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Today Dr. Elana interviews Jill Castle, one of the nation’s premier childhood nutrition experts. We explore the “love with limits” approach to feeding kids and discuss the most common feeding mistakes that often undermine success in raising healthy eaters. Jill shares an important and encouraging perspective about raising healthy eaters that all parents need to hear.
We’d like to say a special thank you to today’s Podcast Partner: Four Sigmatic, a natural superfood company that specializes in mushroom-based drinks that benefit immunity, energy, and longevity. Get 15% off your order on their website with the code WHOLEMAMAS.
Jill Castle 0:03
You know, when a child is snacking frequently, they really don’t get that opportunity to build up an appetite for a meal. They never really experienced hunger. And so the mental association with Oh, I’m feeling this way I must be hungry, so therefore I need to eat. That doesn’t happen for the child that eats all the time or grazes all day long.
Elana Roumell 0:26
Welcome back to Whole Mamas Podcast. We’re here to give you tools, resources, and evidence based information so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family. Whether you’re trying to conceive, or navigating life with a toddler, or teenager, we got you covered. I’m Dr. Elana Roumell, Pediatric Naturopathic Doctor, and creator of med school for moms. An online resource where I teach moms how to safely be a doctor mom. My co host is Stephanie Greunke, Registered Dietitian and Program Director for Whole30’s Whole Mamas Club and co creator of Whole30 Pregnancy Program. Healthy Mama Happy Baby. I’m so happy to welcome our guest today Jill Castle. She’s one of the nation’s premier childhood nutrition experts. We explore the love with limits approach to feeding kids and help mamas avoid the most common feeding mistakes that all too often undermine success and raising healthy eaters. Based on one of our many books, called Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School, Jill shares an important perspective about raising healthy eaters that all parents need to hear. This episode was really touching to me personally since Jill and I share a very similar passion and pediatrics and really helping empower moms to teach their kids how to really help their kids thrive. I’m very excited to have Jill on today.
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All right now let’s have invite Jill on to the show and start our nourish yourself segment. Hi, Jill, thank you so much for spending some time and coming on today’s episode. I personally am so excited to interview you today.
Jill Castle 4:05
Well, thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Elana Roumell 4:08
You got it. We have a very shared passion when it comes to pediatrics and helping these kiddos really thrive in life. So I’m so excited I get to ask you some of my own personal questions, but we also have some really great questions from our community. But before we dive in, I also love to of course always ask every one of our guests what you did today to nourish yourself.
Jill Castle 4:28
Well as a dietitian, of course, I ate my breakfast and lunch.
Elana Roumell 4:33
Jill Castle 4:33
I also I also went for three and a half mile run this morning and I snuck a little 15 minute cat nap in.
Elana Roumell 4:40
Oh my goodness Jill. You’ve done so much. So you’re on the east coast. So I guess you’ve gained three hours ahead of me.
Jill Castle 4:47
Elana Roumell 4:47
I’m on the west coast here. Oh, how nice. Well, we always like to know what did you eat for breakfast today? Do you mind sharing?
Jill Castle 4:54
No, I don’t at all. I had my new favorite Greek yogurt by Greek Gods. It’s a honey, vanilla flavored Greek yogurt with blueberries and strawberries and some awesome granola.
Elana Roumell 5:09
Great, awesome. That sounds really great. Good high protein meal for the start of the day. That’s wonderful. It’s always fun to find like a new food brand that you just like, love. So I’m glad you found this one.
Jill Castle 5:22
It’s very mild.
Elana Roumell 5:24
Great. Good. Good. Yeah, sometimes the yogurts can be overly sweet and full of sugar. So this one, it sounds like is less sugary. So that’s good.
Jill Castle 5:32
Elana Roumell 5:33
Good. Well, something I did today. And it’s kind of interesting. So you probably don’t know this Jill. But I’m 30 weeks pregnant with my second child. I’m so excited.
Yes, thank you. I am having a baby boy. I have a two and a half year old girl at home. So it’s going to be a fun full house. I’m really looking forward to it. And something that I did today was scheduled a massage. And it’s so interesting to me because I wouldn’t say I’m shy of self care, but like time just flies. And I didn’t realize it but I was really committed to doing monthly massages during my pregnancy and and I looked at the calendar, and I knew that I was going to obviously answer this question myself today. And I was like, Oh my God, Elana, what did you do today to nourish yourself? And I’m like, Well, yes okay, I had a good smoothie for breakfast. And you know, I took a walk with my dog. But I was like, but what else did I do? And I was like, Oh my god, it’s time to schedule a massage. So I went ahead this morning, and I went on line and I scheduled it. And I think there’s two things that I just wanted to share with the moms listening is number one, my membership plan helps me so much to stay accountable to doing my monthly massages. It’s like, because I already paid for it, it’s like an automatic payment that I have on my credit card it really helps me just book it and go and not like make the excuse, like, I’m too busy this week or whatever. So I’m really excited that I did the membership. So I highly recommend that.
Jill Castle 6:34
Oh my godness, congratulations!
Elana Roumell 6:58
The other thing is just even this nourish yourself segment. The fact that, you know, Steph and I, we have to share what we did to nourish yourself. Like it really got me thinking like, okay, in an hour, I’m going to be doing this. So what did I do? And I feel like Yes, I have this as as our podcast. That’s my accountability, but perhaps inspiring some other moms to have a friend who keeps you accountable to like, really actually talk about what did you do to nourish yourself this week, or today, or like a quick check in because I think when we have somebody from the outside kind of checking in on us, it actually gets us into action and doing the things that really nourish yourself. Do you ever find that for yourself?
Jill Castle 7:36
Oh, yeah, I try to keep my self accountable. I wish I had a running partner, but I don’t. But you know, on Sundays, I kind of map my week out and I map out all the business stuff that I have to do in the appointments. But I also keep a little section for every day what I’m going to do for my exercise, because for me, it’s sort of the thing that it’s the barometer that keeps me you know, pretty neutral and calm and not stressed out. If I can get my exercise in, then I usually have a good day. And so I do. I make sure I block it out. And I don’t always go on the time that I say I’m going to go, but I always do something.
