National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 22nd to 28th 2015. This year’s theme is “I Had No Idea…”Help spread the word with our body positive t-shirts! Awareness and education can help prevent eating disorders. Show your support by wearing “All Foods Fit and All Bodies Fit” and that you can “Eat Kale and Cupcakes!”
So Valentine’s Day is coming up. How are you thinking of showing your love? Do your children celebrate in school? I ask you to take some time to think, “Does your child equate Valentine’s Day with chocolate hearts?” or the message of “We show love with candy?” If your child associates holidays or even birthdays with food/candy, especially “treats,” now is the time to create a new healthy association.
So why I am saying this? Because when kids equate food with love, they may eventually look to food for love when they are lonely, feel empty, and/or feel sad. This situation can domino as an adult and even turn into emotional eating and binge eating. Ideally, we teach kids that food and feelings should not be merged, well not all of the time anyway. Rather, food is fuel for wellness, and feelings are feelings that are best managed with coping skills.
This holiday, show your love with hugs and kisses! Plan a special night for the whole family.
Give your child a card that lists all the reasons why you love them. Gift them a heart picture frame with a family picture. Can you share some chocolate? Well, of course you can! The idea is to teach your child how to express love and celebrate in meaningful and truly special ways. Ideally you want your child to equate love with family or something kind, but not just food.
Here are some ideas to create new Valentine’s Day traditions!
- Create construction paper flowers with your children: on each petal, you and your child can write what makes him/her special and unique.
- Practice kindness for the fourteen days leading up to Valentine’s Day. Remember that actions speak louder than words.
- Frame and gift a picture of the family doing something together that everyone loves.
- Plan a family outing on Valentine’s Day to go ice skating or bowling in honor of celebrating your love and the love of life.
- Hang a chalkboard in your kitchen with all the ways that your family can express love.
- Think of what makes you feel good inside and incorporate that into your family.
- Ask teachers at school to have parents come in to read books about love and kindness rather than giving bags of chocolate
- Send cards to family and friends listing all the fun times you have shared.
- Turn off you iPhones, screens, and mind! Just devote the night to your child/children. Play games, read, and just be together.
You can fill in the rest. Let us know what #10 is for you.
The above may not be for everyone, but it is definitely one of the many things I want to do for my kids and clients, with the hope that they never have to experience disordered eating and/or an eating disorder.
“What’s For Dessert?”
By Adina Pearson, RDN of Healthy Little Eaters
Why I Serve Dessert With The Meal
In most households, dessert is served at the end of the meal. When everyone has gotten their fill of the main course and sides and is patting their full tummy in satisfaction, the hostess clears the table, vanishes into the kitchen, and then reappears flashing a proud smile as she presents…DESSERT: The decadent reward for getting full on nutrition! The hard work is done, you may now enjoy a moment of pleasure.
^Not teaching that lesson is one reason why we now serve dessert with the meal in our house. I don’t want to teach the unintended lesson that dessert is for full bellies. I want my children to stay tuned in to their signals of fullness and satisfaction. Sweets are desirable enough to children that they can learn to override their fullness if they have to do it to get cookies–especially if cookies are scarce. A small study in Appetite demonstrated that kids will eat more calories in order to squeeze in dessert if it was served at the end of the meal. The study authors interpreted the results as a way to help kids eat fewer calories. But that’s not really what I take from this. I’m not into micromanaging calories because I think kids do an adequate job of regulating themselves when they get reliable meals and snacks. What I take from this is that the way we feed our kids can either support their natural self-regulation and ability to respect their fullness or it can teach them to overeat to get what they really want. My personal experience is that if they know it’s coming, they’ll just get antsy at the table or become preoccupied enough with the-sweet-thing-to-come that they won’t stop to eat the main meal. It certainly was the case with my 4 year old before we made the switch. But each child is different and older kids may be more willing to do the required ‘eat your veggies first’ work in order to win pie at the end.
That’s something else I don’t want to teach. I don’t want the meal to be considered ‘work’ while the dessert is elevated to a higher status. When it comes to picky eaters it is all too easy to slip into the dessert-for-broccoli power struggle: Okay, darling, eat another bite of your chicken and two more bites of your broccoli and then you can have dessert. I see this happen in the families who come to me for nutrition counseling. I see it happen with picky eaters whose parents are worried because of their low weight and with picky eaters whose parents are concerned because of their higher weight. It’s not working for either group. Broccoli is wonderful! Chicken is wonderful! Dessert is wonderful! Yet we certainly make a big deal out of sweets. When dessert is a reward it takes on more power. Kids are already naturally drawn to strong sweet flavors, we don’t need to make those sweet flavors into a bigger deal. Plus bribery & coercion as well as other types of pressuring kids to eat typically makes them eat worse, not better.
