Healthy Her: Nutrition from the Littlest of Warriors

Healthy Her: Nutrition from the Littlest of Warriors

Today we’re excited to add Kimberly Tichota, a Pediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist, to our list of Healthy Her contributors! We love her perspective on healthy & nutrition and know you will too! Enjoy! 

When I started out on my journey as a registered dietitian I wanted to work with children, specifically little littles.  Amazingly enough, four years ago, I was given a gift from a mentor and role model: she was leaving her contract position working with 0-3 year olds with special needs and needed someone to step in.  I felt young, unready and undeserving, but excitedly and readily accepted the challenge.

I began the job fueled by my knowledge and skills, ready to change the lives of the families that needed me.  What I didn’t expect, was how humbling and empowering it was to work with these preemie infants and little tots that are already so much stronger than I am. There was so much joy experienced when the first preemie infant I worked with didn’t need oxygen anymore because they had finally gained enough weight for the lungs to function properly, or  when a  mama persevered and was finally able to breastfeed her son with Down Syndrome after she was told to give up because he would never figure it out. I love that each family opens up their home to me and allows me to experience their world and all the joys and hardships that come along with raising a child with developmental delays.

The best part of working with infants and toddlers is that one small health adjustment can make all the difference in the world.  It’s such an inspiration to me to remember in my own health journey. Personally I’ve been committed to drinking 16oz of warm lemon water each morning, trying to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night and getting outside and enjoying the brisk Colorado mountain air with my favorite pup and baby girl, every single day. Focusing on these smaller changes has impacted my health significantly because I have more clarity of mind to further my health decisions such as starting the 30 minute HIIT workout, eating a high protein power salad or exchanging my glass of wine for a hot tea at night.

Here are a few  infinitely valuable health lessons I’ve learned from my little warrior friends:

  1. Experiment with your senses: Get in the kitchen whenever possible. It is no secret that when you are able to cook or prepare your meals at home that they tend to be healthier, with less preservatives and lower calories. There is a beautiful brain to mouth to digestive tract connection that happens when you touch, smell, look and experience your food. Your mind can start to process and experience your meal well before you take your first bite! If you are going out to eat, take time to smell your food, look at the colors and notice the texture, so it can still be a pleasurable and thoughtful experience.
  2. Color can be fun: When your plate and food is colorful, it can change your mood, your outlook and in general, it’s increases the nutrition you are eating quite significantly. This is my favorite trick when it seems like my stir fries and salads are all starting to look the same, I challenge myself in the fruit and veggie section to mix up the flavors a little by changing the color palette.
  3. Healthy food should taste good: Life is too short to eat healthy food that doesn’t taste good. Utilize your healthful fats {avocados, nut butters, coconut oil, grass fed butter or whole fat yogurt} & spices {curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, himalayan salt}. Add a tsp of butter to roasted green beans and top with a little sea salt, garlic and rosemary. Keep it simple and fresh.

Finally, here is a favorite recipe that has a high success rate with both my youngest clients and their caregivers! Full of  healthful fats, fiber and protein this is a great recipe to bring as a snack on a hike or camping trip or even enjoying as a little treat at the end of the day.  The best part is it is very simple and fun to make!

{Goodie Ball Recipe} 

½ cup almond flour

¼ cup fine milled flaxseed

¼ cup chia seeds

½ cup almond butter

¼ cup raw honey

2 Tbsp of organic virgin coconut oil

{OPTIONAL addition – 72% dark chocolate chunks, dried cherries, pumpkin seeds}

Blend ingredients all together in blender or with hand immersion blender and mix-in the optional additions. Roll into 1 inch balls and store between parchment paper either in refrigerator or freezer. ENJOY!

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