Elana Roumell 8:16
But that’s great. And it’s good that you know that for yourself, that exercise is something that you really need to nourish yourself. And I mean, I think exercise for everyone can benefit but it’s different, you know, for you, you love running. For me, I personally love walking. And it really nourishes not just my body, but my brain and my mental health. So I think that’s great that you’re really carving out the time, wonderful. Let’s jump into this topic. Because I’m personally so passionate about this. I mean, any mom listening is going to be you know, interested in this topic simply because we feed our kids multiple times a day. We feed ourselves, we’re you know, oftentimes moms are the main cook, but not not all the time. You know, there’s plenty of husbands and dads that are also the main cook. But you know, we still play a big part in what kind of foods we’re providing. And for me personally, in my clinical practice, I see so many kids who are picky eaters, and I want to be able to coach them well. And I know that there’s so many resources. And what I love about you and your career is you’ve dedicated over two decades of focusing just on this topic, I mean, you could see the immense amount of work you put in. So I want to first thank you for all that you do. Because I’m again, I just I’m so passionate about this topic. But I’m curious as my first question is just knowing your background, like how did you get interested in the topic of childhood nutrition and what really fuels your passion?
Jill Castle 9:40
Sure. I think it all goes back to you know, I’m a Registered Dietitian, and I did my internship in Boston at Mass General and part of the internship, I had to do a two week rotation in pediatrics. And I had done a large portion of my internship already by the time I got to this rotation. And when I started working with kids in the clinic, I mean very sick kids in a hospital, you can imagine, there was a lot of different things going on from surgery, to medical issues, to cancer to trauma. And I found the population so incredibly challenging for me as an individual to work these cases, because I’d already learned nutrition therapy for trauma, for example, but then to apply it to a small child or an infant. It just was really hard. And so I was really challenged by it. But I also love kids. I babysat growing up all the time, I had lots of nieces and nephews, I just love being around kids. I love how pure they are. I love how straight shooting they are. They’re straightforward. They’re not manipulative, or at least I don’t find them to be and I have four of my own kids. So I don’t even find my own kids to be that way. I find them to be just, you know, I really guess I I am attracted to that population. And as I became mother, myself, you know, more than two decades ago, I really was able to take what I had learned from the books and in my practice and apply it to day to day life in my home, and to really test out the principles that I was learning and to actually even come up with some of my own principles and some of my own theories and systems that I’ve that I’ve used with my clients, you know, ever since. So I guess you know, the second part of your question, what drives my passion for this is probably something very similar to to what you stated earlier. And it’s the fact that I know that parents are not taught how to feed their children, what to feed their children, or how to help them grow into independent adults who have agency over their health, through through their food choices, and they’re eating. And without that education, that knowledge, I know and recognize that a lot of parents out there are absolutely intent on doing their best, but they’re working from a deficit. And so my passion has always been to create the resources to answer the questions, to make feeding kids delightful, joyful, easy,and rewarding.
Elana Roumell 12:21
Oh, I love it. I have chills all over my body. I’m also a teacher like you. I mean, I love education. And I also find this in many different facets of pediatric health. But in this regard, you know, nutrition being such a foundation, and we’re such a believer about that on our podcast, both my co host Stephanie and I, of course, Stephanie’s an RD herself, I have to agree with you is that there is such a deficit in this area for many, many parents. And then it tends to look like a chore. You know, it looks like a fight now when their kids won’t eat something. And then they feel really disempowered and helpless, simply because they don’t have the tools. And I think it’s so wise that you’ve created those tools to really help parents and it’s just part of parenthood education. I wish it was a prerequisite to being parents, you know, I wish medical information and education was a prerequisite and it’s not, but that’s why it’s up to us as experts to really help empower. So let’s go ahead and get into some of the fun things that you do like to teach some of your clients. So at least our moms listening can have some great takeaways. And one of the great resources you have is a book that you wrote called Fearless Feeding. I love this title is How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School, because really, kids come in all ages. So right we can learn from any stage of their development. So whether a moms listening has an infant or even a high schooler I think this is so valuable. And you teach and explore this approach called love with limits. And I would love if you could maybe share your approach and some takeaways and some tools that even right now starting today, a mom can reallywork with.
Jill Castle 14:03
Sure. So Fearless Feeding is actually a co authored book by a co author Maryanne and I wrote it back in 2013. And we just published an updated version of it this past February, but it does take you through the four main stages of childhood: infancy, toddlerhood, in preschool, childhood and adolescence. And we believe that every stage is connected. So if you’re raising an infant, a baby, that phase, what happens during that infancy, really connects to toddlerhood and what plays out in toddlerhood. And so all of the stages are connected, and we break it down for each stage into three different categories. So we believe that feeding is what you feed a child. So the food and the nutrients they get day to day, how you feed them. So that interaction and the attitude as a parent that you’re using day to day when you’re feeding your child, and then the child development piece. So anticipating, you know these normal child developmental stages and how they impact a child’s eating. So that’s sort of the premise of that book, in terms of love with limits, that refers to feeding, or I call it love with limits, the scientific term for it is diplomatic feeding. It means the same thing. It means that you’ve set up a food system that is nourishing to your child, that is adequate in terms of helping your child grow and develop to their full potential. But you’ve also set in, you’ve set up parameters or an environment in the home, that is nurturing as well as nourishing. So that means you’ve got a structure for meals and snacks, you’ve got boundaries around when the kitchens open when it’s closed, where your child’s eating his food and his meals. And it also allows you to offer reasonable choices to your child so that they have some agency and some voice into what goes into their body. And that might be today for lunch, you can have a turkey sandwich, or we can do peanut butter and jelly. What would you like? So you’re giving your child some some voice or some say. And there are a lot of different areas within the scope of feeding children that you can, that you can do that with. But the love with limits is basically we love our kids, but we don’t love them so much that they we let them take over the area of nutrition and food and feeding. We have those limits. So it’s a it’s a way of feeding children that allows parents to be in charge, to be at the helm, but to also be loving and considerate of their individual child.
