Tag: feeding kids

The Truth about the BMI

The Truth about the BMI

The Truth about the BMI

by Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN, Whole Nutrition Services


BMI is a term you might have heard of — through either your doctor or a health article or maybe even your child’s teacher. If you don’t know what it is, the initials stand for Body Mass Index, and it is determined by making a calculation using your height and weight. The BMI categories are Underweight (any BMI less than 18.5), Normal (18.5-24.9), Overweight (25-29.9) and Obese (30 or more). These categories are taken very seriously by some in the medical community. The Harvard School of Medicine believes that measuring BMI can tell you if a person is at a “healthy weight,” while WebMD says “it’s important for your health to understand what it is and to know your number.”  Yet Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania researchers believe it does not accurately measure body fat content, or consider attributes like muscle mass, bone density, overall body composition, race and gender. The BBC says that by itself, BMI can’t predict what diseases we will or won’t get.

I believe the BMI can be both misleading and quite damaging. This is something I speak about at length in the Women’s Health Body Clock Diet and my former blogs at Mom Dishes It Out and Laura Cipullo LLC. I certainly do not use it to measure my own, my clients’ or my children’s health.

The BMI reduces poor health to being caused by just one issue – weight. With its’ categories, it clumps bodies to fit into “healthy” and “not healthy” boxes when the science doesn’t always back that up. These categories can lead you to assume that everything above a 24.9 is a problem. But this is not proven. In adults, only BMI measurements of more than 35 or less than 18.5 are affiliated with higher mortality. In fact, as TIME points out,  “some studies show that people with higher BMI tend to be healthier and have lower premature death rates than those with lower BMI.” Overweight and healthy are not mutually exclusive categories. It is entirely possible to be both. And it is possible to be thin and unhealthy. Researchers from Oxford Brookes University discovered that more than a third of 3,000 people who were measured as having a “normal, healthy” BMI were potentially likely to have cardiovascular disease, something you might think only affects those who are overweight. Athletes also may naturally have a higher BMI, and even the CDC admits that it is not sure the overall BMI requirements should extend to them. The CDC’s list of health consequences associated with a high BMI also do not necessarily apply to everyone whose BMI is higher than 30: Mental illness, certain types of cancer, and low quality of life are a few of the things a person with a high BMI is supposedly at risk of, but I’m sure there are plenty of folks in this category who are living and will continue to live happy, healthy lives with BMIs over 30, and many affected by those issues who have a “normal” BMI.

You can see, then, how taking the BMI as gospel could lead you down a dangerous road. Your health choices are your own, but I would personally not see a healthcare professional who uses the BMI as a health tool.

Health is a complicated thing, and it’s not something that can always be relegated to numbers. We have to see the bigger picture, and that’s what the Health at Every Size movement is all about. BMIs can make a person obsessed with numbers, which is such a terrible thing to do to folks who already feel biased against for being a certain weight. People with eating disorders fight daily with an obsession to hit a certain number on a scale, and an obsession with hitting a BMI can lead to similar negative consequences. Dieting to get to a lower BMI can be physically dangerous as well. As I mentioned in the Women’s Health Body Clock Diet, “The famed Framingham Heart Study showed that weight cycling (aka yo-yoing) as a result of restrictive dieting is something that is indeed associated with higher mortality and cardiac disease. It’s actually healthier to be at a higher set weight than to allow your weight to fluctuate up and down by 20 pounds.” Putting pressure on your child to be at a certain BMI can set them up for an unhealthy relationship with food for life. Remember that as a parent you are a role model. Don’t put your child on any kind of fad diet in an effort to achieve any arbitrary weight goals. Body dissatisfaction, body shaming and eating disorders are some of the things a focus on BMI can do to kids.

That being said, you should know that there is a chance your child will get screened for BMI in school. One agency – the Institute of Medicine – endorses that, but others – including the CDC– do not. New York, Arkansas and California are some of the states that do BMI screening for children in schools. BMIs are also part of the FitnessGram. If your child does bring the results of a BMI screening from school, consider asking your child if they have any questions about this screening. Whatever you do, don’t place urgency on it and restrict your child. Be curious. Ask yourself questions such as, Is my child active on a daily basis? Does my child eat in respect to his/her body? Does my child eat all foods without guilt? Does my child hide their food? This is not a question of how many veggies are they eating. Rather, is your child getting caught up in using food or restricting food for emotional reasons? Any concern you have about your child’s health should be discussed with your pediatrician and/or registered dietitian specializing in the prevention and treatment of eating disorders or HAES. And always remember, choose healthcare professionals who share the same All Foods Fit, All Bodies Fit value system you do.




