Does Your Child Need Feeding Therapy?

There are a variety of reasons why a child may need feeding therapy. To many of us, it would seem like eating should be a basic instinct. However, eating is one of the most complex activities we do, especially for the developing, young child. Eating involves several processes in the body, including sensory, oral-motor, muscular, neurological, digestive, and behavioral systems. Feeding problems can arise involving any one of these systems, and often more than one of these is implicated.

The following are reasons why a child may have a feeding problem:

  • Sensory processing issuesFeeding Therapy
  • Food allergies or severe reflux
  • Autism
  • Developmental delays
  • Complex post-op recovery course
  • Transition from feeding tube to oral nutrition

Feeding therapy is usually done with one or more clinicians. Depending on the type of feeding problem, therapy may involve a speech language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a registered dietitian, a social worker or behavior therapist, and/or a physician. Read more

5 Healthy Summer Habits for Your Family

Summer is a perfect time to focus on getting healthy, especially for kids. Read this list for healthy ideas for your family that take little effort and can make a big difference.

5 Tips for a Healthy Family This Summer:

  1. Buy healthy food that’s in season. During the summer, there are plenty of healthy foods available in the store and at the farmer’s markets. Take advantage of this abundance of produce and give your kids fruit at meals and for snacks instead of packaged foods. Make salads a staple for lunch or dinner. Use fresh, cool vegetables that taste great on hot days such as cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, and spinach leaves. Mix it up and make summery green salads with fruit accents, such as spinach tossed with strawberries, blueberries, or grapes. Read more

The Impact of Nutrition on ADHD

For families dealing with ADHD, nutrition concerns or questions may arise. Although there is not clear evidence for diet modifications that can treat the cause of ADHD, there are nutritional guidelines that can affect symptoms and accompanying behaviors.

The Following are Some Nutritional Considerations for Children with ADHD:Nutrition and ADHD

  • Meal Patterning: There is a reason why there are traditionally 3 meals a day. During the day, our body’s physiology requires periods of being fed followed by periods of activity (physical and/or mental). In order to best fuel physical and mental tasks, we need to ensure regular, balanced meals for our kids. This means no skipping breakfast or dinner. Snacks should also be scheduled and finite. Grazing all day can decrease appetite for more nutritious foods at mealtimes and can lead to overeating less nutritious snack foods. Proper meal patterning also helps keep energy stable throughout the day.    
  • Protein, Fiber, and Healthy Fats: These three nutrition components are key to balancing blood sugar. Our brain and red blood cells use glucose as primary fuel, so it is important to keep that fuel running steady without peaks and valleys that affect energy and mood. Protein, fiber, and fat all slow gastric emptying compared to a meal of simple carbs, which means sugar is digested and absorbed into the blood stream at a slower rate. Also, protein food sources are building blocks for neurotransmitters involved in all brain signaling. And finally, healthy fats like omega-3s are used for developing brain and other nervous system tissues.
  • Reduce Refined Sugar (and anything else that you notice exacerbates problem behaviors): Refined sugar tends to provide quick, drastic bursts of energy when consumed alone and/or in large quantities. Often following the energy burst is a crash, since the sugar is quickly used up from the bloodstream and so is the energy. For kids, a little sugar can go a long way since their systems are smaller. Consider things like cereals, sweet beverages, and of course candy and desserts. Try to avoid keeping sugary foods and drinks in the house.
  • Side Effects from Medication: Some ADHD medications have a side effect of decreasing appetite. I have worked with kids on these medications who report they “forget to eat” because their appetite is so impacted. This can lead to weight loss, or in some cases, weight gain because the kids end up overeating junk food later in the day. To remedy this, act as a meal and snack advocate for your kid. Make sure you put the food in front of them and encourage them to eat, since they may not seek it out themselves. It may be easier for them to drink something nutritious like a smoothie, or eat a nutrient-dense bar such as a Clif Bar or Larabar when they don’t have much of an appetite.
  • Compulsive Decisions: Depending on how your child responds to ADHD treatment, he or she may still struggle with compulsive behaviors. When presented with junk food, they might go overboard, or they might seek out unhealthy food. Try to educate your kids as much as possible about the importance of nutrition in settings where they are not faced with snap decisions. That way, they will hopefully remember to make good decisions. Be a role model for them by stocking the house with healthy options and eating the way you hope for them to eat.

For more nutrition guidance related to ADHD, click here to make an appointment with one of our registered dietitians or call 877-486-4140.


Cooking Greens Made Simple

Swiss chard, kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, bok choy… the word “superfood” is synonymous with all dark, leafy green vegetables. The super greensreason why is because they pack such a large nutritional punch. In general, dark leafy greens are loaded in vitamin A, folate, fiber, and also provide minerals like calcium and iron. They are even a source of the heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. As if that’s not enough, eating your greens can help fight cancer, which you can read more about on the website for the American Institute for Cancer Research.

So we know how nutritious greens are, but what about the taste? And what do you do with those big tough leaves of chard and kale anyways?

