Dr. Yami’s tagline is “pediatrician on a mission”, and for good reason. This powerhouse mom, pediatrician, public speaker and author wants children to grow up with a healthy body image and relationship with food that sets them up for success.
Dr. Yami Cazorla-Lancaster knew she needed to find better solutions for her patients when so many of them were coming in with allergies, chronic abdominal pain and signs of not feeling well based on their dietary choices. Not only was Dr. Yami noticing issues with patients that just weren’t right for pediatrics, she also has been keenly aware of the body image and body confidence issues kids struggle with.
Going through her own struggles starting at eight years old, Dr. Yami began a dieting roller coaster that lasted a few decades and created disordered eating that interfered with her wellbeing, mental health and stole productivity from her life. Even her own son started dealing with the same issues, like wanting a flatter stomach at the age of six, so Dr. Yami started learning about plant-based nutrition, intuitive eating and lifestyle medicine.
It’s bad enough that most adults are worried about “losing those last 10 pounds” and trying to control what our bodies look like, but the fact of the matter is our kids are being trained to think this way starting at a young age. This is why Dr. Yami has started teaching her patients the benefits of intuitive eating.
Intuitive eating, originally founded by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, is quite simply “honoring hunger and satiety”.
Children have their own intuitive eating intelligence that gets chipped away when we try to change their natural eating habits. Kids don’t want to sit down for long, European-like meals because they’re filled with curious energy and would rather be exploring or playing. As parents, we tend to get anxious that our kids aren’t eating enough when they sit down for dinner and only take a few bites from their plate. So, what do we do? We create rules around food, we bribe them, and encourage them to ignore their intuitive eating habits.
This may calm your anxiety as a parent, but it only paves the way for a child to have disordered eating and an unhealthy relationship with their food and body. You may be wondering how you can get your child to eat more fruits and vegetables instead of unhealthy snacks.
“The only way to learn to like a food is through consistent and repetitive exposure.” – Dr. Yami (28:31-28:38)
Dr. Yami’s advice is to keep exposing your child to healthy, nutritious, whole fruits and vegetables, but don’t force them. Think about how you acquired the taste for alcohol or coffee, for example. These drinks have very strong, bitter flavors, but somehow we end up enjoying them. That was because we had a deeper buy-in for liking them and it happened over repetitive exposure.
Know that your role as a parent is to decide what to serve, where to serve it and when. The role of your child is to decide how much they are going to taste today, if at all. It might take up to twenty times of putting broccoli on your child’s plate until they decide to taste it! Let go of the outcome and know that you aren’t a failure if your child doesn’t eat what you put on their plate for the first, second, or even tenth time.
We also have a responsibility as parents to develop a healthy body image ourselves. Our kids are watching us constantly and pick up on certain cues that tell them we don’t have a good relationship with our body. Every time you say something negative about your body, or constantly check yourself in the mirror, your child thinks they need to do the same thing. If it’s hard to create a positive conversation around your body, keep it neutral to start! Know that you don’t have to be perfect as a parent and you don’t have to have a body shaped by society’s standards.
Make sure to pick up a copy of Dr. Yami’s book, A Parent’s Guide to Intuitive Eating: How to Raise Kids Who Love to Eat Healthy, on Amazon and visit www.veggiefitkids.com for more helpful tips on how to encourage healthy body image and a love for fruits and vegetables with your children.
How to get involved
- Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week!
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