Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Nourishing a Growing Body

Cam had his 18 month checkup yesterday and we received good news! He is now being charted on the average 18-month old growth charts. Basically, his growth was being tracked on the preemie growth chart since birth because he was born at 33 weeks. This meant he was being compared to babies born at the same gestational age. That was fine, but I couldn’t wait for him to just be compared to other kids his age – 18 months, born between 36 and 40 weeks. Cam is meeting all of his growth expectations and the doctor is happy to see his progress and growth.

Kids Grow Fast

We all know that children grow up in a blink of an eye. There are days that I can’t even believe I have a 4 year old and an 18-month old running around. Blink… I make sure they eat well and I know that has contributed a lot to Cam’s progress. As parents, I know we fight the same dinner table battles. We struggle to get our children to eat their fruits and veggies. Sometimes we just can’t get children to eat at all. I don’t know why some days my kids run like crazy and aren’t hungry come dinner time. It blows my mind.

So here are two tips to help you: When your child wants a snack, ALWAYS offer a fruit or veggie first. This is how I got my children to love them! Once they were used to getting them as a snack, there typically wasn’t a problem getting them to eat it during meal time. And if they wanted to skip meal-time, at least I could get them to eat a good snack. My second tip is to empower your child with options. When it’s snack time, allow your child to choose between two healthy snacks. Choice is a motivator for children and adults.

Water is Best, but Drink Milk Too

Drinks loaded with sugar just slow kids down in my opinion. I have noticed this first hand. That’s right, my kids don’t get hyped up on sugary drinks and run crazy. Instead they tend to get lazy. In addition, my kids don’t digest sugary drinks well at all so I know they need a lot of water every day.
Cam’s doctor also made sure he was drinking enough milk each day because milk helps our bones stay strong. Young kids need a lot of calcium in their diets. If your child isn’t a milk drinker, there are other options. My kids eat yogurt and cheese almost daily. And a nice treat is a small serving of ice cream, which is a dairy product!

Pack on the Protein

You can find protein in many different foods. I grew up eating a meat, veggie and another side for dinner. I have tried to follow this same plan with my kids. My daughter, Capri, requests steak and corn on the cob for dinner daily, no joke. But they both love to eat chicken and rice, tacos, fish, etc. When you provide kids with a variety to choose from, their palates will grow with them and expand upon new tastes. They will also be more open to trying new foods.

Don’t Give Up

Capri won’t eat red spaghetti sauce or red pizza sauce. She will eat plain spaghetti with a little oil or butter and some garlic and white pizza. I always will offer her a bite of my red sauces when we have them because some day she may like it. I don’t force her to eat things she doesn’t like. We all have different tastes. But I don’t give up on those “yucky” foods either. Just consider them food options that your child doesn’t like yet. Sometimes preparing foods a different way helps kids to realize they are good.

Cam didn’t like oatmeal since he could eat it. But every time Capri or I had it for breakfast, I would offer him a bite. And guess what? He gave it another try the other day and realized it was really good. Our tastes change as we mature so keep offering those “yucky” foods they don’t like yet and continue trying new foods and new ways to prepare old favorites.

Did your kid’s eating habits change as they got older? I’d love to hear your stories!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dealing with Loss

By: Jenn Ripepi, MD, The Choosy Pediatrician 

The loss I am referring to is not small losses but eventual big losses. But how we handle small loss can be building blocks to bigger losses. Resiliency is the catch word I'm talking about and there is more research about how important resiliency is to become well-adjusted adults.

Let's Start With a "Little" Thing Like a Lost Toy

What we say to our children is important for them getting prepared for larger disappointments. For example, if we downplay the loss by calling the child's concern unimportant, we are not showing empathy for their attachment to the object. Conversely, if we spend an inordinate amount of time looking for the object or, worse yet, replacing the lost toy whatever the cost, then we may give more importance to the object rather than to the feelings about the object. Tricky, huh?

So How Do We Go About This Task? 

