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sensory-wonders (1)Becoming a mom is always a humbling experience, but never more so when you’re a Registered Dietitian who used to (smugly) tell other moms what to do. Having an advanced degree in nutrition and experiencing firsthand the near-complete lack of control you have over a small being’s food preferences is the ultimate in hubris.

Witness my own situation: after breastfeeding both my kids and lovingly handcrafting meals from scratch from birth, I ended up with an older kid who loves to eat pretty much everything (and has no concept of when he might be full), and a younger one who is the very definition of a Supertaster (code for ridiculously picky, and able to narrate the various sensory attributes he does NOT like of a given food). Oh, and he also decided to become a vegetarian after a visit to a nearby farm when he was 4.

Thankfully, I read Ellyn Satter’s books when I worked in WIC and her wisdom would resonate in my head pre-mealtime (“The parent decides what and when, the child decides if and how much.”) I also welcomed my kids into the kitchen to cook with me at every possible opportunity, as well as used mindful eating techniques to help my older one recognize and honor hunger and satiety cues. But I still struggled with my younger one’s refusal of so many foods. Little did I know the answer was to get out of the way!

Let me explain. When the after-school enrichment schedule came out, I was delighted to see that Little Chefs was one of the offerings. This after-school cooking club for kids was guaranteed to give my 8 year-old six weeks of pure joy. And it did. Unfortunately, my 5 year-old was too young to take the class. But, like most younger sibs, he was the very definition of a starry-eyed second-born, interested in whatever my older son was doing. So, after the first class, when my 8 year-old came home with broccoli quiche he had made, my 5 year-old begged for a piece. What? I thought to myself. He NEVER eats broccoli when I make it!   To my astonishment, he ate an entire piece, gushing the whole time about how delicious the broccoli tasted. My older one, also not a huge fan of broccoli, had a similar response.

What a revelation. As important as it is for kids to cook with you, I’ve also discovered it’s critical to give them some independence in the kitchen (when they are old enough, of course). We now have a ‘Kids’ Choice’ night once a week, where my kids choose the meal components and cook/assemble it themselves, with my oversight. Not surprisingly, broccoli quiche has made the menu, but also other meal ideas I would never had made for dinner, like corn, tomato and bean salsa and pasta salad (also both recipes from the Little Chefs class). Seeing my kids wolf down sun-dried tomatoes and olives in a pasta salad nearly brought tears to my eyes.

As millennial snow-plow parents, getting out of our kids’ ways can be a foreign concept. But when it comes to eating healthfully, giving them the independence and skills to choose what sometimes, and letting them serve as role models to younger sibs, also can positively influence if and how much.

This month Skelly Skills is focusing on building healthy families–please join us for our FREE continuing education (CE) webinar for RD and RDNs and CDEs on “How to Help Families Build a Better Diet” (1 CPEU / CEU) on April 28th with mindful eating expert Megrette Fletcher, MEd, RD, CDE, author of Discover Mindful Eating for Kids: 75 Activities for Picky Eaters, Overeaters, Speed Eaters, and Every Kid In-Between (35 CPEU / CEU). You can register here.

Healthy Regards,

Sheila

Self-control: It’s not a dirty word?!

freeCPEMy dad used to remark that the nuns gave him ‘C’s’ in self-control when he was in elementary school. How strange to have a ‘self-control’ category on your report card! I would think.  Like a strange Mad Men throwback, the self-control grade made me glad I grew up in the more permissive ‘70’s and ‘80’s when we didn’t have to worry about such things!

Well, what’s old is new (again). Research confirms that developing and practicing self-control for kids is critical to success as adults. Self-control researchers are advising schools and educators how to work with kids to develop this strength.

The nuns were right! I thought to myself when listening to some of this research on NPR. (http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2014-10-01/walter-mischel-marshmallow-test-mastering-self-control) And, like most things I learn, the interview led me to think about what Skelly Skills can do to provide continuing education for dietitians and diabetes educators to help our clients–young and old–develop and exercise self-control.

Unfortunately, many of us have equated ‘self-control’ with ‘deprivation’ and as dietitians and educators, we want our clients to understand that all foods can fit–in some quantity, at least–in their diets. So, where does self-control fit in?

