By Dr. Vivien Brown, MD
Eating is a powerful part of life. Think about your earliest childhood memories. Chances are, food—and the people who made it for you—plays a big part of those moments.
Yet, developing healthy food habits can be a great anxiety source for many parents. That’s particularly true if you’ve got a picky eater on your hands or your child’s suddenly changed their preferences.
How can this change help parents? Food guides, which reflect the best available scientific evidence at the time of their publication, offer insight into where to focus your energy in building healthy eating habits.
And the new guide’s got some great suggestions.
The biggest change to Canada’s Food guide is removing the old food groups: grains, milk products, fruit and vegetables, and meat and alternatives.
Instead, the new food guide encourages Canadians to think of each meal in terms of a plate divided into four sections.
Unsure what counts as a whole grain? John Berardi, PhD and co-founder of Toronto-based Precision Nutrition (PN), has an excellent overview to finding whole grains in your local markets.
And PN also has a useful visual system for estimating portions using your hand size when you’re on the run.
Canada’s new food guide goes further than just identifying healthy foods. If you want to build strong, lifelong eating habits, parents should also be mindful of how we eat.
Canada’s new food guide puts drinking water front and center in its recommendations, especially for children.
That news may surprise some parents. Nutritionists and doctors have advised against giving children sugar-heavy drinks like soda for several years. But juice and milk have been staples of food guides in the past.
Yet, the new food guide recommends that Canadian families avoid all drinks that are high in sugar. That includes juice.
What about milk? Dairy is now considered a protein and not an independent category. Drinking milk should be considered against other protein consumption in the diet.
I get a lot of questions from my patients about how the new food guide should influence the choices they make for their families.
It’s important to remember that guidelines are not laws. Instead, they provide educated instruction that each individual should interpret. If you have questions, you should always talk to the doctors and medical professionals who know your history and health needs best.
Also, Health Canada’s recommendations reflect recent changes in medical and scientific research. By adding new discussion areas to the guide, Health Canada is asking us to consider new ideas, such as the important of eating with family, that haven’t had a lot of airtime in previous versions.
What is Health Canada’s goal in updating the guide? In general, they want to help Canadians to:
While these are lofty but important goals, we still need to make Canada’s Food Guide apply to our own lives. You can use the information it contains as a stepping stone to avoiding the disordered eating patterns I see in patients every day.
So, the food guide serves as a great reminder to be proactive about our eating habits as we grow and age. To have a healthy life, it’s important to be proactive about food. A meal is a process, not just an end result.
By sharing meals, play and conversation with others, we’ll all learn to make better choices for our health.
What recipes do you enjoy making with your family? Have you added cooking experiences to your Family or Child collections in LifeTales? We’d love to learn more. Drop us a line at email@example.com.
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Have you heard about growth mindset parenting?
It’s based on a popular psychology theory in in education. Articles on growth mindset also get a lot of buzz in magazines and blogs for the entrepreneurial and self-improvement communities. Even pro athletes like the NBA’s Steph Curry have even talked about taking a growth approach to their careers.
Why should parents care? Because exploring a growth mindset may give you new tools as you take on the responsibilities that come with having kids.
Think back: one minute you were living your adult life, working on your career goals, deciding if you should join a recreational soccer league, or debating whether to try that new takeout place down the block.
Yet the minute you learned there was a baby coming, your priorities shifted. Before you know it, that tiny, vulnerable human being is in your arms. And during your child’s early years, it’s your choices that have the biggest impact on how they learn and grow.
New parents can read all the baby books in the world to get ready (and some parents do). But nothing prepares you for that humbling moment when you look into your child’s delicate face and grasp your new roles. There’s no going back—and no manual.
It can feel pretty overwhelming.
Don’t worry. All the research suggests that parents are made, not born.
According to Wikipedia, a mindset is, “a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people or groups of people.” In other words, it’s all the ideas we’ve picked up from family, friends and our experiences about how we’re supposed to think and act.
Growth mindset theory is credited to Dr. Carol S. Dweck, an American professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Over the course of her accomplished career, Dweck and her fellow scientists developed a theory of two distinct mindsets. They found that people basically fall into two groups with very different approaches to life, including what they think about failure.
From Wikipedia: “Those with a ‘fixed mindset’ believe that abilities are mostly innate and interpret failure as the lack of necessary basic abilities, while those with a ‘growth mindset’ believe that they can acquire any given ability provided they invest effort or study.
