10 Ways To Deal With Picky Eaters When You’re Fed Up

10 Ways To Deal With Picky Eaters When You’re Fed Up

Having a kid who is a picky eater is one of the most frustrating parts about being a parent—right up there with potty training, sleepless nights and meltdowns.

Chances are, you’re already doing your best to offer plenty of healthy foods.

But try as you might, you can’t seem to put an end to the picky eating.

When you’re at your wit’s end and you’re ready to pull out your hair, it’s definitely easier to open up a box of mac and cheese and call it a day.

Yet raising healthy kids who will try, accept and even crave healthy foods isn’t something that happens overnight.

With some simple strategies however, it can be done. Let’s get started.

1. Recognize picky eating for what it is

 

Many parents label their kids as picky eaters, but just because the behaviors are frustrating, that doesn’t mean it will be that way forever or that they have to define your child.

Picky eating is only a small, short-term obstacle to healthy eating.

Look at the bigger picture and realize that kids who eat healthy now are more likely to be healthy eaters throughout their lives, so it’s well-worth the effort.

 

2. Bring kids in the kitchen

 

When my kids are having meltdowns and it seems that no matter what I do, doesn’t work to get them to calm down, its extremely frustrating.

But when I’m empathic, hear them out and offer a hug, things usually get better.

Sometimes kids just need their cups refilled with quality time so rather than battling it out at the dinner table, try coming together in the kitchen.

Cooking with your kids is one of the best ways to teach them about healthy eating and it might be the way to end picky eating for good.

Empower your kids with choices: let them find a new recipe, then shop and cook the meal together.

At the very least, cooking can diffuse some of the frustration at the dinner table, create a positive environment around food, and slowly encourage your kids to be more adventurous eaters.

 

3. Have a play date

 

Children are more likely to do what other children do, and that includes eating.

According to a May 2016 study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, preschoolers who saw a video of their peers eating a bell pepper ate more peppers themselves a week later and said they were more likely to eat the vegetable again.

If one of your child’s friends is a healthy eater, arrange for them to have a play date. Your kid might be interested in what his friend is eating and more likely to take a bite too.

This strategy can also work well with other family members, especially grandparents, who are skilled at getting kids to try just about anything they offer.

 

4. Serve bites, not portions

 

Studies show it can take serving small portions of the same food 15 to 20 times, before kids will even take a bite.

Instead of overwhelming your child with an entire plate, or even a portion of vegetables, try serving a tiny amount, such as a broccoli floret, a bean, or a piece of a shredded carrot.

 

5. Let kids play with their food

 

Kids who play with their food are more likely to try new flavors and a wider variety of foods, a July 2015 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests.

Rather than pressuring your child to take a bite or bribe them with dessert if he eats his vegetables, encourage him to touch, smell, and even play with his food.

Talk about the shapes, colors, texture and aroma of the foods on his plate. If he takes a bite, that’s great, but the goal is to let him explore his food without feeling pressure to eat it.

6. Change the scenery

 

Sometimes moving your meals to a different environment can make mealtimes more interesting and less stressful.

Try packing a picnic lunch and head to the park, eat on the patio instead of the dinner table or take lunch to a friend’s house.

7. Let kids choose what they want to eat

 

When kids feel they have a say in what’s being served, they’ll be more likely to try it.

At dinner, serve a salad and a cooked vegetable or put out a buffet of leftovers and let your kids decide what they want on their plates.

Or take a trip to the farmers’ market and let you child choose a new vegetable to try.

8. Take stock of your kid’s diet

 

 

If kids are loading up on snacks throughout the day, they probably won’t be hungry for meals.

Snacks like crackers, chips and cookies—even those that are gluten-free, organic and have healthy ingredients like fruit and nuts—can crowd out the calories they should get from healthy foods.

Also, feeding kids processed snacks that are high in sugar and sodium train their taste buds to prefer those foods over healthy, whole foods, so it’s best to limit them as much as possible.

9. Talk to an expert

 

 

When you feel like you’ve done all you can to get your kid out of his picky eating habits, consider getting help from an expert.

A pediatric registered dietician nutritionist (RDN) will work with you to understand your child and your family and address all the factors at play. They can also help you set realistic goals and offer strategies and meal ideas to help your child try and eventually accept new foods.

To find an RDN, ask your pediatrician to make a referral or search the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ site, EatRight.org.

10. Stick with it

 

It might seem that your kids will be picky eaters forever, especially if you have toddlers who are inherently picky, but most kids can become healthy, adventurous eaters.

The key is to continue to offer healthy foods and teach healthy eating habits every day. This simple shift in mindset can help you muster up the energy and dedication to stay the course and raise healthy-eating kids.

7 Healthy Holiday Baking Tips

7 Healthy Holiday Baking Tips

I love baking anytime of year, but during the holidays, it’s even more special.

As a child, I have fond memories of making chocolate-coconut Christmas cookies and these Betty Crocker candy cane cookies with my own mom.

Now that I have my own kids, I love holiday baking even more.

This year, my daughters and I will make Skinnytaste’s pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and my grandmother’s famous cheesecake for Christmas (it’s a secret recipe). We’ll also make coconut macaroons and a few varieties of cookies for their teachers, bus drivers and volunteers at our church.

During the holiday season, it’s inevitable that your kids (and you!) will eat sugar.

The great thing about baking however, is that you can often make simple swaps and substitutions in your recipes that cut down on the calories, fat and sugar, add some nutrition and don’t change the taste much at all.

Here, read on for 7 healthy holiday baking tips to make your recipes even sweeter.

1. Upgrade your flour

White, refined flour lack nutrition and fiber and spikes your blood sugar, so I tend to avoid using it.

Since my kids eat a mainly gluten-free diet anyway, I usually swap all-purpose flour for gluten-free oats that I grind up in the food processor.

True, sometimes only all-purpose flour will do, but when it’s not going to change the taste or the texture, try oat flour, coconut flour or almond flour, all of which have more fiber.

Almond flour, in particular, is a good source of protein—7 grams in about a cup—, as well as vitamin E and healthy, monounsaturated fats.

In some recipes, you can swap in the same amount of flour, but others may require a different ratio of liquids. Try to find recipes that call for the specific type of flour you want to use or find out how to adjust your ingredients.

2. Cut down on sugar

 

Sweeteners like coconut sugar may have a lower glycemic index than table sugar, and less of an impact on blood sugar, but it’s not as low as say, broccoli.

What’s more, just because these sugars and others like honey are naturally derived, they’re still considered added sugars and should be limited in our diets.

Of course, the holidays are a special occasion so I don’t see a big deal in indulging in sweets. But if you’re planning back-to-back holiday events or you’re looking to cut back, you can cut the amount of sugar in a recipe by a 1/4 or a 1/3, which probably won’t make that much of a difference in the taste.

While pies, cakes and cookies usually need sugar to taste sweet, adding dried fruit like dates, raisins or cranberries to bread or muffin recipes can be a healthy, delicious substitute for sugar.

3. Make mini versions of your holiday favorites

 

One of the best ways to keep portions healthy for everyone is to create miniature cookies and desserts. Try mini muffin tins, mini loaf pans or ramekins for smaller, healthier holiday treats.

4. Mix in vegetables

Pureed or grated, vegetables like zucchini, carrots, beets, squash and pumpkin all add fiber, vitamins and minerals and antioxidants to a holiday dessert otherwise devoid of nutrition.

Vegetables also add flavor and moistness to breads, muffins and cakes.

