Dinner Rotation: April-May

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on April 28, 2016

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I hope you all are well. Sorry I missed posting my last meal rotation. I don’t know about you but here in San Diego it’s become warm (although not today) and summer buzz is in the air. So Thursdays will be grill nights as we gear up for summer grilling.

Since my husband is in charge of grilling, he has some say in the matter. We both agree we need more grilled fish recipes. We also have been using a basket to grill veggies. Last time I cut the pieces too small so some fell through into the grill …oops. But the veggies are still delish. So looking for more ways to make fish and grill veggies on the horizon.

I’ve also been working on developing soups for lunches. I realize soup for dinner doesn’t really work for us unless it’s more of a meal-type of soup. Also, I really like to have either soup or salad with my own lunches because it helps fill me up. Nothings worse than feeling hungry an hour or two after lunch.


This contest-winning minestrone is excellent and will be going into the lunch rotation. I like to plan on it the week we have fish tacos because I always have leftover cabbage (in the picture I used zucchini instead of cabbage).

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I tried my friend Kate’s broccoli, leek and potato soup recipe and it’s definitely a keeper! I personally don’t prefer puree soups because I like soup with lots of texture but it’s good for kids who freak when chunks are present.

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I still am following through with my Monday prep days to help the week run smoother. Some weeks are better than others but it definitely helps to have one day dedicated to cooking and making sure everything is cleaned and stocked. I keep meaning to take pictures as proof but I keep forgetting. Pinkie swear, I’m doing it.

We also had our second restaurant adventure night. It was on my birthday and we picked an Italian restaurant downtown in Little Italy. Unfortunately, we hit major traffic on the way down and Little D had a meltdown crying about how hungry he was. So basically he scarfed down the bread and had no interest in the food by the time it arrived. Big A, not into bread lately, ate their spaghetti with red sauce and a salmon dish we ordered. After dinner, we went for walk to find gelato, which was a big hit. Next up: Thai food.

That’s about it for food so on to other updates.

My Next Book, Health Class, Growth Mindset and More

I’m making progress on my next book with the working title Raising Moderation. I’ve been interviewing experts and parents to create a comprehensive book about raising moderate eaters who have a healthy relationship with food. I wish I could write faster but it’s hard as I tend to over research. The goal is for it to be out this summer. I could always use more stories so if you have one to share, email me at raisehealthyeaters@gmail.com.

Big A has been having health class at school which includes nutrition education. I always remind my kids to keep me updated on what they learn about nutrition in school. She said that someone in her class was going on about a certain type of food being unhealthy and Big A raised her hand to say “Well, it depends on how often you eat it!”

Go girl!

That is one of the attitudes that fuels moderation – not feeling like you have to choose between healthy and unhealthy foods. So it’s nice to see she’s getting that.

I joke with my kids that learning doesn’t just happen at school but also at home. I call this home learning “Mare school” because that is my nickname. I even have a song for it (Mare school, Mare school, I really want to go…). But seriously, I do think parents are the most important teachers in a child’s life. Plus, summers are a great time to work on learning at home. So I’m gearing up for a food learning project with the kids that I will blog about in the future. Also, Big A is going to help me with a new project learning how to do illustrations (she loves art). I will be working with Little D on reading while he goes to speech therapy (he has language delays). We are going to have reading and library time too.

The kids will not be the only ones learning new stuff this summer. Both me and the hubs are trying to live the growth mindset too (see post reviewing the book: Mindset). He is learning how to play the guitar and I’ve decided to take up tennis this summer. We are members of a swim and racquet club in our neighborhood and I think it would be rewarding to play tennis (and social too). I only played one sport growing up and feel there are many I would have enjoyed.

So a lot to think about as we the school year comes to a close. Have you thought about your summer plans?

Links

I wrote a guest post about simplifying dinner at Mom’s Kitchen Handbook:  Three Little Words to Ease Dinnertime Angst.

Also on Mom’s Kitchen Handbook Katie Morford dishes on the 10 cooking skills kids need to know before leaving home.

Sally at Real Mom Nutrition realizes on vacation that she’s had her bikini body all along.

I found this really cool Facebook page called the Moderation Movement. Check it out!

Some interesting research showing bread is not as bad as you hear it is! 

Super Healthy Kids lists appropriate chores for kids by age.

