Body Image and Body Changes: Not necessarily Syncing?

This article I was interviewed for sums up some of my thoughts on the issue; it can be hard enough to lose weight or make changes to your external appearance and it can take even longer to see those changes consistently for yourself; some tips on how to weather that time

http://www.wendyshow.com/2018/01/31/body-image/#.WnIeACOZNBw

http://www.wendyshow.com/2018/01/31/body-image/#.WnIeACOZNBw

An update for 2018 on the Wendy Williams Blog Interview

This is an updated interview for 2018 on the way to “Weigh” Yourself!

http://www.wendyshow.com/2018/01/02/3-serious-reasons-to-throw-out-your-scale/#.WnDrGSOZNBw

Good Reasons to Throw Out Your Scale and Lose Weight in the Process!

An interview I did for another Wendy Williams blog:

http://www.wendyshow.com/2017/06/09/3-serious-reasons-to-throw-out-your-scale/#.WcpUZNOGOMI

Link to an Interview I did for the Wendy Williams blog on Worrying

http://www.wendyshow.com/2017/04/12/coming-to-grips-with-your-worries/#.WPeojlPytuU

“Oh Good, More for Me!”

“Oh Good, More For Me!” is what I say when my kids don’t want to eat what I have painstakingly made. (Violins being played, actually, I am not a very good cook!) But I hear over and over from families who love to eat well, one of the parents is a fabulous cook, and their kids will only eat 5 things, of course none of them being whatever the parents love to eat.

It can be demoralizing. Frustrating. Insane making. But is it a problem? Parents ask me: “How can we get our kids to try more foods? There must be something!” In this blog I am going to offer some tips, but they will not necessarily be directed to ‘getting your child to eat’ those foods if whatever you have tried hasn’t worked. I am going to help you figure out if in fact there is a problem here, and hope to reassure you, that this is one of the most typical ways young kids do eat.

Working with hundreds of parents in doing research for my book, I found that kids can have a particular style of eating, almost like a personality trait. These can change, but I found these 6 categories were typical in childhood:
The Beige Food Eater, The Grazer, The Trouble Transitioner, The Picky Eater, The Sugar Demander, and The Spurt Eater. This blog is dedicated to The Picky Eater. (I promise to follow with the others!)

It is useful to look at eating habits of younger children as partly developmental. If you think about it, food is the earliest thing our kids can do to control their lives. They can purse their lips, and shake their head: “No! I don’t want to eat that!” This is part of them establishing themselves separately from you. This is good, that they know what they want and don’t want, particularly that they may not be hungry or that their body is telling them not to eat that food. Some allergists believe that picky eaters are protecting themselves until they build up the immunity to the foods that they are staying away from.

Additionally, it is important to know that formerly adventurous eaters when this is most of their expanding world, can become very picky eaters, as they move on to building skills in other areas. It is way more interesting to chase that ball, than to try that new food, for example. These are the most important questions to ask yourself: Is your child thriving? Are they on THEIR growth curve? Is the doctor concerned? Most often, your child is fine, unless they have sensory integration issues which can affect oral motor development. (If you have concerns please consult with your pediatrician; I have a list of things you can look out for if you are concerned in Take the Fight Out of Food).

So ask yourself: What is the Problem? “Well, my child only eats the same five things over and over.” Are they getting a range of the food groups roughly, or are they at risk for scurvy? Usually those questions are yes, and no. But parents still pull their hair out.

Many parents worry that their kids will miss out on an enjoyable part of life. Like most aspects of parenting, “DON’T’ PREDICT THE FUTURE!. More often than not, this is a stage that is totally typical of childhood that your child is passing through. Most picky eaters grow out it by age 13 when biology kicks in, (growth spurts) and their senses fully develop. (Remember, eating involves the three senses: touch, taste and smell!)

But it can be a drag if other relatives, particularly at times, grandparents, might criticize your parenting either overtly or discreetly, implying that you are too ‘easy’ on your child. And, simply, it really gets boring when your child has a truly limited palate.

