Picky eaters? Food allergies? Everyone wanting something different to eat? Let’s face it, family mealtime can be very a frustrating and stressful time for the entire family. However, family mealtimes do not have to be stressful at all. Registered Dietitian Ahuva Hershkop is here to help us make family meal easy again.
As a Registered Dietitian and mom of two (twins) Ahuva knows that many families struggle with meal time. From picky eating, to severely restricted diets related to the diagnosis of ASD, to maintaining healthy growth while on speciality diets- feeding our kids is HARD.
Ahuva believes that while there are SO many challenges associated with parenting, meal time should never be one of them. She loves working with families to turn meal time tears into smiles and bring back the joy of meal time!
In this episode, Ahuva gets real about the struggles she faced after giving birth to her twins and the lessons she’s learned about family time and meals as a result of being a mom of twins with two extremely different personalities and tastes in food.
What we learn in this episode:
- How families can navigate through mealtime struggles
- Why you shouldn’t be asking “What kind of mother am I?”
- How it’s okay not to “manage” it all
Ahuva Magder Hershkop is a Toronto based Registered Dietitian and writer. She is a member of the College of Dietitians of Ontario, Dietitians of Canada, and the Canadian Celiac Association. Ahuva manages a private practice with a specific interest in paediatric health, healthy food introduction and allergy management. She teaches multiple cooking classes and counsels both adult and paediatric patients on how maintain a healthy balanced diet while managing allergies and specialty diets, and nutrition to promote healthy paediatric growth while promoting the development of healthy eating practices in children and adults.
Ahuva developed a passion for gastrointestinal disease and allergy management at an early age, and has always been interested in fresh cooking, allergy friendly ingredients, and recipe modifications to adapt to food restrictions. As a working mom of twins Ahuva understands the many life challenges that can make healthy eating difficult and she works with clients to make allergy-friendly healthy eating work for their lifestyles.
Ahuva uses a client centered approach to ensure that all recommendations are attainable and achievable for each client!
Ahuva Hershkop 0:00
Navigating the different experiences you have with, you know, with different children like I hear very often in my practice even you know, well my older son never did this. I don’t know why she’s so pickier I don’t know why she doesn’t eat this, my son never did this. My daughter never did this and recognizing that every time we do something and every time that it’s, well, you know what there’s introducing solids or sleep training or whatever that is. And number one, we’re a different parent, you know, second time around third, whatever that looks like for people, and also that every child has a different child.
LaWann Moses 0:36
Hey, mamas. Welcome to the more than a mother Podcast, where we believe you can pursue your dreams and be a great mother at the same time. I am your host LaWann Moses, and I am helping you find the freedom to live. Are you ready? Let’s go
My guest today is Miss Ahuva Hershkop who is a registered dietitian, and mother of two. Ahuva knows that many families struggle with meal time, from picky eating to severely restricted diets related to the diagnosis of ASD, to maintaining healthy growth while on specialty diets. That feeding our kids is hard, who believes that while there are so many challenges associated with parenting mealtime should never be one of them. She loves working with families to turn meal times hears into smiles and bring back the joy of mealtime.
Today I sit down with Ahuva as she shares with us how she helps simplify meal times and make it a less stressful moment for parents and children. hooba teaches us how to make mealtimes fun and easy. Once again No, this matches from a Hoover was really beneficial to me. And especially as we are all facing such a difficult time right now if you’re listening to this when it first airs, and we’re in the midst of the corona virus pandemic, where families are back in the kitchen, we’re back home and we’re making meals three times a day and having to feed ourselves. So I feel that this interview comes right on time. So let’s listen to how Hoover helps simplify meal times and makes it easy for families once again. Hey, Ahuva, how are you today?
Ahuva Hershkop 2:37
I’m good. How are you? I’m great.
LaWann Moses 2:39
Welcome to the more than a mother podcast. I’m so excited to have you here today as my guest.
Ahuva Hershkop 2:45
I’m so excited to be here. Yes. So I know you
LaWann Moses 2:47
have a lot of great things that you are doing with your business. But before we get to that, can you please introduce yourself to our audience?