Elana Roumell 16:51
Great, right. I love that saying and I actually think it’s much cuter than the medical term or the scientific term. And I think that there’s a fine balance there. And it can be really tricky for some parents to find that parents is how much do you love? And how much do you limit? And I also find that getting both parents on board along with the caretakers is extremely important just for consistency. Do you agree with that?
Jill Castle 17:16
Absolutely. And I will tell you, I think one of the things that people don’t or parents might not recognize is that you know, the way you feed your child is the way oftentimes that you were fed as a child. There’s a definite connection, there’s a transference, if you will, from your own childhood to the way you feed your child. And in some instances, we know that parents who had a negative upbringing around food and feeding, or food and eating, we know that those parents oftentimes try to change the way they feed their own children to avoid the experiences that they had. So there’s a great psychological component to feeding children that I feel like is very underrepresented. When we’re talking about nutrition. Oftentimes, I believe that we tend to think that if we just get food, right, we feed the perfect meals and all healthy food that our kids are going to be awesome, healthy and great. But there’s this component of feeding that is so powerful. And if you do that right, and the food piece, right, you are probably going to raise healthy, great kids who have a great relationship with themselves, their bodies, food, eating, and also learn along the way how to make those healthy choices we all so desperately want our kids to make.
Elana Roumell 18:36
I agree completely. And I agree that those two things are just as important for us adults, you know, there’s a psychological and emotional component to the foods we eat and the choices we make. Absolutely. So if us parents can have a good firm grasp on that we can then be good examples for our kids. And if we’re kind of faltering, it’s good for us to look inside within ourselves to kind of master that for ourselves. So we can be that example for our kids. It really starts with us as parents. And I mean, I’m inspired by that, as a mom, you know, I’m always inspired by moms with multiples. So with you, having four kids is just so inspiring to me, I just absolutely love it. But you’ve seen that you have had to work so hard, and being the role model for each of your kids and every individual is very different. But still, you can still still remain grounded in your own principles of your nutrition and your eating regimen. And I think that that really still plays a role with all different children of all unique, you know, ways. Would you agree with that, even though your kids are so different?
Jill Castle 19:43
Yeah, I mean, my kids now are much older. But I would say that my two things, there are a lot of things that went into raising them, but I feel like I’ve done a good job. And not to say that they’re perfect, but I do feel like I had a game plan all along about, you know, what I was doing with food and feeding. You know, it wasn’t just getting healthy food on the table every day. It was having pleasant meals and great conversation and connection around the table. It was also exploring lots of different foods and cultures and being adventurous. And just having a whole attitude of Oh, we’re in a different country, or in a different city, we’re at a different home, we’re going to try what’s in front of us like this, it’s just what we do. And so that was one of the things and the other other thing I really believed in was that I just needed to walk the talk, I didn’t need to spend a lot of time talking about eating well and making good choices, I just needed to show up every day as a good role model, like put a healthy meal on the table. And this is what it is. And this is what we’re eating and just show my children you know what it looks like to eat well. What it looks like to go to bed and get a decent night’s sleep. What it looks like to have exercise be part of your life in a balanced way. And so I really I try to encourage my clients and the families that I work with to create a game plan for themselves. What are your goals? What do you want? What’s the end result? And then reverse engineer how you do that on a day to day basis? And then also take it personally like how are you showing up for this job? Are you, are you showing up in the way that you want your children to see you? Are you in the kitchen? Are you shopping? Are you cooking? Are you ordering out but making different I guess additions or concessions for what you need for your children or for a nice well rounded healthy meal? But what are you bringing to the table? And how are you doing it?
Elana Roumell 21:49
I love it. I mean, I couldn’t agree with you more. So well said thank you. So let’s talk a little bit about just some classic mistakes you see in parents when it comes to feeding their children. You know, I think we all have been there whether we’re doing as mindful of a job as possible, or there’s some parents who just really do lack the education and they’re just doing some things that they didn’t even realize can actually impact and promote some picky eating behavior. Can you list a couple things that you just see often with your clients so that we can avoid this as soon as possible?
Jill Castle 22:23
Yeah. So I think probably one of the biggest ones when we talk about picky eaters, and even children who might carry extra weight is the pressure that we place on children to try something new or to take another bite or to finish their plate. Pressure to eat, we know feels good for us if we’re reminding our children to try something or finish what we’ve made for them. We know that feels good, we feel like we are doing something good for our kids. But unfortunately, you know, the science tells us that it can really disturb their relationship with food, and it can disturb their weight status in two different ways. One, encouraging children to eat more than their appetite tells them to eat. So they overeat, they learn to overeat, or for that picky child, particularly, that pressure to take a bite or finished food or try something new can backfire. And make that child really have a negative association with that particular food or coming to the table to have a meal with their family. And so how does that play out? They end up not liking or eating the foods you’re trying to get them to eat. And it may impact their weight, meaning they aren’t growing and thriving in the manner in which they should. So pressure to eat can really complicate things in the picky eating dynamic.
Elana Roumell 23:45
Yep. Okay, great. I think that’s a great example. And I know that there’s a lot of moms that will come into my clinic and just say, He just won’t eat. You know, if I don’t like really encourage him to eat, he just won’t eat. So in situations like that, how do you help coach moms and parents and navigating a situation in that regard without pressuring?