A word of reassurance: All of the pediatricians and nutritionist I consulted with in researching this, state that kids get their nutritional needs met on a one to two week basis, and are usually fine. They end up getting what they need. Even if it is one fruit, or one vegetable of that food group. Over and over and over!

But here are some tips to cope with your Picky Eater:
1) Have a “Oh good, more for me!” attitude. Model eating and enjoying theirs and your food.

2) If you have other kids, ‘leverage the siblings.” They can take the carrots from the little one’s plate which often makes that child want it more. If you have one child, perhaps you can do this.

3) You may subscribe to the offer it to them until they try it, or they need to try it once before they decide they don’t like it. You can pick what you prefer. I didn’t have the patience with my youngest, my pickiest eater and I wasn’t worried about it, so it was easy to do more of the reverse psychology method.

4) The less issue you make of it, the less anxiety you create in your child. Your child needs a calm mommy, not an anxious mommy, Besides, anxiety cuts appetite, or will create opposition. You definitely don’t want your child eating for you, to be ‘good’, or to use this for power struggles.

Continue to enjoy the beautiful food you make with your partner, wife, husband, and model your enjoyment with your kids. Continue to eat together. Take the stress out of the mealtimes, by all of you, relaxing and enjoying the food. Be dogmatic about mealtimes being about connecting and hanging out together, not necessarily about eating. Enjoy those golden moments. Now that can fill you up. Who knows? One of them might become the next Alice Waters.

To Gluten or Not to Gluten: That is the Question

Okay, okay, I know this is not a verb, like to “google”, but with the amount of press lately and converts to gluten free diets, it may enter our worlds as a verb in the near future!

I had recently been asked to comment on the ‘gluten’ question regarding kids and their diet, and I know that there are many families who follow the gluten free path for a variety of reasons.
I have to confess, I don’t totally understand what they are, but I am a big believer for adults, in the adage: “Whatever works.”
First off, a disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist. I am a psychotherapist with specialized training in eating disorders, child development, and human behavior. However, in the 25 plus years that I’ve been practicing, I have received a lot of information from nutritionists; particularly while researching my book “Take the Fight out of Food: How to Prevent and Solve Your Child’s Eating Problems.” As such, I will be commenting on the issue from this vantage point and I am happy to share some of the anecdotal information I have received from nutritionists I spoke with recently
while presenting at Harvard Medical School’s Eating Disorder Conference.

Basically in a nutshell, (gluten free, I might add), the message goes like this:
Unless a child has a specific medical problem that indicates the necessity to eat gluten free, it is not at all recommended.
That being said, there definitely are medical conditions that result in kids needing to have restrictions in their diet. I was just brought in to consult with the Mount Sinai Hospital Pediatric Metabolic Disorders team, as they were struggling with patients who have severe medical illnesses
requiring them to follow a highly specific and restrictive diet.
This necessity, while absolutely vital to a child’s development and even survival, presents kids and their families with very specific problems, and often results in major non compliance; rebellion, fighting between kids and parents, frustration, fear, and severe eating disorders.

A lot of great care and work needs to be done in order to help these families work out preparing restrictive diets, especially while kids grow, develop, have play dates, and only want to fit in and eat what other kids eat.

Obviously if a restrictive diet is an absolute necessity, this is a non issue. I have worked with many families and kids who have differing medical conditions specifically on the problems that arise when a child has to follow a restrictive diet. It is vital to help kids and parents navigate problems, with the goal of taking the stress and anxiety out of feeding, while at the same time empowering the kids to help them develop, grow, and be able to make independent decisions and take the best care of their bodies.

So take it for what it is and of course most importantly you need to do what you know is best for your child and their health, and for your family; but this is it in a nutshell:
PROCEED WITH CAUTION; If you think your child actually does have a gluten problem and you have seen great miraculous changes in his/her health, behavior, mood if you have taken gluten away and you are convinced that gluten is the culprit, continue.

