Dietitian writes children’s book about food and healthy habits
Published 10:28 am Thursday, April 10, 2014
As a mother of three, Albert Lea dietitian Amy Pleimling knows what it’s like to have struggles at the dinner table.
Trying to cook healthy food for her family, Pleimling said she sometimes comes across one of her children who doesn’t want to eat what she has cooked.
Drawing from her own experience as a mother, along with her time as a dietitian in Albert Lea and other locations, she published a book last fall to encourage healthy eating in a fun way for both children and adults.
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The book, called “Don’t Yuck My Yum,” looks at how saying negative things about food can affect the food choices and habits of others.
“I strongly believe that if kids are empowered to make healthy food decisions, encouraged to try new things and exposed to all sorts of healthy foods, they will become healthier adults,” she writes in her foreword to the book. “Eating patterns
established in childhood follow into adulthood.”
She will be at Albert Lea’s Book World from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday in Northbridge Mall to talk about the book and sign copies.
Pleimling, who works part time as a dietitian for Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea, worked for six years as Hy-Vee’s dietitian.
She graduated in 1995 from the University of Minnesota with a degree in nutrition and dietetics.
The 1991 Albert Lea High School graduate said she worked as a dietitian in the Twin Cities before moving back to Albert Lea in 2001.
For several years she worked as a consultant, before starting at Albert Lea’s Hy-Vee.
“That’s where I found my passion,” she said. “I’ve always liked to work with kids.”
She ran a program called Kids Club, which involved cooking classes for children, and also started Healthy for Youth, where she partnered with all of the fifth-grade classes in the Albert Lea school district to teach about nutrition three times each year.
“The kids learn amazing amounts,” she said. “And I find if you teach kids, you teach their parents too, so it’s kind of a double whammy,” she said.
She said she feels strongly about educating children on nutrition now so they can be healthy adults later. She said she hopes the concept in her book will appeal to both children and adults.
She said the phrase, “Don’t yuck my yum,” started in the kids classes she taught. It was one of the rules in the class that the kids couldn’t talk negatively about food as she worked to encourage new foods.
“It seemed to stick,” she said. “Kids were saying it over and over in the classes.”
The book features some of her own children, friends and neighbors as the characters.
She said she started writing about two years ago and hopes in the future to expand the book into a series.
“Don’t Yuck My Yum” is available at Book World in Northbridge Mall and at Addie’s Floral in downtown Albert Lea. E-books are also available online at Amazon.com for $3.99. Cost is $12.99 for a paperback and $19.99 for hardcover.
Illustrations are by one of Pleimling’s best friends from high school, Stacy Adair.
For more tips on healthy eating for kids, visit www.dontyuckmyyumbook.com.
Pleimling is married to her husband, Jeff, and has three children, Max, Annie and Nora.
Tips to get kids to eat healthy foods
1. Be a healthy role model. If you want your child to eat his/her broccoli, you better be eating yours.
2. Get them involved in food decisions and preparations. There are all kinds of things you can do to have your kids help anywhere in the food process.
3. Present the MyPlate. This is the new food model for healthy eating. It encourages the whole family to make half the plate fruits and veggies and is an easy-to-understand visual for kids.
4. Redefine trying. Small bites, touching it, smelling it or describing the new food can all be forms of trying. Also remember it can often take many times of trying a new food before people decide if they like it or not (even for adults).
5. Remember, you can’t make kids like a food. You can offer it and talk positive about it, but if they don’t like it at that time, that is OK. Emphasize this view as just that they don’t like it yet. This encourages them to know, just like themselves, that their tastes will change and grow, and it keeps the doors open for trying the food again in the future.