Jill Castle 24:06
Yeah, so I often like to explain to parents what the impact pressure has on their child, and then ask them to just not talk about food and eating. Talk about anything else at the table. But not be talking about food and eating all the time, particularly with a picky child. It’s a turnoff for a lot of them and talk about anything else. And just bring that healthy balanced meal to the table, whatever you’ve chosen to feed your family. Bring it to the table and have a positive, enjoyable, relaxed meal. I oftentimes will tell parents, you know, you want to create an environment at the meal time, that is sort of similar to that relaxed environment at bath time. I don’t know, you know, if this rings a bell for you, but when my kids were young, I used to bathe them you know before they would go to bed and it was relaxing. I’d sit on the toilet, read their book, they play with their toys, and the bubbly bath water, it was relaxing. It was nice. It was not laden with, Oh, remind you to do this. And don’t forget to do that, take another bite of this, and you can’t get down to your all finished. So I think if you can, as a parent out there, if you can think about, you know, a relaxing bath time, that’s kind of what you want the dinner table to be like, relaxing, enjoyable, you’re connecting and talking, but not about that.
Elana Roumell 25:30
And from a medical perspective, you know, what I do to counsel my patients is I encourage them a very similar way. And I just say, if your child doesn’t eat, it’s okay.
Jill Castle 25:40
Elana Roumell 25:40
Let’s go to bed without eating, they will be hungry by the next day. Or maybe by the following day. You know, kids, they will eat. And sometimes you kind of have to take a snapshot of a week’s worth of time, not on a day to day basis. And some moms will just like look at me wide eyed like oh my god. So you would actually go a whole day if your child doesn’t eat the food you serve? And I’m like, Yeah, I actually would because I know she will eat the next day. And so then yes, that conversation around the table just ends up being she has food on her high chair. And we’re eating my husband and I and we’re just saying to her, “Oh, this food’s so good. Okay, you’re not hungry. No problem, just leave it there. But this is dinner. So let’s all just hang out together.”
Jill Castle 26:27
Elana Roumell 26:28
And so and I just want to confirm that that is something because it sounds like the same principles that you recommend as well.
Jill Castle 26:35
Yes, Yes and that’s where that structure and boundaries comes into play, as well. Because you’re basically saying, you don’t have to eat it. But this is what dinner is, it’s your choice. But you have to sit here with us at the table until the meals over. That’s what I encourage my clients to say to their kids. “You don’t have to eat it.” It’s a very powerful statement for a child to hear that, that they don’t have to eat, because mostly parents are saying you do have to eat. So to sort of reverse engineer it, and say you don’t have to eat but you do need to stay at the table with us until dinner is over. That just sets that love with limits, it sets the boundary and it helps kids understand that you’re the person in charge.
Elana Roumell 27:20
Yes, and I love that. And it’s so interesting. But what I’ll find in my home is that even after the 15 minutes, because that’s a long time for like, for me a two and a half year old daughter to sit there, she’ll just start picking at her food because she just sees that we’re eating it and enjoying it and and i don’t even praise her for it. I just say okay, you’re hungry, you know, here, keep on eating. I just don’t want to make meaning out of it.
Jill Castle 27:42
Elana Roumell 27:43
The food is there. And I think sometimes I get surprised. Like she doesn’t want it at first. She makes like a big fuss about I just sit her down and I’m like, look, that’s okay, if you don’t want to eat no problem. And then she sits down at all of a sudden she starts picking at it. And I’m like, Oh, this is so cool. I love this, you. I think that is a great principle because I do think a lot of us tend to feel this need and almost this pressure on our part to get food in our kids. And so then we then end up pressuring our kids, which then really ends up backfiring on us. So I think that that is a really good takeaway, to really just try to lighten the pressure. And to be honest, it makes it easier on us parents. I mean, I know what it’s like to sit down and just say, okay, fine, don’t eat and I know what it’s like to sit down and be like, No, you have to eat and now I’m like having an argument. It’s a lot more energy to do the latter.
Jill Castle 28:32
Elana Roumell 28:33
I prefer the first part of it. And my job is to, you know, shop and cook and put the food on the table and it’s really then up to her and she gets to choose whether or not she eats it or not.
Jill Castle 28:45
Elana Roumell 28:45
I love that.
Jill Castle 28:46
Elana Roumell 28:48
Hey, Mama, Dr. Elana here to quickly remind you that you can safely be a doctor mom. We all want the best for our children. And as a mom, you are automatically your child’s number one health advocate. I’ve created guidebooks and video courses to teach you how to feel calm when your child is sick, how to be competent using integrative medicine tools, and how to feel confident knowing when it’s time to visit your doctor, or when you can safely treat your child from home yourself. Head over to medschoolformoms.com/wholemamas and start watching my free mini course where I teach you the mindset, medicine, and mastery of being a doctor mom. While you’re there, check out my favorite pediatric and Mama approved medicines I use with my patients. I’m always updating my favorite products. Staying up to date is my job so you don’t have to do it. Now join our village of supportive mamas. Visit medschoolformoms.com/wholemamas so you can make confident decisions about your family’s well being. We love helping moms become Dr. Moms. Now let’s get back to today’s episode.
Let’s go into some of our community questions cuz I could take up the whole podcast on nights are asking my questions. But I think some of these are just wonderful. So one of the moms asked, “What do you do when your child won’t stop throwing his food on the floor?” And it could be even from the way beginning of the meal. It’s just like, all the food just ends up on the floor. And now it’s this big mess. And now how can a parent navigate that?
Jill Castle 30:21
I’m assuming that’s a baby or toddler?
