Nutritionist Tips

Nutritionist Tips: Your Top Asked Questions Answered by A Licensed Dietitian

 

Two of our expert dietitians, Elle and Dina, answered your most-asked questions about kids and nutrition. We were able to take the most important points from both of their responses and combine their answers. Enjoy!

 

1. What do I do about my child who is a picky eater? How can I get him/her to try new foods and eat more fruits and vegetables?

First of all, it is very normal for a child to question the food with which they are presented! Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Imagine you were in a foreign country and there were only a few foods you knew or felt comfortable with, and everyone was always trying to get you to try these unfamiliar items. It might not be a pleasant experience, right? Eventually, over time, if you saw the food over and over again, it would stop looking so foreign. So, just because your child doesn’t like a particular food doesn’t mean you should stop preparing it.

It can be challenging, but there are many strategies to encourage healthy habits. First, continually introduce your child to the food item. It usually takes at least 10 (and can be up to 20) introductions of a specific food for a child to feel comfortable and more open to try it. So keep giving your child that food item and try it with them! Children typically mimic both of their parents’ eating behaviors. Second, involve your child in the cooking process if possible. Make dinners a creative process that your child can help assemble and build. They will be more likely to eat their “masterpiece.” Third, try to pinpoint which food textures or consistencies your child does not like. If you find your child doesn’t like crunchy vegetables or even hard fruit, then provide your child with that fruit/vegetable repurposed into a texture they enjoy. You can take cauliflower and turnips and mash them into a creamy mashed potatoes consistency, for example. You can take fruit and blend it in a smoothie with skim milk. Lastly, don’t give up! If you feel it’s becoming a serious problem and your child isn’t get the proper nutrition, you can always reach out to a professional for more tips and tricks! Don’t suffer alone.

It is also important to note that giving your child a choice is very important. If the child seems to not be interested in vegetables, it may be because the child feels forced to eat that food. So if you were to give the child the option between two vegetables, they will feel more control over what they are eating. According to the center for Disease Control and Prevention, nine out of 10 children do not eat the recommended amount of vegetables. There was a study done at Texas A&M University that also shows that children are less likely to eat the vegetables on their plate if there are more delicious items on that same plate. So it is important for parents to put foods that are similar choices together, rather than putting pizza or fries next to a bunch of broccoli on the plate.

2. How can I feed my family with different preferences and weights?

Adjusting food preferences for a diverse family can be hard. However, it is important not to ostracize or single out any one family member. Instead, make it a family effort to eat more nutritious options. Place emphasis on making healthier choices for the whole family’s benefit. Instead of making separate meals, try to make the same meal and adjust the portions accordingly on every child’s plate. Instead of encouraging seconds right away, have your overweight child drink water and start a dinner conversation to make dinner time last longer. It takes around 20 minutes for our brain to even register that we ate, so overeating at dinner can be attributed to the length of our dinner.

Keep in mind that restriction just leads to the child wanting to eat more. They will find food elsewhere (school, friends, grandparents, etc.), so restriction just doesn’t work.  Studies have shown that when a parent thinks their child is overweight, that child is more likely to stay overweight or become more overweight than when a parent thinks their child’s weight is not an issue. Why? Because of restriction.  

It is also important to remember that you are not a short order cook! Have one meal that you can offer them if they don’t want dinner (for me it’s a peanut butter sandwich). Don’t change that secondary meal option, ever. You may find that your kids start to try the food that you made for the family more when they are only presented with one alternative option. This way, they won’t go hungry if they don’t like dinner, but they don’t get whatever they want.

It is also important that during meals there are options. If you are eating as a family, try to put a wide variety of foods on the table, both healthy and some less healthy choices. This way the child who may need to focus on eating better will be forced to eat with portion control. If the child is able to see their parents and siblings eating the same thing they are more likely to eat what is on the plate. Making separate meals for each child is unhelpful and may lead to more self-consciousness for that child who is given less. A study done in southern England showed that modeling is the most important influence on a child’s eating habits. Thus if the child is able to continually see a parent eating like them, they will follow those habits.

3. How can I control/ monitor what my child eats when I’m not there? How can I get them to make healthy choices?

The bottom line… you can’t! And that’s okay. We don’t have to control everything. Sometimes, kids need to learn for themselves. What you can do is talk to them about making healthy choices and why healthy choices are important. In these conversations, try to keep weight out of it. You love them no matter how they look.