Ahuva Hershkop 2:54
Sure. So I’m Ahuva Hershkop, I’m a registered dietitian with a with a pediatric based practice in Toronto Ontario and and I work with families to support successful mealtimes, whatever that looks like for every individual family, whether it’s basic eating or allergy management, and I work with others to reduce the mental overwhelm that I find so many of us experience when we are feeding our kids. And I am also a mom of newly three year old twins on Friday,
LaWann Moses 3:25
That’s awesome with twin mommy. That’s exciting. Yeah, yeah, that is so great. And I can’t wait to hear more about this meal planning and successful meal times. I think that’s something that we all struggle with. And totally any tips that we can get would be great for us. But before we get into all of that, I just want to just take a moment as you may know it more than a mother we believe you can pursue your dreams and be a great mother at the same time. And with that being said, I am a strong believer in storytelling and the power that comes when someone tells me story, I just think that we could just transform ourselves and transform others when we just open up and share our stories of what made us who we are today and what put us on the path that we are on today. Because no one wakes up and we are just suddenly the person that we are sitting here just prepared to share all these things today. So before we talk about what you’re doing now, if you don’t mind just sharing with your audience, what was your aha moment or that transformational moment in your life that puts you on the path you’re on today?
Ahuva Hershkop 4:32
In terms of what I’m doing professionally,
LaWann Moses 4:34
it can be either way. So if you want to talk about your, your personal story to where you got up here, or however you want to do it.
Ahuva Hershkop 4:42
You know what the funny thing is that for me, it’s sort of a mix of both. And especially, you know, with my practice, I always love to say that, you know, I’m lucky to work in a space that’s so influenced by my personal life and I’m so lucky that you know, my profession gives me insights that I don’t think I would have had had in my personal life. But I always say that the first time that I felt like a bad mother was about three hours after I gave birth to my twins who I, you know, I gave birth to two babies pushed out two babies and then I was left skin to skin with them for a really long time. And nobody could give me any guidance as to like, why that was happening. Or you know what the goals of that were, I knew that it was, you know, their blood sugar’s were low, something like that. But you know, for anyone who’s had kids, I’m sure that most of you can, you know, agree that like you’re tired after you give birth. Yeah, like, that’s fair. And so three hours, you know, after sitting with two babies in my arms, and all I could think was I really wish someone else could hold them. Right. And I remember thinking like, well, what kind of a mother delivers kids and then want to do pawn them off on somebody, like within five seconds of delivering them like, what a horrible person I am, right?
And if anyone else had ever said that to me, like, if you said that story to me, I would of course say, well, you were tired, but that’s not the way that so many of us feel about ourselves. Right? Right. Um, and I was working in a different area of nutrition before having my children but I started working at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, as a research dietitian and food allergy and really seeing you That was the first time that I had ever seen parents coming in and saying, you know, hey, I literally don’t know what to feed my child, right. And that’s stressful for me. And I feel like a bad parent because of it and what kind of a parent can just give their child dinner. And that was the first time that I had ever heard that. And that was a sentiment that sort of what kind of a parent Am I was a sense of it came up again and again, as I was talking to my, you know, my friends, my colleagues, as they were introducing solids to their kids as I got more immersed, sort of, I guess, in the mom community that I am in and that was really how I ended about, um, you know, in the space that I am in working in this space that I am because, you know, it took a lot for me to get rid of that ongoing thought process of what kind of a mother does it make me right and I was, I think for the first couple of months that I had my kids I was so obsessed with proving to myself after that thought that I was a good enough mother, right?
I was a mother who, whatever. And I’m really determined to have no mother feeling like what kind of a mother Am I when it comes to dinnertime, when it comes to feeding their families when it comes to you know, all the things we have to do day in and day out. Because for lots of parents, there’s a lot of that happening and and that’s really it’s sort of just organically morphed into. I was like, this is it like no mother can feel this way at the end of every single day. And that was really you know, how I ended up getting into this space.
LaWann Moses 7:53
Right and I’m sure with with having twins and that short story, you share it with feeling like that bad mother and then What kind of mother would I mean, that’s something that we can all relate to. I mean, in the age of social media, it’s just it’s so easy to just feel like that bad mother or to feel like what kind of mother Am I because I do X, Y, and Z.
