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Hot Topic Blog - Feeding, Eating, & Drinking


By Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist in Colorado

November 2015

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Raising a Healthy Happy Eater: A Stage-by-Stage Guide to Setting Your Child on the Path to Adventurous Eating:  Pediatrician Nimali Fernando, MPH, MD and Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP (aka Dr. Yum and Coach Mel) have just released a new book Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater.  Published by The Experiment, the same publisher who brought us Baby Led Weaning and Forks Over Knives, Doctor Yum and Coach Mel have organized the book by using an easy-to-follow journey theme stressing each step in a child’s development from birth to school-age. 


“It is very important to understand that feeding is a developmental process, just like learning to crawl, walk, and then run.  Kids need to experience food in a variety of ways over time in order to become adventurous eaters.  In Raising a Healthy Happy Eater, we explain how to do that, in each step of the child’s food journey.”


Dr. Yum and Coach Mel first collaborated in 2013 by creating a preschool food curriculum that is currently being piloted in 25 schools in Virginia, including 14 Head Start classes and one classroom supporting kids with special needs in New Jersey.  Titled Doctor Yum’s Preschool Food Adventure, these unique, hands-on monthly lessons introduced fresh fruits and vegetables to kids in preschool.  A top university is interested in researching this curriculum because of its unique approach in bridging the gap between preschool food education and parents hoping to engage children in healthy eating at home. 


However, taking the curriculum nationwide in 2016 requires funding via grants and sponsorships.  In an effort to put their money where their mouths are, Dr. Yum and Coach Mel are donating a portion of the proceeds from their new book to fund the curriculum.  “When you buy Raising a Healthy Happy Eater, it’s not just your family that benefits.  You’re helping us change the food culture across the United States by supporting the Preschool Food Adventure curriculum.”


Coach Mel and Dr. Yum explain further:  “Changing the way America eats: That’s where our hearts are…and parents want to know how to get out of the chicken nugget rut.”  Coach Mel, who specializes in working with children with feeding disorders, sees the daily stress that parents encounter when their children have difficulty moving through the developmental process of learning to eat.  Dr. Yum, who has a special interest in childhood obesity, also finds that diet-related illnesses are found in children of all shapes, sizes, and ages. “Our book not only addresses the gross, fine, and oral motor skills necessary for chewing and swallowing, but above all else, this is a parenting book.” 


Each chapter includes parenting passports that guide moms, dads, and extended family members on the journey of raising kids who truly love to try new, healthy foods.  Tips on how to parent consistently, parent bravely, parent mindfully, and more are peppered throughout each chapter. Plus, Coach Mel includes tips for the more hesitant eaters, including those with sensory processing challenges.  Dr. Yum provides the medical perspective and shares personal experiences of teaching her own patients how to parent in the kitchen.


In her practice known as Yum Pediatrics in Virginia, Dr. Yum uses every possible moment of children’s well visits to inspire healthy eating. Her office includes a large teaching kitchen where families gather for classes on various topics for all ages from making homemade baby food to packing a perfect lunch to canning local produce. Or, simply step outside into the outdoor waiting space and pick a fresh tomato or snip some kale from the garden which encircles the entire office building. 


Coach Mel and Dr. Yum have collaborated on one more project to support professionals and parents on the journey to adventurous eating.  Their new website aptly named Parenting in the Kitchen.com will offer over 50 videos dedicated to how to feed and nourish children.  Each entertaining video will cover a topic related to feeding kids, and new content will be added each month.  The new service will be available beginning November 1, 2015. For articles and inspiration on how to raise adventurous eaters, please sign-up for the Parenting in the Kitchen newsletter.




“Nimali Fernando, MD, MPH founded the nonprofit the Doctor Yum Project. Her practice, Yum Pediatrics, features a teaching kitchen and garden, and has gained national attention as a hotspot for nutrition education. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics” (back cover of How to Raise a Healthy, Adventurous Eater, 2015). See http://www.doctoryum.org/.


Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP, treats children (birth to teens) who have difficulty eating.  She is the co-author of Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater (Oct. 2015), the author of Happy Mealtimes with Happy Kids and the producer of the award-winning kids’ CD Dancing in the Kitchen: Songs that Celebrate the Joy of Food!  She is an international speaker and media expert on feeding and has contributed content to Huffington Post, Parents Magazine,  Natural Baby, special needs publications, and more.  Melanie’s websites, MyMunchBug.com and ParentingInTheKitchen.com are the go-to resources for parents wanting to raise adventurous eaters, even in our chicken-nugget world. She can be reached at Melanie@mymunchbug.com.