When you are not around, your grocery shopping purchases will determine what your child eats. Continuously stock your pantry and fridge with more nutrient dense food options, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, popcorn, whole grain chips, and dried fruit. Limit the amount of processed and refined sugar choices. Not only will that limitation help your child make healthy choices in the house when you are not home, but when they are away from the house they will most often gravitate towards foods they are familiar eating.

There is a lot of research on restriction and how it can negatively impact a child’s diet in the future. Leanne Birch and Jennifer Orlet Fisher researched restriction in 2000 and found that girls at 7 years old who were given access to snacks only when they were at school would be more likely to take them than 7-year-old girls who were given the same access at school but were not restricted at home. Another study shows that if restricted at age 5, girls are more likely to eat when they are not hungry from ages 7 to 9. This also resulted in girls at 9 being the heaviest. It is important that parents have planned snack time where the child knows that they are going to be able to have a snack at a certain point in the day. It is also important that children are given dessert every so often, so that they are not restricted from eating sweets.

4. How much should my child be eating and how often? What’s the appropriate serving size?

It depends on your child’s age, gender, weight, and activity level. Keep in mind, children’s stomachs are much smaller than adults when portioning out plates.

I always try to incorporate mindful/intuitive eating. Have them focus on how hungry/full they are before/after eating. Try to eat slowly and enjoy the eating process.

It is important that a child’s growing body is able to eat as their body needs food. When a child is at school, they are usually very active, which will also increase their caloric needs. Typically, children should have three meals a day, plus two to three snacks throughout the day. Since they are still growing it is important that they maintain a steady growth by eating significant meals. Grains are typically portioned to 3 to 5 ounces a day, which could be two slices of bread, cereal, or pasta. Vegetables should be 1 to 1.5 cups a day as well as fruits. It is crucial that children consume 2 to 2.5 cups of milk per day, and that they consume 2 to 4 ounces of protein per day.

5. What does an appropriate breakfast look like for a child and how do I get them to eat before school?

Breakfast really is one of the most important meals of the day! Breakfast should be a complete meal. A complete meal includes a complex carbohydrate and a serving of protein. The best way to encourage breakfast in the morning is to have the whole family eat a quick meal together. Children mimic the eating habits of their parents, so if they see their parents are not eating breakfast, chances are they won’t want to either. However, time is crunched in the morning, so don’t make it a gourmet meal. A quick easy breakfast to eat with the whole family can be low fat greek yogurt mixed with berries, and a low sugar granola sprinkled on top!

Another key to getting in a good breakfast is making sure the child is well rested. Make sure your child has time to fully wake up and start their day stress-free before trying to get them to eat. Most everyone wakes up dehydrated, which can actually make your stomach feel upset.  Try offering a glass of water when they first wake up. Let that settle for a few minutes before offering food.

A good breakfast for a child includes a lot of things — eggs, French toast, waffles, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal, bagel, fruit, yogurt, smoothies, etc. While it is hard to push your child to have a breakfast, it is very important that they eat something before they go to school. Studies have shown that if you start with something small in the morning, a child will be more likely to eat it. Do not put a huge plate in front of them because that could overwhelm the child. It is also helpful to have the child drink the meal, like a smoothie. Your child may think it is less food if they are looking at it in a cup, but in reality you could add a lot to a smoothie.

6. What are easy and healthy breakfast, school lunch, dinner, and snack ideas for my children?

Easy grab and go options are ideal for kids and parents! Breakfast can be a nutrition bar and a piece of fruit. Look for low added sugar bars such as the Kid’s RX bar and give them a banana. Make lunch fun but also simple! Lunch can be rice cakes with some nut butter, a low fat string cheese, popcorn, and grape tomatoes. Dinners should be engaging for your child. Try to make dinners fun but easy. Make your own pizzas using a whole wheat pita, low fat shredded mozzarella cheese, and veggies on top. Have your child decorate his pizza and encourage him to make a vegetable face on his pizza. Not only will your child want to try the finished product, but they will be eating their vegetables! Snacks are a great opportunity to sneak in another fruit or vegetable. Try making vegetable faces on a rice cake with hummus as the base, or fruit and vegetable smoothies, or even homemade guacamole!