Ahuva Hershkop 8:14
And I think even so, when so many of us are feeling good, like, you know, a lot of parents, I see kids, like, I got dinner on the table tonight, you know, some something, I did something, right. And then you see on social media, and you’re like, well, that person got a six course. Like, suddenly, you know, you feel good. And all of a sudden you’re so deflated. And there’s so much of that. Definitely, I would agree that in the world of social you know, the age of social media and the access that we have to so many people’s lives, I think it’s definitely no adding to the pressure that so many of us feel as moms if we’re not measuring up to whatever, you know, measuring stick we choose that day.
LaWann Moses 8:50
Right? That is so true. So did you find yourself when you had your twins and you were navigating life and learning what you were doing through your research work? Trying to figure out like, what to feed them what to do? How did you find that just being like a trial and error? Or did your kids like are they picky eaters? Like what types of things did you experience?
Ahuva Hershkop 9:12
So definitely, um, you know, what’s what was interesting to me. I think it’s interesting. My husband always makes fun of me, like, our children are not science experiments. You can be like, he’s like, you look at them, and you’re like, Oh, my God, this is so fascinating. Fascinating. But I cannot obviously, but you know, it’s an amazing thing, even in terms of, you know, temperament in terms of sleeping in terms of eating. My children are twins. They were born like they were, you know, in my stomach together, they were born together. They’ve only ever known life together and they are so so different. And I think that’s one thing that you know, a lot of parents find stressful is navigating the different experiences you have with, you know, with different children like I hear very often in my practice. Do you You know, when my older son never did this, I don’t know why she’s so pickier. I don’t know why she doesn’t eat this, my son never did this, my daughter never did this and recognizing that every time we do something and every time that it’s, well, you know what there’s introducing solids or sleep training, or whatever that is. And number one, we’re a different parent, you know, second time around 30, whatever that looks like for people, and also that every child is a different child.
LaWann Moses 10:24
Right? And I think that’s so important because every child is different. And each child requires a different level, a different level of parenting, and even in the same household, as you said, you don’t handle your children the same way like it’s impossible. So Exactly, yeah, that’s really
Ahuva Hershkop 10:41
I think that we you know, that we experienced a lot of my kids eat very differently. They’re not, they’re not picky, but they’re, you know, normal children. Like, you know, I always say that I’m the one that’s table like, we’ll go to a birthday party and all the other moms will be like scraping the icing off their cupcakes, their child doesn’t have so much sugar and I’m like the I think the best part So my kids are the only ones at the end of the table actually eating the cupcake.
So there’s definitely, you know, there’s been a big learning curve for myself, because, you know, as much as this is what I practice every day, it’s always different when it’s your own children as well. Right?
LaWann Moses 11:18
And that is, yeah, it is, no matter how much we put it into practice, it is different when it’s your own family. But it’s just amazing how we can use those life experiences and those things that we do in our personal lives. And we find out there’s that cross connection between professional and personal. So we’re learning on both sides and able to apply things on both areas. I mean, that’s great, that you’re able to take your work that you do as a registered dietitian and implement it into your family life, but then also what you learn with your family, you’re able to take it into the work that you enjoy your practice. So that’s great, actually. Yeah, yeah. So we talked about a little bit about your journey and everything. So tell me about what you do right now. To help mothers and not feel so guilty and all at mealtime,
Ahuva Hershkop 12:05
I do a couple of different things. So as I said, I work one on one with parents, and that very much influenced and you know, for my work in the food allergy world. So again, you know, supporting parents who really are walking into my office being like, I have zero idea what to feed my child and supporting families of picky eaters. So you know, kids who it’s really incredibly stressful for parents to know that are they getting enough? You know, what are they getting? How do we expand the repertoire, right? Because I think there’s so many ways that, as parents, we have intuition, and I think sometimes when it comes to feeding, or intuition isn’t great. And that’s not a knock on, you know, mother’s intuition, but a lot of the things that we would think to do actually perpetuate more of the more of the struggles at meal time than they do solve them.
