Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is a classic Middle Eastern salad made with fresh herbs like parsley, mint & tomatoes. Serve this tart salad with a scoop of hummus and warm pita!

 INGREDIENTS ( Makes 8 servings)

1 cup bulghur wheat

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts

1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, finely chopped

2 cups cherry tomatoes, finely chopped

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

METHOD

Bring water to a boil. Add bulgur  lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to a large bowl.  Pour boiling water over bowl and allow to stand at room temperature for about 45 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, vinegar, and  2 teaspoons salt. Cover and refrigerate. When bulgur has absorbed all of the liquid, add it to the bowl. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately or chilled. with whole wheat pita bread.

100 Is the Loneliest Number

Several years ago, after I got married and settled into my current job, I started experiencing asthma-like attacks. I’d be walking home on a cold night and the next thing I knew I’d be trying to clear my throat and find that I wasn’t able to. I’d have a dry cough, a wheeze, and sweat pouring down my forehead. If I ran across the street because the walk signal was changing, I’d spend the next five minutes trying to catch my breath, sometimes finding that I couldn’t. I ended up in the emergency room two or three times. I started seeing a new doctor who put me on Advair. I worried that I would be asthmatic for the rest of my life—or at least every allergy season.

My doctor had another suggestion: he told me to lose 100 pounds. Well, what he actually said was, “you need to lose 50 to 100 pounds.” I was floored. Fifty to 100 pounds? Although his voice remained flat, it felt like an indictment. Like I was guilty of some horrible crime, and he was condemning me.

I confess that what followed was a long period of denial. I searched my reflection in the mirror, and didn’t see that I was overweight. Or at least not so heavy that I should have trouble breathing. I still looked like me, and I enjoyed dressing in cute clothes from Old Navy and the Gap. I needed to lose 100 pounds? Really? I thought about Richard Simmons, I thought about diet plans and exercise DVDs and gastric bypass surgery, and I wondered, am I going to have to do all of that?

Around the same time, my husband and I started trying to get pregnant. We gave it a few months and found it wasn’t happening easily. Consultations with specialists led to a similar recommendation: Lose weight—as much as you can. No constructive advice beyond that. There must be a sense among those in the medical community—and maybe even more widely—that overweight people know why we’re heavy and what we’re doing to cause it, and that we can just decide to stop that behavior. It’s as though they think we’re all hiding Oreos under our beds or having lunch at McDonald’s every day. I have never been a junk-food junkie, and I had absolutely no idea how to lose weight

I wanted to have a baby so badly that I did the best I could. I gave up pizza. I skipped meals. I ate mostly salads. And, I grumbled. I felt deprived and I’d get angry when family members arranged dinners at Italian restaurants where I stared at the food telling myself I wasn’t allowed to eat it. I lost about 15 pounds. And then I had a baby. And then I had another. And then I was out of the baby-making business and back where I started. The weight came back and I was back on Advair. When I looked in the mirror all I could see was someone who needed to lose 100 pounds.

I didn’t want to go back to withholding my favorite foods from myself—that had felt awful. I couldn’t let the denial derail me, either. So, this is what I told myself: Right now I am where I am. I can see myself as I am. And, I want to be the best version of myself I can be.

I found a dietician, bought an exercise bike and installed a calorie-counting app on my iPhone. In time I learned that losing weight wasn’t about withholding food from myself. I didn’t have to give up pizza. What I had to give up was the shame. Seriously. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. So true, I’ll say it again: Give up the shame. I saw that the only way I was going to change my weight was to change my thinking.

My biggest breakthrough came when I attended a support group with other women who had food and eating issues—including some who withheld food from themselves. I was so amazed to see what we had in common. The denial. The voices in our heads telling us not to eat the foods we craved. The feeling of being alone. I told everyone there that my doctor wanted me to lose 100 pounds. I said it out loud. I’m even saying it here, because I am no longer ashamed of it. That 100-pound benchmark no longer feels like a curse or a judgment. It’s just one doctor’s recommendation for optimizing my health.
After getting an exercise routine going and finding foods that made me feel satisfied and nourished, I saw a marked improvement in my overall health. Maybe I’ll lose 100 pounds over time. Maybe not. But, every day I am where I am. I am the best version of myself that I can be right now. And, I can breathe!