If however, you are seeing gluten as the culprit based on your own health, or you have heard of links between gluten and moods and behavior, try to look at any other factors that may be impacting your child, and before limiting one thing in their diet, try other approaches that may make more sense.

There will always be fads in diets and information year after year that is popular. It is useful to make sure we don’t jump on bandwagons based on lousy science. You will always find one study or another to support what your beliefs are as well, so again, PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

You don’t want to create problems where none exist.
Happy Eating!

Let Them Eat Cake

What the H***! is she talking about you are thinking perhaps, especially in this day and age of our attempts to feed our children the most healthy, non junk food?!

Yes, I appreciate everyone’s efforts to be the best parents possible, and it can be unbelievably frustrating when our kids thwart our best attempts to give, and do for them what we know is best, right?!

I do remember those days when my kids went from one birthday party to the next, eating what it seemed like nothing but cake and ice cream. I also saw the parents who would try to get their kids to not eat the cake, even forbidding it due to the sugar overload for that particular day.

Each parent has their own rules about sugar and I respect everyone to find their own way.

What I will say however, is that if you create too much restriction and are too ‘sugar phobic’, you run the risk of creating a compulsive overeater, an eating disorder, and/or weight gain in your kids because they are sneaking the treats from their friends’ lunch boxes or asking for more snacks at other kids’ houses on playdates; unable to move on from said treat or snack at the moment. (These are all outcomes I have seen at my house with kids on playdates, and worked with in my practice, btw.)

So most importantly, I don’t want you to overly worry if your kids go from one piece of cake to the next on one particular birthday party laden day!

More often than not, their own tastes and body needs win; they don’t end up wanting dessert after dinner, or they are certainly reasonable and don’t demand it if you point out that they’ve had plenty of treats that day.

If they don’t however, and they are constantly demanding sugar, you can find ways where they have the amount of sugar you are comfortable with for the day, or week, and then give them some leeway to decide when they are eating it.

Partly because of my work with eating disorders and my own journey coming from a dieting dancing background and curing myself of the ups and downs of on /off eating, I took alot of risks with my kids around sugar. When my 2 year old asked for one lollipop after another, I gave her the whole bag, which she dropped, looked at the lollipops strewn about the floor, exclaimed, “Oh my, oh my!” then was off to her next activity.

This approach worked less well with my second daughter who would love the taste of any food so much that she wouldn’t take a breath between helpings, and needed to learn to wait longer for the signal to hit her brain that she was DONE. I introduced a waiting game, helping her to become THE BEST BODY DETECTIVE possible. I say to the Food or Sugar Demander kids something like this: “All bodies are different and you are the expert on your own, but you may need to wait a little longer for the voice to be louder from your tummy to your head of how exactly your tummy is feeling and what it needs/wants. “ Do something with them, let them know they can check back in with their body and what their stomach is telling their brain in 20 minutes. Clear the table, play a game, let them do an activity they want.

This ‘Waiting Game’ I call help it, helps to flip the “Off Switch”. Nine times out of ten, kids are off and running and when they check in, or even forget to check in, it is because the taste bud excitement has died down, they get a more accurate reading, and they don’t need any more food. If they do want more, let them eat more. Then again, do the Waiting Game. Get them to listen and keep checking in. Or you can say that they can always have more tomorrow.

So a few tips to try, but by all means, “Let Them Eat Cake!”

Happy Feeding!

Follow me on Twitter:@donnagailfish

Your Picky Eater

Of all typical childhood eating patterns, Picky Eaters tend to not only drive parents craziest, but also are probably the most common.  So I decided to go back to the Q and A format, using one of the questions recently asked of me when I did my talk at the Harvard Medical School Eating Disorder Conference this past weekend:

Q:

“My 6 y/o son is a very picky eater, and despite the reassurance I’ve gotten that he is getting his nutritional needs met, I still worry that it is going to interfere with his social life or that he will get picked on by other kids at school.”