So it’s really, you know, supporting families and taking a step back and creating more of a streamlined approach as to how we’re actually going to work with families to reduce stress and get and get more fluids in. And I do that both in person and I have a six week online program for parents as well of course that that parents can take individually with some support. And I run a free community on Facebook as well for as called the busy moms guide to feeding your family and it’s all about how to meal prep as a busy mom how to feed your family as a busy mom because you know, I always say no matter how you what you call yourself as a mom, like if you’re a stay at home mom or working mom, whatever the you know, the word you put in front of mom is for you. We’re all busy, like we all have things going on. And that’s a tough time to making 16 different meals every night for our family.
LaWann Moses 13:41
Right and i i can agree with that because meal time is definitely a stressful time. So I mean, I think that’s something we all think we think about different stressors in our lives, but we actually take the time to talk about it’s like oh yes we all time is stressful moment when you’re busy and coming home whether you’re working in the house or outside of that house and then it’s like, Hey, I still have to feed my family and what am I gonna do? So that is definitely that adds unnecessary stress really So,
But I think that it’s also one of those things like I always say, you know, like,my kids are three, I’m already nervous for like one day down the line where I’m gonna have to give them like they taught me to like the birds and the bees, right? Things like you said that you don’t get out of as a parent, right? Like, you can’t get out of that. But I think that one of the most common misconceptions that a lot of parents have is that stress at meal time, or you know, hating the dinner table, like really when it gets to that level, that that sort of just something that we talked about, like, Oh, it’s just part of parenting. Right? Right. It’s not like you can you can change that, right? You’re not gonna get out of the birds and the bees talk. Like I can’t fix that for you. But, you know, support you in having a meal time that doesn’t have you holding your breath every time that you sit down at the table.
LaWann Moses 14:50
Oh, yeah, that’s wonderful. I mean, I’m learning so much already just sitting here talking to you. Meal time doesn’t have to be stressful. Yeah, you’ll have to dread those words. What are we having Tonight for dinner, so hopefully, I just think that is totally awesome. So you mentioned that you do like one on one coaching and group coaching, you know, what is like the first step if someone is trying to get involved in your program or just talking to you or those types of things?
Ahuva Hershkop 15:15
Yeah, so I always offer, you know, discovery calls. So 30 minutes, just to get on the phone and just see sort of, you know, what’s going on, and, you know, hear more about what the challenge is hear more about, you know, what your day to day is sort of, you know, what’s even important to you, right, because I think that as a practitioner, you know, I could I like to think that, you know, when I was just coming out of school, I would, I could just do this, you know, just like, write a list of things I would want. But ultimately I’m not you know, I’m not the hero of the story. Like I’m not, you know, it’s might not my family.
So it’s always important to me to listen to, where are you now what’s stressful about where you are now and where do you want to go? Right, what are your goals? Where are you hoping to get to, whether that’s for some families, it’s like I need my child eating everything that we’re eating For some families with picky eaters who are, you know, very extreme, it’s just Can I get everything from from you know what every food group, right, can I get one thing from every fruit group? So hearing about that, and then, you know, from there, we could see, you know, if we were a good fit for one another because it’s always, you know, the both of us just go to see that. And so the first step is always just jumping on a 30 minute discovery call just to see you know where we’re at.
LaWann Moses 16:25
That’s awesome. And I think that’s just great to just have that conversation and see where things can go. Totally. Yeah. And I know you mentioned about food allergies. I think that that is a big one that a lot of people yeah, struggle with. I know my nephew. He was born and he was allergic to I think just about all the categories that you could have a food allergy to. He had everyone except for like one of them. So I remember my sister, he’s now five. And I remember my sister trying to figure out okay, what am I supposed to do?
Ahuva Hershkop 16:56
Definitely, definitely. I think that’s a really big shocker for people even You know, for for younger kids, how do I transition to solids and get them all the different textures they need? If they can only have, you know, three foods? How do I do that? Right? And how do I make sure they’re getting the nutrition that I need? And also for a lot of families, it’s okay, if my child has outgrown their allergy, how can I comfortably reintroduce some of these foods without being a nervous wreck every time that I’m doing it? Right? Those are definitely you know, a lot of considerations that families have.
