Friday, July 30, 2010

tomato salads, easy, sweet, kid-friendly

It's tomato time. Cut up tomatoes, a drizzle of sweet balsamic and maybe some olive oil. You can add basil, salt and pepper, fresh mozzarella...
M has always liked this. Introduce it early. It's a great lunch item in a little tupperware with a fork...
reminder, I am out of town...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

when to throw out the milk, the Chinese food?

Still Tasty answers all your food safety questions. I've spent some time surfing around and learned some great tips! Go to the FAQ section. Did you know you can freeze fresh eggs, and yogurt is generally safe for over a week after the use by date? Check it out.

i am out of town....

Monday, July 26, 2010

the aspirations we have for our little girls... depressing

Girls book of Glamour. A Guide to being a godess..
(Girl in the tub scrubbing her dainty, surely 'fiercely' polished toes...)

The Boys Book of Greatness, how you can be the best at everything... (boy playing hockey)

This in the tween section at Target.

Ugh. This makes me crazy, but doesn't surprise. Anyone who has been shopping in the traditional toy stores see "girls" items: dress-up princess clothes, "heel-highs" as M calls them, slutty looking dolls, make-up kits, spa-play, tiny compact mirrors, cell-phones. The most active her make-believe roles might get is to make-over animals at the puppy salon, or be a contestant on American Idol...

I am out of town... Will try to reply to comments when I get back...

Boys on the other hand can be fire-men, police, work in construction, sports, rockets, etc. (OK, so there isn't really the accountant or MBA action figure, but their roles and fantasy lives are not encouraged to be based solely on their looks and outer appearance.)

It seems to be getting worse, it seems unstoppable. It makes me sad. It makes sense that most tween girls are dieting when they have been fed a steady intake of body-image damaging and distorting garbage from birth it seems... Sorry for the rant.

Friday, July 23, 2010

do you know what goes on at your child's school/daycare?

Is your child being fed well at school, or are the feeding practices there making things worse. Recently I shared that M's camp doesn't follow the Division of Responsibility. You know, making the kids eat all their "real" food before they can earn the treat. My friend also disclosed that her son was coming back from his school with his "treats" because he wasn't eating enough of the arbitrary amount that the 22 year old counselors thought was enough for him to earn dessert. (Sorry for the snarkiness, but this is not OK.)
A recent article in the Journal for Nutrition Education videod several early childhood providers and their interactions with the kids around food.

There were TEN TIMES as many verbal cues and pressure episodes to eat more, or different foods that did not take into account or encourage the child to eat based on internal sensations of hunger and fullness. (380 vs 38...) There was lots of "two more bites of this" and "you can eat your dessert when..."

Remember that over time, children can be fed in a way that overrides and burries their internal cues which means they are likely to eat more or less then they need.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

picky eating, size concerns: "don't worry about it" means different things to different people

A mom called me to talk about her teen who has been eating -almost exclusively- microwaved lean pockets for 7 years. At every doctor's visit she was told not to worry about it, that it was fairly nutritious, and he would likely grow out of it. A young pediatrician recently wrote in (A., I read your comment but couldn't find it when I needed to post! Sorry) to say when parents come to her with picky eating complaints, she too tells them not to worry. I probably gave similar advice ('mac-n-cheese is fine! Just add a multivitamin!) when I was a new doc.

I look back now at how naive I was, how misinformed, and how unhelpful ultimately to so many parents. You see, I grew up with structure, family meals, enough money for a wide variety of foods that were largely presented in a pleasant atmosphere free of pressure. (I think part of me assumed that was happening in most homes.) I had no training in feeding other than how to concentrate formula and calculate calorie needs for the "feeders and growers" in the neonatal ward, and I didn't have my own kids. (OK, a few lectures on breast-feeding and perhaps a review of a handout about starting solids, always the what, never the HOW to feed...)