5. Substitute avocado for butter or oil

While you’re adding vegetables, try fruit too—with an avocado.

Avocado is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids, especially because it’s high in fiber, has 20 vitamins and minerals and healthy, monounsaturated fats.

Avocado is also an easy, 1 to 1 substitute for butter or oil. I’ve found that it often makes cookies or muffins have a greenish hue, which isn’t a big deal if you’re enjoying them at home, but it might be if you’re giving them as gifts or bringing them to a party.

6. Add chia seeds

High in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, iron and calcium, chia seeds are a super food.

When you’re baking, chia seeds can easily be incorporated into cookies, muffins, breads, pancakes and cakes. They don’t change the taste or the texture but you may have to add additional liquid ingredients because they can thicken up the batter.

7. Swap cream for Greek yogurt

When a recipe calls for cream cheese, sour cream or buttermilk, try using full fat or low fat Greek yogurt which is an excellent source of protein, vitamin B12 and potassium and helps to cut down on some of the calories and saturated fat.

10 Ways I’m Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

10 Ways I’m Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

Between all the family dinners, holiday parties and special events, the 5 or so weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day are prime time for holiday weight gain.

Surprisingly, most people gain only about a pound during the holiday season, which doesn’t sound like much but it can take until summer to shed the weight, a September 2016 study in The New England Journal of Medicine found.

What’s more, with all those kids’ birthday parties, other holidays, dinners with friends, and date nights with your spouse and it’s easy to see how many of us pack on the pounds.

I, for one, have a serious sweet tooth and consider myself an emotional eater, so if there are desserts in the house, I’m going to eat them.

Although I eat healthy and I’m in great shape, it takes only one heavy meal or extra dessert for me to gain weight.

As I stare down the season of sweets and holiday spreads, I’m determined not to pack on the pounds. That’s not to say I’m not going to enjoy myself—I’m Italian-American after all—but there are some strategies I’ll be using to avoid holiday weight gain.

1. Avoid bringing holiday treats home

 

When you walk into any grocery store, convenience story or big box store during the holidays, you know how tempting all the decadent desserts, perfectly packaged cookies and holiday-themed treats can be.

There are aisles upon aisles of eggnog, red and green confections and peppermint-flavored everything.

Maybe you tell yourself you’ll buy them for teachers’ gifts or to put in your kids’ stockings, but once you get them home, you find yourself halfway through the package in minutes flat.

I’ve found myself doing this too and I’m not going to fall into that trap again this year.

Although I anticipate my kids will beg me for sweets, I won’t be bringing them into my home.

2. Hit the gym first thing in the morning.

I already exercise 5 to 6 days a week but a holiday party or staying up late to scour Amazon for gifts could easily derail my normal workout routine.

Still, I know that hitting the gym first thing in the morning lowers my cortisol level, burns off adrenaline and sets the tone for the day.

Plus, when I leave BODYCOMBAT feeling like a rock star, I know I’m more likely to make healthy food choices throughout the day.

In fact, science backs it up.

According to an October 2012 study in the journal Medicine and Science In Sports and Exercise, women who exercise in the morning for 45 minutes are less motivated by food and are more active overall.

3. Avoid late night snacking

I’ve been trying my best to curb the night snacking for quite awhile, but with several holiday dinners already on the schedule, I’m determined to keep up the habit to prevent packing on the pounds.
 

4. Fill up on vegetables

Vegetables, particularly the green leafy types, are low in calories, high in fiber and take up space in your stomach which promotes satiety and prevents overeating.

When I’m at home, I’ll be sure to fill up my plate 50 percent worth of green leafy vegetables like salad, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

5. Be a picky eater

When there are passed hors d’oeuvres or a buffet dinner at a holiday party, I tend to have a little bit of everything until my plate is way too full.

This season, I’m going to head into the holiday parties with a new mindset.

I’ll take stock of what’s being offered and then choose 1 or 2 foods I really love, I won’t eat any other time during the year or those I have never tried.

6. Send leftovers packing

Leftover vegetables are always great to have on hand, but I don’t want to things like stuffing, potatoes, and desserts in my house tempting me after the holidays.

Since we’ll be hosting all of the holidays this year, I’m asking my guests to bring to-go containers so they can take home the leftovers.

 

7. Drink plenty of water

With the busyness of the holiday season, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water. Not only can dehydration often be mistaken for hunger, but drinking water before a meal can prevent overeating. 

To prevent holiday weight gain this season, I’m going to make it a point to drink plenty of water throughout the day and definitely before a holiday party.

8. Eat mindfully

Emotional eating and mindless eating go hand in hand, and often times the stress of the holidays leads me to overeat.

If I’m sitting at the dinner table after we’ve eaten and the food is still there, I often find myself going for seconds.

To curb mindless eating, I’ve been reading Dr. Susan Albers’ books. Implementing her tips such as eating slowly, putting my fork down in between bites and accessing whether I’m really hungry or just want another taste has really helped.

9. Eat before  holiday parties

If you know there will be a large spread of food at the event, it might seem like a good idea to skip meals or starve yourself beforehand, but that can backfire and cause you to overeat.

This can be tough especially if dinner is served at 3pm, when you’re not hungry for dinner but will be extremely hungry if your last meal was breakfast.

When this is the case, I’ll continue to eat the same meals and at the same time, although I may cut back on my portions.

Or if there will be several hours between lunch and dinner for example, I’ll have a small snack like carrots and hummus or a handful of almonds, before I leave.

10. Get plenty of sleep

When I stay up too late doing something meaningful (writing this blog) or time-sucking and frivolous (scrolling through my Facebook feed), it completely throws me off the next day.

My workout suffers and because I’m tired, I’m much more likely to snack, even on healthy foods like fruit and nuts.

I’m also not a very happy mother or wife to be around. 

Although there will probably be some late nights that will be unavoidable, my goal is to get to bed on time and clock at least 8 hours of shut-eye.

 

6 Subtle Signs of Postpartum Depression  For many moms, postpartum depression goes undiagnosed. I was one of them.

6 Subtle Signs of Postpartum Depression

For many moms, postpartum depression goes undiagnosed. I was one of them.

Four years ago, I found myself in the office of a therapist who specialized in postpartum depression.

My second child was already 18-months-old by that point and from what I had read and written about postpartum depression, there was no way I had it.

I thought moms with the condition felt sad, cried a lot and felt detached from their babies. I also thought those symptoms showed up within weeks after giving birth.

My story wasn’t like that at all.

I had a positive birth experience with a midwife and supportive husband by my side.

I felt so great in fact, that I spent only one night in the hospital.

The day after I came home, we even hosted family in our home for Easter and I was happy and energetic. I already felt like I was settling into our new life with a 2-year-old and a newborn.

Everything seemed just fine.

Two days later at my daughter’s well visit, I was asked to fill out a screening for postpartum depression and I was flippant about it. I quickly checked off the answers and thought, I don’t have time for this.

For the next year and half, I cared for my daughters, worked part-time and went to the gym regularly. I cooked our meals and made homemade baby food. I cleaned my home every week like clockwork and did everything else that had to get done.

I was high functioning for sure, not the disconnected mother I had envisioned a mom with postpartum depression to look like.

And besides, so much time had passed.

As I spoke to the therapist however, she explained that despite all that, what I was experiencing was in fact, postpartum depression.

As I did more research, I realized that I had likely had the condition since my first daughter was born and no one, not even me, picked up on it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), postpartum depression affects approximately 1 in 10 women nationwide and in some states, as many as 1 in 5 have the condition.

