Parenting Challenges

Those of you who know me well have heard me say, “every child is different” or “some children are more challenging to deal with than others”.  All pediatricians field a lot of questions about picky eaters and how to get kids to eat their vegetables.  As parents we are facing many challenges with respect to our children’s diets.  The daily pressures to get kids to school, then to after school activities can often lead to problems at mealtime.  After a long day I don’t always want to expend a lot of effort to prepare dinner for the family (and neither does my wife).   I also don’t want to have a big battle at the dinner table regarding what we are having.  So the challenge is to whip up something quick, that everyone can agree upon, and it has to be healthy.  Sound familiar? Obviously with picky kids that can be tough.  At the Mosolf house we usually have some kind of protein, a vegetable, a carbohydrate and fruit,  The fruit is a compromise because the kids won’t usually eat the veggies. When I put out a plate of baby carrots or salad they will probably eat that, but not much else (maybe some broccoli with cheese sauce or fresh green beans).  So one of the kids is a bit overweight. We have tried to advise him to eat smaller portions and healthier options, but we get a lot of push back.  Swim team 3 or 4 days a week worked well for a few years to keep the weight under control, but now we are running out of options. My latest strategy has been to “phone a friend”.  Getting some help from the outside can be a good option when normal parenting fails.  Receiving advice from a neutral third party such as a nutritionist or dietitian is easier for headstrong kids. They don’t feel like mom is picking on them or criticizing. Also there are TED talks, TV shows and documentaries about nutrition such as Fed Up that can help children to see their bad habits.   The challenge is to be a good parent without creating a toxic and confrontational environment in the home.  If you are having problems at home with your child’s diet ask me about it when you come in for your check up.  I usually converse directly with the child or teen to try and help them understand about healthy choices and lifestyle.  Occasionally they listen to me. I am always happy when a patient comes in and he or she has decreased their Body Mass Index.  They usually say something like, “I just decided to eat healthy foods such as salads and avoid junk food”.  It is something that the patient decided to do for him or herself.  If the parent is trying to manage every morsel of food that enters the kid’s mouth that is not going to work. Do you have control over what they eat at school?  Do you have a padlock on the pantry and fridge?  He or she has to want to make some changes first.   After that it is our job to help them out and encourage them in any way we can.  Keep the home stocked with healthy options.  Beware of misinformation regarding what is healthy.  Talk to me or some other nutrition professional if you need help.

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Review of the book: The Business of Baby by Jennifer Margulis

     I recently read The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz which was first published in 1956. It is an account of his escape from a Soviet Gulag and trek across Siberia and Mongolia to India. The book inspired a movie in 2010 called The Way Back starring Ed Harris. While I really enjoyed the book I started to wonder if it was true. “Slav” and his band of friends walked for 12 days through the desert only stopping to drink muddy water once. Really? Near the end the author describes his close encounter with a Yeti.  Others have questioned the truth of the story including the BBC. I was disappointed to learn that the book is fiction. But isn’t that the case with a lot of what we see daily? Jimmy Kimmel recently perpetrated an internet hoax which went viral. Spam email often includes scams and crazy rumors. Now I check the Snopes website whenever I see a strange internet rumor. My favorite rumor is the one about applying Vicks to your feet to treat a cough. That one has been going around for at least five years.

     In April, 2013 The Business of Baby by Jennifer Margulis was featured in The Daily Beast. After reading the article I knew that the author was going to say a lot of negative things about pediatricians and obstetricians, but I was curious what she had to say. According to the author, hospitals in the US do just about everything wrong in labor and delivery. Nurses start an IV then put the mother in bed on her back. Next comes an epidural and medicines to induce labor which leads to a C-section and higher infant and maternal problems. The author also blames pediatricians for giving a bunch of expensive and dangerous shots in order to make money. On a positive note I liked her comments about potty training being unnecessarily delayed in the US. Also she berates the American Academy of Pediatrics for taking donations from infant formula manufacturers. I agree with her that taking donations from formula makers while promoting breast feeding seems wrong. The book was well written and thought provoking, but very one sided. Her assertion that prenatal ultrasounds cause autism was not backed up by much evidence. I would characterize the author as a sensationalist rather than a journalist. It was an enjoyable read, but weak on careful evaluation of scientific research.