Writing Away...

I am so excited to share that I have been working hard on one of my bucket-listers -- to write a children's book! Of course it will be about picky eating -- the do's and don'ts -- all wrapped into a fun little story for children. It mirrors my childhood memories of what didn't work for me (bribery, pressure, attention) and then what finally did work for me (having my own space to try new foods on my own). One of the biggest takeaways I hope parents get from it is that children just want to fit in when it comes to food. Even if they're just eating a roll for spaghetti and meatball night, at least they're eating something that everyone else is also eating. 

Stay tuned! Here are some initial sketches by Eduardo Martinez, the illustrator I am working with. 

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Tricky Picky Halloween

When you child comes home and dumps their candy bags out on the floor, I could imagine it would be hard not to worry about all the sugar right at their fingertips. Your first thoughts might be to donate some, lock some up, or make rules for how much they can eat. I want to remind you that the more forbidden a food is, the brighter its halo shines. It will only make them want it more. 

I have to say, Halloween was in my top 5 favorite nights of the year growing up. I loved counting and sorting my candy and trading it with my brothers. The moment it was hidden in a high cabinet was the moment I was sneaking it when I shouldn't have been.

Children have the proper instincts to know when enough is enough. Their bodies will tell them when it's full and if given the room to make this decision, they will stop when they should. As the parent, it's your job to let them find that limit. Now... this doesn't mean letting them have it anytime they want. Boundaries are always important around food. But it does mean to still give them their choices of which ones and make it clear when they can have it. Soon the candy will be gone, but what won't be forgotten is the feeling of trust in eating, or lack there of. This is a great time to step back, let them enjoy, and keep the boundaries clear.

You've Got This.

According to Ellyn Satter, a great role model of mine who just *gets it* when it comes to feeding, the parent is responsible for what, when and where the meals are being served and the child is responsible for deciding how much, if any, they want to eat. So, with this all being said, the parent's’ job is done when they plan a meal, buy the food, prep it and serve it. Done! [Insert sigh of relief here.] But sometimes when a parent is following this method, when their job is done, there’s no sense of relief. Because the rest is out of their control. Parents are expected to step back and let go and let their children take over. As a former picky eater myself, YES! That’s exactly what they need to do! But as an adult who understands judgment from other adults, of course I can see how that would be difficult. Other parents who are unfamiliar with Satter’s philosophy might question why the parent isn’t making their child eat or not punishing them for not eating. Maybe they make comments of their own or compare their children’s eating habits. All of these things make it difficult to “step back and let go.” But you know what? The fact that you’ve done the research, found the method that has the highest success rate and stuck to it shows that you will find success of your own. Whatever that may mean, and however long that may take for you and yours. [Now insert that sigh of relief.] You’ve got this.

My Foodiversary

June 22 was the day that everything changed. Prior to that day, I ate no fruits or vegetables and stuck to my “safe” foods. But on June 22 as I sat at a table in Beijing, China, everything changed. The array of foods on the table ranged from pineapple to tofu, and I hardly recognized anything. In any other setting, I would have lied and said “no thanks, I already ate” but this situation was different. I tried everything on the table.

Since that day, my life has changed a lot. And since that day, I’ve been trying to pin-point exactly what it was that made it okay for me to try all of that food that day. I’ve narrowed it down to a combination of the following things:

  1. In China, it’s common to serve food family style. Everything on the center of the table on a giant lazy susan for everyone to take what they would like. This aspect is what made me feel most comfortable trying new foods. Had I been given a plate that I was expected to eat everything from, I might have had a mini-meltdown. Instead, I was able to take what I wanted and eat it from my bowl without anyone else having a part in it.

  2. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t known as “The Picky Eater”. Picky Eaters have it hard when it comes to labels. I used to hide behind my title of “The Pickiest Eater You’ll Ever Meet” because it gave me power when it came to food. I was embarrassed about my eating habits but I owned my title and it gave me some sort of control. But my label also held me back a lot. If I was considering trying something new with someone who know about my eating habits, they would (in support) cheer me on and watch intently as I tried it. Or, even worse, they would let me know that I wouldn’t like it before I even tried it. Neither of those are conducive to exploring new food in a safe way. For the first time, I was free of my title.

  3. I was learning how to use chopsticks. Okay, this one isn’t as serious, but it really helped. I was so focused on getting the damn sticks sturdy enough to carry the food from my plate to my mouth that I was less concerned with the food. Distractions are helpful when it comes to trying new foods.
     

Tonight, I’ll be celebrating with some Chinese food. It’s important that you all know that Chinese food in America is very different than Chinese food in China. I still dream about my two favorite dishes -- eggplant and mushroom. Prior to my life-changing June 22nd, you couldn’t have paid me to say that sentence. Never forget that change is possible, no matter how impossible it seems.

Thanks for being on my journey with me. Cheers!

What Emojis Have You Been Feeling Recently?

If you're anything like me, your emojis get a lot of action. I text a lot, and I use a ton of emojis when I do. How else could my friends understand exactly what I'm saying and how I feel? They took the texting world by storm and now I can't go back. 

What I realized is that I recently realized how my frequently used list has been changing. It's rolling into summer (very quickly here in Austin) and fun things are happening. I'm noticing that I'm using more suns, boats, tacos and champagne. Some of the faces being phased out of my recents are the sad, frustrated and annoyed faces. It's probably because I've recently had more vacation time and because I'm less annoyed when I'm popping champagne on a boat eating a taco (and texting my peeps about it.)

Check out your recently used emojis. It's pretty telling to see where you're at right now. It's not a bad thing if they're more bummed out faces or the death skull but it's a quick check-in to see what your world *might* be like right now. Or, at least how you're communicating though text about it. It helped me make the connection of -- "wow, I'm definitely happier when I do [insert fun thing.]" And "when I talk to so-and-so, I'm more negative." It's been interesting to look at.

What are your most frequently used emojis? For me, I hope the sun, crying laughing face and tacos will be high on the list for a while.