My first-ever cooking workshop for “Learning Eaters”!

Yay!

2015 Choices Workshop Karen Le Billon posterI’m thrilled to announce my first-ever cooking workshop.

Many parents have gotten in touch asking about hands-on techniques, so I finally decided to take the plunge: I’ll run the workshop on January 31st from 11 am to 1 pm. Parents/caregivers and of course children are very welcome!

We’ll have 3 fun Taste Training games, 8 easy recipes (including a yummy dessert), and some lovely take home items. Quite a bargain for only $20.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

January 31st at Choices Markets (on 16th Avenue) in Vancouver.

Sign up here! (You’ll have to scroll down to the bottom of the page for the event listing)

How to market healthy food to your kids…it’s easier than you might think!

I stumbled upon the idea of marketing food to your kids a few years ago, but didn’t realize that this was the subject of active academic research until quite a bit later.

Imagine my surprise when some of the tried and true French approaches to kids’ food education were the subject of sophisticated studies by leading American academics! They’ve proven what my French mother-in-law already knew: that positive marketing messages can convince kids to like healthy foods.

One of my favourite researchers on this topic is Brian Wansink, who is a Professor of Consumer Behaviour (how fun is that?) at Cornell University. Here’s a fun article published last month on the Huffington Post on Wansink’s insights into kids’ food.

Marketing food to your kids is the topic of an entire chapter of my new book Getting to Yum. I found it worked like a charm with my kids! Here’s a feature article published this week on some of the key tips and strategies for parents. Spoiler alert: for younger kids, positive marketing requires parents to be a bit silly! But that’s part of the fun…

Taste Training on TV!

Taste Training on The SocialHave you been wondering about “Taste Training” in action – and what some of the games might actually look like?

I had a fun time earlier this week appearing on CTV’s The Social, doing live “Taste Training”; the four hosts were good sports with the ‘surprise sack game’ and other Getting to Yum Games.

Check out the very funny video clip here.

And check out some squash recipes from the book here!

Marketing Food to your Kids Really Works! Read about Lori’s success story…

Strawberry Jackpot - Lori's Getting to Yum storyLori was one of the devoted ‘test families’ for Getting to Yum, who has been blogging about kids’ food for the past couple of years. She’s had some inspiring experiences with teaching her children to love healthy food. In fact, she was so inspired that she’s been posting regularly about applying the Getting to Yum lessons with her own two daughters!

This week, Lori blogged about her experiences using positive marketing messages with her kids; this is a powerful approach that quickly becomes a (fun) habit, and can work wonders. Check out her great blog here!

Thanks Lori! :)

 

5 Steps to Conquer Gagging

Exploring Oranges with Mel Melanie Potock is an amazing speech pathologist and ‘real food’ advocate for kids (check our her blog mymunchbug.com). I was so excited when she agreed to write this super helpful guest post. Thanks Melanie!

As a pediatric feeding therapist or “food coach for kids”, I was smiling as I read Karen Le Billon’s new book, Getting to Yum. Truthfully, it was more than just a happy look on my face, I have to admit I was downright giddy.   Nothing makes me happier than helping children become more adventurous eaters in a fun and family-centered way. That’s exactly the theme in Getting to Yum: Involve the whole family in taste-training games and help kids tune into the joy of discovering new foods!

But what’s a parent to do if their child is a sensitive eater and gags at the slightest taste or touch of a new food on their tongue? While gagging isn’t life-threatening (read Karen’s description of gagging vs. choking) it certainly is an unpleasant reflex that reinforces one thing: NOT eating. If a child gags enough, it leads to vomiting. Enough said. We don’t want to go there.

Playing a food gameHere are five surprising steps to help your child manage their gag reflex and feel in control when they taste a brand new food:

