality (biological value) protein.

 

I also ordered cavatelli for Bobby. No sauce. No butter. No anything! He ate a few pieces and then said it tasted funny. It sure did; it had butter on it. I wasn’t going to return it though. So I ate it. I asked him to eat a few bites and finish the rest of his steak. And he was content. The boys just really like going to fancy restaurants with great fancy décor. Most especially, they really like the fancy-looking desserts!!

Dessert

The boys’ favorite time of the meal had finally arrived! Of course, they didn’t want to actually eat the fancy desserts. They just like their desserts to look fancy! Bobby ordered peanut ice cream with chocolate sauce; for Billy, I ordered sweet cream—the closest flavor to vanilla. Billy also decided to eat the peanut brittle that came with his grandparents’ Cracker Jack Sundae. Bobby wouldn’t even try! Mind you, Billy wouldn’t try the cavetalli –or even guacamole when we ate out on Friday night.

 

Well my super taster, Bobby, noticed right away that he was served the wrong ice cream. They accidently had given him coffee ice cream. And it happened twice! He finally got his peanut ice cream and chocolate sauce. Meanwhile, Billy gleefully spooned up his sweet cream and chocolate sauce. The boys were in ice cream heaven and so was I. I ate the scoops of coffee Stracciatella ice cream!

It was truly a wonderful evening and a positive eating experience too, but…

 

Two Points:

Despite constant role modeling and their continuous exposure to all foods, my sons purely prefer plain and simple foods. Ironically, it remains beneficial for me to continue the positive food role modeling and exposure to all foods. Why? Because that’s how Bobby began to eat steak and Billy had the desire to try both the bread and the peanut brittle.

 

So, moms and dads, keep trying to do what you know is best for your kids. Recognize that your food and nutrition efforts are realized in sometimes very small ways over many years of positive reinforcement. You are not wasting your money! When your children don’t eat their meals or don’t like particular foods, you are helping your children create opportunities to neutralize foods and flavors, create positive food memories, and ultimately learn what they truly like to eat.

Real Mom Question – Real Mom Answer

Photo Credit: Wendy Copley via Compfight cc

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.

Photo Credit: CarbonNYC via Compfight cc

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.

The Picky Eater Chronicles

The Picky Eater Chronicles

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Let’s set the scene. Just two years ago, my kids refused to eat turkey and mashed potatoes as well as all the other traditional Thanksgiving fixings. Well, we’ve come a long way during the past two years as my children tasted, refused and sometimes even protested about trying new foods. But this past Thanksgiving served as a milestone holiday for my family.

My older son Bobby ate turkey, corn and mashed potatoes. Although the food was neutral in color, it was a big step forward. Remember that two years ago, he refused all of the Thanksgiving holiday foods. I did bring my younger son Billy foods I knew he liked because I know he will simply refuse to eat rather than try something new at someone else’s suggestion.

I brought Billy a PB and jelly sandwich, sweet potato cranberry Squeezer, dried mango and freeze-dried peaches. He sat next to his father and his pop. I heard Pop (my father) tell him he needed to eat animal protein to grow tall and be strong. His cousins chimed in to say he already was super strong…especially while playing football earlier that day. Meanwhile, my husband’s father expressed his bewilderment about how my son could even grow at all while eating these foods.

Well, I love—not!—how everyone thinks that it’s okay to comment about my son’s food intake. I could easily comment on everyone else’s food choices and behaviors around eating but I don’t. My Billy quietly took it all in and happily ate his sandwich. Mind you, when it was time for dessert, both of my kids refused the pies and the cheesecake. They chose to eat ice cream…and left without a fuss.

So while Bobby’s intake certainly has improved, it’s not a nutrition regimen to brag about even though he’s come a long way. It just makes me happy to have an easy, protest-free meal. Meanwhile, my younger Billy, the pickier of the two from the very start, continues to need lots of exposure to new foods. But kids are funny; you just can’t force this issue.

Later on Thanksgiving night, I talked with Billy and told him I was okay with his food choices. I said it may be true that he might be a little taller if he chose to eat a bigger variety of foods…especially foods with more protein. I asked if he was interested in trying more foods… particularly if we kept his attempts just between us. He smiled his devilish smile and we hugged.

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After food shopping on Sunday, I gave both boys half a bagel with cream cheese and jelly. And that’s when the drama began! I was simply asking them to try one bite… one lick…one touch…one anything! Bobby took a bite, said it was okay, but wanted his grilled cheese sandwich. So I made him his grilled cheese sandwich. Billy, on the other hand, carried on and on…until he finally tried it…but not before breaking down in tears. Actually, I really do think he liked it, but I doubt he will ever admit that he did. So, what was supposed to be a neutral and calm tasting experience became emotionally heightened—probably more harmful than helpful. I made turkey tacos for dinner that night. Bobby said he would try a taco but freaked out when I added the fixings. He went into a total tail spin. Meanwhile, Billy ate the taco shell in pieces and dipped his finger in the guacamole and held the black beans. That was a huge success—a giant step for Billy. Bobby continued his rant until I asked if there was a part of the taco he might be willing to eat. He chose the turkey meat.

So I sat there with them while they finished eating; my husband and I were already done eating by that point. And then I grabbed a clementine…and enjoyed it even more because the boys joined me. The three of us happily peeled, shared and ate about four clementines. So what started as just another challenging meal time ended up being fun and fruitful. I do wish these special moments with my sons could be tear free, but I guess life would be far too easy then!