Ironically, self-control can be a great tool in helping our clients understand their hunger, and make choices that lead to increased satisfaction–both during and after the meal. And mindfulness is the link between self-control and satisfaction. Here are a few ways mindfulness can help clients develop self-control and delay gratification, according to Megrette Fletcher, MEd, RD, CDE, author of Discover Mindful Eating and Discover Mindful Eating for Kids:

  • Mindfulness is about helping clients identify what they are feeling, and then applying a strategy to effectively deal with that sensation–also a basic component of self-control.
  • Delaying eating until a comfortable level of hunger is present –a key part of self-control–is not the same as restrictive eating. Mindfulness is a great tool to help understand the difference.
  • Mindfulness helps get at intention. This is not to be confused with goals. Intentions allow us to align our efforts with a bigger picture, making delaying gratification easier and more seamless.

Want to learn more? Join Megrette for her FREE CE teleseminar this month: Using Mindfulness to Increase Self-Control: Strategies to Help Adults and Kids Resist Temptation and Delay Gratification (1 CPEU / CEU)”. Megrette will lead you through two (FREE!) activities from her bestselling continuing education courses and books for dietitians and diabetes educators you can use with your clients to help them understand, strengthen and apply self-control–over the holidays and beyond!

Don’t miss out–register now!

Healthy Regards,

Sheila

Helping Kids Problem-Solve

nutkidsThe school year is in full-swing right now, which means those of you with kids are dealing with homework, extracurriculars and…the hastily assembled meals and snacks that go along with it. You also may be seeing more clients asking for help keeping the family’s nutritional needs met despite hectic, on-the-go lifestyles.

As parents, we know a key element of keeping kids on track nutritionally is to involve them in the process–let them help with gardening, cooking and…how about doing some foraging for wild mushrooms while we’re at it? The truth is, no matter how much we may want to do these things with our kids, and how it might be possible over the summer or on the weekends, the truth is just getting through the school week without relying on take-out for every meal can be tough for some families. How, then, can we get our kids–or our clients’ kids–to help in the process of problem-solving our eating challenges?

Well, help is on the way! This week, we’re featuring one of my favorite CE courses by one of my favorite authors. Connie Evers, author of How to Teach Nutrition to Kids, is an immensely practical and experienced kid nutritionist, with a wealth of ideas to help your clients, or your own family, figure out how to feed ourselves better and solve some of our more vexing food selection and prep problems in the meantime. Here are a few of Connie’s suggestions from the How to Teach Nutrition to Kids book and course:

  • Create an Advisory Council to help critique the food environment and offer suggestions. Yes, kids are on the Advisory Council! Let them offer suggestions on how the kitchen could be stocked better with quick and easy foods they like. Teach kids how to pack nutritious snacks and lunches by themselves. Connie uses the example of the school lunchroom, but it can easily be adapted to a family setting
  • Use time with your kids (maybe in the car on the way to soccer practice) to play ‘What Would You Do?’ Connie provides loads of great scenarios around nutrition and meal planning to get kids, tweens and teens to solve some common problems they might encounter in everyday life. Or you can just make up your own, using your own family’s experiences. For example: “You have to rush to make it to soccer practice on time. You usually grab a can of chips but halfway through practice you say your stomach hurts. How could you solve this problem?”
  • Remember FIB! Fun, Interactive and Behavioral are the key words you need to remember when teaching nutrition to kids of all ages, according to Evers. Pick a food-related family challenge you have and then keep FIB in mind when asking your kids to help you solve it. For example, if your kids need to eat right at 6 to make their ballet class, but you don’t get home till 5:45, instead of grabbing take-out, make one night Kids Cooking Night and have your kids be in charge of dinner–FIB at its finest! Have them decide on a meal ahead of time that’s healthy and well-balanced and have the necessary ingredients on hand. (Note: this does not have to involve actually cooking–my kids make flatbread sandwiches with a raw veggie platter on their own and then I toast the sandwiches when they are done so everyone stays safe.)

Encourage experimentation with your clients and your own kids and remember that every challenge can be overcome. Here at Skelly Skills, we designed the CE course for How to Teach Nutrition to Kids to give you the opportunity to help your family or clients problem-solve using Connie’s techniques, ideas and strategies.  Check out her wonderful book for more activities, dialogue and suggestions and get 20 CPEUs for only $99.99! As you know, teaching kids to eat well is one of the best gifts you can give them. We are here to help you do this.

Healthy Regards,

Sheila