Meals made ezpz

When we started our son on solids we didn’t buy a lot of fancy feeding dishes/utensils.  We had 2-3 bibs, 3 baby/toddler sized bowls, two divided plates, and a handful of silverware.  We taught our son to eat using our dishes and magically he never even thought about throwing a dish or food.  We were lucky! When I heard about the ezpz less mess Happy Mat in the Fall of 2014 I thought it sounded like a great idea.  The ezpz less mess Happy Mat has been hyped up as a “game changer”.  I was first introduced to the product by The Baby Guy NYC (Jamie Grayson) when he posted his video of the Happy Mat during their Kickstarter phase of development.  Jamie’s video focused on the suction function of the mat which, in part, helps to prevent children from throwing their dishes.  This is where I stopped looking.  My toddler didn’t need to be prevented from throwing his plates.  When it popped up in my news feed on Facebook many months later, after achieving full Kickstarter funding, I took a closer look.  I wasn’t interested in it for our family, but I was intrigued for my clients.  The more I looked at the Happy Mat, the more I realized the brilliance of the design.  The Happy Mat is terrific for children who don’t want food to touch, teaching parents correct portion size for children (and adults), and for anyone who has any challenges that make feeding physically difficult.  The ezpz less mess mats do all of this and more, but I still didn’t want to spend the money on the product.  After all, one Happy Mat costs $25 and I probably spent the same amount on ALL of my toddler dining pieces combined. Still thinking about just how wonderful a tool the mat would be from a nutrition standpoint, I joined a small test group for ezpz and learned more about their product.  We had the opportunity to test out some concept designs as well as the Happy Mat.  I dutifully ordered the concept products and a Happy Mat still thinking it would just be about reviewing the product from a health coach perspective. When our mats arrived I was excited to try them, but you know who was even more excited?  Our toddler!  He was, and is still, enamored with them.  The colors are fun, vibrant, and...
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Feeding Therapy: The consult

Make sure you read Feeding Therapy: We are finally ready if you haven’t already. We packed up the lunch bag with foods our son was comfortable with and foods that he wasn’t comfortable with, put on our shoes, and drove to our feeding therapy consult with Autumn.  Our son was excited and I was nervous. I had shown our son pictures of Miss Autumn on the Advanced Institute for Development and Learning Facebook page and when she came into the waiting room I just smiled and said look Miss Autumn is here to talk to us.  Our little man was so excited and eagerly followed her through the therapy areas and into her therapy room.  Her room is equipped with several booster seats for various age children, a table, a tv, and some seats for parents. She turned and smiled at K and asked if he would like to choose some toys to play with while she chatted with us.  He was thrilled to find 4 fascinating cars and happily climbed into the booster seat to play while the adults chatted. After we went through his medical history, birthing history, challenges that we perceived, Autumn worked with K.  Although she was really going through the Beckman Oral Motor evaluation, he thought they were playing games.  High five to Autumn for her creative play!  He showed her how to chew using a Tri-Chew and play hide and seek in his mouth with an Oral Motor Probe.  He was grinning away. Next we pulled out all of the food we brought and he got to have snack time.  She observed his chewing patterns, his behavior, continued to talk with us, and encouraged him to snack.  She noticed that he wasn’t using rotary chewing and was instead primarily using a vertical chewing pattern.  Next time you put something in your mouth try chewing it by just opening and closing your jaw – that is vertical chewing.  He was also showing signs of low muscle tone in his cheeks and lower jaw. If the muscles of the mouth aren’t working well children aren’t inclined to eat the foods that require those muscles because it is too hard.  Now we have a plan – strengthen the muscles, learn some good patterns for eating, and overcome the behavioral anxiety about food. Our kiddo was still enthusiastic and was eager to try the pattern of eating...
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Feeding Therapy: We are finally ready

This is the first article in an on-going series of posts about our experiences with feeding therapy.  You may be wondering why I would share this with you.  I think it is important for everyone to know that seeking therapy, of any kind, is not something that should be hidden.  We are so lucky to have these services available to us in the United States and to have wonderful and caring professionals who devote their lives to helping us overcome challenges.  It is with an open heart that I share our story with you.  We have walked a long path to get to this point and I hope our journey will help you be more tolerant of those with challenges, be confident in seeking help when you need it, and understand a little more about feeding therapy. This past week we had our very first consult with a local Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)/Feeding Therapist.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I am a certified health coach and have a Ph.D. in Psychology and we are going to feeding therapy with our son.  We have known for awhile that something wasn’t “right”, but our independent kiddo was terrified of medical professionals so we patiently waited. Two months ago he  conquered his fear of medical professionals.  Two weeks ago after screaming about the food placed before him and vomiting when trying a new food we asked him if he wanted to like food and stop being afraid.  You know what he said?  He looked at us tearfully and said the magic words “yes, I want help.” *insert happy dance here…and maybe some tears*  This is the moment we have been waiting for.  Our independent little man was ready for help.  He was so excited and relieved to get help that he got up from the table and got his shoes on.  He said he was ready to go talk to someone who could help – at 7pm on a Sunday night. Early Monday morning we contacted Autumn, a local SLP/Feeding Therapist who we had heard great things about even though she just moved to town two months ago, and asked how long it would take to get an appointment.  We told Autumn that our son was very excited to get help and we wanted to get in as soon as possible.  She obtained a referral from our pediatrician within two hours and scheduled...
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Refining Your Child’s Palate

