Tag Archive | childhood feeding

brought to tears

I actually found it in a garbage can at the health department where I now work. I’d been trying to get my little fingers on one of these for a while, so I was not totally put off by its lowly circumstances. It really should have been in the recycling bin at least, but there it lay, abandoned, thankfully right on top. I gingerly lifted it from its resting place of refuse and walked it right over to a nearby sink.sunset-288531_1280

I unscrewed the cap which I was about to discard until I noticed that it too was an artifact of interest to me– but that was secondary to the bottle, at least for starters. The bottle was still half full or half empty, so my next quasi-distasteful act was to pour the hazardous saliva-mixed remains down the drain despite my uncertainty regarding proper disposal procedures for what might be considered a toxic substance.

A few months back I had become aware of some new Coca-Cola campaign entitled Share A Coke. Cans and bottles of the ubiquitous beverage now have one of about 250 first names, like Debbie, along with other emotionally tinged monikers like Bestie, Grillmaster, Wingman, Mom and Dad prominently displayed on the label under the directive to Share a Coke with the dearly imprinted. Just hearing about this manipulation of the human psyche triggered my shivers down the spinal reflex. But, when I began to see the bottles for sale in my local convenience store and in the cafeteria in my office building it was downright spooky. But, here I was now, up close and personal with one.

Things must have been getting pretty bad over there at Coca-Cola. Previous promises of perpetual happiness associated with imbibing the sugar-laden, highly acidic, caffeine-laced, teeth-rotting, gut-deteriorating, illness-promoting fizzy elixir must have begun to go flat. Were sales lagging? Was the logo no longer recognizable the world over? What else could have initiated a marketing blitz that reeks of malevolence as it strives to ensnare our fragile egos and enslave our purchasing behaviors?

I remember being excited when those little mini license plates with names on them that you could attach to your bike seat first came out. But, I also recall the immediate chagrin when you could not find your own name hanging from the metal display rack. Suddenly you felt second-rate, not worthy of a plate. I am not certain of all of the psychological underpinnings that are attached to this probably billion dollar campaign, but I am sure they are many. Does seeing our name emblazoned in such a public way make us feel validated, loved, powerful and more connected in this alienated world?

I don’t really get the campaign. I am sure, most of the time, you have to buy a bottle with someone else’s name on it. How much can you bother to search for a bottle that idolizes yourself or a loved one? Must you settle for John when you are really seeking Mario? And then, what if you don’t have a person to share it with? That is probably what happened to my bottle, Nicole. Half finished and tossed aside, unshared and hopes dashed. Even the reward points offered on the cap were left unclaimed and discarded. Reward points? Really?

I don’t want to go any further on this except to say that this unbridled assault on our health through such methods of aggressive advertising can and does bring me to tears. I’ve written about this before. One does not have to look too hard to see the real rewards of such consumption, but you have to care to be looking and looking to care. I am too verklempt even thinking about needing to reiterate the effects of these substances anymore. Originally, the reason I wanted to get a bottle without purchase was to be able to include it as a photo for this post–but now I don’t even wish to give it any publicity or visibility. We are clearly easy targets for seduction even when clearly it is not in our best interest. So, Nicole will now go directly into my recycling bin and I am posting instead a beautiful photo of a sunset. My only hope is that an unexpected outcome of the campaign will be that with all that sharing of cans and bottles, per capita consumption will actually shrink by at least half.

Anyway, while there are sad tears there are also happy ones. I specialize in both. Recently, while also at work–it may have even been the same day that I retrieved the Coke bottle, I received an email from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. It included a video that spotlighted healthy and healing practices being undertaken at the West Side High School for at-risk students in New York City through a powerful investment in a gardening program, real food, and intensive physical activity– by a dedicated and devoted principal and staff.

Thirty-six seconds in and there I was bawling (yes) in my little, oh not so private cubicle. In my last post, I wrote about my reservations about the bulk of nutrition and health activities being directed at obesity prevention efforts whereas I believe the implications and consequences of our cultural dietary and health insults are so much greater. I did not get much response on that so I would still be interested in hearing your thoughts. But, in this video, simply and beautifully, a young woman named Tenia expresses why eating proper foods is important for both emotional and physical well-being–aside from weight-based associations.

This glimpse of transformation that occurs when the birthright of health is granted, when it is given priority and nurtured, and not compromised by those so willing to sacrifice our young in endless pursuit of profit is worth viewing. I highly recommend it. Here is the link. Note, don’t forget the tissues.

Just a mention that my own recent favorite brew has been matcha, a fine green tea powder. I enjoy it as a tea or mixed in smoothies. It is fuller or richer than regular green tea and it gently provides a touch of focus and energy. I was initiated with a gift of a package of Matcha from Kiss Me Organics that was exceptionally pleasant and which has become a welcomed part of my day and my diet. There are many benefits of matcha to explore and it can be incorporated into many recipes. Give it a peek.

