Commentary While Navigating the Trenches of Child Nutrition
You may be asking yourself, "Do we really need another mommy blog?" There are so many online blogs these days that talk about feeding kids. They usually share cute recipes that ask parents to cut foods into odd shapes (some research says kids don't generally fall for this trick by the way), or tips for how to get your kid to eat healthier. Who doesn't want ideas for how to get kids to eat more of those pesky vegetables they are known for avoiding? But alas, this is not that kind of blog. Yes, I am a mom of an energetic, inquisitive, strong-willed little boy who loves to eat (most of the time). However, I am not your typical mom blogging about her troubles with getting her kid to eat vegetables. I am a Registered Dietitian, educator, and researcher in the area of child nutrition. I have spent 10+ years working to improve nutrition education in schools for children of all ages. I spend my days reading about issues related to feeding children and teaching them about healthy eating. I spend even more hours thinking of new research questions that need to be explored to advance the field.
For many years I have shared current research and news about maternal and child nutrition on my Facebook page for students and others interested in these topics. Many of you have commented on these posts or written me directly with questions about your own children and families. For these reasons, I have decided to take this a step further and begin writing about these topics in a public forum. My my professional opinion is just that, an opinion. But know that my opinion is also heavily influenced by current published, peer-reviewed research, my own research efforts in schools, and of course, my experience as a mom.
I am writing this blog for families interested in learning more about good nutrition for their child(red); teachers seeking tips on teaching nutrition education or feeding children in their classrooms; students who may incorporate nutrition into their future professional careers; and anyone simply interested in these topics.
I chose to start this blog as a way to explore child nutrition topics that many seem to struggle with when it comes to their own children or in their professional lives. Is he eating enough? Too much? How do I get her to eat more fruits and vegetables? Does he have a nutrient deficiency? Why does she insist on throwing food on the floor and what can I do about it? Is his growth normal? What the heck does this growth chart mean anyways?! The list goes on and on... I also wanted a space to write about new topics in child nutrition that you may not be aware of but vitally important to the health of our nation's children, such as the new forthcoming Birth-24 Dietary Guidelines (https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/birthto24months) - the first in the history of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/).
This blog will cover a variety of topics around child nutrition, especially topics related to feeding and educating children about nutrition. My own area of research focuses on children birth-5 years, so the majority of my posts will emphasize content related to this age group.
Since I work in this field as an educator and researcher, I am aware of the current research, education, and political issues in child nutrition. I will discuss these topics as a way to keep you and myself up to date with current trends. On a more personal level, there are also food-related challenges I run into with my son every day that make me pause and think; I will tackle these topics too.
Finally, I often receive questions/comments from parents and teachers who I interact with in-person and on social media. Answers to these questions are probably of interest to others, so I will share my thoughts and professional opinion about these concerns as well. Regardless of the topic, I promise to bring the unique perspective of a researcher, along with stories of my related experience in the field. With that being said, caring for children is not black and white. This is where my mom perspective will help balance what is "recommended" with what is practical.
This is my first attempt at blogging consistently, so bare with me. I am sure there will be growing pains. I will attempt to update this blog every month or so with a new topic. It may be slow going at first, but I hope to pick up pace with time! While my opinion will be based in current research, my perspective is still based on my own experiences while conducting research, working in the community with teachers, and observing my own son. Sometimes you may nod and agree, while others time you may totally disagree with me, and that is okay. Feedback and constructive discussion are encouraged.
The first topic up for discussion will be the new 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers (Birth-24 months). In the mean time, what are you interested in learning more about? I look forward to exploring child nutrition in this new format, and of course, continuing to interact with you, the families, teachers, and students who help feed and educate our children about good nutrition everyday.
Virginia C. Stage, PhD, RDN, LDN
The FEEd Lab, Director