Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Taking Stock

Every now and then it seems that I go through a bit of a renaissance when it comes to the world of nutrition.  Just like the science of food, my knowledge is ever-changing and new information leads to new beliefs. I never abandon my old beliefs but a new layer is added to them.  Consider my own evolution:  As a student I thought weight loss would be my main focus, helping others shed pounds would be my contribution to the nutrition world.  As a dietetic intern, I thought maybe I'd be better served by working as a dietitian for those admitted in hospitals, working with doctors and other healthcare providers to help the acutely ill to recover and play a role in helping them get better.  But then as I became a working RD, I read Intuitive Eating (IE) and that added a profound new understanding about eating which made me realize that my place is better served in the outpatient world helping individuals learn to change and improve their relationship with food.  Layer that with the belief in Health at Every Size (HAES) and that focusing on health rather than weight is an important factor in helping people change their behaviors.  And layers continue to be added like what I've learned about Blue Zones and weight stigma.

So here I am, like an onion, with all these layers, some new and some old.  So today's post is sort of a "taking stock" of where I am.

Here are some of the current beliefs.

1. At my core, I believe in IE as a model for eating.  It is a fundamental belief that is at the heart of my practice.  What I take most from IE is the notion that all foods are equal and that I will continue to try to not label foods as good or bad.  My neutrality towards food is not how most of the world of nutrition functions.  We labels things in black and white and with that we add a moral judgement to foods.  That judgement transfers onto us when we eat those foods we've labeled and that clouds our ability to pay attention to internal cues of hunger and fullness.

2. Next, I believe that we are doing a disservice to our country by continuing to fight this ongoing "War on Obesity." This way of addressing the issue of weight is incredibly stigmatizing and potentially damaging, especially when it's focused on our nation's children.  When there is a war, there are winners and losers.  Lose weight and win, stay heavy and lose. Black and white, no middle ground. What a horrible message to send to our children.  And how do we define winning anyway--losing weight? And at what cost?  With such an intense focus on weight, we perpetuate a diet mentality that sabotages our ability to trust our internal cues.  This focus on weight blinds what our real focus should be, healthy behaviors and not healthy weights.

3. Just like the name of this blog, I believe in moderation and balance.  I know there are many dietitians who disagree with me but for me and my practice, I find that moderation is possible.  And when I say moderation, I mean that all foods can be a part of your diet, without judgement, because again, that is how we really make peace with food and begin to tune into what our body tells us.  But this is an area where I begin to struggle, because the term "moderation" has been co-opted by big food companies. This leads me to my next belief:

4. There are things inherently wrong with our food system.  I believe that we rely heavily on overly-processed foods that have allowed big food companies to exert a strong control over our daily food choices.  I don't like the way foods are marketed to kids and I don't like how my professional organization is sponsored by big food companies. I struggle with the nuances of IE at times like this because even though I don't label a candy bar as good or bad, I still don't want it marketed towards my kids and I don't want it used as a reward for their good behavior.

5. Despite what seems to be popular belief, I refuse to demonize sugar.   Sugar is not the root of all our nutritional problems and to think that if we just go sugar-free we'll fix the problem is overly simplistic and setting us up for future problems. That's part of the reason that I won't go see the movie "Fed Up". The other reason I won't see the movie is because of how it addresses childhood obesity and my fear that we are stigmatizing our nation's children.

6. I am not a food elitist, (and to call someone that is rude) but I think that we should be eating more whole foods and spending more time in the kitchen.  Cooking more meals at home helps us connect with our food.  Connecting with food helps us appreciate where our food comes from.  With that respect we might learn to eat with a deeper understanding and eat slowly, paying attention to hunger/fullness/satisfaction.  That doesn't mean I never eat at In 'N Out, it just means that it's not somewhere I go every night, every week or every month.  It's a "play food" that my family will eat on occasion because we enjoy it.  That is moderation.

