Food Allergy Awareness | My Child’s Allergic Reaction

Beach Allergic Reaction

Each year, my family takes a trip down to 30A in Florida. For as long as I can remember, we’ve picked up donuts from The Donut Hole to enjoy one morning of our vacation. Knowing my 3-year-old son’s allergies to eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts, my thoughtful brother and sister-in-law made a special trip to a bakery that sells vegan muffins (so egg-free) and other baked goods. They did their homework, asking the owner of the bakery about specific items and whether or not they contained my son’s allergens. They were directed toward several different nut-free, vegan options (or so they were told).

Excited to have found a special treat for my little guy to enjoy as we ate our donuts, we sat down for breakfast together. My son dove into his vanilla muffin along with the rest of his breakfast. Later, he got up from the table not acting like himself. When I asked him what was wrong, he quietly replied, “I don’t know.” We had just discussed the fact that it was our last day at the beach, so I assumed he was sad about that and didn’t push him to talk much more.

We proceeded to change into our swimsuits, lather up with sunscreen, and walk down to the beach. I was carrying my sleeping 6 month old, but when mom finally arrived with my 3-year-old, she commented that he was “moving at a glacial pace.”

He played in the sand for a little while with my dad and brother. A little later, he asked for a snack but didn’t really eat much. I knew something was up when he asked to sit in my lap. This kid had been sprinting up and down the beach all week! Something wasn’t right. He continued to become more and more clingy. At one point, he was sitting under the umbrella covered in a beach towel telling me he had a “feber” (AKA fever). He began asking me for medicine.

At this point, I also thought he might have gotten a little cool in the shade or that maybe he needed to go potty, so I began walking with him back up to our house. He didn’t want to walk, so I ended up carrying him the rest of the way. As we were walking, he began to scratch. By the time we’d gotten to the house, he was itching all over and clawing his neck, legs…really, his entire body.

Finally out of the sun, I was able to see his skin more clearly. It looked like he had a terrible, blistery sunburn. He sat on the tile floor and scratched while I called the bakery to re-check the ingredients of his muffin. Again, I spoke to the owner and was told the muffin did not contain eggs or nuts; however, this time he offered to have someone else check and call me back. I continued to observe my son while I called my mom to come up from the beach because I suspected an allergic reaction. My husband wasn’t able to come on this trip, so I called to let him know as well.

When the bakery called me back, I answered and began asking more questions about the specific egg-free, nut-free flavors the bakery offered. The woman who returned my call listed several options, but vanilla wasn’t one of them. When I asked about the vanilla, I was finally told, “Oh no. The vanilla muffin isn’t vegan. It contains eggs.” My heart dropped as I quickly hung up and went to get the Epipen. As soon as my parents walked into the house, we administered the Epipen amidst lots of screams and tears from my little guy.

Those moments and the ones that followed were so scary and heartbreaking. My son, already not feeling well, knew he was going to have to get a shot and was basically hysterical. As a mother, I was scared to death not knowing how quickly his reaction was going to progress. Many people don’t realize that allergic reactions can worsen over the course of several hours and that antihistamines (which my son takes every morning) can mask certain aspects of allergic reactions.

I was devastated, knowing he trusts me to never give him foods that would hurt him or make him sick.

We rushed, flashers on, to the nearest hospital. Though his heart was racing, my little guy was having a hard time staying awake. We watched videos and encouraged him to keep talking to us on our 15-minute drive to the hospital.

Fortunately, the emergency room staff was wonderful, and we were in a room within 5 minutes of our arrival. They administered a hefty dose of strong steroids and Benadryl and set him up on a heart monitor for the next several hours to watch for any rebound reactions as the Epipen wore off. Fortunately, his breathing was not compromised and his airways stayed open. We had lots of people praying for us by that point, too. I’m not sure what would’ve happened without his Epipen or morning dose of hydroxyzine. I am so thankful that I was with him and that my family, doctors, PA, and nurses knew how to care for him as well.

The bakery owner was very apologetic, tearfully offering to pay for all of my son’s medical expenses; however, this was a life-threatening emergency that could’ve had a completely different outcome due to this oversight and not taking our inquiry related to my child’s food allergies seriously enough. And this from the owner of the bakery! I was baffled, and it honestly makes me exponentially more wary of taking my son out to eat.

