Mom, I don’t want to be fat.

As I was walking home from Chelsea Piers last week, my 5-year-old son said, “Mom, I don’t want to be fat.”

I thought about how to answer this. “Why do you say that?” I asked. “Were you talking about this at school last week or holiday camp?” He said no to the above, so I asked him what he thought it meant to be fat and how he thought someone could get that way. “You get fat from eating too much food all the time,” he replied, to which I responded, “Right, so just eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Keep active and you will be fine.”

Meanwhile, I was pushing Bobby and his brother in the single stroller—Bobby who was standing on the stroller frame and leaning against me rather than walking as his brother slept inside. I assumed he couldn’t be all that worried if he let me push him home despite what his new concern.

As we walked along the city streets, my thoughts swirled. I began to wonder whether I should have explained to Bobby that bodies come in different shapes and sizes. Should I differentiate between healthy and fat? Should I take advantage of the moment and give him a reason to eat more fruits and veggies, which he tends to veer away from? Should I stress that some people are just destined to be larger due to genetics?

As parents, we need to think about how to answer these questions before they come up—something that would make addressing them when put on the spot a whole lot easier. I’m not sure that I ever considered that Bobby would make such a statement, especially since we don’t allow words like ‘fat’ in my household—but he did.

While we’ve discussed that it’s not nice to call someone fat, especially to his or her face, I know that both my boys are exposed to the word all the time; we even heard it used in the Muppets movie. He hears his cousins and friends use it all the time. And just, the other day, his friend called our cat fat. (Bobby made sure the child knew we don’t identify things by that term in our house.)

It’s both funny and frustrating, because sometimes, even when we try to raise our children one way, the world around us doesn’t necessarily let us. Ban certain kinds of language in your home, and they’ll pick it up in the park, in the supermarket or on a play date. But whatever we decide to allow (or not allow), I encourage all caregivers and parents to think about this: What message do you want to send to your child?

Have you ever had to discuss weight issues with your child? How do you view the word “fat” in your family, and what words do you use to facilitate a positive body image in your household?

Family Meals Bring Turkey to Bobby's Plate

Bobby reached another nutrition milestone this past Sunday dinner. My husband and I were eating turkey meatloaf with brussel sprouts and butternut squash. Bobby was insisting on his typical macaroni and cheese (whole wheat noodles with chopped spinach mixed in). I, of course was making the macaroni but it was not yet ready. I decided to offer Bobby the turkey meatloaf since he was hungry. I plated it with ketchup and he dipped right in. Phew. Bobby said it was spicy. Hum? I tried it myself and it was oddly spicy tasting with the ketchup. I agreed with him and asked him to try it dry. Amazingly he was willing to try and guess what, he loved it.  He ate an entire slice in addition to his macaroni with cheese and spinach.

Despite having limited family meals due to our crazy city life, we do have them when we can. As evidenced by this experience, family meals are beneficial even if they are not as often as experts recommend. Read my nutrition assistant’s Family Meals blog entry below. Happy Eating!

Family Meals: A Benefit for the Whole Family

By Nutrition Student Katherine Kaczor

From running back and forth to soccer practice, dance recitals, piano lessons, and maybe even back to another soccer practice, it can be difficult for many families to sit down and have a meal together. But could you be doing a disservice to your family by missing out on this mealtime?

The Toddler:

Research indicates that family meals have an impact during all stages of life. For toddlers, it is a time to learn healthy food behaviors. If the parent or other family member eat a balanced, healthy plate, the toddler will be more likely to pick up the behavior as well. However, if family members are consistently saying they don’t like carrots or peas taste gross, the toddler will be more likely to feel the same. Family meals can also help toddlers overcome their picky eating. If the toddler is served a similar meal to the rest of the family, he will be continually exposed to new foods. By repeatedly being offered different foods, the toddler will be more likely to incorporate them into his diet.

The Child:

Family meals have a strong influence on school-aged children as well. Children who have a least three family meals per week are 12% less likely to be overweight, 20% less likely to consume unhealthy foods, and 24% more likely to consume healthy foods, according to one study. Another study found that family meals are protective against obesity in non-Hispanic white and black children, but can promote obesity in Hispanic boys, especially in low-income families. This is likely due to the food served and the cultural differences amongst these families. If the family is sitting down to a meal of fried foods and the children are encouraged to finish their plate and get seconds, weight is likely to increase. Despite this, family meals have the added benefit of providing children with an outlet to discuss their day. It gives them a chance to discuss the art project they worked on in class or the field trip they’re going on next week. This conversation helps build the family relationship. Family meals can also be used to create a sense of responsibility in children. They can be assigned chores such setting the table or washing the dishes. If the child is picky, having him assist with the cooking process can help him feel more connected to the food and consequently more likely to eat it.

