Sick Kid? How to Boost Your Child’s Immunity

Sick Kid? How to Boost Your Child’s Immunity

*This post contains affiliate links.*

 

If it feels like your kid is sick almost every week, you’re not imagining it.

 

Kids under the age of 6 in particular get 8 to 10 colds a year, not including the countless fevers, infections and stomach bugs they’ll get this year.

 

Kids are like little Petri dishes for germs, especially when they’re in daycare and school. They all touch the same surfaces, share the same toys and put everything in their mouths.

 

They all have to wash their hands after they use the bathroom and before meals but are they using enough soap and washing properly? It’s questionable.

 

When my daughters started school last year, I was prepared for them to get sick—

 

a lot. Although they had a few fevers and colds, and one had norovirus, for the most part they were relatively healthy.

 

Did we get lucky? Maybe.

 

But more likely, it was a because of a few things I did to improve their immunity which might help your kid too.

 

 

Cut the crappy food

 

 

Since the gut makes up to 70 percent of the immune system, making sure your kid’s gut is healthy can also boost his immune system.

 

If your kid lives on foods that come out of a bag, box, or package, however, he could be missing key vitamins and minerals that keep him healthy and his immune systems strong.

 

Experts say eating foods that are processed and filled with sugar over the long term could lead to intestine hyperpermeability or leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut occurs when the tight junctions in the large intestine open and allow undigested food particles and pathogens in, which in turn elicits an immune response.

 

Leaky gut syndrome has been linked to various conditions including allergies, asthma, fatigue, autoimmune diseases, migraines and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

 

Eat the rainbow

 

A whole foods diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables of all colors gives your kid the nutrition she needs for a strong immune system. Yet they also contain prebiotics, or non-digestible food ingredients, that work with probiotics, the live microorganisms found in the gut, to grow and work to boost your child’s immunity.

 

 

Add fermented foods

 

Kefir tastes too tangy for me but my kids love it and that’s a good thing. The probiotics found in kefir and other foods like yogurt, kimchi, naturally fermented vegetables, including sauerkraut and pickles can help improve gut health and boost your child’s immune system.

 

Take probiotics

 

Probiotics have become popular in recent years, particularly for their ability to improve gut health, experts say. Some studies show probiotics can shorten the duration of diarrhea associated with a stomach virus or a course of antibiotics and may reduce upper respiratory infections.

 

It’s important to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) hasn’t recommended regular use of probiotics in children because there’s a lack of evidence for their efficacy. Of course like any supplement, if you want to give your kid probiotics, check with his pediatrician first.

 

Move more

 

My kids are constantly in motion and they play at the park and the playground, take movement classes and after-dinner walks, but I still find getting them 60 minutes exercise a day a challenge. Nevertheless, I do my best to make sure they get some form of exercise in every day.

 

Exercise has so many benefits for kids, and as it turns out, can improve their gut health and immunity. In fact, a study in the journal Gut shows exercise may diversity gut microbes.

 

During the dog days of winter or on snow days when you can’t get out, put on music and have a dance party or enjoy a game of Twister.

Do kids need snacks after sports?

Do kids need snacks after sports?

With school back in session, kids across the U.S. are heading to the field to play football, baseball and soccer after school and on the weekends. They’ll definitely need healthy food to give them energy, help them focus and improve their performance, but do kids really need snacks after sports?

When my daughter was 4-years-old, she started playing soccer for our town’s league. Watching preschoolers play soccer is the cutest thing to watch and I was so excited not only because she was playing sports, but also because she was learning new skills and teamwork, getting challenged and feeling pride in her accomplishments.

Every Saturday, the team met at 10 o’clock in the morning for 30 minutes to practice followed by 30 minutes to play the game. Even though they were young, these kids were pushed to hustle and they worked hard.


But let’s be honest: they weren’t running a marathon.

And I wasn’t keen on her filling up on packaged, processed snacks right before lunch either.


Empty, extra calories

 

The Physical Guidelines for Americans state kids need 60 minutes of physical activity a day for overall health and to prevent childhood obesity.

Yet offering snacks after sports negates the health benefits because it puts back the calories they just burned. Not only that but what these kids usually eat are empty calories and snacks filled with sodium and sugar: Goldfish crackers, pretzels, cookies and juice. Not exactly the type of food you want your kid to re-fuel with.


A reward for hard work


Offering snacks after sports also seems to imply that we’re giving kids a reward for a job well done. We tell them work hard and have fun, and afterwards you’ll be rewarded with food. It’s no wonder as adults many of us reward ourselves with food when we’ve had a bad day, are stressed out or even after a hard work out.