I recognize the extra effort that goes into researching the items that are served at bakeries and restaurants when patrons report an allergy and ask about ingredients. It’s additional time and work in a fast-paced industry. At the same time, I believe people not only need more training and awareness of the seriousness of food allergies, but our society, especially those who work in foodservice establishments, also need a little more empathy.

Though he has such a sweet attitude about it, it brings tears to my eyes to think that my son can’t just eat a regular piece of cake at a birthday party or enjoy our tradition of donuts at The Donut Hole. I hate that he can’t order whatever sounds good from a restaurant menu. It’s nerve-wrecking to know he has to rely on other people to tell him which foods are safe and which ones are not at this point in his life. It requires quite a bit of trust on his part, and it requires a ton of our trust in food service establishments.

I share our story in hopes that those who work in food service will see my son and others who have food allergies as real people who want to be normal, who want to belong, who don’t want to have to live in a bubble and eat at home all the time. I share it for friends and family members of those with food allergies to have a greater awareness of what allergic reactions might look like and how to react, knowing that my son’s reaction could’ve been much worse and progressed much faster. I share it so that others will understand the reasons why parents worry so much about foods served at school, parties, and other events.

There is no shame in asking lots of questions and reminding and re-reminding others about a loved one’s food allergies, and I’ll continue to model these behaviors (carrying the Epipen, asking questions, etc.) and to teach my little one how to take his allergies seriously, too.

Our story has a happy ending that includes memories of Veggie Tales videos and Minions stickers at the hospital, and I’m pretty sure my son is no longer worried he has a hole in his leg from the Epipen (yes, he asked). My prayer is that our story somehow prevents more stories of allergic reactions and gives additional insight about how to react with respect.


If you liked this post, you may also like:

 

Nourish Your Noggin with These 5 Brain Foods

The human brain is one of our most powerful and valuable organs. Though it accounts for only 2% of our body’s total weight, the brain requires a lot of energy and several key nutrients to function at its best. Last month, I had the opportunity to talk about nutrition for brain health on Local Memphis Live, and of course, I didn’t want you to miss out, so here are 5 brain-boosting foods to help you ensure your noggin stays nourished…

berries, brain food, antioxidantsBerries

Berries contain flavonoids, a specific group of potent antioxidants that give berries their beautiful colors. They also play a role in numerous cognitive skills like learning and decision making all while protecting brain cells from oxidative damage.

Incorporating berries into yogurt, oatmeal, or salads not only adds fresh, natural sweetness. Berries also contain antioxidants that help boost cognition, coordination, and memory.

Think you can only get a brain boost from berries during summer months? Think again…You can get your berry fix year round! Buy them fresh in the summer, frozen in the winter.

Eggs Brain Food

Eggs

If you’ve been avoiding eggs out of concern for the cholesterol and/or fat content, it’s time to add them back in. Research is now suggesting that eggs do not contribute to cardiovascular disease risk. In fact, our brains need cholesterol and fat to function at their best. With the brain being our fattiest organ, made up of 65% fat, including 25% of our body’s total cholesterol, you can be confident eggs are an egg-cellent choice and nutritional powerhouses.

Eggs contain choline, one of the superstar brain nutrients that many Americans are deficient in. Choline is necessary to produce acetylcholine, which plays a critical role in memory. For example, studies have linked acetylcholine deficiencies to memory loss and Alzheimer’s.

Eggs also contain B vitamins, folate, and vitamin D…nutrients that play a crucial role in brain health.

Tempted to ditch the yolk? Don’t do it! Eat the whole egg as the yolk contains most of the nutrients your brain needs. Plus, the protein and fat is likely to keep you satisfied much longer than that morning bagel alone!

Salmon, Brain Food

Salmon

When you’re researching (or googling) “what to eat for brain health,” you’ll begin to notice that DHA or omega-3 fatty acid is one of the single most important elements required for optimal brain health. With the brain being made mostly of fat, our brains need those Omega-3’s!

Omega-3s are strongly anti-inflammatory which is great news as inflammation has been linked to multiple mental health concerns. For example, increased Omega-3 intake may help to alleviate a spectrum of mental health concerns, from anxiety and irritability to depression and even schizophrenia. In contrast, insufficient DHA is a potential factor in depression, bipolar disorder, premature brain aging, age-related cognitive decline, brain shrinkage, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

Omega-3 fatty acids containing DHA can be found in oily fish like wild Alaskan salmon, mackerel, and tuna. These types of fish are also excellent sources of protein which is needed to form mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine as well as B12, an essential vitamin for a healthy brain and nervous system. It’s ideal to include these types of fish twice per week.