Elana Roumell 30:24
Jill Castle 30:24
What, what I would say is that, you know, just remember that it’s a cause and effect that a child is learning and babies and toddlers are learning every single day, and they go through naturally in their development, they go through a process of learning, you know, cause and effect. If I do this, what will happen? If I throw my food on the floor, and the dog comes and eats it oh, that’s interesting. Let me do that again. So for children who are throwing food, we want to understand why they’re doing it first, that helps. And then secondly, it’s just consistently helping your child understand that no, they can’t throw food. You pick it up and and you serve less food number one. Sort of meet the food out or give smaller portions as your child eats it, then give more. And then also, I would say that sometimes if it just keeps going on and on and on, you may need to end the meal and just say, okay, it’s clear, you’re not wanting to eat do we’re going to be done for now. And we’ll have snack in the next couple of hours or whatever, but really just giving the message to your child that it’s not okay. And if he keeps doing it, then you end the meal, and you move on because when we’re dealing with toddlers, they eat, you know, three meals and three snacks a day. There’s six opportunities to feed them, you’re not going to miss out if you end the meal early. And toddlers are great at you know having a variable appetite number one, but they’re also good at self regulation, meaning that they’ll make up the difference if they if they didn’t get enough to eat at one meal or a snack, they tend to make up the difference in and eat a bigger meal later on or a bigger snack. So I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I would say it’s a normal thing, and it’s a phase, and the swifter that you’re consistent with dealing with it, the swifter your child will probably move through it.
Elana Roumell 32:26
Yes. Okay. I agree with this. And I think it kind of goes also back to how the parent reacts. Because if you’re continuously frustrated about it, your child will pick up on that. And I know how frustrating it is. I mean I have a toddler. So I mean, we get it. I’m thrilled to have a dog because it’s like the best cleanup ever. I love your ideas of you know, serve smaller meals, let them know that this is not okay. It’s kind of back to your love with limits, which I really love that approach. And the other idea maybe that I can suggest is they make these mats that you could put under high chair. And I think that it’s easy to clean. And I think it’s actually okay to be able to pick up that food and just place it again in a bowl to then serve it again. I mean, as long as you feel like it’s clean enough. That wouldn’t work with the dog around, the dog will grab it. But, you know, I think a lot of it is that as moms, we get so frustrated because we just cook something and now it’s wasted. You know, it’s now on the floor. But perhaps we can try to have a barrier there so that we can not feel so pressured of like, Oh my God, that’s such a waste. It’s like, nope, let me pick it back up. And let me remind the child, this is not okay. We don’t throw food on the floor. And if you keep on throwing food, all right snack times over, you know, but it’s really about us parents being calm and collected so that they don’t react because they’d like to see us react. They’ll keep on doing it, they think it’s funny. And it’s not fun for us. So if we kind of almost make it fun. It’s almost like not as much fun for them, you know?
Jill Castle 33:54
Elana Roumell 33:55
Yeah, it’s like a reverse kind of thing.
Jill Castle 33:57
I always I always tell my parents, you know, just just be neutral. Like, don’t react. Especially to a toddler don’t react. Be like, okay, whatever. Here we go.
Elana Roumell 34:07
And again, I think that’s the path of least resistance. It really actually makes it easier on us parents. Same thing with not putting pressure. It’s like, all right, you’re not gonna eat, you’re not going to eat. Just don’t make any meaning of it. And I know, Stephanie Greunke, my co host, recommends that very often. She does a great job with her two boys with that. So I know she would agree. Okay, so another great question that we got was, specifically what if my toddler won’t eat meat? Which I thought was interesting. She just chose the topic of meat. But I would actually just put in a caveat of like any food, like maybe there is just particular categories of food that your child is will not touch, but you’re like, gosh, it’s such a nutrient dense food. Am I missing out, or what can I do to encourage it? What are some tips that you can offer to us?
Jill Castle 34:52
Well, I always like to sort of look at the why first. So why would a toddler not eat meat? Number one, meat is hard to chew, especially for toddlers, and it’s probably the tough meat is is probably one of the hardest foods for toddlers to to chew and to eat. And, and in terms of categories of foods if we’re talking about toddlers and picky eaters, vegetables is a big category, meat is a big category where children avoid those foods. The reason why children avoid vegetables, they have a bitter component. And if we remember babies are born, you know, they swim in amniotic fluid, which is sweet, they drink breast milk. Those who do drink breast milk aren’t getting exposed to fat, and sweet. So those flavors are very familiar. What is not familiar to an infant and toddler is bitter, and umami. So those flavors have to be learned. So repeated exposure, offering children a variety of different vegetables over and over again in different forms. Flavor fully helps them get exposed to those flavors that they’re not used to. And it helps them learn to like those flavors. What I would say is if a toddler is not eating meat, or any specific category of a food, I would step back and say is this a real problem for my child. Now for some children, it won’t be a problem because they’re eating other protein sources, or they’re eating plenty of fruits during the day and kind of covering those micro nutrient needs from from other foods. But some children, it might be a problem for them. If they’re not eating other sources or protein or other sources of nutrients, if they’re not getting enough iron, if they’re not getting enough zinc, particularly during the toddler years, when there’s a lot of brain development happening and iron and zinc and protein are big, big, important nutrients for that process, as well as for growth and, and good, you know, blood iron levels and all that good stuff. So, you know, in the case of where you think it might be a problem for your toddler, that’s when I would go seek the help of a nutrition professional or somebody who is adept, and who works with children, and who has knowledge about about nutrition and their specific needs.
Elana Roumell 37:21
Great. I love this. And I know what I do with my patients very frequently is I really give them this statistic that it could take up to 30 times for some children to be exposed to a food for them to actually want to take it whether it’s based on texture issues, or taste, or flavor issues and, and to really introduce in all different forms. And so you could take something as simple as a carrot, and prepared in a raw state, or a shredded state, or a steam state, a roasted, baked with a dip, without a dip, right? I mean, there’s so many variations of the same type of food, and then your child’s gonna be like, Oh, God, they love roasted carrots. That’s the way they’re going to eat their heads. And it could feel like a big burden on parents. But man, once you find that it’s like, Oh, this is so great. It’s not that the child doesn’t like that food. It’s just that they have a preference on how its prepared. So I liked it. And when they say, Oh my god, I could be 30 times they’re like, That’s crazy. I just assumed that they just didn’t like this food,
Jill Castle 38:23
Right. And actually, the research tells us that parents tend to give up between four and six times of offering a food. So there’s a huge gap between 30 exposures and for you know, giving up after four or six times.
