Saturday, December 19, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Nutrient-dense foods that most children are willing to eat include:
- Peanut butter
- Brown rice and other grains
- Sweet potatoes
- Kidney beans
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Conversations during the meal provide opportunities for the family to bond, plan, connect, and learn from one another. It’s a chance to share information and news of the day, as well as give extra attention to your children and teens. Family meals foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging. It can be a unifying experience for all.
Reason #2: Model Manners (and more)
Family mealtime is the perfect opportunity to display appropriate table manners, meal etiquette, and social skills. Keep the mood light, relaxed, and loving. Try not to instruct or criticize—lead by example.
Reason # 3: Expand Their World…One Food at a Time
Encourage your children to try new foods, without forcing, coercing, or bribing. Introduce a new food along with some of the stand-by favorites. Remember that it can take 8-10 exposures to a new food before it is accepted, so be patient. Trying a new food is like starting a new hobby. It expands your child’s knowledge, experience, and skill.
- Include foods from other cultures and countries.
- Select a new vegetable from a local farmer’s market.
- Have your child select a new recipe from a cookbook, web site, newspaper, or magazine.
Meals prepared and eaten at home are usually more nutritious and healthy. They contain more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products along with additional nutrients such as fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, and folate. Home cooked meals are usually not fried or highly salted, plus soda and sweetened beverage consumption is usually lower at the dinner table.
Reason #5: Become Self-Sufficient
Children today are missing out on the importance of knowing how to plan and prepare meals. Basic cooking, baking, and food preparation are necessities for being self-sufficient. Involve your family in menu planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation. Preschoolers can tear lettuce, cut bananas, and set the table. Older children can pour milk, peel vegetables, and mix batter. Teenagers can dice, chop, bake, and grill. Working as a team puts the meal on the table faster, as well as makes everyone more responsible and accepting of the outcome. Improved eating habits come with "ownership" of a meal.
Reason #6: Prevent Destructive Behaviors
Reason #7: Improve Grades
Children do better in school when they eat more meals with their parents and family. Teenagers who eat dinner four or more times per week with their families have higher academic performance compared with teenagers who eat with their families two or fewer times per week.
Reason # 8: Save Money
Meals purchased away from home cost two to four times more than meals prepared at home. At present time the restaurant industry’s share of the total food dollar is more than 46%. Due to scheduling, commitments, and activities, families eat out several times each week.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I find pureed veggies super easy to work with. In this form they can really be hid in about anything and a lot of them are so sweet that kid's honestly don't realize they are eating something "good" for them. Color may be an issue, but a lot of kids will find their new food fun and different.
Here are some ideas for incorporating veggies into everyday food
- add a pureed veggie into their yogurt or cottage cheese. Horizon has come out with a product that contains fruit and veggies in yogurt, but it's super easy to add any veggie into the yogurt your child eats every day. Also remember that kids don't have the taste associations we do so you might think banana and peas sounds horrible, but they might not.
- add a pureed veggie into mashed potatoes. Not only will it transform them into a fun new color, but it will add some nutrients as well. Try beets for pink potatoes, spinach or peas for green and sweet potatoes for orange.
- add a pureed veggie into mac and cheese. Anything orange (sweet potato, squash) disappears if you're using orange cheese, but you can also use any other veggie. It can really be tossed with any pasta sauce or made into a sauce of it's own.
- try different textures. Emma loves to much on raw veggies, especially asparagus and green beans (which are a little softer than carrots). Don't just assume they need to be mush for them to eat it, a lot of times kids don't love mushy food.
- try different flavors. Roast the veggies to bring out the natural sweetness or cook them with something sweet like maple syrup or orange juice. Carrots cooked in orange juice are delicious!
- add veggies to a smoothie for a quick and easy meal.
- give them first in a meal. Always start with the food your child likes least. #1, they are more hungry and more likely to eat whatever you give them first. #2, it teaches them that there are some things in a meal that you don't like, but you need to try them to get to the good stuff.
Once you start trying to add veggies, it's really easy to realize all the different places you can hide them.
