7 Ways to Feed Kids Vegetables for Breakfast  Getting picky eaters to eat vegetables doesn't have to be hard, especially if you start the day right.

7 Ways to Feed Kids Vegetables for Breakfast

Getting picky eaters to eat vegetables doesn't have to be hard, especially if you start the day right.

It’s hard enough to get your kids to eat vegetables at dinner, so the thought of trying to get them to eat veggies at breakfast too seems like too much work.

Stay with me, mama.

When kids eat vegetables at every meal including breakfast, they’ll get the nutrition they need for healthy growth and development and to help prevent serious health conditions as they get older. Vegetables are also filled with fiber which will help kids stay satiated and may prevent them from gaining too much weight.

Serving vegetables at every meal teaches kids what a healthy meal looks like. And the more opportunities they have to eat vegetables, the more likely they will.

Eating vegetables at breakfast sets the tone for the day and sets the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids, like adults, eat vegetables at every meal and snack. Depending on your kid’s age, they need between 1 and 3 cups of vegetables a day but studies show kids aren’t coming close.

According to a June 2017 study in the journal Pediatrics, toddlers are more likely to eat french fries than green vegetables on any given day and many kids go days without eating a single vegetable.

Although it may not be easy at first, you can get your kids to eat more vegetables and eat them at breakfast. Here are 7 ideas to get you started.

1. Green Smoothies or Green Juices

I’m not a fan of pureeing vegetables and sneaking them into meals so your kids will eat them when you make a green smoothie or a green juice, it’s no secret what they’re consuming.

Smoothies and juices are a great way to feed kids vegetables for breakfast and get several servings in at once. A good rule of thumb when making smoothies or juices is to use 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent fruit.

2. Pudding

Pumpkin is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids so I was so excited when—after interviewing Danielle Walker of AgainstAllGrain.com—I discovered her delicious recipe for Paleo Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding.

If you’re trying to avoid gluten or simply looking for new breakfast options, try it out. My kids loved it and it was so quick and easy to make.

3. Eggs

Eggs are so versatile and lend themselves to almost any vegetable you have on hand, raw or cooked.

Add vegetables to scrambled eggs or make a veggie omelet, frittata, quiche or egg “muffins.”

4. Avocado Toast

High in fiber, and vitamins B6 and C and healthy fats, avocado (a fruit) is a nutritional powerhouse that will keep your kids feeling full until lunch and pairs well with many types of vegetables.

Start with your favorite bread, spread the avocado and add slices of cucumber, peppers or radishes, for example.

5. A Side of Vegetables

Instead of—or in addition to—fruit, serve your kid’s favorite breakfast with a side of leftover vegetables, cut up crudité or even vegetable soup.

6. Pancakes and Waffles

Before you pour your batter onto the griddle, fold in shredded carrots, zucchini, onion or yellow squash for a delicious, fiber-filled and healthy breakfast.

7. Veggie Hash

Dice up your kid’s favorite vegetables or last night’s leftovers and add eggs or beans for a healthy, protein and fiber-filled breakfast.

10 Easy Kitchen Hacks To Get Kids To Eat Healthier  Stop begging your kids to eat healthier and use these easy tips instead.

10 Easy Kitchen Hacks To Get Kids To Eat Healthier

Stop begging your kids to eat healthier and use these easy tips instead.

You want your kids to eat healthier but let’s face it: meal planning, shopping, prepping and cooking takes some serious time, not to mention all the clean up afterwards.

Aside from the occasional dinner in a restaurant or take out, every meal my kids eat comes out of our home kitchen. Thankfully, my husband cooks a lot too but suffice to say, we spend several hours each week to make sure our kids eat real, fresh, whole foods.

Through the years, I’ve discovered some easy kitchen hacks that have helped me save time and made my life easier. Here are 10.

1. Clean the Counter

If you’re like me and you like things clean and organized, then a messy kitchen counter can make you feel stressed out. Just as your bed must be made every day and the toys picked up every night, your kitchen counters need to be clutter-free so that you’ll actually look forward to cooking healthy meals.

Interestingly, research suggests that a messy kitchen can also make you and your family eat more. In fact, a February 2016 study in the journal Environment and Behavior found women in cluttered kitchens consumed twice as many calories from cookies than those who were in a tidy kitchen.

To keep your kitchen clean, store large kitchen appliances in the pantry, cabinets or drawers, donate those you don’t need and find a place for everything else. Have a system and a spot to store miscellaneous items like mail and papers from school.

2. Use Only One Pot

Instead of taking out several pots and pans to make dinner, save time by making stir-fries, one pot or slow cooker meals. Or roast foil packet dinners or an entire meal on one pan.

3. Grab and Go

Grocery stores make it easier than ever to get healthy meals on the dinner in no time. Rather than spending time to peel and chop vegetables, pick up mirepoix, minced garlic, sliced butternut squash and spiralized zucchini at the store, for example.

4. Put Healthy Food On Display


When it comes to getting your kids to eat healthier, make sure they can easily see and reach for healthy fare.

In fact, when fruit was placed in a colorful bowl, in a well-lit, convenient part of the school lunch line, sales of fruit increased by a whopping 105 percent, a July 2011 study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found.

Put a bowl of fruit out on the counter, store cut up vegetables in clear containers in the refrigerator or put individual bags of almonds in the front of the pantry.

5. Batch Cook

When your week gets hectic with work, school, after-school activities and other obligations, cooking healthy meals can easily fall by the wayside.