The Adolescent:

The most research in regards to family meals looks at its effects on adolescents. Due in part to their increased independence as well as from the constant peer pressure, the eating habits of adolescents tend to be poor, however, those adolescents who regularly dine with their family tend to have better intakes. They are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and to incorporate dairy into their diet. They are also more likely to eat breakfast. Teenagers also tend to consume fast-food when meals are not provided at home. Additionally, disordered eating habits are significantly lower in adolescent girls who had regular family meals. Research has found that disordered eating habits are seen in 18.1% of girls who had less than two family meals per week, while it was seen in only 8.8% of girls who had more than three family meals per week. However, this was based on the assumption that the families were modeling healthy eating behaviors. If the parents follow strict diets or continually comment on the adolescent’s eating patterns, family meals are likely to have the reverse effect. Family meals have also been linked to a reduced risk for drug and substance abuse in teenage girls; however the effects on existing users are minimal. Overall, meals with your teenager help maintain the family relationship during this time of transition. It helps you keep tabs on them while they experience new independence and learn who they are in the world.

The Parents:

There are also benefits for the parents.  If the parents are being positive role models for their children, their health status will also benefit from family meals. Instead of picking up a cheeseburger and fries on the way home from work, family meals provide the opportunity for a well-balanced dinner, which may help promote health and longevity for themselves.  Whatever makes up your dish, family meals provide a time for family bonding and can help strengthen communication and relationships.

 

Hammons, A., & Fiese, B. (2011). Is frequency of shared family meals related to the nutritional health of children and adolescents?. Pediatrics, 127(6), e1565-e1574.

Neumark-Sztainer, D., Wall, M., Story, M., & Fulkerson, J. (2004). Are family meal patterns associated with disordered eating behaviors among adolescents?. The Journal of Adolescent Health: Official Publication of The Society For Adolescent Medicine, 35(5), 350-359.

Rollins, B. Y., Belue, R. Z., & Francis, L. A. (2010). The Beneficial Effect of Family Meals on Obesity Differs by Race, Sex, and Household Education: The National Survey of Children’s Health, 2003-2004. Journal of The American Dietetic Association, 110(9), 1335-1339.

Videon, T., & Manning, C. (2003). Influences on adolescent eating patterns: the importance of family meals. Journal of Adolescent Health, 32(5), 365-373.

White, J., & Halliwell, E. (2011). Family Meal Frequency and Alcohol and Tobacco Use in Adolescence: Testing Reciprocal Effects. Journal of Early Adolescence, 31(5), 735-749.

 

 

37 Pounds Of Love

This mom is not dishing on her kid’s food habits today. Instead, I am hoping to relieve moms of the new social mindset that pregnant women should sport a bump—and only a bump—during the most beautiful nine months of their lives.

In recent years, pregnancy has become fashionable—an accessory to flaunt. With all the attention on celebrity pregnancies, of course, weight gain and weight loss post-delivery have surged into the spotlight. At times, it can seem like a competition between who can gain the least amount of weight and lose it quickly afterward. (I believe it was Bethenny Frankel who lost 30 pounds in less than a month and Rachel Zoe who limited her weight gain to between 12 and 15 pounds.)

As I walk through the streets of Manhattan, I see pregnant women strolling around the city sporting their baby bump—so cute. Women looked beautiful with their bumps even before it was a trend—before it was more fashionable than the label on their mom jeans.

And while pregnancy is supposed to give women that inexplicable glow, now, pregnancy is more about how much weight you didn’t gain.

Because of my profession, but also as a woman living in a trend-driven urban center, I see and hear it all the time: women who worry that they’re gaining too much weight and who don’t understand why they gained 20 pounds when their best girlfriend only gained 15. As a RD, CDE, I have a special understanding that what we feed ourselves affects our unborn child. I understand that an increase in blood sugar puts the baby at risk for high blood sugar too.

For these reasons, when we talk about a healthy weight for pregnancy, I encourage pregnant women to focus on self-care—eating a balanced intake of food and reaching for more if and when you are in fact hungry for more.

