Understanding the Role of Food and Feeding in Healthy Development

Presented October 25, 2017 7:30-8:30 PM EDT

Nourishment and nurture are inseparable for the newborn infant. As the infant develops, there are both needs that continue to have to be met, but the ways in which they are met start to differ. What an infant is fed as well as how an infant is fed influence brain dynamics and the development of a healthy individual and their relationship with food. An infant’s genetics influence this process and are influenced by this process. This webinar will provide readily usable recommendations for supporting healthy infant and child development.



This webinar presented by noted clinical nutritionist, Deb Phillips, MS, LDN is the first in a series of four Mind, Mood & Food webinars presented by The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and hosted by leading nutrition author, speaker and integrative nutritionist Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RDN, LDN.

Learning Objectives

The attendee will be able to…

  1. Describe the relationship between infant feeding and infant physical and emotional development
  2. Describe how parental and infant temperament influence feeding
  3. Identify foods and feeding activities that enhance or detract from healthy brain development
  4. Use 2 tools to support parents and care providers in helping children develop a healthy relationship to food so they are able to continue to nourish their brains and bodies as they grow.

CEUs are pending for registered dietitians.

About Deb Phillips, MS, LDN

Deb Phillips is a licensed nutritionist in private practice in Great Barrington, MA. Her strength is her ability to work with individuals with a wide variety of needs to create a workable lifestyle plan to improve their well-being.

Deb has a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a Master’s Degree from Russell Sage College.

She has worked at the Children’s Health Programs, Community Health Center of the Berkshires and with Early Intervention programs providing nutrition counseling to individuals and families. She has lead group programs at many venues in the Berkshires and throughout the state. Deb currently works part-time providing nutrition care for patients at Dr. Mark Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in addition to her private practice.

She considers herself a science-based nutritional detective with a passion for changing the world. This comes together in her approach to nutrition and well-being, including the dynamic relationship people have with their environment and their food and expands to the political where she addresses food policies that make it more difficult for people to be nourished by the food they eat. Deb serves on a number of boards in her community to connect individuals to their environmental stewardship.

Deb Phillips, MS, LDN

About Kathie Swift, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND

Kathie Swift, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, EBQ

Kathie Swift, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, EBQ  is the co-founder of the Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy, www.IFNAcademy.com, a comprehensive, online, educational program for dietitians interested in functional medicine.

Notable in her dietetic career, Kathie has served as the Education Director for the Center for Mind Body Medicine’s highly acclaimed Food As Medicine professional training program for almost two decades.

Kathie is the co-author of  The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Health with Dr. Gerard Mullin. Her most recent book,  The Swift Diet: 4 Weeks to Mend the Belly, Lose the Weight, and Get Rid of the Bloat, with co-author Joseph Hooper features the latest science on the microbiome. Connect with Kathie at www.kathieswift.com

Mind, Mood, and Food: A Food As Medicine Professional Training

Kathie will join James Gordon, MD and some of the leading professionals in mindful eating for a special presentation of our program, Mind, Mood, and Food at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA on April 15-20, 2018.

Learn More about Mind, Mood, and Food

Mind, Mood, and Food Webinar Series

This is the first webinar in The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s Mind, Mood, and Food Webinar Series. Join us for the entire series:

Questions and Answers

Deb Phillips, MS, LDN answered questions raised during the webinar.

What is meant by maternal high fat diet?
The research is in this article. And it is not a treatise against fat consumption but rather a description of how one change in maternal diet can have an impact on the microbiome. Fat is an essential nutrient, high quality fats are what we recommend, we just need to understand impacts as well as the synergy among nutrients which is not addressed here at all.

Can children who have early feeding difficulties bounce back?
They absolutely can. Some more easily than others. And it might take a determined parent, but in an infant who has gained well up to that point and can afford some stress around the transition should be able to re-acclimate to the breast. There are many infants who have needed supplementation in the early weeks while Mom’s breast milk was coming in and she was adjusting to motherhood who are readily able to transition to full breastfeeding after the first few weeks.

What do you suggest for parents with older kids with a denial of the need for healthy eating?
As I said in the recording, I am not clear on whether you are referring to the parent or the child being in denial, but for either one, the focus should not be on the importance of healthy eating. People do not change unless they have a reason to that corresponds with their own needs. Therefore, I would engage either the parent or the child in determining if there is something in the child’s life that they would like to be different. Do they want to do better in school, have more energy or focus, excel at a sport, etc. If there is a goal they would like to achieve, they may be willing to create change in order to achieve it, particularly if you are able to give them the tools to do it.