Here are some unique recipes to help your family eat more of this nutritional superfood:

Stir Fried Shrimp or Chicken and Bok Choy*

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (made ahead)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T plus ½ teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed OR 1 lb chicken, diced
  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 1 T fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3-4 bunches of bok choy, stemmed and sliced
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • Asian chili sauce

Cook shrimp or chicken in olive oil and ½ teaspoon soy sauce over medium-high heat, until cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Add scallions, ginger, Read more

Healthy Twists on Your Kids Favorite Foods

Let’s face it; kids have their favorite foods and those foods may not be the healthiest choices. Wouldn’t it be nice if we, as parents, could make healthier mango icecreamversions of foods that kids actually enjoyed? Well, you can! These recipes have been kid-tested and approved in my office (and home).

Below are a few ideas on healthy twists on your kid’s favorite foods:

Rice Cake Pizzas:

  • Brown rice cakes
  • Fat-free pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Baby spinach, sliced tomatoes and/or diced green peppers

Take out one rice cake and place 1-2 tablespoons of pizza sauce on top. Sprinkle about ¼ cup of cheese and as many veggies as you can get on top. Heat in the microwave for about 20 seconds or until cheese is melted. One “pizza” is approximately 100 calories, which makes a great snack or part of a meal. These pizzas are also gluten-free.

Simple Homemade Mango “Ice Cream”:

  • 2 cups nonfat vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 1 package (16 oz) of frozen mangoes

Let mangoes sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes to thaw slightly. Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth so that the consistency is similar to ice cream, or for about 5 minutes. Serving size is ½ cup, which is 100 calories. This is a great option for a healthy dessert. Mangoes are high in vitamin A and the yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium.

Kale Chips:

  • 4 large kale leaves, washed and stems removed
  • 1 tablspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. After washing kale and removing stems, tear kale into bite-size pieces (approximately 2 inches x 2 inches each). Put kale pieces into a large bowl with olive oil and salt. Toss to coat. Spread out on a rectangular cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until kale is crispy like chips. Recipe makes 3-4 servings;however, this snack is so healthy that there is really no limit to the serving! Kale is a superfood and is high in many vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

These recipes are all winners- for parents as well as kids. They are low in calories but high in nutrients, which is the best combination. What are some of your kid-approved healthy twists on recipes?  I would love to hear about your recipes in the comments section below!

Parents’ Roles in Creating Healthy Eaters

At some point during your young child’s life, you may face challenges that involve getting them to eat well. Often, the first challenge family eating dinnerpresents itself during the toddler years, in which children can become quite picky and more defiant. As kids are exposed to so many unhealthy foods that are specifically marketed towards kids and teens, these foods can cause excess weight gain.

When parents come to me seeking nutritional counseling for their child, we spend a lot of time discussing their role in their child’s nutrition. The reason behind this is because children learn so much about food and eating from the family. Consider the paradigm of nature vs nurture. Yes, there are certain inborn physiological predispositions children may have toward food and eating. This is the “nature” side of the paradigm; however there is also the “nurture” side, in which you influence how your children eat. Your kids have 3-5 learning experiences with you that are related to food each day (meals + snacks), beginning from infancy. Children are only able to eat and learn what foods you choose to present to them and in what manner you present food.

Below are some tips about parents’ roles in developing healthy eaters:

  1. Be the eater you want your child to be. If you want your children to eat fruits and vegetables, then you need to eat fruits Read more

What is a Videoflouroscopic Swallow Study?

Many children experience feeding and swallowing difficulties and they present in a variety of different ways. In order to provide the VFSSmost effective and appropriate therapy, it is often that physical or physiological abnormalities of the swallowing mechanism must first be ruled out. In order to do this, a video swallow study – Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study (VFSS) or Modified Barium Swallow (MBS)- must be ordered by a physician. These are extravagant,  complicated sounding words that can be intimidating to parents; they may sound even more intimidating to children. In order to explain this procedure to your child, it is vital that you must first understand it yourself.

What is a VFSS?

In the simplest of terms, a VFSS is a moving x-ray that examines the process of swallowing food or drink from the mouth and down through the esophagus. A Speech-Language Pathologist and a Radiologist will be in the room to operate the x-ray machine, offer barium-based food and drink items and to decipher the results. The x-ray machine often resembles a large, robotic arm that is aimed at the side of a patient’s body. Patients are placed between this machine and a raised table that serves as the ideal back-drop to capture the best view of the swallowing mechanism.

The barium food products are white in color and taste slightly chalky, but they are typically flavored sweetly. An SLP will watch the Read more

Eating Disorders in Children and Teens

Eating disorders are a scary topic for parents. It is critical to be aware of signs that your child may be at risk for developing an eating eating disorderdisorder. The earlier you can get professional intervention, the better outcomes your child will have. You may be able to prevent the eating disorder from taking over your child’s life and causing serious health affects. The longer a child struggles with an eating disorder, the more difficult it can be for him or her to overcome it. The eating disorder becomes a coping mechanism they rely on to feel in control, and is something to focus on to avoid other issues. Eating disorders are mental health diagnoses, and involve disordered thinking, beliefs, and behaviors around food and body image. They should be treated and managed by a team including at minimum, a physician, a mental health counselor, and a registered dietitian.