Pregnancy should be about you and your baby, not about restricting your intake to flaunt the latest vogue, be it crop tops or jeggings below your bump. Because if we aren’t careful, pregnancy could become one of the many factors that trigger an eating disorder, which would be an absolute waste of one of the most magical aspects of being a woman.

As there are risks to restricting your intake, there are equal risks to over-consuming during pregnancy. Just so you know, I was told I had gained too much weight during a few weigh-ins during both pregnancies. (FYI, they don’t weigh pregnant women in Europe).

In my case, I knew I couldn’t eat less. I was active during both pregnancies and practiced Pilates and yoga until right before I delivered. I ate carbs, proteins and fats, gaining about 37 pounds in the process. During each pregnancy, I carried differently, felt differently and gained the weight at different times.

The result? Today, I’m fortunate to have two healthy boys. They weighed about 6.12 pounds each at birth. I lost the weight slowly over a nine-month period for my first boy, while the second pregnancy took longer—about 12 months to lose the weight and another 6 months to get my tummy toned again. You don’t need to eat without regard, but you definitely need to be mindful of how you nourish, honor and work with whatever changes your body endures during and after pregnancy.

Ironically, I bumped into a colleague last week—a physician. She is pregnant with her second child and this time gained 60 pounds and developed gestational diabetes.  So you see, we are all susceptible to certain health conditions during pregnancy.

When people ask me how much I gained during my pregnancies because they feel guilty about having gained more than their friends or certain celebrities, I tell them that they need to recognize that their body and baby is their ultimate responsibility.  Moms: Don’t feel pressured to be a super skinny during your pregnancy. Enjoy this 9 to 10 month period that you will never get back. Feed yourself moderately and love your body. Pregnancy can be one of the most special periods in your life if you embrace it. And if you really don’t enjoy being pregnant, that’s OK as well. Just make sure you feed yourself appropriately throughout.

Guest Blog: Using Words, Not Food to Help Kids Communicate

Helping Our Kids to Identify Their Feelings:

Anonymous

One of the things I appreciate most about Laura’s blog is the honesty she demonstrates in discussing the difficulties of applying her professional body of knowledge to real life situations that affect her children. As a psychotherapist, I can very much relate with that struggle.

As parents, I find that it’s important to help our children to put their feelings into words and to understand and identify their feelings during any given situation. The world can be an overwhelming place for children. Honestly, it can be overwhelming for adults too. Yet children, unlike adults, are challenged with a limited frame of reference, making it particularly difficult for them to govern their present experiences by past ones.

Children need adults as teachers to help them narrate life, especially early on, so that they can learn to identify their emotions. By helping them to do this, we can hope to gain a better understanding of what they are feeling.

Earlier this week, for example, my daughter Rachel expressed that she had a great time during a play date with a new friend. As we were leaving, however, she started to act out, putting her shoes on and kicking them off, which she did about three times. Then she relaxed all the muscles in her foot so we couldn’t get her shoe on at all. And then her sock came off. She was laughing the entire time this was happening, while I was most definitely not.

It felt to me like Rachel was intentionally making it impossible for us to leave, so I said to her, “Boy, someone had so much fun they don’t want to leave and go home!” And with that, like Cinderella, I was magically able to slip her sock and shoe on. Rachel grabbed her backpack and said goodbye to her friend without creating a fuss. As I saw it, once she understood what she was feeling, she no longer needed to act it out.

Something else I try to do is to let Rachel know what I’m feeling internally when I’m having a rough day or losing my footing. When she tests my patience or disregards what I am saying, I verbalize my frustration and express my waning tolerance.

I also do my best to explain to her why I say the things I say (I was feeling tired) and apologize if it’s appropriate. As Harry Stack Sullivan wrote, “We are all much more simply human than otherwise,” and I think it’s more than okay to let our kids see that too.

A great resource for helping children identify their feelings is “The Way I feel Books,” by Cornelia Maude Spellman. In it, Cornelia writes about anger, sadness and jealousy in a way that makes it easy for children to understand and relate to.

The Pursuit of Happiness and Health

This time of year is crazy for me, as I’m sure it is for many parents. There’s the holidays, both boys’ birthdays, volunteer work, Mom dinner nights (where all the classroom moms go to dinner), and of course, the never ending effort to feed our kids healthfully yet moderately through the holiday season.

Herein, a glance at some of the recent accomplishments and challenges on the home front.

Thanksgiving (without turkey)

So I decided not to bring any food for my boys to my sister’s house on Thanksgiving. This year, they would eat a Thanksgiving dinner or nothing at all. As expected, when it came time for the turkey, Bobby asked for mac and cheese. I held strong and said no, I will not make mac and cheese.

