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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As a parent, your responsibility is to provide healthy options for your child
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.
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.
April 1, 2020
Ok, Mama. We could be in our current state of uncertainty for
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).
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:
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.
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 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.
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
The Balanced Life is a website and membership community that provides high-quality online Pilates workouts for busy women but, even
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
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