Warning signs your child may have or be developing an eating disorder:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Eating the same things every day, often in very controlled amounts
  • Self- imposed rules around eating Read more

5 Things a Dietitian Can Do for You and Your Child (that you might not know)

When you think of a dietitian, you probably think of healthy eating and weight loss. But dietitians are trained to manage many more  areas of health than that! Pediatric nutrition is a highly specialized field since infants and children are continuously growing and developing.nutritionist Furthermore, there are several diagnoses that are specific to infants and children which require unique nutritional management. Do you know what a pediatric dietitian can do for you and your family?

5 Things a Dietitian Can Do for You and Your Child (that you might not know):

  1. Help with breastfeeding. Dietitians who specialize in pediatric nutrition can seek specific training and education on breastfeeding. They can then educate parents on technique, what to expect, and how to seek continued support. For new parents, it is best to learn as much as you can about breastfeeding before the baby is born, and a trained pediatric dietitian is a great resource. After the baby is born, the dietitian can continue to provide education, troubleshoot problems with breastfeeding, and perform frequent weights to ensure the baby is taking in enough volume to support expected growth. Dietitians can also help breastfeeding moms who may need to make changes to their diet if baby is showing signs of food allergy or intolerance to something in mom’s diet.
  2. Special nutrition care for preemies. Preemies have nutrition needs that are different from babies born full term. They also have different growth goals. Some preemies, especially those born before 32-34 weeks, may have difficulty with feeding. If they are not taking enough volume to support growth goals, a dietitian can help strategize to ensure the baby gets adequate nutrition. This support can also be helpful when the baby transitions to solids, as well as during the toddler years when kids tend to become more picky.
  3. Help uncover food allergies or food sensitivities. Food allergies and sensitivities are difficult to accurately test for, even with blood work. If your child has chronic symptoms without a clear cause, such as eczema, runny nose, ear infections, diaper rash, diarrhea or constipation, fussiness, or aversion to eating, a food allergy or sensitivity may be investigated. A dietitian can guide you through eliminating foods that might be causing symptoms, and also provide a nutritionally-complete diet plan.
  4. Provide nutrition care for digestive problems. Often, digestive issues can be improved by making diet changes. A dietitian can make nutrition recommendations to help with reflux, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and stomach aches. Dietitians are also trained to manage nutrition for GI disorders such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, Celiac, IBS, and more.
  5. Manage nutrition for children with special healthcare needs. Pediatric dietitians are trained to provide proper nutrition for children with a wide variety of diagnoses in which nutrition, growth, and/or feeding are affected. Examples include Trisomy 21, cardiac defects, cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities, trauma, chronic respiratory issues, tube feedings, and more.

If you or your child’s pediatrician have concerns related to your child’s nutrition, growth, or feeding abilities, contact one of our registered dietitians to set up an evaluation. Our pediatric nutrition experts can help your child achieve his or her best potential. 877-486-4140.

Spring Clean Your Family’s Diet

Spring is here and, just like we give the house a good spring cleaning, this is a great time to do the same for your entire family’s diet. junk food garbage The growing season is beginning which means farmers’ markets will be opening in the next few weeks or months. In addition, we will be able to finally get outside more after a long, cold winter.

Here are a few ways in which you can help clean up your family’s diet this spring:

  • Eat more foods that “clean you out”. Think fiber. Foods that are high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Fiber binds fat in the gut and blood stream and carries it to be excreted in waste. Speaking of which, the more waste you are able to eliminate, the more toxins you are also disposing of as well.
  • Focus on foods that support detoxification processes in the body. The body has major organs that detoxify our system, specifically the liver, kidneys, skin and gut. Certain foods have phytonutrients that support these detoxification processes. These foods include lemon juice, onions, garlic, asparagus, apples and brassica vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and brussell sprouts.
  • Drink plenty of water. I recommend that kids drink milk with meals and water only between meals. Water helps “flush out” toxins. Drinking water throughout the day provides our blood and cells with fresh fluids continuously for optimum function. Drinking water throughout the day prevents sluggishness that accompanies inadequate hydration.
  • Get rid of sugar. If sugar is present in your family’s diet more than once per day, consider decreasing what sweets you keep in the house. Eating sugar in moderation is fine, which is about once per day. Remember that sugar is in many more foods than just candy and cookies. It is a major ingredient in many cereals, granola bars, yogurts, fruits snacks and beverages.
  • While you’re at it, clean out the food pantry. Just go ahead and toss or donate any foods that are not “clean”. This includes processed foods (think boxes and bags of snacks) and refined flours and sugars.

For more ideas on how to clean up your family’s diet, schedule an appointment with one of our registered dietitians today.