Taking the Stress Out of Feeding Your Kids with Kacie Barnes

Taking the Stress Out of Feeding Your Kids with Kacie Barnes

In this episode we speak with registered dietician Kacie Barnes about pediatric nutrition. Kacie is the owner of Mama Knows Nutrition, where she helps parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers find solutions to nourish their families without stress, guilt, or chaos. Throughout the episode, Kacie shares tips for introducing new foods, discusses typical variations in children’s diets and the nutritional needs of kids all with her signature humor and judgment free style.  

Kacie Barnes, MCN, RDN, LD has a Masters of Clinical Nutrition from UT Southwestern. She is the owner of Mama Knows Nutrition where she works with families one on one and provides information through her podcast, website, and Instagram account to help families navigate feeding their kids. Kacie also has a bachelor’s in economics and business from NYU and a Master of Public Administration from Syracuse University. Kacie lives in Dallas, TX with her husband and two children. 

Mama Knows Nutrition Website

Mama Knows Nutrition Instagram: mamaknowsnutrition

The Parish School on Instagram: ParishSchoolTx 

The Parish School Website: The Parish School 


Stephanie Landis (00:06):

Hello, and welcome to Unbabbled, a podcast that navigates the world of special education, communication delays, and learning differences. We are your host, Stephanie Landis and Meredith Krimmel, and we're certified speech language pathologist who spend our days at the parish, Houston, helping children find their voices and connect with the world around them.In this episode we chat with registered dietician Kacie Barnes about pediatric nutrition. Kacie is the owner of Mama Knows Nutrition, where she helps parents of young children find solutions to nourish their families without stress, guilt, or chaos. Kacie lives in Dallas, Texas where she works with families one on one and through her website, podcast and Instagram account. Throughout the episode Kacie gives tips for introducing new foods, discusses typical variations in children’s diets, and information on children’s nutritional needs all with her signature humor and judgment free style.

Stephanie Landis (01:00):

Welcome for today's episode, we are talking with Casey Barnes. Casey Barnes is a registered dietician. That's here to answer a lot of our questions about nutrition for the younger kids and Meredith, and I already have a list of questions for our own kids. <Laugh> and then we'll also hopefully hit some that help our listeners as well. So welcome, Casey. We're so glad to have you here.

Casey Barnes (01:21):

Thank you. This is my favorite thing to talk about kids nutrition. So I love any opportunity. I get

Stephanie Landis (01:27):

Good. So looking through your bio, you originally didn't get into nutrition. What got you into this field and area?

Casey Barnes (01:35):

Yes, it was a winding road for me. It was a second career. I started off in government policy and I just was so out of my comfort zone there just because I really wasn't interested in it. You know, every day I went to work and I was like, this does not fill my cup in any way whatsoever. So I decided through many crying conversations with my husband that I was gonna go back to school and nutrition was something that I was always interested in, but didn't really get how I could make it a career. I just didn't know. So I learned about registered dieticians and how they were the ones who were certified to work in hospitals and a variety of different settings. And I could really take it anywhere I wanted to go. And what ended up happening was we got pregnant with my son, Teddy when I first went back to school. And so I was a mom while I was doing graduate school, which was interesting to say the least, but then I was pregnant with my daughter coming out of school. And I said, you know what? I'm just gonna work for myself. I'm gonna do my own thing. I had already started my blog and kid's nutrition is what I was passionate about. I mean, I've always worked with kids like whether it's tutoring or babysitting, it's just my happy place. And so that's where I really wanted to be. And that's where I am now.

Stephanie Landis (02:59):

So nice that you could bring in your passion and help yourself and your own family and work for yourself all at the same Time.

Casey Barnes (03:06):

Yes, I'm very, very glad.

Stephanie Landis (03:09):

So a ltt of times when we think of nutrition and young children and eating our brains, jump to picky eating, but then we think about, well, like all the kids are kind of picky aren't they? So can you give us a little bit of information between like what might be typical picky eating for a kid and what might then go into like actual picky, picky eating?

