Meet Dietician Malina Malkani

 

 

Could you tell us a little bit about your story? What led you to becoming a dietitian?

Sure! Nutrition is actually my second career. For my first 10 years post-Northwestern University undergrad, I worked in the performing arts (AEA, SAG-AFTRA) as a singer, actor, dancer and model based in New York. Throughout, I felt pressure from the industry to be slender and learned the hard way that fad diets and food restriction was not the answer. Through trial and error, research and experimentation, I started on a path toward a healthier lifestyle and along the way, fell so in love with the science of nutrition and the way proper nourishment made me FEEL that I never looked back. I went back to school at NYU, earned my graduate degree in Clinical Nutrition and started working as an outpatient weight loss and bariatric dietitian at the Bronx VA hospital.

 A couple of years later, my three daughters were all born within about 3 ½ years of each other, and it was during their infancies that I discovered my passion for pediatric nutrition. It was an intense time, learning to care for and feed young bodies healthy whole foods that they would actually eat (not easy!) while also learning to carve out space for my self-care and nutrition so that I could be the mother they needed me to be.

I struggled with the gamut - difficulties breastfeeding, a premature baby who wasn’t gaining weight, 3 c-sections in quick succession, food battles at mealtimes, picky eating behaviors, fear of a diminishing breastmilk supply, childhood food allergies that were difficult to diagnose, infant reflux, baby gagging and vomiting, that global fatigue of motherhood…it’s exhausting looking back.

As I emerged from this time, as my daughters grew out of babyhood and became robust toddlers and little kids, I realized how lucky I was to have had the nutrition education and information I needed to navigate these challenges – which made the next chapter in my life very obvious! I created my nutrition lifestyle company to pour my knowledge about feeding little ones in resources and tools that make food and feeding easier and less stressful for parents.

 

If you were a That's it snack, which one would you be and why?

 

Easy! A Strawberry-Apple Mini Fruit Bar. Sweet, tart, bursting with flavor, and loves to be on-the-go!

 

What advice do you have for parents who have picky eaters at home?

 

One of the biggest mistakes I see parents and caregivers making when it comes to feeding kids and navigating picky eating behaviors is assuming that if a child doesn’t accept a certain food the first or second time it is offered, there is no point in offering it again. Studies who that it can take an average of 15-20 neutral exposures before a child will accept a new food. It’s frustrating when you’ve worked hard to prepare a food only to watch your kiddo refuse to eat it, but it’s important to remember that there is value in every exposure. The child may touch it the first time, smell it the second, lick it on the sixth exposure and not even taste it until the tenth, fifteenth or twentieth! Through repeated exposures and the opportunity to build acceptance over time, many kids learn to like new foods that they wouldn’t have eventually accepted if they hadn’t been exposed to the food many times. In other words, don’t give up! 

 

 

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