Walnut, Brain Food

Walnuts

Well, if you hadn’t noticed yet, the low-fat diet trend has officially been a “big fat failure,” especially when it comes to brain health. So many “brain foods” are loaded with healthy fats, and walnuts are no exception…plus, they look like little brains!

Walnuts contain a number of compounds that protect our neurons from injury or degeneration, including vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants. Bottom line: Research shows walnut consumption may support brain health.

Snack on walnuts, sprinkle them into your oatmeal, or even try out one of my favorite recipes: Walnut & Rosemary Oven Fried Chicken.

Steak, Vitamin B12, Brain Food

Beef

That’s right…BEEF is a brain food! Meat eaters can get a brain boost from beef, which provides plenty of energizing and balancing B vitamins, specifically B12 which is only found in animal foods.

Low B12 levels have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and age-related memory loss. If your levels are lower than they should be, you may also experience symptoms like poor memory, depression and fatigue, so fire up the grill and enjoy this nutritious and delicious meat!


I recently came across a quote that said, “Essentially, fats build your brain, and proteins unite it. Carbohydrates fuel your brain, and micronutrients defend it.” Even though this post highlights only 5 specific foods, it’s clear that there are many more that give our brains a boost, so So if you want to keep your mind nourished and healthy, getting a variety and balance of nutrients is a no-brainer!

What’s your favorite brain food and how do you incorporate it into your meals or snacks?

If you liked this post, you may also like:

Food Allergies: The Numbers and How You Can React with Respect!

Food_Allergy_Awareness_Week

My knowledge of food allergies and the importance of being sensitive to those with food allergies has increased exponentially since my husband was diagnosed with a shellfish allergy and my son was diagnosed with allergies to eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts years ago. We unfortunately learned about some of their allergies the hard way, whereas others were diagnosed in a doctor’s office. As a Registered Dietitian, I had received training and counseled those with food allergies prior to these diagnoses, but there’s nothing that deepened my awareness, understanding, and compassion more than personally experiencing food allergies in my family.

This week is Food Allergy Awareness Week, and this year’s theme is “React with Respect.” The goal of Food Allergy Awareness Week is to help inform the public about the serious consequences of food allergy reactions, as well as how to identify symptoms and respond in case of an emergency. If you are a parent, child, friend, co-worker, school teacher or administrator, employer, friend, roommate, or caregiver, you need to know about food allergies and how to react with respect.

So let’s talk about the numbers when it comes to food allergies and how, in light of those numbers, you can react with respect and sensitivity to individuals with food allergies…

Food allergies affect up to 15 million Americans.

Food allergies affect up to 15 million Americans.

Food allergies affect 6 million children.

That includes nearly 6 million children.

React with Respect

Learn how to recognize the symptoms of allergic reactions and how to respond in case of emergency.

A reaction to food can range from a mild response (such as an itchy mouth) to anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially deadly reaction. Every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room in the U.S.

A reaction to food can range from a mild response (such as an itchy mouth) to anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially deadly reaction. Every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room in the U.S.

Here’s a personal story…

When my little boy was diagnosed with his food allergies, he was only 8 months old. I was eating a graham cracker with peanut butter at the kitchen table when he started getting fussy. Without hesitation, I picked him up and put him in my lap to soothe him and continued to finish my snack. Soon after, it was time for his nap. My husband took him upstairs and began rocking him to sleep, but our little guy was crying and fussy. His lips began to swell, and he broke out in hives. Recognizing this was likely an allergic reaction (and admittedly totally unprepared), we immediately took him to the emergency room for treatment and to an allergist soon after for testing where he was diagnosed with his other allergies. We were only one of those emergency room visits, and we were so fortunate that our son recovered has been healthy ever since.

React with Respect

Refrain from eating your friend’s/coworker’s/classmate’s allergen when you are around them.

8 foods account for 90% of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction.

8 foods account for 90% of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction.

React with Respect

When planning celebrations, meetings, outings, etc. that involve food, be sure to ask about food allergies to ensure each person will be able to eat safely.

According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011.

According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011.

React with Respect

Understand that food allergies are not a choice and that individuals and families who are affected must take special precaution to protect themselves and their loved ones. Be patient and flexible as those affected by allergies must ask lots of questions and be careful about eating out.