7. I'm sick of the constant flood of new diets and religious-like zealotry of nutrition beliefs about food.  If I really stay true to my IE roots, then my body dictates my food choices and I tune into that. So if I want to eat more organic, locally sourced food because that's what makes me feel better, then bully for me!  If your body says to eat gluten-free because you think that you feel better because of it, then good for you.  Either way, my diet is my business and I'll be happy to respect yours as well.  That being said, I do have one caveat: if you are going through each different diet plan--one after the next--with the goal of losing weight, then that's where I have an issue because when our diet mentality drives our food choices, we lose sight of the big picture and ignore really listening to what our bodies are telling us.

8. I believe that children are naturally intuitive eaters and that if we, as parents, just take a step back and help foster that skill, many of the food issues we deal with as adults might never be passed on to our kids.  I believe that using a division of responsibility with feeding kids is vital to helping children learn to trust their own bodies internal signs of hunger and fullness.  It's my responsibility to plan a balanced meal with "play" foods and "growing" foods and it's my kids' responsibility to eat, choosing whatever is on the plate and how much of it they choose.

9. Lastly, I believe that we are diverse in our body size and in our eating habits.  As a private practice dietitian it is my goal to provide an environment where my clients can learn to trust themselves around food, to accept their body, to become confident in their cravings, to help them learn what moderation means for them, to help them feel confident around food, to find the joy of movement and to learn to stop worrying about food and enjoy life.

I know that some of these beliefs might seem in conflict with each other but that is why I struggle.  I guess I'm not very black and white with my beliefs.  I sort of fall in the middle on many issues which can make it a challenge to find an identity as a dietitian.

So here I'll stay in the middle ground, enjoying the world around me and hopefully finding some friends along the way who agree with a little, some or most of what I believe.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Weight Stigma: Bad for the Body and Mind and Soul

This past week, I was fortunate enough to attend a symposium on the UCLA campus on Weight Stigma that was organized by a campus research group, Dish Lab.  It was a very interesting day and I learned a lot. 

Some high level things that really stood out to me were things like this:

  • Dr. Abigail Saguy discussed how the media frames the issue of weight.  If we frame it as a public health crisis we have the potential to unintentionally create negative consequences for anyone who is heavy.  
  • Dr. A. Janet Tomiyama presented some of her research that showed being told you are too fat correlates to higher BMI later in life.  Weight stigma leads to increased stress which then leads to increased cortisol levels.  Those high levels of cortisol may then lead to and trigger more weight gain which leads to more stigma.  
  • The keynote speaker, Dr. Brenda Major, shared how stigmatization leads to negative health-related behaviors. She also discussed that unlike other minority groups that might be stigmatized, those who are heavy tend not identify as a group or express pride in being a member of the group.  

As I sat there, I thought more and more about how weight stigma is so pervasive in our society.  From individuals to the media to even government, "obesity" is bad and if you have that "disease" you have a problem that needs to be fixed.  You are a burden on the healthcare system and you need to change. But what I finally realized was this: if you agree with Dr. Major's assertion that stigmatization leads to unhealthy behaviors then we need to understand what are these unhealthy behaviors.  It dawned on me like a lightning bolt: "Maybe the most common unhealthy behavior that anyone whose been stigmatized because of their weight has engaged in is dieting."

If you are heavy and feel shamed because of it (like many people do), you'll do anything to change that feeling of shame.  And unfortunately, the only way most people know how to fix it is to try to lose weight by going on a diet, and they might succeed for a short time but then the law of averages will likely take over and just like the other 95%, they will regain their weight and all of a sudden they are back to square one.

Just today, Evelyn Tribole, co-author of Intuitive Eating tweeted this:

It was an intersting research article discussing glucocorticoids and how they may play a role in weight gain.  Ever been shamed, made to feel less than or discriminated against?  It's pretty stressful.  Ever go on a diet or feel an intense drive to lose weight?  It's pretty stressful.  If we take some information from this article then we see that continued stress plays a role in our eating behavior.  BOOM!  Lighting bolt again for me.  Weight stigma, stress, dieting may be a cycle of events that dooms us to a constant struggle with our bodies and with food.