 

About Rebecca: 

Rebecca Weiss is a writer, mom of two, and director of communications for a New York City auction house. In 2012 she started a fitness and wellness journey. She is a monthly contributor to Mom Dishes It Out.

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake

Just like the series of books by Laura Numeroff , if you give a kid a cupcake, there’s more meaning in that one cupcake than just the fact of being a cupcake! In our “Something More Than Fish” blog post, we discussed a similar concept. Today, however, we’re using “cupcakes” to help parents determine when and where certain kinds of foods should be eaten. Think back for a moment. Did you label a cupcake as “good” or “bad” or perhaps just a “treat” the last time you served one? Was it a “reward” for finishing dinner or simply a nighttime “snack”? Moral judgments—good or bad, food rewards, and dieting/restricting specific foods—are not recommended for children or even for adults. All of these judgments lead to adopting the moral label of the food eaten, eating for external reasons (not hunger/fullness), binge eating, and food sneaking. But don’t get discouraged or overwhelmed by these concepts. What I find works best with my kids and my clients—whether 10- or 40-years old—is to encourage that all foods be eaten some of the time. It’s a powerful tool for everyone! When your children are at a birthday party or grandma’s house—or adults are out with friends—they can self-regulate portions and eat to feel energized rather than deal with food, eating or weight issues. Not only will this free your children, but it will also free you from worrying about what happens when they go to their best friends’ houses and are served chips and even perhaps sodas! 

I’m not saying all foods are equal; there are foods higher in nutrition and others lower in nutrition. Please keep in mind, however, even “foods” like sugar candy or table sugar or soda (though I hate to admit it!) still provide nutrition in the form of energy—otherwise known as calories. To keep things simple in our home, we have identified foods as “everyday” foods and “sometimes” foods. Everyday foods are those that are nutrient dense, essential for growth and help to promote health and prevent disease. Whole-grain pumpkin pancakes with dark chocolate chips, peanut butter, chicken, whole-wheat pasta, 2% and non-fat Greek yogurt, dried mango, hummus, spinach and apples fall under the “everyday” foods category. I mention these foods since my boys eat them almost daily.

The “sometimes” foods are lower in nutrition; they include cookies, puffs, booty, chips, candy, jello, cheese slices (processed cheese products—not 100% cheese), fake butter and such. You get the idea. These foods lack vitamins and minerals, are highly processed so you can’t actually call them “foods,” or are highly saturated in fat and promote heart disease.

 

Mind you, my kids and even I myself will eat “sometimes” foods…well, sometimes every day! The menu may look like sweet potato, kamut pancakes with dark chocolate chips and milk for breakfast; Annie’s whole-wheat mac & cheese mixed with spinach and two sides including apple slices and two cookies in their lunch box—followed by cupcakes with water or milk after school while on their way to sports class; and then real fish sticks, fruit, cheese, whole grain or white pasta (or spelt pretzels for my little one) for dinner; and a Greek yogurt for nighttime snack. And by the way, many times the cookies or muffins (pumpkin or corn) I send come back home with them. One may be eaten and the rest saved for later. This is one of the ways I know that food is neutral in my boys’ minds. They know “Hey, I don’t need to scarf it down!” because they can have it later. My daily intake would include the same pancakes for breakfast, lunch with my clients or a whole-grain wrap with cheese, avocado and tuna followed by a KIND bar and an apple. Dinner may be salmon, a whole grain and veggies made with olive oil plus a nighttime snack of a cupcake.

Every day is different for me as it is with my kids as well. The goal I keep in mind is wholesome, nutrient dense, and less processed foods 75% of the time, and the rest, well, I just enjoy! But I do make sure to use portion control via internal regulation—mindful or intuitive eating. I stock my house with “everyday” foods such as fruits, veggies, eggs, whole grains, olive oil, cheese, fish, and hummus. We do keep “sometimes” foods in the house…but just enough to last one week. I let the kids pick out their snacks at Whole Foods—perhaps puffs, cookies, or mini cupcakes. Too many choices mean too many decisions for little kids. Try to keep snack options and/or packaged foods to less than five in your cupboard. 

