The Internet Mom Force – Part 3

  My first encounter with the Internet Mom Force came in the form of a comment on a blog post. I was naïve. I started a blog called “Enjoy Real Food” thinking that maybe people out there would like some tips from a dietitian on incorporating more whole foods into their diet. What I didn’t know is that the interwebs are teaming with people who don’t want fun little tips about healthy eating in moderation. They want extremes. They want crusades. And if you enter this world unawares, you just might end up on the wrong side of a battle you never thought needed to be fought. So, while writing my cute little blog, I decided to write a post about soy. I was getting lots of questions from people. Is it good for you? Bad? Does it prevent heart disease or cause cancer? Lots of confusing news reports out there. So, I combed through some great systematic review studies. You know, the ones I was telling you about in part 2 that look at a bunch of studies and not just one isolated study. Then, I wrote a little blog post about soy. Should you be scared of it? Not really. Should you try to eat 100 servings a day? Probably not. It wasn’t exciting. It neither vilified soy nor made it out to be a miracle food, it was just a short post on the facts as far as we knew them to that point. I posted my blog, pretty sure it would get like 3 views. Because seriously, who actually reads someone’s blog on soy? A...

Pseudoscience-Proof Your Brain- Part 2

Catch-Up with Part 1 here! The way I see it, there’s two ways to pseudoscience-proof yourself when it comes to nutrition. You can either study and learn a lot about science and your body and nutrition or you can know how to find the people who have and take their advice. The first way requires a lot of time and energy and maybe some cash too. If you really (really) love nutrition and want to do this, please find some credible places to do your research and get any credentials you want. No, google does not count and neither does the “School of Food Healing Science and Nutrition Love” that your quirky neighbor holds in his basement. Even if he gives out certificates at the end.  I get the sentiment to stick it to the man, but big universities and organizations like the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics are the best we have right now. And while they’re far from perfect, they’re still a better way to get good knowledge and information than your cousin Sal’s blog. Just sayin’. If you, like most people, just want to know what to believe and what to ignore then you need to know where to go to get your info. Just googling a question will inevitably get you bad info. Why? Because the most popular sites, blogs and videos will come up. And the truth of the matter is, common sense nutrition and science are not exciting (or popular). If you’re looking to nutrition for some excitement in your life, may I suggest you turn that search elsewhere? Maybe take a...

Psuedoscience and the Internet Mom Force – Part 1

Shampoo commercials are my favorites. You know, the ones that start with the model with a head full of crazy, tangled hair looking so frustrated with a brush in one hand and a straightening iron in the other? Then, the commercial shows a close-up graphic of what her poor damaged hair actually looks like. Then, my favorite part, the mysterious shampoo beads float into the screen, swirl around her hair follicle, their DNA-double-helix-looking-tails trailing behind them, and magically her computerized hair is smooth and shiny. Pan back out from her digital hair and suddenly the same model is shown with perfect, smooth, silky hair. No need for her brush or straightener anymore. And, thanks to the shampoo, we all know she will be happy, have a beautiful marraige and perfect kids with heads of hair that are shiny with nary a tangle. My favorite parts are the pseudoscience graphics. You know, the ones that show us what we would see the magic hair beads doing if we had microscopes in our showers. People must believe anything that shows computer generated things that look like molecules performing miraculous tasks because they’re all over commercials. Probiotic commercials where tiny dots ease constipation, dog food commercials where magic meat molecules rush into a dog’s body, strengthen his muscles and improve his Frisbee catching abilities and mouthwash commercials where fuzzy white foam molecules strip away computer generated plaque on digital teeth. If I could go back to school, I would drop this whole nutrition gig and get a degree in pseudoscience graphic design. Is that a thing? The more I think about it,...