In the end, the day was more than just a day of learning, it was one of those days that was a real game-changer for me.  It solidified what I already know is true about Intuitive Eating and making peace with food but it added a new and very important layer to that understanding: feeling shamed because of your weight is not just bad for your ego, but it's bad for your health.  Although I wish we could change society and how we view those who are heavy, I can't.  So instead we need to start by changing how we view ourselves. Learning to accept and appreciate the body you have today is vital to learning to have a healthy relationship with food.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday

Late last week I got a tweet from Debra Riedesel, RD, LD (@NutritionistaRD) asking if I'd participate in the Registered Dietitian version of What I Ate Wednesday.  Check out the #WIAW and #WIAWRD hashtags to learn more. 

Honestly, I only reluctantly agreed.  My hesitation was and is this: as an intuitive eater, I really do honor my cravings while also listening to my body so sometimes my food choices are not "typical" for a dietitian.  Publicizing what I ate for a day would open me up for judgement not just from the readers of my blog but my colleagues.  I could have taken the easy way out and eaten like anyone else does when they are being judged--perfectly health with all the right amounts of fruits and veggies--but that's not me.  I'm not a vegan, I don't eat 100% organic and I add real sugar to my coffee.  I eat well but not "perfect" so for me it was a scary proposition to do this.  But, as I wrote earlier this week, I can be a slave to fear, so to continue to break free, I decided to participate.  As I thought about it more, I realized it's a perfect opportunity to explain how you use intuitive eating on a day-to-day basis.  With that in mind, with each photo, I'll explain not only what I ate but also give you insights into how hungry I was when I started to eat, how full I was when I stopped and how satisfied I was after.  Hopefully you will find it interesting and check you judgement at the door.

Breakfast: non-fat greek yogurt, an almond butter and homemade jelly sandwich, an apple and a cup of coffee.  I ate this meal at work. I usually get into the office at 6am and eat at my desk. Because the day is ramping up and there are many distractions, I usually spread this meal out over about an hour or so.  
Hunger level: 5 out of 10.  Fullness level: 5 out of 10.  Satisfaction: 6 out of 10

What I Ate Wednesday
Non-fat Greek Yogurt, apple and almond butter and jelly sandwich

Where I work, we're lucky to have a different food truck come by each day of the week.  I like to go down to the trucks because I like the variety of foods that are offered and I really love the fact that I can get some really delicious meals depending on the truck.  If I don't eat at the truck I usually get a sandwich or salad from our hospital food court.  On this day, the truck served Mexican food and I ordered a shrimp burrito with rice, fajita veggies and cheese with a bottle of water.  
Hunger level 7 out of 10 (I got out there late because I was busy). Fullness level: 6 out of 10 (with 1/4 burrito left) Satisfaction: 5 out of 10.  Not the best burrito I've ever had but it was pretty good.

What I Ate Wednesday
Shrimp Burrito

This particular Wednesday was a little unusual because I was not going home right after work.  Once a month I go to the Elyse Resch's office with other health care professionals for a Intuitive Eating Supervision session.  It's a great experience to sit with one of the authors of this book and learn together. 

Since I wasn't going home, I had some time to kill on the westside of LA and so I ran over to The Original Farmers Market to buy some horseradish for our Seder but I figured it would be a nice place to walk around before the meeting.  As I was walking, a hipster cup of coffee sounded good so I went over to Short Cake (owned by Nancy Silverton and Amy Pressman).  I got a cup of "pour over coffee" and watched all the people walking by.  True "me time" and what a treat! 