In short I had no idea how many families struggle with feeding, how many moms truly agonize over intake or a child's size. I had no idea how many of the moms I was seeing had themselves struggled with eating and were terrified of feeding their child. I didn't know how normal it was for most families to feed children one meal (often the same meal of macaroni and cheese and nuggets) and feed themselves later, and how much energy went into trying to get the kids to eat more or different foods. I didn't know that most of these picky kids were "good eaters" early on but systematically coned down to an accepted menu of brown and beige foods because parents didn't know how to handle normal feeding stages, or fed out of worry over nutrition or size (see last few paragraphs of that post.)

I didn't know that most feeding advice (if parents got any) was counterproductive. I didn't know that most folks today (kids included) seem to graze most of the day. I had no idea how much pain and conflict was inflicted in the name of weight and nutrition. (The moms who call crying because a child is refusing to eat and is losing weight, or another child is showing markedly disordered behaviors at age 7...)

OK, back from "tangent land."
point 1) your doctor might not have a clue. There, I said it. I didn't have a clue.
point 2) your doctor may be giving you bad advice. Again, I did...
point 3) health care providers, be careful about saying, "Don't worry about it" in terms of picky eating or odd eating behaviors.

More on "don't worry"
for health care providers and parents, just to make it extra confusing :)

First you need to ask more questions about feeding. A normal weight or growth curve should not give false confidence that feeding is going well. As a parent, if you see a health care provider and you're worried, and you are not getting your concerns addressed, ask yourself some more questions, get help... (Or if you get advice that sounds off like, "Just serve beef and green beans for 3 days, he'll learn to like it..." don't give up!)

Docs, ask: (moms, ask yourselves...)
How is feeding going?
How do you/I feel about feeding?
Are you/we eating meals as a family?
Do you/I struggle with eating?
Do you/I continue to offer a variety of foods?
Are you/we getting into battles around food?
Are you/we worried about your/our child's size?
Are you/we familiar with or following the Division of Responsibility?

Because, "don't worry about it" might be just the right advice for a family that is otherwise doing well with feeding. Support and optimize good feeding practices.

But –and here is the sad part– a family that is really struggling who is told, "don't worry about it," as is often the case, is a missed opportunity. It is much easier to turn around a feeding issue when a child is 5, vs 15... "Don't worry about it" to some means, keep serving mac-n-cheese and nuggets every night so you don't have to fight about is as much. Keep bribing and pressuring, keep worrying. And maybe 5, or 20 years go by (seriously) where the child only eats 5 foods, or maybe the dieting starts or the disordered eating...

Ask the feeding questions, optimize best feeding, educate yourself (Child of Mine should be required reading in all med schools as far as I'm concerned...) or at least have some titles or handouts you can refer parents to. Don't worry, but do have family meals, do offer variety, don't feed with pressure, do eat foods you enjoy, and follow up.

Moms, have you been told, "don't worry about it?" Did you still worry? What wacky advice have you gotten about your feeding concerns? From whom? Family? Docs?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

heading out of town soon...

On Sunday, I leave town for just over two weeks and will be gone with work and family visits much of the rest of the summer. I was wondering what you think about a few ideas while I'm gone.

1) post a few oldies but goodies...
2) post a few from my draft pile with mostly recipes and food ideas
3) take a vacation

I don't want to miss out on any great discussions, but I don't want to just cut everyone loose for two weeks.

Either way, I hope you'll be back! Consider signing up on FACEBOOK (fan Family Feeding Dynamics) so you don't miss when I get back into the swing of things, or sign up to follow with an RSS, or whatever system you use!

savory and sweet, the waffle bar

These were so good last weekend! We made waffles (home-made) and served them with ham and cheese and also with maple syrup. it solved my perennial breakfast dilemma-salty or sweet?
We put about 1/3 cup mix, then sprinkled some sliced ham and shredded Jarlsburg cheese into the middle, then put another 1/3 cup or so on top and cooked. It took a little more time than the usual. I could also have regular ones. This was yummy and fun! (Your waffle iron may need different amounts...)

M's immediate reaction was to reject the new waffles. We said, "You don't have to eat anything you don't want to," put both kinds on a platter and went about enjoying breakfast. About half way through, she served herself a quarter of a ham and cheese one and ate it. She said she didn't like it, which is fine. Kids will often reject foods. If you can remain neutral and leave the control up to them (serve foods family style) chances are they will be more likely to try something new or previously rejected.

