And He Eats!

And He Eats!
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD and Mom

Photo Credit: sean dreilinger via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: sean dreilinger via Compfight cc

Six years later, Billy finally eats. As many of you know, my two boys challenge my feeding and eating expertise on a daily basis. I think from all the Mommy RD stories here on Mom Dishes It Out, you now know that RDs have their fair share of food and nutrition conundrums. But like you, we need to separate our emotional-selves and work with our child. This is probably the hardest part. Being an objective feeder is quite the challenge. Don’t despair, your kids may surprise you..


I constantly have to remind myself to lighten up around the food and sometimes set more food boundaries. Just the other night, I bought chicken apple sausage and potato rolls for my oldest son. Bobby loves chicken apple sausage. However, it seems he only likes the sausage from Brooklyn. Anyway, we tried two new brands just yesterday. Bobby was trying it as a side to his dinner of rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes and spinach. Billy excitedly comes into the kitchen declaring he will have a hot dog bun with peanut butter, two cheeses and a yogurt with a side of strawberries.


Here is conundrum number one. Do I allow him to dictate his meal? Conundrum two is whether he should try the chicken sausage. Because of my work with food phobias and eating disorders, I never want to force the boys to eat food and prefer exposure therapy. I let Billy know, he must first try chicken sausage on the hot dog roll. Of course, he verbally refuses. I have yet to understand if this is an animal thing, a chewing thing, a control thing or perhaps just a taste preference. I feel my blood begin to boil.


It is so hard to be objective. I proceed to make the sausage and set it on Billy’s plate. He is of course performing a song and dance. I also make Billy his requested dinner. I serve him both the sausage in a bun and his dinner preferences on the same plate.


Amazingly, he tries the sausage with one small bite. Not shockingly, he doesn’t like it. He eats his dinner. He doesn’t complain nor does he remove it from his plate. These are signs of his progress.


So, in the end we both faired well. I still feel defeated because he only took a small bite and he didn’t like it. But then I think back to March. The boys and I were eating dinner together. It was a simple dinner of tortellini. Bobby and I were eating it. I made Billy something else. All of the sudden, Billy says I want tortellini. I almost fell off my chair. Really??

Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc

Well, he did want it. He tried it and said it was dry. He wanted to try it with marinara sauce. He loved it. He basically had marinara soup with tortellini. Wow, that made my night and my month for that matter. The point is, after seeing us eat tortellini a million times, he tried it and liked it. Just like he has done with most fruit, breads and salsas. He typically tries food now without an issue. As long as it is not of animal origin. Well, the majority of the time.


In the end, Billy eats tortellini. We can go for Mexican and Italian food as a family and Billy can order off the adult menu. What a relief!! It has taken him six years to find a pasta he enjoys. I can’t wait to see what he likes over the next 6 years. Thank you Billy for teaching me patience is key while a little push is necessary, too.


Moms and dads, keep up your efforts to expose the kids to all foods and encourage trying foods. The act of trying is the most important thing. I know six years seems like a long time, and it is. But each child has his/her own process. Find what works for you and your child. Share with us your trials and tribulations. We can all learn and support each other. If you find yourself having a hard time keeping your feelings out of the kitchen, consult a registered dietitian or even a speech and language pathologist.


Looking for more tips? Check out our 7 Steps to Progress Your Picky Eater.

Scheherazade Casserole

In the midst of figuring out my nutrition beliefs, I went from picky eater to vegetarian to vegan to omnivore.  While vegetarian and vegan, my two favorite cookbooks were “A Celebration of Wellness – A Cookbook for Vibrant Living” and “Moosewood Cookbook”.  I wanted to share with you what remains one of my favorite recipes from Moosewood Cookbook.  Scheherazade Casserole is a delicious recipe, which includes bulgur, onions, bell peppers, and soybeans (just to name a few ingredients).  I hope you enjoy this satisfying dish just as much as I do!  Maybe it will become one of your favorites too!