1 in 13 children has a food allergy. That’s 2 in every classroom! Prevalence is increasing, so more kids have allergies than in the past.

1 in 13 children has a food allergy. That’s 2 in every classroom! Prevalence is increasing, so more kids have allergies than in the past.

React with Respect

Support other parents by asking about food allergies before sending food to the classroom, and respect school rules regarding food allergies.

Memphis Nutrition Group is excited to have partnered with the Food Allergy Alliance of the Mid-South (FAAM), an organization that promotes food allergy awareness year ’round! My partner and fellow Registered Dietitian Brigid Kay and I now serve as Nutrition Advisors to this fabulous organization, and we’d love for you to join the FAAM!

Here’s a little more information…

FAAM’s goal is to make resources available to our food allergy community that focus on:

  • the immediate support needs of the newly diagnosed
  • ongoing support and education for food allergy families
  • community education and training
  • advocacy on local and national levels

FAAM plans on reaching these goals by:

  • hosting community support meetings for food allergy families
  • connecting newly diagnosed families with resources
  • working with local resources to host special events
  • creating and maintaining relationships with local board certified allergists, health professionals, schools and community organizations
  • maintaining FAAM’s relationship with community members through this website, our email list, and social media
  • joining forces on local, state and national levels to advocate for those affected by food allergies

Are you interested in joining FAAM? Head over to FAAM’s website, simply share a little about yourself, and you’ll receive regular emails about meetings and events, newsletters. FAAM will also notify you about volunteer and advocacy opportunities as they become available.


If you liked this post, you may also like:

 

Teal Pumpkin Project: A Safe and Fun Halloween for Everyone

Halloween Blog Post on The Teal Pumpkin Project by Blair Mize, RD

Growing up, none of my family members or friends had food allergies that I can remember. My memories of trick-or-treating are filled with excitement, fun costumes, and excessive amounts of candy. Honestly, thoughts of food allergies rarely crossed my mind as a child. Over the years, food allergies have been on the rise. Today, 1 in 13 children has a food allergy.

When Halloween is too scary…

In the past, numerous parents have reported having to “cancel” Halloween for their children with food allergies. For some, Halloween equaled a life or death situation. Seriously. If families still chose to celebrate Halloween, parents were nervous wrecks as they watched their children like hawks to ensure their hands didn’t end up on the wrong treat.

Until 2014, food allergies and Halloween did not mix. 

Last year, the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization launched a national campaign called The Teal Pumpkin Project™ to raise awareness of food allergies and promote inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season. In the first year of this campaign, individuals in 50 states and 7 countries took the pledge to support the Teal Pumpkin Project. FARE predicts the campaign will grow to include over 100,000 households in 2015.

Our household took the pledge.

Our household couldn’t NOT take the pledge! If you have fun memories of Halloween like I did, wouldn’t you hate to see a child miss out on the experience of dressing up or be excluded from trick-or-treating? If you are the family member or friend of a little one, can you imagine not walking the neighborhood with them or having them stop by your house as they trick-or-treat? I know our family, friends, and neighbors loved seeing my brother and me all dressed up in our Halloween costumes…

My Childhood Halloween Memories  Halloween Memories  Halloween Memories from childhood

As the mother of a little boy with severe allergies to peanuts, almonds, and eggs, I am beyond grateful for the widespread adoption of The Teal Pumpkin Project in such a short period of time. I now understand from a personal AND professional standpoint the concerns and considerations of individuals and families with food allergies.

Perhaps you are fortunate enough to be allergy-free in your home…

Use the Teal Pumpkin Project as an opportunity to educate your children and teach them to be sensitive, understanding, and empathetic toward those who have allergies. Help them understand the importance of taking allergies seriously.

How does my family participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project?

1. Go online and pledge to participate in FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project™!

Shopping for Pumpkins at Sprouts on a Rainy Day

Rainy days mean pumpkin shopping at Sprouts…in his “Hallow-weiner dog” shirt!

2. Grab a pumpkin, teal-colored paint, and a paintbrush. 

Get the whole family involved in the Teal Pumpkin Project. Paint pumpkins together!

Get the whole family involved! While you’re painting your pumpkins, talk about why being respectful and inclusive of children with food allergies is so important.

3. Place your pumpkin outside your front door to signify your participation in the Teal Pumpkin Project.

 

4. Print a free downloadable sign to hang in your window stating “Non-food treats available here.”

Free Downloadable Teal Pumpkin Project Sign

The Teal Pumpkin Project is all about inclusion, so your household may decide to print the free downloadable sign that states “We have candy and non-food treats” (in separate buckets, of course).