I think this would be yummy with leek and potato soup in the winter. I actually found myself missing winter and all the wonderful food that you just don't want to cook when it's 90 degrees...

Basic Waffle recipe from Joy of Cooking

preheat iron
whisk together in large bowl

1 3/4 cups AP flour
1 Tbspn baking powder
1 Tbspn sugar
1/2 tspn salt

whisk together in another bowl
3 large eggs, well-beaten
4-16 Tablespoons (4 is "low-fat", 16 is crunchiest, we use about 6-8) MELTED
1 1/2 cups milk (we have 1%)

We pour the wet into dry and just mix until dry ingredients are gone. there should be lumps...

What sounds good to put into your waffles? Might a waffle bar be a fun way to introduce your little ones to different things? You can cut them into quarters and share! What have you stuffed into waffles? I had this when I was a little girl in Switzerland visiting family. It made an impression!

Monday, July 19, 2010

calcium update and food presentation

I recently was at two events where kids were able to chose foods from a buffet. One was at a friend's afternoon party, another was at a WIC tasting cafe. (Woman, Infants, Children supplemental food program food tasting event.) At my friend's house, there was a bowl of berries, and also fruit kebabs with almost exactly the same fruit. The kids grabbed the kebabs and pretty much ignored the berries. I was helping M with her plate and she said, "No thank you" to a spoon full of berries, but ate about 4 berry kebabs. Similarly with the WIC cafe, the kids gravitated immediately to the fruit kebabs and helped themselves. Many, after checking for permission, came back for seconds and thirds. No one was cajoling or threatening the kids, they gravitated to the fruit and loved it. (I was a little nervous with toddlers walking around with pointy sticks, but all was well!)

On another "presentation" note, I have been sharing my odyssey of my daughter drinking far less milk, and recently also not choosing other calcium-rich foods. I decided to try some go-gurts (she liked them for awhile, then seemed to not eat them as much so I hadn't bought them for some time...) to add to our snack repertoire and she seems to really enjoy them. She hasn't been eating much of the yogurt in a cup, but maybe just the new presentation was a kick-start. Who knows! I presented it as part of snack, in a neutral and pleasant way.

She had two for snack yesterday with strawberries, and two with morning snack with a baggie of Kix-which she didn't eat. I will continue to rotate it through her meals and snacks (dessert one night, or dessert with lunch maybe) as well as cheese, regular yogurt and offering milk. I'll keep you posted...

I also had to remind myself as I was thinking of other foods to offer, that I was limiting her choices based on old exposures. I caught myself saying, "she doesn't like rice pudding" when in reality she had only maybe seen it 4 or 5 times, and the last time was months ago. (One family I worked with, the mom said, "My boys don't like shrimp" and the dad said, "we haven't had shrimp in this house for 5 years," and two of her children were under age 5...) So I bought some rice pudding (which I enjoy :) and offered it. She tried it the other night for dessert and said, "no thanks, I don't like it." Fair enough!

The trap parents can get into is worrying about a certain nutrient or food group. I think I recently blogged about a mom who was worried about her toddler's protein intake and knew he would reliably eat chicken nuggets, so she was serving them most nights. This is how you can start to cone down the foods your child will accept. Feeding from a place of active worry almost as a rule doesn't help, but makes matters worse.

Same for me. I need to now resist the temptation to serve go-gurt three times a day and lose out on variety! Remember what Ellyn says, the child's attitude about eating is more important than what they eat on any given day (or week sometimes!)

Think of a list of foods your child "doesn't like" or "won't eat" or "won't accept." Honestly think back to when the last time was that you offered that food, and try to honestly guess how many total, NEUTRAL exposures your child has had. Maybe it's time to give some of those foods a second (or third, or thirtieth...) chance!

Friday, July 16, 2010

'doh! Thanks doc! and a new phase of picky?