Yet simply taking an hour or two to pull together ingredients for smoothies, make individual portions of snacks, batch cook vegetables and pre-chop lettuce for salads can make your life much easier during the week. You can also make large batches of meals and freeze them so you’ll always have something ready for dinner.

6. Stock Up

When there’s nothing to eat and you’re tight on time, the fast-food drive-through or your favorite take out joint is usually the next best choice.

Yet if you have quick and easy staples on hand at all times, you can always get a meal on the table.

Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables, fish and cooked shrimp which is quick and easy. Keep individual mason jars with grains like quinoa or brown rice and cans of beans for a fast meal

7. Make Breakfast The Night Before

It might be a fast breakfast option, but most cereals aren’t healthy. If you can’t carve out the time to make a healthy breakfast in the morning, make it at night.

Set aside individual portions of ingredients for smoothies like veggies, fruits, chia seeds and almond butter. Make overnight oats in individual mason jars or a batch of egg “muffins” or a large frittata that your kids can eat over several days.

8. Use Small Dishes

How much your kids eat is just as important as what they eat. Kids can easily eat too much if you use adult-sized plates.

When you serve a meal or a snack, you can teach your kids about portion sizes by letting them use a measuring cup or bowl which will also make them feel empowered by their choices.

9. Serve a Buffet


Kids love choices so if you put out a buffet, they may actually eat healthier than when you serve one meal. Heat up leftover vegetables and proteins, add a salad and you can have a healthy dinner on the table in no time.

10. Clean As You Go

When I start to cook, I also load the dishwasher or clean the dishes at the same time. There’s nothing better than sitting down to dinner and a clean kitchen, but if you clean while you cook it also saves time on clean up after dinner.

10 Bad Eating Habits Ruining Your Kid’s Health

10 Bad Eating Habits Ruining Your Kid’s Health

Getting your kids to eat more vegetables, try new foods and stop being picky eaters once and for all is no easy feat. No matter how hard you try to get your kids to eat healthy however, these bad eating habits can hinder your best efforts and ruin your kid’s health.

1. Relying On Packages

Crackers, chips, fruit leather and other snack foods are easy and convenient for school, sports or at the park, but continue to feed your kids processed snacks and they’ll grow up thinking eating foods out of bags, boxes and canisters is the norm.

Blame it on the sugar and salt, but these highly processed foods are also the most addictive, a 2015 study out of the University of Michigan found.

Of course, most packaged snacks lack fiber, protein and nutrition and are filled with sodium, refined carbohydrates, sugar and sodium. Over time, eating fake food can lead to inflammation, leaky gut syndrome and a slew of health problems.

2. Hitting the Drive-Through

You might not go to McDonald’s or Burger King but fast food restaurants often marketed as healthier are anything but.

Most of these places serve foods high in calories, sodium and saturated fat. They may have grilled chicken and apple slices for example, but I think it’s safe to say most kids are ordering the French fries.

Visiting these fast food joints frequently can put your kids at an increased risk for nutritional deficiencies, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and weight gain. Not to mention that when kids eat fast food regularly, they lose all taste for real food.

3. Serving Juice

You might think juice is a healthy option for your child and although it can be a source of some vitamins and minerals, most kids don’t need juice nor should they be drinking it. Juice lacks fiber, is high in sugar and caters to kids’ sweet preferences. Drinking juice can also spike your kids’ blood sugar, cause cavities and lead weight gain.

4. Skipping Breakfast

The mornings are hectic especially when you have to get to work, drop the kids off at daycare or get them to school. Yet breakfast is the most important meal of the day especially for kids because it keeps their blood sugar levels steady, gives them the energy they need to learn and play and helps them stay alert and focused.

Eating breakfast may also prevent kids from feeling famished by lunch time and prevent weight gain.

5. Forgetting Family Meals

Between after-school activities and hectic schedules, it can be challenging to have dinner as a family together every night.

Yet children who eat with their families at least 3 times a week are less likely to be overweight, eat unhealthy foods and have disordered eating and are more likely to eat healthy foods, a 2011 meta-analysis published in the journal Pediatrics found.

The good news: dinner may be the only time you’re able to sit down as a family but other meals count too.

6. Mindless Munching

As moms, we’re constantly multitasking. But rushing through meals, eating in the car, while checking email or rummaging through the pantry instead of sitting down to a meal are bad habits that your kids can pick up too.

Just as your kids can learn to love salads, they can learn your unhealthy eating habits and carry with them throughout their lives. It’s one of the reasons more than a third of adults are obese.

When eating meals, sit down at the table, avoid distractions and savor your food. To ensure your kids are hungry for meals, don’t let them snack all day.

7. Serving Kids’ Foods

Chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese and pizza are sure-fire foods to get picky eaters to eat something but feeding kids a separate meal or foods you know they’ll eat also ensures they’ll continue to be picky eaters.

If they don’t have opportunities every day to taste and experience new, fresh, real foods, they can’t form food preferences or be willing to accept new foods. They’ll also miss out on key nutrients they would otherwise get from a healthy diet.

8. Stocking the Kitchen With Tempting Foods

If your kitchen pantry is filled with junk, it’s only natural that your kids will reach for it.

Slowly purge all of the unhealthy fare and keep healthy foods you want your kids to eat in plain sight, like a fruit bowl on the counter or cut up veggies in the front of the refrigerator.

9. Eating Too Much Sugar

Sweet treats and sly marketing are everywhere, tempting kids to ask, “can I have that?” Even if you don’t keep sugar in your house, chances are you kids can get a lollipop at the bank, an ice cream at the mall or candy a gas station or rest stop.