Photo Credit: Emily Barney via Compfight cc


Scheherazade Casserole

Makes 6-8 Servings


  • 1 cup raw bulgur
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups minced onion
  • 3 larges cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons basil
  • black pepper and cayenne to taste
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • ¾ cup dry soybeans, soaked
  • 1 14 ½ oz. can tomatoes, drained
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup (packed) finely minced parsley
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups crumbled feta cheese



  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Lightly oil a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
  2. Place the bulgur in a small bowl.  Add boiling water, cover with a plate, and stand at least 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add onion, garlic, salt, and seasonings.  Stir occasionally as you sauté over medium heat for 5-8 minutes.  Add bell pepper and sauté about 5 minutes more.
  4. Drain the soybeans, if necessary, and place them in a blender or food processor with 1 cup fresh water.  Grind until the soybeans resemble a coarse batter.   Transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Add the soaked bulgur and sautéed vegetables to the soybeans,  Stir in the tomatoes,  breaking them up into bite-sized pieces.  Add tomato paste, the parsley, and 1 cup of the feta cheese.  Mix well.
  6. Spread into the baking pan and sprinkle the remaining feta chees on top.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes at 375°F, then uncover and bake 15 minutes more with the oven turned down to 350°F.  Serve hot.



Start a new “Family Meal” weekly tradition… beginning with Thanksgiving this year!

Start a new “Family Meal” weekly tradition… beginning with Thanksgiving this year!
Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, Mom and Bitsy’s RD

*This post was originally posted on the Bitsy’s Brainfood blog.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the idea of family meals surely must be on your mind. For many people, Thanksgiving conjures warm feelings because it’s consistently about meals featuring family members, good friends, and yummy food. Are these the same thoughts that come to mind when thinking about family meals? Are you even able to have family meals especially during the regular work/school week? Most people now know that family meals are not only beneficial but also very much encouraged by the experts. How does this translate to your daily life? What does the latest research recommend? How should you, as parents and food consumers, interpret this information?

Photo Credit: Lawrence OP via Compfight cc


Fortunately, there has been quite a bit of research of late. Some of the most noteworthy include Project EAT (I-III)Purdue University’s Family Meals Spell SUCCESS, and studies coming from research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA). We surely know that family meals can be difficult to arrange—especially with working parents, kids’ afterschool activities, strained family relationships, and possibly even the aversion to foods served at family meals. But the statistics drawn from multiple studies via Project EAT have found that adolescents sharing family meals had higher intakes of fruits and vegetables, plus the mineral calcium, while drinking less soda. In addition, the more frequently the family meals occurred during adolescence, the more likely these individuals later would have shared household meals as young adults. Family meals were also linked to higher academic performance, greater emotional wellbeing and a reduced risk of using unhealthy behaviors for weight control1.

Overall Well Being

According to CASA surveys:

  • Teens who eat dinner with their parents twice a week or less are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes, three times more likely to smoke marijuana, and nearly twice as likely to drink as those who eat dinner with their parents six or seven times a week2.
  • Teens who eat frequent family dinners are also less likely than other teens to have sex at young ages and get into fights; are at lower risk for thoughts of suicide; and are likelier to do better in school. This is true regardless of a teen’s gender, family structure, or family socioeconomic level2.
  • Teens who have frequent family dinners are more likely to be emotionally content, work hard at school, and have positive peer relationships, not to mention healthier eating habits2.



Family Meals spell SUCCESS further supports these results. A study by Dr. Catherine Snow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education notes that conversations occurring around the family table teach children more vocabulary and forms of discourse than they learn when you read to them2.

Reader’s Digest survey revealed  – a teen eating meals with their family was a stronger predictor of academic success than whether they lived with one or both parents. Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) and others has found a striking relationship between frequency of family meals and grades2.


Mental Well Being

When family meal research is further analyzed, the most evident benefit of family meals is decreased depressive symptoms3.