Na area da saude, Elyn

Related Posts: Private Health, So-Duh

Nirinjan's Plate

Nirinjan’s Plate

My Plate Haiku

It is easier

To reprimand the sinner

Than change the system.  by Julie


childhood awareness month obesity

Before the month is out, I’d like to report and thereby release my annual reticence about focusing attention so directly on childhood obesity. If I could, I would turn the matter inside out or upside down, but since my typing options are limited, I am just mixing the whole thing around–and hence the title.

Chances are you don’t even know that this is the month that deems we bring special attention to childhood obesity, albeit with good intention. Hopefully,fat kids don’t know it is either. Fat kids are not clambering for any special attention–their weight brings them more than they should ever have to bear every month of the year. Perhaps we should celebrate Childhood Obesity Lack of Attention Month and lighten up on those whose bodies bear our national shame.

I have written about my feelings on this before, and in a personal exercise of trying to write a short post, I will keep things brief by referring to those previous ones. But why I continue to be peeved is partly because I thought that awareness months were for concerns and conditions that would not otherwise garner attention. For example, September is also National Sickle Cell Month and Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month. Yet,obesity–for both young and old has not gone unnoticed. Since we realized there was a problem there has been a very public outcry and assault on the situation. The fight against it has been on heralding the call to eat less and move more. Master the equation.

But more so, I see the focus on obesity as missing the larger point. Yes, there has clearly been a marked increase in the prevalence of obesity in this country, and globally since the 1980s, according to the indicators that are used to measure such things. And, yes there are associated health concerns and consequences for some (though not all) of those who have turned their states from blue to orange and red on those shocking maps presented by the Center for Disease Control. The reasons for this are complex, confusing and multi-factorial. The obvious villains of eating more and moving less get the brunt of the blame but there are other nefarious players as well.

While we strive to figure out how to get a handle on the situation and direct many resources to worthy intervention and prevention efforts, my point is that the aspects of the problem that we decry for contributing to obesity, also have impacted other facets of our society’s health and that of its children. It is pretty obvious that we are suffering from lousy food, excessive intake and inadequate physical activity, but if we put those forces in a prisoner lineup, then we must also charge and convict them for not only contributing to weight gain, but to behavior and learning problems, depression, anxiety, immune system disorders, allergies and other maladies as well. It is not only the many who are vulnerable to weight gain who are affected. However, those who aren’t, are also being held hostage by the environmental and social influences that define our lives.

While it is true that our economy is burdened by health conditions related to weight for which the bell has been mightily tolled, so it is by these other impacts on our children. Gather together teachers, behavioral specialists, pediatricians, nutritionists and all those who tend to our young, and I am sure they will describe concerns broader than just children’s BMIs. Dietary and activity level influences may be involved there as well.

I must perforce explain that I get the gravity of the weight situation. But I cynically bemoan the multitude of poor policies that fostered the crisis and the policy makers who then woke up screaming, hey, let’s do something about those obese children. If we want a month, then may I suggest we rename it, “Tending to Our Children’s Birthright of Health Awareness Month” and stop just focusing on obesity. I believe all children will benefit from such a shift in attention and it may actually prevent some harm.

For those who are interested in mindful approaches to specific childhood feeding issues and raising competent eaters, I guide you to the wise work of Ellyn Satter, Dr. Katja Rowell and Dina Rose.

What are your thoughts on this?  Let me know.

In health, Elyn

Related (directly and indirectly) Posts: A Bushel and A Peck of Ways to Address Childhood Obesity; The Humanist Imperative to Nourish and Care for Our Children; The Tempted Temperament; Skinny Boys


Rose's Plate

Rose’s Plate

My Plate Haiku

Peach baskets brimming

Raspberries ripe on the bush

Apples soon to come.  by Crystal

(Summer sped by and fall is upon us. Apples are here!)

Happy Birthday to Rose’s wonderful Daddy.

Healing prayers for friend Jodi who has nourished so many with her wonderful cooking and abundant love.

Blessings to Crystal on her wedding to Oliver next week!

the tempted temperament

Original Winnie the Pooh stuffed toys. Clockwi...

Image via Wikipedia

Chances are you know a child like Sam. Sam, was a classmate of my daughter since kindergarten and I have watched him grow up.  He is a sweet-natured kid.  When he was young he was a really big boy with hands like mitts.  His eyes used to almost pop out of his head with excitement when food was presented.  Once, when my husband brought brownies to my daughter’s class in celebration of her birthday, Sam sized him up quickly, and befriended him immediately.  While waiting, he sidled up to my husband and whispered, “We better eat those brownies soon before they go raw.”  The well-being of those brownies were of his utmost concern.

We know that there are two types of people-those who live to eat and those who eat to live.  This attribute in individuals is one of those things we seem to just be born with.  It is not necessarily defined by genetics or environment.  It is not inherently good or bad.

