Rallie McAllister and Jennifer Bright Reich – Mommy MD Guides
Mommy MD Guides
Jonathan: Hey, everyone! Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast and it might be best classified as a double bonus because we don’t just have one guest with us today. We actually have two guests with us today and definitely going to cover a subject that I know is going to hit home for many of us, and if not all of us. Certainly, we all know someone who can benefit from this information.
We have Dr. Rollie McAllister, excuse me, it’s Rallie McAllister, I keep getting that wrong as well as Jennifer Reich. They are the founders of a very cool, let’s call it effort because it’s got lots of different things going on called the Mommy MD Guides. They’ve got actually four books, the fourth just came out, we’re talking about it a lot today. They also have a wonderful website called mommymdguides.com.
Rallie McAllister and Jennifer Reich, welcome to the show.
Dr. Rallie: Thanks so much, Jonathan. It’s great to be with you.
Jonathan: Well ladies, if you don’t mind, I want to get started with just tell me a little bit about Mommy MD Guides all up and why you started it because it is quite a unique thing.
Dr. Rallie: Thank you.
Jennifer: Well, Rallie and I thought how fascinating it is when someone is both a doctor and a mother. They have this incredible knowledge as both a physician and a mom and we thought, wouldn’t it be great to pull all these incredible advice and tips and experiences that they have into a book series and website? We launched our first book, The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, and it really seems to resonate with people. People really respect the advice of other moms and if the moms are also doctors, even more so. We think of our Mommy MD Guides as expert squared.
Jonathan: I really like that. I think it’s so important. One of the things I’ve noticed in my time away from the research desk and out working with individuals is there is so much that is shared, we’re all people but there’s also so much that is unique, and being able to work with people who not only have that scientific background, but can also share in the life experiences seems quite important. What have you seen as being the biggest differences between the advice or approach given by MDs which also happen to be mommies, than MDs who might not, or might not yet be mommies?
Dr. Rallie: You know, Jonathan, I think one of the things as a physician that alarms us as mothers, physicians who are also mothers the most is that we know everything that can be wrong. We studied it all in Med School and there’s actually kind of a phenomenon in Med School that every new disease that you study you actually get as a Med student, or at least you think you’ll get it. I think our first child as a Mommy MD Guide, the first child is pretty scary because we imagine all these things that could go wrong but you know, that’s like all moms.
We have these fears and as time goes on, we get more confident and pretty soon, Mommy MD Guides are just like every other moms but we have a little bit of specialized knowledge. What might surprise you is that most physicians who are also moms do not over treat their children. They don’t give them necessarily more antibiotics or more tests or things like that. We just try to do what’s best for our children and try to share that with others.
Jonathan: One issue that I know hits home certainly with…it must be every mom out there, at least every mom I’ve ever met is not only taking care of the child but taking care of yourself. Obviously being both a physician and a mother or even a father, there’s an immense amount of time and pressure demands. How can mothers not only keep their children healthy but keep themselves healthy physically and mentally?
Jennifer: That is such a good question, and that’s actually something that comes up again and again and again when we talk to and hear from our readers that one of the biggest challenges they face is balance. When you’re trying to balance your home and your work and your family, the thing that gets lost in the mix is yourself. That is something that we talk to with all of our doctors and something that we find they’re so qualified to speak of because these women are busy.
I often joke when I talk to them on the phone but, Mommy MD Guides are some of the busiest people on the planet. They have their careers, they have their families, and a lot of them have side businesses as well. I think it really is meaningful to our readers when our doctors have these fabulous tips that they actually use for themselves so they’re proven and they’re so creative because these women don’t have time to mess around with things that don’t work. We find a lot of wonderful tips from these doctors about just that.
Jonathan: Wonderful. Ladies, I’m going to pause this real quick here. I’m sorry. I think, Jennifer, that feedback we talked about earlier is getting a little worse.
Jennifer: I’m so sorry, Jonathan.
Jonathan: That’s okay. Do you have any other microphone or anything like that?
Jennifer: I don’t. I wonder if I can move my computer a little bit.