Some other healthy ideas for children could be whole wheat pancakes with fruit on top for breakfast and apples with cinnamon or a smoothie for a snack. For school lunch, it is important to send something filling such as a sandwich with whole-wheat toast, some protein, and some vegetables as well. It is also important that the child is given sides as a snack so that they can have something sweet as well. An example of a sweet snack could be a cheese stick, some sort of 100 calorie pack snack (of their choice), or a fruit.

If you would like me to connect you with one of our expert therapists or dietitians, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!

10 Tips for a Healthy Halloween

This week’s guest blog is written by Andrea Berez, MS, RD. Andrea is a registered dietitian and a certified specialist in pediatric nutrition.  For more information about her services and to read her bio, check out our team page at http://lwwellness.com/about/our-team/.

 

Halloween is just around the corner, and your kids can’t stop talking about how much more candy they’re going to get than their siblings or friends. Of course, all you can think about is how little candy you and your kids can get away with, so that everyone can still have their treat, but avoid sugar highs and crashes, stomachaches, and unwanted weight gain.  

 

Not only has the obesity rate tripled in children since the ‘80s; the number of cavities in children has started increasing for the first time in 40 years. The average trick-or-treater consumes 3,500-7,000 calories worth of treats alone (one to two pounds) just on Halloween, and 3 cups of sugar, the equivalent of 220 sugar packets!  

 

In order for the average 100-pound child to burn those calories, he/she would have to walk nearly 44 hours or play full-court basketball for 14.5 hours straight! We, as parents, know that will never happen!  So, the question becomes, how can you keep Halloween a treat for your kids, without it being too tricky?  Here are some tips that you and your family can try…

 

  1. Make a plan ahead of time.  Your homework as a parent is to first decide which of these tip(s) will work best for you and your family.  The goal is that each person in the household is satisfied and you feel like you can live with the choices as well.
  2. Consider being somewhat lenient on Halloween. For some parents, letting their kids indulge on that day may be okay as long as there is a discussion of how the rest of the candy will be handled.  (This will be discussed in more detail in upcoming tips.) Again, the key is that a plan should still be in place for dealing with the days prior and following Halloween.
  3. Consider handing out less sugary foods or toys.  This can benefit both the trick-or-treaters and your family. Having leftovers of healthier foods will have health benefits for you and your family in the long-run. Examples of less sugary treats include small apples, small packages of pretzels, raisins, animal crackers, whole grain cereal or crackers, mini cereal or granola bars, trail mix (not containing candy) light/low fat popcorn, Kind Bars, mini Lara bars, and Endangered Species Dark Chocolate Bug Bites.  Examples of toys that can be given out are stickers, erasers, fun straws, glow sticks, false teeth, Play Doh containers, bubbles, pens, pencils, creepy creatures, flashing rings, and small games such as card games. The American Dental Association has taken a stance against cavities with its “Stop Zombie Mouth” campaign, offering coupons for the game “Plant vs. Zombies”, as well as coupons for other items such as hats and tee-shirts that can be given out to trick-or-treaters instead of candy.
  4. If you like to hand out candy, purchase it the day of.  That way it’s not sitting in your house ahead of time for days for all those tempting lurkers (including yourself).  Also, consider buying less than what you think you need, because, let’s face it, you usually have lots of leftovers!  Remember to make sure you buy the most mini version of the candy that you can find. You may also consider buying candy you and your family least typically crave so the leftovers are less tempting.  
  5. Fill up before trick-or-treating.  Just like you shouldn’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, you and your kids should not go out trick or treating on an empty stomach.  If you and your kids eat a family wholesome meal or filling snack ahead of time, there will be less noshing on the treats while trick-or-treating and much less over-consuming overall.  
  6. Buy back some or all of the remaining candy.  Give your child a nickel or so for each remaining piece of candy leftover.  They’ll be excited to get a big stash for their piggy bank to help save up for that special toy or activity they’ve been wanting so badly.
  7. Or donate the leftover candy.  Many dentists have a buy back program, which supports military support groups. See http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com. Your child can also donate their leftover candy to a local food bank, hospital or shelter.
  8. Don’t make Halloween an excuse to eat candy.  Just because it’s Halloween, doesn’t mean it’s the one day of the year that you and your kids should eat candy to your/their hearts and stomach’s content (which ultimately becomes a discontent!) Don’t restrict candy for days or weeks ahead of time, as this will only cause a candy binge on that day. The motto should always be everything in moderation!
  9. Be a good role model.  Whichever of these tips you decide to try and/or adopt, make sure you follow them best.  Your family will more likely do as they see. Remember, as with everything else in life, you set the bar for how you expect your children to act.
  10. Allow your children to take part in the decision-making.  Give younger children choices for the treats (or toys) your family gives out.  Allow them to make the ultimate decision so that they’re excited about what is being given out.  If you have older children or teens, encourage them to be mindful of how much candy they eat, and to stop before they feel full or sick.

