Andrea Potashnick is more than just a registered dietitian – she likes to think that she brings families together with her work. Though this sounds like a bold claim, she has seen time and time again the impact that positive changes in eating habits and regularly-planned mealtimes have on family dynamics. “I’ve always had a passion for working with families,” she says. “It’s really amazing to see how they can come together in their meal times and just enjoy each other’s company.”
Potashnick has been a registered dietitian since 2004, and started her family-focused business, Your Family RD, upon her return to Plymouth three years ago. Since then, she’s kept her business focused on providing guidance, advice and hands-on assistance for busy families. “It’s important to ensure that children grow up having a healthy relationship with food,” she says. Whether parents are concerned about their children’s eating habits or are just looking for advice on how to manage healthy diets while juggling hectic schedules, Your Family RD provides nutrition counseling, individual coaching, group workshops and seminars on healthy family eating.
“It’s really about the family working together, supporting one another and making positive lifestyle changes,” says Potashnick. She explains that eating habits are often passed down among generations.
Potashnick says that many parents who struggle with their kids at mealtime were raised in the era of the strict “clean your plate” rule, which affects how they themselves struggle to regulate their own food intake. Therefore, they may run into conflicts as they try to force their kids to finish their food. “The tendency to have more battles can lead to picky eaters,” she says.
Instead, Potashnick recommends making one meal, and giving kids the choice as to whether they’ll eat it or not. If parents are consistent in offering one option, even the pickiest eaters will come around. “The more that they have a healthy relationship with food as children, the more that carries into adulthood,” she says.
One parent who’s turned to Potashnick for help is Robyn Schein, a working mother of three young kids all with very different eating habits. “I was really stressed with constantly thinking ‘am I really feeding my kids healthy foods?’,” she says. But Schein and her husband were delighted to find that even their pickiest eater warmed to a healthier regimen within just a week of working with Potashnick, and mealtimes became enjoyable. “Andrea helped us rethink how we thought about food, not just stressing about the details of the recipes or the details of the shopping,” says Schein.
“For a lot of parents, one of the big issues is that the parents will spend all day cooking this healthy meal, but then the kids don’t want to eat it,” says Potashnick. For this reason, Potashnick is a strong believer in healthy eating in moderation. Restricting your child’s diet, or even your own, by completely removing any savory cravings will only lead to over-indulgence in the future. If parents are putting effort into cooking a majority of healthy meals, then the occasional pizza night is perfectly acceptable.
Potashnick says that her most sought-after services are her individual coaching sessions with parents. This gives her an opportunity to teach a long-term solution that the parents can practice after she’s done working with them. “By having them digest that information and really trusting and believing that it can work, they will see positive results.” She is always careful to approach these sessions without judgment as the issue of food can be a sensitive one for many households. Though most parents are eagar, some are initially reluctant to take Potashnick’s advice. In these cases, she remains patient, saying “I’m here when they are ready.”
Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas
For busy families, Potashnick has an array of quick and easy sheet pan recipes that are simple to prepare ahead of time, and offer kids a chance to do a bit of cooking. Her personal favorite, the Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas, are easy to make and tasty for even the choosiest of eaters. Find more recipes online at yourfamilyrd.com.
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. cumin
1 lb. flank steak, thinly sliced
against the grain
1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1 orange pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. canola oil
Place seasonings in a resealable plastic bag. Seal and toss to combine.
Add steak, vegetables, lime juice and oil to the bag. Toss to coat evenly. (Great job for the kids!)
Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
When ready to cook:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lay out marinated steak and vegetables onto a sheet pan sprayed with cooking spray.
Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes until meat is cooked through to desired doneness.