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

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

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

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

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

1. Make time for breakfast

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

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

2. Write a grocery shopping list

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

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

3. Plan meals

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

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

4. Try a new recipe

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

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

5. Pour a glass of water

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

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

6. Purge the packages

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

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

7. Try one new vegetable

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

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

8. Read labels

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

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

9. Get active

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

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

10. Eat more meals at home

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

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

How to Prevent Type-2 Diabetes in Children

How to Prevent Type-2 Diabetes in Children

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

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

What is type-2 diabetes?

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

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

What causes type-2 diabetes?

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

Weight

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

Inactivity

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

Family history

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

Race

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

PCOS

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

Gender

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

Symptoms of type-2 diabetes in children

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

Fatigue

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

Thirst

Elevated blood glucose levels can cause excessive thirst.

Frequent bathroom breaks

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

Hunger

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

Sores

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

Skin changes

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

How to prevent type-2 diabetes

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

Offer healthy foods

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

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

Cut down on sugar

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

Watch portion sizes

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

Encourage healthy habits

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

Get moving

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

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

10 Foods You Should Keep In Your Fridge At All Times

10 Foods You Should Keep In Your Fridge At All Times

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

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

1. Broccoli

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

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

2. Salmon

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

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

3. Salad

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

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

4. Raspberries

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

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

5. Avocado

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

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

6. Eggs

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

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

7. Greek yogurt

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

8. Butter

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

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

9. Hummus

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

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

10. Plant-based milks

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

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

10 Healthy Fall Foods To Feed Your Kids

10 Healthy Fall Foods To Feed Your Kids

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

1. Cauliflower

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

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

2. Butternut squash

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

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

3. Apples

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

4. Pumpkin

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

5. Sweet potatoes

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

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

6. Figs

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

7. Pomegranates

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

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

8. Kale

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

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

9. Parsnips

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

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

10. Brussels sprouts

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

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

 

7 Healthy Halloween Hacks

7 Healthy Halloween Hacks

Halloween may be celebrated only on October 31st, but there are endless opportunities for kids to snack on candy, treats and unhealthy food for days before and after.

Between parties at school, friends’ houses and in the community, and the actual trick or treating itself, kids are loading up on sugar and calories. In fact, research shows kids typically fill up on a whopping 3,000 calories on trick or treating alone!

Don’t get me wrong. I love candy just as much as kids do so I’d never suggest you nix trick or treating altogether. But a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows childhood obesity rates are still at an all-time high. Not to mention all that sugar can lead to cavities and the before-bedtime-crash and meltdowns that ensue.

Instead of letting your kid overindulge this year, here are some ways you can cut back on all those treats and have a healthy Halloween.

1. Feed kids dinner

If your kids go trick or treating on an empty stomach, they’ll be more likely to eat too much candy, which is empty calories that spike their blood sugar.

Instead, make sure your kids eat a healthy dinner that consists of healthy protein, fruits and vegetables and whole grains before you head out. If eating dinner beforehand isn’t an option, however, serve a healthy snack: cut up peppers and hummus or an apple with almond butter, for example.

2. Walk

Instead of driving your kids from house to house, walk and track your activity on your
Fitbit.

3. Pay attention to portions

Your kids will get plenty of candy but that doesn’t mean they have to eat it all at once. Let them pick 3 pieces (or what you deem appropriate) and call it a night. If they get full-sized candy bars, divide them into smaller portions and put the rest away.

4. Give options

If you’re at a party and there’s cake, cookies and candy, let your kids choose one or two small treats they want.

5. Put it away or donate it

If you keep treats out in plain sight on the counter, your kids are more likely to grab for them instead of a healthy snack when they’re hungry. After Halloween, store candy in the freezer and dole it out occasionally instead of letting them have a free-for-all.

If having candy in the house is too tempting for you, bring it to work, or donate it to a food pantry, your local church or the fire or police station. Many dentists also offer Halloween candy buy-back programs.

6. Re-think treats

Instead of bringing candy to parties or handing it out to trick or treaters, consider better food options such as:

  • Dried fruit
  • Crackers
  • Hot chocolate
  • Trail mix
  • Popcorn

Or nix food altogether and hand out small toys, Play-Doh, stickers or pencils, for example. It doesn’t matter what you hand out—kids just want to get something in their bags.