Casey Barnes (03:29):

Absolutely. So there is a developmentally normal range of what we might consider picky eating, which has parents getting worried when they start to seeing these behaviors, especially because it is so different from what you see as a baby, most babies they're eating goes relatively smoothly. You can introduce a variety of foods and they're generally willing to accept most of what you give them. Then somewhere between ages one and two parents often start noticing big changes of their appetite starts to seem kind of wonky. We can't depend on them always being hungry at a meal. And that can often seem like, oh, they don't like this. You know, it's confusing to know whether they're actually hungry or not. Do they not like this? Then I start offering 10 different options to see if they're gonna accept something that I'll make. So that appetite variability is extremely common and not something that I would describe as problem, picky eating. I would say that's normal for a toddler. You think about their growth. When they're zero to 12 months, they triple their birth weight. It's a huge change. And then we go from age one into two, and that growth is much slower. So their nutrition needs aren't quite the same and not at the same pace. Now we're gonna see more spurts of growth and slows. So that appetite variability is so normal. Them not really eating much. It seems like, what did they have besides air today? I don't really know. And those days happen if it becomes really frequent or you feel like you're noticing other signs or symptoms, of course you wanna check in with the doctor, but in general, you're gonna notice that some days are hungry days and some days aren't, or maybe there's only one meal a day that they eat really well or maybe two. And then the others are kind of, eh, so great. I especially noticed this with dinner time. A lot of times we see our kids not eating dinner and that can be a struggle. And so sometimes it is that they're getting picky about what you're making, but a lot of times kids just aren't that hungry by that meal of the day. So that can be really normal getting really into, on food. And then all of a sudden being off of it, that's common too. And as long as they're still eating a variety overall, you just have to take that in stride with toddler eating of, as soon as you buy the bulk version of something, that's when they stop eating it, right. <Laugh>

Meredith Krimmel (06:02):

When you talk about toddler eating, do some of these same principles apply to older elementary age kids like 5, 6, 7 year olds? In our house, we call them eating days and not eating days. Would you see that with lower elementary kids as well?

Casey Barnes (06:16):

Yeah. Thank you for asking. You know, my, most of my world most days is in the toddler land. So that's always who I'm thinking about first, but when they do get older, that is common too. And you will notice like my son, he just went through, I'm sure a growth spurt because I could not get enough food in this kid. And now he's kind of like, eh, can take it or leave. And so you will still notice that in those older years that they have those ebbs and flows,

Stephanie Landis (06:43):

We have to get up so early for my daughter to get to school on time. Here they start elementary school, an insanely early time and she just will not eat much for breakfast. And so the lunch that I have to send her is gigantic. And even then when she gets home, the snack that she eats is gigantic. And then at dinner, she's like, no, I'm good.

Casey Barnes (07:03):

<Laugh> yes. That's I know it's so frustrating. And what's hard too is we often introduce the most variety in terms of what we serve at dinner time. So they're one getting introduced to things that they don't see quite as often and are not quite as hungry. It's definitely a recipe for not wanting to eat that much.

Meredith Krimmel (07:24):

I never thought about that about my dinners generally are more different or they're different day to day compared to maybe their lunches are more similar. So I never really thought about the fact that they're not hungry and it's something new or something unfamiliar or less familiar.

Casey Barnes (07:39):

Yeah, for sure. So we think about the exposures for kids and the more that they're exposed to a food, the more that they try it, the more likely they are to eat it. And so breakfast foods, we repeat those over and over and over again, lunch foods. We tend to repeat those over and over. And parents often get frustrated because dinner is when we serve the vegetables and dinners when they don't eat the vegetables. So I always give this tip to try and get the veggies or things like that. You really want them to start eating, offer it earlier in the day. If you notice that they're not having a big appetite at dinner, throw it in their lunchbox, even if it's leftovers from the night before, something like that to try and give another opportunity besides just dinner.

Stephanie Landis (08:21):

That's a great idea too, because I think parents are also always going like, well, can't send peanut butter sandwiches for school lunch. <Laugh> yes. They've had a bagel and cream cheese every day. <Laugh> whatever their one staple food is, is that I do notice that sometimes when I throw leftovers in my daughter's lunch, like she will, she'll eat them. And I don't have to think about that, but it's a good reminder that we can, we can use dinner at lunch too.

Casey Barnes (08:49):


Meredith Krimmel (08:50):

So these are all things you said are pretty typical of like developmental norms for these kiddos. When should parents start being worried about picky eating?

