7 Tips to Keep Your Family Healthy During the Holidays

7 Tips to Keep Your Family Healthy During the Holidays

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Keeping your family healthy during the holidays is always top of mind. Of course, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s celebrations bring plenty of delicious food, sweets and holiday drinks. Not only can the calories add up fast, but with all the running around you and your kids are doing, everyone can feel stressed out, run down and be more susceptible to getting colds, infections and the flu.

Luckily, there are several ways to prevent you and your kids from getting sick and help you stay healthy during the holidays. Here are 7.

1. Get a flu shot

Last week, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  reported that the incidence of flu is higher than it was this time last year and seven children have already died.

There’s no way to tell how effective this year’s flu vaccine is until the end of the flu season, but since the flu is serious and can be deadly, any amount of efficacy is better than none, in my opinion. In fact, an October 2017 study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found the flu vaccine reduced admissions in the ICU, the duration of hospitalization and deaths.

To find a place that offers flu shots, check the CDC’s flu vaccine finder tool.

If your kid shows symptoms of the flu or you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with his doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can make a diagnosis and prescribe Tamiflu, which may reduce the duration of the flu.

2. Take probiotics

The gastrointestinal tract—the gut—is responsible for 70 percent of the body’s immunity so it’s important to make sure it’s as healthy as it can be.

One way to boost your kid’s immune system and fend off illness is to take probiotics. I like Culturelle Probiotics because they contain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), a type of probiotic strain that is backed by years of research. Yogurt and fermented foods like kefir, kimchi and tempeh are good sources of probiotics too.

3. Stock up on healthy meals

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can leave little time to cook healthy meals and force you to order take-out, go out to dinner or hit the fast food drive through. Rely on convenience food several days a week and watch as everyone in the family packs on the pounds, feels sluggish and becomes constipated.

To make sure your family eats healthy, use your Crock-Pot to make soups, stews and healthy meals that can be made ahead of time. Or carve out some time on the weekends to make double batches of meals to stock your freezer with and dinners will be a breeze.

4. Curb sweets

Christmas is a few weeks away but eggnog (my purchase) and chocolate (a gift) have already made their way into my house. Kids should be able to have treats but eating sugar day after day spikes their blood glucose levels, can lead to weight gain and make them feel sluggish, cranky and want more sugar.

We let our kids have a small bite of chocolate after dinner and the rest of it was stored out of sight until Christmas day or until we can re-gift it to someone else.

5. Fill up on fruits and vegetables

To make sure your kids are the healthiest they can be, do your best to encourage them to eat plenty of vegetables which will give the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants they need. Some good choices include green leafy vegetables, grapefruit, carrots, strawberries and pumpkin.

You can easily get several fruits and vegetables in smoothies or homemade juices or simply make it a point to add them to every meal and snack.

6. Remind kids to wash their hands

Kids are constantly swapping germs: they sneeze and cough on each other, rub their noses, put their hands in their mouths and touch the same germ-infested books, toys and surfaces all day long. When they’re in school, research shows they’re not washing their hands frequently. According to a 2011 survey by The American Cleaning Institute, 43 percent of kids said they don’t wash their hands as much as they should in school because they don’t have the time.

The last thing you want is to have to make your way to the doctor or have a sick kid on the holidays. When they’re on your watch, make sure they’re washing their hands regularly especially if they’re sick, before they eat and always after using the bathroom. Encourage them to wash their hands when they’re at daycare, school and activities too.

It’s also important to teach them proper hand washing practices. Show them how to scrub all surfaces of their hands including their fingernails with plenty of soap and water for 20 seconds—the amount of time it takes  to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Then rinse and dry well. When soap and water aren’t available, encourage your kids to use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

7. Stay active

Exercise is a great way to boost the immune system but when it’s cold out, kids are usually stuck at home on their iPads.

If your kid isn’t already in some form of sport or after-school activity, consider signing him up. Make exercise a family affair too by taking a hike before dusk, a walk to see your neighbor’s Christmas lights, going to an indoor trampoline park or ice skating rink or simply putting on holiday music and having your own dance party.

 

10 Kids Snacks You Don’t Have To Feel Guilty About

10 Kids Snacks You Don’t Have To Feel Guilty About

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Instead of packing the same-old kids snacks that are high in calories, fat and sugar, these 10 pack tons of nutrition.