What I Ate Wednesday
Hipster coffee

If you have ever been with me when it comes to choosing what to eat, you might have observed that I hate a lot of choices.  It overwhelms me so the less options the better.  As I walked around, there were so many options of places to eat that my head was swimming.  Chinese, Cajun, Spanish tapas, Mexican, Irish, pizza, vegan, French, Greek, seafood, Middle Eastern and hamburgers were just some of the options.  I was also honestly obsessing about #WIAWRD so I had a seat and started to really think about what I wanted.  I also realized that I could probably check online to see what's near me and really make a choice that was right for me.  And all of a sudden, the haze lifted, and like a bolt from above I saw that there was a Mendocino Farms Sandwich Market just across the street. Halleluyah, baby!  I love me a good sandwich and from all that I've heard, this place is very good.  So I strolled across the street and when I walked in the first sandwich that caught my eye was called "A Sandwich Study in Heat"  Perfecto!  Turkey with a chili aoli, lettuce, avocado, gouda, and jalapeno relish.  Right up my alley.  I also got a side of quinoa with spinach and beets.  What a treat!
Hunger level: 5 out of 10. Fullness level 6 out of 10 (with 1/4 sandwich left). Satisfaction 9 out of 10!

What I Ate Wednesday
A Sandwich Study in Heat with quinoa beets and spinach

By the time I got home from my session it was 9:15pm and I was tired and inspired at the same time. It had been a great session and my mind was buzzing even though I was really beat (hey, I get up at 4:45am!).  I wanted a treat so I had some Trader Joe's cookies and a 1/2 glass of soy milk to wrap up my day.  Hunger level 3 out of 10. Fullness level 2 out of 10. Satisfaction level 7 out of 10.  

What I Ate Wednesday
Cookies and soy milk

The WIAW Dietitian Tag! #WIAWRD
This blog post is a part of a ‘dietitian tag’ to see what other registered dietitians from around the world really eat!
To carry on this tag all you need to do is:
1) Copy and paste this section (marked within the ******) to the bottom of your WIAW blog post.
2) Tweet/Facebook the link using the hashtag #WIAWRD (What I Ate Wednesday Registered Dietitian).
3) Add your blog post link into the section below.
4) ‘Tag’ 2-3 other dietitians to carry on the tag via email! – Tags coming soon
Previous WIAW Blog Posts (add yours here along with where you’re from!):
Nic’s Nutrition – Weekend Edition (West Yorkshire, UK)
Gemma Critchley, Dietitian Without Borders (Liverpool, UK)
Nic’s Nutrition – Week Day Edition (West Yorkshire, UK)
Helen West, Food & Nonsense (Uluwatu, Bali)
Diana Chard, Bite My Words (Nova Scotia, Canada)
Mark McGill, Glipho (Ottawa, Canada)
Debra, Sensitive Dietitian’s (Iowa,Florida, New Jersey, USA)
Aaron Flores, Balance Variety and Moderation RDN (Los Angeles, CA)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How an Intuitive Eater-Environmentally Conscious-Fighter For Social Equality-Dietitian Celebrates Passover

As far as Jewish holidays go, Passover is one of my favorites.  As a child, I loved it because of the food.  My memories are filled with fantastic brisket, homemade gefilte fish and matzah with chopped liver.  As I've become and adult, Passover is still my favorite holiday but now for different reasons. There's still the food, of course, but now I love the meaning.  

Recently my wife and I have started to host Seder for our families.  It's always a special night for us because we try to take some time to plan a haggadah that brings meaning to our families.  Before I go too far, though, let me explain a little about Passover for all the non-Jews reading.

Passover is the holiday that is celebrated in the spring, around the same time as Easter.  The holiday is celebrated in many ways but the primary way that most families celebrate with a meal called the Seder. In this meal we read from the haggadah.  The haggadah is a road map, if you will.  It explains symbols, tells you when to recite certain blessings and most importantly, it tells us the story of the Exodus.  The story of the Exodus recounts the Jewish bondage in Egypt and how Moses, with the help of 10 plagues, freed the Jews from slavery.  If you want a recap of that, try watching the Ten Commandments.  

The story of the Exodus is not why I'm writing this blog, though. I'm writing because Passover is meaningful on so many levels.  We celebrate Passover to remind us that we were slaves, to remind us of the sadness and bitterness of slavery and to help us remember that slavery is still around us today and it's our duty to help those enslaved to find their freedom.  