The “How” of Eating

The world of nutrition focuses a lot on what you should (and shouldn’t) be eating.  So, when adopting, it’s only natural that most of the advice that parents get has to do with what they should be getting in their child’s stomach.  What to feed for certain deficiencies, catch-up growth, etc.  And while that’s all super important information, if you don’t know how to feed those foods, then the what may not be doing much good. Teaching our kiddos how to eat is so, so important.  A lot of mealtime battles are fought because we are so over focused on what foods are being eaten, that we’ve failed to teach the skills for having a good family mealtime.  With a newly adopted or foster child, make sure you are spending ample time teaching and training on the how‘s of eating.  This may mean loosening your grip on what is eaten for a while. There are certain eating skills that your child should master as a preschooler.  If you are adopting or fostering an older child, you may need to go back and work on some of these skills before you will be able to make much progress in his or her nutrition.  I’ve adapted the following list from a list written by Ellyn Satter in Child of Mine: Your preschooler should… Like eating and feel good about it Be interested in food Enjoy being at the table Be able to wait a few minutes to eat when hungry Rely on internal cues of fullness and hunger to know how much to eat Rely on changes in appetite to know what...

A Plea for Moderation

As a dietitian, I am all for healthy eating (duh!).  I mean seriously, I’ve made it my career.  However, I am so alarmed by the healthy eating obsessions that I’ve seen grow over the past decade.  As parents, we want the very best for our kiddos.  And that includes the foods that go into their stomachs.  We don’t want them to eat anything that could harm them and we want what we feed them to fuel them in a way that helps them reach their full potentials.  But this has gotten a smidge out of hand… and instead of making kiddos that have healthy relationships with healthy foods, we’re creating a food obsessed culture.  Instead of creating kids who eat so they can live to the fullest, we’re making families whose lives are centered around food. Is “healthy” eating taking up too big of a place in your life?  Are you spending more time planning and agonizing over what you feed your kids than you are with other things you’d like to value more (teaching them, playing with them, etc.)?  Have you noticed your kiddos growing anxious around what they should eat?  Does your 3-year-old know what a calorie is?  Have you noticed that part of your self worth has gotten wrapped up in what you and your kids eat?  Do you find your self judging other people based on their diets? Is your life centered around food instead of the food you eat enhancing your life? Consider the following quote form Ellyn Satter, MS, RD, CICSW, BCD: “Good nutrition is optimizing, providing, and celebrating;  it is not restricting, controlling, and...

Family Meals, Family Style

After reading the book Love Me, Feed Me by Dr. Katja Rowell, I was convinced that we should start serving our family meals family style.  Up until then, we had been serving our kids the same way most American parents do with pre-plating.  My then four-year-old (who also happened to be very picky) would immediately protest the minute her predetermined meal was placed in front of her.  There was always something on that plate that made the whole thing inedible… and the dinner battle would begin. At first I was resistant to the idea of serving family style.  Don’t all the diet tipsters say to pre-plate your meal so you wont be tempted to take seconds?  What if she only puts bread on her plate? Or mac-n-cheese?  Or grapes?  What if I don’t want to get an extra serving dish dirty? But I was desperate, so we tried it.  And it’s changed our family dinners.  Serving family style immediately took most of the battle out of our meals.  It gave some much needed control in food choices to our daughter and helped exposed all of our kiddos to a larger variety of foods.  The best part is, that all three of our kids will often choose on their own to try something by the end of a meal that they resisted at the beginning.  They quickly pass along the bowl of asparagus and then snatch a piece out and nibble on it at the end of the meal.  The bowls on the table, being passed without pressure, give them all time to get used to foods they need.  And...