Kids love their snacks. Especially when kids are young, they eat snacks at daycare, school, on the playground, on play dates and after sports. But when you consider what your kids are eating at snack time, most of it’s not really healthy:

  • Crackers
  • Chips
  • Pretzels
  • Baked rice and corn snacks
  • Fake fruit snacks
  • Fake veggie snack
  • and more.

Most kids snacks are filled with white flour, refined sugars, sodium, artificial ingredients, additives and preservatives. They lack the fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals kids need. Snacks like these raise kids’ blood sugar and don’t give them the nutrition they need to play, learn and grow.

Continue to let your kids eat this way year after year and they won’t have the same appetite for healthy, delicious, real food. Not to mention they’ll have an increased risk for high blood pressure, obesity and type-2 diabetes.

Serving fruits and vegetables for snacks is always a good choice but that’s not always realistic. Kids should have a variety of foods in their diets and have treats once in awhile too.

Here are 10 healthy snacks to feed your kids, sans the guilt.

1. Popcorn

Surprisingly, popcorn can be a nutritious food to feed your kids. Popcorn is low in calories—a cup of air-popped popcorn has only 30. It’s a whole grain, a good source of fiber, contains several essential vitamins like vitamins A, B6, E, and K and folate.

The hull of popcorn, where the nutrition lies, contains beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, 3 nutrients that are beneficial for eye health. With a glycemic load of 3, it’s also a better option than chips or crackers. Popcorn doesn’t have artificial additives, preservatives and is sugar-free.

Of course, add some butter, salt or parmesan cheese and you’ve diminished the health benefits so stick to plain or add a sprinkle of cinnamon.

2. Bars

Granola, protein, cereal and energy bars are touted as healthy, on-the-go snacks, but most are high in calories and sugar. Unless your kid is torching some serious calories on the field, bars are usually too much for a snack.

Read labels carefully and choose bars made with real ingredients like fruit, nuts, and whole grains and those that don’t contain anything artificial and consider splitting a bar in half. My favorites include That’s It, Pressed by Kind and RXBAR.

3. Nuts

Nuts are a healthy and delicious snack for kids. Most are good sources of fiber and protein to keep your kid feeling satiated, as well as magnesium, iron, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts are high in calories and fat so watch portion sizes.

4. Seeds

Like nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are a good source of fiber and protein as well as B vitamins, folate, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium and essential fatty acids.

5. Sweet potato fries

Sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids. They’re a good source of fiber, vitamins A, B6 and C and potassium and are low in sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol.

Instead of frying them, wash and chop them up, toss with a bit of olive oil or coconut oil and bake until they’re cooked and crispy.

6. Cereal and granola

Kids love crunchy foods and cereal or granola can be a healthy substitute for packaged snacks. Be sure to read labels  however, because many cereal (even those not marketed to kids) and granola brands have a high amount of fat, calories and sugar.

Look for cereals with a good amount of fiber (at least 3 grams), protein and less than 10 grams of sugar. Select those that have whole grains, avoid varieties that have ingredients you don’t recognize and be mindful of portion sizes.

7. Bean snacks

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend beans should be part of a healthy diet. A plant-based diet can help prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, type-2 diabetes and weight gain and is beneficial for gut health. Beans are low glycemic and a great source of fiber and protein to fill up your kids, and vitamins and minerals including iron, potassium, B6 and folic acid.

Beans are delicious right out of the can or boiled, or add your favorite spices and roast them for a crunchy snack.

8. Ice cream

A small serving of ice cream without toppings isn’t the worst food you can feed your kid on occasion, but you can make your own dairy-free, no sugar added ice cream that you can feel better about. Add frozen fruit—bananas work well—to your blender or Magic Bullet and you have a healthy, delicious treat that’s just as good as ice cream.

9. Cookies

Most cookies you’ll find on store shelves lack whole grains, fiber and protein and are made with white flour, sugar and preservativesyour kids don’t need.

With the right ingredients, you can make lightened-up versions of your kid’s favorite cookies that are delicious and packed with nutrition. Look for cookie recipes that call for healthy ingredients like oat flour or rolled oats, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, beans, apple sauce or fruit puree and avocado, which can be a substitute for butter.

10. Frozen fruit bars

Most store-bought frozen fruit bars are filled with added sugar, artificial ingredients and are made with fruit juice concentrate.

Making your own fresh fruit popsicle with pureed or whole fruit is healthier and just as tasty. You can also add some coconut milk or yogurt for a creamy popsicle. I like these fruit and veggie popsicles from SuperHealthyKids.com.

