7 Tips to Keep Your Family Healthy During the Holidays

7 Tips to Keep Your Family Healthy During the Holidays

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

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

1. Get a flu shot

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

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

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

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

2. Take probiotics

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

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

3. Stock up on healthy meals

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

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

4. Curb sweets

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

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

5. Fill up on fruits and vegetables

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

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

6. Remind kids to wash their hands

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

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

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

7. Stay active

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

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

 

10 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.

6 Pregnancy Nutrition Myths—Busted

6 Pregnancy Nutrition Myths—Busted

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

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

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

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

Myth #1: You need to eat for two.

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

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

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

Myth #2: Coffee causes miscarriages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Myth #4: You should avoid eating peanuts.

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

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

Myth #5: You can’t eat sushi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8 Reasons You Can’t Lose The Baby Weight

8 Reasons You Can’t Lose The Baby Weight

After you give birth, all of your time is occupied by feedings, diaper changes, laundry and errands. There’s not much “me-time” but once you get settled into your new routine, make healthy eating and exercise becomes more of a priority. Yet after a few months when your weight loss hits a plateau, you might start wondering why you can’t lose the baby weight.

It turns out that losing the baby weight is a concern for most moms. According to a survey by BabyCenter.com, 61 percent of new moms said they expected to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight by their baby’s first birthday yet almost the same amount of moms with 1 and 2-year-olds still hadn’t lost all the weight.

Although diet and exercise are a key component to weight loss, there might be other reasons why you can’t lose the baby weight.

1. Pre-pregnancy and pregnancy weight gain

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 50 percent of women are overweight or obese when they get pregnant and 47 percent gain too much during pregnancy, one study found.

Both your pre-pregnancy weight and the amount you gained during pregnancy have a lot to do with losing the baby weight. In fact, women who gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy are 10 pounds overweight 15 years later, a study in The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition found.

2. Lack of sleep

Ever notice that when you’re sleep deprived, you crave sugar, salt and carbs? That’s because without enough sleep, your body increases its production of ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger and decreases its production of leptin, a hormone responsible for appetite.

Although there’s not much you can do to avoid those sleepless nights, you can ask your partner to take a feeding or try to nap while your baby naps during the day. Also, eating at the same time every day can help to regulate your hunger hormones.

3. Not eating enough


Intermittent fasting and extreme calorie-cutting diets have received a lot of attention in recent months for their ability to help people lose a lot of weight fast, but when you just had a baby, these diets can impair your ability to lose weight and be downright dangerous.

Not only can skipping meals make you irritable and more likely to eat more at your next meal, but fasting is linked to abdominal weight gain and an increased risk for pre-diabetes, a study out of The Ohio State University suggests.

Of course, if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you need even more calories—about 300 to 500—and dieting should be out of the question.

4. Thyroid dysfunction

Studies show thyroid dysfunction due to iodine deficiency is on the rise. During pregnancy your baby takes iodine from your body but this could lead to hypothyroidism, which can cause weight gain, among other symptoms.

If you think you have hypothyroidism, ask your doctor to run a comprehensive thyroid panel, which includes TSH, free T3, free T4, and reverse T3 and the thyroid antibodies.

5. Too much time in the gym

Although cardio is important for overall health and a great way to lose weight, overdoing it can actually make you feel overly hungry and cause you to overeat.

When you get the all-clear from your doctor to start working out again, try low impact cardio—like walking with your baby in the stroller—along with some resistance training. Then as you get stronger, gradually transition back into your pre-pregnancy workouts.

6. Midnight snacking

 

When your baby wakes up at night, you might be tempted to grab a snack for yourself but those extra calories could hinder your ability to lose weight.

Instead, drink a glass of water or try some decaf tea, which can help you fall back asleep.

7. Emotional eating

It’s common to feel anxious and stressed especially when you’re a new mom, and if you also have postpartum depression, everything can feel overwhelming. Although eating can soothe you, it’s always temporary, not to mention it can prevent you from losing the baby weight.

Instead of turning to food to feel better, make a list of healthy activities you can do when your feelings feel like too much to handle: going for a walk with your baby, calling a friend, journaling or meditation, for example.

8. A lack of patience


Log out of Facebook and stop reading stories about celebrities who lost the baby weight in 2 weeks. The reality is that it can take 6 months or more to lose the baby weight.

Remember that your body is unique so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not losing the weight as fast as you would like. Instead, continue to eat healthy and exercise and make small changes each day.

How to Have a Safe Halloween With Food Allergies

How to Have a Safe Halloween With Food Allergies

If your kids have food allergies, you know what it takes to ensure they’re never accidentally exposed to unsafe foods. You have to plan meals, read labels and ask questions, especially when you go out to eat, attend a birthday party or go trick or treating on Halloween.

When my daughter was an infant, she was diagnosed with several food allergies. At that time, it was much easier to control what she ate because I cooked and packed all of her meals, whether she was at daycare or with me at a friend’s house. When she started school however, everything changed.

