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Explore nutrition tips, kids’ meal plans, kids’ activities, recipes and more from pediatric nutritionist, Melissa Halas, MA, RDN, CDE.

Feed Your Family Right!

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We were lucky to catch up with Registered Dietitian Elisa Zied to discuss her book Feed Your Family Right! and get her insight on getting in good nutrition in today’s fast-food world. Elisa is a national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association who is regularly sought out by reporters and producers to share her nutrition expertise and real-world approach to nutrition. Elisa regularly appears on broadcast television.  She has appeared on the Today Show (NBC) the  Early Show (CBS) and on other national and local programs on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, Food Network, Lifetime, and NY1. Read more about Elisa Zied or purchase her book at BarnesandNoble.

Feed Your Family Right! How to Make Smart Food and Fitness Choices for a Healthy Lifestyle.

Author: Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN with Ruth Winter, MS

Quick Review: Feed Your Family Right! will teach you how to:

  • Enjoy the eating experience while making more healthful choices for you and your family.
  • Support one another to create and maintain your new, healthful behaviors for life.
  • Learn to deal with various family members including food cops, picky eaters, food pushers, and relentless ranters.
  • Eat healthfully and mindfully at home and in sit-down and fast-food restaurants. Make better selections when you grab food on the go.
  • Increase your fitness level and incorporate more fun and physical activity into your family life.
  • Improve your overall health, body weight, and appearance.

When starting a family, what advice can you give first time moms to lay the foundation for good food habits for life?

Try to practice what you preach. Moms have great intentions during their baby’s first food interactions including when they start their babies on solid foods. They often encourage their kids to eat healthfully by providing the very best food and beverage options for them; but at the same time, moms tend to eat very differently from their children. As infants move from eating so-called “first foods” to more regular fare, it is important to bridge the disconnect. Children see what and how their parents eat and they pick up on this. Learning practical, quick and easy tips on how to eat healthfully is covered in the book.

We can learn a lot from our children. They don’t eat when they’re not hungry. It’s important for parents not to push food on their children. Instead, parents need to learn to be aware of their children’s hunger cues. Respect their appetite and eat with them and in front of them. Children learn best from example, so it’s important for parents to eat similarly to how they want their children to eat in order to create a healthy food environment for the family. Children may not immediately try new foods, so eating with them and having them see you taste and enjoy the foods helps. It is important to create a positive food environment early on in a child’s life, and to help them develop a positive body image. Ways to do this are covered throughout the book.

When working with clients what do you find is the most motivating factor for them to continue to follow healthy new food and fitness habits?

Unfortunately, how they look seems to be a powerful motivator for behavior change for many people. Appearance matters to both parents and children. They’re often motivated in addition, by the scale. Parents want to lose weight and kids want to grow into a healthy body weight. The feeling of gaining control of their food choices is another motivating factor. Realizing they are able to learn how to make healthier food choices every day and that those choices can help them achieve their goals empowers them.

I encourage them to think about what they get out of it. For example, children often respond to being able to run faster, dribble the ball faster, kick the soccer ball better or farther. I often ask, “What are the day to day benefits?” and “Do you feel better making these changes?” This provides positive reinforcement for all of their healthy behaviors.

Parents can be motivated by being good role models and living longer to be there for their children. Knowing they can teach their children that healthy food choices can be enjoyed and provide better day-to-day living is powerful.

Many moms concerned about improving the health of families visit our site.  What does Feed Your Family Right!, offer to them?

It conveys the science of nutrition based on solid scientific data. It’s specific to all ages and stages of life, yet very comprehensive and easy to follow. No man is an island; people don’t eat without regard to other people. Having support can help an individual make positive changes and working together towards eating better can create a healthier life and a more in sync family. Feed Your Family Right! shows ways to eat healthy for the entire family. It’s a one-stop resource for everyone from young children to older adults with the latest guidelines from all the best resources.  For new moms, it also offers pregnancy, breastfeeding, and infant guidelines that can help them navigate their nutrition needs as well as their infant’s needs. It can help answer many questions she may have in the process.

What type of advice do you give to help overcome resistance to change?

Parents have to let kids have a say in eating. Gently encourage new and healthy foods. Just put a food down, and say, “Try a tablespoon.” You provide the healthy food, but it is their choice whether or not to take a bite. Don’t be too pushy, and have respect for your children. Don’t say, “Why did you have to have that cookie?” Instead, empower them to make healthy decisions at school, at play dates and outside the home. In addition, keep in mind kids don’t need large quantities of food–simply adding some shredded carrots and tomato sauce to their
dinner count towards a healthy dose of veggies needed each day. Children tend to balance out their food intake over a week. Some days it may seem like they’re not eating all that much, but they usually make up for that on other days.

What do you believe are the major causes of the weight gain in moms? What are some solutions?

Many moms are not taking care of themselves, not exercising, and perhaps eating food off their children’s plate. They may have gained too much weight during pregnancy or not achieved a healthy body weight prior to pregnancy. Breastfeeding, having regularly scheduled meals and exercising as soon as allowed can help with successful weight loss. Since you are teaching your child to eat at consistent times, it helps to eat along with them to benefit both of you.

Feed Your Family Right! takes into account each person’s individuality. There is an exercise form mom’s can fill out to keep on track. There is plenty of wiggle room, but moms do need to develop an exercise plan they can stick with to shed that baby weight and maintain optimal strength, flexibility, and overall heart health.

Many moms want to feed their families right but are limited by time constraints and busy schedules. How does your book address this? What is one tip you can give now to busy moms?

Whether we’re talking about preparing healthy meals or incorporating more physical activity, it’s critical to take the time to plan ahead. Keep staples on hand and create a weekly grocery list. Develop a rotating menu–if you’re able to order your groceries online, it’s easy to keep track of previous orders and it can save you time on re-orders. Stock your freezer with some ready-to-go meals you cooked ahead or mix prepared foods with some fresh foods. You don’t need to cook from scratch to get a healthy meal on the table.

For more great reading suggestions, check out our Recommended Reads!

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