11 Superfoods for Babies: Best First Foods

11 Superfoods for Babies: Best First Foods

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Shortly after the birth of my first child, I read the “The Baby and Toddler Cookbook,” and with each page I turned, I grew more excited to learn about the best superfoods for babies and discover healthy and delicious recipes.

 

Recipes like pea risotto, red lentil and rice soup and beet and potato swirl. I couldn’t wait for her to turn 6-months-old so I could start offering her fresh, homemade baby food so that she would know what real food tastes like.

When you’re ready to introduce solids to your baby what should you feed him and what should you avoid? Is it OK to start with the good ol’ standbys like carrots, peas and sweet potatoes, or should you start with something that’s way more adventurous?

Here are 10 of the best superfoods for babies you can start to introduce at 6-months. They’re all delicious, easy to prepare and packed with the nutrition your baby needs.

1. Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, protein and choline, an essential nutrient that is beneficial for heart health, brain and liver function and metabolism. Egg yolks are an excellent source of iron, which is important if you’re breastfeeding because iron stores start to become depleted between 4 and 6 months old.

Eggs are delicious, have a delicate texture and are easy for babies to pick up or are easily mixed into purees or meals with chunkier textures. Since eggs are considered an allergenic food, be sure to speak to your baby’s pediatrician first before introducing them.

2. Carrots

Carrots get their bright orange color from beta-carotene, a carotenoid, or a type of antioxidant. Carrots are a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamins A, B6, C and K, and are a perfect first food for babies because they’re easily steamed and pureed. Their mild, but slightly sweet taste is favorable to most babies too.

3. Liver

It may not be a food you’ve ever eaten yourself, but liver is surprisingly one of the best first foods for babies because it’s rich in protein, iron, vitamins A, B6 and B12 and minerals like zinc and selenium.

If you decide to try it, it’s a good idea to purchase liver that’s from pasture-raised, organic fed animals and from a butcher you trust.

4. Broccoli

Want your kids to grow up to eat green leafy vegetables? Then start now.

Broccoli is a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, iron and potassium. Broccoli purees and mixes well with other fruits and vegetables but it can also be a great food for baby to pick up if you’re doing baby-led weaning.

5. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium, vitamin C and fiber—a good thing if your baby is constipated. Sweet potatoes are also a great food to feed your baby when you’re traveling because they’re soft enough that you don’t necessarily have to puree them but you’ll have to decide whether it’s a texture your baby can handle or not.

6. Fish

Salmon, and other types of low-mercury fish, is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids which are important for baby’s brain development and eye health.

7. Apples

Apples are a healthy, delicious and easy superfood for babies and they’re easily digested. Not only are apples a good source of vitamin C and fiber, they also have quercetin, a flavonoid that work as antioxidants and may improve brain function, a March 2017 study published in the Journal Behavioural Brain Research suggests.

8. Beets

Their bright color may not only be appealing, but beets are also one of the most nutritious superfoods you can feed your baby. Rich in antioxidants, beets are a good source of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, fiber, folate, potassium and manganese.

Studies show beets may also be beneficial for brain health. According to an October 2015 study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, drinking beetroot juice can improve cognitive performance.

9. Bananas

Bananas are a good source of fiber, vitamin B6 and C and potassium and babies will most likely enjoy their sweetness.

10. Avocado

Avocado is one of the healthiest superfoods to feed your baby because it’s an excellent source of magnesium, potassium and essential fatty acids for brain health.

Just like sweet potatoes, ripe avocado is easy to puree, mash or cut up into small pieces.

11. Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and a good source of fiber, vitamins C and K and manganese. Let baby enjoy picking up blueberries with his tiny fingers or puree it into a vegetable and fruit smoothie.

10 Tips To Reduce Food Waste When Feeding Kids

10 Tips To Reduce Food Waste When Feeding Kids

Food waste seems inevitable when you have kids, especially if you have toddlers who are picky eaters or won’t sit still long enough to eat.

I didn’t have this problem with my older daughter who would usually eat everything on her plate but my younger one was—and still is—much more of a picky eater.

When she was a toddler, I would put out bite-sized pieces of food on her plate only for her to take just a few bites.

Tiny pieces of eggs don’t really re-heat well. Miniature pieces of toast can’t be re-toasted. And when food is mixed all together like a mixed up stir-fry, she wasn’t keen on eating that mish mosh again no matter how hard I tried.

