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How to Deal with Picky Eating (and Avoid it Altogether)

POST:

How to Avoid Picky Eating (and Handle it When it Happens)

CATEGORY:

Parents

Date:

June 2, 2020

I love good food. Like, homemade pasta with seasonal veggies and quality meat, paired with the crispest, coldest Italian wine. That kind of love. So, of course, I hoped that my daughters would absolutely love good food, too. That, as adults, they would appreciate the complexities of flavor from different regions of the world. That, as toddlers, they would not “ruin” my life by only trying three things on any given menu.

I meet a lot of kids in clinic who are that way. Picky eaters to the core. Where they have a family meal together, the only things the kids will touch are bread, butter and pasta with cheese. Hardly any vegetables. Hardly any fruit. Absolutely no sauces. It would take an Act of Congress to get those kids to eat anything with pepper or spice. Their parents are often, understandably, at their wits’ end.

About 50% of my patients’ parents say they have a hard time with pickiness.

At first, it all went well. As a baby, their child would take anything they gave them. But slowly, over time, they became more resistant. Why?  A lot comes back to temperament. For easy-going kids, their experience at the dinner table can also be easy going. For stubborn children, the dinner table can be another opportunity for a power struggle. But, even taking temperament into account, even the most laid-back kids and parents sometimes butt heads when it comes to food. While there is no easy answer for dinner-time (or lunch- or breakfast-time) battles, there are some steps parents can take to encourage adventurous eating and to avoid head-on collisions with their kids in this sometimes-challenging area. 

What To Do:

OFFER AS MANY VARIED FOODS AS POSSIBLE FROM AN EARLY AGE.

There are no “adult” flavors and “kid” flavors, just kid and adult consistencies. Why not offer mushrooms, eggplant, artichokes, kale, yams or onions? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting solid foods at four to six months, closer to six months if possible. They also recommend waiting two to three days between new foods to observe for allergic reactions. But, starting at six months, there are no limitations on what these foods can be (except no honey until one year of age for Botulism risk and no cups of cow’s milk until 11 months old), just on watching out for choking risk. In fact, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology now recommends even highly allergenic foods like shellfish, dairy and eggs be introduced earlier versus later. We know that food preferences start even within the womb. The foods that pregnant women and lactating women consume strongly affect the palate of their offspring. It makes sense, then, that giving our kids a variety of healthy foods from an early age also influences their willingness to eat them later on.

DON’T GIVE UP TOO SOON.

An expression of disgust does not predict a life of hatred. My daughter’s first food was avocado. We have pictures of her sweet little face just covered in it at six months, with a look of utter displeasure. She spit that food out as fast as we could get it to her lips. Of course, I didn’t force it on her that day, but every week I re-introduced a small amount as part of the other foods I offered. At one year of age, we have another picture of her face covered in a green gooey mess, this time with a look of complete glee. Avocado became and still is her favorite food to eat. Experts say it can take 20 to 30 exposures before an affinity develops for a new flavor.

AVOID THE KID MENU.

Does it ever strike you as odd that, even at a relatively nice restaurant, the children’s menu has the most unhealthy options available? Chicken strips, french fries, buttered noodles – this is the stuff we are offering our children? At the grocery store, in brightly-colored packages, are sugary cereals, salty crackers and juice boxes – foods that would make us tired and cranky if we ate them all day. Instead, offer the food on your plate to your kids.

MODEL GOOD BEHAVIOR.

That might mean adjusting what food is on your plate. It won’t work to have you order a cheeseburger and a soda every time you go out as a family if you want your kids to do the opposite. You may need to take stock of what you are consuming. If you do attempt to order or eat healthy foods yourself, sharing what you have allows your children to see quality food as normal. Dads are especially important when it comes to setting a healthy eating example.

CONSIDER THEIR AGE.

There will come a time when almost every child becomes a somewhat picky eater. They are supposed to. This is the way we protect ourselves evolutionarily. In a toddler’s mind, green = poisonous plant = bad. So, if you have a toddler and this is your reality, this is the moment you’ve been preparing for. The mantra you’ll have to tell yourself? Roll with it.

REMIND YOURSELF OF THE RESPONSIBILITIES YOU AND YOUR CHILD EACH BRING TO THE TABLE.

