Only a Culture of Wellness Can Save Kids from Obesity

  In my new practice, Yum Pediatrics, I am starting to see many children who for years have struggled with their weight. They come to me because their parents think I may have the answer to their struggles. They may have learned that I have a large instructional kitchen in my office and a teaching garden for kids. They may have seen my website about wellness and followed the work of the Doctor Yum Project, where I teach kids to cook local produce. They may think that getting their kids to see me will get them on the right track. It’s true that I have a lot of success when it comes to kids and healthy food. After children attend my classes so many of their parents tell me they start eating differently.  Kids come to my office for their well-child visits, where they are examined in my “carrot room” and leave with a goodie bag full of fruit, inspired to try new healthy food. I’ve helped lots of kids to improve their eating habits and many of them lose weight and feel better. However, the sobering truth is that there is a growing number of children who are addicted to food and that I CANNOT help on my own.  These are kids who have struggled with their weight, try and try to eat better, and fall off the wagon. They worry about food, sneak junk food in their bedrooms, and endure bullying from kids because of their weight (a stress that makes them eat more). I recently saw the movie “Fed Up,” a sobering documentary about how our government has...

Run 4 A Healthy Glow-The Silver Lining

Leading up to Friday’s event people have asked me what “Run 4 Healthy Glow” is all about. “Is it a Doctor Yum Project fundraiser? Is it a contest? What is it really all about?” “Run 4 a Healthy Glow” is our event to promote activity with a family-friendly, community-building event. This family run is a departure from the usual sedentary pizza movie night. It’s a time to be active, to drink in the outdoors, to gather with family and friends and run freely. It’s a time to sip on fruit water and learn about how some other awesome organizations in our community can help families to stay healthy. We also felt it was important to encourage as many families as possible to joint the fun by making the event free. Members of the Doctor Yum Project worked hard to make sure our second annual “Run 4 a Healthy Glow” was better than our surprisingly excellent first year. We planned more glow, more participants, more music, surprise performances and more prizes.  The weather forecast tortured us all week with possible rain, but on the last day the sun came out and the evening forecast looked perfect. At 7:30 pm the crowded poured in with tons of outrageous glowing outfits. The music was pumping and the warm-ups were underway. The night was unfolding perfectly. And the the rain came. “Are you serious?” we all said. Our board members and organizers looked at each other in disbelief. The radar showed clear skies throughout Virginia with a small rain cloud right over Fredericksburg. Unbelievable! But despite the storm, what unfolded was just awesome....

Every Day is Halloween

I have noticed there are some strong, opposing camps when it comes to how parents approach Halloween. There’s the “You’re only a kid once, so let kids eat whatever they want on Halloween” camp. Then there’s the “We should only pass out water and fruit on Halloween” camp. I would say I’m somewhere in the middle. I LOVE Halloween. I also love partaking in a few KitKats, Twix and Butterfingers. It reminds me of being a kid, and the excitement of Halloween night. It was a special time when we got to indulge and break a few rules. But these days it seems that EVERY occasion is marked with a sugary treat- cupcakes for each of 20 classmates’ birthdays a year, many teachers who reward accomplishments with candy, every soccer game celebrated with 500 calories of Gatorade and junk food, every holiday marketed with more candy and artificial food dyes. Not to mention that the amount of sugar our kids ingest on a “regular day” has reached new heights. For instance, a flavored yogurt now has as much sugar as a candy bar, and every processed food we eat has some form of added sugar. According to the American Heart Association, the average American nine year-old ingests 25-30 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Let’s face it, for most kids in America EVERY day is Halloween! It’s no wonder that this summer I did school physicials on MULTIPLE rising kindergartners weighing in at 100 pounds. I’m also seeing MANY more toddlers and preschoolers who need extensive dental work. My appointment slots are filled more and more with managing obesity...