A:

This is something that parents often worry about and it is true that kids who are picky eaters can get so extreme that it impacts on their ability to go on sleepovers, or even on playdates if they get more and more anxious about the kinds of snacks and food offered.

So here is an approach:

DO:

Try to see if he can find a reason it is getting in his way to not eat the foods you want him to try;  you want to see if you can help to motivate him to go through the discomfort and perhaps fear when he does try new things.

Acknowledge that he is scared to try new things, maybe because they seem gross, or smell weird or whatever. Talk with him about some super hero of his that does things that they’re scared of.  See if you can help him to stop avoiding something that is feeling noxious or making him nervous by increasing his motivation to be brave.

Validate and normalize the idea that when we have feelings of fear when faced with something that makes us uncomfortable, that we usually try to avoid feeling uncomfortable.  And then by avoiding it, we give it power to scare us even more and it can get bigger and bigger in our minds and feel really scary, so we keep trying to avoid that feeling.  Kind of like the boogey man!  Let him be in control of the tiny steps to trying something that makes him feel gross, or uncomfortable and keep congratulating him on simply trying it.  That it is so AWESOME to do something despite our discomfort and fear.  You are so impressed.

DON’T use dessert as a weapon.  It will over glorify dessert and is not fair if he is eating enough food that does nutritious foods for his body.  Besides which it will totally backfire in the future and set him up to hoard and secretly grab desserts when he isn’t with you.  Doesn’t help at all.

Happy Eating!

What Are You Bringing To the Table When You Serve Dinner?

Now, I am not talking about the food that you are serving. Too often, we are focused on feeding our children and giving them good eating habits at the expense of paying attention to our own “food attitudes” that we bring to the table.

he reason this is so important is that it can have a huge impact on “what you serve up” when you are teaching, buying and making and serving food to your child.

These attitudes are what I call our own “tape loops.” They’re based on how we were either brought up around food, and/or how we’ve rejected some of the ways we were raised around said dinner table.

Example: I had a mom come talk to me and say: “I have an easier time talking to my kid about sex than food.” Her 7-year-old was gaining weight and his doctor told Mom to help him to watch his weight. She herself had been raised by what I call an ‘over-involved’ mom who was always making comments about what, how much and when she was eating; as a result, this mom swore that she would never do the same to her kids.

Now she really didn’t know what to do! Not because she didn’t care, but because she had sworn that she would never be in her kids’ faces about their food. It worked with her oldest, relatively thin, easily self-regulating child, but not with her second, who was a foodie, loved the sensory experience, had a big palate and didn’t like to stop after two even three servings. She ended up being under-involved, which wasn’t helping this kid with some tools that he needed to wait a bit longer to let the “party die down” in his mouth and stop telling his brain he needed and wanted “MORE! MORE! MORE”

Another example: A mom came to me when her 10-year-old was gaining weight and her doc said: “Is she getting enough fruits and vegetables? You may want to cut out the sweets.” She almost fell over, since all her and her husband eat and have at home are perfectly unprocessed health food with absolutely no sweets or junk. Unbeknownst to her, though, her child was eating treats from her friends’ lunch boxes She too, didn’t know how to handle this behavior with the rules she had about ‘no junk food.’ Both of their parents struggled with weight and addiction, so her and her husband had both decided to be highly athletic and controlled about their food. It worked for them, but these standards weren’t helping their kid with tools to manage the different foods that were part of her daily life outside of the home. I call this category “unrealistic standards.”

Lastly, a dad came to me for help with his child and he turned out to be what I call an overly-involved parent. His kid was a very picky and minimal eater, and he was raised with the old “starving children in China” routine. He himself had been a small eater, but became a member of the “Clean Plate Club.” This worked for him to some degree (he was struggling with his weight), but his kid was not buying it. Every meal became battle time, and this parent didn’t know how to let his kid eat less than what was served. He worried that if he let him eat the amount he wanted, that he was being too “easy” on him, and that he was being a “loose and lousy parent,” as he put it.