Jonathan: Yeah. It’s not end of days. I just don’t want you to, worst case scenario… We’ll keep going, people can hear it, I just don’t want you to be like, “Why didn’t someone say something?” When you hear it, you’re going to hear it. I just don’t want you to be like, “What was going on there?”
Jennifer: I’m so sorry.
Dr. Rallie: Usually it’s me. Usually it’s on my end here.
Jonathan: Oh okay. No, no problem at all. We can trim this all up so don’t worry at all and I’ll see what we can do in post production but, okay. Anyway, we’ll keep going, no worries and resume.
All right, ladies. Well, one of the key things in terms of maintaining that health is this conflation we often see between weight and health because we gain weight, not we, I’m a guy. Women gain weight when they get pregnant and then often times, there’s issues with the weight after pregnancy. Can we talk a little bit about the distinction? Certainly, that happens. Is that really a problem or is it more just a desire to not have happen? Are there health concerns or is it really more just about how we’re feeling about ourselves?
Dr. Rallie: Both really. Certainly, we all know that excess weight contributes to the dozens and dozens of health problems and diseases and conditions, so these are very real risks but you know, when we’re young and a lot of times in our child bearing years as young mothers, that’s not necessarily a motivating factor. Knowing that in two or ten or five years, I could get diabetes because I’m carrying this excess weight. For the younger mommies, a lot of times this is a huge determinant of how we feel about ourselves and if we don’t feel that we’re at our ideal weight, we don’t feel attractive, we don’t feel productive, we don’t feel good about ourselves.
Both physically and emotionally, excess weight causes a lot of problems and good news is, it is entirely possible to lose weight and to get in better health regardless of where you are right this very minute. I think that anyone who’s carrying a few excess pounds whether it’s after pregnancy or before, you should take heart in that. It’s entirely possible to lose it and to feel good emotionally and physically with every pound that you lose.
Jonathan: Rallie and Jennifer, how do we balance, there’s so much research and statistics around just how important it is to take care of our health so that our children become healthy. We know now that it’s estimated that the current generation of children could be the first in US history to live less healthy and shorter lives than their parents. We’ve also seen a research, I’m sure you’re familiar with where having a child while we are metabolically either diabetic or have pre-diabetes or just a uterine environment is metabolically unhealthy can predispose the fetus to experience problems.
We’ve even potentially seen things over multiple generations, meaning that what we put into our body now can affect our grandchildren. How do we balance… fear is a powerful motivator but it’s often not the motivator I would prefer to use. So how do we balance this moral need to keep our children healthy and to enable them to thrive while also not beating ourselves up when we can’t be perfect?
Jennifer: That’s a good question. You’ve touched on something that we talk about quite a lot in our book about finding the motivation to get healthy and to lose weight and one thing that we talk a lot about and offer a lot of tips from our doctors is that motivation is going to be different for everyone and sometimes it can be a little tricky to uncover what the motivation is for you.
One thing of course that all of our doctors and most of our readers have in common is that they’re moms and some even grand moms and so for many of them, you’re absolutely right. A strong motivator is to involve their children. They want to be healthy as an example for their children. They want to be healthy to be around longer with their children. They want to have healthy behaviors in the homes so that their children are directly healthy by serving healthy vegetables, exercising.
We really hope that our book will help women by the many examples that we give to kind of reach deeper within themselves and find that motivation for both losing weight and also feeling great.
Jonathan: I’m going to be a little bit selfish here, ladies. I need some personal advice if that’s okay. Do you mind?
Jennifer: Not at all.
Dr. Rallie: From the guru, sure.
Jonathan: From the Mommy MD Guides themselves, directly from the source.
Dr. Rallie: You know it all.
Jonathan: This is something that I can’t know because I will never be a mommy. It’s my impression or my belief that… I like to think of smoking and children and mothers. Because giving how much we now know, smoking is bad for you. I have yet to ever meet a mother who will facilitate her let’s say her five year old smoking cigarettes. It’s just abhorrent.
It’s not something that would happen but it seems that the more and more and more we learn about products that happen to be edible, which is not the same as food, but products that happen to be edible in terms of their addiction, in terms of their life shortening effects, in terms of their permanent health consequences. The line between, “Oh, we don’t tell people to smoke in moderation and we would never give our child a cigarette as a treat.”