We try to eat varied foods for breakfast, but I’ll be honest, we love cereal.  Not all cereal is created equal though.  There are MANY cereals out there and there are MANY that are no better more than eating plain sugar. I remember as a child not being allowed to have sugary cereals.  I ate lower sugar cereals like plain Cheerios and Rice Krispies. Serving Size Protein Fiber Sugar Cheerios1 1 Cup 3g 3g 1g Rice Krispies2 1 1/4 Cup 2g 0g 4g Once a year, when we were on vacation, I could get the variety pack of cereals – those small one serving boxes.  I could choose any variety pack I wanted – and I chose the one with cereals like Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks. Serving Size Protein Fiber Sugar Fruit Loops3 1 Cup 1g 3g 12g Apple Jacks4 1 Cup 1g 3g 12g Eek!  This is why I was only allowed to make those choices once a year!  It was a treat and by the end of the week I was ready to go back to my normal cereals. We were recently traveling and my 3-year-old had the opportunity to try a new cereal.  It was the only one available and he wanted cereal so I said ok.  As I nostalgically thought back to my childhood years and those special cereal treats I poured him a small serving of Special K with Red Berries and he did the funniest thing.  He ate the dried strawberries and left the flakes.  He did this two days in a row and then told me he didn’t want anymore of “that cereal”.  I couldn’t figure it out at first and then I realized, he didn’t like the added sugar.  When I asked him about it, he confirmed my guess.  He wasn’t interested in the sugary flakes.  Check out the chart below for what he is accustomed to eating in comparison to the Special K with Red Berries. Serving Size Protein Fiber Sugar Special K with Red Berries5 1 Cup 2g 3g 9g Greenwise Organic Toasted Oats6 1 Cup 4g 3g 1g Kashi Organic Promise Autumn Wheat7* 29 biscuits 6g 6g 7g Cascadian Farms Multi-Grain Squares8* 1 Cup 5g 4g 7g *Only used as an occasional snack or treat. This experience reminded me that by offering better choices when he is young, K is developing a palate that craves whole grains,...
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Teaching Children to Love All Foods

We learned in our certification program and hear it over and over in our continuing education opportunities through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute that the way to help children eat a diverse and healthy diet is to explain what food can do for their body.  We learned to ask children what they like to do, what they want to be, what they wish they could do when they get older.  When you are armed with their response, you can then respond with a statement such as: Food X can help you have the energy to do Activity Y. This message seems great, makes sense, and I tell parents this all the time.  I tell them that it works and that children will listen to this and begin to make better choices and try new foods.  I tell parents that they may need to offer the new food many times, usually somewhere around 10-12, before they are even tried.  I tell parents with particularly sensitive children that the number of presentations is often closer to 20. Here is my confession.  I have been doing this since before our son could even talk.  We have been talking about the benefits (in a little kid appropriate way) of good food choices and how they will help make him grow strong and have energy to play, swim, play trains, etc.  We have done this until we are blue in the face and are left sitting at the end of the meal with a child in tears because he doesn’t want to try anything new and has only eaten the familiar food item on his plate.  This has been going on for almost 2 years.  To put it mildly, we were feeling disheartened and desperate.  We were following all of the suggestions we could find and all of the suggestions I provide parents.  The suggestions didn’t work.  I felt like a fraud. We didn’t give up because food is essential to life.  It should be enjoyed and it breaks my heart that my 3-year-old doesn’t love food.  We love food and want him to have that same pleasure in nourishing his body with great choices. It is important to remember that while the 3-year-old brain is amazingly intricate, it is not always able to make complex connections or reason through problems.  I know this, but we still talk about what food can do for...
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Toddler Approved Smoothies

Smoothies are a daily occurrence in our home. Our three-year-old loves them. He begs us to make him a “see-moo” (smoothie).  Given his enthusiasm for smoothies, you are probably thinking I really mean a milkshake, but I don’t. He has never had a milkshake and has only had gelato a handful of times. When he asks for a smoothie he is asking for fruits and veggies.  We often let him choose the ingredients and today’s concoction was interesting. His goal was to create a red or pink smoothie. Every smoothie we make begins with organic unsweetened original almond milk and an organic fair-trade banana. From there he added fresh organic spinach and fresh pineapple from the fridge. He then moved onto the freezer to dig out more ingredients. He chose organic parsnips, beets, carrots, cranberries, and  strawberries. We tossed his choices in and started up the Blendtec. The result? A red smoothie. Goal 1 achieved – a red or pink smoothie. Now, for the taste. That is always an interesting and slightly nerve-wracking part of the creation process. It was a little different, but it was great. He drank 16 oz. of the smoothie! This smoothie had no added sugar, was created from primarily organic ingredients and there was no “hiding” of fruits and veggies involved.  He chose all of the ingredients. What did this interesting smoothie provide? Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk Vitamin A, Vitamin D2, Vitamin E, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Calcium1 Organic, Fair Trade Banana Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium, Magnesium, Manganese, Phytosterols2 Organic Spinach Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, Manganese, Phytosterols, Water, Omega-3s3 Pineapple Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Riboflavin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Phytosterols, Water4 Organic Strawberries Vitamin C, Folate, Vitamin K, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Omega-3s, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosporus, Potassium, Copper, Manganese, Selenium, Phystosterols5 Organic Parsnips Dietary Fiber, Folate, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Anti-oxidants, Iron, Calcium, Copper, Potassium, Manganese, Phosporus, Magnesium, Zinc6 Organic Carrots Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Manganese, Water7 Organic Beets Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin C, Folate, Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Phytosterols, Water8 Organic Cranberries Dietary Fiber,...
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