Casey Barnes (09:00):

Okay. So you should start being worried about picky eating. If you notice that their list of safe foods is what I call them. So foods that they generally eat, and like, if that starts really diminishing, if you're like, oh, we have less than 20 foods or so on our safe foods list, then that's when I'm gonna get worried. If they're cutting out food groups entirely. So say no fruits and veggies or no protein sources or, or even textures. If they're cutting out entire textures, I'll see kids who are get really stuck on at puree texture, soft foods. If you're noticing that, then that's when I would mention it to the pediatrician as a first step. Also, if you're noticing that you don't feel like their growth is on track that's another reason to ask the pediatrician about it. But usually I would say you might wanna check in with a feeding therapist if you're noticing these extreme signs of picky eating, or if meals are just really hard. Like if you get to a point where you're like, I don't know what to make that they're going to eat. This is really hard. We're fighting with each other, like get help.

Stephanie Landis (10:14):

So typically before you start seek out, help you start talking about this with your own child <laugh> and if you're like me, you made the mistake of looking at your daughter and being like, Ugh, you won't eat any fruit <laugh> or your son. And be like, why won't you eat meat? <Laugh> are there better ways that we could talk to our kids about this?

Casey Barnes (10:32):

I will never make you feel bad about saying those kinds of things, because even I do it too in the moment when I'm like, oh my God, this is so hard. But yeah. So in general, I say to avoid talking to them about what they are or not eating or how much they are or not eating, really, if you're gonna be talking about the food at all, it should be like descriptive in nature. Or if you're really in enjoying something, it's totally okay to talk about that as well. But if we label them as a picky eater, then they ha <laugh> I see an eye roll <laugh> or a knowing yeah. A knowing look. So if we tell them that's what they are, then that almost gives them that out of like, well, I have to try that. We had friends over recently for dinner and the girl who was their oldest daughter she's seven. And she said to me, I'm a really picky eater and folded her arms almost like you need to impress me, you know, <laugh>

Stephanie Landis (11:33):

Was it my daughter saying I dont eat fruit. <Laugh> like two years ago. And she still looks at people and she's like, yeah, I don't eat fruit. <Laugh>

Casey Barnes (11:43):

She's like, this is part of my identity now mm-hmm <affirmative> yep.

Meredith Krimmel (11:46):

It's so hard not to talk about it in front of them or talk to them about it because I think, and I think I've talked about this before, but you know, the stress of, okay, are they eating enough? Are they eating the right things? Okay. They haven't eaten anything today. You know, it's that. And then on top of I worked so hard to prepare this meal and now you're not eating it. That can be really, really tough. And like, my son has started eliminating foods from his diet that he always ate before now. Now it's like, not only will he not eat it, it's like, oh my gosh, that's the most disgusting thing I've ever seen in my life. How could you even put that on my plate? And when he's going to a friend's house or eat out, it's hard to not wanna say, oh, he's a pick eater. You know, just be prepared. He might not eat anything. You serve him.

Casey Barnes (12:28):

Yes. It definitely gets challenging when you have to feed them at a restaurant or someone else, his house, and you do feel that need to explain, or, I mean, my son is extremely shy and I always feel like I need to explain why he's not talking. And so it's definitely hard as a parent to navigate those things because you know, other people have certain expectations, you know, that some people are gonna be offended if your family isn't eating the food that they've served. So I think in some cases, it's okay for you to bring your own food if you need to. So the host doesn't have pressure to prepare something specific for them, but just try and talk to them in advance about it, or feed your child something at home first. I mean, we don't wanna rely on having to do that forever, but while you're still working through the beginning stages of trying to figure out their picky eating, or you're just in a place where you're like, I, this has gotten bad. I don't know what to do. It's okay to do that kind of thing and not expect them to go into that unfamiliar environment with this unfamiliar food and expect them to be able to eat something that's hard for them.

Stephanie Landis (13:35):

So you mentioned before exposures to new food, is there a way to give your child exposures without them feeling like pressure or immediately being turned off?