We were at the pediatrician's yesterday. Generally I really dig her, she is very low-key and never mentions M's BMI... M and I are pretty excited to be preparing to visit my brother who lives in France. We go every two years to visit our only cousins! Anyhoo, M was talking about how we are going to go shrimp fishing and how excited she is. The doc chimes in with, "We were just in France, and you know she won't eat anything there! My kids only ate crepes and Sprite!"

Thanks! Great! Why put the notion into her head, from a doctor of all things? Again, we need to have an expectation of mastery and success, not pre-determined failure when it comes to food. Reminds me of the parents who go into restaurants saying, "You probably won't like anything here..." and then seem surprised when indeed the child meets those expectations. Our words matter!

I am also noticing recently much more vociferous opining about foods from M, who is almost 5. "Yuck, that tastes gross," is coming out of her mouth about foods she's never tried. This is new and I'm not loving it. I wonder if this is peer influence? Overall she still seems to be enjoying a wider variety, but there seems to be more immediate rejection, then coming around. I'm glad I have the tools to handle this... I hope!

Parents, did you notice changing attitudes around kindergarten age? Is it peer influence, or the preschool time when kids are eager to please is coming to an end? Have you seen your kids attitude about food influenced by a friend who is "allergic" or a "vegetarian" or "doesn't eat anything green?" (I frequently get demos of how her little buddy C eats apple slices, very gingerly eating all but the peel...)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

burrito bounty, kid eats only white rice...

I wanted to try a recipe for Cuban Beans and Rice. I had some tomatoes and lettuce from our turkey curry the night before so I thought I'd do burritos.
The beans were pretty good, I added 1/2 Knorr chicken cube during cooking and probably would do a whole one next time, and maybe add the garlic closer to the end of cooking? It was a little bland (might be good for little ones though.)
I had avocado, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, beans, rice, chicken (just sauteed it with oil, salt and pepper) fresh cilantro and yellow heirloom tomatoes. My husband and I were in heaven. They were SOO good, but big and messy with our overload of fillings...

M, who is almost 5, and normally a very adventurous eater, only ate the white rice.... (I am not going to debate if white rice is the new devil, even though a nutritionist recently told me she would only feed it to her dog, and even then only if he had diarrhea...)

It was annoying, and frustrating. I get how hard it must be for parents with children who are picky to watch a child only eat rice or pasta or bread when an incredible meal is on the table, that took some effort to prepare. I can see why it would be easy, and even intuitive on some level to actively try to get the child to eat more variety. One of my first clients was a nutritionist who loved to cook, and her then almost 3 year old little girl pretty much only ate plain rice and pasta...

But, I stuck to the principles and didn't beg or cajole, or even offer more than a few times :)
I said, "well, everything is on the table, if you can't reach something you want, let me know." She didn't.

It's tough not to reason and pressure. It doesn't help to reason and pressure and it might hurt, but it's hard not to.

I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

are "obese" people "hedonists" when it comes to food?

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had an interesting article, Eating to Live or Living to Eat?
It talked about the impression that 'obese' people react differently to sweets and forbidden foods than 'normal' weight people. The notion that 'obese' people are hedonists and can't control themselves, that brain chemistry can explain the addiction to food. (See my review of End to Overeating for a brief discussion...)

Lots of the same old same old, 'obese' people are gluttons with a physiological explanation, but a few sentences stood out and gave me hope that we are starting to consider the feeding/eating relationship. They never come right out and say it...

"It's possible that these changes reflect how the brain has adapted to eating patterns in obese people, and that could create a vicious circle, putting them at risk for even more disordered eating," says Dr. Small.

I would have loved to see them talk about those "eating patterns" can we just spit it out? Dieting? Avoidance? Restriction? Years of yo-yo dieting where all of these foods have been forbidden, where maybe the obese subjects have a higher probability of having engaged in dieting? I would like to know. Did they include those factors in the study? (Of note, most obesity studies in children do not take into account at all the feeding relationship...)

There are plenty of other metabolic mysteries, too: Why are some "foodies" who get intense pleasure from eating able to stop when they're full and others aren't? Is the tendency to eat way past fullness genetic or learned behavior, and how much can it be changed?