Meatballs and Spinach
1 1/2 lb ground meat (beef, turkey or pork or a combo will work)
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 whole egg
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Using your hands, mix all ingredients until well incorporated. Use immediately or place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds and place the meatballs on a cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Here are some tips I've gathered;
- Newborns are born to suck. When a baby sucks, they strengthen their oral motor muscles, explore different sensations in their mouth and learn about tastes. When a newborn is unable to eat orally because of medical problems for an extended period of time, there is the risk of developing oral aversion. Even if your newborn can't eat, ask the doctor if you can encourage "non-nutritive sucking," or even "non-nutritive/comfort nursing" i.e. use a pacifier or your very clean finger, or pump/express all your milk and then let the baby nurse. If baby doesn't have any interest, consider dipping the pacifier in sweet-ease (sugar water), water or formula. Your baby will likely need to "learn" to accept a pacifier, so expect that they will initially reject it, but keep trying.
- Newborns with oral aversion often have difficulty tolerating oral feeds without high outputs. Your newborn may need to start on very small amounts of formula (i.e. less than 5 ml. per bottle). Your doctor may suggest not giving bottles if outputs are high. But to preserve the sucking and feeding skills, ask if you can decrease feeds, rather than eliminate them - even 1-2 ml. per bottle is much, much better than none. Comfort nursing, like the 1-2ml bottle (see above) promotes oral/motor development, as well as comfort for both mother and baby.
- Newborns who have spent any time in the NICU with a feeding tube or otherwise, have often had painful or uncomfortable touches around their face as tape is removed or reapplied, tubes are inserted or removed, etc. A parent's first reaction might be to not want to touch their baby's face since the baby might turn away or reject touch to the face. However, just the opposite is necessary. A baby needs to learn that touch, in general, causes comfort and pleasure, not pain. So kiss, stroke and touch your baby's face frequently (many times a day).
- During a normal day, a typically developing baby is exposed to many different types of sensations on their face as they are dressed, washed, fed, burped and spit up. These experiences help prepare a baby's sensory system to accept a variety of feelings on their face and in their mouth. These early skills help prepare a baby to accept a variety of flavors and textures in their mouth when as they grow. A medically ill baby many not have many of these experiences, again putting them at risk for feeding and sensory problems. As much as your baby can tolerate, again, expose them to different touches like a dry cloth, a wet cloth, a soft blanket, etc. Introduce soft touch, that are light on the skin (like a feather) and "deeper" touches, like the pressure of your cheek against your baby's.
Use whatever methods possible to help reduce pain, particularly around the face. For example, ask nurses to use adhesive remover, rather than just pulling tape off the face. Sweet-ease or sugar water, is known to reduce the experience of pain in babies 0-6 months (the effectiveness is lost after 6 months). In small amounts (1 or 2 dips) it doesn't typically impact outputs. Request that this is used when your newborn is having an IV placed or another invasive procedure.
- It is true that a newborn or infant will not have "memories" of pain they experience in the manner that we have memories. However, there is body memory even at an early age; infants can learn to become defensive and avoidant of pain when they have repeated pain experiences. Repeated pain experiences, particularly around the face, combined with fewer than typical positive touch experiences will likely lead to an oral aversion.
- Ask your child's speech or occupational therapist about introducing a Nuk brush and "toweling" exercises. These techniques help de-sensitize the mouth and face and prevent oral aversions.
- Some babies naturally start to mouth toys and objects when they are a few months old. Children with oral sensitivities or who have a lack of experiences in an around their mouth may shy away from these new experiences. Help promote the mouthing of toys. This also readies the mouth for different textures of foods down the road. Do this by encouraging your baby to put toys and their fingers in their mouth. Don't force it. Consider again dipping toys or fingers in sweet-ease or water.