Teaching kids from an early age that food is a reward only reinforces that belief when they become adults. In our culture where everyone gets a trophy for effort, we should be teaching our kids why they need to work hard instead of motivating them to do so with food.


Snacks for team spirit

I understand that sharing snacks after sports is part of fostering camaraderie. In the U.S., food is a mainstay for any occasion whether it’s to discuss a business deal, to celebrate a happy event or to mourn the passing of a loved one.

But in sports, the sport itself is the activity and yet we make food the activity as well.

If team building is the goal, why not have a healthy lunch afterwards? Or take food out of it altogether and have the kids play a fun game or work on a project together.


Snacks after sports: a tough call

My kids are still young but for older kids, I suppose the snack question depends on the activity, how long they’re exercising for and the intensity. For example, a basketball practice might warrant a snack but if it’s after school, it’s only logical that they’d go home to eat dinner. If they’re on the field all day, they’ll need to refuel but bringing a package of crackers or chips isn’t the type of fuel they need.

When I posed the question on Facebook, one mom told me that for high school field hockey, the kids had cookies and trail mix. Another mom said for high school football, the kids eat bananas and ice pops.

I think it’s always important to remember that kids won’t pass out or die if they don’t eat right away. Hunger is a natural feeling and one they should have before a meal or after a work out.

I never told my daughter she wasn’t allowed to have the team snack. Although I didn’t agree, I didn’t want to take part of the experience away from her. Yet when it was our turn to bring the snack, I brought cut-up apples and water bottles. “Thanks, apples are my favorite,” one girl told me.

This past spring when both of my daughters played soccer, I suggested we bring orange slices and water. “But the kids won’t eat that,” my 4-year-old said.

But it didn’t matter to me whether they ate it or not.

I didn’t feel right bringing something in a package after what was supposed to be a healthy activity. Perhaps I even inspired a few parents to upgrade their menus at home.

Although some of the kids passed on the fruit, most of them ate it—even the coach.

sports-snacks

My daughter handing out oranges after soccer.

What do you think? Should kids be given snacks after sports or not?

5 Tips for Quick and Healthy Breakfasts

5 Tips for Quick and Healthy Breakfasts

Whether you’re heading out the door with your toddler to a mommy and me class or rallying the big kids to make it to the bus stop on time, mornings can be hectic. And unless it’s a bowl of high-fiber cereal, making quick and healthy breakfasts can seem impossible.

I get it. Even if I wake up at 5am, I’m still rushing to get my kids out the door on time.

But it’s not because breakfast takes a long time to make, it’s because my kids like to eat. My older daughter in particular, lives for breakfast. Whether it’s eggs, toast and fruit, oatmeal or a frittata, she always wants more. My younger daughter? She’s happy with a piece of fruit and yogurt and maybe some of my green smoothie.

You already know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for kids. A healthy breakfast can:

  • keep blood sugar levels steady
  • give kids energy at school
  • helps them stay alert and focused
  • prevent them from being overweight or obese

To ensure your kids start the day right, aim for protein, fiber and healthy fats—and of course fruits and vegetables. But just because you’re serving healthy breakfasts, doesn’t mean they have to be time consuming

5 Ways To Get Healthy Breakfasts On The Table In No Time

1. Make breakfast ahead of time

If you make school lunches the night before, carve out some time and make breakfast for the next morning as well. A quiche, frittata or overnight oats are all good options. The same goes for green smoothies and juices: cut up individual portions of fruits and vegetables ahead of time and put them in containers or food storage bags so they’re ready to go the next morning.

2. Use the freezer

When my husband makes pancakes or waffles for breakfast, he’ll freeze any leftovers from the batch. Then when we’re short on time, we simply pop them in the toaster and they taste just as delicious as the day they were made. You can freeze egg muffins, regular muffins and breads too so you’ll always have healthy breakfasts on hand.

3. Make-your-own buffets

Put out Greek yogurt, berries and granola or nuts and let your kids make their own parfaits. Or try make-your-own breakfast wraps with tortillas, scrambled eggs, beans and last night’s sautéed vegetables.

4. Use your appliances

When my blender was on the fritz this summer, my husband purchased the Magic Bullet and I was instantly obsessed. I love how fast and smoothly it blends everything and what a breeze it is to clean.

 

Any type of blender will do to make smoothies or smoothie bowls. Got a slow cooker? Make oatmeal and you’ve got a healthy breakfast the minute your kids wake up.

 

5. Serve dinner for breakfast

Instead of the same ‘ol meal, re-purpose leftovers for quick and healthy breakfasts. Make a quinoa breakfast bowl with cinnamon, vanilla extract, a bit of honey and your kid’s favorite nuts. Or instead of butter, spread hummus or avocado on toast, top with slices of tomato and breakfast is served.

