7 Tips to Keep Your Family Healthy During the Holidays

7 Tips to Keep Your Family Healthy During the Holidays

*This post contains affiliate links.*

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

*This post contains affiliate links.*

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.

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.

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.

10 Small Changes That Will Have a Big Impact On Your Child’s Health

10 Small Changes That Will Have a Big Impact On Your Child’s Health

When it comes to your child’s health, you already know he should eat healthy and exercise but getting your child to do so is another story. When it comes to conquering picky eating, it can feel insurmountable, even unrealistic.

In fact, according to a 2011 survey by Abbott, 80 percent of moms say they sometimes feel like they have no control over it and more than 75 percent give in to their kids instead of keep up the struggle.

The good news is that you don’t have to make sweeping changes all at once. There are small changes you can make that will have a big impact on your child’s health now and throughout his life.

1. Make time for breakfast

Mornings are hectic but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast made up of protein, fiber and healthy fats will give your kid plenty of energy, keep him focused and keep his blood sugar levels steady.

If you find that your kid doesn’t have enough time to eat breakfast in the morning, move his bedtime back or wake him up earlier. To save time in the morning, make egg “muffins” or a frittata ahead of time or put a batch of overnight oats in the refrigerator.

2. Write a grocery shopping list

Every week I take stock of what’s left in the refrigerator and the pantry, think about what I’m going to cook and write a list of what I need to buy.

Without a grocery shopping list, you’re more likely to make impulse buys or forget something, especially if your kids are with you. It can also help to make sure you’ll have enough food for healthy meals and snacks throughout the week, a great thing for your child’s health. In fact, according to a 2015 study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, using a grocery shopping list is associated with a lower body mass index (BMI) and eating healthy foods, even for people who are overweight or obese.

3. Plan meals

Planning your family’s meals takes time and some thought but it’s one of the best ways to prevent making a last minute trip to grab pizza or the fast food drive-through.

When you plan meals for the week ahead, you’re more likely to eat healthy, balanced meals and you won’t have to give dinner a second thought.

4. Try a new recipe

If you can’t get your child to eat vegetables and try new foods, experimenting with new recipes may do the trick. Trying new recipes can also get you out of a dinner rut.

Bookmark new recipes you find online or save those you find in magazines using the EverNote app.

5. Pour a glass of water

When kids drink plenty of water, it gives them an energy boost, can aid their learning and concentration and prevent constipation.

Instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, energy drinks or juice boxes, buy a re-usable water bottle and encourage your kid to sip on water throughout the day.

6. Purge the packages

Swapping packaged chips, cookies and crackers can take some getting used to, but
most packaged snacks are filled with sugar, salt and refined carbohydrates and lack protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals kids need to grow and develop.

Start small and substitute 2 snacks a week for whole foods. Try celery with a nut or sunflower seed butter or baby carrots or cut up jicama with hummus, for example.

7. Try one new vegetable

Kids are usually averse to eating anything new so when it comes to serving a new vegetable, they’ll probably refuse to take a bite. Although you probably purchase the same vegetables week after week, adding one new vegetable into the mix can help expand your child’s palette.

Empower your child to feel like he has choices by bringing him grocery shopping or to the farmer’s market and letting him choose a new vegetable to try. When you return home, find a healthy and delicious recipe you can prepare together.

8. Read labels

Most of your child’s diet should consist of whole foods, but for pantry staples and the occasional treat, read labels and compare brands.

Avoid foods with a long list of unrecognizable ingredients, those that use “enriched” flour, artificial color dyes (i.e. red 40) or contain added sugar.

9. Get active

Just as you can lay the foundation for a healthy future by teaching your child how to eat healthy, you can teach him that staying active is important too.

Sports and classes are always a good way to get your kid moving, but you also want to be active as a family on a daily basis. Take a walk after dinner, go hiking or bike riding on the weekends or play a game of Twister instead of watching TV at night.

10. Eat more meals at home

Between work schedules, after-school activities and other obligations, it can be tough to get everyone together around the dinner table. Yet eating together at home is important not only because meals at home are usually healthier than restaurant or fast food fare, but children who eat family meals together at least 3 times a week are less likely to be overweight and have disordered eating, a 2011 meta-analysis published in the journal Pediatrics found.

If it seems impossible to get everyone together, consider dropping an activity, asking for help or simply eating dinner later.

How to Prevent Type-2 Diabetes in Children

How to Prevent Type-2 Diabetes in Children

With thirty percent of kids who are overweight in the U.S., it’s well known that childhood obesity is a problem. Yet type-2 diabetes—a condition that’s associated with obesity and was previously only seen in adults—is not only being diagnosed in kids but it’s on the rise.

Between 2008 and 2009, more than 5,000 kids were diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. And an April 2017 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed the rate of newly diagnosed cases of type-2 diabetes in children between ages 10 and 19 increased by 4.8 percent.

What is type-2 diabetes?

Type-2 diabetes is a condition that affects the way the body uses glucose, or sugar, in the blood. When you eat, your pancreas produces insulin, a hormone, which turns glucose into energy for your body to use.