LaWann Moses 17:26
So very important. So when we’re talking about your business and being a mom, just I know one question I get a lot and I want to ask to you as people ask me, How do you manage it all? I know is that a great laugh? Because I do the same thing, How do I… I just do
Ahuva Hershkop 17:46
When I figure it out, I will let you know?You know what I think? I think they’re, I think it’s important for moms because we all get this question, right? How do you all the first of all, I Don’t, you know, I call on my support when I need it, my mom is very involved. And you know, my husband has had to learn to be a lot more, you know, flexible. And in, you know, his job, like coming home, whatever, whatever that looks like. And I think it’s also just really, for me, has been a really big frameshift in terms of what does it all look like? Right, like my we had a birthday party for my my kids yesterday and the cake wasn’t homemade. Mm hmm. Right. And I feel like in previous years, I would have thought, you know, well, I mean, who doesn’t make a, you know, beautiful decorate and Pinterest or the cake for their child on their birthday? Right? But that for me isn’t doing it all. You know, let’s just because to be honest, I don’t really care.
Like my kids are happy with cake. So it doesn’t matter if I made it or not. And so I think that for a lot of moms, a lot of moms who are thinking of getting into into the workforce if they’re not there yet or into you know, entrepreneur Worship is just really thinking about what’s really your All right, because I think that a lot of us, like have these ideas of, if I’m doing it all that means I need to do everything to like a certain level, right? I love making my family home cook meals, that’s great, but a home cooked like a homemade cake. Not so much. So you know, just sort of picking and choosing where you can sort of draw your lines, I think has been the biggest thing for me.
LaWann Moses 19:28
Yeah, and that’s good. Like you said, draw your lines where you’re putting your energy, your time, and even relying on your support system. And that’s important how you threw that out there there to let our listeners know that you don’t have to manage it all. You have support for a reason. So and it’s nothing wrong with leaning on that support, which I think so many of us moms feel like it’s a weakness or something’s wrong if we admit that we can’t manage it or that we need help. And it’s just more of these conversations more of these messages of It’s okay, you don’t have to Superwoman be the Supermom. Honestly,
Ahuva Hershkop 20:00
yes. And I think it’s all these ideas of what we should be able to do as moms. Right. And I think that a lot of them are even, you know, based on what, like, you know, my mom was home with me. She eventually went back to work, but she was home with me until I was five, right. My grandmother never worked a day in her life. And so, I think so many of us are still comparing ourselves to well, you know, my my grandmother had dinner on the table at 6pm sharp every single night. He was doing but she wasn’t you know, she wasn’t managing all of these things. And I think that as mothers sometimes we’re really good at being unfair to ourselves.
LaWann Moses 20:34
Ahuva Hershkop 20:36
and again, social media doesn’t make it any easier. But you know, I think that it is just really important to recognize like what what your all is?
LaWann Moses 20:45
Yes, it is definitely this definitely great. What would you say has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far? Be it your life journey business mom, however, just journey.
Ahuva Hershkop 20:58
I mean, I love being a mom. I always, you know, knew that I wanted to be a mom, but I think it’s, you know, one of the most rewarding things that I do. And you know, so that’s been a really, really big thing for me but I think and going out on my own was really very scary for me. At least you know, in the world of nutrition when we’re in school, so much of it is, you know, you graduate you do an internship you go work at a hospital like 830 to 430 or dietitian hours and this is what you do and this is the salary and this is you know, all of those kind of things and, and, you know, when I started working in a clinic when I started where I was, I never I enjoyed what I was doing but I never really went to work you know, like with with like, fire for it. You’re like, okay, like I could do this but you know that and, and I started out on my own when I was gonna go back in Canada we get a year maternity leave.
LaWann Moses 21:56
Oh, that’s awesome.