Ultimately, we need more information on the actual frequency of meals, the length of each meal, who is present at the meals, and/or if the research is simply correlated with having frequent meals or truly a direct outcome of family meals. Is it possible that people who engage in family meals have specific characteristics that are different from those in families who do not engage in family meals? The answer is yes. More long-term research identifying the above details is needed3.

Photo Credit: cafemama via Compfight cc

Putting Family Meals In Practice

But what we do know? It’s estimated that three or more family meals, consistent family meals (i.e.: every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday), mealtimes with positive interactions and no TV are favorable…and most likely lead to the most beneficial outcomes for children3. So do your best to get some type of meal on the table and enjoy the time with your family. If one shared meal is possible, start here but make it weekly and don’t forget to turn off the TV and your iPhone!! Here at Bitsy’s we don’t strive for perfection, but we do strive for family time and healthier food for all families.

Are sharing family meals reasonable and achievable in your household? As working moms, we know this is incredibly challenging. Can you share your suggestions with the  readers?



  1. “Epidemiology & Community Health Research.” Epidemiology Community Health Research. University of Minnesota, 2013. Web. 06 Nov. 2013.
  2. “Family Meals Spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S.” Purdue University Center for Families’ Promoting Family Meals Project. Purdue University, n.d. Web. 6 Nov. 2013.
  3. Cook, Eliza, and Rachel Dunifon. “Do Family Meals Really Make a Difference?”Parenting in Context. Cornell University College of Human Ecology, 2012. Web. 2013.


*This post was originally posted on the Bitsy’s Brainfood blog.

When To Eat Dinner During Sports Season

Real Mom Question: As afterschool activities start up again, when should I feed my kids dinner—4:30 or 8:30?

Real Mom Answer: Serve dinner before 4:30, prior to their evening activity, and a mini-meal when they get home.


How do we feed our kids when extracurricular activities like team practices and athletic schedules get in the way?

First and foremost, just do your best! Meals do not have to taste or be perfect. If you can get your children to eat real, wholesome kinds of food at dinner and throughout the day, then you’re already ahead of the game.

Try serving dinner immediately after school, perhaps around 3:30, which will enable your child to digest what they’ve eaten before running around. An early dinner is a great way to fuel your child for whatever activity awaits them, and if they’re hungry afterward, you can then serve a smaller, “mini meal” following their practice or game—presumably sometime around 8:30.

If possible, consider serving a full family dinner to all of your children at the same time, even if it’s earlier in the evening. Not only will doing so help to foster the importance of eating family meals together, but it’ll also save you time in the kitchen and eliminate the need for multiple meals.

If your children are on different schedules, don’t fret. Again, do your best. Think about each child’s individual nutritional needs and which nutrients are most important for them to consume. A couple of ways to ensure that your children acquire the appropriate nutrients are:

1.    Start early. Make sure to include wholesome ingredients at dinnertime just in case your child is too tired after working up a sweat or wants to join the rest of the team for victory ice cream.

2.    The big picture. Think back to what your child has eaten all day. Did their menu include wholesome grains, leaner proteins and healthier fats? If not, try to incorporate any missing elements in to dinner or their mini meal. If that’s too difficult, it’s not a big deal. Simple squeeze it in to tomorrow’s menu.

3.    Plan ahead. Make meals ahead of time. You can even pack a thermos filled with hearty one-pot dishes or serve up quick frozen meals that you’ve prepared in advance, that way, you don’t have to think too much in the heat of the moment. (For inspiration, check out my “Make-Ahead Meals” and options for vegetarians that can be whipped up in 15 minutes or less on Modern Moms.)

If your child is hungry for a post-game snack, then a quick mini meal should suffice. Remember, bedtime isn’t far off, so use this time to help your child refuel following vigorous activity and be considerate of portions. One option is to make a homemade smoothie. My boys love a berry smoothie I adapted from Driscoll’s Berries, but if you decide to blend up your own, be sure to add a protein source and eliminate any extra sugar the recipe calls for. Other quick and tasty choices are a bowl of soup, which is both filling and hydrating, or whole-grain cereal (like muesli) with Greek yogurt and fruit.