The concept here is to provide wholesome nutrition the majority of the time…and don’t worry the rest of the time. As a parent, it’s your job to keep the kitchen stocked with nutrient dense choices and give your children the tools and the options to eat “sometimes” foods. You’ll be helping your children create positive relationships with eating and neutral relationships with the foods they eat. So go ahead. Stock your home with wholesome foods and produce. Serve balanced meals…and be worry free when feeding your children cupcakes and or apples for snacks this week!

Snack: It's Not A Five-Letter Word

“Know that there are no ‘good’ snacks or ‘bad’ snacks. To develop a healthy and neutral relationship with food, incorporate all foods in moderation.” – Laura Cipullo, RD

By Guest Blogger: Rebecca Weiss

When I was growing up every woman I knew was on a diet. My mother, my grandmother, my aunt, my next-door neighbor, my babysitters… And while each of them had their own approach—the grapefruit diet, the no white food diet, the fruit and rice diet—they all shunned one common evil: Snacking. Yes, all of your weight problems could be traced back to between-meal snacks. Snacks were bad. Snacks were a sign of your lack of willpower. Snacks were making you fat.

My mother made sure we never had cookies or junk food in the house, lest my brother and I snack on them when we came home from school in the afternoons. Instead there were whole-wheat crackers, peanut butter, and fruit. But I avoided them as much as I could, thinking that I was required to go without food until dinnertime, which was around 7 or 7:30 every night. Given that lunch was around noon, I would become very hungry after my walk home and then sit on the couch watching Charlie’s Angels re-runs trying not to think about the crackers in the kitchen.

More times than not, I broke down and had something to eat. And, in my hunger and feeling of “If I’m going to eat when I shouldn’t, I’m going to enjoy it,” I would grab the box of crackers and eat the whole thing. Or eat half a jar of peanut butter with a spoon. Then I felt guilty about my lack of willpower. 

Over the decades attitudes toward snacks and snacking changed. Suddenly snacks were allowed, even encouraged, because they helped keep blood sugar consistent during the day and kept you from feeling so hungry you’d be inclined to overeat. This was great news in a way, but I still didn’t know how to snack. Was a candy bar a snack? The ads on TV seemed to suggest that. What about Snackwells? Snack packs? Is anything with the word “snack” on it actually a good snack?

I remember when the first 100-calorie versions of popular cookies and crackers showed up. The problem with these was that somehow eating 100 calories worth of Oreos or 100 calories worth of Wheat Thins just made me feel more hungry. It would launch an entire afternoon of craving more sweet or more salty.

Working with a dietician helped me come up with healthy snacking strategies. First of all get rid of the guilt. Snacking isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s part of nourishing yourself. People who snack aren’t lacking willpower, they’re listening to their bodies and responding with something to alleviate real hunger.

Turns out, it wasn’t what I was eating that was undermining my good snacking habits, it’s what I wasn’t eating—protein. You don’t find much of that in a candy bar, or Oreos or Wheat Thins. And, that’s why those foods were just making me more hungry. Over time I came up with a list of go-to snack foods that always satisfy. These include Greek yogurt, low-fat string cheese (which is great with grapes or other fruit), microwaved edamame, and protein bars. While peanut butter is a good source of protein, I find I can’t stop eating it once I start, so I generally avoid it. Most of these snacks have between 140 and 200 calories a serving, which is better than 100 empty calories any day. And, none of them have the word “snack” on them.

 

About Rebecca: 

Rebecca Weiss is a writer, mom of two, and director of communications for a New York City auction house. In 2012 she started a fitness and wellness journey.

What this Mom Achieved in 2012: Rediscovering Food As Fuel, Not Comfort

Guest Blogger Rebecca W. shares her experience of having Gestational Diabetes twice, as well as the healthier lifestyle changes she’s made along her journey.

I had Gestational Diabetes—twice. That’s two times in my life that I have lived as a diabetic for weeks at a time. I counted carbs. I tested my blood sugar four times a day. I injected insulin before bedtime every night up until my scheduled c-sections.