So, here’s a quick graphic overview:
Dweck’s research showed that people who believe in growth are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks. Through determination, learning, training and persistence, they improve because they believe that it’s possible for them to change.
If you think about qualities like intelligence as being fixed, like the number of jelly beans in a jar, then you have whatever you’re born with and no more. Your ability to learn and change is set, along with your ability to solve problems or rise to situations. Which means if you fail, the failure results from your abilities.
Kind of bleak, huh? No wonder people with a fixed mindset avoid situations where failure’s on the line at all costs.
On the other hand, if you think of intelligence as something more like a muscle you can build with practice and repetition, life becomes less all-or-nothing. You’ll spend less time obsessing over mistakes and what they mean if you believe it’s possible to learn from them and improve.
To Dweck, openness to this fundamental belief in your own ability to get better means you could “live a less stressful and more successful life.”
Food for thought, huh?
Parenting is hard. Co-parenting with another person can be even harder. You and your partner may have very different ideas about how to raise another human being, and there’s no way to know until the baby arrives.
You may not feel like you have an immediate talent for parenting if:
If you didn’t grow up in a family where other adults showed you how to cope with these challenges, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Even people who come from big families may feel they have no idea what they’re doing. Comparing yourself to friends or skimming the feeds of parenting influencers intensify those feelings.
Everyone’s life looks shiny on the outside.
But as Joe Hirsch writes in his INC Magazine profile on Curry, “Success comes as a result of effort, learning, and persistence–not just inborn talent, intelligence or strength.”
The good news? You don’t have to be a rockstar right out of the gate. Parenting is nothing if not an opportunity for persistent learning.
So, adopting a growth mindset may help you think about parenting as a multifaceted skill at which you—and your partner—will get better.
You don’t have to be experts or achieve someone else’s level of perfection. You just have to commit and be open to achieving what works for you and your kids.
The Huffington Post’s Parenting blog has some great ideas for getting started, including monitoring your self-talk and being conscious of the messages you’re sending about learning and growth to your kids.
Based on our experiences, the LifeTales team is how our app can act as a feedback mechanism for you.
The Personal Collection gives you a completely private space to jot down your thoughts about how you parent. And if you’ve noticed tendencies that you’d like to change, it’s also a perfect place to note your habits without judgement.
In the spirit of Professor Dweck, you can gather data about your choices and impartially assess where they’re leading you. Ask yourself:
Over time, you may see you’re doing a better job than you thought. And someday, when your kids are grown, you’ll be able to reflect on your experience and share your wisdom.
Does adopting a growth mindset to parenting appeal to you? What are the skills you struggle with?
Get in touch at email@example.com. We’d love to feature your growth experience or hear from you about other topics we should explore.
Ask any large group of adults what they most fear and their list will likely include:
While it’s entirely possible to live your life avoiding items one and two, having kids may push you to sing in public in ways you never thought you would.
The connections between music and other life skills are rich and varied. Scientists have long theorized that’s there’s a connection between music and math, for example, although Scientific American notes the exact nature of this relationship remains fuzzy.
Other associated benefits may include higher emotional intelligence, better social skills and a greater appreciation for tone and rhythm.
Beyond the possible skill benefits and a general appreciation for music, hearing a lullaby can form iconic childhood memories.
Whether your parents chose to sing pop songs by Joni Mitchell, The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, traditional nursery rhymes like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or camp songs like “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Old MacDonald,” you may yet have strong feelings to that music and hearing your parent sing it.
Singing is an activity that parents and children can enjoy at any age, and it can also be a key part of your bedtime routine. A lullaby can help set the mood for the end of the day and help your baby’s brain to understand that it’s time to relax and wind things down.
Where to begin? We’ve compiled some quick suggestions as you get started.
Particularly in North America, it’s very easy to internalize cultural rules about who is allowed to sing (people with “good” voices, whatever that means) and who is not (everyone else). However you feel about singing in other parts of your life, try not to let that judgement into this process. Singing develops your child’s bond with you. What matters is that you do it, not how you sound. As Ian Mendes has written for Today’s Parent, “If the sound of mom’s gurgling digestive juices helped baby doze off, then the bar is set pretty low for you as a singer.”
If you can barely hum “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” then songs like “Memory” from Cats or Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” may not be the best choice for you. Longevity should be your guiding principle. When your child develops a fondness for your lullaby, it’s possible you will still be singing the same song 10 years from now. Have mercy on your vocal cords and pick a tune that you can sing easily and without strain at various volumes. (Seriously, have you considered “Ba-Ba-Black Sheep?” It works pretty well.)