It’s not just sweets that are high in sugar but sugar is in sneaky sources and can add up quickly if you’re not taking stock. In fact, between 2011 and 2014, more than 62 percent of kids consumed a sugary-sweetened beverage, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Set limits on what you think is fair: maybe it’s a treat a day or treats only on the weekends.

10. Pleading, Negotiating and Bribing

Next to bedtime, mealtimes can be one of the most challenging times of day and it’s almost always a power struggle. Not only is it incredibly frustrating to negotiate one more bite in exchange for dessert for example, but kids learn their meal is less desirable than dessert and they never learn how to make healthy choices.

Instead, offer plenty of healthy options and empower kids to make their own choices so whatever they choose will be OK with you.

10 Best and Worst Foods for Kids’ Teeth

10 Best and Worst Foods for Kids’ Teeth

I don’t keep candy in my house, but during Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day, my kids bring home lots of lollipops, candy and chocolate. I usually dole out one treat a day and even throw out some of it when they’re not looking. Not only is sugar addictive so they continue to ask me for it, but it makes them hyper, spikes their blood sugar, can lead to weight gain and cavities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2011 and 2012, 21 percent of kids between 6 and 11 years had at least one cavity in their permanent teeth.

I’m thankful that my kids haven’t had any cavities and I know it’s because they brush and floss, drink water and eat a healthy diet. The foods your kids eat have a big impact on their risk for cavities but surprisingly it’s not just the sugary sweets that are the problem.

Here, read on for 10 best and worst foods for your kids’ teeth.

Best Foods For Kids Teeth

1. Apples

Apples and other high-fiber fruits and vegetables work like a scrubber for the teeth by removing bacteria. Also, the chewing action helps to stimulate saliva and cleanse the teeth. The antioxidants known as flavonoids in apples may also help to prevent harmful bacteria from causing cavities.

2. Kefir

Not only is kefir an excellent food to feed your kids because it’s high in protein and a good source of calcium and phosphorous. Yet the probiotics that kefir contains, which are know to support gut health, may actually be beneficial for oral health too. In fact, a September 2012 study in the journal Nutrients suggests eating fermented dairy products like kefir may prevent gum disease.

3. Nuts

Not only are nuts are an excellent source of calcium and phosphorous which are beneficial for tooth enamel, but since they’re crunchy, munching on them stimulates saliva production which helps prevent cavities.

4. Strawberries

The vitamin C in strawberries can help fight the bacteria that leads to gum disease and maintain the PH balance in the body, which is beneficial for teeth.

5. Cheese

Cheese is rich in calcium, which builds strong teeth and bones, but research suggests cheese may also prevent cavities. According to a May-June 2013 study in the journal General Dentistry, kids who ate cheddar cheese had higher PH levels in their mouths, which may ward off cavities.. Casein, the milk protein in cheese, may also help to re-mineralize the calcium in tooth enamel.

Worst Foods For Kids’ Teeth

 

1. Dried fruit

Raisins, dried fruit and trail mix with dried fruit are quick and convenient for after-school snacks or road trips, but all types of dried fruit are high in sugar and super sticky—a bad combination for cavities.

2. Crackers

Crackers can make for an easy snack but crackers are starchy and once your kids start to chew, a gooey paste forms in their mouths and sticks to their teeth. The same goes for soft breads, chips and other crunchy snacks.

3. Fruit juice

Fruit juice—even those that are organic or made with 100 percent juice—are still high in sugar and acidic, which is harmful to tooth enamel. If you are going to serve juice, dilute it with water or make your own juices at home with 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent fruit.

4. Sports drinks

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says children should restrict or avoid consuming sports drinks because they can cause cavities. Water should be enough no matter how hard they play on the field.

In fact, a 2009 study out of New York University found regularly drinking sports drinks may lead to “erosive tooth wear,” a condition in which acids break down tooth enamel and eventually soften and weaken the teeth. Not only can it cause cavities, but it may lead to tooth loss, the authors note.

5. Fruit snacks

Kids love fruit leather and chewy fruit snacks, but because these are high in sugar and stick to the teeth, they’re one of the worst foods for your kids’ teeth.

 

10 Immune Boosting Foods For Kids  These immune-boosting foods for kids may help ward off colds, the flu and those nasty stomach bugs.

10 Immune Boosting Foods For Kids

These immune-boosting foods for kids may help ward off colds, the flu and those nasty stomach bugs.

If it seems like your kids are sick nearly every week, it’s not your imagination. According to a 2014 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25 percent of kids between ages 5 and 11 missed between 3 and 5 days of school during the previous 12 months because they were sick.

And this year, the flu season is turning out to be worse ever.

To boost your kids’ immune systems and keep them healthy, encourage proper hand washing, prioritize sleep and give your kids probiotics. Of course, food is medicine so offer plenty of fruits and vegetable and these 10 immune boosting foods.

1. Blueberries

A perfect finger food especially for babies and toddlers, blueberries are one of the best immune-boosting foods for kids.

Blueberries are high in antioxidants, namely a flavonoid known as quercetin which has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve immune function, according to a 2005 study in the European Journal of Immunology.

2. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of the best foods to strengthen your kid’s immune system because they’re rich in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A and vitamin A plays a role in immune function.

Make sweet potatoes baked, roasted or mashed and add them to stews or serve them as a side dish.

3. Eggs

Rich in vitamin D to help regulate and strengthen the immune system, eggs are one of the best immune-boosting foods for kids.