Casey Barnes (13:46):

Yes, absolutely. I share some of these on my Instagram and I actually need to do this more, cuz it's been a little while, but I have this also in my picky eater program, we work through these steps of exposure. I think something that we often something that's often a mistake for picky eater parents is we wanna jump right to that finish line of them eating the new food. Like we see that as our only success I failed. If they didn't eat it tonight, I did good if they did eat it. What I talk about in my program a lot is redefining that version of success. Like I want you to focus on the process and not necessarily the progress because you need to get through those exposures for them to feel more comfortable. And that's as simple as getting them in the kitchen with you as you're preparing a meal, you need to do that anyway, whether you're are doing something that's more elaborate or just really simple, either way, they're getting to smell what you're making. They're getting to see those individual foods, have your child rinse off the fruit, have your daughter rinse off the fruit. So she has to, she doesn't need him have to touch it. She can use she can use tongs or just hold the collander or whatever it is. So they don't even have to touch it with their hands at first, get them comfortable being near the food first. And that is a great win to even get them there. There are kids where you put food on their plate and they're immediately like, get that away from me. So if we can get them near it, that's our first step. We can't jump right from them being near it to them, eating it. They need to kind of like date the food first <laugh> and really grow acquainted with it before they're ready.

Stephanie Landis (15:30):

I like that. There's one of the things when parents ask me, what can I do with my kid at home? We're always like cook with them. Yes. And that's from like a speech and language that's from executive functioning. And then like the OTs always like, yeah, the fine motors. And now with the getting exposures to food in new ways. But it's also super hard. Cause most of the time when you're cooking, I have 30 minutes to cook this and this. Oh my gosh. A time. And you're gonna wreck my kitchen. But I think that that's a great goal and something that we try and do on the weekends when I have plenty of time and, and not as stressed and worried about that is, is getting them more involved in, in cooking or making little snacks. So that's a, that's a really great tip.

Casey Barnes (16:11):

Yeah. Snack is a fun way to do it too. When it's a little bit more relaxed, if you have some more time or even just them helping with part of it. Like my daughter loves to crack eggs. I hate it because it gets everywhere, but I'm like, okay, you can participate in this step of whatever we're doing, but then I'm gonna send you off to play so that there's not also flower all over my kitchen and sugar all over the floor, whatever it is. So that's helpful. Another thing that you can do if you're like, I just can't deal with this is to serve a meal family style so that they have to, if they're old enough to pass the plate, they actually have to be up and close and personal with that, pass it to somebody else. Or even just using tongs or a spoon, whatever it is to put it on their own plate. They are more likely to try something that way. And we often don't do a good job of guessing how much they need. They know better than we do. They don't always guess the right time. Like there are definitely times my kids will scoop on pasta and pasta and pasta. I'm like, you, you're not gonna eat all of that, but they do stop when they're full. So helping them understand like, okay, take one, serving and then we're gonna share with somebody else. But being part of that process of handling the food, however it looks is great.

Meredith Krimmel (17:27):

I'm glad you mentioned the portion size because I think that's something that as parents we struggle with too, you know, how much is too much or how much is too little, you know, what do you have any advice or general, general guidelines that you follow for portion control for toddlers and elementary age kids?

New Speaker (17:42):

For the younger kiddos, it's a little bit easier to remember because there's this rule of thumb where you basically have one thumb size of each food per year of age. So that's like one tablespoon roughly. So for a two year old, if we're serving chicken with rice and broccoli, then you're giving them about two tablespoons of each of those foods. If it's a mixed dish, you're gonna do more. And that's what I would call a starter portion. So that's kind of how you're gonna start them off. If they wanna eat more of something, that's fine. If they wanna eat more of something and haven't finished the other things, I'm okay with that too. And it's not, you know, we can't expect them to eat that perfectly balanced meal every time, even if we have our act together and offer a perfectly balanced meal every time. And then when they get a little bit older, I want them to start taking more responsibility for that. So whether they're plating, you know, you don't have to have an elaborate, set up for a family dinner. Usually for us, it's like, you're at the counter and you scoop onto your plate. And then we go sit down. I'm not doing serving dishes or anything my mother did. And I'm like, how did you do that? Like you had so many extra dishes <laugh> but so once they get a little bit older, letting them decide, I have this printout that I can send you guys. And it's basically pictures of Teddy bears with their bellies being different levels of full. And that's something that's really great to talk about with kids, understanding their hunger and fullness. They're born knowing this, but we often lose some of this ability just based on whether you're a parent who says you have to finish your plate or there's external things that can affect that. So if we can help them really tune into how hungry and how full they are, and have them be aware of that throughout the meal, an older kid is gonna get those strong they'll have those signals from their body to know, do I need more? Do I not? Am I good?

Stephanie Landis (19:44):

Yeah. And I think that's something that we have a lot of children on campus and in my house with sensory processing difficulties. Okay. And so some of them are still struggling to figure out, like, what does it feel like when I'm hungry? What does it feel like when I'm full? And so letting them kind of figure that out is, is probably helpful, but might be, might be a struggle for a little while.

Casey Barnes (20:07):

Okay. Yeah. I totally can understand how that would be a challenge. And I don't have specific experience with helping those kids, but in general you can usually find out about how many calories they need a day based on their weight. And so for some parents that might help them and knowing that it's not gonna be exact, that exact amount every day, it'll kind of be a fluctuation, but it give you some a starting place.

Stephanie Landis (20:32):

Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. And along those lines, I know we have a lot of families that are snack all day type of families. Would it help kids to learn their body cues if we're spreading out meals more? So they are actually feeling hungry or getting hungry in between.

Casey Barnes (20:47):

Yes. So snacking is something that can sometimes be a tool because for some kids you can get more calories into them that way, if that's something that you're struggling with, but in general, it's not what I recommend because our bodies do need time in between meals to really process digest and rest and have an ability to build up a hunger, a feeling of hunger again. So if we're snacking all day, generally, we never feel that hungry. We never feel all that full. We're, we're just kind of ride that wave. But if we have more time in between, so say three hours for a younger kid, for hours, for an older kid in between those meals, they can build up their appetite. They're going to usually eat better at that meal. And it's okay to feel hungry. You know, it's something that I think in this day and age, we have so many options available. We can throw a snack at our kids every moment they feel a little bit hungry, but the reality is it's a very normal physiological function to feel hunger. And it's not an emergency most of the time. So helping a kid to understand that we can wait until we get to a meal, that's gonna be helpful.

Meredith Krimmel (22:02):

What are your thoughts about, you know, this happens in my house all the time. The kids don't eat dinner, whether it's because they're full from a snack or they didn't like it or whatever. And then it's almost time for bedtime. And now we're, oh my gosh, we're so starving. We can't even go to bed. What are your thoughts about how to, to address that? And do you allow, you know, bedtime snacks in your house or would you recommend it?

Casey Barnes (22:22):

Okay, so in my house I'm laughing because my husband is vehemently opposed to bedtime snack. He's like never, I it's something he feels very strongly about for me. I think it depends on what time is dinner and what time is bedtime and how nervous are you as a parent that they're gonna be hungry overnight. Because if you're extremely worried about that, I can tell you all day that they'll be fine till morning. But if you have that in your remind, like give them that bedtime snack opportunity before they, before you start the bedtime routine. So still in the kitchen and make it something simple and boring. Like you can re-offer dinner. If you want to, not in to say like, you have to finish this, but you can re-offer it. Or I usually have like three options. Say they, it could have a yogurt, a banana or peanut butter toast, something like that. So it's not like, oh, snack time. Yay. And we build it into the schedule so that it's not a bedtime delay tactic. Like we know, okay, it's we know it's 20 minutes before we're going up to bed. This is snack time. Would you like X, Y, or Z? And that's kind of the end of it. I'm not saying they can't ever have a dessert, but for that regular snack time occurrence. And usually I would say if, if dinner is only say an hour to an hour and a half before bedtime, they're really not gonna need that other opportunity. And I don't want them to skip out on dinner in favor of like the preferred thing. So if it's a little bit longer and you think, okay, they do need this other opportunity, make it something simple.

Meredith Krimmel (23:59):

Yeah. We, we move to just apples or carrots. <Laugh> the only option we added in cheese sticks recently. And that's really gotten away from us. I think we're gonna have to take those away. <Laugh> very highly preferred <laugh>

Stephanie Landis (24:13):

So one of the things you mentioned in that was like your own parental anxiety, mm-hmm <affirmative> are there tips that you have that we can cause a lot of times once you have a child and you're like, oh, they're not eating. And now they might, I'm worried that they might not have all the nutritional benefits and your anxiety starts to rise. Then the kids can start to feel it. Do you have tips to ease parents so we're not like running around behind them, chasing them, shoving spoons, full of food in their mouth?

Casey Barnes (24:42):

Yes. I think often getting more information can be really helpful. I have a ton of blog posts on my website about like, if they're not eating or feeding little ones, so you can get information there. So having more information can really be helpful for you, but also take stock of what happened. So say you're really worried about them being hungry throughout the night. You notice they didn't eat dinner. You're really nervous about it. Let's take us as an experiment and say, I'm gonna see what happens. And I'm gonna reflect on that in the morning. And did they sleep all night? Were they okay now I'm gonna take that for next time to know that it's okay. If this happens again, I can't force them to eat. Like, that's something that you have to know as a parent, you cannot force them. It's funny when I talk to friends who don't have kids yet, they're like, oh, they're gonna be a football player. Like they're, I'm like, you have no idea. <Laugh>, you're welcome to try. But the other thing that I wanna say about the parental anxiety with it is like, it's so normal. And I think just try to acknowledge those feelings. And if you notice that that's really coming up for you around meal time, then I would try and talk to somebody about it, whether it's your partner or somebody else, because you're right in that they do feel that. And we don't want them to start feeling anxious or picking up on those feelings around meals. So don't ignore it, but try to work it out, not with them.

Meredith Krimmel (26:15):

We've talked a lot about picky eating and maybe some undereating, but what, what advice do you have for families whose kids are maybe overeating? When should they be concerned?

Casey Barnes (26:24):

So with overeating one, we wanna look at what happening, when they're eating. Are they watching a screen? A lot of times, that's the culprit that it's distracted eating because we've all been there. We know how easy it is to like zone out, watching a show and you can easily down a whole bag of popcorn in my case. <Laugh> so figure out are we using screens too much? And is that something we need to cut back on? So that's number one, number two. Are they actually overeating or are you concerned about their weight when you don't need to be a lot of times pediatricians may or may not be really good about explaining their growth charts to you. And if you see that they're in that high weight percentile or that higher BMI, you might feel really worried. But for me as a dietician, I'm more worried about changes that we see there, whether those be big increases or big decreases. And if they've just always kind of been a larger kid, I'm not worried about them overeating at all. If you feel like they're overeating to the point where they're getting sick, or you can tell that they're really uncomfortable and that happens often one culprit can be that their food is being too restricted. So are you really trying to control their portions too much? Cuz if they feel like they're not free to get enough of what they need, then that tendency is to go overboard. And occasionally it's a medical thing. So you can always bring it up to the doctor as well.

Stephanie Landis (27:59):

That's a great tip to look into the medical thing as well. Cause I think I find same thing with some of our kids who the parents are worried about them. Undereating. We have children here on campus that may be on medication for a variety of different reasons, whether it's like an underlying medical issue or anxiety, attention, all of that. And we find that sometimes the medication that they're on might be impacting their nutrition in one way or the other, for many of our parents, they're worried that if they have medication, that'll depress their kids' appetite and they'll start undereating. Do you have any tips on ways that we can healthily increase their like nutritional density or calories without trying to, trying to give them an entire plate of spaghetti every night for dinner?

Casey Barnes (28:48):

Yes, absolutely. So when parents are worried about getting enough calories in, I always tell them to focus on fat because fat is the most calorically dense. So it's nine gram or nine calories per gram versus carbohydrates in protein. Protein is the most satiating. It's the most filling. So when we eat protein, we're probably going to eat a little bit less overall because we are more full fat while it's more calorically dense, it's not necessarily more filling. So we wanna prioritize those high fat foods. And I like to have them be healthy fat, two avocado, olive oil, avocado oil is another one. Coconut oils. Okay, same with butter. Those are things you can use, but not necessarily all the time freely and then nuts and seeds are really great too. So I like to do like even something like a Lara bar. So it's, you know, those bars that are made from nuts and fruit, basically they're calorie dense. They're not huge, but they're still about 200 calories. So being able to one, always cook with oil or butter or some sort of fat, use full fat dairy. So they even have yogurt. That's like extra fat. It's like 9%. I think Ziggy's has it. So that is even extra calories. So really think about how you can boost those fats. You can stir in nut butter to oatmeal, make it with whole milk. So I have a post on this too. I'm boosting calories in these kinds of ways. Drinks are awesome too, because getting in liquid calories is often easier. So smoothies and really putting in things like those nut butters, avocado, full fat milk, those will help boost as well.

Stephanie Landis (30:40):

You know, I think I'm gonna age myself, but growing up in the era of like everything has to be fat free. Yes. I think when you talk to I'm sure many other parents are around that same age when you talk to them about boosting fat, it's like, but then <laugh> like, no, that's what we were supposed to not do. When we were kids, everybody got switched to skim milk. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>

Casey Barnes (31:01):

I know. Yeah. That is a challenge. And it's interesting. A lot of the fam I'm not doing one on one clients anymore, mostly cuz COVID life. But when I was a lot of times, the kids that I saw who were underweight or needed to gain more weight, their parents were like cook with butter. I can't do that. Cuz we were taught, you know, don't do that. But if you think about focus on those plant based sources, you know, there's so many health benefits there and dietary fat doesn't make you fat it's they've proved it. It's fine. And really what the research says too, is that for kids under two fat should not be restricted whatsoever cuz it's crucial to their brain and central nervous development. So I know that it can be like I don't know, but it really is okay.

Stephanie Landis (31:49):

I think the same thing with carbohydrates is that, you know, every adult's like I'm gonna be on a low carb diet and yeah. Trickles down to the kids too. I feel like kids are better at getting carbohydrates cuz they love like crackers and gold fish <laugh> and all the bread.

Casey Barnes (32:04):

Yeah. So that can be around 50% of their diet. I think a lot of times we feel like, Ugh, all they want is carbs and it really around 50% of their diet is totally normal and appropriate and carbs are our brains preferred source of fuel and your kids are active. They're learning, they're growing. So carbs really are important we don't wanna limit them. So I'm not suggesting a keto diet in any <laugh> way, shape or form of unless medically necessary. But it's carbs definitely are an important piece of the puzzle. I do like to see at least half of their carbs being like whole grain. So we don't wanna just do regular plain spaghetti or white bread. Like you don't wanna do that all the time. That's also gonna be a problem with constipation too. I talk to so many families who are like help us with the constipation and cutting down a, on those white carbs, like the ultra processed ones that aren't whole grains that usually helps.

Stephanie Landis (33:06):

I think you've mentioned a few other times, things that might be red flags for talking to your pediatrician about underlying medical issues and constipation might be another one. Are there any other things that come off the top of your head that you see people come to you and it might actually be medically based? Do they need to go seek extra help for

Casey Barnes (33:28):

Yeah, I think one of it's not super common, but excessive thirst is something that you wanna look into if they seem like they're drinking a ton. That could usually it's not, I wouldn't say usually <laugh> that could be a sign of type one diabetes, but beyond usually it's like the overeating, the undereating. If you notice any, if they're not growing, they're not gaining weight at all. That's gonna be something to look into. And then if you notice physical symptoms, like a lot of kids don't get enough iron and they're not always gonna become iron deficient. But if you notice that they're very tired, then that could be a problem. So I would mention it to the doctor. If you feel like they're really kind of lethargic.

Meredith Krimmel (34:18):

Do you have any suggestions on increasing irons and so many kids are iron deficient?

Casey Barnes (34:24):

Absolutely. So one of the main things you wanna pay attention to is not going overboard on milk and dairy because that's really gonna crowd out those other iron rich foods. So keeping dairy to around three to max four servings a day, overall including both milk and yogurt cheese, that's going to be one piece of the puzzle. The other piece of the puzzle is getting those iron rich foods. So the best sources are meat and fish. Now I know not every kid is super excited about meat or fish. So that's not always an option, but there's so many chick pea and pea based products now. And those do have iron in them too. So even if you get like the red lentil pasta or the chick pea pasta like that Banza brand those are gonna have some iron in them, even like those hippies puffs that are made from chickpeas, those have some iron in them. You can also cook on a cast iron skillet. That's gonna help as well. Even if it's chicken nuggets like it's okay to do that. They don't need to eat meat every day to get enough iron. So don't feel badly for the occasional nuggets.

Stephanie Landis (35:39):

I think that that's one thing that I've really enjoyed about following you in particular is that you have a really balanced approach. Are there any other like myths out there that you wanna kind of bust that maybe floating around in the parental world of like you child must eat like this or never do that?

Casey Barnes (36:00):

Yeah. I think, you know, it becomes so polarizing sometimes like I posted yesterday about fast food and I said, it's okay to do fast food sometimes with your family. I never said like eat it every day and you know, but it, it really is okay. I think getting rid of the guilt around what we feed our kids, if you think about how many times we feed them in a year, I forget the exact number, but it's like 1800 meals or something like that. It's an insane amount. So I think that you really should not feel badly when you do need to use convenience items or you need to drive through the fast food line sometimes. Like don't beat yourself up on top of it. You know, like just use the tool when you need to, to get through the day. Another one that people are always surprised by is that fruit has the same nutrients as vegetables. So I think we tend to feel like, oh, they're not eating vegetables. The are not getting enough nutrition. I'm doing a terrible job, but fruit has all the same and I've done these in the past and I should do it again. But like side by side comparisons of like a say, pepper versus blueberries or something. And you see that they both have vitamins and minerals and antioxidants and they have all this great stuff. They have fiber. So really you don't have to worry if they're not eating every vegetable or any vegetable or in your case, <laugh>, it's the opposite with no fruit, but <laugh> but it's really okay to lean more heavily on the fruit if that's what they prefer.

Stephanie Landis (37:38):

I think great. And as I said, a lot of our families, their children have some sensory difficulties and you know, they really will get very picky. I've worked with a child that was like, I only eat chicken nuggets from this restaurant and I eat French fries from this other restaurant. And I only eat the grilled chicken sandwich from here and a hamburger from there. And a lot of parents are just, they have so much else going on that they're like, my child has so many other things that we're navigating. And I personally have all these things that I'm navigating, like something has to give somewhere mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so taking that guilt, some of that like shame and guilt that they might already be feeling that they're, they're still giving their child nutrients.

Casey Barnes (38:20):

100%. There's only so much you can do in a day. And sometimes other things are gonna take priority and that's okay. But know that you're doing the best you can. You're working really hard. And it doesn't mean that you're failing them in any sort of way. If the food is not something you can really focus on at the moment.

Stephanie Landis (38:41):

Well, that was all incredibly helpful. <Laugh> and has made me feel better.

Casey Barnes (38:46):


Stephanie Landis (38:47):

Yes. And we'll take that as the whole point of this episode, episode <laugh>. So at the end of every podcast, we ask our guests, if they have one piece of advice to give our listeners and it can pertain to this topic, or it can be like, whatever your best life advice, like listen to your mother, like always wear clean socks. I don't know whatever your advice is. What would you give?

Casey Barnes (39:09):

Oh, that's a tough one. Okay. This is what I will say. My piece of advice is that, think about what your measure of success is for feeding your kids and decide if that's really realistic. You know, sometimes I think we really get stuck in thinking, this is the answer. This is where I need to be. And I don't want you to have to wait till you get there to feel happy. Like when we talked about doing those exposures and doing those little things, like give yourself permission to be happy about the process and that you're doing the things that you know are the right things versus waiting to see that end result.

Meredith Krimmel (39:48):

That's great advice. I think it applies to so many things, not just eating

Casey Barnes (39:52):

<Laugh>. Absolutely. <laugh>

Stephanie Landis (39:54):

Well, thank you so much. We really enjoyed having you on and chatting with you today. We appreciate your time.

Casey Barnes (40:00):

Thank you. It was great.

Meredith Krimmel (40:04):

Thank you for listening to the Unbabbled Podcast. For more information on today's episode, please see our episode description for more information on The Parish School, visit parishschool.org. If you're not already, don't forget to see subscribe to the UN babbled podcast on your app of choice. And if you like what you're hearing, be sure to leave a rating and review a special thank you to St. Daniels, Amanda Arnold and Stella li for all their hard work behind the scenes. Thanks again for listening.