Are we starting… What’s going on there? Why is there such a sharp distinction in our minds between “I would never ever give my child a cigarette” but anything that’s edible is fair game?
Dr. Rallie: Oh, Jonathan. That is a beautiful analogy. I never thought of it quite like that but you are so right. Of course I’ve observed this. I think the problem is for some reason, we just haven’t made the link yet. Intellectually, we know it. We know this, well, we won’t call it food, this thing that is edible that has no nutritional value that we give our child, we know that rationally it’s not good for them but food has such an emotional connection and I think that we still have this old mindset that was instilled by maybe our parents that food is a reward. Sugary food is a reward and to withhold food is just, there’s just something that we can’t do that emotionally yet. I think with future generations though, I am seeing in my own patients. I’m seeing the tides turn and we are learning that no, it’s not a reward to give your child a food that would contribute to obesity, diabetes, early death, and so on. I think it’s coming, but I love your analogy. That is brilliant and more of us should think of it like that.
Jonathan: I love what you say about, the word food, it’s a mindset. Because food, for food, that which we need, that which we must have or else we die. The idea of depriving ourselves of that, and I would agree, is bad. We need to eat more food. I’m just curious how, especially even as physicians, for example, drugs. Drugs are things we put in to our body that we’re very careful about and we’re very selective about and we would never just take a prescription that isn’t for us in moderation.
When you look at a lot of what we eat today, it’s not food. It is more an ally. If you read the ingredients list, it looks much more like something you would find in a pharmaceutical cabinet. How can we… it just seems we have such a powerful mind because we’ve already seen what it can do, when it understands the negative powers of smoking and the negative powers of drugs. How can we bridge the gap between “Just because it’s sold in the supermarket doesn’t mean it’s food?”
Jennifer: That’s interesting. We actually have talked to our Mommy MD Guides for all of our books quite a lot about nutrition and so when we interview the doctors, we always ask them, “What do you do? What do you eat? How do you cook for your family?” It’s amazing. We have more than 150 Mommy MD Guides now on our team and most of the time, if you ask 150 of them a question, you get 150 different answers but there are a few things that actually are amazingly universal and this is one of them.
They tell us over and over, “When I go to the grocery store, I shop the perimeter. I buy fresh produce. I buy milk. I buy fresh meats.” They say that they take time to prepare these meals at home and I think by that, they’re putting healthy food in their body and they’re also up in their kids and setting good examples. Certainly, I think I would fall off my chair if one of our Mommy MD Guides told me that they gave their kids, as a snack, something that you’ve been kind of alluding to.
I just don’t think it would happen. I think we need to turn to experts like these doctors who are also mothers and see what they do and what they recommend for their own families and kind of use that as our guide.
Jonathan: What do you say when, the most common response I hear when conversations like this take place are, “I agree but I just can’t. I’m just too busy,” for example, and even at my child’s school someone feeds them these other foods. I can’t control my child’s doings outside of my house. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the control. How do we answer those question?
Dr. Rallie: A lot of it is going to start with your determination to do it. I live in the same world. I know it’s extremely hard. My kids get junk at school. They ask for junk. They see junk at the grocery store. They want it all but it starts with your mind. If your child, or if you were diagnosed with diabetes for example, next week, you would take the time to take control. You would find a way. So the answer is then let’s do this on the front end. Let’s not wait until something bad happens. Let’s go ahead and take charge and do it right now.
How do you do it? You just get in there and do it. Our kids, what we bring into the home is what our children eat mostly. You don’t bring junk into the home. If you don’t want your children to eat it, don’t bring it home, or if you don’t want to eat it, so it all starts with the grocery store or even before that, with a list, or even before that, check out the nutrition labels online. Buy good stuff. You cannot go wrong with wholesome food. Bring that home and then, feed your children at home every opportunity that you get.