Eggs are also one of the most easy and versatile kid-friendly foods. Offer scrambled eggs for breakfast, hard-boiled as a snack or added to a salad or incorporate them into any rice dish.

4. Pickles

If your kids love pickles, serve them up with lunch because they’re one of the best immune-boosting foods for kids.

Most pickles on store shelves won’t cut it, however. Only those that are naturally-fermented contain probiotics. Also, pickles are high in sodium, so be sure to cut back on other sneaky sources of sodium in your kid’s diet if you decide to offer them.

5. Kefir

It might take your kids awhile to come around to its’ tangy taste and thick texture but kefir is an excellent source of immune-boosting probiotics.

Since kefir can be high in sugar, read labels carefully, opt for plain kefir and blend low glycemic fruit like blueberries or raspberries that won’t spike your kid’s blood sugar.

6. Tempeh

Made with fermented soybeans, tempeh is a great source of probiotics as well as protein, iron and calcium.

Add tempeh to your favorite stir-fry or salad, or use them in place of meat on taco night.

7. Yogurt

Yogurt can be a good source of probiotics but not any yogurt will do.

When reading labels, look for brands that state “live and active cultures.” Also, avoid yogurts that are fruit-flavored or contain fruit because they’re usually high in sugar. Sugar can feed unhealthy bacteria in the gut so to get the full immune-boosting benefit, aim for yogurt that has less than 9 grams of sugar per serving.

8. Almonds

Not only are almonds a great source of protein and fiber, but they’re rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that boosts the immune system.

Serve individual portions of almonds for after-school snacks or pack them when you’re traveling.

9. Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamins E and B6, both of which are good for the immune system.

Sprinkle sunflower seeds on yogurt or add them to baked goods for an immune system boost.

10. Chicken Soup

A well-known remedy for when your kids are already sick, research shows chicken soup may prevent your kids from getting sick in the first place.

A well-known study published in 2000 in the journal CHEST showed eating chicken soup can ease symptoms of a cold. Researchers found that the movement of neutrophils, white blood cells that defends the body against infection, was reduced which suggests the soup may be anti-inflammatory, ease symptoms and shorten the duration of infections.

Although homemade chicken soup is fresher, store brands may have the same effect but always read labels because many store versions—even those that the store makes in house—are filled with sodium.

Why Juice For Kids Isn’t Healthy  Although juice for kids can be a good source of nutrition for those who don't have access to fresh fruit, most kids don't need it and shouldn't be drinking it--here's why.

Why Juice For Kids Isn’t Healthy

Although juice for kids can be a good source of nutrition for those who don't have access to fresh fruit, most kids don't need it and shouldn't be drinking it--here's why.

Like milk, juice for kids is synonymous with childhood. We pack juice boxes for preschool, serve juice at birthday parties and some kids drink juice at every meal, all day, every day.

Juice seems like something your kids should drink. It’s made with fruit, so it must be healthy, right?

Juice does have some vitamins and minerals, but there are so many reasons why juice for kids isn’t healthy and kids shouldn’t drink it.

Why Kids Don’t Need Juice

If your kids are picky eaters, you probably worry about their diets and if they’re getting enough nutrients.

Depending on what they eat or don’t eat, it’s possible they could have some nutritional deficiencies. Yet if they eat fruit they’re probably getting the same vitamins and minerals that juice has and much more.

The recommended amount of fruit children should consume each day varies between 1 and 2 cups depending on a child’s age and gender. You can find specifics on ChooseMyPlate.gov. If you continue to offer a variety of fresh fruits and at every meal and snack, your kids will ask for fruit and hitting those targets isn’t all that difficult.

For kids who don’t have access to fresh fruit, such as those that live in food deserts, for example, juice can be a way to help them get servings of fruit. Some types of juices are a good source of vitamins A and C, folate, potassium and magnesium and some brands of juice may also be fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

Juice Is High In Sugar

Sugar seems wholesome but read the labels and you’ll be amazed at how high the sugar content is. A 3.5 ounce cup of apple juice—about one serving for kids—has 9 grams of sugar. It’s sugar that kids who are likely getting sugar from other sources like yogurt and cereal don’t need.

The American Heart Association says kids under 2 shouldn’t consumer any sugar and those between 2 and 12 should consume no more than 25 grams—or 6 teaspoons worth of added sugar a day.

But if you look at most juice boxes, they contain “fruit juice from concentrate” which is actually added sugar. And even if the label says 100 percent fruit juice, it can still be made with fruit juice from concentrate.

Yet it doesn’t matter whether it’s natural sugar like fructose from fruit or added sugar. All sugar is the same and our bodies don’t know the difference. “Though natural sugar may seem harmless, your body does little to distinguish between the sugars in an apple versus those in a piece of candy,” Scott Kahan, the director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, D.C. told Time.com.

Since more fruit is needed to make fruit juice, there’s more calories, sugar and carbohydrates in juice than there is in whole fruit. Juice also strips fruit of its fiber, not a good thing for kids who don’t eat enough fiber to begin with.

Of course, allow your kids to drink juice regularly and chances are they’ll only want juice, sugary drinks and sweet foods.

Although a recent study found 100 percent fruit juice doesn’t spike blood sugar, experts raise important concerns and question the credibility of the study which, by the way, was funded by the Juice Products Association.

If the American Diabetes Association (ADA) says people with type-2 diabetes should limit juice consumption, then it’s fair to say for kids who are already overweight or have a family history of type-2 diabetes, drinking juice isn’t going to help their risk for developing the condition.

