Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Eat Your Vegetables: Review & Giveaway! (Closed)

eat your vegetables

Eat Your Vegetables! And Other Mistakes Parents Make, by Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD.

An embarrassingly long time ago, Natalie sent me a copy of her book to review. I was happy to do it and flattered she thought of me. I read it diligently on the train everyday. I tested recipes. Then I got a new job and my entire schedule and routine went right out the front door. So before I go any further, Natalie, I'm sorry I am irresponsible and suck at life.

Dr. Natalie Digate Muth, M.D., R.D., M.P.H., Super Lady. I've had the privilege of knowing her for a long time now, as we both married into a large Irish family. Our husbands are actually cousins. Our daughters are just a few weeks apart in age. The last time we saw one another, I asked her about this very topic: how can I get my daughter to grow up eating a wide range of foods and making healthy choices? We talked about how when foods are elevated and given special status, or completely forbidden, it makes them all the more desirable--for everyone, not just kids--so the true education comes from changing habits and mindsets, not just eating and shopping habits. I was very dedicated to getting Hannah a balanced diet, and I figured, "Who better to ask than the pediatrician and mom of two?" Natalie mentioned, "I'm actually writing a book about this very topic right now!" I thought to myself, "Well, that's cool." Silly me, because I didn't realize that Natalie was actively writing a book. I suppose I thought that she was writing for a medical journal or industry publication.

I was really excited to read this book, though when I first started, I sat smugly on the train because my child had always been a great eater. With a few exceptions here and there, Hannah ate everything we put in front of her. Natalie offered a lot of great tips, but I had convinced myself that they didn't or wouldn't apply to me because my daughter ate everything.

Fast-forward to September, and suddenly previously adored foods were on the NOT WANT list. Bananas? Garbage. Grapes? "Mom, don't even." Green beans and sweet potatoes? HAHAHAHAHAHA! As Hannah says, "Mommy silly!" I had started to give up. I mean, is it so terrible that she eats yogurt 4 times a day? It's got milk and protein. And macaroni and cheese....well, there are carbs, and dairy, and....shoot. I was falling into a trap, and I wanted to fix it. When all else fails, I turn to Natalie! I cracked open the book and got some really good, valuable advice on increasing Hannah's vegetable intake and teaching her to make good choices. While some of it initially seemed like common sense, it's good to hear it again and see it in writing. More than that, each chapter offers practical, delicious recipes from Natalie's colleage, Mary Saph Tanaka, making it impossible to say, "That won't work for us." Right now, Hannah loves her "macky cheese." She'd eat it 8 times a day if she could. Natalie's book reminded me that I could mix in peas or chopped up broccoli, and now it's her favorite way to eat her "macky cheese".

I really liked the way the book and chapters were laid out. I felt like the information was laid out well and made accessible for a Jane Q. Reader such as myself. For quick references, I liked that there are "Developmental Considerations" included near the end of every chapter, breaking it down for kids school aged all the way down to infancy. This was particularly helpful when Hannah started rejecting foods that she'd previously eaten with abandon. It was good to have these reminders as I started to feel like my parenting skillz were spiraling downward. "Why aren't you eating? What am I doing wrong???"

One piece I found especially valuable (and have put to use frequently since reading the book) was the message about packaging. I certainly remember being a particular child and had opinions about which brand of fruit snacks were the best, and that store-bought cookies were soooooooo much better than homemade. Natalie includes lots of messages about packaging and meal presentation that makes such a difference for kids. I know I certainly forget how much brand awareness my child has already, and that affects her choices everyday. And those of you who know my Hannah can testify that this girl has opinions! Keeping this message in mind, I've renamed some meals to make them more appealing to her. A few nights ago, for example, I made gluten-free pasta with a lightened up tomato cream sauce. It was full of ingredients I knew she'd love, but this kid has turned two with a vengeance. If I told her it was "pasta", she wouldn't touch it. So while I ate pasta with tomato cream sauce, Hannah ate "Pink Macky Cheese". We had the same meal, but hers merged two of her favorite things in one, and she gobbled it down and asked for seconds. When she first showed interest in cherry tomatoes, I noticed she turned up her nose at them when I called them tomatoes. When she saw a small bowl of tomatoes from our garden, she asked for a "grape". Instead, we called them "red grapes", and she'll eat as many as we let her, convinced she's eating a "red" version of her favorite fruit. Because it's a "red grape", she isn't put off by the fact that it tastes completely different from her favorite fruit.

Another great take-away from the book is the insistence that kids will reject foods time and time again, so Natalie encourages parents not to give up every time a child turns down a food. With my daughter, for example, she can turn down a food anywhere from 5-15 times before she tries it. With every meal, we offer something we know she'll eat, and we'll offer all the other foods we're serving, too. Most of the time, she doesn't want it. But, thanks to Natalie's support and the reminder that the more she sees it and sees us modeling healthy eating habits, my daughter has made some positive improvements and is a touch less picky about certain foods than she used to be. Those of you who are my friend on Facebook will remember my status update the other day, when Hannah threw a fit because I didn't have any "bwocowee" (broccoli) for her to eat. Six months ago, I'd have seriously doubted that day would ever come.

There are lots of other great tips to be found in the book, and I know I'll be keeping this book in my cookbook collection for years to come, especially as Hannah and any future kiddos go through their developmental stages. The recipes in the book are also really good. Their nutritional value is great, obviously, but they're done well so you don't feel like you're sacrificing taste. In the coming weeks, I'm planning on sharing a few recipes from the book. All Hannah-approved, of course. Hannah's personal favorites have been the Baked Garlic Basil Pita Chips and the Baked Honey Mustard Chicken Fingers, for sure.