- Many children are willing to accept "smooth" foods such as baby cereal or stage 1 and 2 baby foods, pudding or yogurt, but struggle with the transition to more challenging lumpy foods. Here are some suggestions for moving up towards "chunky" and solid foods: introduce solid foods that melt easily in the mouth such as hulless popcorn, cheese curls or Gerber puffs; introduce "chunkier" forms of already preferred flavors of foods (i.e. stage 3 foods in the same flavors that your child accepts in stage 1 or 2 foods); expand variety by introducing different flavors of already accepted foods (ex. all the varieties and flavors of gold fish or Gerber puffs); Initially keep demands low - just 1 or 2 tastes of a non-preferred food; keep portions small - seeing a big amount of a non-preferred food can overwhelm children; at each meal, offer a favorite food (if there is one) and a less preferred food; when introduce new foods, pick similar foods in new flavors or similar textures (if your child likes dry crunchy foods like chips, expand to different brands and types of chips, rather than jumping to deviled eggs) use rewards (playing with a toys, bubbles, singing, etc) after eat bite of a non-preferred food; and pair a non-preferred and preferred foods together, gradually increasing the ratio of the non-preferred food (example, crumble graham crackers [non-preferred food] in rice cereal [preferred food] to introduce a new texture and flavor.
- Keep a consistent schedule and routine for snacks and meals.
- Use appropriate seating, such as a high chair or booster seat. Do not allow your child to wander around the house snacking - your child needs the structure and routine of sitting in one place for meals. Additionally, you then lose control of the meal and it's difficult to systematically introduce new foods.
- Make sure the seating you are using is appropriate for your child. An occupational therapist can assess seating.
- Avoid allowing your child to "graze" between meals or carry around a drink, this will actually decrease hunger and interest in food because the child never experiences a hunger or fullness cycle.
- Try different tastes. You might think that bland is the way to go but kids really like sour tastes. Give them a lemon slice to chew on or a pickle. Try different flavors to wake up their taste buds, you never know what they might like.
- Build trust, go slow and be patient. You won't get anywhere by force feeding, trying to "trick" your child into eating a new or non-preferred food or forcing your child to interact with things that their sensory system isn't ready for. While you may set the goals for your child's eating, respect that your child gets to set the pace of working towards those goals. Remember that eating is naturally a pleasurable thing for many of us. However, eating is not actually instinctual - it is a skill that needs to be learned. There is a reason why your child doesn't want to eat. It might be due to a sensory issue, a history of medical issues, a bad experience with food (choking or recurring reflux), delayed oral motor skills or a developmental issue (Autistic children are often picky eaters). It's not because they are stubborn, lazy or spoiled. Ask a therapist (typically occupational or speech) to help you with some of these suggestions.
- Play with food. Allowing children to play with food, without the demand to eat it, is a great way for a child to explore how foods feel. Try finger painting with sugar-free vanilla and chocolate puddings. Try having gold fish crackers go "swimming" in apple sauce. Roll round foods (cheese puff) down their arms like a ski jump into a cup. Allowing children to be comfortable with food on their hands is the first step to allowing it near their mouth. Make it fun!
- Modeling is a great way to teach your child about eating. Make sure you child sits with you at family meals, even if they won't eat. They will be exposed to the sights and smells of various foods, while they watch you eating it. For older children, get them involved in mealtime by having them help with preparing food, cooking, serving food and passing food around the table. Avoid turning this great experience into a negative by making comments such as "Doesn't that look good? Aren't you going to try it?" or "All that work and now you won't even try it?"
- Mealtime isn't just about eating. It's about socializing and enjoying the company of the family. Lots of other skills can be learned during meals besides those associated with feed. Keep meals as stressless as possible (easier said than done). Try to avoid talking about food in a critical manner or pressuring your child to eat (comments such as "Why won't you eat?," "Your brother is such a good eater - can't you just take a bite?," etc). Talk about non-food or meal related topics instead.
- Do not discuss meal time later in the day with comments such as "If you'd eaten your dinner you wouldn't be hungry now." Once the meal is done, it's done. No discussions, comments or punishments.
- Keep your mindset positive. Monitor your body language. If you appear tense, anxious or overly excited when offering a new food to your child, they are going to pick up on that and be more likely to refuse. Remember that 90% of communication is non-verbal, so your child isn't listening to your words, they're listening to your body posture, tone of voice, facial expressions, etc.
