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Eat Slowly to Eat Less (and 7 Tips on How To)

March 8, 2014 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD

When I eat out (which isn’t very often), an appetizer and a few bites into the entrée are enough to make me full, and I am not one of these people with small appetites. They say it takes 20 minutes for our brain to register satiety, and the customary interlude between courses in restaurants and dining in company slows me down, which does the trick for me.

Unfortunately, I manage to eat slowly only when I’m with others.

Is this just my subjective feeling, or is there solid evidence to back the common weight-control advice to take your time with your meal?

Longer meal, fewer calories

A study reported in the British Medical Journal showed that the odds of being overweight were three times greater for people who reported eating quickly and until full than for people who ate slowly and stopped eating before they felt stuffed. There are several other studies that gather self-reported eating rates, which can be unreliable.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when volunteers took large bites, rather than smaller ones, they ate about 100 calories more of chocolate custard. This kind of interventional study actually puts people in a test-meal environment, and empirically tests the rate of eating and the quantities consumed. Studies such as this have shown mixed results.

A new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also took the experimental approach. The researchers recruited 35 normal weight and 35 overweight and obese volunteers and fed them two meals of what most of the participants thought was delicious pasta with vegetables (many participants asked for the recipe). One of the meals was eaten quickly, while during the other, people were asked to take small bites, chew thoroughly, and put the spoon down between bites, with the slow meal lasting about 13 minutes longer.

Slow eating affected normal-weight people more than it did overweight participants: The normal-weight slow eaters shaved an average 88 calories compared with their fast-paced meal. For overweight volunteers, the difference was smaller: just 58 calories, which was not statistically significant. Everyone drank more water with the slow meal (water was offered freely at all occasions). An interesting finding was that overweight and obese participants ate less in both the slow and the fast meals compared with the normal-weight participants. This is not the first study that observes that overweight people consume less than expected when eating with peers—they might be self-conscious when eating in public, and that might affect the results of such studies.

Both groups reported they were less hungry an hour after the slow meal compared with the fast one.

7 tips for slow(er) eating

Most of the evidence suggests that the rate at which we eat affects how much we eat. So here are seven tips to help you eat more slowly and mindfully:

1. Eat with company: This is important on so many levels. My daughter is a super-slow eater; I try to pace myself to her rhythm (but just can’t manage it).

2. Small courses: You don’t have to prepare several courses. You can serve yourself a small amount of the one course you prepared, take a short break, and then decide if you’re going for seconds.

3. Sit at a table: When you eat on the go, in front of the computer (my vice), or over the sink (my husband’s favorite spot), you can hardly take your time. Eating on your feet definitely doesn’t make it go to your hips or thighs, but overeating deposits fat everywhere.

4. Chew: I don’t suggest you count to the 32 suggested by The Great Masticator. That would interfere with tip #1, but keeping the food in your mouth a bit longer, and not swallowing it whole, is a good idea.

5. Put down your fork between bites: or your spoon, or your chopsticks, or even your pizza, sandwich, or apple.

6. Solids are better: Food that’s ready to swallow goes down way too fast. Avoid liquid calories, and foods that are so processed that neither your hands nor your mouth have any work to do. The more fiber in your food, the more chewing it requires.

7. Drink: Sipping water with your meal forces you to slow down, and at the same time, distends your stomach, sending satiety signals to your brain.

Oh, there’s also an app for slow eating, and even a fork that vibrates in your mouth if your bites are too frequent. These, too, interfere with tip #1, which at least for me, is the most important of all.

Dr. Ayala is a pediatrician, mother, artist, serious home cook, and founder of Herbal Water Inc., in Wynnewood, PA.

10 Tips for Reducing Stress and Managing Picky Eaters During Holiday Meals

December 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD

Now that food-focused holidays are here, here are some tips for helping picky eaters and reducing mealtime stress. With a little planning, a day focused on food can be fun, not frustrating!

  • Emphasize to your child that these holidays are about family, not food. Reinforce that no food requirements or expectations will be placed on the child. This allows your child to enjoy the family celebration, instead of worrying about the meal.
  • Be sure there are one or two items on the table that your child will enjoy, but do not cater to the picky eater (this could be bread and butter, milk, corn, etc.). If you will be a guest, offer to bring a side you know your child will eat.
  • If family members frequently comment on your child’s eating habits, gently explain, “We are working on expanding Jane’s food repertoire and therefore we are not making food-focused comments during meals. We would really appreciate it if you could follow our lead!”  (This includes all iterations of “just try this,” “eat more,”  “clean your plate,” and “you are wasting food” comments.)  Along this line, be sure you let your child enjoy the holiday and avoid pressuring or commenting on food to your child.
  • If the thought of eating with all the grownups overwhelms your child, consider a kiddie table, but do not feed children before the big meal or serve them different food.
  • Let your child fill his/her own plate, if old enough. This gives your child control and reduces food anxiety.
  • Children learn a lot from parents. If the holidays stress you, it will stress them. Relax and set a good example.
  • A great way to encourage children to enjoy the meal is to have them help prepare for the meal. This could be help with meal planning, cooking, setting the table, or shopping.
  • A child that comes to the holiday table hungry (but not starving) is more likely to eat, so don’t overdo the appetizers.
  • If you have not already, teach your child to say “no thank you,” instead of “YUCK” to avoid a critical eye cast on your child by family members!
  • While we normally recommend that children take one bite of all new foods served, avoid this at holiday meals. (This “one bite rule” allows children to  put any food they don’t like into a napkin. It is best to avoid this around guests that may not be aware of this rule and be offended.)

Teach your child that at mealtime it is socially acceptable to:

● Pick and choose from what is offered that meal or snack.
● Decline certain foods, once a bite is sampled.
● Choose to eat only one or two food items.
● Leave uneaten food on the plate.
● Take more of one food even if other food is left uneaten.