If you would like me to connect you with one of our health expert or dietitians, contact me or book an appointment with me. I look forward to hearing from you

Why I Refuse to Listen to Vanessa Hudgens for Dieting Advice

This week’s blog is written by Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW.

I open my morning newspaper and see a large picture of actress Vanessa Hudgens in bikini bottoms and a tight shirt with the headline “no carbs” in regards to how she “looks so good.” As an eating disorder therapist, this is honestly horrifying to me. Vanessa has 6 million Twitter followers and over 15 million Facebook likes. She is a role model to many people who likely will follow her dieting advice and cut out carbs to “look like Vanessa.”

 

Our society has jumped on the carb-free or gluten-free bandwagon as a quick fix to lose weight, but this is simply not true. Carbs supply much-needed energy to the body and help enable the protein you consume to break down and be used to build muscle.

 

There is also a difference between carb-free and gluten-free and this often gets confused. Going gluten-free does not mean cutting out carbs. Gluten is a combination of storage proteins found in wheat and related grains. Gluten is not in carbs such as rice, beans, quinoa, potatoes or corn so when someone cuts any of these foods out of their diet because “gluten affects them” they are misinformed.

 

In fact, the gluten-free diet is only healthier for people with gluten-related disorders, such as celiac or gluten intolerance. Individuals who have celiac disease require a gluten-free diet because gluten causes an adverse reaction in the body which damages the intestines and can lead to serious health problems.

 

Gluten alone is not related to how healthy one’s diet is. The overall food choices one makes within the diet, whether it’s gluten-free or not, are what is important. Regardless, no food group should be cut out without consulting a medical professional.

 

There is so much misinformation out there regarding health and diet that it is important to do your research before trying out any new meal plan. As a parent, you have an even bigger responsibility to set an example for your children and also open up a dialogue about nutrition and healthy eating vs. “fad diets.” There are no “quick fixes” when it comes to your health, and nutrition is about so much more than weight and looking good in a swimsuit.

If you have more questions about dieting and nutrition, check out our nutritional counseling services.

A Note To Those Recovering From An Eating Disorder

,

As a therapist, I help many people overcome challenges in their lives. There’s a common misconception among many clients I’ve treated that mental health professionals all come from a strong foundation and haven’t dealt with the thoughts and feelings they are experiencing. The truth is, though, I became a therapist because of the struggles I went through and because I know firsthand how difficult it can be to navigate life when you are dealing with challenges that seem outside your control.

One of the biggest challenges I ever faced was recovering from a severe eating disorder that plagued most of my adolescence. Overcoming my demons and eventually learning healthy coping mechanisms made me the person, the mom and the therapist I am today, but it wasn’t an easy process. I used to struggle with sharing my recovery story because it involves remembering such a dark period in my life, but then I realized opening up about my story of hitting rock bottom could help others going through something similar or simply inspire others to work through their past, which inevitably includes dark moments.

My “rock bottom” moment happened when I was working as a nanny in San Francisco and was living with my sister. I had a nervous breakdown after binging and purging for over five years. I was 21 years old, single, poor and depressed after deciding to leave my abusive and controlling boyfriend. I was working as a nanny and a tutor so that I could pay for my education.

That week I had worked for about 50 hours, in addition to being a part-time student at Golden Gate University where I studied international business. I came home on a Friday evening after I stopped at a local grocery store to stock up on food that I was going to binge on as soon as I got home. My sister was at work and I had the opportunity to eat as much as I could. I thought about the number of times that I binged and purged that day and when I counted I scared myself. It had been 15 times… my record was 30 times a day but while serving in the army I was able to reduce the binging and purging to three times a day so I was hopeful.