Did they bother to ask about their eating styles, their dieting histories? Have their brains been wired for years that these foods are for pleasure or are these foods associated with shame, guilt, restriction and intense desire...

On people who have lost significant weight and kept it off through diet and exercise alone:

"They are very controlled individuals, and they are very rare. We had to fly some in from Alaska,"

I think that last part is my favorite sentence. Goes in the face of everything we hear about how simple it is to just eat less and exercise more!

Some of you may remember my favorite quote that these researchers might benefit from:

"Food might not be addictive on its own, but prohibiting it can set off a cycle of anxiety, craving, and overconsumption that for all purposes looks like addiction."

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

is it ever OK to eat in front of TV... and readers, how do you eat your popcorn?

thanks for all your comments on my earlier post. A question popped up, and was one of my reader questions: Is it OK to occasionally eat in front of the TV?

Sure! We do the same, about every 10 days or so we plan to have our snack during a movie- usually popcorn (M likes hers air-popped with butter and sugar like in Germany) with some lemonade and fruit. I do think she tends to eat more than she would otherwise, but I trust that her internal regulation will work it out...
Ask yourself a few questions, something like, are you enjoying it? Are you watching TV to avoid each other, out of boredom, most meals and snacks, to tune out so you don't have to pay attention to what you are eating? How do you feel after you eat in front of the TV- "that was fun," or guilt, or "I can't believe I ate all that?" Eating for entertainment is sometimes OK and is part of normal eating.

international readers (more than 50 countries and territories are reading FFD!) how do you eat your popcorn?

"family dinner" brought to you by the iphone...

Does this look familiar? What do you think? This was in the NYT recently about plugged-in parenting. Does this count as a family meal?

Monday, July 12, 2010

parents, a few thoughts if you go to urgent care...

A family member recently went to urgent care and it got me thinking. From experience, both as a mom and a doc, there are a few things that can save you a TON of worry and time.

1) Ask whom to call if there is a problem with any prescriptions (what is the on-call physician number to call if you are at a clinic-based system.) We once had an antibiotic Rx "called in" to Walgreens and by the time I got there, the clinic was closed and Walgreen's had no record of the call... (It took about 90 minutes of calling back and forth, and pulling the "I'm a doctor" card to get the meds...) Also, who to call if the first dose results in vomiting?
2) ALWAYS ask for a written Rx, even if they "call in" a script (which is really handy on a weekend, which is when kids always seem to get sick...) That way if there is a problem, you have a paper back-up. If they are reluctant to call it in and hand you an Rx, ask them to put an expiration date on it, or whatever they are comfortable doing so you can have a paper copy. Lie if it makes you feel better, something like, "I know it's a hassle, but we once got really burned when the pharmacy said they couldn't find the script and the clinic closed and it took lots of work to get the medication." This will not work with narcotics or controlled substances FYI.
3) Ask what signs to look for that indicate if things are getting worse and what to do about it.
4) Call your pharmacy in advance to be sure they are open. In fact, if it's an odd Rx, you might even call ahead to see if they have the actual drug (recently the on-site pharmacy at my clinic did not have the ear-drops I needed so I called to another pharmacy to be sure I didn't waste a trip.) Most standard antibiotics won't need a call. Ask your prescriber if it is a commonly prescribed medication if you aren't sure.
5) Stock up on any 'as needed' meds when you get your prescription. Be sure to check if you have the right doses or types of meds for your child. Any Tylenol (warning, another recall just happened) or Ibuprophen or Benadryl etc. When your child is ready, a chewable is often preferable to huge swigs of infant or toddler liquids.
6) Speak up if you have any questions or concerns. I find it's much easier to be pushy or an advocate for my child than or myself. Don't be shy if you have questions.
7) If there are other children in the home, ask what to look out for and get the name written down of the actual diagnosis and the actual med so you can help out the nurse on-call, or the doc when your other little one gets sick :)
8)If your child is on any regular medications, bring them all with you in a brown bag. Have a current print-out from your family doctor or pediatrician about any allergies, problem-lists and medications.
9) Find out in advance which hospitals have pediatric ER for when it's really bad. Hopefully you'll never need it, but if a pediatric ER is the same distance as a regular hospital (as is the case where I live) you'll want to know where to go.