Pack lunches, I pack my children’s lunches and that was a huge ordeal while they were little, trying to find ways to make food that could compete with the junk that they offered from pizza places and other fast food joints that were actually in my kids’ school cafeteria. It is very, very challenging and it’s challenging for everyone and it takes a lot of time but it is that important. Your life depends on it and your children’s lives depend on it.
Jonathan: Well said. The analogy you gave, the comparison you gave to if someone told you or your child was diagnosed with a condition that required this, somehow you would figure out how to prevent these things from happening. A great example is allergies, peanut allergies. If your child has peanut allergy, you better believe there’s millions, it might be an exaggeration, I don’t know how many have peanut allergies, let’s say millions There’s millions of mothers that successfully shield their children from peanuts. I wonder if we could start thinking of ourselves as allergic to these edible products because we are. It’s just that we don’t have an allergic reaction immediately, it takes a few years to set in. And then it can be fatal. If that would help motivate us, what do you think?
Jennifer: I think that’s fascinating. I love that idea. I’m actually going to start to think of it that way myself. I think that’s great. One thing that I have tried that also I think is helpful is one of our Mommy MD Guides had mentioned this where a word to use sometimes with children is “in our family we…” and I tried myself doing that more and more as my boys are getting older with things like food and things like, my son would maybe come home from school with a little pack of gummy candy and he wants to eat it of course.
I said, “No, in our family, we don’t eat that because it’s not healthy for our bodies.” It’s amazing how that accomplishes so many things. It’s getting the point across. It’s also kind of strengthening our bond because it’s or family and it also acknowledges that other people have different rules and different experiences and different beliefs, so I find that becoming kind of a go-to phrase these days.
Jonathan: “Our family.” That is such a profound distinction and what do you find also just with that language which is so important, saying things like our family, and then… have you found anything or have the Mommy MD Guides given any advice around using the word ‘No’ a lot? I’m not a parent myself, but I’ve heard that that can be counter-productive, the more you say no to things. So is there a way to say “Yes?” How does that work?
Dr. Rallie: You’re going to love being a parent. You know ‘no’, whew! If you don’t watch yourself, that will become your word of choice. Yes, you always want as a parent to give a child choices that are win-win and the way I did it with my kids were young was, “It’s time for a snack. Would you rather have an orange or an apple? Would you rather have celery stalks or would you rather have carrot slices?” Win-win choice.
There are two stages in a child’s life that they’re going to take control if they can and they’re going to be rebellious. I think that’s in the two’s and they’ll be telling you what they’re going to have to eat in the teen years. With toddlers, it’s very, very important to give them choices, and teenagers, give them their own choices but always give them a win-win choice. Make it two good things. For my teenagers, they now have free roam in the kitchen. I don’t follow them around and say, “Would you rather have this or this?” but the way they make their choices is they can have anything that they can find in the kitchen to eat and it’s all good stuff.
Jonathan: If you have any insights from your Mommy MDs, I always like to look at examples of either cultures or people who have success. How they’re having success, and if we can carry over anything like that. Not many people present it this way but there’s quite a few religions which have fairly stringent dietary restrictions and these religions are not people who practice these religions are not always in cultures which practice the exact same religion.
Now, they have these dietary restrictions that they and their entire family follow despite the fact that everywhere around them, people are not following it. How do you think these families seem to so reliably do that which no one else is doing and don’t, at least on the surface, seem to struggle as much with it?
Jennifer: That is so fascinating. I’m so glad you asked that question and in the way that you asked it because one thing that is fascinating about our Mommy MD Guides books and brand actually is that although all of our doctors are also mothers, they’re all from incredibly diverse backgrounds. They are from different specialties so it’s interesting that they bring, some are pediatricians, some are psychiatrists, some are dermatologists and they have children of all different age ranges.
Some are just pregnant and some are grandmoms and also as you mentioned, they come from many religious backgrounds and different areas of the country, different societies. One story comes in immediately to mind at your question, and that is some of our families follow…keep Kosher and so I ask, “How does that affect the way that you eat and feed your children?” One thing I found fascinating is they said they don’t go out to eat very often and when they do, they only order vegetarian meals.