When I got home I knew that something was wrong but I couldn’t identify what it was. My thoughts were racing and all I could focus on was eating as much as I could and then purging. I couldn’t wait for the moment when I felt the sign of relief — which for me was lying on the bathroom floor like a drug addict and enjoying feeling high after purging everything I had eaten. All the excess noise in my head would clear for about half an hour. This relief came with a ridiculous delusion that I was somehow lighter and more powerful afterward.

I don’t want to bore you with all the details of that evening, but that night after lying on the bathroom floor for about an hour, I knew that something wasn’t right. I tried to get myself up and I wasn’t able to. My heart was racing fast and I felt like the ground was pulling me down and gravity was winning. Was this how I was going to end my life? That thought had crossed my mind many times before, but this time it felt real. I was 21 years old. I felt stupid, ugly and fat, and at that moment, I knew I had to pull myself together and write something so that I could share it with other girls who felt like me.

This moment from 21 years ago feels like it was just yesterday. I am 42 now, married to the man who I met at age 21 and I have three girls. But that moment will forever be ingrained in my mind. Somehow I pulled myself up that night and I started writing what I wanted to be my memoir. No name. Just words on a page.

I ended up writing over 100 pages that night of what I thought would be my story that would be published after I died. The beginning of my imaginary book was, “As I am writing these pages, I am dying from this horrible disease that has taken over my life for the past seven years…”

Many words followed, disclosing personal information about my family and life and horrible things that happened to me in my childhood that I had never shared with anyone. When my sister got home that night, she confronted me.

Everyone around me knew that something was terribly wrong with me. While they knew I had broken up with my boyfriend and it was a very messy breakup, no one could have imagined I was as sick as I was with bulimia and depression. I had hidden it very well.

Looking back at that time is painful, but it’s also eye-opening. This was simply the beginning of a very long process to recovery. Looking back now, I obviously see so many problems with my thoughts and behavior, but I think one of the biggest ways people can help themselves when they are nearing rock bottom is by sharing with someone you can trust. I lived with my sister and we were very close. Had I opened up to her sooner I think the recovery process would have started much sooner.

The point of me writing this note is to express to those on a similar journey that you are not alone. Everyone has a different “breaking point” so to speak, but what really helped begin to pull me out of that dark place was writing. It was the first time I was acknowledging my demons, which is the first step in any recovery efforts.

I encourage you if you are reading this and it sparks something inside you — maybe you are on a similar journey or know someone who is — to reach out and share your questions and comments.

If you would like me to connect you with one of our eating disorder specialist or dietitians, contact us or book an appointment with me. I look forward to hearing from you!

The Dos and Don’ts Of Nutrition And Mealtime With Small Children

*This blog was written by our Director of Nutrition, Deborah (MS, RD, CDN, CDE)

Establishing healthy eating habits and proper nutrition in your children is essential from a very young age, as these will impact their overall health and relationship with food for their entire lives. A well-balanced diet is vital for your child to develop both physically and cognitively, and what you teach your children about healthy eating habits can affect their body image in the future.

Here are a few of my favorite tips when dealing with food battles.

DO

– Have family meals where your children eat their meals seated at a table with the rest of the family as often as you can

– Modify your child’s meal so their portion sizes are smaller and age-appropriate; ensure there is nothing that can be easily choked on

– Offer a meat, carb and a vegetable or fruit for all meals (Mac/cheese is not a well-balanced meal, serve alongside some chicken, fish, beef, etc. and cheddar broccoli). For breakfast, an example would be to serve oatmeal with a string cheese and some sliced banana.

– Always send your kiddos to school with a protein-filled breakfast to help keep them full until lunch. Think eggs, oatmeal, peanut butter toast, grilled cheese, etc. A carb-filled breakfast (cereal, waffles, pancakes, bagel with cream cheese) digests rapidly and can leave their bellies growling quicker, this can distract from learning.

– Taste all food before serving it to your kids to make sure it’s delicious!

– Serve a new food along with old favorites and have other family members model eating the new food in front of your child (this helps with introducing new food to picky eaters!)