For people with type-2 diabetes however, their bodies either fight the effects of insulin or don’t produce enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal. The pancreas therefore, must make more insulin to get glucose into the cells but over time, it simply can’t keep up and sugar builds up in the blood.

What causes type-2 diabetes?

The causes of type-2 diabetes are unknown but experts agree genetics, weight and a lack of physical activity are all risk factors.

Weight

The primary risk factor for type-2 diabetes is excess weight yet kids with type-2 diabetes aren’t necessarily overweight. The more fatty tissue a child has, the more resistant the cells in the body are to insulin. Excess fat in the abdominal area also increases a child’s risk.

Inactivity

Kids who spend too many hours on the iPad or in front of the TV instead of doing something active are more likely to have type-2 diabetes. Exercise and physical activity not only control weight but they help the body use glucose for energy and increase insulin sensitivity.

Family history

Type-2 diabetes tends to run in families so kids with a parent or sibling with type-2 diabetes have an increased risk.

Race

People of African American, Hispanic, American Indian and Asian American races have a higher risk than those who are Caucasian.

PCOS

Girls who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder, have an increased risk for type-2 diabetes, although experts have yet to understand why.

Gender

Girls have a higher risk for type-2 diabetes than boys.

Symptoms of type-2 diabetes in children

If you think your child might be at risk for type-2 diabetes, here are the early warning signs you should look for.

Fatigue

Since the body isn’t getting the fuel it needs from glucose, kids can have unexplained fatigue or feel sleepy.

Thirst

Elevated blood glucose levels can cause excessive thirst.

Frequent bathroom breaks

Since high blood glucose levels pull fluid from the body, having to urinate frequently is common.

Hunger

Without enough insulin in the cells to be used as energy, kids with type-2 diabetes turn to food to get energy so they’ll often feel hungry.

Sores

If your child has sores or infections that seem to linger, it could be a sign of diabetes.

Skin changes

Darkened patches of skin, usually in the armpits or on the neck is a telltale sign of diabetes.

How to prevent type-2 diabetes

Whether your kids are overweight or not, type-2 diabetes should be on your radar. Here are some ways to prevent your child from getting type-2 diabetes.

Offer healthy foods

You never want to put your child on a diet, but paying close attention to the foods he eats is important.

Be sure to offer plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein including beans, as well as healthy fats like nuts and seeds. Avoid processed, packaged foods and simple carbohydrates and offer foods complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, pumpkin and whole grains.

Cut down on sugar

Aside from candy, ice cream and soda, sugar can hide in seemingly “healthy” foods like yogurt, granola bars and sports drinks. So make it a habit to read labels and compare brands.

Watch portion sizes

Curbing the size of servings can be tough, especially when you go out to eat, but it’s important to serve kid-friendly portions. The American Heart Association has a guide to help you get started.

Encourage healthy habits

Be sure to model healthy eating habits by eating meals together at the dinner table (not in front of the TV) and teaching your kids to eat slowly and mindfully.

Get moving

According to an April 2011 survey by the YMCA, 74 percent of children between ages 5 and 10 don’t get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

Encourage your kids to love exercise by going for a walk before school or after dinner, taking a family bike ride on the weekends or going to the park. Sign up your child for a sports team, a gymnastics or karate class, for example. On fair-weather days, put on some music and have an indoor dance party.

10 Foods You Should Keep In Your Fridge At All Times

10 Foods You Should Keep In Your Fridge At All Times

If you’re sick of dealing with picky eaters and you want your kids to eat healthy more often, there are foods you should keep in your fridge at all times.

When you keep your kitchen stocked with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources and healthy fats, it’ll be much easier to plan healthy meals for your family and ensure you’ll always have a healthy snack for them to grab.

1. Broccoli

Leafy green vegetables like broccoli are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E and K, minerals like calcium and a good source of fiber. If you can’t sell your kids on spinach or kale just yet, broccoli is usually a vegetable most kids will take to.

Fresh or frozen, broccoli goes well in virtually any dish and can be added to soups, stews and omelets. It’s also quick and easy to cook whether it’s roasted in the oven, steamed or sautéed.

2. Salmon

A low mercury fish, salmon is an excellent source of protein: 3 ounces has 19 grams. Salmon is also rich in vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids for brain health and is one of the few naturally occurring sources of Vitamin D.

If you can’t get fresh or frozen, canned salmon is a good option. Roast or grill salmon, pair it with vegetables or add it to salads, a risotto or serve it for breakfast in place of eggs.

3. Salad

When you have plenty of salad in your Salad Spinner or bagged salad on hand, you’ll always be able to whip up a healthy lunch or dinner in no time.

Add leftover meat, tofu, tempeh, canned beans, tuna fish or salmon, cut up vegetables, a healthy fat like avocado and your favorite dressing and dinner is served.

4. Raspberries

Raspberries are a low glycemic food, so they won’t spike your kid’s blood sugar. They’re also high in vitamin C and fiber to keep your kid satiated: a 1/2 cup has 6 grams.

Add raspberries to a yogurt parfait, oatmeal, smoothies or serve them for a healthy dessert.