  1. Start with a pea-sized bite, preferably cut into a cube. The cube shape helps kids feel the food in their mouths because the edges provide more tactile input and is easier to control.
  2. Teach your child to place it directly on the molars. Most kids take a hesitant bite with the front teeth so that the tongue tip can push it right out – patooey! Or, it falls directly from there backward onto the tongue and that’s often when the gagging starts. Instead, give your child better oral motor control by encouraging them to pick up the piece with their fingers and place it where a dinosaur chews – on his molars – so that it’s closer to the back of the throat to be swallowed. Little kids really get this – they can picture a dinosaur chewing with his “dino-teeth” and love that silly analogy. “Put it on your dino-teeth and chew like a T-Rex!”
  3. Chew HARD! Hesitant eaters chew hesitantly. They lightly tap their teeth on the surface of the food and consequently let it fall onto the tongue – and then they gag. Like a dinosaur, chew hard! With my younger clients in feeding therapy, we pound the table with our fists when we chew a brand new food to ensure that we are also chewing with force. This deliberate chewing provides the proprioceptive input that tells our brain exactly where the food is in our mouth and thus, decreases the tendency to gag.
  4. Pick up a glass of water with a STRAW. As adults, when we reach for a glass of water while eating a meal, we swallow much of the food in our mouths before the rim of the glass reaches our lips. To teach this learned behavior, a straw in the glass will help your child close his mouth and propel the chewed food backward to the throat to be swallowed.
  5. Take another small sip to hose down the tongue. The straw also acts like a garden hose, washing any tickly spots on the tongue and signaling the brain to swallow again. In fact, it’s impossible to swallow and gag at the same time.

Mel Playing with Dino TeethWhether your child is a garden-variety picky eater, an emerging foodie or perhaps a child with special needs who is in feeding therapy, always focus on what your child CAN do and progress from there.   Once the pea-sized bites are swallowed with ease, progress to bean-sized bites until eventually your munch bug is tasting a comfortable, age-appropriate bite and asking for more. This same strategy can be implemented with toddlers or teenagers, but let’s face it – it’s probably best to forgo the dinosaur language at that point. Just remember to take it step-by-step and follow the Getting to Yum guidelines for keeping it fun!

Melanie headshot 2Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP is a certified speech language pathologist, an international speaker on the topic of picky eating, and the author of the award winning parenting book,  Happy Mealtimes with Happy Kids: How to Teach Your Child About the Joy of Food! With over 18 years’ experience treating children with feeding difficulties, Mel’s approach to developing feeding skills includes the fundamentals of parenting in the kitchen, such as how to avoid mealtime debates and creating more joyful mealtimes, even with a hesitant eater. Mel embraces her work with families with an open heart and a touch of humor.  After all, the journey to more adventurous eating should be celebrated each step of the way!  She has also produced the award winning children’s CD Dancing in the Kitchen: Songs that Celebrate the Joy of Food as a tool to keep mealtimes joyful and family centered.  Connect with Melanie at My Munch Bug on facebook and twitter or email her at Melanie@mymunchbug.com

Great Getting to Yum & Today I Ate a Rainbow giveaway and Twitter Party!

“Today I Ate A Rainbow” is one of my favourite products for teaching kids to learn to love healthy foods. We used their amazing Today I Ate a Rainbow kits with my kids starting at a very young age — and we still love them. Believe me, this approach works: it’s simple, and most importantly it’s fun. Kids are actually motivated to make sure that they’re eating lots of fruits and veggies – to the point where they even remind me about it some days! ;) Check out the Today I Ate a Rainbow website for lots of great ideas and resources.

Kia (the founder and President) is passionate about teaching kids to love healthy foods, and was one of the first people I reached out to when I began being active on kids’ food issues.

So I’m very excited to be teaming up with Kia and Harper Collins for a #gettingtoyum Twitter Party! Join us on Thursday June 12th at 11am PST to chat about picky eaters and the secrets of raising eager eaters!

We’ll be giving away 5 copies of Getting To Yum along with a couple of Today I Ate A Rainbow kits…the perfect combo! Entering is simple: just sign in to Twitter, and follow us: @karenlebillon @harpercollinsca @eatingarainbow — tweet out with the #gettingtoyum hashtag, and you’re entered to win.

If you have picky eaters or you want to prevent your kids from becoming picky eaters you won’t want to miss this twitter party!

Does your child need “food rehab?” Maybe you should wean them off “kids’ food”!

We’ve all known at least one kid like this (maybe even one in our own family): they subsist on a ‘beige’ food diet, and would rather sit at the table (arms crossed, lips pursed) for hours rather than take one taste of that new food you’re offering. Some kids are also largely geared towards a “kids’ food” diet: chicken nuggets, anyone?

But highly processed “kids’ food” may be setting them up for a lifetime of unhealthy eating. Read my interview in the National Post on food rehab, and getting your child from yuck to yum. Trust me, it can be done! Check out the success stories on my Getting to Yum blog: you’d be amazed at the transformation in formerly picky eaters!