In preschool, she accidentally ingested a food she was allergic to while the class was working on a craft project. Then this year within a week of starting school, she once again had an accidental exposure in the cafeteria. I was grateful she was fine and only required Benadryl, but it’s stressful nonetheless.

At Halloween, there will be trick or treating, parties and events and plenty of candy and treats. With a bit of planning and some simple strategies, your kids can have a fun and safe Halloween despite their food allergies.

Do your homework

Your child’s teacher is probably already aware of his food allergies but other parents may not be. And if they have a party at school, there may be foods your kid is allergic too. If parents don’t have children with food allergies, they might avoid bringing an obvious allergenic food but they’re not likely to read labels. And besides, we shouldn’t expect them to.

When my daughter had a Halloween party in preschool, the teacher told all of the parents about the food allergies in the class. It was a good thing I was there because one of the snacks contained a food she was allergic to.

If you’re able to attend the party, it’s a good way to prevent an accidental exposure. If you can’t however, ask the teacher to give you a list of the snacks that were brought in or take photos of the ingredients label so you can check the snacks before the party. For homemade foods like cookies and cupcakes, it’s wise to have your kid avoid them altogether.

Divide and conquer

When your kid comes home from school or trick or treating, sort all of the candy to determine what’s safe and what’s not. You might think certain types of candy are OK because they were safe to eat in the past, but ingredients can differ between fun size and regular size, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

If a piece of candy doesn’t have the ingredients on the label, check the nutrition label on the brand’s website to make sure your kid doesn’t ingest something that will cause an allergic reaction.

Look for teal pumpkins

In 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project® launched to keep kids with food allergies safe on Halloween. Homes that have a teal-colored pumpkin on the doorstep signal to kids that they’ll receive a fun, non-food treat. To find Teal Pumpkin Project homes in your area, check out their participation map.

Be prepared

If your kid is invited to a party, talk to the parents beforehand about the foods they plan to serve and if you’ll need to bring a safe replacement. If you won’t be attending, make sure the parents know what foods your kid is allergic to. Make sure they also have your phone number and his medications and know what to do if he accidently ingests something.

Empower your child

Whenever we go to a friend’s house, someone’s party or eat out at a restaurant, my daughter asks if the food she’s thinking about eating is something she’s allergic to. She’s still quite young but it’s a habit I instilled in her early on.

If you have young kids, consider having them wear a food allergy bracelet. Older kids can practice asking what’s in a food and saying “no thank you, I’m allergic.” Teaching them how to advocate for themselves now is important and something they’ll need to do throughout their lives.

Host your own party

If another mom usually throws a Halloween party, offer to have it at your house so you’ll have full control over the food and the treats.

Tell the neighbors

If you’re friendly with your neighbors, you can tell them before Halloween what your kids are allergic to and offer to provide them with safe candy they can hand out instead.

Don’t let them trick or treat alone

If your kids are old enough to trick or treat with friends, tag along anyway. Your kids might be tempted to eat a piece of candy along the route that could cause an allergic reaction and you don’t want to take that chance.

5 Worst Pieces of Picky Eating Advice Ever

5 Worst Pieces of Picky Eating Advice Ever

If your kids are picky eaters, you know how challenging it is to get them to eat their vegetables, try new foods or even sit down to eat a meal. Maybe you’ve read a book about picky eating or asked your kids’ pediatrician or a nutritionist for advice, which is always a good start.

Yet asking other moms who also have picky eaters isn’t always the best idea. Sure, many of them have tips and tricks for dealing with picky eating in the short term but a lot of their strategies either miss the mark or are downright bad.

Here are some of the most common pieces of advice I’ve heard other moms give that in my opinion are all wrong.

1. “Sneak vegetables.”

Pureeing vegetables and sneaking them into sauces, baked goods, and smoothies can definitely give your kids the nutrition they need and otherwise wouldn’t get or give them an extra boost of nutrition. Yet replacing all their vegetable servings as a sneaky puree is a big mistake.

Not only do kids miss out on the fiber vegetables provide, but if you want your kids to love them they need to have plenty of opportunities to smell, touch and taste various types. They need to grow into adults who love vegetables in their whole form.

Sure, they may not love everything you serve, but they must have plenty of chances to learn what they like and dislike. I don’t see anything wrong with green smoothies or adding a vegetable puree into a meal for extra nutrition, but the vegetables that make up a bulk of their diets should be whole.

2. “Make your own____”

Do a quick Google search and you’ll find so many ways to make homemade versions of shelf-stable snacks like fruit roll-ups, gummy fruit snacks and Swedish fish. I think it can be a fun treat for kids, but it’s not a good approach if you’re making these homemade versions because you want to make sure your kids eat fruit. You want to raise kids who know what strawberries look and taste like, not kids who will only eat fruit if it’s in the shape of a gummy bear.

3. “Be creative.”

There are so many food bloggers who have come up with ways to make food fun and “kid-friendly” by transforming fruits and vegetables into animals, funny faces and shapes.

I think it’s cute if you have the time of course and it might be a good way to get toddlers to try new foods. Yet making food into art shouldn’t be a long-term tactic because your kids may come to always expect it that way and may not eat fruits and vegetables any other way.

