Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm in the same boat!

Last Thursday night, I was preparing for a presentation I am giving on 'How To Feed Your Picky Eater'. I was putting together all my tips for parents when I realized it was time for dinner. My nanny had prepared steak (a lean cut trimmed of all fat), mashed potatoes (without butter, milk, or oil) and string beans. Zachary immediately began to throw himself around. "I HATE STEAK!" he screamed. "I WANT TO EAT PIZZA. I AM NOT GOING TO EAT STEAK!" I explained to him that we had eaten pizza the day before at a party and today we eating something else. He would not budge. It was as though I were being tested... was I really prepared to give a lecture about what to do with a picky eater? We would soon find out. I put my foot down. "You will eat what Katie made or you will go hungry. I know that you love mashed potatoes and you need to learn to eat more than just pizza." Zachary told me he would not eat anything and I said that was fine with me. Dinner was served and placed in front of him. Danielle, of course, sat smiling and saying, "Mommy, I love this meal! I'm a good girl, right?" "Yes," I said. "You are a good girl." Danielle and I began to eat and Zachary just sat there. "Can I have peanut butter and jelly?" he asked. "That's healthy." I explained that even though PB&J is healthy, he had to learn to eat with the family. Eventually he took a bite of the potatoes... and then a bite of meat. He ate half the plate by the time dinner was over. At the end of the meal, he asked, "Can we have pizza tomorrow?" I told him I would think about it.

All in all, it was a successful meal. I think I passed the test!

Friday, August 22, 2008

A nice family outing...

I want to suggest a great family activity. My husband and I take our kids hiking on many Sundays. We love to explore new areas and spend time together, doing something active. It shows our kids how much we value exercise. In fact, my husband and I spend most Friday evenings (our date night) either hiking or biking. We can use the time to chat about nothing or talk about bigger issues. Then we head to a local restaurant for dinner- just the two of us. It is a tradition that we both cherish. And it is great for our children to see how much we look forward to going out and working up a sweat. They are always begging to come with us. That's why our Sundays are so special. They get to join in with us- and learn how much fun exercise can be. Our friends joke with us... "So- hiked any mountains recently?" And we usually respond, "Actually, we did!"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cholesterol medicine promotes donuts?

I was walking in my office and saw the funniest thing: a box of munchkins with a sticker promoting a new cholesterol drup. A drug rep had brought it to the office? What kind of message is that sending? Some things are too ridiculous for words.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Are mozzarella sticks healthy?

I was at a party yesterday and my son took a mozzarella stick from a waiter and asked me, "Mommy, is this healthy?" I had to laugh. "No, sweetheart. It is definitely not healthy." But it was helpful to hear him ask me that. It reminded me that we are not born knowing what to eat. It really is something that has to be learned. We can't assume that our bodies will make the correct choices. I was also glad that my son knew enough to ask. Many children wouldn't care. Of course, after I told him that they were very unhealthy, he informed me that he wanted to eat them anyway. I responded that it was his body and he could make unhealthy choices if he wanted to. In the end, he ate two bites of it and he was done.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Everything in Moderation, Including Moderation

A patient came into my office last week, extremely upset. She had been following the plan perfectly for a month and had lost an incredible six pounds already. But she went to a party this week and, according to the patient, 'totally blew it'. She was practically in tears. After calming her down, we discussed the party in more detail. Although she was out of 'red lights', she ate two large cookies. I asked her if they tasted good. She looked at me in surprise. "Yes," she said. "They were delicious." So I told her the only thing I was upset about was that she was feeling guilty about it. I explained that healthy eating is a lifestyle change- not a short term deal. In order to keep this up for the long term, we have to allow ourselves some wiggle room. Nobody can be perfect all of the time- and even if we could, what fun would that be? I am a realist. If we aim for perfection, we are guaranteed to fail. I told my patient that I am proud that she ate two cookies and then immediately returned to her healthy eating. That is the key to success. As my mother always says, 'Everything in moderation, including moderation'.

By the way- she lost two more pounds last week, despite eating the cookies. She was shocked and thrilled- and so was I.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Healthy IHOP

I had a very pleasant surprise this past weekend. As I mentioned last week, Danielle's birthday was this weekend. She got to pick the restaurant for her birthday breakfast and wanted IHOP. So to IHOP we went. And there on the menu- IHOP's healthy breakfasts for kids. They had a few options, all under 600 calories and 15 grams of fat. Still a lot of calories but I am very impressed with the effort. I ordered my kids the 'fruit face'- a buttermilk pancake decorated with a fruit face, small amount of whipped cream, and strawberry yogurt to use to decorate. They LOVED it- and even left a large amount of the pancake over. I have to say that I will definitely be back at IHOP in the near future!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A delicious and healthy side dish... YUM!

I made the most delicious side dish the other day. I took a small sweet potato and baked it in the oven for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. I didn't wrap it in tin foil or anything- just sat it on the rack. When I took it out of the oven, I cut it in half and sprayed it with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray. Then I added cinnamon and Splenda and mashed the insides up. I can't believe how good it was. The skin was crisp and the inside was warm and soft. The ICBINB spray, cinnamon, and Splenda made it taste like dessert. My kids loved it! And it was so easy.