What If That’s All They Eat?
You might now be wondering, what if that’s all they eat? How can it be okay for kids to survive off of cake and cookies until their tastes mature? Well, for one thing, I don’t serve dessert at every meal or every day. How often you serve dessert is entirely up to you. And portion size matters because, it’s true, dessert may very well interfere with the nutrition of the meal if it is served ad libitum.
It’s Okay to Limit Dessert Served with a Meal
At meals we only serve one portion to each person at the table. And kids get a ‘child-size’ portion rather than a full adult portion (translate that to suit your preferences). It’s treated very much like a scarce food item (filet mignon, $9-a-pint raspberries, etc) and there are no seconds.
Some examples of portions I’ve served: 1 square of chocolate, a lollipop, small slice of pie/cake, 1 coconut macaroon, small brownie, 2-3 tiny candy pieces, teacup full of pudding, teacup full of yogurt mixed with fruit, 1/2 to 1 cupcake (depending on size).
If my kids want to start with their cookie, fine. I know it’s not all they will eat. And even if my kids gobble up their dessert and consequently decide they are done eating for the meal, they probably weren’t terribly hungry to begin with. If that is the case, without that dessert at the table, they would not have eaten much of anything anyway. The dessert didn’t ruin any appetites, it just masked their lack of appetite.
With my kids, it seems the presence of dessert actually warms them up to the idea of coming to the table and relaxes them immediately, improving their attitude about the meal overall. They don’t eat any worse, and possibly better with such a sweet ‘appetizer’ on the table. I love when I catch my oldest going back and forth between bites of dessert and bites of the meal.
Unlimited Portions as Snack
Any food that is scarce, especially one as desirable as sweets, can create a strong preoccupation in a child. For some kids with a strong sweet tooth, that desire or preoccupation can lead them to overeat the desired food when they get the chance. Serving only a small child-size portion of dessert creates a kind of scarcity. To mitigate this scarcity and to allow my kids a chance to regulate their own portion size of dessert, I will, occasionally, serve an unlimited portion of sweets at snack time. If snack time is appropriately timed (so it’s not too close to the next meal) it won’t interfere with meal food. Serve the dessert with a glass of milk (for example) and you’ve got a balanced snack.
I have to admit, the first candy experiment left me practically biting my fingernails as I waited for my daughter to complete her snack. But with each ‘ad lib sweet snack’ I’ve served, I’ve never ever been disappointed in my kids’ ability to stop. They have never eaten a whole cake, half a cake, or even a quarter of a cake. And I’m confident that my trusting them teaches them to trust themselves around sweets. After all we have serious structure in place. Eating happens seated at the table, not running around. Eating happens at set meal and snack times, there’s no all-day grazing. And I get to choose how often I serve various foods. But within that structure, the freedom of the Division of Responsibility, teaches some important lessons that I don’t think I could teach if I micromanaged every bite.Photo Credit: chotda via Compfight cc
How Often Should Dessert Be Served?
Honestly, I think only you can answer this question for yourself and your family. I love desserts and baked goods. I love chocolate. I could live without them, but I sure prefer not to. For me I serve dessert often enough for us. I know I’ve gone perhaps too long when my kids start begging for dessert–or if I’m longing for it. And if I serve something sweet just to keep them from feeling too deprived, it doesn’t take much to accomplish my task.
Adina Pearson, RDN has been a registered dietitian for 12 years. Before having children of her own, she had no interest in pediatric nutrition. Kids change things! She’s now most thrilled when she sees a child patient on her schedule. Her new passion for helping parents feed their kids well inspired her to start a facebook page and blog. More recently, she has started an online toddler feeding course in collaboration with another dietitian. Adina lives in southeastern Washington with her husband, two kids, and two labradoodles. To read more on Adina head to her website: www.HealthyLittleEaters.com
An Inconvenient Life
A guest post written by: Rebecca Weiss
Photo Credit: VinothChandar via Compfight cc
After living in New York City for a few years I had a pretty iron-clad approach to walking in the city, I would cross the street at the corners that provided me the most direct path, and I would become really irritated if construction or a bunch of other pedestrians required me to cross at the north corner when I needed to go south. Having to cross back over, or even waiting for the light to get where I needed would drive me crazy. I’m wasting time here! This is so inefficient!