– Have your child try new foods when they are hungry

– Establish regular snack times throughout the day

– Start teaching kids about nutrition, food selection, and basic food preparation from a young age

– Keep variety in your child’s meals

– Talk to a doctor about any specific health concerns

– Make sure your child is getting enough zinc, calcium, and iron as these are the nutrients most children don’t get the daily recommended values of

– If your child is dealing with weight issues, focus on behavior-changes (not weight changes)

– BE PATIENT, most kids are neophobic with new foods (scared to try something new)

– Be a good role model for your kids (Monkey-see, monkey-do). Your kiddos won’t want to eat carrots if you’re eating pretzels in front of them.

DON’T

– Feed your child in front of the TV, iPad or any electronics. Kids tend to overeat when distracted.

– Allow them to graze throughout the day on chips and other unhealthy snacks that have no nutrition

– Use food as a reward (“If you eat all your food I’ll give you cookies, etc.”)

– Force your child to clean their plate

– Get upset by messes — your child is learning fine motor skills and accidents will happen, however, they should be minimal by the time your child is in grade school

– Force your child to eat certain foods (this will have a negative impact on their desire for that food)

– Serve too many foods high in fat and sugar

– Pass your food hang-ups on your kids, offer all foods without judgment

– Provide your child with the same foods for each meal, this will only reinforce a few foods and not facilitate expanding their variety

I have been working with a family where both parents are health conscious and one goal they had early on was for their kiddos to like vegetables (every parent’s wish, right?!). They key is to introduce early on, we decided on a “green vegetable juice” at around 8 months old via a straw cup. A typical recipe might be celery, spinach, cucumber, apple and lemon. To this day their family and friends are shocked when their kids, now ages 5 and 8 eat SALAD with their dinner!!! They key is to start as early as you can, be consistent and you’ll see lifelong healthy eating habits.

_____________________________________________________________________________

The author of this blog is our Director of Nutrition, Deborah, MS, RD, CDN, CDE, founder and owner of City Kids Nutrition, a nutritional consultation service for children living in and around New York City. Known for her innovative approach to spooning nutritional knowledge into tiny bellies, Deborah is passionate about helping kids achieve physical and emotional health. Deborah became interested in nutrition at a young age when her father was diagnosed with heart disease. Turning her interests into a career, Deborah received her Masters in Clinical Nutrition from New York University and graduated with honors from SUNY Albany with a degree in psychology.

 

If you would like me to connect you with one of our expert in nutrition contact me or book an appointment with me. I look forward to hearing from you!

On The Anniversary Of My Eating Disorder Diagnosis…

,
Since yesterday was the anniversary of my eating disorder diagnosis (26 years ago!!), I got to thinking about how grateful I am for everything I’ve been through and where I am now as a mother of three. I thought it would be a good idea to blog about motherhood, gratitude and ways that we, as parents, can help prevent eating disorders/ways for us parents to promote wellness and prevent mental illness.
limorrecovery
My anorexia arrived when I was 14 years old and stuck with me for about a year and a half. I then, secretly, became bulimic for the next 8.5 years, and as crazy as this sounds, I considered myself to be the best bulimic ever. It was all about secrecy.  Without getting into too much of the horrifying details, I can tell you that it was a terrible disease that affected all parts of my life, and thankfully, I was finally able to overcome it at the age of 24.
Now at age 41 and as a mother of three girls ages 6, 9 and 12, I have a new understanding of my mental illness at that age and why I was particularly vulnerable.
I look at my 12-year-old who is kind, happy and confident, and I think of myself as a 12-year-old. I was a neglected, abused teen whose parents couldn’t afford to keep her and was sent to live with a foster family. Yes, in hindsight this was the best thing for me, but as a 12-year-old, it felt like the end of the world. I spent many nights crying myself to sleep as a teenager.
While instilling confidence in a child and providing a safe, loving home goes a long way, I also know that eating disorders affect people regardless of upbringing. As someone who lived with the illness and understands the mindset behind it, I know that it is one of my top priorities to prevent eating disorders in young people.
So, as a parent, what can you do?