Just thought I would share... Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Olympics... Sponsored by McDonald's???

Like many of you, my husband and I have been enjoying the Olympics. I love to watch the athletes move- their muscles are so well-defined and beautiful. But I had to laugh when I saw the commercial with the Olympic athletes talking about McDonald's. How often do you think they actually eat that kind of food? Probably never. What kind of a message is this sending to our children? They see these icons promoting that kind of garbage and think that it is okay to eat. They get the message that it is part of a healthy diet. I expect more of these Olympic athletes. It is disappointing to see them selling out like that. I would love to see them race/compete after eating a Big Mac and large fries.

Also- a follow-up to my post about the birthday party. There were sixteen three year-olds. Two of them asked for a second mini-cupcake and one asked for a third (but only licked the icing off of each one). And I offered seconds three or four times! So it seems that serving smaller portion sizes really did lead to fewer calories consumed. Try it at your child's next in-class birthday celebration!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Birthday parties in school

As those of you who know me already know, I am against parents bringing unhealthy treats for the class to celebrate their child's birthday. Our children are exposed to so much fattening temptation and there is no need for us to make it worse. I can't tell you how many children have cried in my office because they are trying to lose weight and are faced with 'birthday cupcakes' weekly. On the one hand, they want to be good but it is hard to resist when all the other kids are scarfing them down. Why do we need to celebrate with fattening food? Wouldn't birthday watermelon suffice

I believe that a parent has the right to send whatever they want to for their own child. Let the parent give the birthday child a birthday cupcake. But it is not right for a parent to give somebody else's child a food that his/her parent may not allow.

Okay- so that is what I believe. But that is not the rule and all the parents bring in birthday treats. It is now my daughter's birthday. What do I do?

This is a real issue and besides being a pediatrician/child weight specialist, I am also a mommy. Do I really want to be the only one to bring in fruit? It's one thing if that is the rule; it is quite another thing to have the whole class annoyed that Danielle's mommy didn't bring cupcakes. I wish that wouldn't be the case, but I know it would be. And how would Danielle feel?

I have been struggling with this for days. Here is the solution I came up with. Instead of making large or even regular size cupcakes, Danielle and I made mini-cupcakes and I used applesauce in place of half of the oil. There are 17 children in her camp class and we made 40 mini-cupcakes. I plan to serve each child one cupcake but they can have more if they want more. Psychologically, the children are more likely to eat one mini- cupcake and be satisfied than they are to eat half of a larger cupcake, even though they would be eating the same amount. I am very curious to see how many of the three year olds go back for seconds. By doing this, I feel like I am not being completely hypocritical (just slightly!) Everything is okay in moderation and there is nothing wrong with eating a mini-cupcake. Thirty years ago, they were probably considered regular-sized cupcakes.

So- it will be an interesting experiment. I will let you all know how it turns out. I am also interested in hearing your thoughts about all of this.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Now I've seen it all...

Now I have seen it all... I went out for dinner in the city last night to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday. We went to a great restaurant called Fresco di Scotto. The waiter began to recite the daily specials and I thought I misheard him. "Excuse me," I said. "Can you repeat the last appetizer, please." He said, "Sure. We are serving fried tomatoes." Fried tomatoes??? Are they kidding? Are we frying everything these days? I've heard of the movie- but I didn't think people actually ate them. What's next? Fried lettuce? Will we destroy every healthy food by deep-frying it? Soon there will be no healthy options left. Fried baby formula, anyone?

Friday, August 1, 2008

How can my child be overweight? He doesn't eat much junk food.

Almost all of my patients tell me that they don't understand why their child is heavy when he/she doesn't eat much junk food. "He has a pretty healthy diet. We almost never eat fast food. Why is he overweight?"

The answer is easy... portion sizes.

Almost everybody overestimates portion sizes. Think back to the 1950s. Most dinners consisted of meat and potatoes yet people were much thinner. Why? Because they ate much less than we eat now. One serving of a piece is chicken or meat is the size of a deck of cards or the size of the palm of your hand minus fingers. How often do you really eat that little? But back in the day, that was standard and people didn't starve to death. A serving of pasta is about one cup (depending on age). Yet when you order pasta in a restaurant, you are often served four cups or more! Even if you only eat half of your dish, you have still eaten twice as much as necessary.

We need to reset our understanding of normal serving sizes. I don't suggest you do it all at once. If you suddenly cut your servings to ideal serving sizes, you will feel starving. What I do suggest is gradually decreasing your serving sizes. If you normally eat two cups of pasta with your meal, decrease to one and a half cups for a week and then decrease to one cup. Do the same with your protein. If you are feeling hungry, add more vegetables. If you do it slowly, you won't notice the change as much. But you will notice the scale moving down!

Have a Lighter Weigh Day!