4. “Bribe them.”

When you’re frustrated with your picky eaters, you can beg, plead and negotiate, “please, can you just take a bite?!” Maybe you’ve bribed them with dessert, which I admit I’ve done, but it’s not a good idea.

For starters, if your kids are hungry, they’ll eat and no amount of negotiation will change that. And bribing them with dessert but only after they eat their vegetables teaches them that dessert is more desirable than vegetables. It’s also something they start to believe which is how many of us were raised and continue to believe today.

Rather than negotiation tactics, bribery or outright begging, give your kids plenty of healthy choices and let them pick what they want on their plates. The less pressure you put on them, the more they’ll feel empowered to choose.

5. “Put them in front of the TV.”

Turning on the TV and allowing your kids to sip a smoothie or snack on fruits and vegetables might get them to eat, but what you’re really doing is teaching your kids how to eat mindlessly.

If you want your kids to love what they’re eating and also grow up to have a healthy relationship with food, then model healthy eating at the table, together as a family. Show them how to eat slow, chew their food thoroughly and enjoy every last bite. Teach them that eating is nourishment but that mealtime is also something to be enjoyed together as a family.

8 Ways to Eat Healthy When Dad Doesn’t

8 Ways to Eat Healthy When Dad Doesn’t

You want your family to eat healthy so you’ve tried to add more vegetables to their meals, cut down on the processed, packaged snacks and cut back on sugar.

Trying to get your kids to eat healthy is challenging enough but when your spouse still brings junk food into the house, orders take-out when he’s on dinner duty and doesn’t serve your kids vegetables, it can make it that much harder.

It turns out this is a real problem for families in the U.S. A recent small study published in the journal Appetite shows families say dad’s eating habits were less healthy than mom’s.

So how can you make sure you and your kids eat healthy when your spouse doesn’t?

Here are some strategies to try.

1. Fight fair

When it comes to talking to your spouse about any type of conflict or difficult subject, you probably already know that using “I” statements instead of “you” statements is a good idea. Saying “I think” or “I feel” takes the blame off your partner so he doesn’t feel defensive.

When you broach the food conversation, instead of saying, “you always bring junk food into the house,” explain, “I really want our kids to eat healthy because insert your reasons. What can we do to make this happen?”

2. Lead by example

Do your best to make eating healthy a priority for yourself and your kids, whether dad is on board or not. Make a salad for lunch and share it with your kids, cook healthy meals and prepare healthy snacks, and find ways to lighten up your family’s favorite dishes.

3. Work together

Getting your kids excited about eating healthy will help them understand that’s what your family does, even if dad doesn’t. Depending on your kids’ ages, bring them grocery shopping and let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try, let them help you prepare and cook meals, or pick out new healthy recipes you can make together. The more they feel a part of the meal planning process, the more likely they’ll want to eat healthy.

4. Set boundaries

If your spouse buys cookies, chips, and other unhealthy snacks, store them in the pantry, maybe even in a small container, instead of on the kitchen counter. Of course your kids will know they’re there, but you want to encourage them to grab for a piece of fruit instead that’s in the front of the refrigerator.

5. Share meals together

You don’t have to eat dinner together every night but sharing meals together—whether it’s breakfast every morning or Sunday brunch—is one of the best ways to ensure your kids will always be healthy eaters.

In fact, according to a study out of the University of Illinois, children and teens who share 3 or more meals a week with their families eat healthier and are more likely to have a healthier weight than those who don’t.

6. Make small changes

If you make small, gradual changes each week rather than overhauling their entire diet, there’s a better chance of getting everyone in the family on board. Although they might not love swapping spiralized veggies for pasta, try upgrading sugary cereal for rolled oats with fresh fruit and nuts, or serving fish instead of meat, for example.

7. Compromise

If your spouse has been eating unhealthy for most of his life, it’s going to be difficult for him to make changes. If he understands why it’s so important however, he’ll be more willing to help although it might take a bit of negotiation. He still might order in pizza when you’re out, but maybe he’ll agree to eat those chips at work instead.

8. Be patient

You might not convert your spouse overnight, but if you stick with it, he may come around. If all you can do is eat healthy yourself and get your kids to eat healthy, it’s still a major win.

7 Breastfeeding Myths

7 Breastfeeding Myths

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

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

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

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

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

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


Breastfeeding myth #1: Breastfeeding is easy.


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

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

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

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


Breastfeeding myth #2: Low milk supply is common.

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

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

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

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

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


Breastfeeding myth #3: Breastfeeding is painful.


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

5 Real Reasons Moms Stop Breastfeeding

5 Real Reasons Moms Stop Breastfeeding

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

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

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

 

Yet I know not all moms are so lucky.

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

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

 

1. Breastfeeding is a part-time job

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

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

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

2. Breastfeeding changes your breasts and your body


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

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

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

 

3. Moms have to return to work


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

 

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

4. Feeling sexy goes out the door overnight

 

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

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

5. Breastfeeding can make you sick


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

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

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

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

Did you stop breastfeeding before a year? Why?