7. Buy candy you don’t like

If there’s candy in my house that has chocolate in it, it’s a guarantee that I’ll eat it. Instead, I purchase candy I don’t like so if there’s leftovers, I won’t eat it.

7 Ways To Teach Kids Healthy Eating Habits

7 Ways To Teach Kids Healthy Eating Habits

When you’re an emotional eater like I am, it can be challenging to teach your kids healthy heating habits. If your kids see you overeating, eating on the go or eating when you’re bored, stressed or upset, chances are they’ll pick up the same unhealthy eating habits. Yet just as you can inadvertently teach poor habits, you can teach healthy ones too. Here are 7 ways to make it happen.

1. Eat meals together

According to a 2014 study, 88 percent of families say they eat meals together most days or a few days a week, which is a good thing because it’s one of the best ways to teach kids healthy eating habits.

A 2011 meta-analysis published in the journal Pediatrics found that children who eat family meals together 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. Sharing family meals together also teaches kids healthy eating habits like mindful eating and of course, manners.

2. Sit at the table

Kids can easily fall into a habit of walking into the kitchen, grabbing something to eat and eat standing up. Even if it’s a quick snack, kids should sit down, slow down, focus on what they’re eating and pay attention to their fullness cues. Sitting down also ensures they won’t eat so fast they’ll overeat.

3. Talk about hunger and fullness signals

Toddlers and young kids may not be able to recognize when they’re hungry versus when they’re bored or simply want a snack. It’s important however, to teach kids how to recognize their hunger signals.

When I joined Weight Watchers, they gave me photos of several different sized balloons to describe the various stages of hunger which would work well for kids too. You can also teach your kids that when you’re hungry, your stomach makes funny noises and when you’ve eaten too much your stomach feels uncomfortable or even painful, for example.

4. Never use food as a reward or as punishment

It can be tempting to offer your kids a snack or a treat to get them to behave well in a public place or get through a doctor’s appointment without tears, for example. I often find myself falling into this trap but in the reverse way. When my kids start to act up, we’ll threaten to take treats away, which isn’t a good idea either.

When you use food as a reward or as punishment, you’re teaching them that food has power. As adults, they may treat themselves to dinner or a piece of cake after a long, stressful day or not allow themselves to eat something “off limits” if they’ve gained weight or didn’t hit the gym that day. Instead, give your kid a hug, a high five or a sticker and when they’re behaving badly, firm limits.

5. Don’t bribe kids with dessert

Dina Rose, PhD, author of It’s Not About The Broccoli, calls it the “dessert deal.” You offer your kids dessert but only after they eat their  vegetables. This teaches kids that vegetables are less desirable than dessert or should only be eaten to get dessert.

Dr. Rose suggests re-thinking dessert and offering yogurt, baked fruit or a smoothie instead. Yet it’s important to teach kids that vegetables can be healthy and delicious at the same time. Although I don’t believe in hiding vegetables, you can roast them, add a healthy dip like hummus or add different seasonings for your kids to eventually love them.

6. Eat mindfully

Mindfulness has become trendy in recent years and for good reason. Studies show mindful eating can help prevent childhood obesity. A 2016 pilot study from the Medical College of Georgia at August University showed that mindfulness-based eating awareness training encouraged overweight teens to eat healthier and exercise.

If you rush through meals or reach for seconds before you wait to assess your hunger—about 20 minutes—you’ll model how your kids can do the same. Instead, teach kids how to savor each bite, chew thoroughly and put their fork down into bites.

7. Don’t eat on the run

One night, my daughter had back-to-back after-school activities and I let her eat dinner in the car. It was a sandwich and broccoli but I felt so awful about it that I vowed never to do it again.

Suffice to say, many kids eat snacks in the ca and are forced to eat on the run because of busy afternoons or even mornings. And eating on the run can even cause kids to skip meals. According to a survey by Barbara’s, 50 percent of kids who eat on the go or in the car skip breakfast at least once a week.

Meals are meant to be enjoyed and shared as a family. Eating in the car or on the run in between after-school activities can cause kids to overeat and teaches them that eating isn’t important—but just another activity to squeeze in that day.

