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|Tuesday, March 29, 2011
|Emotional eating isn’t just for adults.
|by William Stratbucker, MD at 07:11 AM
Emotional eating isn't just for adults.
Kimberly Slendak is a licensed master social worker in the Healthy Weight Center at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. She is our guest blogger this week.
Sometimes the most intense cravings for food occur when people are faced with strong emotions. For instance, people eat in response to negative emotions (i.e., to relieve stress or boredom) as well as positive emotions connected to birthdays, holidays and other celebrations. This is known as "emotional eating," and can sabotage healthy lifestyle efforts. There are things you can teach your children to avoid emotional eating.
Become more aware of your own habits around food.
Do you find yourself turning to food when you are stressed? Do financial concerns or health-related issues make you crave your favorite "comfort food" as a way to "get through it"? Although some people may actually eat less in the face of strong emotions, the majority eat more. Additionally, do you see birthdays and other celebrations as an opportunity to overindulge with "permission"?
Be aware that children model their caregivers and can learn to use food in these same ways. Then, before you know it, both adults and children automatically reach for a treat whenever feeling an emotion without thinking about it. Find new ways to tame your stress-such as through yoga or meditation-and model these behaviors for your child
Find new ways to reward or comfort your child
Do you frequently reward your child with food-such as offering a trip to the ice cream shop for a good grade? When your child is sad or disappointed, do you offer food or sweets as a way to help cheer your child up? Many parents do these things with good intentions, and an occasional treat to celebrate can be a positive experience. However some parents make it a habit to reward or comfort their children with food, and that is often when a child begins to associate feelings with food.
The next time you want to reward your child, consider taking him or her on a special outing or purchasing a special toy or other item. If your child needs comfort, talk and listen to him or her, give an extra hug or go on a walk together instead of offering a food. Additionally remember that what most children crave even more than food is verbal praise from adults.
Establish a consistent eating environment.
Establish uniform rules for eating that will help to discourage emotional and boredom eating. For instance, making a household expectation and rule that food should always be eaten in the kitchen or dining room, while sitting down at the table will help decrease the chance your child will overindulge in his or her favorite snack while his or her mind is preoccupied and distracted by the TV, homework or video games. Also, maintaining a structured and routine eating schedule helps your child learn when to expect his or her next meal so he or she is less likely to overeat knowing food will be available in another few hours. Finally, refrain from keeping supplies of comfort foods in your home if they are hard for your child to resist.
Talk to Your Child About Eating
Talk to you child about his or her habits and about making healthy choices. Here are some questions and ideas to help get you started:
- Do you feel like eating when you are happy? Sad? Worried? Angry? Frustrated? Bored? Scared?
- Are you truly hungry? Is your hunger physical? Help your child recognize the importance of understanding the body's natural response to being hungry, such as listening for a rumbling tummy. Also help your child understand the body's response to being overfull with too much food. Help your child learn to manage the amount of food he or she eats at one time.
- Sometimes it can take a while to make the connections between food and emotions. It might help to keep a journal, where your child can write down his or her feelings and times when he or she feels like eating.
- Make a list of activities with your child that he or she can do when bored instead of eating.
Even if your child is of a healthy weight now and has good eating habits, habits can change. For instance, as your child matures he or she may look for new ways to deal with stress, and one of those ways could be through emotional eating. Establishing healthy habits now will lead to healthy habits later.
- Kimberly Slendak, LMSW
|Wednesday, March 02, 2011
|Six Months, Six Milestones
|by William Stratbucker, MD at 01:21 PM
Dr. Burdo-Hartman is a neurodevelopmental pediatrician at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and a guest blogger.
Many exciting changes happen to a baby during the first six months of life. They learn to roll over, grasp things in addition to sitting up. Many parents wonder what milestones their children should reach. Here are six milestones to look for and tips to encourage development:
Your baby should be inquisitive
At six months, most babies are ready to explore. They reach for things, and bring objects close to their faces to look at, taste and feel.
Tip: Make sure objects your baby wants to hold are safe and large enough so they are not choking hazards. Yes, your baby will probably drool and it will be messy, but the tongue and mouth are one of your baby's most sensitive areas, so allow this exploration.
Your baby should be making lots of noise
Babies at this age love to hear themselves. They are moving out of "cooing" mode and making more "ba" "la" and "ga" sounds.
Tip: Help your baby develop in this area, by singing, even if you don't sing well; making silly faces and funny noises he or she enjoys; showing how your tongue works; reading out loud.
Your baby should enjoy imitating your actions
Imitation is a form of flattery in adults, but with babies, it is necessary in order for them to learn.
Tip: Try different forms of play to help your child develop in this area such as blowing "raspberries" at them and see if they imitate you, or clap and see if your baby tries to bring his or her hands together, too.
Your baby should start using more large motor skills
In addition to sitting on his or her own your baby is likely bringing his or her legs up and looking at his or her feet. Also, notice your six-month-old reaching out and grabbing toys and objects and moving them from hand to hand, another milestone. Your baby is developing the urge to stand and bear weigh at this time, which will eventually allow him or her to learn balance.
Tip: "Floor time"- allowing your baby to play and safely explore on the floor-is probably one of the most important things you can offer your baby at this age. In my opinion, a baby should spend about half of his or her time on the floor, preferably with you. We do not recommend using walkers or exersaucers-they do not help develop trunk strength, and injuries can occur.
Your baby should be making lots of eye contact
Your baby should spend a lot of time looking at you. This is normal and good, and important for social as well as physical development.
Tip: Primary colors are good for babies this age-they can't see pale colors, and need more bold differences. That said, babies can get overstimulated, so avoid fiery, fluorescent colors, toys with flashing lights, and overly "busy" toys. Remember-your baby is still learning about simple things, such as what a rattle is.
Your baby should be starting to show his or her independence
You'll probably first notice independence developing when eating-your baby will begin to do some self-feeding, such as starting to hold his or her own bottle.
Tip: Encourage you baby to feed him or herself, even if messy. Also you need to make sure bite sizes are manageable for them, since they are only able to chew with an up and down motion at this age.
You can help your baby most is to encourage him or her and offer safe ways to explore, and at the same time just keeping things simple. It is important to remember that every child is unique, and the actual age when a normally developing child reaches a milestone can vary.
- Dr. Burdo-Hartman