Favorite Summer Meals to Eat Before Summer is Over

Favorite Summer Meals to Eat Before Summer is Over

Favorite Summer Meals to Eat Before Summer is Over

By Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

Summer is not over yet! Give some of a my favorite summer recipes a try!

California Grilled Chicken

(Recipe hint: Serve over Zoodles!)

Grilled Pork Tacos with Mango Salsa

(Recipe Hint: Serve with Guac!)

Easy and Yum: Steak Burrito Bowl Recipe

Trendy bowls dinners: Quinoa Chicken Bowls with a Mango Salsa

Powerhouse delivered in a bowl: High Protein Onion, Apple, Quinoa, and Kale Salad

Should you go Paleo?

Bone Broth: Should You Dig It?

Bone Broth: Should You Dig It?

Bone Broth: Should You Dig It?

Image via FreeImages.com/Jean Scheijen

by Laura Cipullo and the Whole Nutrition Services Team


As we head in to 2017, bone broth continues to lead the food trends. Wonder what it is? Is it really worth braving the farmer’s market in these cold temperatures for the expensive bones? Let’s navigate the what, the claims and the nutritional value as evidenced by research.

What is bone broth?

Bone broth is a collection of animal bones that are boiled in water and combined with different herbs and spices. It is thought to be very similar to regular soup stock – the kind your grandmother made with the chicken carcass. The biggest difference between regular soup stock and bone broth is that the bones are boiled in water for approximately 24-48 hours.  Grandma’s only boiled for about three hours.  You can drink the broth, add it as a soup base or cook with it when making foods such as mashed potatoes. The greater duration of boiling is thought to be beneficial because it allows the bones to release nutrients and minerals into the boiling water.  It is also thought that by soaking the bone, collagen, gelatin, and amino acids, which are nutrient-rich, become easier to digest.1  

What are the claims about bone broth?

Claim 1:

While there are very few if any evidence-based studies supporting bone broth’s benefits, people are consuming it regularly.  There are claims assuming collagen from the animal bones will make human’s bones stronger. In reality, your body breaks down the animal’s bones into amino acids, which are then used to build hormones and muscles, like any other source of amino acids2.  This is similar to how dietary fat is absorbed by your body and gets used to make hormones, line your nerves and does not necessarily get stored directly as fat.

Claim 2:

Time Magazine’s ‘You Asked’ writes that the book Nourishing Broth claims bone broth reduces inflammation, speeds healing, calms allergies and combats fatigue. It is a mouthful of claims that points back to the collagen found in bones and the connective tissues of the animal’s body and your body, too. When specifically focusing on collagen it is important to know that Vitamin C is needed to bind the two amino acids found in collagen (known as lysine and proline) to form pro-collagen in your body. This means if you are drinking bone broth, you need to have Vitamin C with it to get the collagen benefit (helping to make collagen in your body). But does this reduce inflammation or speed healing? Read The Collagen Connection3 for more food for thought.

Below are four of at least 14 types of collagen documented in Linus Pauling’s Unified Theory of Human Cardiovascular Disease3 by Jim English and Hyla Cass,

What is Collagen Anyway?

Type I: Makes up the fibers found in connective tissues of the skin, bone, teeth, tendons and ligaments.

Type II: Round fibers found in cartilage.

Type III: Forms connective tissues that give shape and strength to organs, such as the liver, heart, kidneys, etc.

Type IV: Forms sheets that lie between layers of cells in the blood vessels, muscles, and eye.

Continue reading “Bone Broth: Should You Dig It?”

Helping Teens Get Over Overeating

Helping Teens Get Over Overeating

Helping Teens Get Over Overeating

By Andrea Wachter, LMFT



Being a teen is not easy—having to navigate friendships, family, love interests, school, homework, hormones and future goals. And as if all that wasn’t enough, today’s teens have to contend with constant images and messages on social media, telling them how they should look, eat, exercise and feel. Many teens simply aren’t equipped to handle the traditional pressures of adolescence, as well as the additional pressures of being a “screenager.”[1]


As a society, we’re all given endless rules about food, fitness and feelings. It’s hard enough for adults to navigate all of this in our perfectionistic, plugged-in, fast-paced, image-obsessed culture. For teens, it can be really easy to slip into body hatred, depression, anxiety, addiction, food restriction or overeating—and sometimes all of these.