Are you interested? Would you like a copy of your very own? Of course you do! Dr. Natalie has graciously offered to give away 1 copy of the book to a lucky reader today. The rules: To enter, just leave a comment on this entry, answering one of the following questions:

What healthy foods do you wish your kid(s) liked?

OR

In what ways do you encourage your kid(s) to make healthy choices?

For an additional entry, head on over to Facebook and like How to Raise Healthy Eaters, then leave a second comment below letting me know that you liked the page. Alternately, you can tweet about this giveaway, and reply below letting me know and including your Twitter handle in the comment.

Contest ends and comments close at 12:00 a.m. Friday morning. Winner will be contacted via email on Friday and must reply within 48 hours of notification, else another winner will be chosen. Winner will be chosen by a random-number-picker-thingy, chosen at will by the powers that be. Good luck!

Disclosure: I was compensated for this review with a copy of the book. All thoughts, words, and opinions are my own. 


32 comments:

  1. Oooh! I know you talked about this book before, so I'm very interested! I really, really push for him to eat veggies & fruit and he does pretty well. Now I'm learning to give that to him before the good stuff so he eats that and THEN gets his mac & cheese :)

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  2. I wish she liked brocolli but she turns her nose at it, but then again she is only 15 months so maybe that will change. I do try to put veggies and fruit in front of her every chance I can and she usually does pretty good. It would be nice to have more receipes and ways to make things a little healthier.

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  3. This sounds awesome and I'm really thinking that it will be helpful when Henry's a bit older. I love how you talked about calling them red grapes or pink mac and cheese. So stinkin' smart. And it actually sounds like I may like the recipes for my picky husband, too. I'm sorry I can't really answer the question yet, since Henry's too young. Thanks for the giveaway.

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  4. What healthy foods do you wish your kid(s) liked?

    Where do begin? Any vegetables whatsoever - she won't eat a single one. Or eggs... can't eat her to eat those! I have a VERY picky eater!

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  5. I try to make my 2.5 yr old daughters plate pretty and colorful, but she still refuses to eat zucchini (she used to eat it all the time), tomatoes, and green beans!

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  6. My kids will eat pretty much any vege we put in front of them, but I wish I knew how to incorporate a bigger variety or to cook things healthier for them! They live restaurant fried chicken nuggets so I can't wait to see the baked chicken nugget recipe!! Thanks for the chance to win! Laura Jesionowski

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  7. I wish my son would eat ANYTHING healthy. The only way I can get him to eat any fruit or veggie is in a pouch. Sadly, his favorite food is hot dogs.

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  8. H eats pretty much what we do. I'd love some now ideas for vege heavy meals that we can all enjoy!

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  9. I wish my daughter liked tomatoes. She's actually a great eater and like tomato sauce but not fresh tomatoes. As a NJ native this is just not acceptable. :)

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  10. Peas and Greenbeans some of my favorites.

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  11. I wish Jack would a green vegetable...any green vegetable!! Specifically peas and green beans.

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  12. Thankfully mine are too young to really protest right now - they are good at eating what I give them. They eat quite healthy stuff because that's all they've known - food allergies have kept us from traditionally popular processed foods.

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  13. Hi Angie! I wish Sonny didn't pick everything green out of his food. What a silly boy! My method to try to get him to eat his veggies is just to keep offering them to him. I also make sure we eat together as a family and he watches Paul & me eat our veggies and say "mmmmmm!". :)

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  14. Also, I liked the Facebook page. I am excited to get some new tips -- thanks!

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  15. I wish mine liked eating veggies at home. She eats fruit like they're candy, but she won't touch veggies. She seems to do fine at home, so I'm not sure if it's peer pressure...

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  16. I wish my kids would eat a wider variety of veggies. They have their favorites (unfortunately, none of them are the same so no matter what I serve, somebody is unhappy!) but there are so many delicious things out there I wish they'd at least try!

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  17. I liked the Facebook page :)

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  18. My daughter eats pretty healthy...she likes most fruits and vegetables. But I wish she would like bananas and blueberries more. For some reason she will not eat those!

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  19. My son, who is not quite 2, eats just about whatever we put in front of him. Whenever we give him something new to try, we always give positive reinforcements when he does try it. So far, he is a great eater--here’s hoping that continues!

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  20. It is very hard to get my 3 year old triplets to eat vegetables (other than peas & corn). I try and give them plenty of encouragement, something healthy to dip them in (hummus or Greek yogurt)...sometimes that works...but not as often as I wish. Luckily they love all fruits!

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  21. I wish Cora would eat more than dairy and carbs. The only fruits and veggies she eats on a regular basis are bananas, avocado and broccoli. Everything else is a crapshoot, unless I buy those super expensive Plum Tot pouches--and she even spits those out sometimes. She's also on a meat strike.

    Heading over to FB now!!

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  22. I wish my son liked apples! They're one of my favorite fruits, so we keep a lot of them around.

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  23. Leo is very young and has yet to become a picky eater, we encourange healthy eating by providing healthy foods for him to eat at meal times and snack times.

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  24. We let Ellie eat what we eat, which makes me more accountable for making healthy foods. I try to offer her lots of different healthy options all day, ranging from her beloved cheese to smoked salmon.

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  25. I wish Jameson liked any veggies. Everything he tris he spits out and says yuck boo!

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