Despite how common it is however, it often goes unrecognized and is not always an easy, clear-cut diagnosis. When it is diagnosed, less than half of women get treatment, according to a February 2015 study in the journal CNS Spectrums.

Whether you’re a new mom or know someone who is, it’s important to recognize the signs—no matter how subtle they may be—and know where to turn for help.

1. Anxiety

I was no stranger to anxiety, having experienced it since childhood, but after my daughters were born it ramped up even more.

When my kids were sleeping, I constantly checked to make sure they were breathing, they were still lying on their bellies, and their swaddles hadn’t come undone, potentially suffocating them.

When I was driving, I not only worried that we would get into a car accident, but that another car would hit my car on the side where my kids sat.

It doesn’t make much sense that you can be anxious and depressed at the same time, but anxiety is actually one of the symptoms of postpartum depression. In fact, The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, the screening tool used to diagnose postpartum depression, includes questions about anxiety, panic and overwhelm.

Some moms who have the same type of irrational fears I did, can suffer from postpartum anxiety or postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). These and other perinatal anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder are about as common as postpartum depression.

2. Irritability

The weeks and months after I gave birth felt so incredibly stressful. I lacked patience for everyone and everything.

I was constantly frazzled—trying to balance interviews, writing and pumping my breast milk, all in the short amount of time I had our sitter caring for my kids.

Unlike my first daughter who would breastfeed like clockwork and be done, my second liked to nurse what felt like all the time and would cry the minute I put her down.

If you feel on edge, you’re not able to relax, or you’re short and snappy with your husband and other people in your life, take note. True, you’re already exhausted and the lack of sleep can make you feel irritable but if those feelings persist, it could be due to postpartum depression.

3. Changes in appetite

A change in your appetite is perhaps one of the most significant, but subtle signs of postpartum depression.

Despite being a chef, cookbook author and foodie, Chrissy Teigan has said that when she had no interest in cooking or eating she realized it was time to seek help for postpartum depression.

When you have a new baby, it’s rare that you’ll have time to sit down to a meal so you might find yourself skipping meals or overeating when you do have time to eat.

Yet if you have a lack of appetite or find yourself overeating or binging to decompress, cope with tough feelings or to fight fatigue, it might also be due to postpartum depression.

4. Feelings of uncertainty, insecurity and regret

There are so many decisions you have to make when you become a mom.

Whether it’s choosing to breastfeed, going back to work and picking the right pediatrician, it can all feel very overwhelming.

If you get stuck and find it hard to make decisions, no matter how minor or significant they may be, or you doubt, regret or beat yourself up about a decision you made, it could be a sign of postpartum depression.

5. Insomnia

With a newborn at home, sleep is already hard to come by. If you have other children who don’t sleep through the night, it can be even more challenging.

If you find it difficult to fall asleep, or toss and turn throughout the night, talk to your doctor because it could be a sign of postpartum depression.

6. Feeling like a failure

After the birth of my first child, I constantly compared myself to other new moms including family, friends and those I knew in the community.

Of course, photos of happy moms with their cute, “perfect” children on social media didn’t help either.

Everyone else seemed to have it all together and handle new motherhood with ease while I felt like I had no idea what I was doing.

I struggled nearly every day with feelings of inadequacy as a mom. I frequently told my husband, I’m not a good mom, I’m not cut out for this and I’m failing.

Motherhood didn’t come easy for me and I knew I wasn’t happy, but I thought it was my fault. I thought I simply didn’t know how to be a mom, but now I know that was the depression duping me.

Although I think it’s safe to say we all feel overwhelmed by motherhood from time to time and we doubt our decisions, when these feelings persist, it’s time to seek help.

How To Find Help

If you have any of these signs, or you simply don’t feel like yourself, it’s important to seek help.

Postpartum depression is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. It’s a real, diagnosable condition and there are effective treatments available.

Tell someone

Talk to your doctor or midwife about your symptoms, whether you gave birth 2 weeks or 2 years ago.

She can screen you for postpartum depression and refer you to a therapist who can help. If you feel like you can’t take that first step, talk to your partner, a family member or friend who can put the wheels in motion for you.

Find help

Postpartum Support International is an amazing resource for new moms. They offer phone and online support, referrals to local therapists and support groups.

Get support

Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) was a lifesaver for me. They welcomed me with a warm breakfast, someone to watch my kids for 2 hours and a group of real moms who listened, understood and were supportive. Although it can feel hard to be social, try to find a moms’ group that provides a safe, supportive space.

Ask for what you need

As I said, I had no idea I had postpartum depression. I was checking things off my list, going full throttle 24/7, and having an I can do it all mentality but I rarely accepted help or took time for myself.

All moms need help, but if you have postpartum depression, it’s even more important.

Ask your partner to take a feeding, cook dinner or take over some of the household duties. If you can afford to do so, hire a postpartum doula, a baby nurse or an au pair.

If your parents or in-laws have the time and offer to help, take them up on it. They can take your baby for a walk in the stroller, read to your baby, or help prepare dinner.

Say yes to any help you can get.

If you have thoughts of suicide, please don’t suffer in silence. There is help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255)

 

11 Easy Food Safety Tips For Moms and Kids  These food safety tips can help to prevent food poisoning and keep your family healthy.

11 Easy Food Safety Tips For Moms and Kids

These food safety tips can help to prevent food poisoning and keep your family healthy.

Whether you buy organic, local, non-GMO or local, and shop at Whole Foods or the famers’ market, you and your kids can still be at risk for food poisoning.

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 48 million people each year get sick from foodborne illness from exposure to germs like norovirus, salmonella, E. coli and listeria.

Pregnant women and children under age 5 in particular, have some of the highest risk for food poisoning.

Kids’ immune systems are still developing so they can’t fight off germs and illness as well as older children can. Food poisoning is also a particular concern for young kids because diarrhea and dehydration can land them in the hospital.

When it comes to pregnant women, they’re 10 times more likely to get a listeria infection than women who are not. Pregnant women who are Hispanic are 24 times more likely to be affected.

Contamination can happen at any time along the food journey to your kitchen table, but there are several ways to prevent the spread of germs.

Here, learn about the food safety tips that can prevent food poisoning.

1. Check restaurant health ratings

According to a 2018 poll conducted by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, one in 10 parents say their kids have gotten sick from spoiled or contaminated food and 68 percent attributed the food poisoning to eating out in a restaurant.

One of the best ways to prevent food poisoning when eating out is to check health inspection ratings—something only 25 percent of parents do, the same poll found.

To review health inspection ratings, check with your local or county health department or try the What The Health app.

2. Clean out your refrigerator

Before you leave to go to the grocery store, go through your refrigerator and throw out food that has gone bad and shouldn’t be eaten.

Food that has mold, smells unpleasant, or whose color or texture has changed should be tossed.

Leftovers that have been cooked should be thrown away after 4 days and raw chicken and meat after 1 to 2 days.

It’s also a good idea to know what the dates on food packaging mean to prevent food waste.

3. Do grocery shopping in this order

When you run errands, try to do all of your regular errands first and leave your grocery shopping until the end so you can take your groceries home immediately and prevent food from spoiling.

Also, consider bringing an insulated bag with an ice pack to transport cold, perishable food items.

4. Keep meat and fish separate

At checkout, place raw meat and fish in plastic bags to prevent spreading germs to other foods.

When you arrive home, store these foods on a plate or in a shallow pan on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator and away from ready to eat foods.

5. Wash your hands before preparing food

Before you handle food, be sure to thoroughly wash all surfaces of your hands with warm or hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds.