Slavery is a very important theme of the Seder and as the holiday approaches, I thought a lot about that from many different perspectives.  I've thought about it as an advocate of Intuitive Eating.  In that sense, I think of those that are a slave to a diet,  imprisoned by food choices and without freedom to eat what they love.  As someone that sees a broken food system, I see slaves all around.  From those workers that don't receive a fair wage for growing or picking my food, to the animals that are mistreated in commercial feedlots.  As an individual, I notice how I'm a slave.  

My slavery is not in the literal sense but I think of what really holds me back.  The thing that I am a slave to is fear.  I'm fearful that I won't succeed in business.  I fear that with every new blog post that no one will read it or that I'll say something that will offend someone.  It's that kind of fear that holds me back from doing what I love, from putting myself out there and from really trying as hard as I can. Fear is what makes me think I'm not as good as others in my field. It's fear that stops me from putting on my running shoes and getting back on the pavement. 

Mine might be fear but we all have our own forms of internal "slavery" that hold us back.  I like Passover because it's time to reflect on this issue and try to be better in the next year.  Even though it's uncomfortable to think about, I like that this holiday is a safe way for me to reflect.

Let me share with you how an Intuitive Eating loving, environmentally conscious, fighter for social equality, dietitian, father, husband and Jew honors the spirit of Passover in our annual Seder and after:  
  1. We buy only grass-fed, humanely raised beef.  We choose a local ranch Novy Ranches as our purveyor of choice. If you want to see the brisket recipe I use, read this post I wrote a while back. 
  2. We make our own gefilte fish using wild caught salmon and halibut.  You can find that recipe here.  
  3. When purchasing foods for our Seder, we try to buy Organic and local products when possible
  4. As we eat our dinner, I will slowly and listen to my body.  I will stop when satisfied and try not to eat to uncomfortable fullness. 
  5. My wife and I supplement our traditional haggadah with readings that help our family and friends reflect about their own personal experiences with Passover.
  6. Despite the fear, I continue to put myself out there.  Each post is a labor of love and my thoughts are my own and I have to learn that I should not apologize for believing what I believe.
  7. No matter how scary, I will continue to network and build a name for myself.
  8. I will fight to keep fear at bay but also remember to acknowledge that my fear is real but it is only my perception.  
I hope you've enjoyed this post and if you celebrate Passover, I'd love to hear how you celebrate your Seder.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's...I Wish

I thought of many different April Fools jokes I could play on my readers/followers but then I realized the truth can be even more foolish than a prank.  A diet so laughable that it sounds like a joke but sadly it is real.  So, here's the first (and hopefully last) edition of the "Real Life Weight Loss Plan I Wish Was A Joke."

My friends, I present to you the 5-Bite Diet.  This awesomely horrible diet is based on the book, Why Weight Around by Dr. Alwin Lewis.  The plan is simple: eat 5 bites of anything you want at lunch and 5 bites of anything you want for dinner.  All you need to follow this plan is the ability to count to 10. Sounds easy enough, right?  I know what you're thinking, "Only 10 bites each day? Won't I get hungry?"  Sure you will but here's the good news: you get to drink as much no-calorie drinks as you like.  Woohoo.  Rejoice.  As much diet soda, water, or tea as you like.  You might also be thinking, "What about all the vitamins and minerals my body needs?  Is 10 bites a day enough to get those essential vitamins and minerals?" The good Dr. Lewis has you covered by having you take one multivitamin each day (which does not count as one of our 10 bites, thank goodness).

Why 5 bites per day you might ask? Dr. Lewis says it's like having your own gastric bypass and that over time your stomach will shrink.  And with eating only 10 bites, the weight will just come off.  Wow, you think, Doc?  Dr. Lewis should get an award for such forward thinking.  Let's have someone lose weight quickly on a plan that they can't sustain and--viola--call it a day.

Dr. Lewis cares, though.  He doesn't want you to fail so you can pay $50 a year to join his online community and have access to his membership boards and weight loss tracker.  If that's not enough support, for $2,000 you can get weekly sessions with Dr. Lewis for 3 months.  That's 12 sessions at $166.67 per session.  Sound expensive?  Well, think of all the money you save if you are only eating 10 bites per day.

