How Dietitian Moms Nourish Their Families

Today is Registered Dietitian’s Day! To celebrate, and to continue the National Nutrition Month theme of putting your best fork forward, I asked some dietitians that are also moms to share how they put their best fork forward when it comes to their families and themselves in their role as mom. Here’s what they have to say!

Personal insight from leading dietitians and how they practice nutrition in their own families.

There are 3 key things I focus on when nourishing my family around the dinner table:

  1. Embracing mess—adventure in eating can look like a Picasso painting or a murder scene—eye of the beholder!
  2. Balanced plates—our family loves variety and we make sure we challenge the taste buds with variety
  3. Food isn’t a big deal—we believe that the dinner table isn’t a battleground, we honor the division of responsibility set forth by Ellyn Satter and let the rest go!

Sure, nutrition is important, but I don’t approach the plate as a bunch of nutrients, instead I focus on flavor, texture, and variety. Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RD Co-Author of Born to Eat & Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies

I take pride in sneaking fruits and veggies into any and all recipes, for example, black bean brownies are a hit in my household and not because of the black beans. 🙂 – Brianne Meek, RD, LDN (mother of 2 young, picky boys)

Exposure to all foods from a young age. There are no “kids” foods or “adult” foods in our household. My two young boys eat (almost) everything: from octopus to lentils.  – Elena Paravantes, RDN, Mediterranean Diet Consultant

I try to view feeding my family as a welcome challenge rather than a frustration. Whether it’s consistently getting a healthy meal on the table each night, working with my toddler to help her learn to accept a varied, healthy diet or making time to nourish my pregnant body, feeding my family is a big way that I show them love. So I try my best to keep up a positive attitude about it! – Diana K. Rice, RD, The Baby Steps Dietitian

When it comes to feeding my family, I focus on easy-to-find everyday ingredients, nourishing and adventurous recipes, and healthy twists on old favorites. Flavor is my number-one goal, because I believe that when your healthy meals look and taste great, everyone gets excited to eat them. – Liz Weiss, RDN, Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen

My freezer is my best friend! I freeze portions of leftovers in a Beaba silicone tray (or ice cube tray!) to ensure a healthy toddler meal is on hand in 30 seconds in the microwave! I have an arsenal of bagged frozen produce so it is always available, making it easy to add peas to pasta or frozen berries to cool down hot oatmeal! (I also try not to make my toddler separate meals; he eats what we are eating, even if it’s a deconstructed version.) He’s joined us at the table since he was old enough to sit up in his high chair, so he’s used to family meals and it’s much more appetizing to see his parents eating the same foods! – Therese Bonanni, MS, RD tmbrd.com; mom to 2 year old Peter

I try to get the family involved looking for recipes and helping me with the food shopping list. Also on the weekends we cook together. I find they are more inclined to tasting when they have helped with the process. – Janet Brancato, MS, RD www.mynutopia.com

I prep some foods in advance (i.e. chopped veggies, fruits, etc for the week); and I encourage my 8-year-old girls to help me create and assemble meals/snacks such as guacamole dip, veggie-loaded pizzas, and egg dishes. I also take them with me to the Farmer’s Market so they can pick out the produce they love or find something new to try. – Lauren O’Connor, MS, RD http://nutrisavvyhealth.com

I keep it real. I don´t strive for perfection when it comes to feeding my family well. I focus on the big picture—a wide variety of nutritious foods, more shared meals at home and allowing my children to have control over what they sample from the plate. It´s about practice more than perfection. – Denine Marie, MPH, RDN of healthyoutofhabit.com

The way in which I put my best fork forward is by allowing myself and my family unconditional permission to eat in ways that are both nourishing and satisfying. I prep a lot of food each week while also making room for some spontaneity and fun food choices because I believe all foods fit. – Kate Albarella, RDN, LD/N at wholelivingrd.com

As a non-diet dietitian and mom, my goal is to raise confident and competent eaters rather than super healthy eaters.  I believe that kids (and adults) are great at self-moderating their food choices if given the opportunity to practice.  To me the idea of “put your best fork forward” is teaching my kids how to connect with their own intuitive signals of hunger, fullness and satisfaction to guide their choices instead of relying on outside rules or guidelines.  I hope to do this by providing them opportunities to practice intuitive eating by encouraging them to eat undistracted in the kitchen, to plate their food and sit down with it and even describe how the food tastes, smells and looks.  A balanced approach to food is a natural consequence of satisfying, positive mindful eating practices.  I want that for them.  If I spend a lot of time micromanaging their food choices or discussing “good” vs “bad” foods, they won’t have the opportunity to be curious or learn by experience.  By focusing less on what they eat, we have more room to talk about how, when, why and where they eat, creating positive and healthy behaviors around food.  “Put your best fork forward” will look different for everyone.  I hope my kids will always be true to themselves in the choices they make.  – Emily Fonnesbeck, RD, CD, CLT at emilyfonnesbeck.com

Now, for my fellow moms out there: how do you focus on nourishing your families?

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