After handling raw chicken, wash your hands before moving on to other foods to prevent the spread of bacteria.

6. Use designated cutting boards

It’s a good idea to use one cutting board solely for fruits and vegetables and one for raw meat, poultry and fish.

7. Wash and sanitize cutting boards

Scrub cutting boards after each use with hot, soapy water, especially after preparing raw meat, fish and poultry.

To deep clean cutting boards, scrub them with a paste of baking soda, salt and water and wipe them with full strength white vinegar to disinfect.

Rubbing a sliced lemon on the boards also helps to sanitize them and remove odors.

8. Always rinse fruits and vegetables

Always rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water and consider using a produce brush to remove dirt and debris.

If you plan to peel fruit, you should still rinse it before eating it to prevent germs from contaminating the inside flesh.

Ready to go, pre-chopped produce like bagged salad and cut up vegetables that aren’t labeled pre-washed should always be washed at home.

9. Defrost foods properly

Never leave food out on the kitchen countertop or in the sink to defrost.

Instead, thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf on a plate or a shallow pan. You can also defrost foods in the microwave but they should be cooked right away.

10. Cook foods thoroughly

Instead of making a judgment call about whether meat, poultry and fish are ready to eat just by looking at them, use a food thermometer to ensure they’re thoroughly cooked.

Unsure of the right temp? NSF International has a handy chart.

11. Serve food at safe thermometers

Cold foods should be served at 40º F or below while hot foods should be stored at 140ºF or above.

When foods are left out and in the “danger zone” range between 40º F and 140º F, they’re only safe to eat for 2 hours or 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees.

10 Things I Do To Keep My Kids Healthy + Prevent Childhood Obesity

10 Things I Do To Keep My Kids Healthy + Prevent Childhood Obesity

With more than one-third of children who are overweight or obese in the U.S., obesity and obesity-related chronic health conditions will be a lifelong reality for our children if we don’t do something about it now.

Although my kids are healthy, we have relatives on both sides of the family who are overweight or obese.

There’s also a strong family history of hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke, insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes, anxiety, depression and mental illness, so taking steps to keep my kids healthy is one of my priorities as a parent.

Here’s a list of things I do to keep my kids healthy now and throughout their lives. One word of caution: these ideas are meant to inspire you, not make you feel like a failure.

1. I cook and eat with my kids

Cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner (yes, seriously), is perhaps the best way to keep my kids healthy.

I know exactly what goes into their meals and how the meals have been cooked and I can better control how much they eat than when we eat out.

I also cook with my kids, which has made them more likely to eat healthy and try new foods.

In fact, a November 2014 study in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease found kids who took cooking classes or cooked at home ate more fruits and vegetables, were more willing to try new foods, and had an increased confidence in their ability to prepare meals.

Studies show eating family meals together—something we do every night—is also positively associated with kids who eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight.

2. I serve vegetables at most meals and snacks

Look in my refrigerator and you’ll find plenty of vegetables: broccoli, cucumber, celery, peppers, asparagus, and salad.

Veggies have filling fiber that satisfy kids’ hunger, balance their blood sugar, and take up space in their bellies to keep them feeling fuller longer.

Eating vegetables at every meal and snack is also one way to prevent them from gaining weight.

My kids eat salads and vegetables for lunch and dinner, they often have a fruit and vegetable smoothie for breakfast and munch on carrots and cucumbers for snacks, for example.

3. I watch their portion sizes

Although my kids eat a healthy diet, they often eat too much. They frequently ask for seconds or for fruit after dinner.

Fruit isn’t a big deal of course, but I try to teach them about portion sizes so they will learn healthy eating habits.

One way that helps them understand healthy portions is to encourage them to use a measuring bowl or cup.

When I allow them to have a packaged snack, I also talk to them about reading food labels. I explain the serving size and servings per container so they know how much they can eat and how much they have to save for another time.

4. I don’t buy a lot of processed, packaged foods

Crackers, cookies and granola bars are really easy and convenient, but most are high in calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar, all of which can negatively affect their health and lead to weight gain.

Many of the kid-friendly foods and snacks are mostly refined carbohydrates, which lack fiber, spike their blood sugar and increase their sugar cravings.

When my kids are allowed these snacks, they know it’s a treat and not something they’ll eat every day.

5. I read labels and watch sugar

Like most parents, I watch my kids’ intake of obvious sources of sugar like cookies and candy but sugar is sneaky and can show up in surprising places like cereal, yogurt and barbecue sauce too.

Kids should consume less than 25 grams of added sugars a day and with the new Nutrition Facts labels being rolled out this year, it will be easier than ever to decipher between natural and added sugars.

I make it a point to read labels and check the added sugars, but I’m also cognizant of natural sugars, which can be concentrated in foods like dried fruit, for example.

6. I get my kids moving

I’ll admit it: making sure my kids get the recommended 60 minutes of exercise every day is one area that’s challenging for me.

Between working full-time, school, homework, after-school activities and other obligations, it’s hard to carve out time.

Although it’s not ideal, my daughters take gymnastics class 1 to 2 times a week and then I find opportunities to get them up and moving.

For example, we’ll take a walk before dinner or go on a bike ride. When it’s raining or cold, we might play a game of Twister or have an indoor dance party.

7. I limit screen time

Much to my chagrin, my kids love the iPad just like every other kid in America. “I hate those iPads!” is something you’d hear me say if you were a fly on the wall.

Screen time makes my kids tired and irritable and they get addicted to it.

Studies also show too much screen time is linked to sedentary behaviors, which can lead to childhood obesity and other chronic health problems so I often set a timer and set limits.

In fact, a January 2014 study in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology found teens who spent more than 2 hours a day behind a screen had a higher body mass index (BMI) as well as metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increases their risk for heart disease and stroke.

In August 2018, the American Heart Association released a scientific statement about the issue and strongly suggest parents limit all screen time to 1 to 2 hours a day.

8. I prioritize their sleep

Making sure your kids get enough sleep is just as important as eating healthy and exercise.

Without enough shut-eye, their hunger hormones can get all out of whack and make them more likely to reach for junk food and skip breakfast, one study found.

I do my best to make sure they’re in bed every night at the same time or within a half hour. If that means that our reading time is cut short, so be it. Sleep is too important.

9. I don’t serve juice and sugary beverages

Consuming fruit juice, soda, sports and energy drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages can easily spike a kid’s blood sugar and lead to weight gain.

According to a January 2018 review in Obesity Facts, 93 percent of studies found a positive association between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity.

I let my kids have juice or lemonade for a special occasion like a friend’s birthday party, but otherwise they only drink water, homemade green smoothies or green juices.

10. I lead by example

I eat healthy and exercise for my own health and well being but it’s a really important way to keep kids healthy.

Although they don’t always like that I leave every morning for the gym, they know that it makes me healthy and happy, which makes me a better mom.

 

What are some habits you have to keep your kids healthy? Let me know in the comments!

Childhood Obesity: Are Parents to Blame?

Childhood Obesity: Are Parents to Blame?

Childhood obesity continues to be an epidemic in the U.S., with more than one-third of kids who are either overweight or obese.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century and overweight and obese children are more likely to stay obese into adulthood and suffer from diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Although the nation has made inroads in creating awareness and affecting some change, parents will always be their children’s primary influence in all areas of their lives.

But when it comes to childhood obesity, are they to blame?