During those times I enjoyed commiserating with other GD moms on chat boards and online forums. Much of the posts were venting along the lines of, “How do you have a baby shower and not eat a piece of cake?” There were long threads about what we would eat once our babies were born and the hormones causing our under-active pancreases leveled out. McDonald’s was high on the list for most, doughnuts, too. I just wanted a Carvel ice cream cake. And, once I was back home from the hospital, that’s exactly what I ate. Five nights in a row. For dinner.

Of course, food feels like a comfort at times like that. A newborn in the house, and the loss of personal freedom and spontaneity is a shock to the system. Add to that the nesting instinct, the fact that celebrations are usually accompanied by sweets, and the need to eat more calories so you have enough energy to breastfeed, and, basically, all of the lessons I learned while living with GD I unlearned quickly. Twice. The doctor’s cautions about how I now had a 50-50 chance of developing Type-2 diabetes? I put them out of my mind.

Life with small children can be a bit of a blur. My husband and I put most of our time and energy into feeding, bathing, shuttling, teaching and soothing our kids. We missed showers of our own, trips with friends, after-work drinks and time together as adults. Something we never skipped? Meals. In fact, going out to eat was one of the easiest activities for us. The kids loved to order food—even if they didn’t usually eat most of it—and they loved the attention of the waitstaff at most places, the crayons and the placemats with puzzles, the free sliced bananas they bring at Cheesecake Factory, and most of all, getting to watch videos on mommy or daddy’s phone while the adults have 10 minutes to talk without interruption. We stretched those meals out as much as we could, because once they were over it was back home to the messy living room, foiled naptimes and laundry.

I had a mental list of all the things I wanted to do in the hours after my kids went to bed: Take a yoga class, ride my exercise bike, keep a journal, have naked time with my husband, catch up with old friends over the phone, get a babysitter and see a movie. But I did none of these. Instead, every night for the better part of four years I put my kids to bed, sat down in front of the TV or the computer and ate bananas and peanut butter. The ritual of stirring the all-natural peanut butter and then drizzling it over the banana (or sometimes my fingers) was so pleasing I had no idea how much I was eating. And, because we buy almost everything at Costco, there was always at least one more jar in the cabinet.

There were mornings—at least once or twice a month—when I woke with what felt like a terrible hangover. I was headachy and nauseated. I couldn’t tolerate loud noises, needed to stay horizontal, went to the bathroom every 20 minutes. Were these migraines? Menstrual cycle-related episodes? I can’t say for sure, but once the 8 to 10 PM peanut butter binges stopped, so did the headaches.

In order to stop eating the peanut butter, I went through a multi-step process. First I had to acknowledge how much I was eating. I had to ask myself if I was eating because I was hungry, which led to admitting that although I was not indeed hungry, I was eating anyway. And then, the really hard part, I had to figure out the reasons I was eating the peanut butter: I was bored and felt deprived. I wanted something for myself. A treat. Something that was just for me.

I knew I had to find other ways of satisfying myself. And then I realized that I already had a list of them. I now ride my exercise bike five or six nights a week, regularly write in my journal, see my husband naked, and go to the movies almost every Thursday night. And when I talk to my old friends on the phone, I tell them about all of this because I know a lot of them are struggling too.

I’d like to say that I did all of this to counter those chances of acquiring Type-2 diabetes, but that wasn’t it. I did it because I wanted to feel better. I don’t have headaches anymore. I’m not bored or feeling deprived. I have things that are just for me, and they do make me feel better. If I was on one of those chat boards now, I don’t think I’d be obsessing over ice cream cake anymore. I could list a dozen things I’d like for myself, and not one of them is food.

Constant Hunger…your child’s relentless pursuit of food!

Does your child constantly nag you for food? Does this happen only at particular times…or all of the time? Do you eventually give in due to exhaustion? Or perhaps a headache? What is his/her temperament like? Is he persistent in getting his way all of the time? If so, this is likely a power struggle…and not a hunger issue. Think about your child’s interactions with others. Do grandma and grandpa or the nanny spoil your child and always oblige him? If so, you may have a cute little “monster” on your hands.