What are some healthy eating habits you’re teaching your kids?

7 Surprising Foods My Kids Eat

7 Surprising Foods My Kids Eat

Getting your kids to eat new foods can be a challenge whether they’re picky eaters or not.

Kids get used to the foods they’re served. Offer chicken nuggets for dinner night after night and that’s what you can expect them to eat. Switch it up one night and try fish instead and it’s unlikely they’ll even take a bite.

Like adults, kids are creatures of habit and not always the adventurous foodies you want them to be. However, offering a variety of foods and dishing them out frequently is one way to get your kids unstuck and willing to try new foods.

It’s a strategy that has worked for me so successfully in fact, that sometimes I’m shocked by the surprising foods my kids are willing to eat. Here are 7.

1. Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts can be a hard sell for kids and even many adults but my kids don’t put up a fuss when I serve them. Nutrient dense, these little green leafy vegetables are high in vitamin C and a great source of vitamins A, K and B6 as well as folate, iron and magnesium.

Brussels Sprouts are quite delicious especially when they’re roasted with a bit of olive oil or coconut oil or even with a handful of raisins for some sweetness.

2. Shrimp

Serve it for dinner or as an appetizer, shrimp is quick, easy and versatile. A 3-ounce serving of shrimp contains a whopping 18 grams of protein and they’re an excellent source of vitamin B12, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids.

3. Pumpkin

Packed with 22 vitamins and minerals, pumpkin is a good source of fiber to keep kids full, lutein, which is important for eye health and vitamins A, C and zinc which are known to boost the immune system.

My kids love pumpkin mini muffins for school snacks and my older daughter even eats pumpkin purée right out of the can.

4. Lobster

Call me pretentious but in the summer, my husband and I like to pick up a few lobsters and have dinner together as a family on Sunday. Perhaps because of its light, non-fishy, sweet taste, my kids devour it too.

Lobster is a good source of protein—3 ounces has 16 grams—as well as zinc, copper and selenium, all of which are beneficial for the cells in the body and help to remove free radicals[i] which, over time, can cause harmful effects.

5. Arugula

The bitter taste of arugula turns me off but my husband’s a big fan so when he makes it for dinner, my kids surprisingly eat it as well. Arugula is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A, C and K, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

Instead of serving an entire bowl of arugula, try to add a few leaves to soup or pizza and see if your kids will try it.

6. Sardines

I started eating sardines a few years ago and to my shock, my kids started eating them as well. Sardines are an excellent source of calcium as well as protein, vitamin D, B12 and phosphorus and selenium.

Fresh or canned, you can grill or sauté sardines, add a small amount of mayonnaise as you would tuna fish or add sardines to any pasta dish.

7. Cabbage

You might only serve cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, but cabbage is a great vegetable to eat in the spring and fall when it’s in season. Cabbage is a good source of fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamins C, K, B6 and folate.

The great thing about cabbage is that a little goes a long way: one head of cabbage could last you days. Simply chop cabbage and sauté it with a bit of olive oil or coconut oil for a delicious and filling side.

 

[i] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9891606

What are some surprising foods your kids eat? Leave me a comment!

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 Health Benefits of Figs

5 Health Benefits of Figs

Figs probably aren’t the type of fruit you feed your kids every day. In fact, when you think about figs, you probably think fig Newtons—the cookies you used to enjoy as a kid and maybe feed your kids now. Although those cookies are delicious, they aren’t the healthiest treat to eat.

Yet real figs—fresh or dried—are, plus they’re tasty, sweet and have a chewy and slightly crunchy texture at the same time.

While apples, pears and pumpkin get all the attention this time of year, consider serving up figs at your kids’ next meal. Here’s why.

Filling fiber

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9 out of 10 kids don’t eat enough vegetables and 6 in 10 don’t eat enough fruit—two of the best sources of fiber. Since fiber slows digestion, it keeps your kids feeling fuller longer and may prevent weight gain and obesity.

Adding figs to your kid’s diet can be a great way to add more fiber. A half-cup of raw figs contains nearly 3 grams of fiber while the same portion of dried figs has more than 9 grams.