5. Avocado

A good source of fiber, vitamin K, folate, potassium and healthy monounsaturated fat, avocado is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids. Avocado also helps increase the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, K and E.

Add avocado to salads, smoothies, or as a substitute for oil in baked goods. To make sure you always have avocados ready to use, buy one that’s ripe and two others that are still hard.

6. Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of protein, choline, lutein, vitamins B12 and D and folate.

Since eggs are versatile and so easy to make, you can have a meal ready in just a few minutes. Make omelets, a quiche or frittata or add hard-boiled eggs to salads and have them on hand for a quick and portable snack.

7. Greek yogurt

With twice as much protein as regular, Greek yogurt helps your kids feel satiated and prevents spikes in blood sugar. It’s important however, to look for yogurt that’s low in sugar. Either serve plain Greek yogurt and add fresh or frozen fruit or try one with fruit that’s low in sugar like Siggi’s.

8. Butter

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting the amount of saturated fats in our diets like butter. Yet in recent years, research shows butter is back on the table. A bit of butter allows the body to absorb and utilize vitamins, not to mention kids need some fat to grow.

Although you shouldn’t butter up everything your kids eat, a small pat of butter on vegetables or on whole-grain toast is fine.

9. Hummus

An excellent source of protein and fiber to keep your kids feeling full, hummus is also an excellent source of folate and magnesium.

Serve virtually any type of cut up, raw vegetable with hummus for a healthy snack, or use hummus a substitute for mayonnaise on your kid’s sandwich.

10. Plant-based milks

If you’re not a fan of cow’s milk for your kids, almond milk and coconut milk are both great alternatives and can be a good source of calcium depending on the brand.

Use plant-based milks for smoothies, oatmeal or in baked goods.

10 Healthy Fall Foods To Feed Your Kids

10 Healthy Fall Foods To Feed Your Kids

It couldn’t be more beautiful this time of year especially in New England. In the town I live in, the trees are bursting with shades of red, orange, yellow and green, the weather is still warm enough to take my kids for a pre-dinner stroll and the fruits and vegetables that are in-season are simply delicious. When it comes to healthy fall foods to feed your kids, the options couldn’t be better. Here are 10 to incorporate into your meals.

1. Cauliflower

With a mild but slightly sweet, nutty taste, cauliflower is one of the healthy fall foods you can add to any meal. Cauliflower is a good source of fiber, protein, potassium, folate and vitamins C, K and B6.

Steam cauliflower, use the food processor to make cauliflower “rice,” or add some milk and a small amount of grass-fed butter and use the immersion blender to make a better-for-you version of mashed potatoes.

2. Butternut squash

There are so many types of winter squash but butternut squash is one of the most delicious and nutritious. Butternut squash is a good source of vitamins A, C and B6, folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on cubed butternut squash and roast it alone or with pumpkin and sweet potatoes, or puree cooked squash into a delicious warm soup for brisk autumn night.

3. Apples

Going apple picking with your family isn’t just a fun activity but a great way to get kids interested in healthy eating. Apples are an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C and make a great addition to oatmeal, baked goods or as a snack.

4. Pumpkin

When it comes to healthy fall foods to feed your kids, pumpkin is a nutritional powerhouse. Pumpkin is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, filling fiber and lutein, an antioxidant well known for eye health. Roast fresh pumpkin with cinnamon or mix pureed pumpkin into baked goods for a healthy, delicious treat.

5. Sweet potatoes

It wasn’t until recently that my kids found out that not all potatoes are sweet potatoes. I rarely purchase any other type because sweet potatoes are by far the healthiest. Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamins A, C and B6.

They’re also versatile: swap toast for roasted cubes of sweet potatoes for breakfast, make sweet potato hash, add them to a salad or cut them up and make sweet potato fries as a side dish for dinner.

6. Figs

An excellent source of fiber and rich in calcium and potassium, figs may even ward off colds and infections this school year. Fresh or dried, figs make a great addition to your kid’s lunch box, or as an after-school snack or a healthy after-dinner treat.

7. Pomegranates

The tiny, bright colored seeds of pomegranate are a good source of folate and vitamins C and K. Surprisingly, they’re also a great way to get fiber in your kid’s diet: a 1/2 cup has 3 grams.

Add pomegranate seeds to yogurt, salads or any fruit salad.

8. Kale

Kale is a good source of fiber, protein, iron, calcium and potassium and vitamins A, C, K, B6.

Blend kale into a morning smoothie, add it to a frittata, serve as a salad or sauté it with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt for dinner.

9. Parsnips

A root vegetable, parsnips are rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin C and folate.

Puree parsnips into soups, roast them in the oven or sauté them with your favorite herbs and spices for a delicious side dish at dinner.

10. Brussels sprouts

I know what you’re thinking: there’s no way my kid’s going to eat Brussels sprouts, but if you serve them regularly, chances are your kids will come around. Brussels sprouts are a great source of vitamins A, C, K, B6, potassium, folate and iron.

Blanch or roast Brussels sprouts and add a bit of balsamic vinegar, nuts or raisins.