An average family of four in the U.S. wastes about 25 percent of the food they buy, costing as much as $2200 a year! Food waste isn’t only a problem because you have kids. It can happen if you don’t know—or can’t see—what’s in your refrigerator, you overcook which leads to uneaten leftovers or you go out to an impromptu dinner leaving food to spoil.

If you find that you’re throwing away food, here are ways you can reduce food waste.

1. Plan meals

Meal planning can prevent the what’s-for-dinner?-conundrum and make getting dinner on the table less stressful. It can also help you plan ahead of time how you’ll use leftovers so they won’t go bad in the refrigerator. Although you don’t have to plan a strict schedule of meals, compile your recipes and have an idea of the meals you’ll make for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

2. Make a list

Look through your refrigerator, freezer and pantry to see what you have and what you need and make a grocery shopping list and decide what’s realistic for your family to eat over the next week. Trying to gauge how much to purchase of perishable items like fruits and vegetables can be tough but if you create a habit of list making, you’ll eventually have a better idea of how much food you actually need.

3. Serve smaller portions

One of the reasons we tend to waste food is because portion sizes are too large. So when packing lunches or dishing out dinner, make portions sizes smaller. If you have toddlers or preschoolers, pay attention to how much you’re serving because their portion sizes are a lot smaller than you might think.

4. Make food visible

When you get home from the grocery store, wash and chop fruits and vegetables and put them in individual glass containers. Divide large portions of meat, chicken and fish and freeze what you don’t plan to cook within 3 days. When you’re able to see what’s in the refrigerator, it will cut down on prep time and reduce the chances it will go to waste.

5. Re-purpose

Instead of throwing away leftovers, eat them, serve them for lunch or re-purpose them into other meals. Put leftover chicken in the crockpot and make chicken soup or throw vegetables and fruits that are overripe into the blender for a morning smoothie, for example.

6. Read labels

According to a 2013 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, more than 90 percent of Americans may be throwing out food prematurely because they think the dates on food labels are indications of food safety.

Let’s be honest: “use by,” “sell by” and expiration dates can be confusing. To decipher what all these labels mean, NSF International has a guide:

             Expiration or use by dates refer to food safety. Food should be thrown away once this date has      

                passed.

              Sell by dates are a reference for food retailers and indicate when food should be pulled from the  

               shelves. Consumers should check to make sure this date has not passed before purchasing food.

             Best used by dates have nothing to do with safety. Instead they refer to the last date when the food  

              will be at peak quality and freshness.”

7. Buy a salad spinner

One of the first foods to quickly spoil is salad, especially if it’s not stored properly. When you return home, wash salad thoroughly and put it in the salad spinner which will keep it fresh.

8. Be selective about sales

A 2-for-1 sale on pricier items like fresh berries can be a great idea but only if you eat them. When you see a sale, be realistic about how much you’ll eat or have a plan for how you’ll use the excess.

9. Use your freezer

Instead of buying everything fresh, purchase a few frozen foods so that if you don’t eat them, they’ll still stay fresh. Since frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at their peak freshness, they’re generally just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. Of course, you can freeze produce yourself but vegetables should be blanched first.

10. Compost

Composting is a great way to cut down on food waste and use food scraps for your garden. If you don’t have the space for a compost or want to do it yourself, you can find a composting facility where you live.

How to Eat Healthy While Traveling With Kids

How to Eat Healthy While Traveling With Kids

Between family get-togethers, vacations and erratic schedules during the holiday season, it can be tough to eat healthy while traveling with kids. With a plan, some know-how and a few simple strategies however, it is possible to ward off getting hangry.

The holiday season is in full swing and chances are, you’ll be taking at least one trip this year. According to a recent survey by TravelingMom.com, TravelingDad.com and Vacatia, approximately one-third of families will be traveling back “home” to visit family and 17 percent will be meeting up with family at a destination.

Whether you’re traveling to your in-laws, jet-setting to a tropical island or heading to the slopes, it can be a real challenge to eat healthy while traveling with kids. Most rest stops have unhealthy fast food and airport fare can be hit or miss, not to mention erratic travel schedules mean you’re more likely to skip meals. The result? Low blood sugar, meltdowns and a vow: we’re never traveling again.

Your trip doesn’t have to be stressful, however, if you think ahead of time and make the best choice possible. Here are some tips that will help you eat healthy while traveling with kids.

Plan ahead

Before you leave for your trip, pack an insulated bag with foods like cut up vegetables, fruit, cheese, yogurt, dried fruit and nuts for your road trip or plane ride.