What else? I've been lucky with a pretty healthy child, other tips from parents out there?

Friday, July 9, 2010

a nice summary of picky eating tips

Great tips on picky eating. Remember, kids don't make sense with food (see yesterday's post.) We need to be reliable, predictable and offer a tasty variety of foods...
Sound familiar? Hearing the message over and over, from different experts can be really helpful when you make the leap of faith to family meals and stopping the short-order cooking. Are you inspired?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

breakfast theater, or act II of "tiny, crazy, irrational people"

scene: breakfast
offerings: brioche, cereal, English muffin, yogurt, BANANA

me: Hey, M, would you like to cut the banana for us this morning? (offering her the chance to be involved in meal prep, all together now... Kids who are involved in meal prep are more likely-not gauranteed-to eat the foods they help with.)
M: no, gross, I don't want any banana
Me: You don't have to have any, please don't say 'gross,' but I want to cut it up for everyone to have some if they want. (I cut the banana.)

30 seconds later...
M: what's that yummy smell? Oh, it's the banana. May I have a piece of banana, please?
Me: Of course, help yourself. I like how you asked.
M: (happily eats banana chunk, after about 10 seconds, makes a face...) You know why I don't eat lots of bananas? They give me canker sores.
Me: Oh, really? Hmm.

remember, kids are tiny, irrational and unpredictable people around food. That is why we have to be predictable and neutral...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

brioche rolls and flexible dinners...

I slacked off on menu planning this week due to illness. I have to say, when I don't feel good, I don't enjoy planning and cooking. (My heart goes out to anyone living with chronic pain...)
Anyway, on the way home from camp, we pass Trader Joe's. M wanted to go in (she wasn't too excited about her mango and oatmeal cookie snack, and I think she was excited about the sucker you get for finding the hidden bunny... She die end up eating some oatmeal cookie with milk, but skipped the mango-a former favorite. Remember, small ones are not "rational" or consistent about food, that's why we have to be!)

Back from "tangent-land..."
I smelled these amazing brioche rolls and thought I'd make some kind of knock-off on a Phily-cheese steak. I bought steak, griddled a bunch of onions and peppers. (Folks from Phily, please forgive me...)
I wasn't sure how it would be, so I kept the Fajita option open. I served kind of a buffet with tortillas, buns, jarlsburg cheese, steak, avocado, onion mix- a kind of "onions and steak two-ways" if you will...

Here's what happened. The brioche was not yummy with the steak, but I did enjoy it immensely with butter and Jarlsburg, which is probably what I wanted all along! Kid and spouse preferred the Fajita-inspired route, though M ate mostly onions and peppers, skipping the meat this time.

It ended up that everyone was satisfied with a hap-hazard meal. If you are making something new, it's a good idea to pair it with something familiar. FYI, M is having re-heated onions in her lunch (along with a tortilla/cream cheese and ham, some yogurt and 2 pickles,) hope she doesn't want to give any kisses at camp today!

I think had I not had the tortilla option, it would have been a less fun/satisfying meal. What do you think? How do you improvise?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

adult picky eaters

There was an interesting article in the WSJ this morning about adult picky eaters.

Please check it out! Picky eating is one of the most common issues I help families with. As you see here, some kids don't outgrow their picky eating. If you are concerned, read a book, get some help. (Child of Mine, or Secrets to Feeding a Healthy Family, both by Ellyn Satter.)

Are you an adult who only eats a handful of foods? Will you share with us, and maybe how you were fed as a child?

It was interesting that the adults in this article describe their picky eating habits starting in childhood. One of the moms in the article is so scared her daughter will pick up her poor habits that she breaks into sweats and pushes food/ sticker charts for eating more at breakfast... Can you guess where this is likely headed?

This is pretty sad on many levels. I would imagine that these adults were not fed well as children. Were they catered to, fed special food just so they ate something? Were they provided the opportunity to try new foods without pressure? Were they forced to try new foods or eat "two-bites" of everything? Were they not fed reliably at all and had to fend for themselves? I hope that the Duke study into adult picky eating will consider how these folks were fed as children. The next level that is heartbreaking is how terrified the one mom in particular was of "passing on" her feeding issues and how she has not been given the tools to begin to succeed.