Last but not least, be mindful of your own diets too on these especially busy evenings. Whatever you do, try not to fall prey to the fast food joints that tempt you from the side of the road while driving the kiddies to and from practice. Instead, bring food from home along with you, even it means eating another sandwich or missing a family meal, and remind yourself that none of those greasy ingredients will truly provide you with the power you need to be the super mom that you are.

Fall Remedies For Overwhelmed Mommies

Fall Remedies For Overwhelmed Mommies
By Elyse Falk, MS, RD

Fall is almost here! With school starting and the laid back days of summer ending, schedules begin to get busy again.  Even though I am a dietitian, I am still a mom, and have to admit that even I get crazed with having to decide what to cook for dinner for my family and myself. I have to figure out when to prepare it, and if I have enough time to do so, along with coordinating when to have food ready with my boys coming home at different times. It is exhausting! My clients face these same challenges and oftentimes have no one to help prep, cook, or clean up. So what would I, with these same problems, tell them? First, remember that no one can be superman or superwoman every night. Not every dinner will be a home-cooked meal and that’s okay! Go through your schedule and be realistic; figure out the days where cooking will be the most feasible and then consider this advice:

Photo Credit: BobPetUK via Compfight cc
  • Pick a weekend day and use it for prep; cut vegetables for soups or salads, cook rice or beans to refrigerate until ready, and chops onions and garlic for easy flavor boosts
  • If you have time earlier in the day, prepare food and save it to heat and eat later
  • Buy one prepared item and use it in a multitude of ways! If you a buy a rotisserie chicken, for instance, you can add it to lots of things:  tortillas, yellow rice and beans, soups, pasta, quinoa, salad, or chop it up to make chicken salad
  • Tacos are fun and easy to prepare, so make it taco night! Chop your toppings beforehand, store, and pull them out while the meat or beans are cooking
  • Stock up on organic, low sodium, high nutrition frozen foods and prepare a vegetable and whole grain to accompany it.   My kids love Amy’s Organic Mexican Bowls, Amy’s Organic Pizza Spinach Munchies, Dr. Praeger’s Fish Sticks, and pre-frozen veggie burgers that you can top with cheese and avocado and put in a whole grain bun. Remember, kids can have carbs!!
  • Everyone loves breakfast for dinner!  Omelet’s and pancakes are quick and easy. Add the chopped veggies from Sunday and throw some fruit in the pancakes and enjoy!
  • Soup is another great “heat and eat” meal! Prepare on a weekend or less busy night and freeze until needed. Chicken noodle with veggies, hearty bean soups, barley soups, or thick chili on a cold night are wonderful. Pair with some crusty bread and top with cheese or avocado and you have an easy meal
  • And last but not least, experiment with a slow cooker. This is a great way to prep casseroles, pulled pork, or even pasta sauces with little effort except for setting it and forgetting it.

Tuna Wrap

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for a great lunch recipe to add to my list of ideas. I find having a list of go-to lunches to be helpful when living a busy life. That’s why I wanted to share this little gem of a recipe with you. When made, these Tuna Wraps make for a great on-the-go lunch, perfect for school or the office.

Tuna Wrap
Serves 4


  • 1 12 oz can of Chunk Light tuna in water, drained
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise – we like to use canola or olive-oil based mayonnaise
  • 1 11 oz can of mandarin orange slices, drained
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped
  • 4 8-inch whole wheat tortillas


  1. In a medium bowl, combine tuna and mayonnaise. Mix until fully incorporated.
  2. Stir in oranges and chopped celery.
  3. Spread about 1/2 cup of the tuna mixture onto each tortilla. Add toppings of choice. Roll and serve.


Serving Suggestions:

  • My family and I love to eat these Tuna Wraps with a side of sliced red peppers and carrot sticks, and 2 cookies for dessert!
  • If you don’t like tuna fish, this recipe could easily be modified to include eggs, chicken, or even chickpeas.