Drinking too much juice can also lead to cavities, weight gain or diarrhea in babies and toddlers.

When Can Kids Drink Juice?

In May 2017, the AAP issued new guidelines for fruit juice in kids’ diets. While the previous guidelines were 6 months of age, the AAP now says kids under age 1 shouldn’t drink juice.

For toddlers between 1 and 3, they say juice should be limited to 4 ounces a day; children ages 4-6 should have no more than 4 to 6 ounces; and children ages 7-18 should limit juice to 8 ounces.

Is Homemade Juicing Good For Kids?

Making your own juices at home is a great way to get in a bunch of vegetables and fruits into your kid’s diet.

While juice shouldn’t replace whole fruits and vegetables or be a way to sneak them into the diet, offering your kid fresh, homemade juices can give him a boost of nutrition and fill in some gaps.

When making homemade juices, follow the 80/20 rule: 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent juice.

Juice Rules

If you do serve your kids juice, don’t serve juice in a bottle, only a cup.

Homemade juicing is also a great opportunity to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables and teach kids how to make healthy juices.

Reserve store-bought juice as a treat: at a birthday party or during the holidays.

Do you give your kids juice? Do you make green juices at home? Let me know what you think in the comments section!

 

10 Sneaky Sources of Sugar in Your Kid’s Diet  These 10 foods may seem healthy but they're actually filled with sugar.

10 Sneaky Sources of Sugar in Your Kid’s Diet

These 10 foods may seem healthy but they're actually filled with sugar.

You already know that too much sugar in your kid’s diet isn’t good for him, especially because he can get cavities, but eating too much of the sweet stuff year after year can also lead to type-2 diabetes, weight gain and obesity, fatty liver disease and heart disease.

The American Heart Association says kids under 2 shouldn’t have any added sugar in their diets while those between 2 and 18 should have no more than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Yet some experts say it’s not only the added sugar we should be paying attention to, but the overall amount of sugar. For example, fructose is found in fruit and is natural but too much can have the same health effects as added sugars.

Surprisingly, when it comes to the sugary foods your kids eat, it’s not only cookies, cake and candy. There are seemingly healthy foods that are actually sneaky sources of sugar in your kid’s diet. Here are 10.

1. Kefir

I like my kids to drink kefir because of the healthy dose of probiotics it contains. In fact, a February 2015 study in the Iranian Journal of Public Health found kefir can reduce A1C levels in people with type-2 diabetes. Yet start to read labels and you’ll discover most brands of kefir are high in sugar.

If you’re going to feed your kids fruit-flavored kefir, it’s probably OK if they have a low-sugar diet but your best bet is to purchase plain kefir, add fresh or frozen fruit and blend into a smoothie. You can also make your own kefir at home.

2. Nut butters

Peanut butter and almond butter are excellent sources of protein, fiber and healthy fats and a kid favorite but it’s probably because of the sugar most brands have.

Always read labels and choose brands that are made with nuts and oil only.

3. Cereal

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that cereals which contain ingredients like artificial colors, marshmallows or chocolate or those that taste like dessert are filled with sugar but cereals that seem healthy because they’re high in fiber or have whole-grains can also be sneaky sources of sugar in your kid’s diet. Also, if your kids eat more than one serving, the sugar they get can be double or triple the serving size.

Read labels carefully and choose cereals that ideally have less than 6 grams of sugar per serving.

4. Sports drinks

You already know that soda is a significant source of sugar but most sports and energy drinks are as well.

Sure, your kids might work out hard on the field, but water is actually all they need. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says children should restrict or avoid consuming these drinks because they can lead to weight gain, obesity and cavities.

5. Yogurt

Yogurt can be a good source of protein and calcium but most brands are high in sugar.

Those with candy, chocolate chips or granola are obvious ones but brands that are fruit flavored or contain fruit are nothing more than a mix of fruit and sugar.

To find a healthy, low-sugar yogurt, choose plain, Greek yogurt and add your own fresh fruit like raspberries which also contain fiber and have a low glycemic load.

6. Condiments, sauces and dressings

Ketchup, tomato and barbecue sauces, dips, spreads, and salad dressings can all be sneaky sources of sugar in your kids’ diet.

Always read the ingredients, compare brands, use condiments, sauces, dressings and dips in moderation or make your own at home so you can control the ingredients and the sugar content.

7. Dried fruit

Trail mix, raisins and other types of dried fruit can be an easy, convenient snack to pack for school lunch or for a road trip. Although dried fruit sounds like a healthy choice, it can also be a sneaky source of sugar in your kid’s diet.

Always choose fresh fruit first and eat dried fruit in moderation. Read labels too since many dried fruit brands add more sugar to make them taste even sweeter.

8. Granola

Fruit, oats and nuts: what could be more wholesome than granola? Sure, it’s often touted as a healthy choice but most brands of granola and granola bars contain way too much sugar for kids.

Always eat granola in small amounts and look for brands of granola that don’t have added sugar.

9. Bread

Whether you feed your kids white, whole wheat or gluten-free, bread is a significant source of sugar.

If your kids eat toast for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch, they could be getting too much sugar in their diet. Cut back on the amount of bread your kids eat by making overnight oats or eggs for breakfast or lettuce wraps for lunch, for example.

10. Fruit juice

For years, fruit juice has been touted as a healthy food for toddlers and kids. Although it has certain vitamins and nutrients and can count as a serving of fruit—a good thing if your kid is a picky eater—in reality, fruit juice is concentrated sugar. Fruit juice also lacks fiber, something all kids need whether they’re constipated or not.