If you’re flying with little ones, you can bring breast milk, formula and juice and baby food but check with TSA.gov to see the types of foods you’re allowed to bring on the plane.

Re-think rest stops

Most rest stops have fast food but in recent years, they have added mini-marts or Starbucks with healthier options like hard-boiled eggs, cheese, fresh fruit, hummus and nuts. Fast food may be cheaper but picking up food that will give you and your kids’ energy and keep your blood sugar on an even keel is well worth it.

Stay hydrated

When you’re out of your normal routine, it’s easy to forget to drink water and also remind your kids to do so. On long road trips in particular, you might avoid drinking altogether to cut down on bathroom breaks and avoid extending your travel time.

Yet dehydration can decrease focus and concentration, make you feel fatigued and increase cravings for salty and sweet foods. So pack re-usable water bottles for everyone and drink up.

Order wisely

If you’ll be eating out at restaurants, read the menu twice and think carefully about what you’ll order for yourself and your kids. Most kids menus lack nutrition and are made up of simple carbohydrates and fatty fare so order a salad to start or ask the server to substitute French fries for a vegetable.

Instead of unhealthy appetizers, start with a broth-based soup or shrimp cocktail, for example. Share an entrée with your partner or ask for a to-go container and take out half of your meal before digging in.

Be flexible

It’s not realistic to think that when you’re traveling with kids, every meal will be as healthy as it is at home or they won’t ask for treats. If you do your best to make sure they’re eating healthy throughout most of your trip, you can relax a bit and let them have a dessert—or two.

10 Tips to Recover After Thanksgiving

10 Tips to Recover After Thanksgiving

After overeating on Thanksgiving, you’re feeling so stuffed and exhausted it can be tough to get motivated to do much of anything. It can be tempting to binge watch Netflix, shop online for Black Friday deals and eat leftovers. And with the kids at home bored and pining for your attention, sitting them in front of the iPad all day sounds like a good plan.

 

But let’s be honest: the next few weeks will be filled with holiday parties, school concerts, family get-togethers and plenty of treats, which isn’t good for anyone in your family.

 

With some simple and manageable strategies however, you can get your family back on track after Thanksgiving and keep them healthy throughout the holiday season.

 

1. Pack up the leftovers

 

To avoid overindulging on leftovers, ask guests to bring to-go containers and send them home with food.

 

2. Use your freezer

 

Portion out leftover turkey and sides and freeze them for quick and easy meals during the busy holiday season.

 

3. Get creative

 

Repurpose leftovers into new healthy meals: make turkey soup in the slow cooker and mix leftover vegetables into a frittata, for example.

 

4. Stay hydrated

 

Feeling bloated and swollen from heavy, salty foods is no fun, so make sure you and your kids drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated can help keep your energy levels up but since thirst can often look like hunger, it can also prevent you from grazing or overeating at your next meal.

 

5. Have a healthy breakfast

 

Instead of munching on leftover pie or pastries for breakfast, serve a healthy breakfast made up of protein and fiber: avocado toast with vegetables or oatmeal with berries and nuts, for example.

 

6. Get out

 

According to a recent survey by Meyocks, a branding and advertising agency, 35 percent of Americans take a walk, 24 percent exercise more in the days or weeks following Thanksgiving and 18 percent play with their kids.

 

Not only can exercising help you get back on track after overeating, but moving more can help you bond with your kids, cope with stress and get some fresh air and vitamin D which is harder to do when it’s cold out.

 

Sign up for a post-Thanksgiving race or go for a walk or a hike together. Take your kids ice skating or to an indoor play space or bouncy house. If you’re up for hitting the stores, walking the mall is a good idea, but stay away from the food court.

 

7. Help the hungry

 

If you have unused non-perishable items, you can donate them to your local food pantry or food bank. Check FeedingAmerica.org or organizations like AmpleHarvest.org that accept home-grown produce.

 

8. Go grocery shopping

 

When you’re ready to re-stock your refrigerator, make a list of whole fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. When your kitchen is stocked, you’ll be less likely to go out for dinner during the holiday season and you’ll have healthy food on hand for your kids.

 

9. Start juicing

 

Making fresh juices or smoothies in the morning is a great way for everyone in the family to get several servings of fruits and vegetables. Be sure to make your juices or smoothies with mostly vegetables and some fruit to keep the sugar content in check.