A Blueprint for Your Child’s Nutritional Intake

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Parents today seem to take a black and white approach to their children’s nutritional intakes, otherwise known as diets. While some deprive their children of all food containing what’s now considered unhealthy for fear of weight-gain and obesity, like products containing white flour and high fructose corn syrup, the rest of the parent population only provides their children with refined and fast food. If you fall into either of these categories, you may be doing your child a disservice.

As a parent, it is important to learn how to negotiate these opposing ideals without crossing any lines. Of course, an intake of only processed food is unhealthy. Yet, on the other end of the spectrum, depriving a child of all processed food and encouraging dieting can negatively impact their relationship with food as well, resulting in binging and overeating when in the presence of those otherwise forbidden items. One landmark study, referred to as the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS), found that girls younger than 14 years of age who frequently dieted were more likely to purge, binge eat and harbor concerns about weight than peers who did not. Additionally, girls under the age of 14 whose mothers had histories of an eating disorder were almost three times more likely to purge at least weekly (1).

So how can you design the optimal blueprint for your child’s nutritional intake? Parents must determine how to strike a balance—a grey zone between the two extremes—neither supplying their children with sugar-laden food nor teaching them that this kind of food is dangerous.

First, you’ll want to begin by instituting this new mindset slowly. Step one: Teach your children that food is food. They eat food, they eat snacks, and they eat meals. An example of this would be to explain that an apple is an apple, and chocolate is chocolate. An apple is a fruit that is high in vitamin C and fiber. Chocolate, on the other hand, is highly sweet and low in overall nutrition, though it does have a small dose of antioxidants (in children’s words, “cold fighting O’s”). By teaching a child that “food is food,” you eliminate the notion of “treats,” “good food” and “bad food.” Avoid labeling food with these morals and values, as this is likely to encourage eating disordered thinking. If a child is able to learn that chocolate is chocolate—it is not a “bad food” or something to be rewarded with, instead it is a food choice with less nutritional value than an apple and natural peanut butter—then you are presenting them with a choice between two real, viable options. The ultimate message that can be taken away from this exercise is that all food can be eaten sometimes. The sometimes quantifier varies amongst each food.


Breaking It Down 


The first meal of the day can be identified as such, or it can be called breakfast. Labeling meal-time may not be necessary, as some children eat two mini meals in the morning: one right before leaving for school and another during mid-morning snack-time in the classroom. The most important goal of this morning meal is simply to get your child to eat.

Start by offering them two options, as choice allows children to feel in control. Ask them, “Do you want cereal and yogurt or eggs for breakfast?” If presenting them with two choices is not appropriate for your situation, you may also ask your child what he or she wants to eat, prompting them with a few examples to get them thinking about food: “Do you want pancakes or waffles or cereal?”

If your child chooses not to eat breakfast on a daily basis, then it is OK to find a compromise. The goal is to meet halfway, determining a point where you are both comfortable with the final decision. You may try asking whether they are willing to eat a yogurt or a plain waffle before or on the bus. When you ask for their input, you will quickly learn that children have preferences too, and there is a reason why they may have initially resisted the idea of this first meal. Also keep in mind that children may have difficulty with textures or associate certain foods with choking or vomiting based on past experiences.

Breakfast should incorporate the three major macronutrients: a whole grain, a lean protein and a small amount of healthy fat.

If possible, sit and eat this first meal with your child. Role modeling can have a positive influence on their nutritional intake and helps to decrease the development of disordered eating.

Photo Credit: JIGGS IMAGES via Compfight cc


The second meal of the day, or lunch, should also include whole grains and/or fresh carbohydrates such as fruit, lean protein and healthy fats like avocado and peanut butter. Know your child, and don’t assume that because they enjoyed what you packed for lunch two months ago that they will want it in their brown bag this week. Often times, parents learn that their children easily become bored of the lunches that are being prepared for them. Realize that your child will like this food again in the future. Something else you should not assume is that all children enjoy sandwiches; many do not.

