Tag: pediatric nutrition

Getting Your Children to Chill Out

Getting Your Children to Chill Out

Getting Your Children to Chill Out

IMG_9822 (2)

By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD

Kids are stressed out, and really, who can blame them? There’s the pressure to do well in school; to juggle household chores, a social life and extracurricular activities; to fit in with classmates; and to handle all the issues that come with a changing body. Managing that stress is important for feeling good in the moment, and the future: A recent University of Florida study found that kids who experienced three or more stressful occurrences were six times likelier to have physical or mental health issues or a learning disorder than those who did not.

Science backs the benefits of mindfulness when it comes to reducing stress and improving overall health. The University of Massachusetts School’s Mindfulness Program found that mindfulness leads to a 35% reduction in medical symptoms and a 40% reduction in psychological ones. Eating disorders are one example of a psychological issue that can be helped through mindful eating. According to Dr. Susan Albers, “During the past 20 years, studies have found that mindful eating can help you to reduce overeating and binge eating, lose weight and reduce your body mass index (BMI) and cope with chronic eating problems such as anorexia and bulimia, and reduce anxious thoughts about food and your body.”

It doesn’t take long for mindfulness to show a result, either. Carnegie Mellon found that as little as 25 minutes of mindful meditation for three days helped stress. Yoga and meditation specifically help decrease stress hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine.

With all the research showing the benefits of mindfulness, it’s little wonder that schools are catching on and incorporating the concept on a regular basis. A recent Washington Post article reported on how public schools are teaching the concept of mindful eating. Children are getting in tune with their body’s hunger signals, learning to enjoy the flavors of food, and respect the cues the mind/body are relaying to them; they are also learning to respect what they are putting into their bodies, and to respect their bodies as a whole. This all can help prevent eating disorders in middle-school children, a population at high risk for these issues.

In the wake of the Newton tragedy, Dr. Stuart Ablon of Massachusetts General Hospital was brought to New York schools to conduct seminars for 3,000 school safety agents and police officers. Mindfulness — getting children to acknowledge and resolve their feelings — was a key component of the anti-violence program, as was yoga. The goal was for these agents and officers to talk to troubled children before resorting to punishing them.

Mindfulness and meditation are also becoming a part of private school health classes, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported, and are used to strengthen children’s all-around emotional and intellectual wellness.

Spafinder took note of the Oakland-based Mindful Schools, a program that shows adults how to teach mindfulness to K-12 youth, helping over 300,000 children so far.

Beyond schools, mindfulness and general wellness for kids is taking center stage at hotels, spas and resorts, offering children a way to unwind at the same time their parents are enjoying a well-earned vacation.

And don’t forget to check your local meditation or yoga studio! You may be surprised to find they have children’s classes too (like MNDFL, a New York meditation studio not far from my new office). New York even has its own yoga studio just for kids. I recently filmed a news segment there on the very topic of mindfulness for children.

And while all these mindful-based resources are great for kids, it doesn’t mean kids will forge forward without parental support. I ask parents to take responsibility and please introduce, then maintain, mindful experiences at home. Breathing work, meditation apps, mindful eating (check out my books Healthy Habits and Women’s Health Body Clock Diet for more info) and mindfulness meditation are the most studied and effective strategies in the adult population and therefore a great place to start with the kiddies! Leading by example is also important. Consider how you role model gratitude, body acceptance, compassion and mindfulness in your own life. On a personal note, to aid in my own mindfulness journey and lead by example for my children, I decided and am now almost through my own yoga teacher training to become a Registered Yoga Teacher!


Self-Care Sunday: 5 Magazines That Won’t Make You Feel Bad About Yourself

Self-Care Sunday: 5 Magazines That Won’t Make You Feel Bad About Yourself

Self-Care Sunday: 5 Magazines That Won’t Make You Feel Bad About Yourself


Image via Bjarte Kvinge Tvedt/freeimages.com

By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD

While magazines can be fun to read, it can be hard to find a magazine that doesn’t make us feel bad about ourselves. Many focus on quick-fix diets or other extreme behaviors, rather than promoting overall well-being. Reading them can make you feel like your body is something to be “improved” upon rather than something to be enjoyed. Covers feature models who don’t represent the many shapes and sizes women come in.

But things are changing. Women’s Health, the magazine I wrote Body Clock Diet for, is leading this cause with their “anti-drop 2 sizes” campaign, which I recently wrote about. Other women’s sites and magazines have made it their goal not to be diet and exercise-obsessed, with stories that appeal to a range of women’s interests.