My Top 5 Tips:

  1. Teach your kids to be grateful. Gratitude is one of the biggest mindsets I have taken away from my struggle with eating disorders. It’s something that affects your whole outlook on life and allows you to stop focusing on what you don’t have and what you can’t control (both of which fuel negative eating habits). Of course, you don’t want to be one of these annoying parents who constantly nag your kids and tell them how lucky they have it (Yes, I have been guilty of this a few times), but REMEMBER that while you think your kids “struggle” if you don’t give them a lot of “stuff,” in the end it’s our job to breed gratitude in our kids.
  2. Practice mindful eating and MUTE the media. I can’t tell you how important it is to practice eating mindfully. In today’s world where everything is electronic and our kids grow up with exposure to SO much, it is essential to keep the important moments of mealtime as mindful as possible. Specific guidelines that we have created in my family include: Enjoy the food by paying attention to what you are eating and using all your senses; Talk about the good parts of your day and the least favorite part of your day. (Talking as a family and making mealtime an activity and not something your kids dread will help everyone focus on the moment); Lastly, no electronics at the table while eating.
  3. Be a role model. Model healthy eating and healthy body talk when your kids are around. I once saw my 6-year-old  getting herself on the scale and when I asked her why she was doing that she said that “daddy gets on the scale every day…”  As adults, a lot of us are guilty of this, but who is around to see it? We are also all guilty of making various comments to friends or family related to food or weight and we don’t always pay attention to who is listening. Think about what you are saying, especially when you are around your kids. “Fat talk” is so popular, especially among women, once you start the trend of NO FAT TALK, I promise your friends will follow and you will find that you are leading a healthier lifestyle!!! Make it a blanket rule that you do not discuss diets or weight in front of your children.
  4. Educate yourself and your child. Educate yourself about the various eating disorder. 10-15% of Americans suffer from some kind of eating disorder. A new study estimates that about half million teens suffer from eating disorder or disordered eating. It’s important to recognize the signs of a developing eating disorder and know that they manifest in a ton of different ways. It’s not always that you are starving yourself…
  5. Build your child’s self-esteem. You can do that by giving them choices, let them know no one is perfect, don’t draw comparisons between children, encourage independence, assign age-appropriate household chore and spend special time with your child, focusing on his or her unique qualities and gifts.
Most importantly, if you think your child has an eating disorder or even if you suspect one may be developing, seek help as soon as you can, there are a lot of free resources out there. In addition, LW Wellness partners with Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You can find out more here.
If you would like me to connect you with one of our expert therapists or dietitians, contact me or book an appointment with me. I look forward to hearing from you

 

What Is Orthorexia? My Battle And How I Overcame It

When I was 24 years old, I stopped binging and purging. I thought it was the end of the line of what I thought was the battle with Bulimia nervosa. The day that I stopped binging and purging, I thought that was the last day that I would have an eating disorder. I told myself that I was recovered, and I started eating really healthy. What I didn’t realize was that what I was doing was really moving from bulimia to Orthorexia. For the next two years I thought I was super healthy and fit. When people made silly comments about my VERY healthy eating habits, I thought they didn’t understand what it meant to be healthy and didn’t know that what they were eating I considered poison.

Many people have never heard of Orthorexia – and I hadn’t before I realized I had it. Orthorexia is a relatively new term, but the disorder is characterized by an obsession with health – way more so than losing weight, which often comes as a result. You can read the full clinical definition here (http://www.orthorexia.com/), but in general, people who have Orthorexia create terrible associations with what they deem “unhealthy food” and eating such foods will cause things like paranoia, anxiety and irrational fears of disease.

After obsessing and reading more about what is healthy and what else I could do to avoid eating anything that might damage my body or brain in any way, I came across the word Orthorexia. I started reading the definition and while at first I was in a denial about having it, I realized that I was also lying to myself. When I was able to be honest with myself, I had to admit that I wasn’t recovered from my eating disorder but rather developed another form of eating disorder. I decided that I had to slowly introduce myself to what I considered unhealthy food. I tried to initially eat 90% healthy food and 10% unhealthy. Then I realized that I was missing out on a lot of opportunities that involved eating food that I considered bad.

I slowly allowed myself to eat less healthily and was able to enjoy foods that I would have never allowed myself with my previous thinking. I had to totally rework my definition of health, and it was a slow process.

I write this to share with you all how different disordered eating can look for different people. The typical starvation tactics and binging and purging we associate with eating disorders aren’t the only signs of unhealthy behavior.

If you would like me to connect you with one of our expert therapists or dietitians, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!

Preventing Obesity In Our Children With Mindfulness

As an eating disorder specialist, and someone who battled an eating disorder for many years myself, this is a topic very close to my heart. Food has become such an obsession in our culture – and body image issues, as a result.

