This month, we sat down with Orgain’s pediatric nutrition advisor and one of the nation’s premier childhood nutrition experts, Jill Castle, MS, RDN. Jill blends current research, practical application and common sense to inspire audiences to think differently about feeding kids. A sought-after speaker, media contributor, and member of the Board of Advisors for Parents Magazine, Jill shared with us about her journey toward earning the RDN credentials, details on her informative podcast, and advice for HCPs on how to counsel families on healthy eating.
1. We would love to hear about your journey toward becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Why did you decide to pursue this profession?
After being a chemistry major and “experiencing” organic chemistry, I decided to switch my major but I didn’t really know what I wanted to pursue. My father encouraged me to take a nutrition class. He was a fan of Richard Simmons’ “Deal a Meal” and saw the power of paying attention to what you eat. I took a Nutrition 101 undergraduate class and fell in love with the topic! As my study of nutrition grew, it was a no-brainer to go into pediatric nutrition. I love children, food and the psychology of feeding and eating.
2. What is one of the most frequently asked question that you receive from parents and what are your recommendations?
I am asked about snacking and picky eating a lot. I’m asked so much that I decided to capture my advice in two books. The Smart Mom’s Guide to Healthy Snacking provides parents with a blueprint for raising smart snackers. From food guidance and how to monitor snacking to how to serve snacks and build independence using snack time, I encourage parents to bring as much predictability and structure to snacking as they do for mealtimes.
As it relates to picky eating, my advice captures food, feeding and child development, or the whole child model I used with my own kids and clients. Food advice alone won’t cure picky eating. In fact, I tend to focus less on food and more on feeding and development, because picky eating is often a symptom of a developmental milestone. Picky eating requires a deeper look at the child in the context of his temperament and development, as well as the feeding practices parents are using. I get more granular and try to empower parents with more knowledge about picky eating and extreme picky eating (ARFID) in my book, Try New Food: How to Help Picky Eaters Taste, Eat & Like New Foods.
3. Can you please share any advice for healthcare professionals in counseling families on healthy eating?
Counseling encapsulates an intimate relationship with families. I think it’s important to bring a lot of humanity and ask questions. To be able to tolerate the exploration of possibilities for change (or not). And to especially ask questions about what families need, where they’re at right now, and what transformation or change they expect to achieve from working with someone on their nutrition. It’s also important not to bring biases and assumptions to the table. For example, it’s not productive to judge the health quality of the family food supply or assume families can access or afford fresh fruits and vegetables. We need to meet each family where they’re at, and we won’t know this unless we ask.
Personally, and from a nutrition perspective, I use the philosophies of “all foods can fit” and “how can we add to the diet?” (rather than eliminate or take away).
4. Tell us about The Nourished Child® podcast? What has been your most memorable episode thus far?
The Nourished Child® launched in 2016 with the intention of creating further dialogue around childhood nutrition, providing parents with practical, evidence-based tips and strategies around feeding kids through expert interviews and professional guidance. I’m proud to say the show has 131 episodes to date, over 350,000 downloads, and has hosted more than 80 different expert guests.
There are so many memorable episodes for me, but the ones that really stand out are the ones where I’ve learned something new, like episode #109 where I interviewed a teen who had experienced bariatric surgery, or episode #86 which was about emotions and eating in children. Of course, I’m a fangirl too, so interviewing Dr. Perri Klass (author and writer for the New York Times) and Olympian Gevvie Stone have been personal highlights.
5. What interested you in becoming a member of the Orgain Nutrition Advisory Board?
When I was in private practice, I saw a lot of underweight kids. Many parents wanted a nutritional supplement that was not only convenient and nutritious, but also more natural and sourced from ingredients they could recognize. That’s what led me to Orgain. Orgain’s line of both plant-based and dairy-based nutritional beverages and whole grain bars are something parents and professionals can feel good about giving to kids.
In case you missed, it, be sure to watch Jill’s webinar presented as part of Orgain’s Professional On-Demand Webinar Series, “Pediatric Nutrition Breakthroughs: 5 Advances Every Practitioner Should Know” Click here to watch it now.