Sometimes our children are naturally hungry—a wonderful trait for many. As parents, however, we need to determine when our child is truly hungry or truly just pushing our buttons to see how much he/she can get away with—or actually get from us. Remember, structure and boundaries are important issues in raising our children whether it’s about food or even something as simple as wearing a hat on a cold day.

3 Clues to Determine If Reported Hunger is Real or an Attempt for Control

  1. Your child nags you about food at non-meal times when you are trying to get him to do something else. (Examples: Bedtime, clean up time, quiet time.)
  2. Your child is asking for food when you are not giving her attention. (Example: You are talking on the phone or working on the computer and your child is not self- entertaining.)
  3. Your child engages in power struggles over food he/she likes yet refuses to eat.  (Example: You agree to a snack of apples and cheese at the kitchen table but your child demands crackers instead and wants to eat them on the couch.)

If these mini scenarios remind you of your child, be very cautious in your next moves. Your child is most likely trying to win a power struggle around food…and may be succeeding! This battle is comparable to his/her feelings about control in life and about the parent/child relationship.  If not kept in check, it may turn into a counter-productive relationship with food later in life…likely leading to obesity or any other eating disorder.

 

5 Tips to Eliminate the Parent/Child Power Struggle

  1. Set specific times for meals and snacks. They can range with a “must” start time of 15 minutes before or after the predetermined times.
  2. Have your child sit down at the kitchen table for all meals and snacks with no screens to view while eating.
  3. At least one hour before bedtime, offer a p.m. snack and clearly state that this is the last opportunity for food. After that time, do not give in to your child’s pleas! You are setting appropriate food boundaries.
  4. Do not succumb to the begging, crying and screaming even if it lasts for an hour. If you give in, your child will recognize his power and push the limits even more or longer the next time. Instead of crying for an hour to get his way, he will persist for 75 to 90 minutes until he gets his snack.
  5. Ask your child if there is something else she would like…perhaps a hug or to read a book with mommy, or even the chance to help prepare the next meal.

 

Don’t fall prey to the hunger trap. Employ the five tips above to help create positive new behaviors. If struggles remain or you feel helpless, enlist the help of a Registered Dietitian specializing in both pediatrics and eating disorders. This will help to guarantee that food intake is removed from the power struggle and make it less likely your child will/won’t eat to satisfy control issues.

"My Body, My Food, My Way"

Moms and daughters, teens and tweens: Read with love and follow with care…This week’s post features a piece entitled “My Body, My Food, My Way”

 

Q: Can I teach my child with attention difficulties to be a mindful eater?

A Westchester Mom asks the question:

I have children with attention difficulties and because of this, I feel that their ability to detect hunger and fullness cues are dulled. Can this be taught?

Moms, Laura and Elyse respond:

All children, whether they have attention difficulties or not, can benefit from a quiet, calm and soothing environment that’s free of distractions, but it’s just as important to time all meals and snacks too. Here are a few tricks of the trade that can help teach your child how to recognize internal satiation cues over time.

Set the mood. Give your child a 5-minute warning that their meal will be served. Take this time to turn off any screens that may be on, and maybe turn on a little light, relaxing music in the background. The atmosphere can be a critical element as you begin to create a calming environment.

Take control. Because a hyperactive child may be impulsive, I recommend keeping the food on the counter or stovetop to prevent impulsive behaviors during the meal. Once your child is ready to eat, you can then go ahead and plate their food. It’s okay if your child requests seconds, but it’s a good idea to ask what their stomach feels like before going ahead and serving more. In other words, ask what their hunger or fullness level is before dishing out a second portion.

Hungry vs. Full. One good way to determine whether your child truly wants a second portion is to have them create a unique scale that allows them to express their hunger or fullness. Keep in mind that even adults may have difficulty determining the difference between hungry and full based on biological factors. A deficiency or resistance to the hormone leptin, for example, can impede on the ability to determine fullness. More research is needed to identify whether this holds true for children too, and if so, what the exact trigger is [1].

Create your scale. Try designing a child-friendly chart that ranges from 0 to 10—0 meaning starving and 10 being extremely full.