I don't even know where to start on this one.  First of all, I'm appalled that he's getting away with this. This is such a ludicrous plan that I'm surprised it's even still around.  Secondly, what kind of integrity does this man have?  I don't think I've ever seen a diet promote disordered eating patterns more than this one.  Shame on Dr. Lewis for fueling this behavior.  My hope is that this is the last time we ever hear of this diet.  May it fade away into oblivion where it belongs.  Sadly though, there will be more like these to come and I will have to write another post like this next April Fools Day.

In the mean time, don't be a fool.  Listen to your body.  Trust that you have the skill to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.  Make peace with food and say goodbye to your restrictive behavior.  Love your body, no matter what shape.  You are worth the space you take up.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Oy Vey, Again With the Candy!

One of the hardest things about people really embracing Intuitive Eating is that there's a lot of gray area when it comes to eating.  There are few things that are really black and white when it comes to Intuitive Eating so there are a lot of nuances that we can learn about ourselves as we learn to listen to our bodies. I like this gray area. It means I'm thinking about it rather than just being passive.

With that context in mind, I'm feeling very conflicted about something and I'm going to try to lay out why this issue has me going back and forth.  Being Jewish, one of the lesser known holidays (to non-Jews) is Purim.  I'm not a Jewish educator (like my wife), so I'll leave it up to you go read about the full meaning of the day but let's just say it's one of those holidays where we really celebrate!  Think costumes, carnivals, parties and of course, food.  One of the mitzvahs of Purim is to hand out food to friends and family.  The food that is handed out is called "mishloah manot."  Given today's food culture, you can imagine what kind of food gets handed out these days.  The traditional food is a cookie shaped liked a triangle called hamantashen but these days it doesn't stop there.  Since we've had kids, I've paid more attention to the food we receive and I'm noticing more and more candy and less traditional items.  Basically, it's turned into Halloween for the Jews.

Why do we give out food?  The reason comes from the Book of Esther.  There's a passage in there that says,
"the days wherein the Jews had rest from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to gladness, and from mourning into a good day; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor." Esther 9:22 (emphasis mine)
I wonder how "sending portions one to another" turned into giving our kids bags and bags of candy?

So here's my dilema: I treat the holiday the same way I do Halloween (which you can read about here).  I use Ellyn Satter's principles to help our kids build trust in themselves as competent eaters.  On Purim, just like Halloween, I trust them with their bags of candy.  They have permission to eat their candy and they know how to self-regulate when it comes to how much is enough in one sitting.  I try not to label the food as "good" or "bad" (which is very hard for me) and I give them space to make their own food choices.  But even though I trust my kids, I am questioning "Why is candy the default choice for sending food?   Why has the 'sending portions one to another' become food that is not worthy of really being called food at all?"

My kids are responsible eaters.  I trust them with a bag of candy and they do not abuse that trust. They don't binge and they don't eat it all in one sitting, but I worry about the other kids who are not being raised to be competent eaters.  I worry about how parents are going to take away their kids candy or throw it away, or make their kids feel bad for eating it.  I worry that, as a community, we are sending the wrong message about how we should eat.  I worry that I'm being too judgemental about this as well. I mean if I really feel like there are no "good foods" or "bad foods" than why do I care that my kids get piles of candy?  I care because I am a member of the community.  I care because I'm a parent.  I care because some of this stuff is not really food at all.  I care because I want us all to have a healthy relationship with food.

It's not a black or white issue.  There is no right or wrong here.  There is just gray area and room for discussion and maybe a better understanding of what are we feeding our children.  My hope is that we begin to look a little closer to the true meaning of the day instead of just another opportunity to give out candy that turns my kid's tongues blue.