Elana Roumell 38:36
Absolutely, yes. Thanks for sharing that. I didn’t know that that was the average. I believe that because I you know, I talked to so many parents. The other thing that you mentioned, from a nutritional perspective is yes, when they’re underweight or they’re lacking certain nutrients, then yes, seek out a professional. And oftentimes, what I find in my practice is, these children tend to have some sensory processing issues where it’s truly a texture issue where they cannot have the feel of this type of food in their mouth. And this is where I actually recommend a lot of occupational therapists who specialize in feeding issues, and they just do some remarkable work around really helping the child be able to manage that type of food and manipulate it in their mouth comfortably. Because that can alone be a big obstacle. So I you know, I’m going to have an expert on the show and the next few, hopefully, in the next few weeks or months to really shed a light on that, because I also find that parents are unaware that that services even exist. So it sounds like you agree with that,
Jill Castle 39:40
I just wrote a book called Try New Food: How to Help Picky Eaters Taste, Eat, and Like New Food. And I cover all the sensory stuff in there and more of a strategic way of introducing different foods, particularly newer foods that have some characteristics to foods that the child already likes. And I get into the whole, you know, extreme picky eating, which is sort of a common name for ARFID, or avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, which is that older child who is over the age of six, and is still very picky and still leaving out major food groups from his diet. And that is a situation where a family can start to see and notice whether those types of characteristics where the child is, you know, less than 20 foods in his diet and not making progress, not moving forward. That’s a child that needs help earlier, sooner rather than later. So in my book, I sort of go through the, How do you know your child needs more help? How do you know this is just normal, picky eating versus something that’s bigger and it’s going to take more of a concerted effort with health care professionals to help guide your child through it?
Elana Roumell 40:56
Excellent. Yes. And I just want the listener to know that there are resources.
Jill Castle 41:00
Elana Roumell 41:01
And that we’re encouraging you to reach out to that. So if you guys have any specific questions, feel free to send us an email, or message us. I know, you have an Instagram page as well Jill. So I’ll tag that in the show notes. And I do as well. But it’s so important for moms to know that there are resources and the earlier you intervene, just like you mentioned, the better. And I’ve just seen some amazing outcomes. Even after as little as one or two sessions. You know, the mom comes back is like, Oh my gosh, my child just ate a noodle, or my child just ate deli meat. I thought that would never happen. So every kid is unique in their own way. And I just think this is great. I’m going to really check out your your new book, I actually have not read that or knew about it until today. So I’ll put that in the show notes as well Try New Foods. So thank you for sharing that and all your work around that because there’s definitely a population that can be helped tremendously from that type of education.
Jill Castle 41:56
Yeah, I have a heart for the parents of those extreme picky eaters, because they really are running up against barriers to finding their children the right help.
Elana Roumell 42:06
Mm hmm. Yes, I agree. And I wish there were more therapists all over the world who specialize in this. But I think because we’re now getting more and more educated and aware, there are more therapists that are getting those types of training and credentials. So that’s promising. You know, and if for these specific kids, it actually doesn’t just stop at feeding, you’re going to see other patterns and other aspects of their life. And so it’s not just exclusive to feeding. So the care is going to be great on a systemic and a holistic approach. Okay. Let’s go back to another mom’s question. Because I just find these fascinating. She talks a lot about snacking schedule, and you kind of brought up when we were talking about loving with limits, about schedules, and really like keeping to some kind of routine. What is really normal about snacking, and I know that you have the different, you know, the four different age groups. So that could look very different. But when would you recommend to a parent who’s just kind of starting out who just you know, wants to figure out what their schedule is, what do you think a good healthy snacking schedule is?
Jill Castle 43:09
Well, it depends on the age of the child. If we’re talking toddlers, and preschoolers, you know, the young toddler age to three snacks a day, the older preschooler, you’re moving to two snacks a day. So three meals, two snacks, and it really is set up based on their physiology, their their appetite regulation, you know, the stomach and small children is small, and you fill it with food and it gets full and it takes an hour or two, you know, for that food to digest, I think I’ve read, you know, after an hour, 50% of the content start to move through the stomach and and after two hours, another 50%. And by three hours three, in a child, you know, the hunger hormones are starting to kick into gear and they’re starting to, to feel hungry again. So the the timing in between the intervals can certainly change based on the individual child. But generally, what I aim to help my clients do is to schedule three meals, so breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and then evaluate whether a snack is needed in between. In the younger child who has a tiny tummy, they may be hungry every two and a half hours, two hours, even. In the older child, and then in the teenager, that time span is going to go longer. In general, though, for that school age child, typically a morning snack and an afternoon snack. Most kids don’t need a bedtime snack, I tend to not suggest a bedtime snack, unless I’ve got a client who is working on weight gain, I find that timing to be a fabulous time to help children get a little extra nutrition, right before they go to sleep, and be able to help that, you know have that work in their favor for putting on some weight if they need to.
Elana Roumell 45:00
Okay, great. I love that. And I do agree it really depends on the age range in the particular child. But I do like the fact that there’s routine, you know, moms are used to just carrying snacks moms are used to feeding six times a day, it could feel like that. And that’s okay. And I know personally, before I became a mom, I was just never a snacker. I was always three meals a day and I never needed to snack. And then I became pregnant. And I realized, oh my goodness, if I don’t snack, this is not a good situation. So it’s interesting that it’s not only just for kids, but for any type of change in life stages and different life cycles. We’re always just adapting. And I think listening to our own bodies, listening to our kids bodies, listening to their cues, if you just always notice a temper tantrum around one o’clock, and there’s a meltdown, you want to think maybe that’s low blood sugar, you know. You want to start looking at your kids patterns to really see and oftentimes their blood sugar can be low. So that child may just need a fourth snack that day. So keep that in mind. And I do think snacks and having at least food on hand is very important. So I think that was a good question that a mom asked.