 

10. Get plenty of sleep

 

Holiday stress and the busyness of the season can make it challenging for both you and your kids to settle down at night and get enough sleep. Not only does sleep deprivation make you feel more stressed, but ghrelin, “the hunger hormone” that tells your body to eat rises and leptin, the hormone that decreases appetite, slows down so you’ll be more likely to overeat.

 

 

10 Tips For a Healthy Thanksgiving

10 Tips For a Healthy Thanksgiving

A healthy Thanksgiving? It sounds like an oxymoron.

Between the turkey, creamy casseroles, pumpkin pie and all those decadent desserts, the calories can add up fast.

According to the Calorie Control Council, Thanksgiving dinner alone can net 3,000 calories, not to mention drinks and appetizers which could add up to a whopping 4,500.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you forget about all of your favorite holiday dishes and serve salads and steamed vegetables but there are several changes you can make to have a healthy Thanksgiving.

1. Have a snack

Before Thanksgiving dinner, make sure your kids eat a healthy breakfast made up of fiber and protein such as whole grain toast with a scrambled egg and fruit.

A healthy breakfast will fill them up and keep their blood sugar stable which will prevent overeating later on. If dinner will be served in the late afternoon or later, also give them a healthy snack so they won’t arrive to Thanksgiving dinner overly hungry and fill up on horderves or overeat.

2. Put out a buffet

This year, my husband and I are hosting 18 people, both family and friends. Our house is small so to make Thanksgiving dinner easy, we’re serving dinner buffet style so everyone can serve themselves.

Leaving all of the dishes out on the table makes it tempting to take seconds or pick after everyone has finished eating. Since you’ll have to get up from the table to have a second helping, you might second guess it or at least you’ll be more mindful about how much you put on your plate.

A buffet is also a great way for kids to make their own choices about what they want to eat and can increase the chances they’ll choose a healthy dish or something they’ve never tried before.

3. Offer choices

Surprisingly, Thanksgiving is actually a great holiday to get kids who are picky eaters to try new foods. There are so many delicious, colorful, even healthy dishes for kids to choose from that they’re bound to taste something new.

If there are two types of sweet potatoes or several desserts, encourage your kids to choose or take smaller portions.

4. Bring a dish

If someone else is hosting, offer to bring a dish so you know you’ll have something healthy to eat.

5. Re-think recipes

If you want to make your favorite dishes, think about making a few substitutions to lighten them up without losing the flavor. For example:

  • Instead of sour cream, try Greek yogurt.
  • Instead of oil, try applesauce.
  • Instead of butter, try avocado.

Also, skip fattening extras like bacon, marshmallows and cream.

6. Plan ahead

If anyone in your family has food allergies or food intolerances, ask the host what’s on the menu and tell them about the dietary restrictions. Although you can’t expect them to alter the menu, you can bring a complementary dish that is safe to eat.

7. Watch portions

It’s OK to let your kids eat what they want but remind them that there will be a lot of food, so they should taste and ask for small portions.

8. Fill up on veggies

Follow the MyPlate recommendations: Fill up half your plate with vegetables first, 1/4 turkey or plant-based protein and 1/4 grains or stuffing, for example.

9. Don’t drink your calories

If your kids ask for apple cider or juice, dilute it with water to reduce the amount of sugar they consume. If you’re going to have wine, beer, or alcohol, be mindful of how much you’re drinking too.

10. Get out

Instead of watching TV or sitting around the table after dinner, encourage everyone to get moving. Take a walk around the neighborhood, play a game of catch in the backyard or put on music and dance.

5 “Healthy” Cereals That Are Actually Full of Sugar

5 “Healthy” Cereals That Are Actually Full of Sugar

We all know we should feed our kids less sugar but between it’s not just the obvious sources of sugar like candy, cookies and ice cream we should pay attention to but grocery store shelves are stocked full of “healthy” cereals that seem OK to feed your kids but are actually loaded with sugar.

Too much sugar can increase your child’s risk for obesity, type-2 diabetes and of course, cavities. It can even lead to cold symptoms, cough, acid reflux and a weak immune system. Starting off the day on a sugary note isn’t the best idea for kids whether they’re at the home with you or at school all day.

Reducing the amount of sugar in your kids diet can quickly make a significant impact on their health. In fact, according to an October 2015 study in the journal Obesity, kids who cut back on sugar reduced their cholesterol and blood pressure and brought their blood sugar and insulin levels back to normal after just 10 days.

One way to reduce the amount of sugar in your kids’ diets is to read labels and avoid buying sugar-laden cereals. Here are 5 so-called healthy cereals that are actually sugar bombs.