After careful consideration, he instead asked for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Damn, he is clever! I stood my ground though and told him to ask his father. So much for that plan; my husband then asked me.

Not wanting to create a scene on Thanksgiving, my husband eventually caved and made both boys a good old PB n’ J for Thanksgiving dinner. To be clear, while the rest of the family (and country, for that matter) scarfed down turkey and stuffing, my boys ate PB n’ J.

As a dietitian, this is an obvious dilemma. As a mom, though, I know that I have to pick my battles—a tactic that, this time, definitely worked. Bobby showed his effort to participate in the family meal by eating a small piece of cucumber. (Thank goodness for my one lick rule!) And Billy, without being prompted, asked to try a bite of pumpkin pie. See? Miracles do happen. J (By the way, Billy didn’t like the fresh whipped cream and wouldn’t eat the crust, but he did enjoy two forkfuls of pumpkin pie filling.)

Clementines

Clementines are back in season, and I absolutely love them. I added a few segments to the boys’ plates, and this is what happened. Bobby licked his clementine and approved of its taste. Still, he didn’t end up eating it because he hated the texture. Billy, on the other hand, licked his clementine and immediately gave up. For now, he’ll stick to dried mango.

Strawberries

Two years after first tasting (and enjoying) one, Bobby informed me that he likes strawberry smoothies. He specifically recalls liking the one he made in nursery school two years ago!

Naturally, I immediately went out and bought frozen strawberries to make smoothies. Voila! It seems that both boys love eating strawberries—so long as they’re pulverized into a thick, icy drink. Turns out my kids have issues with the textures of certain foods. C’est la vie.

So as you see, while the boys may not have munched on turkey slices this November or fully swallowed a slice of Clementine, they, along with their picky palates, are beginning to expand. For now, flavors of foods are more easily accepted then certain textures (see above: Clementine), but it remains a work in progress.

I wonder what we’ll discover at their big birthday party this weekend! Stay tuned!

Should You Buy That Organic Turkey?

Organic Food: To Buy or Not To Buy

On the quest to nourish our kids, the word “organic” has become a primary focus for many of us moms. Yet, despite all of the regulatory hype you read about in the papers and online, organic standards are far from universal. In fact, they can be downright confusing unless you aced high school biology or are familiar with foreign regulation policy, ultimately raising the question: When we dish out extra dough to buy organic, are we getting what we paid for? I hope to answer some of these questions for you here.

According to the USDA, there are six countries and 40-plus programs that meet the national standards of certification based on a list of regulated chemicals and ingredients that can be used on crops. And as long as the food in question is given the green light by the National Organics Standards Board, then you should generally feel confident in the integrity of the product despite its place of origin.

Imported products that are pre-certified as organic prior to entering the country, however, are another story. In this case, food exporters have the option of working with the USDA and their homeland government to certify products as organic, and quality control can become a problem.

In the absence of proper standards, we become susceptible to “organic fraud,” and it can affect shoppers from Wal-Mart to Trader Joes and Whole Foods, all of who carry imported snacks and canned foods. Despite USDA-approved foreign organic inspectors, pesticide testing isn’t required on many of these products—in ’06, less than two percent were examined.

European standards are somewhat similar to those established in the United States, prohibiting the use of many of the same chemicals and antibiotics come harvest. Not all nations are as strict as those in Europe though, including Brazil, Sierra Leone and China. In China, for example, organic products sell for nearly five times the price of non-organic food, increasing manufacturer’s incentives to commit organic-fraud.

So, as a mom, how can you be sure that the can of soup or that box of cereal really is 100 percent organic?

Some specialty food stores, like Trader Joes and Whole Foods, are taking measures to visit their vendors in foreign nations to ensure they meet proper standards. Both markets also voluntarily label the country-of-origin on their packaging so that the consumer can be sure of where their food is coming from. Stores such as Wal-Mart are yet to go to these lengths.

Shopping at smaller, specialty stores, and looking for the US stamp of approval, are good places to start. Scrutinize the organic certifications just as you would any nutrition label, accounting for organic indications as you would calories and sugar. And remember, it’s not the end of the world if something turns out to be non-organic. Because, between our kids, our jobs, and whatever slim social life we have, we can’t always be super-mom. But we can certainly try and hope that buying organic will promote sustainable farming and the message that moms want chemical free food for our kids.