Let your child think up their own descriptions for the numbers 0, 3, 5, 7, and 10, but begin by asking them to describe what 0 and 10, or starving and stuffed—the most extreme sensations—feel like first, as these are most obvious. What does “extreme hunger,” or a 0, feel like? Is it dizzy? Is it crying? Is it sleepy? Is it a meltdown? Does your belly hurt? Are you nauseous or queasy? Then ask them to identify the opposite extreme. This would be overfull or stuffed and equal to a 10 on the scale. Does this mean belly pain? Belly sticking out? Nauseous? Want mommy to rub belly? Pants may be uncomfortable around their tummy? Not interested in eating more food? Can’t sit at table any longer? Can’t eat your favorite food if offered?

Each of these descriptions will differ slightly from one child to the next, but ultimately, it will help to jump-start this identification process, allowing them to both feel and recognize internal satiation cues. If it’s difficult for your child to verbalize their feelings, try using faces (happy, sad, etc.), stickers or pictures of children who appear happy, sad, angry, etc. to allow them to relate to the emotion.

Once extreme feelings are identified, then narrow it down by establishing what it means to be neutral, or not hungry and not full. This would be a 5 on their scale.

If your child is at a 5, but claims to still be hungry, then it’s appropriate to serve enough food to get them to a 7 on the scale. At that point, you probably wouldn’t need to serve an entire portion. (Of course, the amount will differ for each child, and individual parents can estimate and then let their child determine the rest.)

If your child responds that they are at a 7, explain to them that their body received all of the nutrition it needs for now, and they can have something to eat at the next meal or snack when their body is hungry again. (Remember, this all depends on your child’s personal scale. This may be a 3 for them.)

If your child asks for food in between meals or snacks, explain that food is only necessary when they are truly hungry, which may be when they feel like a 3 or higher (again, this may vary). The point is to teach them the difference between hunger and fullness, and while they should trust that you’ll serve them more when they are truly hungry, the scale will also allow them to identify whether they need more or not on their own.

Example of a H/F scale

10 = Belly Pain

7 = Comfortable fullness

5 = Neutral, can eat a little more

3 = Stomach growling, stomach empty, need to eat

0 = Starving

Institute a reward system. You can also consider offering a reward for positive behavior, for example, when your child sits nicely at the dinner table. The reward should be age specific, and consistency is key. This reward should not be food. The reward is not for eating but for sitting at the table. Never reward for eating or use food as a reward.

Photo Credit: bogenfreund via Compfight cc

One way to facilitate a reward system is to utilize tangible measurements of time, such as an hourglass. This can be placed before your child so they can monitor their behavior too. Start small, and work up to greater accomplishments. For the first week, if your child sits at the kitchen table for more than 10 minutes, regardless of what they did or did not eat, they would get a reward. At week 2, if the child sits at the table for 12 minutes, regardless of what they eat or how much, they would get a reward. Helpful Hint: The sand timer from Lakeshore Learning Center offers different time ranges from one minute to ten minutes.

Of course, all children—not just those with ADD or ADHD—have limited attention spans when it comes to sitting at the table. These strategic tactics are simply inspired by behavioral techniques utilized for children with special needs, though the goal is a common one: to ensure that your children get the nutrition they need.

  1. Aronne, LJ, Bowman A. The Skinny: On Losing Weight Without Being Hungry-The Ultimate Guide to Weight Loss Success. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group; 2009.

Guest Blog: Elyse Falk

Hi, I’m Elyse Falk and I am a registered dietitian in Westchester, NY and a mom of 3 wonderful, energetic boys, ages 11, 8, and 4. I initially decided to become an RD because I love good food—you know, the kind that makes your body healthy and strong—and immediately knew I wanted to raise a family that would grow up appreciating good, wholesome food as much as I do.

Through my education as well as my professional and personal experiences, I have learned that both parents and their children must play active roles in cultivating a healthy relationship with food.
As a parent, I am responsible for determining the types of food that are in the home and preparing these ingredients in a way that my family will actually eat and enjoy. In order to do this, I am always planning a day ahead and thinking about how to serve meals that include at least 3 to 4 food groups. Looking at my childrens’ diets as a whole, I ask myself: Did they get their fruits and vegetables for the day? What about lean proteins and low-fat dairy?