Bettina at the lunch tray tried something I’ve been wanting to do: Fun of Microbes: How I Conquered My Fear of Baking Yeast Bread.

Here’s a nice review on what constitutes a healthy diet for ADHD 

That’s it for now. Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Want to create your own family dinner rotation? My latest book What to Cook for Dinner with Kids helps you step-by-step through the process.

What to cook for dinner with kids e-book

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Post image for Want to Strengthen Your Child’s Self-Control Muscle? Avoid This Common Feeding Mistake

This is part of an ongoing series on moderation. It’s in preparation for my next book and includes expert interviews, the latest research and expert tips. Sign up for my updates to get these posts and subscriber discounts including FREE e-book offers.

Since I started blogging I’ve consistently received the same question from parents. It typically centers around a child that eats a lot and is always hungry. Here’s an example from a recent email I received:

My daughter is 5 years old and every time she eats she always has more than one serving at meal times. After she’s eaten a meal she will come back 10 minutes later asking me for a snack and if her wish is not “granted” immediately she will scream and cry and throw a fit until she gets some sort of “snack” or food.  What I can do to stop her from eating too much?


The first question I ask is about is whether or not meals are structured. The answer is typically yes, but because I’m working on a book on moderation, I’ve been hopping on the phone with more readers. And this is what I’ve been finding.

A lack of limit setting

While parents do go to the trouble of planning meals and snacks to a lesser degree, most parents aren’t aware how much their child is eating outside of mealtimes. When I asked the mom with the question from above (Charlotte*) if she gives into her daughter Kelly’s food requests after meals, I discover a mixed bag — sometimes she does and other times she doesn’t. Then I discover Kelly has been going into the cupboards for food since she was two. Charlotte tells her daughter not to eat certain items, but that only makes her want it more. She also grabs snacks to eat while watching TV.

So now that we are digging deeper, I can see that the problem really isn’t about food but a lack of clear limits. Children test limits all the time and that is what Kelly has been doing. Yes, their family has regular meals, but Kelly has been allowed too much freedom between meals.

Children allowed too much food freedom aren’t strengthening their self-control muscle. If they want a food, they can have it anytime. If they are just slightly hungry, they get food the instant they say the H-word. They can much more easily lose track of hunger and fullness, eating too much or too little.

We know what doesn’t work, but what does work?

One of the limitations of the research on feeding is that it has focused mainly on what doesn’t work. For example, we know that both unlimited access and too much restriction of food backfires as children fail to learn how to self-regulate. But there is less clear evidence on what actually does work. In a recent review, researchers suggest that “structured-based feeding” is likely to help because it teaches children limits. This is adapted from the parenting literature showing structure in the home is linked to better self-discipline in children.

Parenting expert, Dr. Laura Markham at Aha Parenting, explains it this way (go here for full article):

So every time your child chooses to shift gears from what she wants to do, to follow your lead, she practices regulating her impulses. She’s building self-discipline muscle. (Or, actually, neural pathways. But like muscle, these neural pathways get stronger with use, so you can think of it as building a stronger brain that’s capable of harder work.). Permissive parenting doesn’t help kids develop self-discipline because it doesn’t ask them to exercise self control in pursuit of their larger goal.

While how we set limits is also important, such as using empathy, the key is to have the limits set in the first place. Here’s how to do it around food:

  • If kids are used to a loose feeding schedule, explain clearly to them that things are going to change. Review Satter’s Division of Responsibility, explaining that it’s your job to pick what to eat, when to eat it and where but they get to decide whether or not to eat it.
  • What: Let them know that you decide what is for meals but you love their input. School-aged children can start making some meals and snacks but it’s important they do it with guidance from parents.
  • When: Decide how many times to eat meals and snacks. Three meals and two snacks is typical but that depends on needs and different children have different needs. Do what expert Jill Castle recommends and have a “kitchen closed” rule between meals.
  • Where: Set a place to eat like the kitchen table. Limit eating while watching TV or in the car to occasional occurrences.

When challenges arise with kids around hunger and constant asking for food, it’s typical to look at food as the culprit. But usually it has more to do with how that child is being fed. As a friend once told me, children often act out when there is a lack of limits….it’s their way of showing us they can’t handle all that responsibility yet. (for a story on how this happened wit my son and technology, read this post)

What does meal structure look like in your home?

 

*Names were changed to protect privacy

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