Raising an Adventurous Eater

Food surrounds us 24/7. Therefore food decisions are constant, it’s estimated that we make over 200 food and drink choices per day, many of these subconsciously. That means that much of our choices are habitual and many likely rooted in our childhood, and as we know habits die hard. For those parents out there who want to raise a healthy, adventurous eater, read on as I explain four of the most important steps in cultivating a healthy relationship of food within your child(ren).

The first way to expand a child’s food repertoire is involving them in the process and allowing them to experiment. Begin with grocery shopping, ask for their choice between carrots or celery as a snack. If you enjoy gardening, involve them in planting, caring for and harvesting the food you’ve grown together. Then include them in meal prep; being sure to involve them in a variety of age appropriate meal preparations is a great way to make them more open minded about food. Give them tasks such as having them assist with seasoning a chicken stir fry, sautéing mushrooms for the spaghetti and baking cookies. Trust me, when they’re proud of their participation their more likely to eat the food (no nagging required)! These are places to teach them science (“why does that bread rise”?), math (using measuring scoops) and biology (where food really comes from). Children should not be in the way when it comes to food, they should be involved, it’s our role as parents to provide that involvement.

Just as meal preparation is important, meal time offers many benefits as well. Studies have shown that family meals lower the chance of high-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, decreases the risk of obesity and simply offers a chance to connect as a family and build self-esteem in our children. For children of a younger age group, benefits of meal times include a growing vocabulary, table manners and socialization skills. Family meals should be about nourishing our bodies to the point of satisfaction, having fruitful discussion and moving on with life. Try to avoid placing the focus on what, and how much your child eats, children are very intuitive eaters (and that’s a good thing)!

Have you ever seen a child make that squished-face-of-dissatisfaction? As parents we interpret this face as a distaste for the food their trying, but in fact this is simply a child’s way of exploring a new food. It can take up to 20 times or more of food exposure to like a food. One study showed that even exposure of new foods through pictures books led to an increased consumption of these foods, after just two weeks. To introduce new foods, try preparing familiar foods in unfamiliar ways; such as fruit sushi. Conversely, offer unfamiliar foods, in familiar formats; such as veggie smoothies or curry pasta. Provide your child with a variety of foods, tantalizing all five senses (taste, sight, touch, smell and sound). This means exposing them to hot, cold, wet, dry, sticky, stringy, crunchy and creamy options, you get the picture. Ultimately, exposure leads to familiarity, which results in acceptance.

Finally, and quite possibly the most important is to lead by example. Children have an innate desire to be and do just like their parents, food is no exception. You cannot expect your child to eat carrots while you’re eating cookies. That means the whole family eats the same meal. Depending on your child’s age, their plate may look a bit different, but most foods are present on each plate. Always have one familiar food you know they’ll enjoy and build from there. Remember too, that if one parent doesn’t like a food, have them at least participate in the meal and avoid vocalizing their dislike. This gives your child a chance to come to their own conclusions about the foods they enjoy. Being an example means you may have to get out of your own comfort zone.

I’ve always said “they don’t know they don’t like it until they don’t like it” … give your children a chance to make their own decisions. Succumbing to your child’s food jag, (the phase most youngsters will experience when they desire only a couple foods over and over) will only prolong this phase and may eventually lead to manipulation and selective eating. You must trust your child to trust themselves, I promise “they’ll eat when they’re hungry”.

To learn more about childhood eating, some great resources include the Ellyn Satter Institute, Jill Castle, and myself, Jessica Gutsue, the dietitian at Restorative Health Care.

Welcome to Coaching

Hi! So glad that you are exploring coaching! I was certified through the Leadership That Works, Coaching for Transformation Program and currently serve as an Associate Faculty and Trainer. I also have a number of coaching clients throughout the country. Besides working in public and private education for the past 25 years, I have served as a volunteer in a number of community non-profits and educational institutions in the Battle Creek area.

My coaching path is rooted in a desire to help individuals and organizations align their choices, actions, and attitudes with their most deeply held values and principles. I believe that all individuals, as well as collective groups of people, have the resources and capacity to change, grow, and contribute in ways that are creative and transformative. Coaching serves as a tool to get at what is important and meaningful….and then, supports actions that ensure that our everyday life reflects that important and meaningful stuff! Here's a testimonial from Gillian, one of my current clients:

"Working with Kathy Grosso is a process that continues to transform my approach and outlook in both life and career. In the midst of a frantically-paced career, I found myself stuck on the hamster wheel, desperately trying to keep up with my ‘to do’ list of tasks and accomplishments, each designed to support an externalized career structure: build that CV, publish enough, get promoted, earn that title, win that award, get that recognition….there’s no time to waste. Exhausted and frustrated, I began to work with Kathy on determining what parts of myself had worked to get me this far in life and career, and what approaches were potentially self-defeating and inauthentic to my true passions. I began to develop a ‘to be’ list – to identify what really fuels the various parts of my being – mentorship, engaging in meaningful initiatives, collaboration, education, and doing ‘boots on the ground’ work in areas for which I felt a true passion.