Jill Castle 46:08
Yeah, and can I just add too that, I think there can be a downside to snacking. And if you have the habit of having food on hand and feeding your child every hour on the hour, those kids are the ones that don’t usually come to mealtime and eat very well, because they’ve been eating all day long. So when you’re feeding, you know, when a child is snacking frequently, they really don’t get that opportunity to build up an appetite for a meal. They never really experienced hunger. And so the mental association with Oh, I’m feeling this way I must be hungry, so therefore I need to eat, that doesn’t happen for the child that eats all the time or grazes all day long. So that’s the other piece is, you know, when children are snacking frequently throughout the day, too frequently, they can really learn to be mindless eaters. And I think you mentioned that Elana earlier, but mindless eating stems from you know, just not really having good structure, and good eating habits established. And we do that in childhood for our children, and it carries on through life.
Elana Roumell 47:11
Thank you so much for bringing this up. I think this is an excellent point to really hone in on. What would you suggest then when you know ameal is coming up, perhaps to just stop offering snacks, or even just say no to snacks maybe an hour prior? Is that like a good rule of thumb? Or how would you suggest that so that they can work up the appetite for that meal.
Jill Castle 47:33
Again, I like to see like a two hour window at a minimum between eating sessions, ideally, three hours. Really kids can go for three hours, they should be if you’re offering a well balanced meal that includes a protein source, fats, carbohydrates, nice, well balanced, and it’s enough meaning that they’ve eaten until they’re satisfied, they should logistically be able to go three hours before the next time to eat.
Elana Roumell 48:01
Great. And this is why schedules so nice. So you’re not necessarily counting the hours, but maybe you just know, every day we sit down at 12 o’clock for lunch, which means the last snack is at nine, you know, or whatever that looks like 9, 10 11, you know, or you know, and of course days change if you’re traveling or you know, if school maybe is at a different time and you want to try to base your same schedule off school, you know, things can still change, but I do like this general rule of thumb. So thank you for sharing that.
Jill Castle 48:31
Elana Roumell 48:32
Great. Now. Okay, the next question I just think is so incredibly important. And I hope that you’ve got a great answer to this because I find that we talked about this actually, in other episodes is a mom’s really concerned that she has her own, you know, wishes and limitations around food with her children. But she finds that some of the other adults or caretakers aren’t necessarily following those same type of structure. So what is some advice that you have where on how parents can talk to other adults about the wishes that they have? And you know, keep it very respectful. But it really at the end of the day, it’s in the best interest of the child. So what can we do to really get everyone on the same page?
Jill Castle 49:10
Well, I really want to have moms feel empowered to take charge of the situation and not feel afraid to have some sometimes challenging conversation about their feeding values, their food values, and, their their strategy and plan for their child. And that’s where having that game plan is so important, because it makes it so easy to say to other loved ones or caretakers that this is our game plan. This is how we’re going to do it, I would love for you to be able to help me be consistent with this. And this is how you can help our family be consistent by offering this and this is the timing. When we have a game plan as parents, it makes it so much easier for us to convey that to our loved ones. Now, that being said, I did an episode on my own podcast about grandparents feeding grandchildren, it was a really popular episode because it’s this that’s a pain point for parents. But I think you know, when you’re talking about a grandparent or a loved a beloved family member, I think as parents, we need to step back and say and think about you know, what is of most value here, the connection? Is it more important for my child to be with this grandparent to be with this family member and enjoy their time together or is not having candy every time my child sees their grandparent more important? Again, it’s going to probably boil down to how frequently is your child spending time with this loved family member. And you know, if your grandparent is the caretaker of your children every day of the week, well, the grandparent, you really need to communicate with the grandparent about what your feeding values and your strategy and your game plan is and how you would like to see things play out when they’re in charge of your child. I don’t want parents to feel shy about that conversation. Because you’re the parent, you’re acting on behalf of your child, and you know what you’re trying to accomplish by feeding and growing a child. That being said, it’s an interesting episode if anybody wants to listen to it’s episode number 72. On the nourish child, and it’s, it’s with Dina Rose, who’s a great Sociologist, PhD Sociologist, she wrote a book called It’s Not About the Broccoli. And and her angle is all about habits. But again, it really boils down to how much time is your child spending with that family member? And is it worth having a strenuous conversation about it? If it’s just a couple of times a year that grandma’s making cookies and buying candy and sort of slathering your child in a bunch of sugar? Or is it something that’s happening every week, or on a regular basis?
Elana Roumell 51:59
Great, I can’t wait. I’m gonna I’m gonna listen to this episode, because I feel like I’m kind of going through that right now. And it is a challenging conversation. And lucky for me, I’m not shy to have conversations. And I know a lot of women that are, and it’s hard for them. And I really understand it because we love our loved ones that we don’t want to disappoint them, or upset them, or create discomfort. And I love that you say when you’re clear on your game plan, that communication is just so clear, because this is what matters to you. You know, and when you can clearly articulate that to someone, and they see why that’s important. I think that really goes a long way. Whether they make the changes or not, is another thing, but you have to at least start somewhere. And if they don’t respect your wishes, then I think that’s like a follow up conversation. But you got to start somewhere. Right? May I just asked the episode numbers, it’s 79.
Jill Castle 52:54
Elana Roumell 52:55
72. Thank you so much. Okay, I’m going to include that in the show notes for those new who are interested. So that’s going to be great. Well, look, I could talk to you again for another hour. So I’m going to have to probably cut it off now. I loved chatting with you. We’ve had such great questions from moms. And I’m sorry for some of the moms who did submit questions that we didn’t get to just for the sake of time, we’re gonna have to wrap up. But I just want to again, thank you so much for all your work. I think that we need even more out there. And I would love if you could just end by sharing with moms, what are the resources that you have that they can get online. I know you do see patients one day a week. So it’s not a huge amount of time. But if someone needs some one on one consolt, you have that as available, virtual or in person. You’re located in Connecticut, but I also know you have a lot of other online offerings. So for people all over the world listening, can you please share a little bit about that so people know where to go?