Ellyn Satter wrote a short piece on helping adult picky eaters.

Tell me what you think...

praising eating? reader question #1

Here is the first question I chose to address from a reader...

"Lately I've been saying "good job!" to my 15-month-old during mealtimes. I know that's probably not the best thing to say. I'm wondering what kinds of things should be coming out of my mouth. Should we even be commenting on our daughter's eating at all? We mostly talk about other things while we eat, so it's not like I'm hovering over her making comments about every little thing she does or doesn't choose eat. :)"

Great question! Sounds like you're doing a great job, and it can sometimes be tough with a little one who is learning to be part of the family at the table.
S.H, sounds like you are having meals and structure and that you are eating together. A tad of tweaking and you might feel more confident with what you are saying. You are also heading into the most challenging feeding phase (I call feeding the toddler, the "perfect storm") where picky eating and the "terrible two" behaviors and power struggles can ruin the family table if you're not prepared.

Lots of parents praise, cheer-lead, and oversell foods in an effort to get their children to eat more, or certain kinds of foods. One Dad described really making a big deal about how his daughter liked to try new things in an effort to get his son to try them too. It didn't work, and on reflection, dad thought his son might have felt shamed by being compared, and also might have enjoyed the attention he got as the "picky one."

When you wonder about what you might be doing or saying around feeding, a great question to ask yourself is, "What is my motivation?" (I still do this.) Are you praising behaviors and perhaps effort with a new utensil, or are you praising eating certain amounts or kinds of foods? Is your effort strengthening or undermining your roles with the division of responsibility? In other words are you trying to do her job with feeding- the how much and if from what you provide? Are you getting push-back from your efforts? Does it make you feel better or worse about feeding?

Praise, sticker charts, rewards for eating are forms of pressure and will make many kids less likely to try and like new foods. One mom described her son this way, "The surest way to ruin anything for him was to try to lead him — he is a kid who wants to find his own way and will let us know if he needs our help. Even casually offering help might be enough to make him shut down. "

It's OK to comment on and praise manners. "I like how you asked for more potatoes so politely, here you go," or "Mommy likes these beans too," "Good job sitting so nicely," or "thank you for not interrupting..." or "thanks for helping me lay the table."

Phrases like, "What a good boy, you ate all your meat," or "good job drinking all your milk, it will help your bones grow strong!" or "I'm so proud that you tried some broccoli!" can all feel like pressure to some kids and might make things worse. Also, be careful not to label your child as a "good," "bad," or "picky" eater, even if you think they aren't listening.

Talk about your day, talk to each other, check in. (This will all get easier and way more fun the older your child gets!) Family meals are by far our favorite part of the day now.

I hope that answers your question, feel free to comment if you need more clarification...

Readers, what do you think?

Friday, July 2, 2010

simply cookies

I'm back in town after 3 business trips this last month. Here is a quick post from my "draft" pile until I get my bearings...

I love these... I keep them in a big ziplock in the fridge. I can pull two out at a time and make them in my toaster oven and have home-baked cookies for afternoon coffee break! (A perk of often working from my home office!) I like that the ingredients are "simple." The list is abut 6 long. Butter, chocolate, vanilla, flour, eggs, salt, sugar... Sounds familiar?
M likes them too. We can cook them while making dinner and have fresh cookies for dessert.

Remember, kids do best if dessert is served with the meal. Offer one warm cookie (dessert is portioned) that the child can eat at any time during the meal. Serving dessert with the meal takes dessert off the pedestal, takes power from dessert, makes all foods equal (vs bribing with dessert which gives kids the message that dessert is good, and all other foods are bad.) It's amazing to watch your kid eat a bite of popsicle, then broccoli, then popsicle, then chicken...
Dessert is portioned (vs the rest of the meal that the child can pick and choose from) because sweets and desserts will take the place of more nutritious feeds if kids are given the choice.