 

5 Healthy After-School Snacks

5 Healthy After-School Snacks

Kids love their after-school snacks.

If your kids are like mine, they come home from school and head right to the refrigerator for an after-school snack. Despite eating breakfast, lunch AND a snack, somehow they’re (apparently) famished.

After-school snacks can tide your kids over for awhile but if they eat filling foods or overeat, they won’t be hungry come dinner. Instead, afternoon snacks with a combination of protein and fiber will satisfy their hunger without making them too full.

1. Kale chips

healthy-after-school-snacks

I don’t believe in sneaking vegetables into meals or making faces out of food so your kids will eat but I don’t see the harm in preparing one type of food in various ways.

If you can’t get your kid to eat green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale, try making kale chips and watch as your kids will devour them. The next time you make a kale salad or a meal with cooked kale, they may be more likely to try it.

Kale is nutrient dense and an excellent source of vitamin A and lutein for healthy eyes and a good source of calcium for healthy teeth and bones.

2. Hummus and Jicama

healthy-after-school-snacks

If you’re trying to add more plant-based foods in your family’s diet, hummus is a great food to serve for after-school snacks.

Chickpeas are a great source of protein, fiber and iron and sesame seeds which are used in tahini are an excellent source of minerals like zinc, copper and calcium for bone health.

Although you can serve any vegetable with hummus, I like jicama (pronounced HEE-kah-ma), which tastes like a combination of a pear and a water chestnut. Jicama is a great source of vitamin C, potassium, iron, calcium and filling fiber.

3. Celery

healthy-after-school-snacks

A rich source of vitamins and antioxidants, celery is one of the healthiest vegetables you can feed your kids. One cup contains an amazing 5 grams of fiber which will keep your kid satiated and even prevent constipation.

If your kids like foods with a crunch, celery is a great one to swap in for chips. Add a bit of peanut butter or almond butter for protein and a delicious after-school snack.

4. Greek Yogurt

healthy-after-school-snacks

Yogurt is a good source of protein but most yogurts, especially those marketed to kids, have a ton of sugar.

Instead of flavored yogurt, serve your kids plain, Greek yogurt topped with fresh berries like raspberries which are an excellent source of fiber, have a low glycemic load and are super-tasty.

5. Green Smoothies

healthy-after-school-snacks

Like kale, serving a smoothie isn’t a way to sneak vegetables but it can be another way to get in a serving.

A good rule of thumb: the 80/20 rule. Eighty-percent green leafy vegetables and 20 percent fruit. Add some chia seeds for protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain health.

4 Reasons School Lunch Isn’t Healthy

4 Reasons School Lunch Isn’t Healthy

When my daughter started full-day kindergarten last year, my husband and I decided we’d pack her school lunch everyday.

I knew that no matter how healthy the school lunch menu claimed to be, there’s no way she’d eat lentils and salad like she did at home. I also knew it wasn’t likely the lunches were made from scratch but instead came out of some sort of a package.

 

With the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, many schools have overhauled their menus to include more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy so I was surprised to hear from other moms that the school lunch wasn’t much better than it had been years ago.

And when I read the school menu, I was shocked.

 

The choices included things like:

  • Chicken fingers
  • Deli meats
  • Pizza
  • Tater tots
  • Cheese-filled breadsticks
  • Hot dogs
  • Crispy chicken patties
  • Meatball parmesan subs
  • Macaroni and cheese with a dinner roll.

 

Sure, they offer vegetables and fruit but the main meal options they offered are not something I wanted her to eat.

 

Now that President Trump has loosened up the school lunch rules former first lady Michelle Obama spearheaded, school lunches may get even worse.

 

Not to mention that studies show kids who regularly eat school lunch are 29 percent more likely to be obese than kids who bring lunch from home.

4 Reasons Why School Lunch Isn’t Healthy

 

 

1. Sodium


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90 percent of kids consume too much sodium and 1 in 6 kids has high blood pressure.

 

Deli meats, chicken fingers, hot dogs and French fries are all loaded with sodium and shouldn’t be a school lunch staple.

 

2. Refined carbohydrates

White bread, pasta, rice and processed foods are made with refined carbohydrates that are low in fiber or missing it altogether, lack nutrients and spike your kids’ blood sugar. Eating refines carbs is also linked to an increased risk for obesity, type-2 diabetes and heart disease.

 

3. Unhealthy fats


Despite what experts have preached for years about the dangers of eating fat, research shows kids actually need fat, but they need “good” fats, not saturated fats that raise cholesterol and are found in many school lunches. If your kid continues to eat saturated fats at school and at home, over time he’ll have a higher risk for obesity, heart disease and stroke.