In my career I’ve faced this irritation too. Why don’t we have a separate drawer in the printer for letterhead? Why do I have to hand-feed these sheets of paper? At home, it was: Why not clear the table and start the dishwasher during the dinner party? Why does minute rice take 20 minutes to cook? I have to admit I’m often impatient, and I know it turns some people off.
Aside from the interpersonal issues this might bring up, my impatience has become a big part of my struggles to get fit and make better food choices for myself. Oh, would I complain bitterly when the escalators at Penn Station weren’t working. I could justify having pizza for dinner more than once a week because it’s more easily delivered than, say, a grilled tuna wrap.
Now, I won’t say I’m a Zen master, but by accepting an inconvenient lifestyle, I’ve gotten much healthier.Photo Credit: Seite-3 via Compfight cc
First of all, I always take the stairs now. If you want a benchmark for your fitness level, forget the scale, or your pants size, and try climbing the same sets of stairs every day. I can see a continued improvement in my ability to climb the stairs in my daily commute, and I have the additional benefit of avoiding those long lines for the escalators. And, I like to think that all that stair climbing helps supplement my workouts on days I don’t get a chance to ride my exercise bike.
We’ve all heard about how fast food is one cause of the obesity epidemic in our country, and the main reason people eat it, I think, is convenience. But, you know what, there are lots of restaurants around that make fresh, healthier food, and if they don’t deliver, or you have to drive or walk to get them, maybe that’s not a bad thing.
Getting out of your car to order, pick up and pay for your coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts may actually save you calories. Waiting in line, thinking about whether you need a box of Munchkins to snack on, might actually change your mind. But, in the car, reading emails and ordering to the voice in the box at the drive thru? Well, why not add some more sweets to the order?
Having kids and commuting to work, I really value having trusted people who help us out around the house. But, you know what some of the best exercise is? Mowing your own lawn. Raking your own leaves. Painting your own walls. Walking your own dog. When I consider that I’m actually accomplishing multiple goals at once: Getting the closet painted, saving money and getting a good arm workout, I realize I am being quite efficient.
I also think about what my impatience teaches my kids. Do I want them to learn to always choose the easiest, fastest option? Isn’t it my job to show them that hard work, patience and follow through are the best ways to accomplish important goals? It’s easy to see how this plays out for them with food, too. Yes, we all love those sweet slices of lemon loaf or pumpkin bread at Starbucks, but how much more satisfying is homemade banana bread? We can take those mushy bananas on the counter at home, add our own ingredients, wait for it to bake, and at the end we have a house filled with a wonderful aroma, the excitement of pulling out the loaf and slicing it, and something equally tasty—without any mystery ingredients. We may have spent an hour on something that would otherwise take two minutes, but I think the end result is sweeter because we made it ourselves.
Yesterday, my son was home from school and I thought, what better way to spend the afternoon with him than to do one of his favorite activities together…baking! Except this time, it was a different kind of baking; a cake in a mug that you can make under 10 minutes. (Yes, it’s true!) Aside from the speed and ease of baking mug cakes, the time you spend in the kitchen with your kids can be a fun way to introduce new (and old) foods to your kids, have them practice their hand at measuring ingredients and most importantly, build healthy habits.
So, get ready to make a new kind of cake with us! All you need is a mug, a microwave, and a few ingredients to follow along. And if you want to enter for a chance to win your own copy of the Mug Cakes cookbook by Leslie Bilderback, click here to enter our Mug Cakes Giveaway!
To watch Laura and Liam bake together, click each image below.
Oh my gosh…so much is happening in our kitchen lately! And it’s happening so fast that I barely have time to blog about all of it. The long and short of it: MY KIDS ARE ACTUALLY BECOMING ADVENTUROUS EATERS! Can you believe that? I know we have much more work to do, but trust me on this. If you have a kid who eats just five foods only, don’t despair. Get working on changing that routine and give it time. Lots of time…and no expectations. Just let him or her come to the table and then allow curiosity to take over. I promise you that one day instinctive curiosity will change everything.