With diet ads, fad fear foods and air-brushed images enticing them on one end of the spectrum and supersized portions, big gulps and carb-laden drive-thru meals on the other, our culture sets up so many teens to ride the diet/riot roller coaster. Then they have the constant “shoulds” and rules about exercise, which break down their natural rhythms of movement and rest. Here, one end of the spectrum beckons them with cardio calculations and images of six-pack abs, while the magnetic pull of their screens and a good dose of hopelessness beckon them toward the couch. Constant images of perfectionistic bodies have most teens anxiously striving to look a certain way, leaving a wake of millions feeling depressed and ashamed about looking the way they do.


I started hating my body and yo-yo dieting as a teen, and because the only solutions I sought were the latest fad diet or Feel the Burn workout, my struggles escalated from there. It would be many years before I would finally unlearn the cultural craziness and relearning the natural wisdom we are all born with. I then decided to devote myself to helping others—the ol’ lemonade out of lemons deal.


Having spent the last twenty-five years counseling people who struggle with eating and body image, I’ve recently become dedicated to early prevention. The sooner someone gets help with disordered eating and body hatred, the higher the rate of success in overcoming them. While there is certainly hope for improvement at any age, an early start can save someone years of futile dieting and painful overeating. My latest book, Getting Over Overeating for Teens, is geared toward just that: helping adolescents who are struggling with overeating, binge eating, ineffective dieting and body-image issues. Parents and health professionals can also utilize the tools and activities to help the adolescents they are concerned about.


In this book, I teach readers about four important areas that need to be addressed in order to get over overeating: emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. Of course, I use much more teen-friendly language but knowing that all four areas need to be addressed in order to create what I call a “Stable Table” will help teens, parents and mental-health professionals heal the pervasive problem of overeating in our diet-crazed, supersized culture.


In section one, “Healing What You’re Feeling,” I help teens learn how to identify their emotions and exactly what to do with them other than turning to excess food. I write that “one of the biggest reasons people overeat is to try to stuff down their painful feelings. Overeating is like saying ‘go away’ to your feelings, especially painful ones. The only problem is that when we overeat to try to make our pain go away, it ends up causing more pain. This is because once we finish eating, we still have the original feelings we ate over, plus all the feelings we have from overeating. It’s a good try, though. Food does give us some comfort and distraction—for a little while anyway. Once you learn healthy ways to deal with your feelings, you’ll no longer need to use food like a drug, to try to make your feelings go away, and you can eat what you really like, in healthy amounts.”

So the emotional aspect of getting over overeating entails learning how to cope with difficult emotions rather than eat over them. Most of us have been taught that we are supposed to feel happy all the time, so feelings like sadness, anger, loneliness and fear get a bad reputation. Ironically, this has contributed to an epidemic of depression and anxiety. So learning to identify, tolerate and even welcome our uncomfortable emotions is a huge part of healing overeating. One metaphor I use is riding a wave. I write that “we can learn to ride a wave of emotion just like a wave in the ocean.”  I teach teens that happy people are not always happy and that just like the weather has patterns, so do we. This will arm them, not only to get over overeating but to be much more equipped for healthy living in general.

Section two, titled “Pay No Mind to Your Unkind Mind,” is all about our thinking. I write that “we all have automatic thoughts that pop up in our minds, just like we have automatic pop-up ads on our computer screens. It’s so easy to believe our thoughts. After all, they are our thoughts! They seem and feel so real, but the truth is, our thoughts aren’t always real, and they sure aren’t always helpful, kind, or true. The good news is that, just like we can close those unwanted pop-up ads on our computers with a simple click, we can learn to close the pop-ups in our minds.”


Readers will learn the concept of having different “mind moods.” We can have an “unkind mind, kind mind or quiet mind.” Oftentimes, people who turn to excess food have loud unkind minds and they use food in an attempt to soothe, quiet or even confirm their unkind thoughts. Teens will also learn about different ways to combat their unkind minds. “Strong, soft, silly or silent” is one chapter that gives them a menu of different tones they can take with their unkind thoughts.


The third section of the book, “Befriending Your Body,” teaches readers how to take care of what I refer to as their “body battery.” Many adolescents who struggle with overeating are disconnected from their bodies’ natural signals. They, like many adults, turn to the only solutions our diet-crazed culture has up its sleeve—eat less and exercise more. But if this simple advice worked, most people would have a healthy, peaceful and natural relationship with food and movement (something we certainly cannot accuse our culture of having!).