Pediatricians’ part in childhood obesity

For most parents, pediatricians are the first people they turn to when they have questions about their kids’ health. Pediatricians also play an integral role in preventing childhood obesity.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):

Even when families have sufficient knowledge of healthy behaviors, they may need help from pediatricians to develop the motivation to change, to provide encouragement through setbacks, and to identify and support appropriate community resources that will help them successfully implement behavior changes.”

The AAP says pediatricians should encourage parents to be healthy role models, encourage a healthy lifestyle by offering healthy foods, having family meals and persuading kids to increase their physical activity and reduce their screen time.

Despite the responsibility pediatricians have however, the education and tools around childhood obesity are lacking.

According to a September 2010 report by the Association of American Medical Schools, U.S. medical schools offer an average of only 19.6 hours of nutrition education within 4 years of medical school.

That’s not even a day devoted to learning about the one thing that can make or break kids’ health.

And considering most pediatricians only have between 11 and 20 minutes to spend with parents, they’re extremely limited in the knowledge and guidance they can offer.

Despite all this, some physicians say parents are ultimately responsible for childhood obesity.

According to an August 2015 poll by SERMO, a social network for physicians, 69 percent of doctors think parents are either completely or mostly to blame for childhood obesity.

According to one pediatrician:

Clearly, parents need to shoulder some of the responsibility, and the blame. As parents, we have to set an example and to promote within our families healthy eating and healthy exercise. 

However, children are beset on all sides by their non-parental environment as well, which includes access to cheap, high-caloric foods; glitzy advertisements; a raft of screen and video entertainment; low-nutritional value school lunches; and on and on. Parents can be perfect role models, and still lose in this effort.

But at least they stack the odds more favorably for their kids.”

Is childhood obesity genetic?

When a child’s parents, grandparents and other family members are also overweight, it’s natural to chalk up childhood obesity to genetics and studies show there’s some truth to that theory.

According to a February 2017 in the journal Economics & Human Biology, 35 to 40 percent of childhood obesity is inherited from parents. The more overweight parents are, the more overweight their children are likely to be, the same study found.

It seems however, that what the study authors dub “intergenerational transmission,” is a combination of both genetics and food environment.

Experts say that although genetics play a role in our propensity for many diseases including obesity, we can also “turn on” and “turn off” our genes with diet and lifestyle.

According to the Harvard School of Medicine:

“…genetic factors identified so far make only a small contribution to obesity risk-and that our genes are not our destiny: Many people who carry these so-called “obesity genes” do not become overweight, and healthy lifestyles can counteract these genetic effects.”

Parents influence their child’s obesity risk

The healthy choices parents make also have a significant impact on their child’s risk for obesity, and research backs it up.

Take a July 2018 study in the journal BMJ, which included data from the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII), one of the largest prospective investigations that look at the risk factors for major chronic diseases in women.

The study, which included more than 24,000 children, showed 5.3 percent of children became obese within 5 years, between ages 9 and 14.

Children whose mothers had a normal body mass index (BMI), participated in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 150 minutes a week, didn’t smoke and drank alcohol in moderation, were 75 percent less likely to become obese than children of mothers who didn’t have those healthy habits.

What are we feeding your kids?

Food environment, including the foods that parents bring into the house, pack for school lunch, order at restaurants, serve for family gatherings, and bring on play dates, to the park or for after-school sports also play a role in the childhood obesity risk.

This is particularly important when kids are young and can’t purchase food at the store on their own or eat out with their friends, for example.

Kids who have access to plenty of fruits and vegetables, are much more likely to eat healthy than those whose pantries are filled with processed junk food.

In fact, an October 2014 study in the Journal of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that encouraging and modeling healthy eating, setting limits on foods, and having healthy foods available at home are all positively associated with kids’ diets and their weight.

Studies also show that eating family meals together increases the likelihood that kids will eat healthy and may reduce their risk for childhood obesity.

Regardless of how diligent we are at feeding our kids healthy, food is everywhere and it has created an “obesogenic” environment that’s hard for any parent to contend with.

The food industry alone spends $10 billion dollar a year on food marketing. Brands use bright colors and recognizable characters on their packages and target kids on social media.

Supermarkets strategically place kid-friendly foods in locations where kids are most likely to ask for them.

Fast food restaurants include toys in their meals and restaurants host “kids eat free” nights.

Schools serve cookies, ice cream and potato chips in the cafeteria and have food available in vending machines, school stores and in the classroom.

Food also shows up in the least likely of places at places like convenience stores, bookstores, museums, banks, the dry cleaners, and even at church.

Food is just one part of the puzzle

Parents also teach and influence their kids in habits that have nothing to do with food but still contribute to childhood obesity.

For starters, we know physical activity plays a part in preventing childhood obesity but studies show most kids don’t get the recommended 60 minutes of exercise a day.

Other habits like allowing kids to eat in front of the TV, have their devices at the dinner table or eat in the car—even if it’s on the way to practice—can also affect their weight.

Blaming parents isn’t the answer to childhood obesity

There’s no doubt that parents play a significant role in preventing childhood obesity. Regardless of how strong outside factors are, the onus is still on them to offer healthy foods and teach their kids healthy habits.

Positive change cannot occur however, if we blame parents.

Shaming parents for not reading to their kids, playing with their kids “enough” or even yelling when their kids misbehave, isn’t necessarily going to motivate them to be better parents.

Childhood obesity is a complex problem and the individual factors that affect a child’s weight can vary family to family.

For example, parents can eat healthy, exercise and encourage their kids to do the same, but if their kids are teens and would rather read a book, parents are limited in how much change they can affect in their kids.

Parental stressors may also affect a child’s risk for childhood obesity. According to a November 2012 study in the journal Pediatrics, multiple parental stressors such mental illness, employment status and financial strains are directly associated with a child’s risk for obesity.

When it comes to childhood obesity, I believe the solution is multi-faceted.

It starts with parents who want their kids to grow up healthy, know how to eat healthy and have healthy habits.

By educating ourselves, becoming aware of all the factors at play, seeking support from a pediatrician, a registered dietician nutritionist or a therapist, if necessary, we can stay the course and prevent childhood obesity.

When it comes to parenting, nothing is easy, straightforward or perfect, but it’s our job to stick with it.

What do you think: are parents to blame for childhood obesity?

11 Ways to Deal With Morning Sickness

11 Ways to Deal With Morning Sickness

When I was 6 weeks pregnant with both of my children, it was like someone flipped a switch: one day I felt fine and the next I woke up feeling nauseous.

 

On a few occasions, there was some vomiting thrown in but in general, it was a constant queasy feeling that lasted all day.

 

According to a 2013 meta-analysis in the Journal of Population Therapeutics and Clinical Pharmacology, approximately 70 percent of pregnant women have nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

 

It turns out however, that “morning sickness” is a misnomer. For most women, that nauseous feeling is something that lasts 24/7.

 

In fact, less than 2 percent of women experience nausea and vomiting only in the morning, while 80 percent have it all day, one study found.

 

When you have nausea, struggle to keep food down and don’t have an appetite, it can be pretty miserable.

 

For most women however, morning sickness improves over time and there’s a lot you can do to prevent and deal with morning sickness.

 

1. Eat small meals

When your blood sugar is low, you’re more likely to feel nauseous so do your best to avoid skipping meals.

 

Focus on eating small meals made up of protein and complex carbohydrates about 3 to 4 hours apart to give your body a slow, steady release of energy and prevent huge blood sugar spikes and crashes.

 

2. Try the scent of lemon

The smell and taste of lemon is so refreshing and may help you deal with morning sickness.