So here’s what just happened. As we were heading out to the suburbs on July 4th to celebrate the holiday with our family, my son Bobby said to me, “Mom, I want to try a cheeseburger.” Since we were bringing steak to the Independence Day event, I figured he would be eating steak for dinner. So I asked him, “Do you want to go to Shake Shack one day?” Shake Shack is a famous burger joint here in Manhattan that one of Bobby’s best buddies frequents. It’s also right near our apartment. I figured this might be why he was asking. But no, he said he wanted me to make a burger for him and add some cheese. Simple enough. I said I would do that.
Well, as it turned out, I didn’t have to! In addition to steak with chimichurri sauce for our July 4th celebratory dinner, my sister also made cheeseburgers and hot dogs. Not exactly my choice of fare; I wanted the steak! But I seized the moment and asked Bobby if he wanted to split a burger with his cousin. And, as you might be guessing, he said yes. He then proceeded to eat the entire burger (well, his half)!
Note to fanatic moms and dads: The ground beef was only 80% lean and the burger was served on a white bun with American cheese…a bona fide “sometimes” food. But never mind the ingredients, I was none the less happy because he tried it…and actually ate it. This is a serious, positive accomplishment for Bobby! My hubby and I were sitting at a different table elbowing each other to acknowledge (and cheer the fact) that he was trying new foods. Of course, we played it as cool as possible by not making a scene about it with him or in front of others.
This is just one recent change we’ve noted with unabashed admiration—embracing new foods is a giant step our little guys have taken along their way to becoming “big” boys. What pleasure it gives us to see them feel confident enough to explore different foods. I guess miracles do happen! Or perhaps it’s just time, patience, and constant exposure.
But then…the adventurous new world of food exploration screeched to a complete stop! On Sunday this past week, thinking I would make Bobby a healthier cheese burger, I bought 90% lean grass-fed beef as well as ground white chicken. I made tacos for my hubby and me, but figured it was safer to give Bobby the ground meat in cheeseburger form. And of course, because I’m not perfect, I didn’t think about getting hamburger buns. So, I just confidently placed his burger on whole wheat bread. Bobby said: “This is not a cheeseburger. This is a breadburger. Cheeseburgers come on rolls. I do not eat breadburgers!” And that was that! We were right back at square one (not really). Bobby made himself a bowl of cereal and his burger was never eaten. He did take one bite and then told me it was awful. But as I’m writing this now, I’m still smiling because it’s truly funny to watch my son be so dramatic and so picky, yet so sweet and brave.
The story does not end here though. Next week, you can read about our family date night! Mexican food is on the menu! What will my boys eat?
Like so many things affecting their children, parents tend to disagree on whether sex, sexual orientation or religion should be taught in school. Well, this mom (and an RD) often wonders if nutrition should be taught in school.
Teachers are not experts in nutrition nor are they educated about pediatric or adult nutrition as part of their college curriculums. Yet, many classroom teachers are giving lessons on “calories, good and bad foods, and even having students log their foods to see why they are so fat.” And I’m not making this stuff up. My client’s mother recently told me exactly what her daughter’s teacher had said to the class. If you’ve been reading my blogs regularly, you’ll easily imagine that at this point my nails are, at least figuratively, scratching the chalkboard!
Stop! Hold on just a minute! Do we even realize that these kinds of discussions and activities help create little food police and body dysmorphia? Moms, dads, teachers and kids: Do you know how many calories you burn in 24 hours? In 168 hours? Do teachers know how many calories kids are burning…especially since every kid hits puberty at a slightly different age? We typically do not know these answers; nor should we be obsessing with them. Also, do we really know if the calories on a package are correct? News flash: They are not being regulated and/or checked for accuracy! So why are we relying so heavily on these external measures? Be cautious and recognize that this black and white/all or none mindset is an unhealthy one. Instead, think about using an internal regulation system and try eating nutrient dense foods the majority of the time.
Most importantly, please know that foods are not “good” or “bad.” How can food be a moral issue? When you teach your children or your students that a particular food is “bad,” think about how they’ll feel if they eat the food. That’s right. They’ll not only feel bad and guilty; they’ll also probably start to hide these foods. Instead, try to make all foods neutral. For example, teach children that milk is milk. It’s a dairy product that is high in calcium and protein and comes from cows. Broccoli is a food that grows up from the ground and helps our bodies fight getting sick. Because foods vary in nutrient density, our bodies and kids’ growing bodies need certain foods more often to meet specific demands. You can describe each food’s nutrient density or just call them “everyday” foods or “sometimes” foods as described in my book, The Mommy Manual’s Healthy Habits.