If you want your kids to drink juice, make fresh green vegetable juice with some fruit at home instead. Otherwise, offer fresh fruit first and only serve fruit juice occasionally. Be mindful of portion sizes—4 ounces is one serving—and consider diluting it with water.

10 Ways To Help Your Overweight Child  If your child is overweight, diet and exercise are key but taking a family approach, making small, realistic changes and watching what you say can set up your child for success.

10 Ways To Help Your Overweight Child

If your child is overweight, diet and exercise are key but taking a family approach, making small, realistic changes and watching what you say can set up your child for success.

If your child is overweight, it’s normal to worry about his diet, if he’s getting enough exercise and the number on the scale.

As kids grow, their weight can fluctuate all the time which is why your first stop should always be your child’s pediatrician. With growth charts, your child’s doctor can track his height and weight trends over time, talk about his diet and activity level and give you some ideas to help him safely lose weight.

Yet the truth is that pediatricians get less than 24 hours worth of nutrition education. So you may also want to consider consulting with a pediatric nutritionist who can address all of the factors affecting your child’s weight and design a plan that will help your child safely lose weight.

Luckily, there are things you can do as a parent and as a family to help your overweight child too.

1. Talk about health, not weight

As a child, chances are someone made a comment about your weight or your appearance, whether you were thin or overweight, and it’s something you’ll never forget.

Overweight children are bullied by other kids, but parents and other adults in the community can be a source of bullying too, according to a November 2017 statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Words can stick so whether your child has gained a few pounds in his belly or it’s clear he’s overweight, it’s never a good idea to call attention to your child’s weight, even if you think it’s benign or a joke.

Rather than talk about how your child looks or how his clothes fit, for example, talk about health—for him and your entire family. Talk about how healthy foods give you energy and make you feel good, for example. Focus on healthy eating, exercise and being active as a family.

2. Don’t single out your child

Imposing food rules or new habits only for your overweight child will only make her feel worse about his weight.

Adding more vegetables and eliminating processed foods needs to be a lifestyle change for the entire family—not only for the child with the weight problem.

3. Make small changes

Not only is it not realistic to overhaul your family’s diet in one week but it could backfire. Your child may feel like he’s being punished or he may push back on too many changes at once.

To have the highest chances for success, make small changes like offering a new vegetable each week, swap chips for veggies or bean dip at snack time or build in 10 more minutes of activity into your child’s day.

4. Don’t label foods “good” or ‘bad”

Sure, some foods are healthier than others but talking about foods as good and bad can make kids (and you!) feel that they’re good or bad for eating them. If the latter, they’ll feel deprived if they can’t have those foods which will make them want them even more.

When you talk about foods, talk about making healthy choices and never make any food completely off limits.

5. Move more together

Signing up your overweight child for a gymnastics class or after-school sports are great ideas but if you want to instill healthy habits, the entire family has to make the commitment to be an active family.

Find ways to be active together such as taking a walk after dinner, playing a game of catch or going for a family bike ride or hike on the weekends. Look into fitness centers or gym like the YMCA that have active programs for adults and kids.

6. Limit screen time

I admit that putting limits on how much time my kids watch TV or use the iPad is tough especially during the winter months when it’s cold out.

Studies show however, too much screen time increases the risk for obesity. According to a December 2016 study in The Journal of Pediatrics, kids who used electronic devices five hours a day increases the risk for obesity by 43 percent.

To cut down on screen time, put on music and dance around the house or set up a challenge like a scavenger hunt or a circuit of exercises.

7. Get the entire family on board

Whether it’s your spouse, another sibling or family member, have a conversation about why it’s important to watch what you say when it comes to your child’s weight and why being encouraging will boost your child’s confidence and self-esteem.

8. Tackle emotional eating

If your kid is overweight but eats healthy, it may not be because his portion sizes are too small. Kids—like adults—can eat because they’re anxious, stressed, angry, sad or bored.

Talk to your kid about her tough emotions and try to identify a healthy outlet to express her feelings such as a journal, art or music.

If you think the problem is beyond your parenting abilities, seek the help of a therapist who works with kids.

9. Prioritize sleep

According to a 2014 survey by The National Sleep Foundation, kids aren’t getting enough sleep and lack of sleep is directly related to weight.

Sleep deprivation messes with the hormones that affect appetite. Ghrelin, “the hunger hormone” which tells our bodies to eat ramps up while leptin, a hormone that decreases appetite, slows down. Not to mention that lack of sleep can cause your kids to reach for high carb, salty or sweet fare.

Stick with a routine each night to make sure kids are getting enough sleep.

10. Model healthy habits

You can’t expect your kid to eat healthy, exercise and get active if you don’t.

Have regular conversations with your kid about how you feel good when you eat certain healthy foods, go to your boot camp class or get a full night’s sleep, for example. Also, find ways to be healthy together like cook a new recipe or particapate in a race.

 

Is your child overweight? What types of struggles do you face? What are some ways you help your child be healthy? Leave me a comment below!

10 Sneaky Sources of Sodium in Your Kid’s Diet  Kids who get too much salt in their diets are at risk for high blood pressure and other serious health conditions througout their lives.

10 Sneaky Sources of Sodium in Your Kid’s Diet

Kids who get too much salt in their diets are at risk for high blood pressure and other serious health conditions througout their lives.