 

A warm cup of tea or water with lemon and a bit of honey or adding lemon essential oil to a diffusor may do the trick.

3. Carry snacks

If the subway gets delayed or you get stuck at the DMV, having a snack in your bag can help you deal with morning sickness should it strike.

 

Portable snacks like dried fruit, nuts, seeds, granola bars (made with whole ingredients and low sugar), whole-grain crackers or a piece of fruit are all great options.

 

4. Add ginger to your diet

Ginger is well known for it’s ability to combat nausea and if you can tolerate it, it can be quite effective for morning sickness.

 

Processed ginger snaps or ginger ale, however won’t cut it.

 

The key is to consume real ginger root.

 

Try boiling a small piece of ginger in water, adding it to tea or a green juice.

 

Ginger root beer (it’s non-alcoholic), ginger capsules, gum or lozenges may also help combat that queasy feeling.

 

5. Vitamin B6

During my second pregnancy, my midwife recommended I take a vitamin B6 supplement and it ended up being a lifesaver for me. In fact, the nausea went away within a day or two.

 

Ask your provider to recommend a reputable supplement brand and explain how much to take and how often.

 

6. Eat magnesium-rich foods

Kale and spinach might be the last thing you want to eat when you’re dealing with morning sickness but a magnesium-deficiency can lead to nausea.

 

In fact, most women are deficient in magnesium during pregnancy, a September 2016 study in the journal Nutrition Reviews found.

 

In addition to green leafy vegetables, foods high in magnesium include almonds, cashews, black beans, edamame, and avocado.

 

If you don’t think you’re getting enough magnesium, ask your provider about taking a magnesium supplement, the type of magnesium and dose.

 

7. Sip on peppermint tea

Peppermint has a long history of being used for digestive disorders and experts say it’s safe to drink peppermint tea during pregnancy, although it may make heartburn worse.

 

8. Salty crackers

Saltines are pure, refined carbohydrates and not a food anyone should be eating on a regular basis because they lack fiber and spike blood sugar, but they can be really helpful in easing morning sickness.

 

Keep them by your bedside and munch on a few before you get out of bed in the morning or snack on them during the day when you feel sick.

 

9. Drink up

It sounds counterintuitive to drink water if you’re struggling to keep much of anything down, but if you’re dehydrated, you’re more likely to experience morning sickness.

 

You might find drinking in between meals, drinking ice water or a piping hot cup of herbal tea.

 

You can also stay hydrated by eating melon and citrus fruits which are really refreshing when you’re pregnant, and especially during the summer months.

 

Either way, avoid soda, sugary and sugar-sweetened beverages which are empty calories, spike your blood sugar and leady to unhealthy pregnancy weight gain.

 

10. Try smoothies, green juices or soup

If the sight or aroma of greens is enough to make your stomach turn, try getting a bunch of vegetables and fruit in a smoothie or green juice.

 

Or make a vat of broth-based, pureed vegetable soup.

 

You’ll pack in a ton of nutrition and in a more palatable way.

11. Avoid fatty foods

You might be craving a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, but fatty foods and processed fast food are hard to digest and will most likely bring on nausea.

 

Not to mention a healthy pregnancy diet isn’t what you and your baby really need.

 

 

How I Work Full-Time and Cook Dinner (Almost) Every Night

How I Work Full-Time and Cook Dinner (Almost) Every Night

I’m by no means a super-mom: I often lose patience with my kids, I’m not on the PTA, I’m not the class mom and I don’t volunteer much at school. I work full-time and my husband works long hours but I cook dinner most, if not every night of the week.

It’s the one thing I’m proud to say I do as a mom.

Is it easy? No way.

When my kids are vying for something to eat and everyone is unwinding from the day, ordering a pizza, getting take-out or eating out always seems like an easier option.

There’s nothing wrong with eating out every once in awhile, but cooking real, fresh, homemade food is ideal.

Not only is the food usually healthier, but your kids aren’t likely to overindulge on large portion sizes.

Cooking dinner most nights of the week doesn’t require you to invest in pricey meal subscription boxes or hire a personal chef.

With some planning and prep work, you can cook a healthy, delicious dinner every night of the week.

Here’s how I pull it off and you can too.

I use the chopping board a lot.

I won’t lie: if you want to cook dinner almost every night, it requires time in the kitchen.

Time spent on meal prep: lots of washing, peeling, slicing, dicing and chopping.

I carve out time on the weekends and find pockets of time throughout the week such as before my kids wake up, after they go to sleep, or while dinner is cooking to chop fruits and vegetables.

I don’t always cook right away but I’ll store the food in glass containers which makes it a breeze to get dinner on the table throughout the week.

I make lists

Making a grocery shopping list is a necessity if you want to cook dinner almost every night.

A list helps me know which foods and ingredients I’ll need before I leave for the grocery store, it prevents me from forgetting anything while I’m there and ensures I don’t make impulse purchases—especially when the kids are with me.

I batch cook

Although I’d rather be watching HGTV, I use large blocks of time on the weekends to batch cook a few meals.

I also soak and cook large batches of beans that can be used to make a variety of meals, cook large batches of broccoli and asparagus and make a large vat of vegetarian lentil stew that I portion out throughout the week for lunches and dinner.

I’ll also make gluten-free bread, bean burgers and brown rice that can be used in a variety of ways for dinner throughout the week.

I don’t overthink dinner

Although I love to cook, I simply don’t have the time during the week to try new dinner recipes and make meals that take more than 30 minutes.

That doesn’t mean however, that I rely on packaged, processed meals, frozen meals or boxed macaroni and cheese.

Instead, I stick to the basics.

I keep a lot of simple ingredients on hand at all times like salad, sliced peppers, avocado, beans, canned salmon and tempeh.

I also make a lot of the same easy meals every week. Some examples:

  • Roasted salmon and broccoli
  • Vegetable frittata
  • Roasted tempeh and salad
  • Egg “fried” rice
  • Salad with hard-boiled eggs and avocado
  • Baked chicken fingers and asparagus

I also use my Pampered Chef pan to make easy, delicious sheet pan meals.

I repurpose leftovers

When there are small amounts of leftovers in the fridge, I’ll put everything out buffet-style and let me kids choose what they want.

Leftover roasted chicken or salmon can be added to salad greens, and leftover vegetables can be transformed into a stir-fry, for example.

I start dinner early

I work from home so if I can sneak away for 10 minutes here and there, I do some meal prep or get dinner started early before my kids get home.

If you work outside the home, ask your partner or the babysitter to pitch in and get dinner started, if possible.

On these nights, stick to easy meals or do some of the prep work beforehand so they only to have to assemble the ingredients.

Or if time allows, you can make dinner before you leave in the morning, which is something I also do.

I have a back-up plan

When work is hectic, we’re running home late from an appointment or an after-school activity and I don’t have time to cook, I scramble eggs, boil pasta, re-heat bean burgers or serve leftovers.

I use my appliances

The food processor, blender and hand mixer all help me to cook dinner fast.

The slow cooker is also an excellent kitchen appliance because you can make just about anything and it couldn’t be easier. Add chicken, vegetables and rice and dinner is done by the time you come home.

I make it a team effort

When my husband is home in time for dinner and I’m out with the kids, he’ll get dinner started.

Sure, he used to be a chef so whatever he makes is usually better than what I come up with, but he uses the same strategies I do to cook dinner almost every night.

The sheer fact that he prioritizes a healthy eating just as much as I do also helps to ensure we cook dinner.

