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April Rudat, RD

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April Rudat, RD

We caught up with April Rudat, RD Nutrition Expert, breastfeeding advocate and author of Oh Yes You Can Breastfeed Twins! We wanted to hear her take on how parents can raise healthy families.

What would you advise a family to do with a child who won’t eat their fruits and vegetables?

First, I would create a list of all the fruits and vegetables the child WOULD eat.  Once this list is generated, the parent or caregiver should provide these foods every day.  For example, a family member of mine has a daughter that only eats the following vegetables: raw carrots, raw cucumbers, and raw cauliflower.  So I suggested that mom serve these daily with a light ranch dressing. Here are some more great dip ideas you could try, too! The child loves this!  On a related note, the “Mrs. Seinfield approach” of sneaking blenderized fruits and veggies into other foods is OK; but the goal should be to introduce the whole foods as well. For those foods that the child does not like, the parent should continue to serve them occasionally since it takes several “tastes” to like or accept a
new food.  Parents shouldn’t give up; their kids might just surprise them!

How can a family incorporate heart healthy fats into their daily lives?

Introduce salmon early — Ask your pediatrician when you can do so. As I have mentioned, it may take several “tastes” before the child accepts the food, which is why introducing the heart-healthy salmon early is important. Prepare it with rubs or marinades to make it more flavorful. In addition, families can make it a rule to stick to canola oil, olive oil, and light soft-tub margarines. If a family likes peanuts or tree nuts for snacks, portion control is key: no more than a small handful!

What foods have your kids refused to eat in the past that they now enjoy? There are no foods that they have refused to eat. I attribute this to the fact that I ate a wide variety of healthful foods during pregnancy, throughout breastfeeding and still continue to do so.

What’s your family’s or your favorite indulgence with a healthy twist?

Ice cream is a standard nighttime snack in our home, especially in the summertime. The dietitian’s trick: light, slow-churned varieties put into a traditional ice cream cup — those 3-4 ounce curvy cups (can be purchased at dollar stores or Wal-Mart). That way, our family enjoys a fun and tasty food in a lower fat variety and in the right portion.

What’s your best kept secret for managing your weight?

First off, breastfeed! Second, portion control is a must. Please have a healthy relationship with food and enjoy all kinds: All foods can fit into your diet, but you need to consume the normal portion size (for more information on portion sizes, see Controlling Portion Sizes for You and Your Family or past Nutrition Expert interview with Rosanne Rust).

Finally, even though all foods can fit, your pantry, freezer, and fridge need to be stocked with primarily healthy items: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats like salmon, nuts, and olive oil. And the two best beverages for everyone in your home are water and nonfat or low-fat milk! Here are some more pantry essentials to have on hand.

Do you have any recommendations for women that are unable to breastfeed?

If a medical doctor says you are medically and/or physiologically unable to breastfeed and you absolutely want to provide breastmilk, banked human milk (if financially possible) is an alternative. If having breastfeeding problems, I highly recommend getting help from a lactation consultant ASAP to determine the problem, using a breast pump in the meantime, and asking your doctor about potential herbs or medicines called lactogogues that can help with lactation. Of course, if ALL else fails, mom can use formula.

What are three things parents can do to prevent childhood obesity?

  1. Breastfeed — even multiples! See my website at: for more information.
  2. Model good behavior: Shop for and cook healthy foods most of the time. Enjoy all foods, but make “fun” foods a special treat, not a pantry essential.
  3. Exercise together as a family every day. For older kids, sign up for sports during every season! Limit time in front of screens; and when watching TV, stand up and MOVE during commercials.

What are the top three reasons that motivated you to breastfeed?

  1. Breast milk is the perfect first food that nature intended, is free, and is much easier to provide than bottles upon bottles of formula.
  2. Breast milk prevents obesity, weight problems, and many chronic diseases in the child.
  3. Breastfeeding has many benefits to moms like weight loss and prevention of breast cancer.

When you ask your children what their favorite food is, what is their response?

I have toddler twins. Upon asking this question, my daughter’s response was broccoli. My son’s response was noodles and cheese. Those are answers I can live with!

Read more helpful tips for little ones in our Infants and Toddler section.

April Rudat is a Registered Dietitian in private practice in Northeastern Pennsylvania. April specializes in family wellness and childhood weight management and she is also a writer and a speaker. April is the author of the book, “Oh Yes You Can Breastfeed Twins!” See for more information.

View all of our nutrition and health expert interviews who share their secrets to healthy living!

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