Rich in vitamins and minerals

Both raw and dried figs are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, yet dried figs have higher levels. For starters, figs contain calcium for strong teeth and bones and potassium which supports your child’s growth and the function of nerve cells in the body and the brain. Potassium also lowers blood pressure, which can help the 2 to 5 percent of kids who have hypertension but often go undiagnosed. Figs also contain other important key nutrients like magnesium and vitamin K.

Prevents colds and infections

With cold and flu season upon us, feeding your kids figs may prevent them from getting sick. In fact, a 2015 study conducted with grass carp suggests figs may have an immune boosting benefit.

Treats common ailments

The fruit itself as well as extracts and components of figs have been used to treat more than 40 types of ailments of the digestive, endocrine, reproductive and respiratory systems in the body as well as gastrointestinal tract and urinary tract infections. Although serious health conditions aren’t a problem for most healthy kids, the research speaks to the healing properties of figs and may give your kids an edge.

Prevents constipation

If your kids aren’t eating enough fiber, there’s a good change they are frequently constipated. Because of their high-fiber content, figs are among the many foods that prevent constipation. In fact, participants who consumed a paste made from figs saw a significant improvement in constipation, according to a 2016 study.

How To Eat Figs

There are so many ways to incorporate figs into just about any meal. Here are a few to try:

  • Swap your regular fruit for figs in lunch boxes or as an after-school snack.
  • Chop figs and add them to oatmeal, salads or plain, Greek yogurt.
  • Roast figs for a side dish or an after-dinner dessert.
  • Slice bread and make a crostini with a bit of goat cheese, figs and a drizzle of honey.
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.

6 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

6 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

When you think about pumpkin, you probably think about carving a pumpkin with your kids, baking pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, or savoring a warm, sweet pumpkin spice latte.

This time of year, you’ll find pumpkin-flavored everything but the real kind of pumpkin—yes, it’s a vegetable—is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids. Even better—there are ways to serve it so even the pickiest of eaters will devour it.

1. Packed with nutrition

Pumpkin contains 22 vitamins and minerals and is rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant and plant pigment that gives pumpkin its bright orange color and converts to vitamin A in the body.

2. Improved immunity

Pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and zinc, which may boost the immune system, particularly important when your kid is swapping germs all day in daycare and school.

3. Filled with fiber

It seems brands may vary but one cup of pumpkin has only 50 calories and 3 grams of fiber. Since fiber is slowly digested, it helps your kid to feel fuller longer. The fiber in pumpkin also promotes digestion, can prevent constipation and may improve gut health. Having a healthy gut improves the immune system and helps the body to stave off a slew of health conditions and diseases.

4. Loaded with lutein

Lutein, a carotenoid or antioxidant, is well known to be beneficial for eye health. Yet in recent years, new research suggests lutein may also improve brain health and cognition which could give your kid a boost in learning, memory and concentration.

In fact, two recent studies from Abbott and the University of Illinois found children who had higher levels of lutein performed better when they were faced with tough cognitive tasks and had higher scores on standardized tests.

5. May prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease

According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 193,000 kids and teens under age 20 are diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and experts agree, those numbers are on the rise.

Studies suggest along with a healthy diet and exercise, eating pumpkin may also ward of type-2 diabetes. A 2009 study in mice suggests pumpkin may be effective in improving glucose tolerance and insulin resistance. Another study in mice published in 2012 in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggests pumpkin seed oil may reduce high blood pressure and be protective of the cardiovascular system.

6. A better night’s rest

Tryptophan is usually associated with turkey and responsible for that post-Thanksgiving dinner slump, yet tryptophan is also found in pumpkin seeds. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that converts to serotonin, a chemical in the brain that’s responsible for sleep and a happy mood. Although there’s no guarantee, feeding your kids pumpkin for dessert may help them sleep through the night.

How to Enjoy Pumpkin

Add pureed pumpkin to smoothies, breads, muffins, pancakes and waffles. Pumpkin is a moist, tasty alternative to oil and eggs in baking recipes.

Set aside individual portions of pumpkin seeds for school lunches or after-school snacks.

Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top of salads, savory soups and oatmeal.

Spread pumpkin seed butter on sandwiches for a nut-free alternative.

Mix dried fruit, pumpkin seeds and nuts for a healthy trail mix.