Here's just some of this year's loot:

candy from Purim 2014

Instead of the emphasis on food and candy, why not find a different meaning to focus on.  Like the maybe the tweet below can give us a good place to start.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Even A Dietitian's Kid Throws a Food Tantrum

I write a lot about feeding kids so as a parent and a dietitian, I guess I've become sort of an expert on the topic.  I haven't put in my 10,000 hours yet but hey, it's about progress not perfection right.

Anyway, just because of my training, beliefs and experience, by no means is my family immune to the dreaded "food tantrum".  So take a seat, fasten your safety belt because you are going to hear what happens in the Flores household when one of our kids loses it...over food.

Before I go any further though I need to put in a disclaimer and sign-post for you.  I'm sharing this experience with you all to show that even with the best intentions, there are always going to be bumps in the road.  Also, our food choices and methods are our own. It's a combination of Ellyn Satter and Intuitive Eating but it's not 100% in alignment with each of these but it works for us. That being said, here we go.

The real tantrum that exploded onto us on Sunday night was over dessert.  Yes dessert.  Part of the meal that 99.9% of the time is handled perfectly well with our kids.  But not this time.  This past Sunday though one of my kids went all atomic on us because all he wanted was a cookie.  Literally 30 minutes of screaming and crying that almost all consisted of, "Daaaaaaahdeeee I want a coooooookie!!!!" over the simple request for a cookie.  

So why didn't he get a cookie for dessert?  Well we have a simple rule in our house that we've had in place since the kids have been born.  If we have one very sweet dessert during the day, we don't have another sweet dessert at night.  We still have dessert but something less sweet.  We don't use those words with the kids though.  We use the words "play food" and "growing food" in our house.  Regardless of what words you use, simply put, if we have a lot of play food (sweets) during the day, we try to have some growing food (less sweet) for dessert.  

This past Sunday, the day of the event in question, we had another in a series of global warming winter days.  That is to say it was warm.  86 degrees warm and we just left a soccer game where we were sitting out in the sun for 60 minutes.  We were hot and we all wanted something cool so as a treat we decided to go get shaved ice...which everyone thoroughly enjoyed.  Well because of the shaved ice earlier in the day we were not going to have another sweet for dinner.  Again, not a new rule but for some reason it really didn't fly that night and before we knew it, we were in full tantrum mode!

Tantrums are the worst!  All you want is for it to end but it won't.  There's no quick end to it.  It's one of those things that once the tantrum is in motion, nothing is going to stop it so you better just buckle up and ride it out.  And when the tantrum revolves around food, it adds another layer of complexity to it (at least for me.) 

So what did we do to get it to stop? We gave him the cookie of course.  I mean c'mon, the kids rule the house right?  So we just said, "Sorry to make you so upset.  Of course you can have a cookie, just stop crying."  NOT.  We tried to reason, we tried to explain but to no avail.  The screaming and crying continued. "Daaaaaahdeeeeeee. I juuuust want a cooookkkeeeeee!!"  

What did we do then if giving in to it was not an option?  We stayed consistent with our previous actions is what we did.  Believe me, my wife and I each lost it at various times during the tantrum but we stayed unified and rode out the storm.  Eventually our kids calmed down and a hug and some cuddling brought the situation to a close but it was not a pretty scene in our house when that was going on.  Once the dust settled though the tantrum was over and everyone was back to normal in just a few minutes.  From DEFCON 5 we quickly went back down to "situation normal". 

Here's the interesting thing though, after about 5-10 minutes of crying, the tantrum was not really about the cookie anymore.  It was about getting his way and the cookie was just the fuel to that fire.  As my wife and I looked back on it we also realized that the tantrum was probably never really about the cookie.  The kid was tired from a busy day, a fun sleepover the night before and from playing in a soccer game.  And I'm sure the hour time change because of daylight savings was a factor too.  

So, why share this experience with you?  Because even with the best plans for "normal eating" and division of responsibility, there will be issues.  It's inevitable.  The key is how do you handle it when it happens.  Will you stay consistent?  Will you cave in to stop it?

Have you had a tantrum over food?  If so, how'd you handle it?  What did you learn from it?  As always, I look forward to your comments.