Most of our spouses aren’t chefs and many aren’t even comfortable in the kitchen but feeding your family isn’t your job alone.

Talk to your spouse and come up with easy, go-to meals that can easily be pulled together. Anyone can make a salad, a sandwich and boil pasta.

Or make a meal ahead of time that can be cooked or reheated.

Do you cook dinner almost every night? How do you do it?

8 Things No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

8 Things No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn’t have an opinion one way or the other about breastfeeding in general and I certainly didn’t give much thought to whether I’d breastfeed or not.

That all changed one day when I read a fact sheet about the benefits of breastfeeding for both babies and mothers. Within 5 minutes, I turned to my husband and said, “I’m going to breastfeed.”

Shortly thereafter, I read a book about breastfeeding and thought I’d be all set for when my child was born, but little did I know how much more there was to learn and how little I was prepared for it all.

The truth is that although breastfeeding is natural, it doesn’t come so naturally to most women. It takes commitment, physical energy, mental fortitude, and flexibility for it to work. I should know—I breastfed two babies, each for a year.

There were other things no one told me about breastfeeding and I had to learn on my own. Here are 8.

1. You need help

After I gave birth to my first child, the lactation consultants in the hospital paid me a few visits. Everything seemed to be going well but I wasn’t quite sure if I was doing it right and it was also painful.

It wasn’t until they encouraged me to set up a private appointment with them a few days later that everything seemed to make sense and became a lot easier. They taught me how to relax, position my baby, and get the latch right.

Two years later when I had my second child, I once again met with a lactation consultant after I was discharged because I was worried my milk supply was low. After I fed my baby, the lactation consultant weighed her, talked to me about my concerns, and assured me everything was fine.

Whether it’s a lactation consultant, La Leche League, or another mom, breastfeeding moms need information, guidance, and support.


2. You might be hungry all the time

Although it’s not a hard and fast rule, moms who are exclusively breastfeeding need an extra 300-500 calories in their diets. Breastfeeding is a lot like a sweat session at the gym: your body is working hard to produce milk and you’re burning a lot of calories.

When I was breastfeeding, I felt like I was hungry all the time and eating non-stop. As a new mom of course, it was hard to find time to sit down to a meal so often times, I would multi-task and eat over my daughter as she breastfed.


3. You can pump too much

When your milk supply is low, lactation consultants tell you to pump but my milk supply wasn’t low and I actually think I pumped too much.

My first child was a good eater (she still is), and I had a really good milk supply and my breasts were constantly engorged especially in the early months of breastfeeding. Everyday, I’d effortlessly pump enough for a bottle so my husband could take a feeding at night. But when she started to sleep through the night, I continued to pump.

Eventually, I had a freezer full of milk for no apparent reason. Although I thought I was pumping to alleviate the engorgement, I think I inadvertently increased my milk supply.


4. It won’t be easy

Make no mistake: breastfeeding takes commitment and it’s a 24/7 job, especially in the beginning.

When my second child came along, breastfeeding became even more inconvenient because I had a toddler to keep up with too. I wanted desperately to follow the Baby Wise strategy which worked swimmingly for my first child, but wasn’t working out that well for my second who would cry the minute I put her in the bassinet and wanted to nurse all the time. With the help of the lactation consultant, I realized that wasn’t going to happen and some babies want to nurse—a lot.

I also started to feel like I could never get out of the house or go anywhere since I didn’t have breast milk reserves and I didn’t want to feed my daughter formula unless it was necessary—like the time I had a cat scan and couldn’t breastfeed.

5. You might be up against other challenges

While I was breastfeeding, I had postpartum depression (something I wasn’t diagnosed with until much later), I was dealing with Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER), and I had a bout with mastitis.

I also made the decision of having my second child’s frenulum clipped because she had a slight tongue-tie which made breastfeeding painful. Although I knew it had to be done if I was going to continue breastfeeding, watching her cry, and the doctor walk in and out of the room in 5 minutes, was tough. When I checked out and was told said procedure was $500, I nearly cried myself.

Of course, there was also work, managing my household and everything else life throws at you, which makes breastfeeding that much more challenging.


6. You won’t need a nursing cover for long

With my first child, I covered up while I breastfed and even went into a separate room when we had guests over or were invited to someone else’s house.

When you’re whipping out your breasts every few hours, however, that practice quickly fades. Soon enough, I breastfed in front of family, friends, and in public.

Come baby #2 and there was nothing to hide. In fact, eight weeks after giving birth, I found myself in the bridal suite for a family wedding pumping in a cocktail dress while my husband guarded the door.


7.  Sex gets interesting

Due to low levels of estrogen, vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable. If/when you do have the big ‘O,’ your breasts can leak spray everywhere thanks to oxytocin, the hormone responsible for both milk letdown and orgasm.

I’m thankful to have a husband who could care less and who finds the humor in almost any situation, but feeling like I had lost all control of my body was an understatement.


8. You might have regret or feel grateful

The definition of breastfeeding success or achieving breastfeeding goals looks different for each woman. We’re all unique, have different challenges, and have varying beliefs and views about breastfeeding. There are no hard and fast rules: what works for you may not work for another mom.

For me, I felt grateful to be able to have breastfed both babies for as long as I did. For working moms who have to travel to an office, travel for work, clock hours or don’t have a traditional office like a friend of mine who pumped in her car in NYC garages in between meetings with clients, breastfeeding can be downright impossible.

Despite many challenges, I felt accomplished and proud that I stuck with it and gave my children what I believe is the best start in life.

Do I wish I would have been more prepared, had more support, and known what breastfeeding would really be like? Sure. But when it comes to parenting, you’re never really prepared, you make a ton of mistakes, and you learn as you go along. Ignorance is bliss.

 

Are there things you wish you would have known before you started to breastfeed? Drop your thoughts in the comments.

9 Food Rules For Breastfeeding

9 Food Rules For Breastfeeding

You already know that breastfeeding is a healthy choice for you and your baby, but what you might wonder about are things like what foods you should eat and avoid, how many calories you should be getting, and if you can drink coffee and alcohol.

What may surprise you is that there aren’t any hard and fast food rules for breastfeeding. In fact, regardless of how healthy or unhealthy your diet is, your baby will still get what he needs.

Nevertheless, eating enough calories, the right types of foods and getting key nutrients in your diet will give you the energy to keep up your milk supply, keep up with caring for your baby, and support your overall health and wellness.

Here are 9 food rules for breastfeeding to consider.

Rule #1: Don’t diet

Perhaps one of the most important food rules for breastfeeding is to avoid restricting calories. Although you might be ready to lose the baby weight, dieting could affect your milk supply and deplete your energy levels.

If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you need an extra 450 to 500 calories a day to support your milk supply so make a point to get them in.

Rule #2: Drink plenty of water

A misnomer about breastfeeding is that drinking plenty of water is important for your milk supply, but upping your intake of H2O actually doesn’t increase your milk supply, according to Kelly Bonyata, an international board certified lactation consultant and founder of KellyMom.com

What drinking plenty of water can do however, is help prevent you from feeling even more fatigued than you probably already do.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (previously the Institute of Medicine), says the adequate intake (AI) for water while breastfeeding is 3.1 liters but notes there’s no data to suggest that kidney function and the amount of hydration breastfeeding moms need is any different than moms who are not breastfeeding.

Rather than keeping tabs on how much water you’re drinking, a good rule of thumb is to drink for thirst. Keep a water bottle near you during the day to make sure you’re staying well-hydrated and be mindful of symptoms of dehydration, which include dark urine, constipation, and fatigue.