Asking a kid to eat a healthier lunch when they are receiving free lunch at school or there is no one to support them in making something to bring, is not helpful unless you can help them negotiate what is available and develop strategies for doing this. If you have a motivated child and an unmotivated parent it is much more difficult until the child can find a way to have some control over what is available. Parents need to understand and be motivated for their children and, as children gain more control over their diets, they need a motivation also.

Information is helpful, linking healthy eating to goals, but strategies for success coupled with support is often essential to change.

Salt and sugar are off limits when introducing solids, but what about oil? I am thinking of vegetables cooked or roasted in oil.
Oils are fine if they are used appropriately. Vegetables roasted in oil or sautéed should be fine for infants as part of a healthy diet. I would not recommend them on the first foods as you are introducing foods singly at first, but certainly by the time a child is successfully finger feeding, they should be fine.

Can you speak to the research behind GMO foods and how they affect the child’s immune system or other physiological development?
There is a lot of controversy around GMO foods and not very much good research about how they affect not only the child, but also adults. Foods are modified in many different ways, some involving genes from unrelated foods which increases the risk of unidentified food allergies and some are going to have different impacts on the microbiome depending on how they are modified. Regardless, we are creating combinations that do not occur in nature and that, therefore, our physiology is not adapted to. And no, this is not the same as hybridization of plants.

These are a few of the resources I have chosen.

More importantly, for me, is that genetic modification is often around building resistance to pesticides; the most common pesticide right now being glyphosate. There is ample evidence that glyphosate is damaging to our physiology and the exposure of small children to glyphosate is to be avoided at all costs. The sickest children and adults we are seeing are the canaries in the coal mine.

Which of these books do you recommend that parents and caregivers start with if adopting this approach, not with babies, but with older children (e.g., 4-year-old)?

All of the books on Slide 66 (third to last slide) address older children as well as infants in a very thorough way.

Can you speak a little bit more about separating language around nurture and nourishment and how a child can feel the emotional nourishment met as much as the physical?

Children are emotionally nourished when they live in a happy environment where their needs are being met. Depending on their age, the need for cuddles, kisses, cooing, singing, playing reading, sharing experience needs to be supported. When parents are emotionally present, children generally get emotionally nourished.

The language part is using language to tie physical hunger to eating. “Are you hungry?”  “Have you had enough?” Limiting behaviors that are not compatible with eating when a child is eating. “If you need to throw something you can take this ball outside. If you would like to eat, you can’t throw things at the table.”  “If you’re tired, let’s go lie down. But if you are hungry you have to sit here and eat.” And “You can get food from your container if you’re hungry, and we can sit together while you eat it, but if you just want to be together, we can read a book or do a puzzle.”

Do you have a recommendation for a good probiotic for the different stages of a child’s development through the age of 18 and even beyond (in terms of CFU’s and strains)?

We are in our infancy in understanding which probiotic strains have what influence on whom, let alone how they interact with each other. There are companies I trust for their infant, child and adult probiotics which I will list here, with the caveat that some of the targeted probiotics, such as the women’s probiotic for genito-urinary health or metabolic combinations for weight management are proving to be effective for some people.

  • Klaire labs has a variety of high quality probiotics for different age ranges and issues
  • Bio-Kult also has a good selection.
  • Prescript Assist and Garden of Life are 2 of the soil based probiotics that I use.
  • You can also go to www.probioticadvisor.com and join to get the latest on probiotic strains and strengths.

Is it possible to get a list of the references Deb Phillips used, specifically regarding nutrition and the feeding relationship in the expression of individual genetic endowment?

The food references are abundant and the relationship impact is based on the more general literature about the development of the brain in relation to stress. You will find some of this information in Bessel van der Kolk’s new book, Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma, or his other publications.

Will the presentation slides be available to us? Will these slides and resources be available to participants? Will we receive the slides after the webinar?

Yes. We will make a PDF version of the slides available following the presentation. Please note that Deborah Phillips, MS, LDN owns the copyright to these slides.

Will there a certificate of attendance be provided via email?

Yes. All attendees of the live webinar will receive an email directing them to the Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s website to complete a brief post-webinar evaluation. At the end of the evaluation, they will have the option to request a certificate.

Hi, great presentation. I will like to know if there is CE credits attached to this webinar?

CE credits for Registered Dietitians have been applied for. Participants who request a certificate can also request credit. When CE credits are approved, participants who requested credit will be notified via email.


*The views and opinions expressed in the webinar do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine

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