- Make it fun. Allow your child to feed the family pet, so they realize this is an experience to enjoy.
- Use pretend play to have them feed their stuffed animal or doll.
- Get pretend/plastic food toys and pretend to make a meal and eat the pretend food.
Some children may enjoy feeding you.
- Model trying new foods yourself. Tell your child you think it would be fun to try a new food and ask them to pick something at the supermarket for you to try. Make sure you model enjoying the new food!
- Talk about the qualities of food while you are eating. Many kids with feeding difficulties don't recognize (due to a lack of experience) that foods have different attributes such as color, bumpy, hard, soft, crunchy, smooth, cold, hot, mild, spicy, sweet, salty, etc.; they just see everything as "yucky."
- Try face painting. Face painting is another sensory experience on the face that is great to use for building confidence with new sensory experiences around the face.
- Have your child help you cook. Again, avoid the pressure for the child to eat it, just enjoy the experience of cooking.
- Go on a supermarket scavenger hunt to help your child learn about foods. Ask them to find a food that is a particular color, bumpy or smooth, small and large or wet (think the produce section).
- Have you child experience other sensory experiences such as touching tub foam soap or shaving cream (use it to give a favorite toy a bath or pretend it's snow), play with ice-cubes in warm water and notice the different temps. or play with dry materials (the easiest for the sensory system to tolerate) such as bins of rice, beans, noodles or bird seed.
- Expect that the child with feeding difficulties will initially refuse new foods. In fact, it takes 10-15 exposures/tastes of a new food before a child can truly determine if they like the food or not. If after 10-15 tastes, you child still doesn't like it, move on to another food don't continue to offer that food.
- Don't make family meals at dinner time a battle ground. Allow your child to have at least 1 preferred food at each meal, although non-preferred foods can be offered as well. Keep the real work of introducing non-preferred foods at a snack time. This can be called "food homework time" for preschool and school aged children. Keep the time limited (15 minutes) and the expectations clear (ex. to eat 1 chicken nugget - a non-preferred food). Make sure you are keeping the experience positive and using rewards - no intimidation, pressure, etc. should be used to get a child to eat.
- Remember that learning to eat non-preferred foods is a lot of work. Just like adults, kids need a "paycheck" for work. Use frequent reinforcement (playing with toys, singing and verbal praise), after each bite of a non-preferred food.
- Make sure you use planned ignoring to respond to negative behaviors such as crying, screaming, throwing food, etc.
- Gagging and vomiting is common with children with oral aversion. Have a speech therapist evaluate your child to ensure that they have adequate oral motor skills to eat the foods that are causing the gagging. If the gagging is clearly due to an oral sensitivity (rather than inadequate oral motor skills), then used verbal prompts to swallow and ignoring when gagging or vomiting occurs. Using a drink or a smooth food between bites of chunky food can help your child swallow without gagging. Never end a meal on a gag or vomit as this will reinforce the behavior. Rather, end on a positive note. So if your child gags or vomits, clean it up casually and then ask them to take one more bite or drink of a preferred food before ending the meal.
- You child may need you to prompt them and to model how to chew and move food around the mouth. To avoid gagging, food needs to be moved from the front of the mouth to the sides to chew smaller before the tongue moves it to the back of the mouth to swallow. Prompt your child, "chew, chew, chew" while making exaggerating chewing motions yourself. If you are feeding your child a solid food, try to place solid foods on the sides of the mouth to promote chewing. Your therapist can do some exercises to help your child become more aware of where their teeth are in their mouth and they can practice chewing on non-food objects (chewy tubes, etc).
With my daughter I've found that the best thing to help her at this age is to have someone else eating the food. If her best friend is eating something, she wants it and vice versa. It's beyond annoying when she'll eat cheese that his mom makes but not the same exact cheese if I bring it, but she's eating the cheese and we've just learned to pack for each other's kids. It also helps if it's someone else offering the food. If you have a friend around have them try to spoon feed your child or offer them a food they won't normally eat. Change it up as much as you can. And relax. I know it's a stupid thing to say, but try as hard as you can to not take it personally because they aren't doing it to make you upset :)
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Cereal bars have become our new "go to" because they travel easily and don't require any utensils to eat. We usually buy the Kashi ones because they seem to have less sugar than other brands, but Kellogg's also makes one, as does 365 Organic... there should be a couple varieties to choose from at your market.