5. Go shopping for your non-food treats.

Non-Food Halloween Treats for The Teal Pumpkin Project

We found ours at Target…they had a great selection! Concerned non-food Halloween treats may get too expensive? Consider this: a large bag of assorted candy costs $9.00-$19.00! The most expensive non-food treat I purchased (the 12 puzzle value pack) was $10.00…everything else was $1.00-$3.00.

Here are more examples of non-food treats: finger puppets, stencils, spider rings, playing cards, whistles, vampire fangs, notepads, crazy straws, comic books, kazoos, pinwheels…what am I missing?

6. Finally, don’t forget to SHARE information about and encourage friends to get involved in The Teal Pumpkin Project by using #tealpumpkinproject on social media.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!


If you enjoyed this post, you may also like these posts:


Top 5 Tricks to Help Your Kids Manage Halloween Treats

Registered Dietitian Blair Mize's Top 5 Tricks for Helping Kids Manage Halloween Candy and Treats

Do you find the gobs of goodies that accumulate at Halloween a bit scary? You’re not alone! Check out my Top 5 Tricks for helping your kids manage their Halloween treats below:

Trick #1

One instance when it’s good for kids to be picky…

Don't be scared when your kids bring home piles of Halloween candy. Have them pick their favorites, and repurpose the leftovers.


Trick #2:

Halloween Tip by Blair Mize, RD: Eat a balanced dinner before trick-or-treating. Plan a potluck with neighbors or friends.


Trick #3:

Helping your kids enjoy Halloween treats starts today with having a conversation and modeling a healthy, non-diet approach to food for your kids.

Halloween Tip by Blair Mize, RD: Teach your children how to manage candy and sweets. Sweets can be enjoyed and planned into meals.


Trick #4:

Don’t be scared of this one…

Halloween Tip by Blair Mize, RD: Deprivation often leads to overeating. Here's a strategy to prevent feelings of deprivation.

Check out Ellyn Satter’s Book, Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming for more information about raising your children to have a healthy relationship with food.


Trick #5:

If this sounds crazy, take a look at this website for a more detailed explanation:

Halloween Tip by Blair Mize, RD: Have a plan to help your kids manage their candy.

Happy Halloween! 

I’d love to hear how you manage Halloween treats at your house in the comments below!


This blog post was originally posted by Leslie Schilling here. If you enjoyed this post, you may also like these posts:

Easy to Make, Exciting to Eat School Lunches

For many families, “Back to School” means back to packing lunches. Though parents have had a summer-long vacation from sorting through the Tupperware containers to find matching tops, and kids have had a break from that same ole turkey sandwich and chips, the idea of packing lunches (and eating them) still leaves much to be desired.

This morning on ABC’s Local Memphis Live, I shared some of my favorite tips for serving up creative, nourishing lunches that are easy to make and exciting to eat. The best part: Though I might pack these lunches for my little boy, you don’t have to be a pro to make lunches children will love! Here’s a clip of the Local Memphis Live segment (and a recap below) in case you missed it…

I packed up all of these lunches in Easy Lunchboxes…order some here and save yourself the nightmare of sorting through tons of tiny plastic containers…with the 3 compartment, single-lid lunchbox, packing lunches is that much faster (who doesn’t love that?)!

Peanut Butter & Banana “Sushi” Served with Greek Yogurt and Raw Veggies

Peanut Butter & Banana

For the “sushi,” take a whole wheat tortilla and spread a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter* over the entire tortilla. Place a whole, peeled banana close to the edge of the tortilla and roll. [Sidenote: This would be such an easy way to get your children involved in packing their own lunches!] Once the banana is all wrapped up, use a serrated knife to slice into 1 – 1.5 inch pieces.

*Many children (including my son) have peanut allergies, and schools are not allowing peanuts or peanut butter in school lunches. If this is the case for your child, no problem! Sunbutter made from sunflower seeds is a nice alternative…it’s still creamy and delicious like peanut butter…no Epipen needed!

Caprese Skewers Served with Sliced Apples and a Hardboiled Egg

Caprese Skewers

To make the caprese skewers, roll up a slice of turkey and cut it into bite-sized pieces. On a 6-inch skewer*, place a small ball of fresh mozzarella, 1 basil leaf, 1 grape or cherry tomato, and 1 piece of the turkey. Repeat if you have room.