 

Who are our children's role models?

Many of my clients, friends, and even the media magazines having been featuring certain celebs as scary skinny and or commenting on their recent weight loss. Everyone goes thru times and life changes that may cause one to use counterproductive “coping skills” such as restriction or binging. Most people have been touched by this is some shape or form. However, most celebs are not promoting their dieting. If you are in the media I do believe if you want to discuss nutrition and advocate for that, you should be mindful how people will read and or hear it. And also how they see your visual. This is a very fine line. Here is an honest reaction to a reality tv celeb. As parents, think about who are your role models and who are your children’s role models? What are they advocating?

goodandbrokenn.blogspot.com

Finding Time for Family Meals

It’s important to have family meals as often as possible. There’s little doubt that children benefit from quality mealtime, home cooked meals, balanced menus, role modeling and exposure to new flavors. But let’s face it: Parents who lead busy urban lives can’t always make this happen.

Have I ever skipped a family meal? Guilty as charged. Despite the fact that it’s my professional duty to discourage others from doing so on a regular basis, many times, family meals just aren’t realistic. Both my husband and I, for example, work late several nights a week (I’ve recently cut back from three to two nights a week in the office), and between social events (whether professional, academic or with friends) and our own date nights, Sunday and Monday are the only days left where we can consistently sit down for family meals.

I try to practice this reasoning as a professional RD and am realistic regarding other New Yorker’s lifestyles as well as my own. Overall, I believe in looking at the whole picture when it comes to how we choose to raise our kids, and in my own household, the time we spend together is about quality, not quantity.

Does this make my husband and I—and other fellow socially and professionally active parents—irresponsible? No. But when I started Mom Dishes It Out, I promised to give you honest accounts of my family’s experiences in the kitchen. So I’m telling it to you straight; whether I applaud this type of behavior or not, this is my reality.

Rise and Shine: Breakfast

My boys, Billy and Bobby, have fallen into the pattern of eating breakfast on the couch while ogling their favorite TV shows. I know: I should probably lie here. Food in the living room? As an RD, I’m like my own worst nightmare.

Hubby is already working when we wake up on school days, so most mornings, I’ll try to sit with the boys during breakfast on the couch. Sometimes we move to the dining room table. Sometimes we don’t.

On weekends, we eat breakfast as a family—a habit we try to maintain. We’ll make organic whole grain pancakes and eat them together at the table—well, most of the time. On Sunday, my husband takes over as chef and cooks up a healthy omelet, or the kids and I stick to cereal and yogurt. Either way, we try to use this time to expose the boys to a balanced menu of delicious and wholesome morning foods like eggs, veggies, lox, cheeses, breads and hot sauce—even if they only lick them.

Midday Meal: Lunch

The boys obviously eat lunch at school. Unlike most cafeterias that are filled with chips, candy and donuts, both Billy and Bobby’s schools do not provide lunch. Thank goodness.

I’m the gatekeeper of their lunches, and I take this opportunity to pack their bags with nutritious meals and snacks based on my own judgments. Better yet, their schools encourage parents to supply healthful foods, so my kids are less likely to be exposed to cookies and chips as snacks. If yours are, it’s not the end of the world.

Nighttime Noshing: Dinner

Dinner with the dietitian can be limited since, as I said, my evening schedule is pretty packed. Twice weekly, I’m in the office until 9:30 meeting clients who can’t see me during the workday. The nights I’m not able to eat at home are somewhat nondescript. Billy and Bobby chomp down their dinner on the couch while watching television or sitting with their caregiver at the dining room table. It’s nothing spectacular, and I’m really just concerned with making sure they eat a semi-nutritious meal.

We try to reserve Sunday and Monday to eat dinner together as a family. During a typical family dinner, the kids eat their preferred foods while my hubby and I stick to ours. (I’ve yet to convince the boys that salmon with wheat berries and grilled asparagus is more enticing than grilled chicken.)

Since Billy and Bobby typically get hungry before us, they usually eat dinner earlier in the evening and then continue to nosh on a light snack (if they’re still hungry) with their dad and I at the dinner table. And trust me, we make the most of our time together.

How often do you sit down with your kids for a family dinner? Are there some meals that are easier than others to eat together? Do your kids eat the same dinner as you do, or do you cook (or serve) separate meals?