One way is to ask children to try to express their feelings about the loss. Maybe using an example of your own. Using words like sad, lonely or worried may help. Ask about what children think they can do to help get over those feelings or what you can do to help. Older children may be able to imagine what they can do to recover from the toy being gone from their daily life. Maybe they could draw a picture of themselves playing with that toy as a reminder of the fun they had. Or maybe it wasn't really that important and they move on quickly. No need to fret that they have not dealt with it. They have moved past it. They have shown resilience!

Now Something a Bit Bigger Like a Pet

Whoa! That's pretty big to some families. Or maybe it's not a pet but a bird or bug which you notice on a walk. Sometimes that can be a powerful encounter. Again, consider asking questions of children or telling them your feelings of sadness, emptiness or loneliness for the death or physical loss of an animal. These feelings of grief may go on a while if your pet was deeply involved in your family life. Let children know that whatever they feel is OK. Sometimes recalling memories or looking at pictures of your pet and telling happy stories about how the pet enriched your lives is helpful. Stating gratitude for having known your pet whether it is a fish or cat or dog or horse shows children that you accept that sometimes animals are in our lives for just a brief time or a long time.

Now On To People

Heavy subject. Maybe it's not people who have died but people who have moved away or who we've moved away from. Sometimes the person is still with us physically but is unreachable emotionally--like the loss of a friendship. These are very difficult topics and many of us have trouble discussing them at all. But giving voice to these concerns is the way that children learn how to express those whirling churning feelings inside themselves. Saying things like "Mommy is crying because she feels achy inside since Gramma is gone." or "Sometimes I get frustrated because I can't understand why my friend Pete won't talk to me anymore." Apologizing for our feelings does not show resiliency. Denying what we feel inside is not a healthy adjustment. Expressing those emotions and showing our children healthy ways to deal with them like taking a break for vigorous exercise when we feel frustrated, a walk when we feel overwhelmed or helping someone else out when we feel detached from others are great ways to deal with strong emotions. Drawing, writing, pretending and physical activity are ways children can begin to deal with these. Overeating is not a good way to deal with emotions. It can be difficult to lose sight of that sometimes.

Healthy Responses is Key

Teaching children to deal with loss by not trying to "fix" it, overreact to it or blame it on others does not help them to become resilient. Using healthy responses, giving voice to our emotions and supporting children to find their way through loss can go a long way to them becoming healthy, adjusted adults.

Has your family had to deal with a loss of any kind? I’d love to hear your story so we can all help each other with healthy responses.

About the Author: I have been a pediatrician for over 25 years. My husband and I have been privileged to raise 4 bright and healthy children. I have tried to gather wisdom from the families I have been blessed to meet during my journey. I believe in practical and flexible parenting to help raise healthy adults. I love to garden, hike, travel and cook and I am looking forward to hearing from Choosy followers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Put Your Goal in a Bowl

By: Holly L. Goroff MS, RD, CDN

Placing POWER on the sideline, bringing WILL to the frontline. Willpower - The weapon of choice to lose a food fight.

Have you ever noticed that when dieting willpower doesn’t always work? Either it doesn’t work at all or doesn’t work for long. It may ‘help’ you make a ‘good’ choice for a moment (what to eat, if you exercise or not, etc.) but it’s exhausting to stay consistent. Yet, people constantly say ‘I need more will power…then I’d lose weight, exercise more, or achieve my goal.’

What is Willpower? 

It’s defined as control deliberately exerted to do something…to restrain one’s own impulses. (Sounds exhausting!)

Let me put you at ease. Willpower, if it’s anything to your goal, is a saboteur! Think of it this way: it is a high (emotional and psychological) energy state. It’s essentially a fight and if it’s for weight loss…it’s a food fight!

The Vicious Cycle

You want a second portion of lasagna, or a fifth cookie but you ‘shouldn’t’ because it’s ‘bad’. So you breakout your willpower and tell yourself it’s bad, you should not, you try and walk away. But it is so hard! Your friends are eating whatever and it feels good to eat it - until right after, of course, when the guilt sets in and the story repeats. You can easily break a sweat fighting against your momentary desires to try and meet your goal. This clearly applies to many areas in life that far surpass food. But let’s face it, by the time your exhausted at night, and potentially starving, your strength runs low and you’re more apt to binge or say ‘forget it, I’ll try again tomorrow’.