*Worried about sending your little one to school with a sharp, pointy object? Me too. Instead of using wooden skewers, try cocktail stirrers (which come in a variety of bright, glittery colors kids will love), skinny straws, or small popsicle sticks.

Greek Pita Pockets with Orange Slices and Cashews/Dark Chocolate Trail Mix

Greek Pita Pockets

These Greek pita pockets provide a way to use leftovers in a way that tastes new and different. Take a whole wheat pita pocket and spread hummus all over the inside of the pocket. Next, sprinkle the inside with feta cheese. Add a few cucumber slices, shredded carrots, or raw veggies of your child’s choice along with bite-sized pieces of last night’s chicken, pork, or beef. Better yet, go ahead and pack this lunch before you clean up dinner so it’s ready to go for the next morning.

Bonus Tip!

Do you have leftovers that wouldn’t be appetizing in a pita but would be excellent simply rewarmed? Did you know thermoses are good for more than just soups and hot chocolate? I didn’t either until recently! Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Take a small thermos and fill it up with hot water for about 5 minutes while you’re making your breakfast.
  • Then, heat up the leftovers you need for lunch that day until they are piping hot.
  • Pour the water out of the thermos, add your leftovers, and screw the top back on tightly.
  • When lunchtime comes, no microwave needed…just a fork or spoon!

Remember: You don’t have to be a pro to pack an awesome lunch…Guess what? You also don’t have to be a child to enjoy one of these balanced and “non-boring” lunches. Go ahead and get 2 of those Easy Lunchboxes out of the cabinet! One for your little one, and one for you! Enjoy!

Back To School Lunches

Feed Your Family (Without Becoming a Short-Order Cook!)

design-3

Sally: I’d like the chef salad please with the oil and vinegar on the side and the apple pie a la mode…

Waitress: Chef and apple a la mode.

Sally: …but I’d like the pie heated, and I don’t want the ice cream on top. I want it on the side, and I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it’s real. If it’s out of a can, then nothing.

Waitress: Not even the pie?

Sally: No, just the pie, but then not heated.

Waitress: Uh huh.


Some of you may remember the above scene from the 1989 movie When Harry Met Sally. Perhaps you could substitute your child’s name for Sally’s and your name for the waitress’s. Is pleasing your family at meals or getting everyone to eat the same thing a daily struggle? Now that your family is getting back into a new groove with the new school year, perhaps it’s time to incorporate some new strategies at your family meals…

Internationally recognized Registered Dietitian and Family Therapist Ellyn Satter developed the Division of Responsibility in Feeding also known as the gold standard for feeding children. She outlines the concept in her book How To Get Your Kid To Eat…But Not Too Much: “Parents are responsible for what is presented to eat and the manner in which it is presented. Children are responsible for how much and even whether they eat.”

How do you apply the Division of Responsibility in your home?

1. Choose a time to plan the next week’s meals, allowing your children to give their requests or preferences. As you plan, ask yourself these 2 questions:

  • Have I included a “safe food,” one I know my child will accept, at each meal?
  • Am I choosing a variety of foods at each meal?

Once your plan is complete, consider posting the menu somewhere in your home so everyone will know the answer to that ever-important question: “What’s for dinner?”

2. Serve meals and snacks at the table with minimal distractions at consistent times throughout the day.

3. Allow your child to choose from the foods you are offering.

Don’t make substitutions an option. By including a “safe food” at each meal, you are ensuring your child will not go hungry. By providing regular meals and snacks, you are guaranteeing an opportunity for your child to “make up for” those times he or she eats less at a particular meal.

4. Make mealtimes pleasant, and avoid pressuring your child to eat.

Remember: Children are responsible for whether and how much they choose to eat. Enjoy this built-in opportunity to model healthy eating for your child by eating a balanced meal when you are hungry and stopping when you are satisfied. Brigid Kay, Registered Dietitian at Schilling Nutrition Therapy encourages her three children to try “one bite to be polite.” It may take 15-20 bites over time for a child to accept a food, so continue offering a variety of foods at meals whether your child enjoys them or not.


Feeding your family doesn’t have to mean being a short-order cook. Planning meals may take a little time on the front end, but imagine the fun and peace that could come from implementing the Division of Responsibility in your home starting this school year!

A link to this article may also be found in the April 2015 Edition of Good Health Magazine.

1353177816609_3434885