Ritz Crackers are also a good choice to carry around. You can get the Ritz Bitz in a variety of bite size flavors and they have quite a few more calories than goldfish or bunnies. (FYI, Ritz does contain HFCS if that is a concern, but there is an organic version you should be able to find that does not)
As far as fruits and vegetables go, avocado, bananas and raisins all travel very well and are more calorie dense than other choices.
Sometimes it doesn't matter how calorie dense your options are, if your child won't eat them then they do you no good. Obviously if your child will eat 15 goldfish and only one ritz, the goldfish is the better choice for you. However, it does take kids up to 20 times to like a new food so keep trying!
Friday, August 14, 2009
In order to make this blog as useful as possible I was wondering if anyone had any specific questions or topics they would like me to cover. I'm trying my best to give you the knowledge that I think you need, but I want to know what you need! Do you need examples on how to get your kids to eat certain foods/tastes/textures or just high fat ideas? I'm compiling the comments from other posts and I will answer those questions, I just wanted more so that I know I'm making my audience happy!
Monday, July 20, 2009
Making your own is super easy. Start with the veggies of your choice. I use whatever I have on hand but peppers, broccoli and carrots all work very well. Process about 1/4 cup of veggies in the food processor until it's very finely chopped and then add about 1/2-1 cup of full fat cream cheese. Process it until it's mixed and enjoy! It keeps for about a week in the fridge and it makes a great sandwich for on the go (it's much easier to eat than PB&J). You could also add fruit to the cream cheese to make a sweet treat.
Monday, July 13, 2009
I like to start with whole fat yogurt and add cream or coconut milk (you could also add oil if you really need fat), nestle nido or formula powder, and any combination of fruits AND vegetables. Yep, that's right... veggies. Remember that your child doesn't know yet what is a "weird" food combination so anything goes. Kale and spinach are really easy to pop into a smoothie and they don't taste very strongly (so you can put them in yours too!), I've also done broccoli and sweet potato... anything that you feel your child is missing.
My basic recipe:
2 oz whole fat yogurt
1 oz cream
2 tbs nido
splash of juice or milk to thin it out
The calorie content will vary based on what fruits you use but on average a 4oz serving has around 250 calories, 18g of fat, 8g of protein. If you use formula instead of Nido it will contain about 180 calories.
Friday, June 26, 2009
· 1 1/2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
· 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
· 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
· 2 (14 ounce) cans beef broth
· 4 carrots, chopped
· 1 large onion, chopped
· 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
· 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
· 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
· salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine meat and flour in a large plastic food storage bag and toss to coat evenly.
2. In a 6 quart saucepan brown meat in hot vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
3. Add onion and carrots and saute for 5 minutes. Then add beef broth, potatoes and thyme. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover; and simmer for 1 hour or until beef is tender.
notes: you can puree this as smooth or chunky as you like. If your child is eating chunkier foods you can also cut everything into tiny pieces and then cook. This recipe also does great in the crockpot, just omit 1 can of broth.
I chose not to post a picture of the stew because once it's pureed it's not very photogenic.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Why oh why does my child hate food so much? Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to have meal after meal of this? I know that some of you do and I know that some of you have it much worse. I just feel like I work my butt off to make sure she has high fat, nutritious food to eat only to be reminded it doesn't matter how much effort I put into anything if she's not going to open her mouth.
I dream of the day when I can just put something on a plate and not give any thought to what it is AND have her actually eat it. I dream of the day when I don't have to use a spreadsheet to keep track of her food intake because it won't matter. I dream of the day when people don't respond to me telling them how old she is with "oh, she's so tiny" or "but she only looks 6 months old" or "is something wrong with her?" I dream of the day when she doesn't get "lapped" by kids a year younger than her. I think I'm going to be dreaming for a while :(
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Powdered Whole Milk by Nestle Nido!!! The perfect thing to mix into a glass of milk and boost your child's calorie intake.