I thought that’s a terrific idea and one of my favorite tips from one of our doctors along that topic is when they go out to dinner, she has four little boys and their ages five, seven, nine, and eleven and so when they go out to a restaurant, in order to keep them busy and keep them behaved and encourage them to eat healthy, as soon a s they sit down, she orders a side dish vegetable for them to eat. The boys, rather than mess around with things on the table and maybe getting distracted, they fill up on some healthy vegetable and they eat a good dinner, so I thought that was pretty neat.
Jonathan: It certainly is. Actually, I have to apologize. I’m in this big list of notes and I’m on like point two because this is so much good stuff here. We’re going to have you ladies back for sure. I’m going to go off-script again because this is an area that I, not being a mommy or a daddy – I do not know a lot about and these are very fascinating tips and it matters to so many people so I’m going to be selfish again and I need your help on something I struggling to wrap my head around and that is, let me see if I can describe this correctly. So I’m drawing like a time line on a piece of paper in front of me.
At the very start of the time line, I have a circle and in that circle is zero to nine months, that’s the gestation period. When our child is in utero, it would seem globally, that is the time when most people are the most sensitive, just generally with what they eat. We know like “You’re pregnant. Oh my gosh, you can’t eat that.” Even as a culture, we want to support people who are pregnant so that they can ensure they are giving their bodies what they need to feed their children appropriately and then after the child is born, they’re still generally hypersensitive to that.
Very quickly, we transition into let’s call it a “Kid’s menu phase” where a kid’s menu is by definition, what makes the food suitable for the kid’s menu and not for the adult menu? What makes children’s cereal children cereal and not adult cereal? Poison basically. How do we, as a culture, go from, “We’re going to do everything we can to protect this developing person” to the least possible, like we say “They’re a kid, they can handle it.” They’re kids, it’s children’s food. How do we make that giant jump?
Dr. Rallie: I don’t know, Jonathan. If you can figure that out, you will have the secret of future good health. I just don’t know. We are so kid-focused these days, we want to please our children, we want to nurture and love them and spoil them and so many of us still equate that with feeding. I don’t know, I think there are a lot of people working on that problem, you know with the public health department, education, and things like that. A part of it too, the food industry has to take some responsibility.
When baby bottles are branded with soft drink logos. That’s not good. We need to get the food industry and their advertising to help because that seems to be more or the main forms of education for us but I do not know. It is really appalling and what I’m seeing in my office, four-year olds that weigh 150 lbs. It’s devastates me. I think it’s akin to abuse but when the parents aren’t educated, it’s hard to hold them accountable. I think education, especially, I live in the Appalachian region and we have a lot of this problem here and we need more education, so keep doing what you’re doing.
Jonathan: In terms of that education, it is, we’re going to get back to the point I was making earlier. Again, I’m going to go back to smoking. It seems that pretty universally, we understand that we shouldn’t give our children cigarettes. Another thing that I have a hard time wrapping my head around, I don’t mean to be like selfish and make the podcast about me, but I need some Mommy MD Guidance.
With smoking, even if your child smokes, the “worst” thing in quotations, obviously this is bad, it’s going to harm their physical health but psychologically, you’re not necessarily going to be teased, ridiculed, called fatty, not picked to go to prom, because you smoke. However, if you are fed fattening foods, not only does that damage you physically, but it steals your entire childhood. I don’t know anyone who is overweight as a child that enjoyed that experience emotionally. It’s like that one-two punch.
Jennifer: That makes a tremendous amount of sense. I think right now in our work with our next book, we’re hoping to help educate the moms so that they improve their own health and their own life with hoping that a lot of that is going to have a trickle down effect to their children and it’s something that certainly is a great topic to take on then how do you help children to stay healthier too. Maybe that’s a future book.
Jonathan: What I love, speaking of your new book and speaking more of hopeful topics because it does seem that starting with “If I can’t keep myself healthy and fit, it would probably be very challenging for me to help my child stay healthy and fit because we do lead by example.” Also, the same knowledge would apply to that which is poisonous for a small child is generally also poisonous for large child because we’re all kids at heart.
In your new book, The Mommy MD Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great, what have you found is unique to the mothering situation that we can do to lose the extra pounds and feel great?