As a parent, your responsibility is to provide healthy options for your child in consistent intervals during the day. As a child, your responsibility is to choose how much of any given food you eat at any given time. If your child decides they don’t want the green beans tonight? That’s okay. Let them eat what they want off the plate. Just don’t offer a replacement food when they won’t eat them and DEFINITELY don’t use them as a reward for dessert. You can read more about division of responsibility when it comes to food in  Fearless Feeding,my favorite book about pediatric food psychology. Finally, remember that, like all things parenting-related, most kids and parents hit jags every once in awhile.

Our goal is not to have perfectly-trained kids who eat everything you want them to all day every day, just like our goal is not to have perfectly-behaved children at all times. Instead, let’s focus on helping our little ones become adults who love great food. (Note: if you’re having a particularly hard time with picky eating and you’ve tried all of my tricks above, ask your pediatrician for more help!) I hope my kids will share my enthusiasm for Italian (and French and Japanese) cooking, but I hope even more that they don’t have complicated hang-ups about what they eat and don’t develop a rebellious attitude toward food. Let’s raise individuals who savor what they consume, who use it as fuel to drive their lives and who have the freedom to enjoy it fully. Want more help raising toddlers? Click here for our free resource guides.

Want More Help with Picky Eating? Listen to this week’s podcast episode with Jill Castle, author of Fearless Feeding

How to Deal with Picky Eating (and Avoid it Altogether)
How to Take Care of Your Pelvic Floor Postpartum

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How to Take Care of Your Pelvic Floor Postpartum

CATEGORY:

Parents

Date:

April 21, 2020

This week’s podcast episode is one of my favorites of the season. I talked with Eryn Kirschbaum, DPT, a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor health. Her advice, while sometimes a little blush-worthy, is SOOOOOO important, especially for new moms. We discussed all the stuff that’s hard to talk about: hemorrhoids, urinary incontinence, pelvic pain and, more importantly, about what you can do to address each one. Listen in to hear all about it. 

Missed a Modern Mommy Doc Podcast episode?

You can catch them all here:

Join the Online Parenting Program: A Baby Care Basics Class for Expectant and New Moms

Taking Care of You and Your Newborn: Online Parenting Program

The Book is Here!

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How to Take Care of Your Pelvic Floor Postpartum
Resources for Moms: How to Stay Sane and Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Resources for Moms: How to Stay Healthy and Sane During the COVID-19 Pandemic

CATEGORY:

Parents

Date:

April 1, 2020

Ok, Mama. We could be in our current state of uncertainty for awhile and while I can’t make social distancing go by any faster, I can offer up some tangible ways to take care of yourself and your kids in the meantime.

Taking Care of Your Kids

Check out our podcast this week on How to Raise an Organized Child with Damon Korb, MD, FAAP.

Just like you, Mama, I’m spending a lot more time than usual with my kids in my own home these days and I am seeing just how much I need to teach them how to get themselves and all their things in order. Dr. Korb is an expert at just that - he’s a developmental pediatrician and a father of five, so he knows a little something about controlling chaos (or preventing it in the first place).

Taking Care of Yourself

New Mamas and Mamas to Be

I talked on AM Northwest this week about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting parents to be heading to the hospital and learning to take care of themselves and of their little ones at home postpartum. You can watch it here:

Mamas with Babies and Toddlers

You’ve Got to Move Your Body

I don’t care how you do it, sister, but you have got to make sure you are moving your body consistently. Go for a run, jump on a stationary bike, do online yoga, or, better yet, join my friend Robin Long at The Balanced Life Sisterhood. Robin is all about grace over perfection and right now it feels like we could all use some more grace (and opportunities for mindfulness).

You’ve Got to Set a Schedule

If you’re not working outside of your home right now, and you’re with your kids 24-7, it’s getting old really fast, I know (I was actually on “vacation” until yesterday for a week and a half with my own littles and I just about went bonkers until I figured out some type of daily calendar for us). When you have a calendar, you have some semblance of normalcy, and you and your kids know what to expect.

You’ve Got to Take Some Time for Yourself

When you make your daily schedule, make sure you’re putting some time in for taking care of yourself. Gone are the days (for now – remember, this is just temporary) of grabbing a quick bite with girlfriends, heading to the gym, or even going on a trip with your significant other in the name of self-care but that does not mean you can’t take care of yourself in the very deepest sense of the word. You can take 3 minutes to check in with yourself about how you’re feeling. You can take 10 minutes to talk with a bestie over FaceTime. You can take a walk in the fresh air.

Mama, this may take a long time to get through the COVID-19 pandemic but I’m in it with you for the long haul. Keep your head up and keep in the moment.