Kathy gave me space and support to finally be honest with myself; she expertly guided me to notice how it felt to exhaust myself by chipping away at a tsunami of ‘to do’ tasks; and she used her mastery and expertise as a coach to re-focus my attention and passion on my ‘to be’ world. Just a few years into my career, I’m learning about authenticity in my commitments, and am re-prioritizing with a vision for a career that is focused and rewarding. Kathy has guided my pathway towards the chaotic but energizing space of discovery and learning, and away from the exhausting space of inauthentic task accomplishment, checking off ‘to do’ lists, and saving self-care and development for ‘some later time’."

Gillian Beauchamp, M.D., Lehigh Valley Health Network, Department of Emergency and Hospital Medicine

Let’s get started!”

Is “Keto” Right for You?

“Keto”. It’s sort of a thing as of late. If you haven’t been living under a rock in the past 18 or so months, you’ve at least heard the term, if not fully adopted the diet yourself. Popularized by several credentialed and maybe not-so credentialed folks; the ketogenic diet was first studied and proven effective in 1921 as a therapy for children with seizure disorders.

Although there are variations of the ketogenic diet, generally it provides 70-90% fat, 10-15% protein and about 5% carbohydrate. Severely restricting carbohydrates, while consuming LOTS of healthy fat encourages the body to produce ketones and use them as fuel. Which results in a state called nutritional ketosis, an ability we’re all born with. To provide some context, the standard American diet is roughly 55% carbohydrates, 30% fat and 15% protein. This is a radical shift in macronutrient distribution. With that said, our bodies are amazing machines and can utilize both ketones (from fats), or glucose (primarily from carbohydrates and excess calories) as fuel. Thus the ability to survive on either plan.

The ketogenic diet is all the rage right now, and with good reason, let’s talk about some of these. Though it’s initial research and use was to control epilepsy; more research is proving beneficial for several other conditions. This list includes dementia, migraines, depression and obesity, among others.

Since one in three adults are overweight or obese, weight loss is the main driver of the diets’ recent rise in popularity. The diet works in a few different ways, but regarding weight loss it’s largely due to the lack of insulin produced by the pancreas, and the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel. Since insulin remains low, the diet mimics a fasting state, burning fat, while providing most of one’s essential nutrients.

Let me explain how insulin is so key in the weight loss equation...

Carbohydrates Around Strength Training

Food fuels our days and our workouts. When we aren’t consuming enough food, we pay for it with low energy, lack of motivation and loss of glycogen stores. Glycogen is the main storage form for glucose (starches and sugars) in the body. So, what do carbohydrates have to do with strength training? Well to keep it short and sweet, carbohydrates are the primary energy source for strength training!

Our bodies store glycogen within the muscles. Glycogen is made up of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates take much longer to digest and store in the body. Things like oatmeal, potatoes, brown rice and whole-grains are all complex carbs. It is ideal to eat these 2-3 hours before strength training. Eating complex carbohydrates 2-3 hours before training gives your body enough time to digest the nutrients and store them, giving your muscles the energy needed for strength training.

Glucose is the fast-acting carbohydrate. Foods like fruit, honey, white rice, and pretzels are all considered to be simple carbohydrates. These foods take very little energy to digest in the body and are considered quick energy sources. The best way to utilize these carbohydrates is to consume them 30 minutes to an hour before strength training. Simple carbohydrates are great for the days you didn’t have time to get complex carbohydrates 2-3 hours prior to strength training.

By timing majority of your carbohydrates around your strength training, you are able to utilize more of the food you eat before and after. Our bodies not only use protein to aid in muscle recovery, but it also uses carbohydrates! Everyone’s bodies and metabolisms are different, so it is important to learn about your body and metabolism to find what ratios work best for you!

The best part of waking up!

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.” – A.A. Milne Leslie

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day. I’ve never really been able to relate to people that skip breakfast. Breakfast is magical! Sometimes a good breakfast can define the rest of your day. Whether it’s oatmeal, avocado toast, or scrambled eggs, a delicious and nutrition filled breakfast can start you off on the right foot with the energy to get things done.

“C’mon, there has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food.” -Ron Swanson, Parks & Recreation

Benefits of eating breakfast aren’t just in your head. The experts have been saying for years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that is the truth. Eating breakfast leads to
• Consuming less fat through the day
• Jumpstarting your metabolism
• Meeting recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption
• Having higher daily calcium intake
• Having higher daily fiber intake
• Having better performance (memory and attention day.

“One should not attend even the end of the world without a good breakfast.” – Robert A. Heinlein, Friday

Be sure not to just grab a pop-tart or doughnut and call it a morning, an effective breakfast has a variety of carbs, protein and fat to kickstart your day. Eggs, oatmeal, smoothies, Greek yogurt, fruit, etc. are all great foods to start with. For more breakfast ideas, check out our Nutrition section of the website!

“In Wilson’s scale of evaluations breakfast rated just after life itself and ahead of the chance of immortality.” – Robert A. Heinlein, By His Bootstraps