1. Honey Nut Cheerios

They contains whole grain oats, are gluten-free and have 12 vitamins and minerals but Honey Nut Cheerios are filled with sugar. At first glance however, you wouldn’t think so because a serving size has 9 grams. But read carefully because that serving size is only 3/4 of a cup.

Does your kid eat 3/4 of a cup of cereal? Neither do my kids. The Environmental Working Group published a report on this and they says kids who eat more than the serving size are getting as much as 20 grams of sugar in one sitting—more than a Hershey’s chocolate bar!

2. Raisin Bran

It’s been touted as a healthy cereal for decades perhaps because it’s a good source of fiber (7 grams in one cup) and it’s “made with real fruit.” Raisins are a good source of iron but dried fruit of any kind is just concentrated sugar. With 18 grams of sugar per serving, you might as well serve your kid a doughnut for breakfast.

3. Kellogg’s Smart Start

This one shocked me on a recent trip to the grocery store when I looked at the label only to discover what a poor choice it is. With a healthy name, the words “antioxidants,” in large print, and an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals, you’d think it would be healthy for your kids but with 14 grams of sugar in each cup, this is one to avoid.

4. Quaker Real Medleys Supergrains Oatmeal (Banana Walnut)

With bananas, walnuts, oats, flaxseed and quinoa, this cereal couldn’t sound more healthy and although it has a decent amount of fiber (5 grams) look at the label and find the second ingredient—the most prominent—is brown sugar. One serving has a whopping 19 grams of sugar.

5. Kellogg’s Special K Fruit and Yogurt

With oats, fruit and yogurt, this cereal seems like a healthy choice. True, it has some protein and fiber, it’s a good source of iron and vitamins and minerals, but it also contains sugar (the second ingredient), corn syrup, dried apples and honey. And just like Honey Nut Cheerios, the serving size is 3/4 cup, which has 10 grams of sugar alone.

6 Pregnancy Nutrition Myths—Busted

6 Pregnancy Nutrition Myths—Busted

When I was expecting my first child, pregnancy nutrition wasn’t top of mind as much as it was when I was pregnant with my second child. Sure, I avoided lunchmeat, raw sushi and soft cheeses, but I ate plenty of bagels and chocolate too. I exercised but I didn’t pay attention too much attention to portion sizes and I gave myself freedom to eat what I wanted.

It was a big mistake, of course, because I gained more weight than I should have.

At the time, I knew I should eat healthy foods—but I didn’t delve deep into pregnancy nutrition. When I started to write for Fox News however, I learned how important nutrition was. I also realized that without a ton of guidance or time spent with their doctors or midwives, moms like me weren’t educated about pregnancy weight gain, foods they should eat and those they should avoid.

Here are 5 pregnancy nutrition myths moms believe and the real truth.

Myth #1: You need to eat for two.

If your mom or mother-in-law tells you that you can eat as much as you want because you’re eating for two, they’re wrong. According to a 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47 percent of women gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy and that extra weight can lead to complications and poor outcomes.

In the first trimester, you actually don’t need to consume extra calories. If you have a normal body mass index (BMI), an extra 340 calories a day during the second trimester and an extra 450 calories a day in the third trimester is appropriate, according to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

If you’re carrying twins or multiples, or you’re underweight, overweight or obese when you become pregnant, you should talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist to make sure you eat the right amount of calories and have a healthy weight gain.

Myth #2: Coffee causes miscarriages.

Like most writers, I love coffee. My husband’s a morning person but he knows I’m not the happiest person until I have my first cup of coffee in the morning.

After my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, the amount of coffee I drank was on my radar because studies show that drinking large quantities of coffee in the first trimester of pregnancy is linked to an increased risk for miscarriage.

According to American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 200 milligrams of caffeine a day—about an 8-ounce cup of coffee—isn’t associated with an increased risk for miscarriage. Of course, soda and chocolate also contain caffeine so be mindful of how much you’re getting each day.

Myth #3: You should avoid eating fish because of mercury.

You may be nervous about eating fish in fear of mercury exposure, but fish is an important source of DHA and omega-3 fatty acids which are important for your baby’s brain development.

In fact, a 2016 study in the American Journal Of Epidemiology found eating more servings of seafood each week was associated with higher cognitive scores and a decrease in symptoms of autism.

The EPA and FDA recommended pregnant women eat 2 to 3 servings of low-mercury fish per week. They also have a chart to help you decide which types of fish to eat and which to avoid.