 

Kids need healthy fats like those found in salmon, avocado, and nuts. The likelihood you’ll find these on the menu? Fat chance.

4. Sneaky sugar


Schools might not be serving up cookies and cake, but sugar is sneaky. For example, one choice on my daughter’s school lunch menu is “whole grain blueberry glazed pancakes.”

 

One can assume the word glazed means the blueberries aren’t fresh but in some sort of sugary syrup. Other sneaky sources of sugar include yogurt, juice and baked beans.

 

I won’t lie: last year my daughter was allowed to order pizza a handful of times whether it was because I needed to go grocery shopping or we wanted her to experience getting school lunch. The reason she had pizza was because I was concerned about her food allergies. My hope was that she would come home and say she hated it but that wasn’t the case.

 

This year, we’ll continue to pack lunch from home and she’ll be allowed to buy lunch—but only occasionally.

 

Does your child’s school serve healthy lunch? How could they do better? Let me know in the comments.

7 Breastfeeding Myths

7 Breastfeeding Myths

Breastfeeding is one of the most frequent talked about topics for new moms. Despite all of the information available, there are so many ideas breastfeeding moms think are true but are actually myths.

Let’s face it: when you become a new mom, you’re clueless.

When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I didn’t give much thought to what breastfeeding would be like. My perception of breastfeeding was that it was natural so how hard could it be?

Little did I know that although I didn’t have a lot of breastfeeding challenges, it still affected my body and my mind and it wasn’t as easy as it seemed.

Like many moms, I worried whether my milk supply was low, if my baby was getting enough and if that excruciating nipple pain was actually normal. As I continued to breastfeed, research and write about breastfeeding at Fox News, I was amazed by all of the ideas moms are told—and start to believe—about breastfeeding that simply aren’t true.

Here are 7 of the most common breastfeeding myths and the real truths.


Breastfeeding myth #1: Breastfeeding is easy.


Next to pregnancy and giving birth, breastfeeding is certainly the most amazing, natural thing your body can do but breastfeeding isn’t all butterflies and roses.

Like anything when you’re a mom (new or seasoned), there’s a learning curve. You can’t expect to put your baby to the breast and ba-boom!, everything is easygoing. You have to make sure your latch and position are correct, your baby is gulping, swallowing, feeding regularly and gaining weight.

If your nipples are inverted or your baby is tongue-tied, for example, breastfeeding can be challenging. And unlike bottle-feeding, your baby has to work harder to get the milk, you may find that you’re not breastfeeding according to a schedule and you might have to breastfeed more frequently.

The key to make breastfeeding easier is to get support—through La Leche League, a new mom’s group or from a friend who can help you out.


Breastfeeding myth #2: Low milk supply is common.

How many times has a mom told you she stopped breastfeeding because her milk supply was low and her baby was hungry all the time?

Low milk supply is actually one of the most common reasons moms through in towel early or supplement with formula. In fact, 49 percent of mothers said they stopped breastfeeding after two months because breast milk alone wasn’t enough to satisfy their babies.

Unfortunately, the data simply doesn’t add up, according to lactation consultant Rachel O’Brien. And sources I’ve interviewed have told me most women don’t have a low milk supply.

When you feed your baby a bottle, you know how much he ate but when you’re breastfeeding, it’s not so easy. Some of the ways to tell that your milk supply is just fine include your baby’s gaining weight, he has a certain amount of weight diapers a day and he’s hitting his developmental milestones.

If you’re uncertain, make an appointment with a lactation consultant who can weight your baby right after you feed him to make sure he’s getting enough breast milk.


Breastfeeding myth #3: Breastfeeding is painful.


You may have read horror stories of moms who say their nipples are cracked and bleeding and breastfeeding was painful.

Yet when your latch is correct, breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful. One reason it might be painful is tongue-tie, which from experience, is very painful.

If breastfeeding is painful for you and you’re uncertain why, talk to a lactation consultant.


Breastfeeding myth #4: Breastfed babies eat on a schedule.

During the first few months you might feel like you’re constantly breastfeeding and you’d be right.

When I had my second child, I saw a lactation consultant and told her the Babywise methodology, the eat, play, sleep schedule that had worked perfectly with my older daughter wasn’t working at all with my second. Instead, she wanted to eat all. the. time. and I was one tired mama.

Unlike formula-fed babies who eat on a schedule and can go longer between feedings, breast milk is digested quickly and the truth is newborns eat all the time.


Breastfeeding myth #5: The foods you eat can give your baby gas.


When my daughter was a newborn it seemed that she would often have gas, especially right before bedtime. I used to think maybe it was what I was eating, since I usually eat green leafy vegetables and beans but research doesn’t back it up. So go ahead and eat healthy—it’s good for your baby too.