Here are a few you can feel good about reading:

Real Simple

Real Simple is devoted to helping you find easy solutions for life’s challenges. The magazine’s Amazon description sums it up: With Real Simple, “you’ll find articles about reducing stress, simple makeup and hair techniques that look fantastic, easy recipes, organization ideas, uncluttered décor, and ways to remove burdens from your life while retaining all its fullness.” Sample articles include “5 Ways to Make Mornings More Manageable,” “A Month of Easy Dinners,” and “How to Pull Off a Career Pivot.” On the cover, you might find pictures of yummy looking food you can easily prepare, chic fashion accessories to help you pull off a streamlined look, or a picture of a pretty beauty product. Real Simple is about helping you manage life and not about reaching unrealistic or unhealthy body standards/expectations. Food has been described in the magazine as “delicious” or something you will “love” and not something to restrict or avoid. It’s not only Real Simple, but a Real Smart way of approaching the women’s market.


Ageism is a common practice in women’s magazines. Advertisers want magazines to target “the younger crowd.” As a result, articles are skewed towards women in their 20s and 30s, and it’s as if women who are 40 and over do not exist. More is a welcome antidote to that, a real breath of fresh air, and proof that beauty knows no age: A recent interview features Susan Sweet, the general manager of Neutrogena, with the headline “This is What 47 Looks Like.” More includes women who are making a difference in society, women we can look up to and be inspired by. There is, for instance, the story of a woman who became a UNICEF ambassador. Their latest issue spotlights over 40 cover model/actress Rachel Weisz; inside you can learn how she crafts “a meaningful life.” MORE wants their readers to have more of everything that’s good — more energy, more health, more peace — check out their article on meditation in the workplace. Their healthy eating section doesn’t include any harmful diets, and the fitness section focuses on realistic goals, like just getting more active at midlife. Well-being is the ultimate goal.

Psychology Today

Contrary to what you might believe, you don’t need to be a psychologist to read Psychology Today. This is a fascinating magazine for the general audience. Started in the late 60s, Psychology Today provides insight into why we do the things we do, with articles and blogs written by experts in the field. It’s an excellent tool for helping you cope with life, and if you can’t find the mag on newsstands (Rite Aid and Barnes & Noble carry it), the blog gives you a good sample of what the magazine is like. One great feature of the website is the way it is broken down into topics. You can search for all articles about eating disorders, or general health, or stress, or whatever interests you, and you can search for mental health professionals and treatment facilities. The magazine gives you real-world tips backed by science, and you won’t find any body-negative language. Check out a sample article, about ditching social media to pursue a more mindful existence.

Experience Life

Experience Life may be difficult to find on newsstands, but it is worth seeking out (check out Barnes & Noble for copies). Created in 2001 by Pilar Gerasimo, EL refers to itself as “the no-gimmicks, no-hype health & fitness magazine” and that is the perfect description of what you will find here. It’s full of tips on mindfulness, nutrition, yoga, healing, parenting and more — generally everything that can help you “experience life” in a more positive, more fulfilled way. Gerasimo started Experience Life after she came to the realization that there were no “whole person, whole life” publications in existence. “I figured I couldn’t be the only person who wanted a smart, health-oriented magazine that addressed the real-life challenges of balancing healthy priorities with the realities of the current culture,” she’s quoted on the mag’s web site. “I couldn’t be the only one who wanted deeper perspective and more complete information on important health and lifestyle topics.” Check out their website and you will be amazed at the range of subjects this publication covers. I am especially impressed that are one of the few magazines that really make an effort to explore what mindfulness can do for you.

Diabetes Forecast

When people first get diagnosed with diabetes, they may falsely think they can’t enjoy food anymore. But I believe that all foods fit, even when you have diabetes. (Check out my Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook for yummy proof of that!) Diabetes Forecast, a magazine created by the American Diabetes Association, shares my philosophy. Here you can find diabetic-friendly recipes like dark chocolate-raspberry pudding and Ronaldo’s apple pie. There is plenty of helpful healthful info about diabetes, along with a special section called Body & Mind. Body & Mind provides day-to-day advice on living with diabetes, such as stress-reducing tips, creating a diabetes-friendly home and dating with diabetes. Even if you do not have diabetes you can find helpful advice that you can use in your life like ways to bust clutter (and how that can improve health) and curvy yoga. Diabetes Forecast calls itself the healthy living magazine, and that’s truly what it is, a look at all the things you can do to lead a healthy lifestyle. Great parenting advice here as well, if you have a child with diabetes.




How Let’s Move Can Help Our Kids — and How it Can Be Improved

How Let’s Move Can Help Our Kids — and How it Can Be Improved

How Let’s Move Can Help Our Kids — and How it Can Be Improved


By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD

Image courtesy US Army IMCOM/Flickr

It’s hard not to like Michelle Obama. She’s intelligent, has a good sense of humor, and is a great mom who is generally concerned about our kids. That’s why she’s created the Let’s Move program, an initiative to help make this and future generations of kids healthier by encouraging them to eat nutritious foods and increase physical activity.