Missed a Modern Mommy Doc Podcast episode?

You can catch them all here:

The Book is Here!

Pick it up Online

Resources for Moms: How to Stay Sane and Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic
help for new mothers, advice for new mothers, online parenting course, motherhood advice

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Help for New Mothers | Join Me in Reducing Stress and Improving Strength

CATEGORY:

Parents

Date:

March 5, 2020

This week we welcomed Robin Long from The Balanced Life to The Modern Mommy Doc Podcast. She gave some amazing advice about choosing grace over guilt and deciding that life is bigger than a jean size or your outward appearance. She’s all about doling out the help for new mothers, just like I am!

One of the reasons I’ve been a fan-girl of Robin’s programs for such a long time is because she’s amazingly generous, sharing free online videos and tips all the time.

Right now, I’m joining forces with The Balanced Life as they offer their free Strength & Stress Relief Challenge because, let’s be real mama, we all have stress and we all want to be stronger, both mentally and physically. Here are the details:

  • The Strength & Stress Relief Challenge is a free 5-day Pilates challenge hosted by Robin Long and The Balanced Life.
  • No equipment necessary. All you need is access to the internet and a comfortable place to do your Pilates.
  • All levels are welcome and perfect for every stage of life!
  • Each workout is just 15 minutes long and is designed to help you improve your consistency, build strength, and improve the way you feel in your body each day!
  • Every day you will receive an email with a Pilates workout + one super simple, yet powerful, way to reduce stress as you go throughout their day.

The challenge runs March 9-13, so sign up before then to join me and Robin in reducing stress and becoming even stronger! It’s time to get more help for new mothers, even as we take care of our bodies.

Miss our podcast episode with Robin? You can listen to it here.

Missed a Modern Mommy Doc Podcast episode?

You can catch them all here:

Want to Read the Book?

It’s in Stores and Online March 17, 2020

Help for new moms, advice for new mothers
exercise and nutrition help with Robin long from The Balanced Life

POST:

How to Find Freedom and Balance as You Parent – Especially When it Comes to Diet and Exercise

CATEGORY:

Parents

Date:

March 2, 2020

Ever feel like you’re drowning in parenthood, feeling trapped and stuck as you try to balance it all, especially when it comes to diet and exercise? You don’t have to. This week we’re honored to have Robin Long as our guest on the Podcast to talk about a better way. She’s the founder of The Balanced Life, where she helps other women find grace over guilt when it comes to diet and exercise, but also in all other areas of their lives. Robin is passionate about helping women love their bodies, become the healthiest version of themselves, and take a realistic and balanced approach to health & fitness. 

The Balanced Life is a website and membership community that provides high-quality online Pilates workouts for busy women but, even more important to me, that really GETS it when it comes to the struggles modern moms face with taking care of themselves and with loving and accepting their bodies. She understands how diet and exercise can be yet another area that holds mamas captive and keeps them from joy. The Balanced Life isn’t just about working out, it’s about finding…wait for it…a balanced life, one where joy and contentment matter way more than a jean size and where stress reduction, mental health, and sleep take center stage with building physical strength.

Strength and Stress Relief

One of the things I love best about The Balanced Life is Robin’s commitment to her community of women and how many completely free opportunities she gives mamas to make the most of their limited time.

I’m in what could be a stressful season of my life right now, with The New Baby Blueprint book launch happening March 17th and the recent launch of The Modern Mommy Doc Podcast. Movement and healthy nutrition (plus, let’s get real, my therapist) are critical to my ability to do it all and to understanding what things I shouldn’t be spending any of my time on at all if I want to be a successful mom (or just a content human). To heed off all that angst and worry, I’m making sure I take care of myself.

I’m also going to sign up now to join Robin on her Strength & Stress Relief Challenge, March 9-13

  • The Strength & Stress Relief Challenge is a free 5-day Pilates challenge hosted by Robin Long and The Balanced Life.
  • No equipment necessary. All you need is access to the internet and a comfortable place to do your Pilates.
  • All levels are welcome and perfect for every stage of life!
  • Each workout is just 15 minutes long and is designed to help you improve your consistency, build strength, and improve the way you feel in your body each day!
  • Every day you will receive an email with a Pilates workout + one super simple, yet powerful, way to reduce stress as you go throughout their day.

Missed a Modern Mommy Doc Podcast episode?

You can catch them all here:

Want to Read the Book?

It’s in Stores and Online March 17, 2020

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