We all know that obesity in children is a growing epidemic in our country. However, eating disorders are also a huge problem, so as parents, it’s hard to know how to deal with the issue of eating when it comes to your children and their health.

An interesting study was published earlier this year in the journal Heliyon that found a connection between impulsive thoughts in children’s brains and how much they ate. For the study, scientists at the University of Vanderbilt looked at the brains of 38 children between the ages of 8 and 13. From MRIs, the researchers were able to establish a connection between physiological reactions in the brain and food behaviors. Then they established connections between BMI and the kids’ eating behaviors (they used this questionnaire).

The results aren’t shocking. We know eating disorders aren’t just a mental thing – they are a physical thing. However, the researchers concluded that teaching children mindfulness could go a long way in helping prevent obesity. If we recognize the connection between children’s impulsive behaviors and eating habits, teaching them mindful techniques, to really focus on what it is they are putting into their mouths, could decrease their eating.

Dr. Cowan, from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said,”We think mindfulness could recalibrate the imbalance in the brain connections associated with childhood obesity.” He went on to say that while mindfulness hasn’t shown much of an effect on adults and eating behavior, perhaps testing the connection in kids could be more beneficial.

Teaching our children mindfulness – being aware, staying in the moment and focusing on tasks at hand – is a skill that will benefit them in more ways than one.

If you would like me to connect you with one of our expert therapists, contact me or book an appointment with me. I look forward to hearing from you

\

\

6 Brain Boosting Snacks To Serve Your Kids

fruitWater

Like many adults, kids often do not get enough water over the course of their day.

If your kids find plain water unappealing, try chilling a pitcher of water with an infusion of fruit, such as oranges or strawberries, to add flavor.

Greek Yogurt

Fat is key to brain health, as it helps keep cell membranes flexible and better able to send and receive information. Full-fat Greek yogurt provides a healthy amount of fat along with protein to boost energy and carry a young scholar through until dinner time.

Serve it up:  Use Greek yogurt in smoothies for a protein boost, combining it with fruits or even greens for greater nutritional benefits. Or serve it up by the bowl and stir in some dried fruit or granola.

Fruit

Almost any fruit can make a healthy afternoon snack. Melons and citrus fruits contain lots of water to help with hydration. Apples and plums are tasty and contain quercetin, an antioxidant that can protect against cognitive decline. Blueberries and strawberries pack plenty of antioxidants into a serving, and are easy to eat by the handful.

Serve it up:  Most kids enjoy fruit on its own. Choose easy-to-peel clementine oranges, tasty Gala apples, or seedless grapes for easy eating. Other possibilities: dried fruit snacks like raisins, unsweetened apple sauce, or smoothies made with frozen fruit when fresh favorites like blueberries are out of season.

Eggs

Eggs are an awesome little package of nutrition. They provide a full serving of protein along with omega-3 fats, choline, and lutein — all nutrients that are essential to healthy brain operation.

Serve it up:  It’s easy to hard-boil a batch of eggs on the weekend and have them on hand all week for quick snacking. Peeled and stored in a sealed plastic bag or container, the eggs will keep for 5-7 days. Older kids can also learn to scramble an egg and combine it with spinach or salsa in a whole-grain tortilla for a tasty snack.

Vegetables with Dip

Plenty of kids enjoy munching on carrots, celery sticks, grape tomatoes, or red pepper strips on their own, but adding dip can boost both flavor appeal and nutrition. Use Greek yogurt rather than sour cream as a base for your dip. Buy or make your own hummus, and look for a recipe with turmeric for another brain power boost.

Seeds and Nuts

Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds are high in protein and healthy oils and just a small handful makes a full serving. Studies have found nuts and seeds to have a mood-boosting effect as well. Even kids with nut allergies can enjoy some nuts and seeds that do not trigger the allergic response — just check labels carefully to be sure that they are not processed in the same facility as peanuts or other allergenic nuts.

Serve it up:  Make your own trail mix of nuts and seeds and add raisins or other dried fruit and sprinkle in some chocolate chips. Another possibility: get small, whole-grain crackers and spread with almond or sunflower butter to make fun mini sandwiches.

Snack time after school is a great opportunity to give your kids healthy foods that will actually help them to learn to eat healthfully and for nourishment.

Do you need health tips and nutritional counseling? We’ll connect you to the best nutritionist! Contact us today!