Episode 228: Mary Jacobsen
Aug 10, 2022
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You want your kids to grow up eating healthy, and that means more than just the types of food you’re eating. Without a healthy relationship to food, your children can develop all sorts of unhealthy eating patterns that no amount of broccoli can counterbalance. Maryann Jacobsen, registered dietician, world-renowned family and nutrition expert, and four-time author, is dedicated to helping improve everyone’s relationship with food and nutrition (that goes for you, too!).
It all started when Maryann became a mom and she started doing research when it was time to introduce solids to her first child and she discovered the different ways you can truly help your child enjoy eating a wide variety of nutritious foods. Like most parents, you’ve probably experienced the “honeymoon phase” with your child when they were a baby – they’ll eat almost anything! But when it comes time for the terrible two’s and three’s, you can forget it. Your kids start desiring and trying to exercise having more independence, usually by rejecting foods. This is a completely normal part of childhood development, but a tough one for parents. This is part of the healthy relationship with food Maryann is talking about. Dealing with a picky eater? Maryann suggests you focus on exposure. Exposing kids to healthy foods and bringing them in as a normal part of life is key, especially during these picky, independent stages. Expose them to having family style meals and dinner as a meal together, too, so they have a healthy relationship with the connection and culture food brings us. Another one of Maryann’s tips is having a “learning plate”. This is a great way to plant a seed with a child who might be super resistant to tasting or trying new things. If you have a “learning plate” for them to learn about the food and be exposed to it, without there being any added pressure, you create a safe environment for them to try new things.
“At puberty, girls are all of a sudden gaining weight and body fat in preparation for their periods, and it’s a time where they’re highly at risk for developing eating disorders or disordered eating. They might be on social media comparing their bodies to other girls’ bodies and it’s a whole different ball game now,” says Maryann.
This is one of the reasons she wrote her book (and coordinating journal) called My Body’s Superpower. In the book, it teaches girls to use their “superpowers”, like hunger signals, to create healthier habits and lead a happier life overall. As kids become teenagers, they’re getting money from allowances and jobs, and they’re eating out with their friends more when you aren’t around to help guide them in their healthy decision making. The book helps girls develop a healthy relationship with food rather than slipping into common, unhealthy patterns that are seen in teenage girls, like skipping meals and binging later. Even Maryann remembers the days when it was popular to not bring food to your lunchtime at school.
“As a female myself, I truly appreciate the time and effort you have dedicated to supporting girls during that stage of puberty and helping them understand the change in their bodies.” Lori Taylor (16:44-16:56)
What are some of Maryann’s other top tips? Closing the kitchen down between meals to avoid mindless snacking, yet having healthy snacks easily available, and always letting kids know what meal they’re eating next and when. Don’t feel overwhelmed when your kids are being picky and know this is a healthy, normal part of their development!
You can start taking steps to helping your kids have a healthy relationship with food by picking up one of Maryann’s phenomenal books, The Family Dinner Solution: How to Create a Rotation of Dinner Meals Your Family Will Love, How to Raise a Mindful Eater: 8 Powerful Principles for Transforming Your Child’s Relationship with Food, From Picky To Powerful: The Mindset, Strategies and Know-how You Need to Empower Your Picky Eater, Fearless Feeding: How To Raise Healthy Eaters From High Chair to High School, and of course, My Body’s Superpower: The Girls’ Guide to Growing Up Healthy During Puberty.
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Previous episodes you may enjoy
- Episode 227: John Hollay
- Episode 226: Brett Valicoff
- Episode 225: Dana Gunders
- Episode 224: Raina Nelson and Johnathan Sutton
- Episode 223: Justin Levy