For this reason, it is important to keep communication open between you and your child. If you don’t ask what they are eating for lunch or why their lunch is coming home uneaten, you will never know. At the same time, however, you must also remember that as a parent, it is your responsibility to provide your child with wholesome food to help them to grow. With your gentle encouragement, your child can learn to experience and eventually embrace different flavors and textures, which will influence their choices into adulthood. While children certainly have some influence over what they eat, do not let them rule over the kitchen by convincing you to buy chips, “because a friend eats them at school.” In addition, be mindful of whether you were deprived of sweets or “treats” as a child, as many parents who felt any kind of dietary deprivation in their past allow their children to eat whatever they please in order to make up for this loss. The consequence is a child who grows up with no boundaries and who may be more likely to become obese.

Children may consume all food groups during lunch, but parents should limit items that are less nutritious.

As a rule of thumb, children may consume a less nutrient-rich side or snack with their lunch two to three times a week. Doing so will help to prevent the formation of the idea that foods are considered either “good” or “bad,” while also preventing any feeling of deprivation. Research from the GUTS study shows that food deprivation aimed at weight loss via dieting and/or weight control in children leads to binging and purging later in life (1). By allowing your child to choose what snack they want now, whether it’s a cookie, a bag of baked chips or an apple, you can help them to avoid developing a poor relationship with food in the future.



An afternoon snack is important for all children. Not only does it help to steady their afternoon energy and prevent them from grazing until dinner, but if the afternoon snack is missed, it increases their hunger before dinner, resulting in overeating. It is therefore imperative that parents plan for children to eat an afternoon snack daily. Preferably, this snack should consist of two out of the three macronutrients (whole grains or fresh carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats).

To promote healthy choices during snack time, it is best to minimize the number of decisions that need to be made. Children who are faced with too many choices are more likely to make to poor decisions. This can be accomplished by limiting the types of packaged foods that are kept in the pantry. Try not to stock more than five options at a time.



And then there is the final meal of the day: dinner. If possible, make every effort you can to eat dinner with your child. If it is not possible to sit down for a family dinner, then try to join your child for at least one major meal a day. One study reported by the journal Eating Disorders set out to identify associations between family dinners and disordered eating behaviors among adolescents. Female adolescents who ate with their families most days, when compared to those who ate dinner together “never or some days,” were less likely to initiate purging, binge eating, and frequent dieting (2).

Understandably, when both parents work and when children have busy, action-packed afternoon schedules, this can be quite a challenge. If family dinners are not feasible during the week, then try to squeeze them in on the weekends instead. Engaging in family dinners enables you, as a parent and role model, to lead by example, showing your child what it means to consume a healthy and moderate diet. Data drawn from project EAT provides evidence that having dinner with others has a strong link to certain markers of a person’s dietary consumption, including higher intakes of fruit, vegetables and dark greens, and orange vegetables (3).

As a registered dietitian, I strongly discourage conversation that centers on food or body image while seated at the table, as this is likely to influence disordered eating. Negative comments regarding weight as spoken by a father to his son have been shown to double the likelihood of binging based on evidence from the GUTS study (1). Instead, discuss neutral topics, and refrain from watching television.

Dinner should include the three macronutrients in the form of whole grain carbohydrates or “fresh” carbohydrates like vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

With the range of food made available today, it can be difficult for a parent to map out a blueprint for their child’s nutritional intake that is both healthy and satisfying. To simplify this, focus on providing your child with whole foods and by incorporating the three major macronutrients (whole grains and fresh carbohydrates, lean protein and a healthy fat) into every meal and two of the three macronutrients during snack time. Limit meal and snack choices to reduce decisions.

One way to ease your child into this healthier and moderate mindset is to invite them to go grocery shopping with you and to allow them to pick out two of their snacks. Another place to expose them to new food is at the dinner table. Be a positive role model by trying new food and eating salad greens. If you and your child are dining on different meals, offer your child a taste from your plate, but do not force them. With time, your child’s palate will become more refined, their taste buds will mature, and they will begin to adopt healthier habits. Just remember to be patient along the way. Finding confidence in the ability to choose satisfying, energy-rich meals and snacks is a process—but a worthy one at that.