Don’t like plain water? Add slices of cucumber or strawberry for a hint of flavor. Water from other sources count too: fruits and vegetables, soups, juices, milk, tea and coffee.

Rule #3: Make protein a priority

Breastfeeding places high demands for protein on your body so it’s important to make sure you’re getting plenty at every meal and snack you eat. Eating protein will also stabilize your blood sugar, give you energy, and help you lose the baby weight.

Excellent sources of protein include:

  • Lean meats
  • Liver
  • Poultry
  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Tempeh, tofu and soybeans
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters

 

Rule #4: Get DHA

DHA, one of the omega-3 fatty acids, in your diet is important for your baby’s brain development. Fish is one of the highest sources of DHA and studies show eating fish can ward off postpartum depression too.

You’ll want to avoid high-mercury fish, which include, shark, marlin, king mackerel, orange roughy, swordfish, and tilefish. Also, limit your consumption of albacore (white) tuna to 6 ounces a week.

Fish that are considered safe because they have lower levels of mercury include salmon, anchovy, catfish, clam, crab, cod, oysters, sardines, scallops, shrimp, and canned light tuna.

Rule #5: Get plenty of calcium and vitamin D

Your baby will draw all of the nutrition he needs from your breast milk, including your calcium stores, so you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough for your body.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine recommend lactating women get 1,000 milligrams a day of calcium and 600 IU of vitamin D.

Dairy is an obvious source of calcium, but green leafy vegetables, fish, almonds, sesame seeds and fortified cereals, breads and orange juice, are also good sources of calcium.

Get vitamin D from fortified milk, fatty fish like salmon or the good ‘ol sun. If you’re deficient in vitamin D, a supplement can also help.

Rule #6: Curb caffeine

Sleepless nights and 24/7 feedings will have you craving coffee, but babies are sensitive to caffeine so it’s a good idea to cut back while you’re breastfeeding. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says 200 milligrams (mg) a day of caffeine is likely safe for breastfeeding moms.

If you’re unsure how much caffeine is in your cup of joe, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has a handy caffeine chart. Also, keep tabs on other sources of caffeine like decaf coffee, tea, chocolate, and some snacks.

Rule #7: Eat iron-rich foods

Getting adequate levels of iron in your diet while you’re breastfeeding can prevent iron-deficient anemia and ensure you have plenty of energy to care for your baby.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iron is 9mg but talk to your doctor about how much you need especially if your menstrual periods have returned.

Iron-rich foods include beef, oysters, beans and legumes, spinach, and iron-fortified cereals.

Rule #8: Add lots of herbs and spices to your meals

If you enjoy herbs and spices, adding them to your meals can help your baby to love them later on and may even prevent picky eating.

According to a June 2017 review in the journal Current Nutrition Reports, the foods moms eat during pregnancy and while they’re breastfeeding affect the taste and nutrition of their breast milk, which in turn shapes their babies’ flavor and food preferences.

Add cilantro to green smoothies, turmeric to stews, and cinnamon to your morning oatmeal, for example.

Rule #9: Alcohol is OK, but on occasion

A glass of wine every once in awhile is considered safe while you’re breastfeeding, but it probably shouldn’t be something you do every night and you should limit it to one drink which includes:

·      6 ounces of wine

·      12 ounces of beer

·      1.5 ounces of liquor

Although conventional wisdom has promoted the “pump and dump” strategy, there’s no need. Alcohol leaves your breast milk at it leaves your bloodstream. ACOG recommends moms wait at last 2 hours after having a drink before resuming breastfeeding.

6 Tips For a Healthy Vegetarian Pregnancy  A vegetarian diet can be a heathy way to eat during pregnancy, but you'll want to make sure it's designed to support your baby's growth and development.

6 Tips For a Healthy Vegetarian Pregnancy

A vegetarian diet can be a heathy way to eat during pregnancy, but you'll want to make sure it's designed to support your baby's growth and development.

A vegetarian diet—one that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds—can be a healthy way to eat, even during pregnancy.

According to a 2016 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ position paper, a well planned vegetarian or vegan diet during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is appropriate. What’s more, a 2015 review in the journal BJOG suggests following a vegetarian or vegan diet during pregnancy is safe and not associated with adverse outcomes or birth defects.

Being a junk-food vegetarian and filling up on meatless foods like breads, pastas and processed foods alone however, isn’t a healthy way to eat and can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Add to that nausea and morning sickness, and you could be missing out on the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy.

The key therefore, is to make sure your vegetarian diet is well designed and includes all of the nutrients you and your baby need.

Here are some things to consider when planning a vegetarian diet during pregnancy.

1. Fill up on folate

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends all women of childbearing age take between 400 and 800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, to prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida that can occur during the early weeks of pregnancy.

During pregnancy, you should take a prenatal vitamin with 600 mcg of folic acid to support your baby’s development.

Although folic acid is better absorbed than folate-rich foods, getting foods like spinach, black-eyed peas, asparagus and Brussels sprouts is ideal.

2. Pick protein

Getting enough protein during pregnancy is important for cell growth, both for you and your baby.

The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein is 46 grams per day during the first trimester and 71 grams per day during the second and third trimesters.

On a vegetarian diet, beans and legumes are excellent sources of protein and can easily be swapped in for meat in most dishes. Beans and legumes are also healthy choices because they contain fiber which balance blood sugar, help you feel satiated and prevent pregnancy constipation.

Other sources of protein include eggs, nuts and seeds, tofu, tempeh and edamame.

3. Up your intake of iron

Iron helps your baby and the placenta develop, allows red blood cells in your body to deliver oxygen to your baby, and maintains your body’s blood volume which doubles during pregnancy. Not only can iron-deficiency anemia cause fatigue, it can lead to preterm labor as well.

During pregnancy, you need 27 milligrams of iron but your iron needs may be higher because plant-based iron may not be as readily absorbed as the iron in animal products.

To improve absorbency, you can soak and cook beans, legumes and nuts or pair them with vitamin-C rich foods. Vitamin C rich foods include strawberries, honeydew, broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, Brussel sprouts and tomatoes. Other iron-rich foods include eggs, spinach, raisins, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, and fortified cereals.

4. Eat calcium-rich foods

Calcium is an important nutrient during pregnancy because it helps your baby build strong teeth and bones, and it’s important for his cardiovascular function.

Dairy products are a rich source of calcium, vitamin D and protein as well as vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 supports brain and nervous system development and is necessary to absorb folate and choline. B12 is primarily found in animal sources but you can also get it in fortified foods like cereals, meat substitutes, nondairy milks, and nutritional yeast.

If you’re avoiding dairy products, be sure to include non-dairy calcium sources such as green leafy vegetables, figs, and chia seeds.

5. Get healthy fats

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, are vital for baby’s brain, eyes and nervous system development. Be sure to include fatty fish like salmon as well as eggs, nuts and seeds.

If you don’t eat fish or eggs however, you’ll want to pay attention to the ration of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids for optimal conversion of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to DHA and EPA. I suggest you speak with a registered dietitian nutrition who specializes in pregnancy nutrition and can design a healthy plan for you.

6. Eat complex carbohydrates

Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy. They support your baby’s neurological development and overall health, and give you steady energy throughout the day.

Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include foods like fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, sweet potatoes, oatmeal and brown rice.

7. Take a prenatal vitamin

A good prenatal vitamin shouldn’t replace whole-food sources of nutrients but if you’re battling morning sickness or find it difficult to get what you need, it can help fill in the nutritional gaps.