Dr. Rallie: I think most of our Mommy MD Guides , you hit on a very important part, they start by feeding themselves as nutritious diet if they can and it’s not always about, when we think of diet, we think “Oh, I’ve got to lose weight. I’ve got to eat tiny little portions.” I think most of our Mommy MD Guides approach diet as meaning a nutrition plan and they don’t starve themselves. They don’t do crazy fad diets or things like that. They’re really eating with an eye toward getting the maximum benefit out of the food that they put into their bodies for their bodies.
They’re looking for food that will give them energy. They’re looking for food that will heal them. They’re looking for food that tastes good and satisfies them. You’re right, when they start, when I feed myself a healthy diet, my children, especially young children because we are the most important role model for our children, will follow suit. In a practical term, that’s all they have to eat because they’ll be eating in the same kitchen that I am. I think our Mommy MD Guides in asking how did they strive to lose weight, what did they do differently?
They look for food that provides maximum benefit and they don’t, we didn’t hear any Mommy MD Guide say, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to try to lose 30 lbs in 30 days.” They want to trend back toward an ideal weight and they do it in a very slow and controlled fashion. They don’t have any big plans of wearing a size four tomorrow because they want to be able to function well as professionals and as mothers while they are working back toward their ideal body weight.
Jonathan: Yeah. They just can’t go to the ranch for six months and spend 12 hours a day…
Dr. Rallie: Right.
Jonathan: In terms of, we’re bombarded day in and day out with the media of like “Watch out for this at 11 pm, six things in your cupboard that’s going to kill your kids” and just tips and there’s all this different information coming in, it can be paralyzing at times. If we had to do just one thing, even if its a big thing, a lot of the tips we’ve already talked about on the show are created an environment that facilitates health, meaning do not have fattening edible products in your home, be that example and these are things that would permeate everyone, it’s just not the mommy, it’s not just the child, it’s everyone in the household creating that environment and setting that example. Is that the uber-tip or is there one uber-tip?
Jennifer: I think that a lot of things that you kind of touched on kind of come together with what we’re thinking of as the catch line for our book which is Be the Best Mom that You Can Be and if I have that as my goal that I want to be the best mom, then that’s going to help motivate me and drive me towards all of the healthy behaviors that are going to not only help me to lose weight and feel great, but also help my children have healthy happy lives.
If I keep in mind that I want to be the best mom that I can be, I’m going to have a cup of water on my desk and I’m going to sip from it throughout the day, which is going to help my energy, which is going to help my mood, which is going to help my weight. I’m also going to make healthier choices and when I go leave my desk here later this afternoon to prepare dinner, I’m not going to reach for the phone and call for the delivery down the street. Instead, I’m going to prepare a healthy meal from healthy ingredients that I purchased around the perimeter of the store and after dinner, I’m probably not going to sit down on the couch with a bag of chips.
I’m going to encourage my family, “Hey guys, it’s a beautiful day out in the neighborhood. Let’s go outside and play Frisbee for a little bit.” As the night winds down and it’s time to get ready for sleep, I’m going to follow some of the tips that our doctors gave in the book and I’m going to turn off my Ipad, I’m going to turn off my laptop. I might relax with a little bit of television, again I won’t have a bag of chips in my hands, and I’m going to try turn it early for the night. I’ll get a good night sleep that’s healthy for our body so again, I can wake up tomorrow and be the best mom that I can be.
Jonathan: I love it! I love it. Well, that book that we were just talking about is called The Mommy MD Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great and we’ve been talking with none other than Dr. Rallie McAllister as well as Jennifer Reich. If you want to learn more about all of their great work, just check out mommymdguides.com and for the guys out there, don’t feel like you’ve been neglected because there’s also daddymdguides.com, which I just discovered on your website. I’m going to give that a look.
Ladies, thank you so much for joining us. It’s absolutely been a pleasure.
Jennifer: Thank you.
Dr. Rallie: Thank you so much, Jonathan. It’s an honor to be with you today. I so appreciate you.
Jonathan: Well, thank you and listener, I hope you enjoyed today’s show as much as I did. Please remember this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. Chat with you soon.