Overall, I think the program has its strengths and weaknesses. In this blog post, I want to take a closer look at the positives, and also at what could be improved.

If you click around the Let’s Move website, you’ll notice there’s a focus on the words “obesity” and “overweight,” and a connection between these attributes and illness: “If we don’t solve this problem [of obesity and being overweight],” the Let’s Move site says, “one third of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives. Many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma.”

But this is not necessarily true. There is an alternate movement out there called Health at Every Size, which says that it is possible to be “overweight,” while still being healthy.

When you focus on a child’s weight, you make that child preoccupied with the way his or her body looks — a behavior that could lead to an eating disorder, or disordered eating. We want to encourage our children to adopt healthy habits, but not with the goal of losing weight. The goal should be health itself and feeling good, and that’s what we should be imparting to our kids.

The site also has a section on reducing fat and sugar. This may set children up for seeing foods as “good” and “bad.” The truth is there is nothing terribly wrong with fat or sugar. Children only need to be taught that some foods are eaten regularly and others are eaten sometimes.

That being said, there is much that is positive about this program.

The Healthy Families section offers some helpful tips, such as:

  • During family meals, concentrate on eating and enjoying food and each other
  • A bowl of fruit or carrot sticks on the kitchen table can encourage healthy eating
  • You can serve fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables; all are fine
  • Incorporate vegetables into dishes, like adding peas to rice, or cucumbers to a sandwich
  • Don’t force kids to clean their plates if they are full
  • Eating with your child is a chance to illustrate positive behavior

The Get Active section has great ideas on getting children to move and offers reasonable goals for children, families and the community. Children, they suggest, should move for about an hour a day. Schools should support this by increasing physical activity within the school schedule, and politicians and community heads should make parks, playgrounds and neighborhood centers inviting for children and their parents, while also offering fun and cheap physical activity programs. It also offers the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award for those who meet their goals.

Perhaps the most valuable part of the site is the Take Action for Kids PDF.

It invites kids to move every day, try new foods, drink water, do jumping jacks (or other fun activities) and help with dinner.

These are just a few of the program’s highlights. I encourage you to explore more of Let’s Move by heading to the site and checking it out for yourself!

What to Say … and What Not to Say to Instill Healthy Eating Habits in Kids

What to Say … and What Not to Say to Instill Healthy Eating Habits in Kids

Mindfulness Monday: What to Say … and What Not to Say to Instill Healthy Eating and Mindfulness in Kids

mother-and-child-1-1435420-1279x850Image via Benjamin Earwicker/freeimages.com

by Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD

In August 2013, I released Healthy Habits, a guide for parents and educators. The aim of the workbook — an eight-lesson plan — is to instill in children positive ways of approaching food and exercise. Lessons have a hands-on component, with handouts and homework. The book aims to also prevent eating disorders, with a philosophy that all bodies and all foods are acceptable.

One of the most helpful and convenient sections of the book is the What Not to Say section.

I know that as a parent or teacher you want to say the right things to children, but because so many of us have been raised in a body-negative culture, we sometimes say things that have the potential to cause harm and set children up for an unhealthy relationship with food.

And we don’t have to just think about what we say to children. Children also model their behavior on how we behave, and on how we talk about our own bodies.

Here are some common phrases we might be saying to the children in our lives and preferred alternatives.

For example:

Don’t say: “Oh honey … you could stand to lose a few pounds!”

Do say: “Are you eating for fuel? Or are you just bored or maybe even sad?”

Pointing out that you think your child could lose weight may seem like a positive thing to do, but can be deeply damaging, encouraging a lifetime of bad self-image and/or disordered eating. The better way is to get her to examine why she is eating and discussing what are healthy reasons to eat — this is an important lesson to instill mindfulness. Suggest alternatives to relieve boredom other than food — fun activities you know she likes to do.

Another example:

Don’t say: “You need to eat your veggies because they’re good for you.”

Do say: “Let’s try to eat veggies every day to get the necessary vitamins our bodies and minds need. Maybe we can use a star chart to help you try new foods like veggies.”

Saying “you need to eat your veggies because they’re good for you” is too vague. Be clear about why your child would want to eat their vegetables. Phrase it as a choice they are making. Emphasize exactly how it will help their bodies and minds (while being age-appropriate, of course). Adding a star chart gives them a goal to shoot for, without making the reward a food-based one. “Try new foods” makes it sound positive. “Trying” things emphasizes adventure, a new experience a child should be excited about. “You need to” feels more like an obligation or a punishment.