The Debut of Doctor Yum’s Cooking Club

This week I was pleased to attend the first gathering of “Doctor Yum Cooking Club.” The Lake of the Woods Chapter of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) agreed months ago to pilot our spring debut of “Doctor Yum’s Cooking Club” To back track, I teach a free shopping class to help families to shop for healthy food and feed families better while saving money. Some of the moms that have attended my classed asked if we could put out a cooking assignment with some of my kid-tested recipes that they could cook with their friends on the weekends. They could then use the food they cook to feed their families during the week, and use the experience to expand their cooking experience- all while spending quality time with friends.  We have made this idea come to life-Doctor Yum’s Cooking Club! It’s a chance for friends to get together and learn to cook new healthy, family friendly, kid-tested seasonal recipes on a quarterly basis. I met this MOPS group when they invited me to talk about feeding preschoolers months agao. When they heard about the cooking club we were planning they agreed to be our pilot group for our Spring Cooking Club debut.  Tabitha, one of the members agreed to be the point person and organizer of the cooking day. Our assignment included several entrees, a few snacks and lunch ideas. The women were all responsible for bringing part of the shopping list and they picked 5 recipes to try that day. When I arrived at the kitchen at the church where they cooked it smelled heavenly and sounded much like...

Doctor Yum’s Prescription for a Healthy Family

Here it is -our new and improved “Prescription for a Healthy Family”! These are the 10 simple rules that emcompass the messages of Doctor Yum and our nonprofit, “The Doctor Yum Project.” Click on each heading for much more information and ideas: 1.Make Wellness Number #1. Time and effort spent teaching healthy habits is an investment in a healthy long life for your kids. Long after designer shoes, electronics and fancy clothes wear out, kids will still have good health from good nutrition. 2. Get Everyone On Board. A healthy family starts with the adults in the family who model good behavior for kids. Everyone needs to invest and participate in a healthy lifestyle for the best results.  Grow herbs in a container, start a garden or visit a farmers market so that kids see how real food grows. Let kids pick out recipes and let them help prepare meals. 3. Connect. Find other families who are trying to get healthy and share ideas. Join groups, use social media, and surround your family with other folks who have wellness in mind. 4. Get organized. Arrange your family’s life to make wellness easier. Set yourself up for success by de-cluttering and having a plan for wellness. See our posts on Getting Starting in the Kitchen  and Getting Organized.  5. Drink water.  Drinking water is a simple habit that goes miles in terms of helping achieve good health. Limit fruit juice, and other sugary beverages. Artificially sweetened drinks are not a good substitute for water.What’s wrong with water? It’s what humans are meant to drink! 6. Cook at Home. Even if you don’t love to cook, find the fun in...

Doctor Yum Meets the Queen of “YUM”, Rachael Ray

Today I had the honor of interviewing Rachael Ray, the popular cooking personality first made famous by her TV show “30 Minute Meals.” She also is a host of her own Daytime Emmy winning television show, author of almost two dozen cookbooks and her popular magazine “Every Day with Rachael Ray.” Her business empire is impressive, but more impressive is her list of charity work including one project close to my heart, Yum-O. This nonprofit organization was started by Rachael Ray with a mission of empowering kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food. Furthermore, I believe that she has helped families accross America deliver healthy, home-cooked meals to the table by making cooking seem easy and approachable. As a pediatrician now beginning the challenge of starting a nonprofit which hopes to battle the Childhood Obesity epidemic by teaching families to cook and eat healthier, I was excited to hear Rachael Ray’s thoughts about her nonprofit work. I was also excited to hear her thoughts about cooking with kids.  Rachael Ray was in town to promote her book My Year in Meals, a unique cookbook which reads like a journal of the food and cocktails that she and her husband personally prepared and ate over the course of a year. However, when I showed up with  her kids cookbook “Yum-O!” to autograph, she was exited to see that I had purchased it. Rachael Ray: Thanks for purchasing my book Yum-O! You know, all the proceeds go to my charity, Yum-O! Dr. Yum: Yes, I know! I would like to talk to you about your nonprofit and what you are...

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