MD For Moms Radio, Every Wednesday 1pm (ET) on The BBM Global Network, TuneIn and iHeartRadio or as a podcast on iTunes.
This week on MD for Moms, I interview pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth Vainder to discuss a topic not often explored but frequently a source of concern: childhood weight and obesity. It’s cute when babies have fat rolls, but when does that cuteness become a health risk? We discuss the obesity epidemic amongst kids in the United States, reasons for it, and how to battle the issue. Dr. Vainder explains ways to support your child towards a healthy weight without instilling food issues or unhealthy behaviors. This is a complex topic, but one that must be discussed.
We also delve into food choices for kids whose weights may be ok, but they prefer mac and cheese above all else (ahem, my son). Is it safe and healthy to eat this way? Can we assume our kids will grow out of it and start to eat a broader array of foods later in life or should we deal with the issue now, and if so, how? So many questions, only one hour – we may need to make this show into a two-part series!
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Learn more about my guest, Dr. Elizabeth Vainder:
I was born in South Florida to Cuban parents. Growing up in South Florida gave me the opportunity to learn about a variety of cultures. In my home we spoke Spanish and thankfully because of my parents and my education I am fully bilingual. Little did I know, or appreciate at the time, but being fluent in English and Spanish has opened many doors for me and I use both languages at work and socially every day.
My parents valued education and from as far back as I can remember this was always a priority. I remember my dad always telling me that “they can take away everything from you, everything but your education. ” My parents fled Cuba when Castro took power and essentially had everything taken from them. They understood what it was like to go hungry or be unemployed. So they sacrificed many of their wants to ensure that I receive a quality education.
I was always a curious child. I spent many hours browsing the pages of the encyclopedia to learn about new things. This was my parent’s first investment in my education! (Before there was google!)
I remember early on being curious about a life as a pediatrician. My mom even has a book I wrote in third grade saying that I wanted to be a pediatrician. I love looking back at that book!
Fast forward and upon graduating from High School, I attended the University of Miami on a partial scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology, cum laude, with a pre-med track. I was the first in my family to graduate from college and my parents couldn’t have been prouder.
I have always been fascinated with how the mind and the body interact. Much of my time at the University of Miami was spent in the Psychobiology department helping with research looking into the mind-body connection. At the time I was torn between pursuing a career in Psychobiology and focusing on research or applying to medical school.
In the end, my love of people took me to medical school and I was accepted at the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1993. To pay for my medical school education, I took out many loans and was also a recipient of the Robert Woods Johnson Scholarship. I am extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to pursue a career in medicine despite my financial restrictions. Upon graduation, I accepted a residency position at Jackson Memorial Hospital in the Pediatrics department.
I have always loved children. Jackson Memorial Hospital was a wonderful place to learn about Pediatrics and I had the good fortune to learn from some of the most well-respected pediatricians in the country.
Given that Jackson Memorial is in South Florida, there is a large hispanic population and my Spanish skill came in very handy for patient care! At the completion of my residency, I accepted a job at the University of Miami in one of their community clinics.
At the community clinic, I was fortunate to provide care to a population of children that were either uninsured or on the Medicaid program. Many of the patients were newly arrived Cuban immigrants so it felt like my life had come full circle. I stayed at that job for nine years and then transitioned into private practice and have remained there since.
After the birth of my second son, I transitioned to working part-time so that I could spend more time with my children. This was one of the best decisions I have made as a professional and as a mom.
Becoming a mom has definitely made me a better pediatrician. Transitioning into motherhood, especially after your focus has been your career, is hard and I don’t think you fully appreciate it until you become a mom yourself.
In the last 20 years I have tried to use my personal experience and my expertise to provide practical pediatric care for my patients and their parents. It is a privilege to be able to help patients and I remain committed to staying up-to-date with new recommendations and explaining it in practical terms to families.