Originally published in Whole Nutrition Newsletter, Sept. 2011


Field AE, Jarvaras KM, Aneja P, Kitos N, Camargo CA Jr., Taylor CB, Laird NM. Family, Peer, and Media Predictors of Becoming Eating Disordered. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(6):574-579. 

Haines J, Gillman MW, Rifas-Shiman S, Field AE, Austin SB. Family Dinner and Disordered Eating Behaviors in a Large Cohort of Adolescents. Eating Disord. 2010 Jan;18(1):10-24. 

Larson NI, Nelson MC, Neumark-Sztainer D, Story M, Hannan PJ. Making Time for Meals: Meal Structure and Associations with Dietary Intake in Young Adults. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Jan;109(1):72-9. 


Should kids be allowed to sit at the ADULT table?


Photo Credit: Putneypics via Compfight cc

Should kids be allowed to sit at the ADULT table?
By Laura Cipullo and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team


With Christmas and the remaining winter holidays now upon us, we’ve seen a wide variety of yummy new recipes and neat ideas for preparing and serving a spectacular holiday dinner. Whether it’s roasting a terrifically juicy turkey, setting a beautiful holiday table, or even accommodating guests with food allergies and aversions…we’ve seen it all. One recent article that really stood out for us discussed eliminating the infamous (and sometimes dreaded) “kids’ table.”


I don’t know about you but, as a child, I remember spending all of my holiday dinners at the kids’ table! Surrounded by cousins and siblings, I had a wonderful time goofing around, giggling boisterously and enjoying dinner with people my age. There was, however, an unspoken desire to graduate to the ADULT table. When my cousins left for college and then returned home for the holidays, I noticed that they had earned seats at the highly coveted ADULT table. I must admit that I was more than just a little bit jealous! When would I get to sit there? What mature and important topics would the adults be discussing at that most desirable grown-ups’ table?


I can remember sneaking over to the ADULT table when I’d finished my meal to listen in on all those grown-up conversations. It was surely one of my most favorite things to do! And when I finally became old enough to officially join them, I loved every minute of it. My time at the grown-ups’ table and the discussions I shared with my elder relatives were incredibly important to me. In fact, I can still remember some funny stories that were told over countless family meals. However, I also remember my childhood meals shared with my younger family members…and I always had just as good a time at the kids’ table.


A recent editorial column in Bon Appétit suggested that parents should “lose the kids’ table.” It clearly stressed that having the entire family together, regardless of age, creates better dinners and memories for families. I think I have to agree with them. While it may take some effort to keep the dinner conversation “kid-friendly,” you’re crafting more bonding time with your children, therefore making memories that will last a lifetime.


Now, when it comes to holiday meal seating plans for my kids, the deciding factor is simply the space available. If we have room or access to an ample-sized table at our holiday functions, we most certainly have the kids join us to eat their meal. I enjoy sharing stories with, and talking to, the kids. It helps us all to create wonderful new and lasting family memories. Sometimes, however, when we have limited accessible table space, we’re actually forced to set up a kids’ table. But I don’t think they really mind too much; the kids get to spend quality time with their cousins and bond over their own fun-filled conversations and meals.


Do you have a kids’ table at holiday and family get-togethers? Does the amount of space you have in your house/apartment play into the decision? Or do the kids and adults sit together at the same table? We’d love to hear your take!


Photo: Ellen Silverman and Cooking Light

Also, we wanted to share these amazingly delicious holiday side dish recipes from Cooking Light! I mean, how good do these roasted brussels sprouts look?

Video Blog – What's In This Mom and RD's Freezer?

Ever wonder what food is really in my kitchen? Well, today we are featuring our first ever video blog. This is after my weekly Sunday food shop. Just so you know, I do not represent any of the brands mentioned nor do I endorse them. What you see is just what a I happen to have this particular week. Happy viewing and healthy being to you and your family this week. Click below on the image below.