You may not cook with a lot of salt or add salt to your kid’s meals but approximately 90 percent of kids are getting too much sodium in their diets each day and more than 40 percent of it comes from only 10 foods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which about 3.5 percent of kids already have, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and vision loss, among other health conditions. So even if your kids don’t have high blood pressure now, if they continue to eat too much sodium, there’s a good chance they will in the future.

What’s more, just as kids who eat fruits and vegetables crave healthy foods, kids who eat salt from an early age are more likely to prefer salty foods throughout their lives.

Like sugar, salt can show up in seemingly healthy foods. The sodium kids get in their diets is mainly from packaged foods from the grocery store and food from restaurants and the school lunch cafeteria.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend the following limits for daily sodium intake:

  • Children ages 1-3: 1,500 mg
  • Children ages 4-8: 1,900 mg
  • Children ages 9-13: 2,200mg
  • Children ages 14+: 2,300

Here are 10 sneaky sources of salt in your kid’s diet to cut back on or cut out altogether.

1. Bread

If your kids eat toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and grilled cheese for dinner, the amount of sodium in bread alone can add up quick.

In fact, according to a report by the CDC, breads and rolls are the number one source of sodium.

To cut down on your kids’ sodium intake from bread, read labels carefully, cut down on bread or find a replacement like a lettuce wrap instead of a sandwich.

2. Nuts

Nuts are an excellent source of protein and fiber to keep your kids satiated but nuts can be one of the sneaky sources of salt in your kids’ diet.

When purchasing nuts, read labels and choose those that state “unsalted” or “low sodium.”

3. Instant oatmeal

Packets of instant oatmeal make for a quick and easy breakfast—just add hot water and enjoy. Yet ever notice how they taste sort of salty? That’s because they’re high in sodium: about 165mg of sodium per packet.

To avoid the sodium, buy rolled oats—I like the Bob’s Red Mill brand—and add fresh berries and raw almonds for a healthy, satisfying meal.

4. Tomato sauce

Suffice to say most brands of canned or jarred tomato sauces are loaded with sodium so feed your kids pasta a few times a week and they’re probably getting way to much salt in their diets.

When shopping for tomato sauce, read labels and compare brands. Or use fresh tomatoes or no-salt canned tomatoes and make your own tomato sauce so you can control the sodium.

5. Soup

Vegetable soup, chicken noodle soup or pea soup all sound like healthy choices but many brands of soup, whether they’re canned, in the carton or prepared fresh by the store themselves, are filled with sodium.

The same goes for soups you’ll find in restaurants. For example, egg drop soup may be low in calories but at 892 mg of sodium per serving, it’s not a good take-out choice.

When purchasing soup from the grocery store, read labels and purchase those labeled “low sodium.” Or control what you’re eating by making your own soup at home with herbs and spices and a small amount of salt if needed.

6. Bagels

Bagels can be an easy, fast meal for busy mornings or for a run to the coffee shop on the weekends, but bagels are a major source of sodium.

One plain bagel contains 255mg, but add cream cheese and some lox and it’s a sodium bomb.

7. Deli meats

Processed, packaged slices of ham and turkey are convenient for lunches but they’re also high in sodium both as a preservative and for taste. In fact, 2 ounces of smoked, fat-free turkey breast has a whopping 569 mg of sodium.

Although turkey and chicken naturally contain sodium, a better option is to cook your choice of meat at home with herbs and spices and slice it yourself.

8. Cheese

Cheese is a good source of protein and calcium but cheese is also loaded with sodium. For example, one stick of Polly-O string cheese has 190mg.

Although it’s not a huge amount of sodium, if your kids are eating a few of them a day or also eating other foods high in sodium like chicken nuggets, pizza and packaged snacks, they can easily exceed their amount of daily sodium intake.

9. Condiments

Brands vary but ketchup, barbecue sauce, mustard, salad dressings and soy sauce are all major sources of sodium. Not to mention the foods kids usually eat with them are high in sodium too: chicken nuggets, hot dogs, sausage and French fries.

Read labels and compare brands. Another way to get around the sodium is to re-think sauces. Consider making your own marinade for chicken, ask for sauce on the side when ordering out or dining in, or simply try to serve your kids’ meals without condiments.

10. Cereals

Cereals, even those that have whole grains and a decent amount of protein and fiber, are high in sodium. For example, one cup of Kellog’s Raisin Bran—a seemingly healthy choice—has 350mg of sodium.

Be choosy when it comes to cereal and always compare brands.

5 Ways To Survive the Holidays With Picky Eaters

5 Ways To Survive the Holidays With Picky Eaters

If you have kids who are picky eaters, you already know which foods you can get them to eat at home—and which ones they’ll refuse to eat. Sure, it’s frustrating to have picky eaters but at least you know what to expect.

During Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s however, all bets are off.

The holidays are already stressful but the holidays with picky eaters is an entirely different ball game.

Having kids who snub vegetables and refuse to eat anything other than pasta with butter can kick your stress into high gear especially when other family members are watching you and your parenting skills.

Thoughts start rushing through your mind:

  • What will they eat?
  • Will they eat something other than dessert?
  • Should I bring a separate meal for them?

Your biggest fear is that your kids will embarrass you, spit out the food in their mouths and say, “ew, gross!” right as they taste your mother-in-law’s famous casserole.

Although there’s not much you can do to control your kids’ unpredictable behaviors, or your mother-in-law’s eye rolls, there are some ways to handle your picky eaters this holiday season.

1. Talk about table manners

When my kids eat something they don’t like such as onions in a salad, they’ll put it on my plate even though I constantly urge them to leave it on their own. Despite your best intentions, your kids’ table manners probably aren’t perfect so during the holidays you’ll definitely want to help them brush up.

