It All Starts in the Kitchen-An Evening With Kristie Finnan RDN

Kristie Finnan RDN Source: Twitter

Kristie Finnan RDN
Source: Twitter

By Tara Cushing

We say that the kitchen is the heart of the home so how fitting it was that Habit Bergen, the Bergen County, NJ, branch of Habitat for Humanity, held a recent fundraising event literally in the kitchen. On November 19th, a crowd that included Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Jacqueline and Chris Laurita, and singer/songwriter philanthropist Lori Michaels, gathered at Modiani Kitchen Design in Englewood to hear the expert advice of Kristie Finnan, RDN. Finnan is a registered dietician who specializes in celiac disease, food allergies, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). She also helps busy moms, like yours truly, tackle such challenges as meal planning, weight management, understanding the dietary habits of children, and picky eaters.

  Finnan understands the challenges busy parents face when it comes to food. She is a former pharmaceuticals sales rep and mother of three, who took her passion for the gastronomical to the next level. In 2008 she self-published a children’s book titled Mommy’s High Heeled Shoes, which celebrates working mothers and teaches young readers about all the different “shoes” their working mommies wear. It was her own challenges with food allergies in her family that lead her to the road she currently walks down.

“A good dietician will tell you what to eat, not just what not to eat,” Finnan says. She aims to do just that by teaching her clients their endless options, as opposed to just lists of avoid this, avoid that. Her son follows a gluten free diet due to severe asthma. Finnan is cautionary when it comes to gluten free. “A lot of people aren’t doing (the diet) correctly. There is so much hidden gluten in products you’d never suspect.” She also warns that, although gluten-free seems to be the fad diet du jour, that it really isn’t for everybody. If you don’t have a gluten allergy, or sensitivity due to another condition, there really is no reason for people to avoid gluten.

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Finnan knows that it’s not only parents of children with food restrictions that are challenged. “It takes 19 times for a child to accept a new food,” she explains when broached with the topic of picky eaters. Her belief is to keep on trying. “Introduce new foods when your kids are hungry,” she advises. She also encourages adults to lead by example, “Parents’ attitudes towards their food can influence what their children eat. If you don’t eat vegetables, or make a face when tasting a string bean, children pick up on that. Contrary, if they see that mom loves string beans they too will be more inclined to eat them.” Lori Michaels, who runs a fitness and dance studio called Vibe, agrees with this and extends it to fitness as well. She talked to the group about encouraging kids to be active, the other piece to good nutrition and healthy attitudes towards eating.

Me with Lori Michaels

Me with Lori Michaels

So what should we do when our children are refusing dinner? Finnan quotes her favorite family practitioner, “We should all eat like toddlers. Kids are tired (by dinner time), we don’t need this big expectation that they have a giant dinner. Just make sure they eat something, and you can do that by having at least one thing they do like on their plate with everything else.” She also recommends calendar rewards charts for encouraging good eating habits, as well as making food “cute” by getting creative with the ways you serve healthy snacks. Cute little fruit constructed critters anyone?

For more from Kristie follow her @KristieFinnan

To learn more about Bergen County’s Habitat For Humanity Chapter follow @HabitatBergen 

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On My Mind: Pajama-Gate

Bethenny Frankel dons Brynne's nightshirt and shorts on Instagram. Credit: Bethenny Frankel Instagram

Bethenny Frankel dons Bryn’s nightshirt and shorts on Instagram. Credit: Bethenny Frankel Instagram

People often ask my opinion about the Housewives and usually I will change the subject or turn the question on them, thus excusing myself from the hot seat. See, I’ve made a conscious decision to tell you stories as they happen and, via social media, be a sounding board for your opinions. However, once in a while I have an opinion so strong about something pertaining to the lovely ladies of Bravo that I need to let it out, lest it fester beneath the surface in that mental graveyard where my unpublished thoughts go, not to rest, but to be a ghost that won’t stop annoying me.

That is the category that my reaction to a recent story about Bethenny Frankel falls into. A couple of weeks back Frankel Instagrammed a picture of herself wearing her four year-old daughter Bryn‘s pajamas. The picture ignited a fire storm of criticism both against the former Bravo star and talk-show host and then against those that spoke out about it. The whole thing ended with an obviously defensive Frankel sharing a picture of herself in oversized men’s sweats with a snarky comment attached.

I cannot speak for what Bethenny’s motives were for sharing the initial photo. Whether it was silliness, bragging, a little of both, or something else, I cannot say. The only thing I can speak of is how it permeated my brain, and this is why I think that photo, coming from a woman who has somewhat marketed herself as a dietary guru, was irresponsibly posted.

I, like many women-and men these days too- have struggled with body image. (Come on, you don’t think I spend that much time in the gym running on the treadmill just because I love it, do you?) Since the age of 12 I have not always been kind to my body. I’ve become better friends with it over the years, but that demon, the one that speaks from inside the mirror and points out your “fat” never fully leaves. It is always there lurking.

People who suffer from eating disorders, or have teetered on the cusp of disordered eating and distorted body image, are easily influenced, especially when young. There are entire websites devoted to glorifying anorexia and giving visitors dangerous diet ideas and forums to discuss them. Eating disorders are competitive diseases. The worst thing for a victim of disordered eating is to develop a friendship with another sufferer. This is the exact reason why I fear that Bethenny posting such a photo set a new standard for some of her followers. Somewhere out there is a B fan who saw that and now has a new “goal” to attain, or a new reason to not feel “good enough”.