In this section of the book, I teach readers how to “step off the diet/riot roller coaster”; how to “follow the clues of the foods that they choose”; how to identify their “hunger number”; how to “find their natural weight in a natural way,” and much more.


Teens can learn to “follow the clues of the foods that they choose.” This will help them see that the foods they overeat hold important clues as to what need they are trying to meet. For example, excess sugar may mean they need more sweetness in their lives (externally and internally). Turning to comfort foods might mean they need more comfort, and so on. They also might be choosing a certain food because it reminds them of when they were little and felt more taken care of and less pressure; or a certain food reminds them of someone they miss or resent. It’s so important to know that overeating is not about being weak but about important feelings and unmet needs. And as those get addressed, food will take its proper place.


In the final section, “Filling Up Without Feeling Down,” I teach readers many ways to feed their spirits. I write that “it’s pretty easy in our fast-paced world to focus on feeding our bodies and feeding our minds. But if we want to get over overeating, we also have to feed the deeper parts of ourselves that can’t be seen, the parts of us that have nothing to do with the material world—our hearts and our souls. These are places that food won’t fill. If we overfeed our bodies, we might be full, but not truly fulfilled. If we feed only our minds, we might think and learn a lot, but we won’t be really satisfied. We all need to fill our spirits too, on a regular basis. When you truly feed your spirit, you feel better afterward. You feel truly filled up, and there are no negative or harmful consequences.” It’s essential for us all to find healthy, inspiring, satisfying ways to fill up. What fills you up?


If you love, work with or care about a teen (or tween) who is struggling with overeating, binge eating or body image, I hope you will consider this new read.


The above book excerpts from Getting Over Overeating for Teens have been reprinted with permission from New Harbinger Publications, Inc. copyright © 2016 Andrea Wachter


Andrea Wachter is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and author of Getting Over Overeating for Teens. She is also co-author of Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Breaking the “I Feel Fat” Spell and The Don’t Diet, Live-It Workbook. An inspirational counselor, author and speaker, Andrea uses professional expertise, humor and personal recovery to help others. For more information on her books, blogs and other services, please visit: www.andreawachter.com



[1] The term screenagers, coined in 1997 by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, refers to techno-savvy young people, who have been reared on television and computers.

Feeding and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Feeding and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Feeding and Autism Spectrum Disorders

By: Courtney Darsa, RDN, CDN



Diagnoses for autism have become more prevalent in the past decade.  While autism itself is known to be a disorder that involves issues with social interaction, communication, and behavioral challenges, there are other problems that autism can present.  Something you may not know that goes along with autism is the possibility of a child having sensory difficulties.  These sensory issues can affect how and what a child eats, which may lead to nutritional consequences, including nutrient deficiencies.  We are here to help you navigate through your child’s challenges with food and sensory issues to avoid any nutrition related obstacles.


Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) tend to be picky eaters because of sensory challenges. There are multiple strategies that may help children with autism possibly overcome some of these obstacles.


  • Allow children to play and discover their food1. This can help with desensitizing certain foods because the child will become familiar with the smell and texture of it. Believe it or not but playing with food can actually help to reduce a child’s anxiety around it.
  • It is important not to trick your child into eating foods they have difficulties with.  Instead, try to introduce a new food by incorporating it with his or her favorite food1.  For example, if Bill loves chicken tenders and dislikes carrot sticks, first have him eat the chicken tender, then the carrot stick, and then another chicken tender.  This can help to desensitize his relationship to the difficult food with a positive experience.
  • Don’t use food as a reward2. Yes of course you want to acknowledge your child’s hard work when it comes to introducing new foods into their diet but when bribing a child with their favorite foods, you can run into a problem.
  • Make sure you remain calm when introducing new foods to your child. Remember that children may need to taste a food multiple times before they actually can decide if they like it or not.  When particularly working with children with autism spectrum disorders, it is also important to be patient when introducing new foods because specific sensitivities may make it take a little bit longer2.


When introducing new foods to children with autism, it is important to keep in mind that gastrointestinal distress is common for these children.  It is important to consult with a doctor if your child is exhibiting any signs or symptoms GI distress.



  1. Wheeler, Marci. “Indiana University Bloomington.” Mealtime and Children on the Autism Spectrum: Beyond Picky, Fussy, and Fads. Indiana Resource Center for Autism, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
  1. “Seven Ways to Help a Picky Eater with Autism.” Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks, 7 May 2013. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
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