Healthy Eating Storybook: Stargold the Food Fairy

Stargold

To celebrate the end of Nutrition Month, I caught up with fellow dietitian Claudia Lemay, RD to find out about her new nutrition children's storybook. It's available on Amazon. And, the e-book version is free today and tomorrow!

KY: Claudia, how old are your children now?

CL: My happy-go-lucky son is 9 years old and my CEO/corporate lawyer in-training (I swear!) daughter is 5 1/2 years old.

KY: Why did you write the book?

CL:I wrote it because my daughter, who never takes "no" for an answer, started asking for candies at every single meal and snack. She is a very insistent person and just explaining why she needs to eat healthy wasn't enough, so I had to think of something else. I made up a story for her (Stargold the Food Fairy) and when I saw the spark of real understanding in her eyes, I knew I was on to something.

KY: What ages is the book for? 

CL: Children of elementary school age is who it was written for, but I would say anyone from age 4-12 would enjoy and learn from it. The story is also available on my website as a PowerPoint presentation for teachers to use in a classroom setting.

KY: What is the book's message?

CL: The story is about a young girl, Lucie, who travels to a magical land of elves called Growland after she gets a "no" from her mother at her request for a candy dinner. In Growland, Lucie learns from Stargold the Food Fairy that every food she eats becomes a different building material for a house that is being built for her. The main message is that a house in Growland actually represents the body of a person, and so, by eating a healthy, balanced diet the house (and hence her body) will grow up strong and healthy.

KY: What's your favourite part of the book?

CL: Well, many of the people who have read my book said that their favourite part is when Lucie truly "gets it." Near the end of the story, after Stargold explains that every part of her body used to be the food she ate, Lucie looks down at her hands and has that "wow" moment where she truly "gets it."

KY: Where can people buy the book?

CL: On my website at www.stargoldthefoodfairy.com, under the Shopping Corner tab or directly on amazon.ca (search for Stargold the Food Fairy). It is available in hard copy and ebook, in both English and French. The ebooks will be offered for free for the last 5 days of March as a promotion for Nutrition month.

KY: Are you writing any more books?

CL: Yes, I am working on my second book for children to teach them about diabetes. It also involves Stargold the Food Fairy helping a boy named Brody understand living with diabetes.

KY: Anything else you want to share?

CL: Part of the proceeds of this book will go to Malala's fund, which helps promote children's education worldwide.

How Much Should You Focus on Your Child’s Table Manners?

Before I chat about child table manners, I want to explain this photo. Yesterday I had the opportunity to see Ellyn Satter speak live. Ellyn's work is the foundation for mine. She's easily the most influential person in my career. And while I've thoroughly studied her work and used it with families for more than 7 years, I had never met her. By the time that I was finished university, had started to pay down my student loans, and could afford to travel to a US destination for her in-person training seminars, she retired. But yesterday she came out of retirement to present in Vancouver. You bet that I was going to be there - I may have been the first to register :) The table manners question was asked of her, and it was fantastic to see that she responded with the same answer as I give parents.

Table manners, like most matters of etiquette, can cause a strong reaction in us - really getting under our skin. When it comes to table manners, parents usually approach me in two ways (which really are about the same thing). Either they ask about how to best teach kids to have good table manners. Or, they’re embarrassed about their child’s messy eating and apologize to me for it.

When it comes to table manners, the best course of action is to not sweat about it. Like many other things, your actions speak louder than words. Kids naturally have an internal drive to master things and grow up. Eat together with your child on a daily basis. Use good table manners yourself – use utensils, a napkin, say “please” and “thank you” when you ask someone to pass you the pepper, don’t get up and down from the table like a jack-in-the-box. Your child will pick up your good habits.

That is, as long as they aren’t staring at a screen during the meal (iPad, phone etc).

Don’t sweat your child’s messy eating. It’s normal for kids to use a combination of utensils and fingers into the school-age years, depending on the food and how hungry they are. And like all things, some kids learn to use utensils faster than others.

The most important factor for kids to learn to love healthy eating is to enjoy eating at the table. This requires the table to be a pleasant place. Constant nagging about table manners (“elbows off the table”, “use your fork”, etc) can really get in the way of kids enjoying meals.

It takes a lot of effort to organize yourself to plan and prepare meals and snacks and to have an adult sit down with your child to eat together. Congratulate yourself for accomplishing this and know that over time your child will learn good table manners.

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Mealtime Meltdowns - Guest Post from Miss Behaviour

routine_miss behaviour

One of the biggest MEALTIME TIPS to prevent ‘mealtime meltdowns’ is having a SOLID ROUTINE!

Children crave routine and structure throughout the day just like they crave their favorite foods! Adding a mealtime routine can help children understand what is expected of them during this time.

Parents are their child’s biggest role models and they watch your every move. Use this to your advantage and demonstrate to your child how you would like them to sit at the table, how to eat their food, as well as how to talk at the table.