There could however, be other reasons why your baby has gas that may or may not have to do with breastfeeding, according to KellyMom.com.


Breastfeeding myth #6: Breastfeeding will help you lose the baby weight.

The day I left the hospital with my first child, the neonatal nurse told me if I continued to breastfeed, “the weight would melt right off.” That was good news for a mama who had gained too much weight during pregnancy.

She was right. I exclusively breastfed, ate healthy and exercised regularly and I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight in just a few months.

Although breastfeeding can help you lose weight, how much you’ll lose and how fast depends on how long you exclusively breastfeed for, how much you gained during your pregnancy, as well as your diet and exercise habits after you give birth.


Breastfeeding myth #7: If you drink, you’ll have to pump and dum


If you want to have a drink when you’re breastfeeding, you may have heard that you have to “pump and dump” but that’s not true.

In fact, the same amount of alcohol that clears from your bloodstream is the same amount that leaves your breast milk so pumping your breast milk makes no difference at all. It takes about 2 hours to metabolize one serving of alcohol, like a 4-ounce glass of wine.

What you should know however, is that newborns will metabolize alcohol differently than older babies. You can use Milkscreen test strips, but they will only tell you if alcohol is in your breast milk, not how much.

Of course, drinking while breastfeeding is your own personal choice but if you do choose to, the safest way is to have only one drink and enjoy it right after you feed your baby.

7 Hacks for Stress-Free School Lunches

7 Hacks for Stress-Free School Lunches

One hundred and sixty-five.

That’s approximately how many school lunches you’ll pack for your kid this year. Got 2, 3 or more kids? You better get started.

I’m not a fan of my daughter buying lunch at school. Although many schools in the U.S. have upgraded their menus in recent years as a result of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act to include more vegetables, less sodium and more whole grains, the lunches at my daughter’s school pales in comparison to what I pack at home.

The only drawback if I’m being perfectly honest is that packing healthy school lunches with real, whole-foods takes planning, prep work and time. But because I don’t want my kid eating deli meat, chicken fingers or pizza, I send her to school with lunch.

It may not be quick, but packing healthy school lunches doesn’t have to be stressful.

7 Hacks to Make School Lunches Easy

1. Pack school lunches the night before

After you finally get your kids to sleep at night, all you want to do is put on Netflix or curl up with a good book—even if you fall asleep a few pages in.

But it’s worth packing school lunches the night before instead of waiting until the morning. I’ve found that no matter how early I wake up, I’m still running around stressed out and pressed for time if I wait until the last minute.

Packing school lunches the night before also gives you an opportunity to cook a batch of vegetables or even a meal for the next day at the same time so it’s one less thing you have to worry about.

2. Double up

Instead of making individual lunches for everyone, try to find ways to stretch each meal. For example, I make a large salad and then divide it up for my kids and myself. The next morning, I’ll add a bit of olive oil and a splash of vinegar so it’s not soggy by the time they open it.

Or consider making a double batch of a meal. One portion can be dinner while the other can be divided up for lunches throughout the week.

3. Transform leftovers

Instead of re-inventing the wheel, turn last night’s leftovers into school lunch. Roast chicken can be made into chicken salad or combine leftover rice with some edamame, vegetables, egg and soy sauce for a quick and easy stir-fry.

4. Batch cook

Set aside a few hours on Sunday or use your Crock-Pot  to make large batches of meals you can pack for school lunches.

Soups, stews and chili work well but you can also make large batches of baked chicken cutlets, beans or vegetables, for example.

5. Use a bento box

Kids like to nosh. They like to eat a little of this and a little of that. A bento box is a great way to pack a variety of foods and plenty of nutrition into a school lunch that your kid will love.

6. Make perfect portions

Set aside individual portions of fruits, vegetables, hard-boiled eggs and nuts and seeds in small containers or Ziplock bags to easily grab for school lunches and snacks. This method works well for making smoothies or green juices for breakfast too.

7. Ask for help

Just because you’re a mom, doesn’t mean it’s your responsibility to pack your kids’ lunches. Last year, my husband took on this task and it made my life a little less stressful.

This year, things are going to change again. Although my kids are young, I think they’re ready to pack their own lunches so this school year, we’re going to try it.

Teaching your kids to pack their own lunches or at least help teaches them responsibility, allows them to take ownership and feel empowered and teaches them what a healthy meal looks like. The process might be slow and messy but it’s well worth it.

How do you make packing healthy school lunches quick and easy? Leave me a comment.

5 Best Foods For Healthy Eyes

5 Best Foods For Healthy Eyes

With back to school season upon us, there’s a lot of planning and shopping to do but what many parents forget is making sure their kids’ eyes are healthy before they step back into the classroom.