Myth #4: You should avoid eating peanuts.

Until recently, women were advised to avoid allergenic foods like peanuts because it was believed eating them could increase the risk that their child would also be allergic.

Yet the new thinking is that allergenic foods should be consumed and avoiding them may actually increase a child’s risk for food allergies. In fact, a December 2013 study in JAMA Pediatrics found women who weren’t allergic to peanuts but ate more of them were less likely to have children with a peanut allergy.

Myth #5: You can’t eat sushi.

Not only can some types of sushi contain high levels of mercury but eating raw or undercooked sushi can cause parasite or certain bacterial infections.

Since fish is such a good source of protein, DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, you don’t have to avoid sushi but go for low mercury, cooked varieties instead.

Myth #6: A glass of wine is not a big deal.

Many women from our moms’ generation drank alcohol during their pregnancies and everything seemed to turn out fine. I’ve had women tell me that if they were near or past their due dates, their doctors told them to relax, be patient and have a glass of wine.

It also turns out some women think a glass of alcohol during pregnancy is safe. According to a report by the CDC, 1 in 10 pregnant women in the U.S. say they’ve had at least one drink of alcohol in the last 30 days. Several studies in the last decade suggest light drinking is not only safe but is associated with improved outcomes for children.

Most recently, a meta-analysis published in July 2017 in the journal BMJ Open found little evidence that low to moderate drinking during pregnancy has an adverse effect on babies.

Nevertheless, experts and major health organizations agree: avoiding alcohol during pregnancy is the best way to eliminate the risk for complications and fetal alcohol syndrome.

7 Healthy Foods To Feed Your Kids When They’re Sick

7 Healthy Foods To Feed Your Kids When They’re Sick

They might not have the best appetite when they’re sneezing, coughing or have a stomach bug, but there are healthy foods to feed your kids when they’re sick that may help them feel better faster.

It’s only two months into the school year but both of my kids have been sick a handful of times. I’m constantly telling them to wash their hands and keep their hands away from their faces but since they’re swapping germs back and forth all day in school, I know getting sick is inevitable. I usually make them some toast with a little bit of butter (yes, I think butter in moderation, is OK) or chamomile tea with honey like my mom used to give me.

When your kids are sick, always use your best judgment. If you’re unsure whether it’s a minor cold or something more serious like the flu, make a call to the pediatrician.

Then when your kid’s ready to eat, here are some healthy foods to try.

1. Chicken soup

No surprise here. Chicken soup is a traditional, go-to remedy for colds. A few studies over the last 2 decades suggest chicken soup may improve congestion and reduce inflammation but experts say there’s no conclusive evidence that it works.

Whether it has a placebo effective or not, chicken soup is comforting for kids when they’re sick and is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals which can help kids feel better. Since they may also lose fluids if they have a fever or are sweating, or become dehydrated from not eating or drinking enough, chicken soup can replenish what they lost.

2. Honey

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends kids under 6 not take over-the-counter cold and cough medicines so if you’re looking for something natural, honey might do the trick. Of course, you should never give honey to babies under a year old because of the risk for botulism. A traditional remedy for a sore throat, research suggests honey may also relieve a cough.

3. Yogurt

If your kid has diarrhea, experts recommend the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Although your kids should avoid dairy while they’re still having symptoms, yogurt and kefir, two sources of probiotics, can help to restore the healthy bacteria in the gut.

Be sure to read labels and avoid brands that have lots of sugar because they can make symptoms worse.

4. Ginger

For upset stomach, nausea, gas and diarrhea, ginger is anti-inflammatory and can ease symptoms. If you buy ginger ale, be sure to read labels because most brands don’t contain real ginger. Instead, try non-alcoholic ginger beer, make your own ginger-infused water or ginger simple syrup.

5. Garlic

Known for its anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal effects and its ability to boost the immune system, garlic can be an effective remedy for colds and infections. Add garlic to soup or hot water to make a garlic “tea” or spread minced garlic with a bit of olive oil on a piece of toast.

6. Berries

Strawberries, cranberries, blueberries and blackberries are fiber-rich and contain vitamins and minerals. Berries are also rich in anthocyanins, flavonoids that may have immune-boosting effects.

7. Avocado

 

Avocado is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals your kids need when they’re sick. Avocado is also a great source of oleic acid, a fatty acid and diets rich in healthy fats are known to reduce inflammation and may boost immunity.

 

What do you feed your kids when they’re sick? Let me know in the comments.