Can’t remember the weird second verse to “You Are My Sunshine”, which ends with the heartwarming line, “You have shattered all of my dreams”? No sweat. Your baby won’t care if you know a single verse or just the chorus. In some ways, it’s easier to choose a short song that you can easily loop when it’s 3 am and you’re gamely singing while pacing their bedroom in a vain attempt to get both of you some sleep.
Keep a pair of earplugs handy if you’re got a fussy baby who’s fond of screaming along to your midnight (or afternoon, or morning) performances. You’ll still be able to hear yourself singing and it may help take the edge off.
You’re going to get tired of singing the same song (trust us on that one). For mental variety, pick a secondary lullaby or two that are also easy to sing and toss them in now and then for you and baby. One of our team members used the classic song, “ABC,” as her back-up lullaby because it’s easy to sing at different pitches and speeds.
Want more of a challenge? Pick an easy song you like (“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” maybe) and swap the words out. You can describe what you see in your baby’s nursery, talk about what you did during the day, or tell your baby about people in your family. Young babies won’t care, but it can be a fun game for you to play as they get older.
Still not sure what to do? Pity the parents who successfully raised children in the dark era before YouTube and run a search. You’ll quickly find over six million examples of lullabies you can learn from a range of cultural backgrounds.
Thanks to technology, it’s never been easier to record an audio file or video of you singing to your child. Adding your lullaby traditions to a LifeTales story collection gives you both have a soothing memory to reflect upon as your children grow and your voice inevitably changes.
What were the go-to lullabies in your house growing up? What are they now? Have a suggestion for a different blog topic? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!
The photo, “White and Wooden Wall Decor,” appears courtesy of Charles DeLuvio.
As social media platforms evolve, it’s getting easier to share your life with the people you care most about.
But for every genuine, two-way connection, there are the (sometimes) well-meaning folks who don’t respect boundaries. Some even take their social updates a little too far.
We’ve all got a few of them in our friend networks. They’re the people who:
Managing other people’s drama is challenging enough when you’re single or recently married. Add a pregnancy or a new baby to the mix, and the stress around oversharing can snowball.
Even being rich and famous doesn’t necessarily protect people from their oversharing friends and relations.
This week, Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, returned to New York City for her baby shower. It’s the first time the former star of Suits has been back to the U.S. since marrying Prince Harry of Wales last spring. Their wedding ceremony was watched by 18 million people worldwide.
But their storybook day was nearly upstaged by the willingness of some relatives within Markle’s father’s family to overshare about her life.
Thankfully, few of us will face the same kind of media and social pressure as the new duchess. But we can take some helpful ideas from how Markle’s managed her oversharing relatives.
The Duchess turned to many long-time friends to organize her shower. They include tennis champion Serena Williams, international and human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, and stylist insider Jessica Mulroney. And Mulroney, who met Markle when she was filming Suits in Toronto, also acted as her defacto maid of honour when she got married.
Like the Duchess of Sussex, we all need to determine which friends are capable of reciprocal trust. If there’s someone in your circle spreading rumours or not standing by you, it might be time to introduce better filters on what you share.
Harper’s Bazaar reports that a small group of only 15 people attended the Duchess’ baby shower in the New York. This choice minimizes the risk of leaks to the press. Your life may not generate photos worth thousands of dollars to tabloid editors, but everyone goes through times where privacy and discretion make life more manageable.
You don’t have to rent the pricy penthouse floor at The Mark, as Serena Williams reportedly did (though kudos if you do, it’s beautiful). There are other ways to manage who sees what if you don’t want to show personal photos to everyone.
Facebook allows you to create friend groups that tier access to your content, Instagram offers private accounts and LifeTales always lets you decide whether your connections see a single story or a whole collection.
It’s not easy to be estranged from a parent. If your older relatives show a continued lack of respect for your space, as Markle’s father has done, you may need to put some personal distance between yourself and your boundary breaker. So, consider limiting the amount of photos, news and personal details you share with them until trust can be re-established.
Like the late Princess Diana before her, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is certain to live part of her life as a mother and wife in the spotlight.
But as Elaine Lui has observed in her ongoing coverage of the union, the Duchess is the first member of the royal family to bring prior experience with celebrity to her new role in public life. We’re most curious to watch how she’ll use digital tools to manage her new family’s privacy as she becomes a parent.
Got a suggestion for a blog topic? Get in touch at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you!
Photo courtesy of the Northern Ireland Office via Flickr.