Yes, it is ridiculous. I mean I have children that wear size 4T pajamas. Have you SEEN pajamas for a four year old? They are TINY! Like so tiny I don’t even know how even the ultimate Skinnygirl got her skinny little bitch ass into them. (For the record as petite as Bethenny appears on camera, she’s yet even smaller in person). However, even though my rational mind knows that adults aren’t designed to wear toddler pjs, that demon still had to have her say. For a brief second I heard her, “You know those pictures from the event the other night weren’t that flattering, perhaps you should strive to be four-year-old pajama thin…” And for a brief moment, while folding my sons’ laundry I actually considered it.

Fortunately I have weathered enough of the storm to know when the demon speaks and tell it to be quiet. However, there are many who still don’t know how. If Bethenny simply was making her daughter laugh, her follow up explanation, then cool, but did she really have to share it? To me it wreaked of “Check me out, I’m in four-year-old pajamas.” I know many of us would want to brag if we could fit into them…more evidence of our disordered thinking when it comes to thinness and society.

My whole point is this:

Bethenny, many women read your diet and lifestyle books. We look up to you for inspiration in all areas of life, from dieting to business. Your rules for eating echo in our heads (“taste everything, eat nothing”). Please don’t for once think that wearing pjs designed for a very small child is by any means normal or common. For most of us it is dangerous and unhealthy. Your huge status gives you a huge responsibility, therefore certain things shouldn’t be for the world to see. If it was just a tender moment between you and Bryn, then heed the words of Billy Joel. Sometimes we need to “Leave a tender moment alone“…if not for the common good, then at least for certain things to be sacred between mother and daughter.

…and that folks is how I really feel.

Summer Makeup Guide from Expert Artist Todd Harris Wolf

Shades of summer. Todd knows which one works for you!

Shades of summer. Todd knows which one works for you!

Todd Harris Wolf knows makeup. Sought after by New York City CEO’s and socialites, the well heeled woman gets her best foot forward face on with Todd to the tune of more than a midtown haircut! However, we tracked him down and begged him to help our readers. Expert advice for free folks! Get ready to get your summer glam going!

TBB: What’s the most common mistake women make with their makeup this time of year?

THW: Their foundation is too heavy for the summer. Everyone has a summer wardrobe for their clothes, but few realize they need it for their face. Have your makeup for summer & winter and then mix in the spring fall.

TBB: What type of foundation is suitable for summer weather?

THW: Something that’s light in texture. It would be great if everyone could get away with just some concealer under the eyes, but not all skin types have this option. Chanel Vita Lumiere Aqua has a very watery texture that sets well. Powder foundations in the summer look too cakey. A good drug store brand is Neutrogena Nourishing Longwear makeup.

TBB: Should sunscreen go on before our foundation or do today’s formulas provide enough SPF on their own?

THW: Most foundations have SPF, but for daytime apply a moisturizer with SPF  like Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer (it has and SPF of 30)before any makeup. For nighttime use a foundation without SPF if you are going to be photographed with a flash.

TBB: How about blushes and bronzer? Do we still need them in these flusher cheeked tanner months?

THW: Yes you always want to have a nice beautiful glow, even in summer. A great all in one product is Sisley’s L’Orchidee . It combines bronze peach and highlighting tones that can be used as an all over bronzer or just on your cheeks or just on the high points of your cheekbones.

TBB: What type of color palette should women stick to this time of year?

THW: For fair to medium skin tones lighter lipsticks as opposed to dark colors are more summer friendly. Mediterranean to darker tones look best in orange-y red and beige tones.

TBB: How about for eyes? Is a heavy smokey eye still acceptable this time of year?

THW: For a black tie gala,  yes but for everyday Bobby Brown makes an amazing palette called the Bronze Eye Palette. It comes with both matte and shimmer shades so you’re set for day and evening. Revlon’s Color Stay 12 Hour eyeshadow in 330 In the Buff is a great substitute and only costs $10!

TBB: Speaking of eyes how can we avoid looking like Tammy Faye Baker after a crying spree when we go swimming?

THW: Waterproof eyeliner and mascara. Armani Eyes to Kill waterproof eye pencil and Lancôme Hypnose Drama waterproof mascara are my picks for a smudge free swimming season. At the drug store I recommend Revlon Color Stay waterproof liners. They come in 8 shades. Loreal’s Voluminous Lashes waterproof is my mascara pick for the budget savvy diva.

TBB: With all these waterproof products, cleansing can be a challenge. What is the best method for removing these products and makeup in general?

THW: If you’ve worn a lot of makeup for the day you should do 2 cleanses. One with an oil based cleanser like Eve Lom cleanser which you can get in Sephora. It’s a balm that turns into an oil. It removes everything!

TBB: Speaking of cleaning, what is the best method for cleaning makeup brushes and how often should we be cleaning them?

THW: Brushes should be cleaned every 2 days. There are two kinds of brush cleaners. The standard alcohol based cleaners like MAC’s brush cleaner which you can pour on a towel and wipe your brushes clean. These cleaners dry in seconds. But every 2 two weeks you should deep clean your brushes w/ a gentle baby shampoo and rinse them thoroughly.

TBB: Thanks for chatting with us. Sorry but I have to go, apparently my brushes are embarrassingly overdue for a cleaning!

*Want more makeup tips? Follow Todd on twitter @ToddHarrisWolf and Instagram @ToddHarrisWolf