Ahuva Hershkop 21:58
So when I was going to be going back after that year, it was sort of either like, Do I go back? Or do I start my own thing. And for me, you know, as a mother of two already, like, that was very scary. So that was a really, really big crazy shift. And, but it’s amazing to be able to, you know, wake up and actually work and do something that you feel incredibly passionate about. Right? I think that that is, and that is, I’m very lucky to be able to do that. And to be honest, you know, like, and I think that when I come home with the incident, it makes me a better mother. Right? Because I always when I one of the things that I was most nervous about. before having kids was I used to think that I was very, I was too selfish to have kids, which I really now realize just means that I have basic needs. like I need to sleep, I need to work out because I enjoy that and it makes me you know, a better person. All of those things like it’s nothing like you know, I need a two week vacation every two weeks. You know, I was very nervous about having kids and working and being away from them was was another part of that. Right? It comes down to again like that. What kind of a mother wants to be away from her children? Right, right. And it’s a mother who identifies as more than a mother. Right? Like, it’s exactly. Being a mother is a massive part of who I am. And you know so much of me, but it’s not all of me. Right? Right. And without being able to explore that other side of me, I don’t think that I would show up every day as the mother that I’ve wanted to be. And so that’s been a really big, you know, learning moment for me in it, having kids and just continuing this journey of motherhood. That that’s actually you know, going to work and doing that those things for me, and being you know, selfish in that way. It makes me a better mother at the end of the day for my kids.
LaWann Moses 23:50
And I think that’s great because like, so we’re like rewriting the script on motherhood because it doesn’t have to mean giving up your dreams and now it’s okay to be selfish. because like you said, those things that we do is selfish, our basic human needs and staff that everyone else are taking the time to do and totally get the luxury of so why are we any different? We’re human beings, we were waiting before we were mothers. And it’s just like you said, basic human needs. So that’s great. Remembering all that.
So if you had one tip that you could offer to a mom that struggling in real time, or struggling just with this whole figuring out diets and all that, well, the one tip be that you could offer.
Ahuva Hershkop 24:30
And so number one is give yourself some grace. So remember that we don’t, you know, we’re very lucky to be to live in a time where even if you want to start, you know, cooking from scratch, and if you want to start making home cooked meals, we’re very lucky to live in a time where we can use convenience foods or grocery store items, or you can go start streamlining in that way. And also just to work on redefining what a successful meal time looks like for your family. And because so many of us focus on you know, what did I put on the table or did my child eat the broccoli? You know, what does that mean? look like and really successful meal time is so much more. I always say a family meal is so much more about the family, but it is about the meal. Wow. And so that’s a really powerful shift for a lot of families to focus on. You know, did Everyone sit together? Did everyone enjoy together? Did he, you know, spend some time laughing together instead of how many bites of broccoli to be put on the table or was able to get vegetables on the table today?
LaWann Moses 25:22
Yeah, that’s I love that family meal time is more about family than it is about the meal. That’s definitely great. And I just thank you for sharing that with us. So we’re going to our audience find you online.
Ahuva Hershkop 25:35
So the best place to always find me as I hang out a lot in my free community on Facebook. So it’s the busy moms guide to feeding your family and that is shared daily. And you know, various tips around picky eating various tips around how do I even get dinner on the table, all those kinds of things, and it’s a community of almost 2000 moms who you know, share their wins and their challenges together and support one another through them or you can find me on Instagram and I’m at a hoop H VA rd which stands for Registered Dietitian.
LaWann Moses 26:04
That is awesome and I am going to be checking out this Facebook group as soon as I finish this. I need meal planning and successful wheels in my life. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us today and share all of this great information about successful meal planning. And I just thank you again just for stopping by again here.
Ahuva Hershkop 26:25
Thank you so much for having me
LaWann Moses 26:28
If you find yourself struggling with meal time, be sure to reach out to Ahuva Hershkop so that she can help you take the stress out of family meal time. Also check her out on her Facebook group where she is helping moms simplify meal time with meal planning and great things.
Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, head over to LaWann Moses calm I love for us To stay in touch, make sure you leave your email address so I can send you inspiration tips and the latest updates. Or if you prefer, text the word more, that’s m o r e 23024404632. We have some great things coming up and I don’t want you to miss a thing. Thanks again, make sure you subscribe and leave a review. Until next time, keep pressing because victory is yours.
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