An eye exam is a good first start because it will detect vision problems that can affect your kids reading abilities, learning and school performance.

When it comes to what your kids eat, surprisingly there’s a lot you can do to keep your kids’ eyes healthy, their vision sharp and their grades top-notch. Here are 5 foods that are superstars for healthy eyes.

1. Salmon

Salmon is a favorite food in my house—so much so that we eat it every week for meatless Mondays and I often pack it for my kids’ school lunches.

Not only is salmon an excellent source of protein and lower in mercury than other types of fish, but it is one of the best sources of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in the retina of the eye.

Omega-3 fatty acids may also ward off dry eye syndrome as your kids get older and accumulate years of screen time. Although it’s unclear how many kids have dry eye syndrome, experts say it’s possible kids who do have it aren’t being diagnosed or treated.

2. Pumpkin

Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, which helps the eyes see in low light conditions and keeps the cornea healthy and lubricated. Pumpkin is also a great source of lutein, a carotenoid or plant pigment, which recent research suggests could improve learning, memory, focus and concentration.

Try baking cubes of fresh pumpkin with butternut squash, adding canned pumpkin to baked goods or adding a handful of pumpkin seeds to your kid’s salad.

3. Eggs

Eggs contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants which filter the harmful blue light like those emitted from iPads and protect and keep the eyes healthy, according to the American Optometric Association.

Scrambled, hard-boiled or in a frittata, eggs are easy, versatile and usually a kid favorite.

4. Sweet potatoes

Rich in vitamin A, sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kid, especially when it comes to keeping their eyes healthy.

5. Pork

Since our bodies don’t produce an adequate amount of zinc, a mineral in the retina that protects the eyes, your kids need to get it from food or supplements.

Pork is a great source of zinc and protein and makes for an easy dinner option. Vegetarians can get their dose of zinc from cashews, almonds and chickpeas.

5 Real Reasons Moms Stop Breastfeeding

5 Real Reasons Moms Stop Breastfeeding

When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn’t give much thought to whether I would breastfeed or not. Yet amidst all the parenting books and information I read when I was pregnant, I came across a fact sheet and learned about all the amazing benefits of breastfeeding. And right after I read it, I told my husband that I was committed to breastfeed. No. Matter. What.

I’m the type of person that follows through on a committment come hell or high water.

I’m grateful that breastfeeding was smooth sailing for me after I got some support from the lactation consultants at the hospital. My milk supply was more than adequate—I even had a freezer full of pumped milk—and my daughter even slept through the night by 3 months.

 

Yet I know not all moms are so lucky.

Moms know breastfeeding is one of the best things they can do for their baby’s health and their own. Like childbirth, it’s one of the most natural things a mother’s body is made for but it doesn’t always come naturally or easily. In fact, studies show only about 50 percent of moms are still breastfeeding at 6 months.

So why is that? Here are some of the reasons I think moms stop breastfeeding.

 

1. Breastfeeding is a part-time job

Don’t get me wrong, pulling out your breast and putting your baby next to you is much easier than having to get up in the middle night to prepare a bottle.

But breastfeeding takes more time and more patience than bottle feeding. When I was breastfeeding, I always felt like I was “on-call,” especially in the beginning when there are 8 to 12 feedings a day. In the first few months, my husband would wake up to feed our daughter a bottle of pumped milk but I often woke up too to pump so my milk supply wouldn’t dwindle.

If you’re away from your baby, you still have to pump. And some moms can’t go far because their babies won’t take a bottle.

2. Breastfeeding changes your breasts and your body


My breasts are so small I’m barely an A cup. But when I was breastfeeding, I couldn’t believe how large my breasts were—porn-star big.

Because I was producing a lot of milk, my breasts would leak when my baby cried, when another baby cried and when I even thought about my baby. My milk would let down and come out so fast my daughter would often let go of the latch to catch a breath.

Since breastfeeding also causes estrogen levels to be low, sex can be challenging, even painful. And when you do have sex and climax, you breasts can leak then too.

 

3. Moms have to return to work


I was lucky to be able to work from home when I had my kids and have a babysitter at my house. If you work from home, you’ll probably have more flexibility to feed your baby or pump. Although the Affordable Care Act allows women the time and space to pump at work, the rules vary by state and many loopholes exist.

 

And what about moms who have long commutes or don’t have a place to pump? Like one of my friends who used to work as a pharmaceutical representative. Since she didn’t have an office and was always on the road, she pumped in her car in New York City parking garages in between sales calls!

4. Feeling sexy goes out the door overnight

 

There are beautiful satin and lace nursing bras that make you feel sexy when you’re not nursing your baby, but let’s be honest: those soft cup nursing bras and disposable nursing pads are what most moms are sporting.