Amidst the fray about childhood obesity, there is an urgent need to uncover the causes and to implement solutions.  External factors such as fast food, school lunches, excessive TV and computer use are the usual culprits, and of course, they are a part of the problem. However, missing from the dialogue is any mention of children’s natural dispositions.   Though the external forces must be addressed, in overlooking or disregarding the nature of the individual child and the powerful relationship with the act and art of eating, we lose an opportunity to be sensitive to children with particular natures.  Considering this piece may reveal some approaches to care and serve to remove the element of blame or human weakness from the child, as well as the parent.

Hippocrates and the ancient Greeks spoke of the four temperaments.  The temperaments described different formative forces that human beings possess that give rise to different soul types.  The model of the temperaments as a tool for understanding human nature was popular until the end of the Elizabethan Age. It has been the inspiration for many artistic endeavors and in the 1920’s, philosopher Rudolf Steiner integrated it into his work on childhood development where today it remains an active piece of the Waldorf School Movement, which he developed.

The four defined temperaments are the choleric, sanguine, melancholic and phlegmatic.  In brief, they can be defined as such: the choleric is strong-willed; the sanguine is light, wispy and perhaps flighty with many curiosities; the melancholic is sensitive, suffering, and self-conscious; and the phlegmatic is dreamy and slow in movement. The characters that inhabit A.A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood can serve as archetypes of the different temperaments.   Tigger is the choleric; Piglet is the sanguine; Eeyore is the melancholic; while Pooh is the quintessential phlegmatic.

In young children, one can easily see distinct aspects of the temperaments and a predominant constitution–though most healthy kids do exhibit some sanguine tendencies.  The temperaments can manifest in all aspects of our beings.  When it comes to a deep passionate relationship with food, it is here that Sam and the phlegmatics reign.   They live to eat, and accordingly, tend to have soft, round bodies and are most prone to becoming overweight.  Remember Pooh’s sheer love of honey and how that devotion caused him to become stuck in the doorway of Rabbit’s house.  Dear Pooh.

As most parents can attest, children’s natures become evident almost from birth.  In the early years, one can often tell the phlegmatic children by body type along with behaviors.  Phlegmatic infants are most likely roly-poly and slow and steady feeders. They are happy to lie in the crib cooing, playing with their hands and feet.  With the introduction of solid food, they euphorically greet the oncoming spoon and are not easily distracted from eating.  Phlegmatic children may take to walking and talking later than their peers and are generally easy-going.

With the attainment of verbal skills, these children frequently say “I’m hungry.”  Though most healthy young children are often hungry due to high growth demands, the phlegmatic’s request for food seems to come less from actual physical hunger and more from a desire to be eating and digesting.  This seemingly constant refrain of “I’m hungry” becomes one of the greatest challenges to the parents of a phlegmatic child, especially if the parents do not share that temperamental tendency themselves.

How does one respond to this repetitive declaration of hunger and cry for food?  How does a parent distinguish between true physical hunger and emotional or digestive hunger?  Does non-physical hunger lack validity and deserve to be ignored or denied?  How many times can a mother just look her cherubic child in the face and say no?  Phlegmatic children are quite endearing and can easily work their way into our hearts in Pooh-like fashion.  Over restriction or over indulgence in feeding are both understandable reactions.

In being sensitive to the innate natures of our children at an early stage, we can adopt some feeding practices to better assist them in a healthy unfolding to adulthood. Phlegmatic children can be best served by being mindful of their enjoyment of eating but by providing them satisfaction with foods that are as healthy and naturally sweetened as possible.  If no serious emotional issues seem present, then the parent sees to the careful provision of a varied diet at scheduled times and the child sees to their appetite.  As the child gets older, helping them to find interests and activities, including physical pursuits that fit their temperament is important.  If extreme weight issues can be avoided, the growing child this will not be distracted by these matters and can then focus on the development of his or her natural abilities.

It is tempting to believe that we will one day whip all the children into proper shape by successful programming.  It is also a commonly held belief that the overweight child is destined to a life of obesity.  However, there may be more to be gained and less damage to be done from working with our children’s tendencies than fighting against them.  I have observed many round kids morph into lean adolescents through a combination of factors including their genetic blueprint, hormonal changes and their own conscious ability to choose how to feed themselves.  Sam is now sixteen.  He is a high level competitive rower.  I think he might now be described as highly buff.  He recently told me, that once he discovered what he was interested in he found a way of eating that served his purpose.

The gifts of the phlegmatics are many.  They are compassionate, serene, steady individuals capable of faithful and abiding love.  They often possess natural musical and artistic abilities, and in the final analysis are the true geniuses–the slow, steady and thoughtful thinkers of our times. By viewing such children through this more compassionate lens we can tend to their care more appropriately and be inspired to feed them well with good intention.

Were you a Tigger or a Pooh?

In health, Elyn

My Plate


Pick your own today
Happy kids in wide brimmed hats
Sweet summertime fruit…
By Anna