I recently woke up to an alarming story about the mounting evidence that ultra-processed foods are making us sick. This news came along with a shocking new statistic that showed the highest increase in the rates of colon cancer in young people aged 20-29. All of this data makes me even more determined to improve and expand the impactful, evidence-based programs the non-profit Dr. Yum Project offers. Our mission is to help families and communities overcome the barriers to eating well by providing resources that are accessible to everyone.

Why are so many of us consuming these ultra-processed foods, and what are the barriers that keep families from eating better? Some of the barriers include food insecurity, lack of basic cooking skills, misconceptions that eating healthy food must be expensive and time-intensive, unfamiliarity with fresh and whole foods, typical “picky eating,” and a lack of informational resources on how to raise children who enjoy nutritious foods. Physicians may also face barriers to sharing nutrition information with parents, including limited time, confidence, and a lack of practical nutrition education in their training.

How we are turning the tide:

Through interactions with families in my private pediatric practice, the Dr. Yum Project has developed three proven tools:

1. Dr. Yum’s Preschool Food Adventure is a research-backed cooking and nutrition curriculum written by a team of experts that teaches preschool teachers in 37 states a joyful, multisensory approach to help kids learn to love their veggies. The impact of the lessons reaches beyond the classroom to students’ and teachers’ homes.

2. Dr. Yum’s Touchpoints is a program of practical health behavior modules for use by primary care providers in the management of children with overweight or obesity. Families learn together how to improve health habits one step at a time with a joyful, empowering family approach.

3. The DoctorYum.org website is the ecosystem of supporting materials for preschool teachers and families, physicians and their patients and families, community organizations and leaders, and the general public who can use our resources free of charge to help overcome the barriers to eating well. Highlights include our recipe catalog of over 220 recipes, many in both English and Spanish, Dr. Yum's Meal-o-Matic, which allows users to make a custom recipe with what is available in the fridge or pantry, blogs and articles written by a variety of experts in nutrition, education, and medicine, printable downloads for families, physicians, and food distribution sites in English and Spanish and more.

Please join me in my quest to empower families to live healthier lives. If you are connected with early childhood educators, pediatric providers, or community organizations or just want some actionable tools to help your own family, consider how our programs can help you help the families you serve. Email me at info@doctoryum.org to get the conversation started.