This is an example of the overly-involved parent. One of the dangers of this tactic is that you can inadvertently train your child to become a compulsive over-eater. You’re basically communicating the message that you know when they’re full, not them. They then lose their connection to their body’s signals, either fighting with you or overly complying; neither one helping them to stay connected to signals from inside their body that they will need in order to manage their food for life.

So, ask yourself: What category do you fit in? How are your own “tape loops” or eating history impacting your current attitudes and what you bring to the table? I can promise you that as much as the food you prepare, this will shape and have a profound effect on your kids and their developing eating habits.

Happy Feeding!

What Are You Bringing to the Table When You Serve Dinner?

Now, I am not talking about the food that you are serving. Too often, we are focused on feeding our children and giving them good eating habits at the expense of paying attention to our own “food attitudes” that we bring to the table.
These attitudes are what I call our own “tape loops.” They’re based on how we were either brought up around food, and/or how we’ve rejected some of the ways we were raised around said dinner table.
The reason this is so important is that it can have a huge impact on “what you serve up” when you are teaching, buying and making and serving food to your child.
Example: I had a mom come talk to me and say: “I have an easier time talking to my kid about sex than food.” Her 7-year-old was gaining weight and his doctor told Mom to help him to watch his weight. She herself had been raised by what I call an ‘over-involved’ mom who was always making comments about what, how much and when she was eating; as a result, this mom swore that she would never do the same to her kids.
Now she really didn’t know what to do! Not because she didn’t care, but because she had sworn that she would never be in her kids’ faces about their food. It worked with her oldest, relatively thin, easily self-regulating child, but not with her second, who was a foodie, loved the sensory experience, had a big palate and didn’t like to stop after two even three servings. She ended up being under-involved, which wasn’t helping this kid with some tools that he needed to wait a bit longer to let the “party die down” in his mouth and stop telling his brain he needed and wanted “MORE! MORE! MORE”
Another example: A mom came to me when her 10-year-old was gaining weight and her doc said:  ”Is she getting enough fruits and vegetables? You may want to cut out the sweets.” She almost fell over, since all her and her husband eat and have at home are perfectly unprocessed health food with absolutely no sweets or junk. Unbeknownst to her, though, her child was eating treats from her friends’ lunch boxes  She too, didn’t know how to handle this behavior with the rules she had about ‘no junk food.’ Both of their parents struggled with weight and addiction, so her and her husband had both decided to be highly athletic and controlled about their food. It worked for them, but these standards weren’t helping their kid with tools to manage the different foods that were part of her daily life outside of the home. I call this category “unrealistic standards.”
Lastly, a dad came to me for help with his child and he turned out to be what I call an overly-involved parent. His kid was a very picky and minimal eater, and he was raised with the old “starving children in China” routine.  He himself had been a small eater, but became a member of the “Clean Plate Club.” This worked for him to some degree (he was struggling with his weight), but his kid was not buying it. Every meal became battle time, and this parent didn’t know how to let his kid eat less than what was served. He worried that if he let him eat the amount he wanted, that he was being too “easy” on him, and that he was being a “loose and lousy parent,” as he put it.
This is an example of the overly-involved parent. One of the dangers of this tactic is that you can inadvertently train your child to become a compulsive over-eater. You’re basically communicating the message that you know when they’re full, not them. They then lose their connection to their body’s signals, either fighting with you or overly complying; neither one helping them to stay connected to signals from inside their body that they will need in order to manage their food for life.
So, ask yourself: What category do you fit in? How are your own “tape loops” or eating history impacting your current attitudes and what you bring to the table? I can promise you that as much as the food you prepare, this will shape and have a profound effect on your kids and their developing eating habits.
Happy Feeding!

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