Jill Castle 53:51
Sure, sure. So I’ve written several books, one for moms who have babies called The Smart Moms Guide to Starting Solids, and includes you know, everything from food preference, development and flavor introduction, to baby led weaning, and food allergy guidelines. It’s a book that’s available on Amazon, I told you about Fearless Feeding and Try New Food. I also wrote a sports nutrition book for young athletes, it’s also available on Amazon. And then I created three sort of self study nutrition programs, one called the Nourish Child Project, and it’s a food feeding and healthy habits guide course program for parents of children age four to 14. And so it’s you know, getting your food system set up, making sure you’re having positive feeding interactions, and then setting up the healthy habits that will last a lifetime: sleep, activity, media viewing. That’s an online program. I also have another course for parents of children with ADHD, called the ADHD Diet for Kids. And it is food, a food system that is specific to ADHD. So it’s got more of the brain nutrients in it, it has growth and development, a lot of challenges for those children, some of those children with sensory sensitivities. So we talk a lot about picky eating and helping children get enough nutrition so that they can continue to grow. We talked about the medications, we talked about feeding and how to instill love with limits when you have behavioral things going on at the table with children. And then I have a sports nutrition class for the young athlete to take. Because a lot of parents told me your book is great, I love it, but I really need my kid to hear this stuff himself. So I have that available. And everything is on my website, jillcastle.com.
Elana Roumell 55:48
Oh, I love this, I’m actually excited to check out some of these myself, I didn’t know, I knew a lot about your resources, but you have so many. So this is gonna be fun for me to navigate and also share with my patients. So thank you for sharing with our community here on the podcast. Again, I just I want to acknowledge you for all the work you do. I share the same passion for education and empowering parents. And so I just find that this topic is so incredibly important. I just appreciate all the time that you put into them because I know it’s not easy to always create online programs and to write books and do all of the great stuff you’re doing. So thank you for that.
Jill Castle 56:25
Elana Roumell 56:25
Yes, and thanks for your time just joining us today. So I hope that maybe we can have you on another time in the future as well. There’s so many great topics that we can chat about.
Jill Castle 56:34
Absolutely. I’d love that.
Elana Roumell 56:36
Wonderful. Okay, have a great day, Jill.
Jill Castle 56:38
Thank you, Elena. Bye
Elana Roumell 56:39
Bye. We hope you enjoyed today’s episode with Jill Castle. I know I really enjoyed having her on. I personally kind of got some good takeaways about how to feed our littles and even our grown children and I really hope that you also saw some benefits and you could check out some of her programs. Please don’t forget to head over to foursigmatic.com/wholemamas to get 15% off your order. We love offering you mamas discounts on products that we love. So here’s your chance to do that now with our podcast partner. And ultimately, we just hope you enjoyed this episode and all the content that we share. We love seeing when you share our podcast with your mama friends and we love seeing your reviews on iTunes. Please help us spread the word so we can grow our village. You can also visit our website at wholemamasclub.com/podcasts. To review show notes, find past episodes, and leave comments and questions for future shows. Please remember that the views and ideas presented on this podcast are for informational purposes only. All information, content, and material presented on this podcast is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and or medical treatment of a qualified physician or health care provider. Consult your provider before starting any diet, supplement regimen, or determine the appropriateness of the information shared on this podcast if you have any questions regarding pediatrics, pregnancy, or your prenatal treatment plan. Now go on, have a good day, and nourish and nurture yourself and your family.
- Jill’s personal feeding philosophy as a mom of 4
- How modeling a healthy lifestyle impacts your kids
- Classic “mistakes” in feeding children
- Specific tips for parents of picky eaters and children with sensory processing disorder
- Jill’s tips for a meal and snack schedule
- Tips for how to have conversations with other adults who are feeding your children
- Jill’s Website
- Connect with Jill on Instagram and Facebook
- Jill’s book, Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School
- Jill’s new workbook, Try New Foods: How to Help Picky Eaters Taste, Eat and Like New Foods
- The Nourished Child Podcast, Episode 72: Grandparents feeding children
- Jill’s e-course, The Nourished Child Project
- Hear Jill on the One Bad Mother Podcast, Episode 262
- Learn more about Whole Mamas Pregnancy Program
- Sign up for our Weekly Pregnancy Emails
- Take the Free Mini-Course at Dr. Elana’s Med School For Moms
- Schedule an appointment with Dr. Elana
- Follow Steph and Elana on Instagram
- Whole Mamas Podcast Archive
This episode's guest
Jill Castle is one of the nation’s premier childhood nutrition experts. Known as a paradigm shifter who blends current research, practical application and common sense, Jill inspires audiences to think differently about feeding kids. From babies to teens, Jill takes a unique, “whole-child” approach to showcase food, feeding and childhood development as the secret ingredients to raising a healthy child.
A sought-after speaker, adviser, and media contributor, Jill has inspired TEDx, American Academy of Pediatrics and nutrition, medical, government and parent audiences. Jill is on the Board of Advisers of Parents Magazine and is a scientific adviser to a handful of privately held child nutrition companies. She’s been featured on One Bad Mother as well as several other notable podcasts.
Jill is the author of Try New Food, The Smart Mom’s Guide to Starting Solids, Eat Like a Champion and co-author of Fearless Feeding. She pens The Nourished Child blog, interviews experts on her podcast of the same name, and regularly contributes to US News & World Report’s For Parents blog. She is the creator of several parent nutrition programs and has appeared in The New York Times, WebMD, Fast Company, USA Today, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, NBC-CT, and Parents Magazine.