It is not acceptable for your child to:

● Make an issue or scene around food refusal.
● Request food that is not on the table.
● Fidget or fuss during meals.

It is not acceptable for you to:

● Bribe, guilt, force, or cajole your child to eat.
● Discuss what your child is eating (or not eating!) or focus the topic of food at meals. (This one is hard at holiday meals, when everyone comments on the food.)
● Withhold dessert based on not eating a proper amount (whatever you think this is).

Dr. Gardner is a mom of a three-year-old son, a pediatrician, and the founder of an online child wellness and weight management company, HealthyKidsCompany.com, in Washington, DC.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD? Here’s her recent blog about Halloween safety tips.


Growing Healthy Eaters

May 30, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Stacey Weiland, MD

Getting our kids to eat right is no easy task. Our schedules are tight, and we are constantly driving from one activity to another. Poor food choices are readily available, and are often just easier to prepare. The last thing we as parents of today want to deal with is our child refusing to eat something we have put together.

We know what our kids are supposed to consume. According to the American Heart Association, children between the ages of 2 and 3 should have 2 cups of milk or dairy, 1 cup of fruit, 1 cup of vegetables, 3 ounces of grains, and 2 ounces of lean meat or beans daily. Fats should be limited to 30 to 35 percent of all calories.

Probably the most difficult food on the list is the vegetables, particularly the dark-green varieties. According to the 2004 Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study, children typically eat more fruits than vegetables, with 25 percent eating less than one vegetable per day.

Why is it so difficult for us to get enough vegetables into our children? Some hypothesize that our preference for sweet- over bitter-tasting foods is evolutionary in nature. Sweet flavors connote the presence of sugar, a quick form of energy, while bitter-tasting foods may harbor the presence of toxic substances or poisons. In fact, studies demonstrate that a person’s preference for bitter foods (e.g., dark-green vegetables) and beverages (e.g., coffee) are largely learned.

Putting our children on the path toward healthy eating may begin even before birth. A child’s prenatal exposure to certain food flavors have been shown to lead to greater acceptance and enjoyment of these foods during weaning. In a study by Mennella et al, published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2001, infants whose mothers drank carrot juice during the last trimester of pregnancy were more likely to enjoy carrot-flavored cereals than those infants whose mothers did not drink carrot juice or eat carrots.

Food ingested by mothers who are breastfeeding also has an impact on a child’s later diet tendencies. A variety of food flavors are transmitted to human milk. Breastfed infants tend to be less picky, are more willing to try new foods, and tend to consume more fruits and vegetables compared with formula-fed infants.

Transitioning babies to solid foods is the first real opportunity that children have to taste these foods for themselves. It is generally recommended that babies be given yellow vegetables first, followed by green vegetables, and then fruits. One interesting study by Forestell et al, published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2007, found that children who were fed peaches shortly after they were given green beans, during the first 8 days of exposure to green beans, tended to be more accepting of this dark-green vegetable later on. Associating the bitter food with sweetness appeared to make this food more palatable.

Repeated exposure and modeling are also very important. Children tend to be more accepting of foods if they are offered it on multiple occasions. Don’t forget that you as a parent need to eat healthy, too. Your child is constantly watching you. Good habits in eating are learned not just by what you say, but by what you do.

Mommy MD Guides-Recommended Product Review: Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables

November 2, 2012 by  
Filed under J.Bright

Do Your Kids Eat Their Fruits and Veggies?

by Mommy MD Guides cofounder Jennifer Bright

The best part of my job is the fascinating people I get to meet and work with. The second best part of my job is discovering new and exciting products—and sharing them with our readers, friends, and family. I’m pleased to have that opportunity today! I heard about a new DVD that encourages kids to eat fruits and vegetables, Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables–and I was eager to give it a try!

Any movie starring babies and kids captivates my sons. They were huge Baby Einsteins fans. We watched those DVDs over and over and over. My sons also love to watch home movies of themselves and their cousins. So I wasn’t surprised that they enjoyed watching Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables, which features adorable kids enjoying eating fresh foods such as sweet peppers, broccoli, avocados, strawberries, and carrots. My five-year-old son especially loved it. As we were watching, he asked, “Is there a strawberry section?” Each fruit and veggie has its own chapter on the menu, so it was easy for me to oblige and put on the strawberries chapter. As we watched it, my son said, “I should eat strawberries while we watch the strawberry section!” Never mind we just ate supper! This made me very happy because fruit is not a common between-meals request here!

When we were watching the cucumbers chapter, my son asked, “What’s that?” I’ll be buying some cucumbers at the grocery store next time so he can give them a try! Maybe they’ll be a new favorite!

Don’t miss the Outtakes, Some of them made me laugh out loud! Also, the extras section by Jay Gordon, MD, is very valuable. I love how he said, “The standard American diet is best abbreviated “SAD.” Sad, but true.

After we finished watching the DVD, I asked how my son he liked the video and he said, “I give it a 10,000!” (That’s on a scale of 1 to 10, I’m thinking.) I also found the kids in the DVD to be absolutely adorable. I appreciated that they show their names and ages onscreen because it helps to put their reactions to the fruits and vegetables into context.

I was so pleased to read that Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables is the first of the series. I look forward to the next DVD! Copy-Kids gives parents a valuable tool in their quest to get the kids to eat healthy. The kids are so engaging and happy eating their fruits and vegetables that it inspired me to eat better too!

Enter here through the end of November for a chance to win a Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables PLUS a $25 Whole Foods Gift Card!

Check our blog page in early December for our next Mommy MD Guides-Recommended (and Kid-Tested) Product review: Bumkins Bib!

The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.