2oz (1/4 cup) includes:
10% RDA Vitamin A
25% RDA Calcium
25% RDA Vitamin D
(RDA values based on adult's recommended daily allowance, not a child's).
I've been mixing 1 tbs into 4oz of milk and Emma doesn't notice a difference and it gives her 40-50 extra calories with each sippy of milk she drinks, which can add up to over 200 extra calories a day!!!
I prefer to feed Emma organic/hormone free dairy products but haven't been able to find an organic version of this in stores yet, if I find one I will let you know!
For now click here to find out where Nestle Nido is carried near you!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Serving sizes for toddlers are much smaller than those we eat as an adult, though the food pyramid is basically the same. For toddlers 1 serving is 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) per year of age, and on a daily basis they should be consuming
- Fruits and Vegetables: 4-5 servings
- Protein: 2 servings
- Dairy: 16-24oz
- Grains: 4 servings
As important as it is to offer a varied diet, it's also very hard to get it all in when your child doesn't eat much. Don't stress about what your child is eating each day, instead try to concentrate on what they are eating over a week. Offer a different fruit and veggie with each meal and try to vary the colors of food that you offer.
A couple other important meal tips... don't let your child snack all day if they are trying to gain weight. It's important that children learn hunger cues and spreading their meals out helps them eat more at each meal. Offer 3 full meals and 2 snacks during the day, serving milk with meals and snacks. Try not to offer juice or water as you want everything that goes into their stomach to have calories but also don't let them drink a ton of milk. If your child is filling up on liquids they aren't going to want to eat and food has more nutritional value than milk (the same does not go for formula/breast milk). Offer all meals at a table, it's an important that your child get used to meal times and the more often you can eat as a family the better! And don't make meal time a battle. I know it's hard to want to force them to eat, but you don't want them to have negative associations with food. Respect their cues, if they are done then let them be done.
One last thing. I've seen it mentioned many times that a 1 year old should be consuming about 1000 calories a day. PLEASE keep in mind that is for your average toddler and not really for kids who are underweight. A good guideline is to shoot for 50 calories per pound, per day.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
3 tbs butter, melted
1 tbs worcestershire sauce
1 tsp seasoned salt
2 cups cheerios (any cereal would work)
Mix the first 3 ingredients and then stir in the cheerios, making sure to coat as evenly as possible. Spread them out on a baking sheet and bake them at 250F for about 10 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!
You can do about any flavor combination that you want. I've tried this with butter and vanilla agave and it was fantastic as well!
Monday, May 25, 2009
After months (and months) of worrying about my daughter's weight gain, or lack there of, and analyzing ever morsel of food she puts in her mouth, I've decided to start this blog to help other parents along their journey. Having a child with poor weight gain is beyond frustrating, and it hurts you to the core when you can't help your child with the one thing that usually comes so naturally. People expect babies to be fat and often wonder (out loud) what is wrong with a child when they aren't. Everyone is constantly telling us to feed her more, but that is easier said than done. I know the calorie content of every bite of food she eats. I have spreadsheets and charts and I constantly worry that she's getting enough calories and that she's also eating a well rounded diet. I can't not stress about it.
My goal is to be able to talk about some of the issues that kids and parents face and offer high fat recipes ideas. I've researched every food choice that I make for her. It's hard to want your child to have the very best in nutrition AND the highest calorie choices. I'm sure if I only fed her butter I might see some weight gain, but it's important to me that she also eat fruits and veggies. I've spoken with doctors and nutritionists and feel like I have a wealth of knowledge that I didn't have a year ago, and I want to share it. Worrying about weight gain is time consuming, as is meal preparation and I want to offer ideas that might be able to help you. I'm tired of people telling me to feed my child crap in order to gain weight. There has to be a way to eat high fat healthy foods and I'm going to explore it.