And why are some adults teaching kids to identify how “fat” they are? Our children are already being bullied by their peers…and now they’re learning to tell themselves how bad they are! I say this because our society (not me personally) continually states (overtly or covertly) that “fat” is “bad”! Why don’t we teach children how healthy they are or how special they are?
Even First Lady Michelle Obama is singing this new tune. She has been quoted saying she does not discuss weight with her daughters, nor does she weigh them.
So, why not use something like what the children’s nutrition tracker calls “An Apple A Day”; it motivates our youngsters to eat their veggies and be active. My boys love this tool and have actually turned eating and being healthy into a friendly competition.
Meanwhile, it’s not just one misguided teacher who shares this “good” and “bad” food misinformation. Even one of my son’s teachers labels certain foods as “treats.” I have told my son I will no longer acknowledge this word as it indicates something special. For example, ice cream is a snack choice, not a special reward. The point here is that nutrition is a sensitive issue…especially in my world where I am privy to the teary-eyed triggers that influence the development of eating disorders. And yes, binge eating is an eating disorder. Most adults don’t have their own nutrition needs in order, so it’s particularly scary to me as a mom (and as an RD who cares about her clients) that nutrition education is being taught without regard to both biology and psychology.
I know…quit my yapping and do something! Right? Well I did…and I continue to do! First, I’ve educated my sons’ school on appropriate food language and they’ve made this information part of their Health and Wellness Curriculum. I recently planted strawberries with the students and talk food and nutrition with them on a regular basis. Second, and on a much greater scale, I’ve finally finished my 8-week plan for creating healthy habits for children. The complete program is available to download. Moms, dads and teachers alike can use this book for lesson plans and nutrition education on subjects such as what carbohydrates are or what qualifies as an “everyday” food. In short, teachers can teach about nutrition but should consider using a positive approach and promoting things kids can do rather than what they shouldn’t be doing. For instance, my sons’ school just made pancakes with blueberries and did a “dairy study”. The result: My picky boys came home eating blueberries and having tried goat’s milk. Now that’s what I call a beautiful educational experience!
So what do you think? Is nutrition education appropriate for school?
What positive programs are your schools implementing?
Would you like to share your nutrition education success?
Meringue Pie Crust (one 9-inch crust)
2 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 tsp teaspoon salt
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is very stiff and glossy. Rub a little of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger and see if the mixture feels gritty, if so continue to beat until smooth, this will mean the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the vanilla extract and mix in well.
Spread mixture into the prepared pan forming a shell by spreading the mixture up the sides of the pie plate. Bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the meringue crust in the oven for another hour. Remove from oven and allow it to cool completely.
1 ¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cup water
½ cup lemon juice, fresh
zest of 4 lemons
4 egg yolks
2 tbsp butter
4 egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup of powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Whisk the sugar, corn starch, and salt together. Whisk in the water, lemon juice, and zest. Whisk the egg yolks until no streaks remain and then add to the lemon mixture. Place the filling mixture in a large pot over medium heat. Add the butter. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Let cook for an additional minute. Filling should be very thick. Pour the filling into the warm crust and lay plastic wrap down onto the filling. Beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Add the sugar very gradually, then beat on high until the peaks are stiff and glossy, but not dry. Add the vanilla extract and beat for another few seconds.
Pour the thickened lemon mixture onto the meringue crust. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool to cut.
The creator of MomDishesItOut — savvy city mom and registered dietitian Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, has developed The Mommy Manual’s Healthy Habits. This healthy-eating and physical activity workbook can be used by coaches, school teachers or even parents teaching nutrition. Through this approach, you will understand the difference between an “everyday” food vs. a “sometimes” food. With a mission to help children develop a positive relationship with eating and a neutral relationship with food, the Healthy Habits approach provides honest, credible, and fun health education. This week, one lucky winner will receive a free copy of Healthy Habits!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Mommy Manual’s Healthy Habits!
Enter by one of the following ways. You can submit more than one entry by doing any of the following. Just be sure to leave an additional comment letting us know you did! Good luck!
- Leave a comment here and “Like us” on our Facebook page
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We’d love to hear what your thoughts! Giveaway ends on Sunday, April 28th at 5:00 PM EST.