Food Jags… When To Freak Out

Ever had a toddler that only wanted to eat one thing?  Mac & Cheese for breakfast, lunch, dinner and every snack in between.  Or just berries.  Or only Eggo waffles.  It’s called a food jag and it’s a perfectly normal part of development.  Most pass within a few days-weeks and aren’t really a cause for concern.  When you think about it, adults have mini food jags too.  We crave chicken salad sandwiches for a week or two and then forget about them and move on.  We just know that we can’t only eat chicken salad sandwiches so we add other things to our cravings.  But in a toddler’s mind, there’s no good reason why they can’t eat their very favorite food-of-the-week all the time.  So, that’s what they try to do.  Food jags are frustrating, but also scary when you’re parenting a kid who may come with a history of food issues.  The multiple issues that adoptive and foster parents work through with their kiddos can make food jags especially difficult to work through. Here’s some tips if you have a toddler who is stuck on one food: Don’t stress out!  Most food jags pass if you don’t freak out about them.  In fact, freaking out could be the very thing that makes it last longer because it’s fun for toddlers to control their parents’ emotions.  So, take deep breaths and pretend like you don’t notice. Don’t change how you feed.  Continue to put regular, balanced meals and snacks on the table and don’t stress out that your kiddo is only choosing to eat one thing from what you...

But You First…

One of the most important aspects of raising kiddos with healthy attitudes and relationships with food is to model a healthy relationship with food.  As a freshman in college, I found myself spiraling headlong into patterns of disordered eating at a rapid rate.  Having grown up in a home where food was a healthy, balanced part of our lives, my new-found food obsessions and fears where a far cry from the norm of my childhood.  And it scared me.  One day, I heard in a class that many young girls with eating disorders, in essence, “inherit” these disorders from their mothers.  I did not want this to be a new legacy that I left to my future daughters and decided then and there that I would get the help I needed.  It was one of the best decisions I have made; to kill the thing that was hurting me and could one day hurt my kids. As parents, it’s pretty natural to think about what’s best for our kiddos and to fight for it.  It’s less obvious to recognize that what’s healthy for us is often the very thing that will grow health in them.  As you seek to raise healthy eaters, don’t fail to take the time to examine your own history with food: Do you have a history of disordered eating? Are you anxious around food? Is the idea of gaining weight terrifying for you? Are you constantly dieting? Do you eat to avoid certain emotions? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may need to take some time to get some healing with...

Links From The Gathering Adoption Conference

Hi Folks from The Gathering Adoption Conference! I so enjoyed talking with y’all tonight!  Here are some of the links we talked about as well as the books I recommended: Books: Love Me, Feed Me: The Adoptive Parent’s Guide to Ending the Worry About Weight, Picky Eating, Power Struggles and More Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense, Revised and Updated Edition Intuitive Eating Life Inside the “Thin” Cage: A Personal Look into the Hidden World of the Chronic Dieter Other Links: Recommended Supplements:  http://adoptmed.org/topics/nutritional-supplements-in-adoption.html Z-Scores: ...

Why You Should Ignore Your Picky Eater

Having a child who is a “picky” or “selective” eater can cause a lot of stress.  We all want our kiddos to get the nutrition they need, so, when they start pushing aside the veggies and turning their noses up at anything but goldfish and chicken nuggets, we start to freak out.  This is especially true when we’re talking about kids who may already have nutrient deficiencies or other health concerns. So, what’s a parent to do?  Ignore it!  No, don’t ignore the issue entirely, but do your best to ignore the picky eating when it’s happening.  Nagging, pressuring, pleading, begging, bribing and the like do little to improve a child’s eating habits.  In fact, when those tactics are used during the family dinner, it makes most kids dig in their heals.  And it makes mealtime a battle ground instead of a time for your family to come together. When a kid senses that his eating is the focus of the meal, he has a powerful bargaining chip that he can use to control that time.  So, do your best to ignore what he is (or isn’t) eating.  Talk about the day, talk about school, talk about life and let him decide what he will or will not eat.  This creates a healthy mealtime environment that allows a “picky” eater to relax and observe others enjoying food.  When the focus is off of what they will eat, many kids are actually more willing to try new stuff. Listen to some advice that Dr. Rowell writes in her book Love Me, Feed Me: “You may have to fake this at first,...