Here’s something you might say about yourself:

“My thighs are so fat!”

You might think this is a harmless thing to say in front of a child, but it has repercussions. A child can notice that mommy doesn’t like her thighs and the next thing you know, she is wondering whether her thighs are “too fat” as well. Children want to be like their parents, so if mommy is in search of the perfect body, and feeling discouraged with the one she has, well, don’t be surprised if your daughter or son starts complaining about his or her body, and wishing she or he looked “better.”

Here’s another way to talk about your body in front of your child:

“I may not be perfect, but that’s okay. I love myself and I love you!”

Healthy Habits has a number of sample scenarios like the ones above. I encourage you to buy the book for the child or children in your life. You will be giving them the gift of a healthy relationship with food, and a positive self-image, two gifts that are ultimately priceless.

Throwback Thursday: Avocado Accolades

Throwback Thursday: Avocado Accolades

Throwback Thursday: Avocado Accolades


Image via freeimages.com/PatHerman

By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD

Eating an entire avocado a day could lower cholesterol, according to recent research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. And it’s not so hard to work a whole avocado, or at least a healthy portion of it, into your diet because it’s so versatile. Most people are familiar with avocado as a prime ingredient in guacamole or as a yummy topper on salad, but you can do other things with it as well, like substituting it for mayo in a sandwich or making avocado toast. If you’re stuck on ideas, just see how many avocado recipes you can find on allrecipes.com! The options are practically endless!

Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD wrote about the many features and uses of avocado in a blog post titled “Avocado Accolades” from Mom Dishes It Out, and I thought this would be an interesting topic to revisit in light of this new, encouraging research. Read on to learn more about the amazing avocado and enjoy a great Cooking Light recipe for Avocado-Egg Salad Sandwiches with Pickled Celery.

Hardly mainstream when I was a child, these curious fruits have become quite the versatile and popular food lately, and for good reason. I’ve been experimenting with these green beauties, and have to say I’m so impressed with the results! There are some wonderful reasons to include avocado in your family meals, and extremely easy ways to do so.

Because its flavor is mild, it’s easy on young, developing palates, and the texture is silky smooth, allowing parents to introduce it as one of baby’s first foods.

There are many things that make avocados …. awesome:

Fat: The heart-healthy fat found in avocados is primarily monounsaturated, amazing for children’s developing brains and helpful for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Fiber: This feature, along with the fat, assists digestion and can help children who struggle with constipation.

Vitamins and Minerals: Avocados offer some great potassium, an essential electrolyte that runs our heart and assists in healthy muscle development. Additionally, they contains some Vitamin K and Vitamin E, both fat-soluble vitamins that assist in healthy blood clotting and provide strong antioxidant properties, respectively. The B vitamins, including folic acid, help in maintenance of a healthy nervous system, and are a key to unlocking the energy that other foods provide.

Flexibility and Versatility: You can work an avocado into endless meals in so many different ways. It lends well to whatever flavors you pair with it, and can be a nice change from typical condiments, spreads or dips.

  • Add some cinnamon and applesauce to mashed avocado for a sweet snack
  • Combine it with some tomatoes, onions and peppers for a dip with a zing
  • Try spreading some on your morning toast, then top it off with an egg
  • Dice some into your favorite pasta salad


Here’s one of my latest finds:

Avocado-Egg Salad Sandwiches with Pickled Celery

To prevent avocado from browning in leftover egg salad, place any remaining salad in a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap. Then cover the entire bowl tightly with plastic wrap.

  • Yield:

Serves 4 (serving size: 1 sandwich)


  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup mashed ripe avocado
  • 1 tablespoon canola mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons dry-roasted salted sunflower seeds
  • 8 (1-ounce) slices whole-grain bread, toasted
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 4 heirloom tomato slices


  1.  Add water to a large saucepan to a depth of 1 inch; set a large vegetable steamer in pan. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add eggs to steamer. Cover and steam eggs 16 minutes. Remove from heat. Place eggs in a large ice water-filled bowl.
  2.  While eggs cook, combine 3 tablespoons water, vinegar, and sugar in a medium microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes or until boiling. Add celery; let stand 15 minutes. Drain.
  3.  Meanwhile, combine avocado, mayonnaise, juice, mustard, pepper, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring well   until smooth.
  4.  Peel eggs; discard shells. Slice eggs in half lengthwise; reserve 2 yolks for another use. Chop remaining eggs  and egg whites. Gently stir eggs, celery, and sunflower seeds into avocado mixture. Top 4 bread slices with about 1/2 cup egg mixture, 1/4 cup arugula, 1 tomato slice, and remaining 4 bread slices.



Sydney Fry, MS, RD,

Cooking Light

May 2015




Theme: Overlay by Kaira