But it’s not just about what they eat; I am also in charge of structuring their meals and snacks throughout the day, deciphering how they eat too. My ultimate parental role is to educate my children so that they understand the difference between when to eat foods that “do good things” for the body versus when to eat “sometimes foods,” otherwise defined as those products or ingredients that don’t offer much nutrition for the body.   
Something I’ve discovered is that “sometimes foods,” like cookies (my boys love chocolate chip cookies), don’t necessarily need their own place and time. Instead, I find that they should be neutralized in order to eliminate the notion of treats. If they ask for cookies, for example, I allow my boys to eat them with their dinner, a decision which neutralizes dessert so that it is not necessarily the highlight of their evening intake. When I first started combining dinner and dessert, I was fascinated that my son actually went back and forth between eating his veggie burger and cookie at the same time, finishing both without an issue. This also proves how insignificant dessert really is to children; all they’re really hoping for is a “sometimes food” at some point during their meal.

All parents, myself included, need to serve as a role model for healthy eating. One way I accomplish this is by sitting down for meals with my children and showing them how I enjoy consuming delicious, wholesome food. As for the kids, at the end of the day, they are the ones who are in charge of how much food to eat and whether they want to eat certain kinds or not. While I encourage them to try new foods, I won’t ever push them to the point where it becomes an issue. (I do expect them to say, “no thank you” and “please,” though. Manners are important too.)

Photo Credit: ….Tim via Compfight cc

As my boys get older, they seem to be developing more adventurous tendencies. If one tries a new food, the others seem to want a taste too. (This is incredibly funny to watch as an outsider.) As they’ve grown, I’ve also learned a thing or two about their eating habits. For instance, I don’t celebrate if one of them tries a new food, because as soon as they see my contentment, they’ll stop eating it (it has to do with control). I’ve also discovered that some days they can eat me under the table whereas other days they’re just not as hungry.

Being an RD and working with clients with disordered eating habits has made me particularly sensitive to the way my boys experience food at home. As a mother of 3, I know that food can be both necessary and fun, and yet I’m also aware that it can cause stress and concern at times too.
Laura, my friend and colleague for 10 years, has asked me to join her efforts on Mom Dishes It Out and to contribute my experiences and expertise to give her readers yet another perspective on finding joy and balance in moderate parenting and feeding. I am happy to be a part of this project and hope all the feeders and eaters out there know that it is a constant balancing act, but it is one that is worth every minute.

Quick Tips For Moms on Helping Cultivate Healthy Habits

Whether it’s Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign, my friend’s talk in Westchester to the PTA or the development of a new Food and Nutrition Committee at my son’s school, Moms and Dads are advocating for positive change for health promotion. We walk a fine line while doing this as we don’t want to create more problems in regards to the already challenging job of feeding our children. Here are five simple tips to include in your “lunch box” of tools.

 

Teaching Not Preaching to Your Kids, Healthy Habits

Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE

Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services (www.LauraCipulloLLC.com)

www.MomDishesitOut.com

 

 

 

 

 

 1. Don’t preach instead lead by example:

  • Let your children know you are off to spin class or pilates
  • Plan active vacations whether it be skiing or hiking in Colorado

 

2. Practice exposure therapy

  • Try new foods with your children especially on vacation or during the holidays. St Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras offer different cuisines to tantalize your taste buds.
  • Leave the veggies on the table even if you know the kids won’t eat them.

 

3. Take your child food shopping

  • Shop at the farmer’s market or a food store that emphasizes sustainable, local agriculture and wholesome foods such as Whole Foods.
  • Limit shopping at grocery stores that offer more colorful, child focused boxed and processed foods.  There marketing sucks your kids in.

 

4. Encourage Trying, Not Winning

  • Tell your child you are proud of them for trying a new food or a new activity. It’s not whether they like the veggie or if they played the game correctly.
  • Focus on the great effort and fun your child had at trying a new sport like roller-skating not how they didn’t fall.

 

5. Practice self regulation

  • Let your child choose how much of the dinner to eat. No clean the plate the club!
  • Ask your child “Are you hungry, thirsty, bored or tired?”