Don’t Follow Misguided Thoughts

So why all the quotes in the above paragraphs? To highlight misguided thoughts. Let me explain.

When I was trying to lose weight (one of the many times before I successfully kept it off) I said to myself ‘I want to be 145 pounds’. In honesty, I’m sure the number came from somewhere, but since I can’t remember, it tells me for the most part the number was arbitrary. When I was tempted to eat too much at a party, out with my friends or just bored at home, the thought ‘Hey, Holly, don’t eat that. Don’t you want to be 145 pounds?’ fell flat. A number is a general statement like ‘I want to be healthy’ and it is sterile and not motivating.

Find Your Own Goals

When I personalized my goals and thought of specifics that would change in my life as my goal was achieved that was way more motivating than ‘I want to be 145 pounds’. For example: Instead of saying, ‘don’t eat the five cookies because that’s ‘bad’ and then if I do I’ll feel failure and shame’, I’ll ask myself what do I want more? Five cookies, which might mean I won’t lose weight for that day or be one meal and step closer to feeling confident in a bathing suit, or not feeling my clothes being so tight?

When you ask yourself to choose between two things you want, there is no fight. You don’t even really need power. You just need to actually want to achieve your goal and realize you always have many choices to make. What to eat is just one of them and an example I am covering currently.

Put Your Goal in a Bowl

Here is my recommendation on how to help train yourself to choose for your goal….put your goal in a bowl!

Let’s say you’re at a party and there is pizza. You had your one slice, fine. You want the second slice because it was so good, even though you’re not hungry. Your goal is to lose weight so that you feel comfortable in a bathing suit. This is what you do…

Step 1: Desterilize your goal - Make the goal personal and relatable rather than abstract or impersonal. Example: Instead of ‘I want to be 145 pounds’ ask yourself what about that number you really want (because I didn’t actually know if that number was the number that would make me comfortable). Instead, I want to lose weight so that I am confident going to the beach in a bathing suit and my clothes are not tight.

Step 2: Imagine next to the slice of pizza you want to take there was another plate (or bowl). In that bowl imagine there are the things you want: your beach body, your jeans that fit you, photos of a more confident you, etc. Now look at the two options: Second slice of pizza because it’s good OR bowl filled with success that occurs when you choose to forego eating too much.

Step 3: Choose which one you want more!

Step 4: Be happy for yourself! Now instead of fighting you are merely making informed decisions for your life completely based on things you want! You’re acknowledging that weight loss and heath goals are intermixed with all of your other life goals. By repeating steps 1 and 3 you are making informed and balanced decisions.

Step 5: If you chose the second slice of pizza instead of your goal in the bowl…move on. Of course you’ll choose the food sometimes. Just try and outweigh the times you choose your extra food with how much you choose your goal.

One Step Closer to Your Goal

When you choose the goal in the bowl more often than the second slice of pizza, or whatever your temptation is, not only are you going to be one meal closer to your goal, but you didn’t have to use willpower or any power. It’s not an exhausting process. You simply made an informed decision using your will and your will only. I invite you to listen to a sample of Choosy Kid's song, "I'm Learning to Choose" that may help you focus on what our bodies need most. It doesn't matter that the song was created with children in mind. Rather, think of it as an honest reminder. You can also read the full lyrics by clicking on the image below.

About the Author: Holly is an experienced dietitian in both clinical and community nutrition. She is currently serving as the Clinical Nutrition Manager at now guest blogger for Choosy Kids!

She received her Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Studies from the Steinhardt School at New York University. She is published through her research and contributing work at Burke Rehabilitation Center investigating nutritional factors impacting neurological rehabilitation in stroke patients.

In addition to managing her staff of clinical nutritionists, she has a passion for serving at-need and underserved communities. She teaches outreach programs focused on mindful eating and strategies to make healthier lifestyle choices to at-risk community populations. She has recently been made lead in her hospital for teaching and managing the outreach classes to reduce childhood obesity.

She has expertise in: weight loss and management, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dealing with polypharmacy and achieving nutrition goals, achieving wellness goals in a creative and resourceful manner and motivating change.

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