In addition to reminding them to say “please,” and “thank you,” and chew with their mouths closed, make sure they also know never to spit out food or express their dislike for a food out loud. If they take a small bite and they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat more.

2. Have a snack


To ensure your picky eaters eat something and don’t arrive to your celebration cranky, consider serving them a small, healthy snack made up of protein and fiber. If they refuse to eat, or only want a piece of bread when you get there, it’s not a big deal.

3. Bring a dish

I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to prepare a separate meal for a child unless of course they’re gluten-free or have food allergies.

Having a separate meal on hand teaches your kids that you’ll accommodate them and cater to their preferences. But what happens when your picky eaters become adults and won’t eat anything that’s served? It’s not cute anymore.

If you’re already bringing something to dinner however, you can make a dish that everyone including your kids will eat. Although it’s not going to be French fries, perhaps it can be bruschetta for an appetizer, soup or a vegetable side your kids like, for example.

4. Cook together


When my kids cook with me, they always want to taste what we’re making. Whether you’re preparing the entire holiday dinner or bringing a dish, let your kids help you cook. When kids feel like they’ve had a hand in what you’ve made, they feel empowered and excited to show off—and enjoy the dish.

5. Let it go

If you’re stressed out your kids will definitely sense it. Do your best to relax and loosen up about what they choose to and refuse to eat during the holidays.

I’m not suggesting you let them load up on sugar and neglect to eat anything else but it’s a losing battle to expect them to eat the vegetables or try the new foods you put on their plates.

Your kids may actually surprise you however, and be willing to try new foods that grandma offers or they see the other kids eating.

Either way, go with the flow and pick up your normal healthy eating menu the next day.

I want to hear from you!

Was this post helpful for you? How do you handle picky eaters during the holidays and on special occassions? Leave me a comment below. 

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5 Ways to Satisfy Your Kid’s Sweet Tooth Without Sugar

5 Ways to Satisfy Your Kid’s Sweet Tooth Without Sugar

Is your kid’s sweet tooth out of control?

Sure, most kids love cookies, cupcakes and candy but if yours frequently ask for sugary treats or want more after a few bites, it can become a bad habit.

If your kids are like mine, having pudding, chocolate or pie in the house becomes a near obsession. Since they eat a mostly whole-foods diet, when there is sugar in the house—especially around the holidays—they ask for it every single day without fail.

Is Sugar Actually Toxic?

It’s no surprise that kids eat too much sugar. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16 percent of children and teens’ total calories come from added sugars.

Sugar can be addictive for some people and researchers say it’s actually toxic and can lead to weight gain regardless of the amount of calories.

According to a 2015 study published in the journal Obesity kids between the ages of 8 and 18 who reduced the amount of sugar in their diets but replaced the calories with starch, still showed improvement in blood glucose, LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides, and less fat in their liver.

Sugar is empty calories and has no nutritional value whatsoever. Eating too much sugar can take the place of more nutritious foods your kids need to grow and develop, weaken their immune system and lead to cavities. Diets high in sugar can cause weight gain, type-2 diabetes and increase the risk of dying from heart disease, an April 2014 study in JAMA Internal Medicine found.

Sugar may not make your kid hyper—I beg to differ—but eating sugar can make them feel sluggish and cranky.

The American Heart Association recommends children under 2 shouldn’t eat any sugar and those older than 2 shouldn’t consume more than 25 grams—or 6 teaspoons—of added sugars a day.

By July 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will roll out the Nutrition Facts label which will include a separate line for “added sugars” both in grams and as percent Daily Value. It’s a good start, but it can still be tough to decipher ingredients since sugar can hide in more than 60 names.

Not only is it challenging to eliminate sugar altogether, but kids—like adults—should be able to have a treat now and then. With these 5 tips, you can satisfy your kid’s sweet tooth without going overboard with sugar

1. Choose low-glycemic fruit

Surprisingly, the body can’t tell the difference between nutritive, sugars that provide calories like fructose in fruit and non-nutritive (artificial) sugars like those in processed foods and candy, for example. It’s possible therefore, that eating fruit, especially types that are high in sugar may very well cause your kids to crave more sugar.

Although fruit is natural and nutritious and you should aim to get a variety of fruits in your child’s diet, focusing on low-glycemic fruits like blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are always good choices because they’re fiber-rich and won’t spike their blood sugar.

2. Re-think dessert

Instead of cake, cookies and candy, re-think what dessert can be. Muffins, yogurt, trail mix, pudding and cereal may be better options, but pay attention to the sugar content because many “healthy” foods can have just as much sugar as traditional desserts.

3. Make frozen treats

Instead of ice cream, sorbet or frozen pies, freeze fruit or buy frozen fruit for a healthy, delicious treat. Frozen blueberries for example, are sweet and nutritious eaten alone or added to Greek yogurt for dessert. Or put frozen bananas in the food processor for a healthy, sweet treat.

4. Use baking substitutions

Find healthy alternative recipes for your kids’ favorite treats or try to use substitutions for sugar. Ingredients like rolled oats, bananas, applesauce, dates, figs, dried fruit, cacao nibs, vanilla and almond extracts, and cinnamon and nutmeg can cut down on the sugar without losing the sweetness and taste.

5. Use sugar substitutes—sparingly

Sweeteners like stevia, maple syrup and honey may be better than pure sugar or artificial sweeteners, but they still have sugar and they’re still sweet so be mindful about how much you’re using.

 

 

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.