Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eating Disorder Prevention Tips: Don't let peas start WWIII

If healthy eating was a religion, Ellyn Satter would be a prophet. Satter is a dietitian and therapist (like me!) whose decades long research focuses on preventing obesity and eating disorders. Particulars include how to get our kids to eat more fruits and vegetables without starting World War III. 
Satter’s research found we do not have to force kids to eat 3 peas nor do we need to puree cauliflower into brownies. Her research found relying on these methods harms instead of helps. What are we to do?
Consider the gospel according to Satter (click on for more information including source):
Parents are in charge of what to eat, when to eat, and the eating environment.
Children are in charge of how much to eat if at all.

How does this philosophy prevent disordered eating?
  • Children are exposed to a wide variety of foods which research suggests allows the kids, once adults, to have more variety in their food intake.
  • Parents providing reliable and consistent meal times helps kids to not feel overly anxious or insecure around eating. This stability allows a child to learn to rely on their own hunger, satiety, and fullness rhythms instead of external motivators to eat or not eat.
  • Respecting a child’s job in the division prevents unnecessary meal time conflicts and pressure.
If you currently use or teach this Division of Food Responsibility, why do you think it helps to prevent disordered eating? 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Eating Disorder Prevention Tip: Family Meals

(In conjunction with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I'm posting tips each day to prevent disordered eating.)

Between the War on Obesity and the mortality rate of anorexia nervosa, parents are throwing their hands up in surrender. What do we feed our children? Not too much or clean your plate? Even more, parents may get caught up in conflicting nutrition science and can’t begin to decide what to serve at home.

Instead of spinning your wheels, I provide an alternative: what we serve our children is not as important as how we serve them. I encourage parents to consider a simple, not easy, solution that prevents both child obesity and eating disorders: eat meals with your children.
Sometime between 12 months and 18 months, kids are ready to eat the same foods adults eat. With a little modification, a parent will no longer have to make separate meals for the adults, older children, and younger children. It may seem appealing to do this...and kids may eat more when fed separate foods. But, as a nation, do we need our children eating MORE? Not necessarily. We need our children to become more confident and comfortable with diverse foods. Cooking 3 different meals at each meal time will not promote this. It promotes pickiness and food insecurities.
Pull up a chair and eat together. Family meals provide these powerful punches preventing EDs:
  • Consistent meal times allow a child to experience the body’s hunger and fullness cues. These cues help maintain optimum energy balance as well as enjoy food.
  • They learn they won’t always like what is offered and how to stay calm. (Their future dates will thank you!)
  • It is normal to start to feel hungry as meal time approaches. Set meal and snack times help kids learn how to tolerate lower levels of hunger without panicking. This skill helps prevent bingeing and hoarding.
  • Kids learn to say “no thank you” when they don’t like something and “I’ve had enough” when offered another helping. Learning these words via modeling helps them to be more confident around different foods and different people.
  • A child noticing a parent stopping to eat and nourishing herself helps the child learn vital self care skills. These skills can then become natural foundations to their adult lifestyles.
Not a gifted chef? No worries. First, get in the habit eating together as a family with the foods you current consume. The rest can work itself out over time. 
So, how’s a parent supposed to get their child to eat the broccoli at the dinner table without a temper tantrum? Tomorrow’s entry will tackle just that. Stay tuned my friends.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Eating Disorder Prevention Tips: Food Bribes

(In conjunction with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I'm posting tips each day to prevent disordered eating.)
Did you know M&Ms cure parental potty training headaches? At least that’s the way it seems to me. I hesitate to let many know my almost-3-year-old is not potty trained. When I do, I usually “learn” my daughter would be trained by the time she got through a bag of M&Ms in exchange for sitting on that potty.
As I explain why I choose to not bribe my child with food the parent rationally shrugs: “Well, it works.” Just because it works doesn’t mean it’s right.
Food bribes come in many forms besides potty-side. “Eat your veggies if you want dessert” and “I’ll take you out for ice cream if you get all A’s” are food bribes in another dialect. 
Using food to manipulate behavior promotes these unhealthy food rules for our children:
  • succeed at a task = eat 
  • fail at a task = do not deserve to eat
  • food is the only way to feel better after a tough day
  • screw intrinsic motivation, I do things for food!
  • eat because you earned it!
  • we can only eat bad food once we eat good food
  • it’s ok to eat past fullness in order to get what we want to eat and what we have to eat
  • don’t trust your body cues
Keep food for fueling at meal and snack time. If you need a reward for positive behavior changes, I encourage you to seek out non-food rewards. At least save the food bribes for when you REALLY need them: cross country flights or when you are stuck on the couch with the week long flu. Use them sparingly and cautiously
Rigid food rules like the ones listed above pave the way for disordered eating including bingeing, hoarding, emotional eating, and restricting. To promote healthy ways of relating to food, I encourage you to keep reading this week’s posts. What a parent can do to prevent eating problems is on deck.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How much do I have to weigh to use this?

Stumbled upon this Coffee House Skinny Fat Free creamer and found myself pondering:

  • Must one be skinny in order to use this product?
  • Does this product guarantee a slimming effect with consumption?
  • If one opts out of the Skinny version, is she automatically fat?
  • Does this product container hold less volume and thus named the Skinny container?
Blech to you food marketers. Stop manipulating our food and confusing us to second guess ourselves.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Weight ≠ Worth

Spreading my message. Where am I?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Hot {{Pink}} Mess

That’s it. I’m pissed. 

A recent trip to Target’s toy section sent my brewing anger from simmer to boil. I was annoyed with pink sparkles and princesses then postal with intentional consumerism and early sexualization. The catalyst pictured here.

The details:
Just like every mom, I want my daughter to grow up to be successful and happy. Just like every feminist, I want my daughter fulfilled by whatever she wants. I don’t want her to feel bound by society’s rules. I hope she feels pleasure doing the work of a firefighter, teacher, bricklayer, lawyer, nurse, or counselor, etc. And, I want her to be able to freely choose.
Enter Cinderella. Along with Ken and Barbie, they are blowing my daughter’s possibilities up in sparkly smoke.
At least that is how I am feeling at the moment.
Combining my passion in healthy body image and my preschooler’s hopefulness, I anticipated the release of How Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein.  I started reading it last week and frankly, it is making angry.
I’m not angry at the author. My discontent is aimed at the industries promoting early sexualization and consumerism in the name of profits. I am only 20% into the book, and so far I have learned:
  • Pink toys and clothing started showering the market in the 1980s. I encourage you to rethink this commonly heard statement: “It is just part of her girly nature to prefer pink.” Before 1980, girls preferred more choices in the rainbow.
  • Disney started ramming the Princess Revolution down our consuming throats in 2000. Before then, girls played dress up in their mom’s closets. Now, they are privileged to have the full princess fantasy before they are out of diapers.
  • The term girl power use to promote empowerment. Now, girl power is a marketing tool aimed at tweens leaving princess la la land. It’s glittery pink message sparkles individualization yet the only options are through appearance. A prime example: the Target t-shirt pictured above found in the toy section. How dare they?
As I read more of Orenstein’s book, I imagine my thoughts may shift a bit. I would love to hear your thoughts about my current discontent. Further, I would enjoy hearing your experiences while reading Orenstein’s book.
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr