According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 out of every 5 school age children is obese, which is a number that has more than tripled since the 1970s. In fact, the CDC refers to childhood obesity today as a serious problem. It’s one that many parents are not sure how to take on and beat. The good news is that although babies may not be born with a handbook on how to care for them, one doctor who is on a mission to combat childhood obesity has written a book on how to feed children so they are healthy and happy.
“As a pediatrician, I see that childhood obesity is a serious situation that we are dealing with as a nation. The effects of our over-reliance on processed food extends beyond the growth curve. So many children are who normal weight still exhibit symptoms that stem from their diet” says Dr. Nimali Fernando, a Fredericksburg, Virginia-based pediatrician who founded The Dr. Yum Project. “Parents need a good road map to introduce a lifelong love of healthy food, or children are more likely to have many health problems when they become adults. Prioritizing healthy food as a family can be a good first step”
In addition to founding The Doctor Yum Project, a nonprofit organization that has been helping to curb the childhood obesity problem since 2011, Dr. Fernando also co-authored the book “Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater: A Stage-by-Stage Guide to Setting Your Child on the Path to Adventurous Eating” (The Experiment, October 2015). Dr. Fernando co-authored the book with Melanie Potock, a pediatric feeding expert. The book has become a popular tool among parents who are searching for simple ways to help their children learn to embrace healthy eating. The book features such helpful information as:
- Advice and tips tailored to every stage from newborn through school-age
- How to combat picky eating and raise an adventurous eater
- Real-life stories of parents and kids they have helped
- Wisdom from cultures across the globe on how to feed kids
- Helpful insights on the sensory system, difficult mealtime behaviors, and everything from baby-led weaning to sippy cups
- And seven “passport stamps” for good parenting: joyful, compassionate, brave, patient, consistent, proactive, and mindful.
Parents gain in-depth knowledge about parenting the whole child, understanding the sensory system, healthy feeding at every stage of development, navigating the school cafeteria, food allergies, and more.
“The childhood obesity problem is one that parents can win,” added Dr. Fernando. “We are just so bombarded with quick food options, like prepackaged lunches and pureed squeeze packs that we have lost our way. My mission is to try to help people find their way back to feeding their kids a healthy diet that is filled with fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods, and to help kids be happy about eating them.”
In addition to the book on feeding kids a healthy diet, Dr. Fernando (otherwise known as Dr. Yum), and the team at The Doctor Yum Project the nonprofit she founded, created a free online tool, called Meal Maker Machine. The “Machine” helps parents create healthy meals using the ingredients they already have on hand in their pantry. They simply input the ingredients they have and the system will create a customized healthy recipe for them within seconds.
Dr. Fernando’s pediatric office is unique, offering an instructional kitchen area, where The Doctor Yum Project offers classes for kids and healthy food classes for parents. People attend the classes to get hands on experiences in preparing a variety of plant-based foods, as well as to learn more about gardening in her teaching garden. She also offers a preschool nutrition program, with numerous preschools in the area participating in it.
“Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater: A Stage-by-Stage Guide to Setting Your Child on the Path to Adventurous Eating” is available online. To learn more about The Doctor Yum Project or Dr. Fernando, visit the site at: www.doctoryum.org.
About The Doctor Yum Project
Founded by Dr. Nimali Fernando, The Doctor Yum Project is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to transforming the lives of families and communities by providing an understanding of the connection between food and overall health, as well as empowering them with the tools to live a healthy life. They offer a variety of community programs to help with those efforts. They are located in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and feature an instructional kitchen and teaching garden for holding classes. To learn more, visit the site at: www.doctoryum.org.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Childhood obesity facts. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/ data/childhood.html and https://www.cdc.gov/ healthyschools/obesity/facts. htm