I wore a nursing bra 24/7 for a year (see #2).

5. Breastfeeding can make you sick


When I was breastfeeding, I had a bout of mastitis and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. Not only did I have a large lump in my breast, but I felt like someone ran over me with a Mack truck.

I also battled a sneaky condition called D-MER and high levels of anxiety and nausea when my baby started solids and when she finally weaned for good.

These are just some of the reasons moms stop breastfeeding. Health, lifestyle, employment, access to healthcare and support networks are different for each woman.

Instead of shaming women for throwing in the towel early, we need to understand the reasons for doing so and give them the support they need regardless of their decisions.

Did you stop breastfeeding before a year? Why?

 

 

 

 

7 Worst Foods For School Lunch

7 Worst Foods For School Lunch

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Do you dread packing school lunch? I sure do.

I want to make sure my kids get enough protein, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats every day in their lunch bags but packing whole foods instead of packaged snacks takes time and brainpower—two things I often don’t have after a long day or in the early morning.

Like me, I know you also want your kids to have a healthy school lunch, but there are some foods you might think are perfectly healthy but are actually filled with tons of not-so-good-for-them ingredients.

So the next time you pack school lunch, here are 7 foods you should avoid.

1. White Bread

 

White bread is delicious no matter how you cut it. Add some peanut butter and jelly, tuna fish or deli meat and your kid’s happy.

Yet white bread is one of the worst foods you can pack for school lunch. White bread is made with refined, white flour which spikes your kid’s blood sugar. Continue to feed it to your kid every day and down the line, he may be at risk for insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes. Since white bread is also low in fiber and protein, it’s digested quickly and won’t keep your kid feeling full so he can stay focused and on task all day.

Pack a high-fiber, whole grain bread or tortilla instead. Or nix the bread altogether and choose brown rice or quinoa.

2. Peanut Butter & Jelly

 

It’s the fastest, easiest sandwich to pack and one that is sure to please but it’s definitely not the healthiest option. For starters, most brands of peanut butter have added sugars, vegetable oils and other nasty ingredients you can’t even pronounce. Likewise, jelly and fruit preserves have loads of added sugar.

To upgrade PB&J, swap white bread for whole grain bread and pick a peanut butter that only contains peanuts and some salt. I like Smucker’s Creamy Natural Peanut Butter. Instead of Jelly, add slices of your kid’s favorite fruit.

 

3. Fake Fruit

 

Fruit cups are convenient and portable but they’re not the healthiest option for school lunch. Most are soaked in juice concentrate and some have added sugar—15 grams worth. Not to mention that if you want your kid to eat real, wholesome fruit, then serving fruit drowning in sugar isn’t the way to do it.

Likewise, those gummy-bear-like fruit snacks and fruit leather have too much sugar, lack fiber to keep your kid feeling full and many have artificial colors and flavors.

Instead, just pack a piece of real fruit.

 

4. Juice


100% fruit juice can take the place of one serving of fruit and it definitely contains nutrients. And although experts have said it can lead to obesity, a study out in March 2017 in the journal Pediatrics shows one serving a day of juice is probably OK.

 

Yet because you need more servings of fruit to make fruit juice, there’s still more calories, carbohydrates and sugar in juice than in a piece of whole fruit. Juice also lacks fiber to help your kid feel full and prevent constipation. And look at the ingredients of most juice boxes—even those that are organic—and you’ll see they’re made with fruit juice concentrate.

 

Pack water for school lunch instead and save the juice box as a treat. Or buy a juicer and make your own green vegetable juice at home for breakfast.

 

5. Granola Bars

 

They’ve been touted as a healthy on-the-go snack and for good reason. They have oats, fruit, nuts and seeds—all ingredients that are supposed to be good for you. Yet not only are many granola bars low in fiber and protein and high in sugar, they’re all processed. Experts say processed food is at the heart of leaky gut syndrome and a host of health problems.

 

Instead of store-bought granola bars, make your own or simply swap them for a handful of nuts or seeds.

 

6. Deli Meat


Processed deli meats are filled with sodium, saturated fat and nitrates and some have added colors.

 

Instead of packing deli meat in your kids’ lunch box, roast whole chicken or turkey breast on Sunday, slice it thin and have enough for lunches all week long.

 

7. Yogurt


It’s always been perceived as a health food and although some types may be a good source of protein and probiotics, most kid’s yogurts are sneaky sugar bombs.

 

If you’re going to pack yogurt for school lunch, choose a plain Greek or regular yogurt without added fruit, candy or granola. Add berries on top with a sprinkle of cinnamon or choose a yogurt without a ton of sugar, like Siggi’s yogurt tubes.