Mom Jeans

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

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

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

One Lick Rule

So the RD in me knows that you’re not supposed to force a child to eat something that they find icky or are completely uninterested in. But as a mom, there are times when I simply can’t fathom allowing Billy and Bobby to declare that they don’t like a food they’ve never tried. (You’ll have to recognize that since I work with many clients who struggle with eating disorders, I’m particularly determined to ensure that my own kids never feel as though they’re deprived.)

To be fair, I’m not referring to some obscure super-nut from Brazil. I’m not even asking them to try some meaty or fishy flavor like beef or salmon. For the purposes of today’s blog, all I wanted was a little bite of a cucumber. Apparently, even that was too ambitious.

For a while, I was using what I like to call the “one bite” rule. You’re probably familiar with it, when you set the precedent that your child must take a small bite of food—just enough to get a taste. The problem is when they have to swallow or even put the new food in their mouths (my boys).

So instead, I tried tweaking the one bite rule to allow Billy and Bobby to spit out foods they didn’t like. This works well for many of my clients. However with my boys it was still a relentless effort as they spit everything out or again will not even put the food in their mouths.

Now, I’ve moved on to the one lick rule—a tactical technique I’m quickly falling in love with. Whereas a bite of food can seem overwhelming and forceful to a child, apparently, my kids are much more willing to lick things. Who knew?

This past weekend, we were away in Hamptons. After a nice nature walk, the boys and I had worked up quite an appetite, and since I didn’t pack lunch or snacks (I normally do since, ideally, a hike would present the perfect opportunity to introduce foods like trail mix or a new fruit), we somehow ended up, to the boys’ contentment, at a pizzeria.

Of course, Bobby didn’t just want a slice of pizza; he also pointed to a brownie in the showcase and decided that he wanted that too. (Remember: Everything in moderation.) I told the boys they could share the brownie after they’d eaten (not finished) their pizza.

My husband and I, on the other hand, ordered a salad and pizza topped with veggies. The salad was by no means nutritious or fancy (it was made with iceberg lettuce, olives, locally grown tomatoes, cucumbers and homemade dressing), but it was nevertheless amazingly delicious for a simple pizzeria salad.

Naturally, my husband and I offered the boys some veggies from our plate, to which they matter-of-factly replied, “No.” Of course they said no. When it comes to vegetables, they always say no.

Implementing my new theory, I replied: “Well, how about just licking a cucumber slice.” They did.

The results? Billy scrunched his nose, while Bobby didn’t protest. And when they didn’t erupt in tears, the mommy in me—not the RD—decided to ask the boys to eat a very small piece of cucumber.

I proceeded to cut half of one piece into quarters and told Billy and Bobby that they needed to eat a tiny sliver if they wanted their brownie. I know this sounds wrong. But as mom, I have to think that if I don’t push—at least sometimes—my kids may never get past licking new foods to a place where they’re comfortable eating them. Also, they need to eat foods with higher nutrition most of the time and less nutrition less of the time.

Bobby obliged and ate the cucumber without a fuss. (By the way, he also happily licked a shard of lettuce too.) He made a face, but he ate it; and while he didn’t seem to enjoy the quarter-of-a-half-of-a-cucumber-slice, he didn’t seem to hate it either. Small success? I think so.

As planned, after finishing most of his pizza, I gave Bobby his portion of the brownie. He ate about a quarter of it before losing interest. (I wrapped up the rest of the brownie for Bobby and snuck it into his snack bag Monday morning. He told me he didn’t want it—so I ate it!)

Unlike Bobby, Billy made faces and squirmed in a terribly dramatic fashion. Sometimes I think he likes to make a fuss for attention and control. He tossed the licked cucumber back into the salad, slobber and all, and cleverly dropped pieces on the floor. I think, in total, he ate one of the cucumber quarters. All we could do was minimize how much attention we gave him.

Billy went on to eat the entire pizza slice plus a few more bites of another, as well as half of his brownie. He gave the remaining half back to me and hasn’t asked for it since. (Good thing, since I also ate his leftovers last night.)

So, for better or for worse, I made the boys lick and then eat a tiny piece of cucumber.  As any good RD would, I attempted to maintain as neutral an environment as possible during the entire fiasco, ignoring their actions and instead continuing in our conversation.

This week, I plan to pick up more cucumbers at the market.  While I won’t make the boys eat (or lick) a piece, I will put them on the table so that they continue to gain exposure to the foods they don’t typically nosh on.

Have you ever tried the “one bite” or “one lick” rule? Which seemingly normal and neutral foods do your children refuse to eat, and how have you overcome their behavior?