[Kristen adds: Are you jumping up from the table every 2 seconds? This role models to kids that they can too.]

Writing all of these down on to a chart and posting by the table for easy reference, can be very helpful to most children as well.

Find out more on this topic and many others at www.missbehaviour.ca.

Learn about Julie Romanowski, Mom, Early Childhood Consultant and owner of Miss Behaviour: parenting coach and consultant service at:

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Food Rewards - How to Get Your Child to Behave Without Them

Food Rewards

I was happy to meet Julie recently. She's a child behaviour and discipline specialist. As soon as I met her I knew that she would be the perfect person to answer a question that parents often ask me. You see, I teach (based on the research) that it's not good to use food as a bribe or reward for kids behaviour. So parents would ask me for alternatives. And that's where I hit the end of my expertise - I'm a child-feeding expert - not a child behaviour expert. Read on to see what Julie recommends as alternatives to food for teaching kids to have good behaviour.

Enjoy! Kristen

  • Chocolate to stop crying.
  • Dessert if you finish all of your dinner.
  • Candy to buy a few extra minutes of peace & quiet.

Why Food Rewards Are A Bad Idea

Parents give food rewards to their children because it works……for the short term, plain and simple. However, the long term effects on the child may include poor appetite management, low self-esteem and distorted food control because they have now associated food with negative behaviour and/or pain. This learned behaviour could possibly leave your child with a potential food addiction which can carry right on through the teen years and well into adulthood.

There are many other ways to encourage your children to do what you expect of them without bribes, threats or rewards. Add more options to your Parenting toolbox so you are not left with food rewards as your only option.

5 of our BEST BEHAVIOUR Techniques (Without Food Rewards)

  1. Expectations & Routines – create routines throughout the day with your expectations in them
  2. Visuals – create a chart, poster or picture for each routine & reference them throughout the day
  3. Choices – offer your child at least 2 things to choose from instead of just demanding something
  4. Follow through – what you say…..you do!
  5. Consistency - say & do the same thing each and every time the same behaviour shows up

Try all 5 together for the BEST RESULTS!

Find out more on this topic and many others at www.missbehaviour.ca.

Learn about Julie Romanowski, Mom, Early Childhood Consultant & owner of

Miss Behaviour: parenting coach & consultant service.

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"CHILDREN'S BEHAVIOUR & DISCIPLINE SPECIALISTS!" behaviour - discipline - tantrums - communication - interactions - daily routines – solutions

123's on the ABC's (Guest Post)

iStock_000000982062XSmallToday I'm sharing with you a guest post from child literacy expert (and my friend), Nicola Lott. She has great news on how to support your child to love learning. Also she has some great games and books for sale if you're looking for last-minute Christmas gifts. Enjoy! Kristen

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There is conundrum facing all parents of kids aged 0-5years. You want to make sure that your child is prepared for school but you don’t want to be a “pushy parent”. A profusion of myths have sprouted over the past decade around the skills kids need to start Kindergarten, leaving parents trying to do their best with very little more than guesswork and gossip as a guide.

Everyone has met at least one parent in the playground with a 2 year old who knows the alphabet and appears to be on a trajectory to read War & Peace by Christmas.

Fact: In BC the learning deliverable upon graduation from Kindergarten is that kids will know at least 20 letters. Kids are certainly not expected to know the alphabet upon entering Kindergarten. Some do, but not all.

The truth is that learning to recognise the letters is just one of the many vital pre-reading skills that kids need in order to become accomplished readers. The best way to build these skills is to expose your child to a wealth of books from birth onwards. Be sure to read a range of non-fiction, fiction and rhyming books to help build a broad vocabulary. Modeling how much you enjoy reading has a profound impact on your child. Use the dinner table and car trips to work on listening skills by clapping out word syllables and playing sound games like “what sound does ‘car’ begin with?” That way, when your child is ready to learn the alphabet he or she will already have an understanding of language and how it goes together making letter learning meaningful.

Kids typically come to a place where their brain is ready to 'easily' learn letters sometime between three and a half and six years old.

When your child is ready to learn letters, he will be able to spot the difference between the shapes of the letters and be excited about learning them. Start by teaching the letters in his name. If that goes well try some other useful words like 'Mummy' & 'Daddy'. If it's going well, keep going. If not, wait for six months and try again. Studies show that children who learn to read at their own pace in a home where parents share their passion for reading are more likely to read for pleasure by the time they are ten years old, and in the big picture, that's far more important than learning to read early.

The next time you feel unsure about your child’s literacy abilities, take comfort in the knowledge that the path to raising a child who loves reading may not necessarily be the shortest one.

Nicola Lott is a Family Literacy Specialist who helps parents navigate early literacy in a fun playful way. Check her out at www.notchhilllearning.com or on Facebook.