 

 

7 Superfoods For Breastfeeding Moms

7 Superfoods For Breastfeeding Moms

When I was breastfeeding my babies, I was constantly hungry because I was burning some major calories, much like I would after working out at the gym. In fact, experts say moms who are exclusively breastfeeding need between 300 and 500 extra calories a day.

When you have a new baby, having the time to eat a meal, much less take a shower, is near to impossible.

Yet it’s not only important to make sure you eat enough to keep up your milk supply, give you energy and help you shed the baby weight, but what you eat and the quality of your food are also important.

7 Superfoods for breastfeeding moms

 

1. Eggs

 

I eat eggs almost every morning because they’re packed with protein to keep me going all morning. Eggs also contain choline, lutein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin and folate.

Scramble up one egg and two egg whites for a healthy breakfast, make a healthy quiche or frittata for dinner or cook a bunch of hard-boiled eggs for grab and go snacks.

 

2. Almonds

 

When you’re busy with your baby or out and about, grabbing a handful of almonds is a healthy way to squelch hunger. Almonds, and other nuts and seeds are great sources of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats.

 

3. Broccoli

 

Green leafy vegetables like broccoli at most meals is a great way for you to get the vitamins you need including A, C, E and K as well as calcium and lutein.

In fact, a recent study found that people who higher levels of lutein, found in green leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale and spinach as well as avocados and eggs, may ward off cognitive decline.

They’re also low in calories but filled with fiber to help you feel satiated. Eat them raw or cooked, they’re delicious in any dish.

 

4. Salmon

 

Fresh, frozen or canned, salmon is a healthy option for breastfeeding moms. Salmon is a great source of protein, vitamin B12 and D and omega-3 fatty acids.

 

5. Quinoa

 

Whole grains are an excellent source of B vitamins and minerals and fiber to fill you up. Quinoa is one of the best types of whole grains you can eat because it also has protein—one cup contains 8 grams! I also love quinoa because you can make it for any meal—including breakfast

 

6. Beef

 

When you’re breastfeeding, you have an increased need for zinc. Beef is not only rich in zinc but it’s a good source of iron and B vitamins to give you energy. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can get zinc in other foods like pumpkin seeds and chickpeas.

 

7. Beans

 

Beans and legumes are excellent sources of minerals, phytochemicals, protein and fiber. I like to soak and cook beans but if you don’t have the time, canned is fine too. Beans are also versatile in any meal—fajitas, chili, as a snack or even with your morning eggs.

4 Ways Breastfeeding May Prevent Picky Eating

4 Ways Breastfeeding May Prevent Picky Eating

You already know the benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your baby, but in recent years, researchers have shed light on one more: babies who are breastfed by mothers who eat healthy foods are less likely to be picky eaters and may turn out to be adventurous foodies.

It makes sense. Not only do breastfed babies get all of their nutrients through their moms in those early months, they also get the subtle flavors of the foods they eat. So when it’s time to start solids, they may already have formed their own healthy food preferences.

1. A love of fruits and vegetables

Breastfeeding your baby may help him crave fruits and vegetables. Take a look at a 2007 study out of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, which included 45 babies between 4 and 8-months-old; 20 of whom were breastfed.

Both groups were fed green beans and peaches. The first time they were offered peaches, the breastfed babies ate more peaches and for a longer period of time than the formula-fed infants, which suggests they preferred peaches because their moms ate them.

What’s interesting, however, is that neither group of babies ate more green beans than the author perhaps because both sets of moms ate green beans infrequently, the authors explained.

The key therefore, is that if you’re breastfeeding and you want your kids to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, you also need to eat them.

2. A willingness to try new foods

The foods moms eat during pregnancy and while they’re breastfeeding affect the taste and nutrition of their breast milk, which in turn shapes their babies’ flavor and food preferences, a recent study out of Keen State College found.

“Studies show that toddlers, preschool, and school-aged children who were breastfed as infants are more likely to accept a wider variety of healthy foods and are more accepting of new foods and are less likely to be picky eaters,” Becky Dunn, the co-author of the study stated in this article.

3. Less mealtime battles

According to a 2012 study out of the University of Illinois, babies who were exclusively breasted for the first 6 months were 81 percent less likely to reject food when they became preschoolers, 78 percent less likely to develop a preference for how their food was prepared, and 75 percent less likely to fear trying new foods.

4. A smaller sweet tooth

Breastfeeding infants for longer periods of time is associated with a higher likelihood that kids will eat healthy, eat more fruits and vegetables, drink less sugar-sweetened drinks and more water at age 6 according to a 2014 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

So although your kid will probably love sweets, breastfeeding may be one way to keep those sugar cravings at bay.