What Are Your Children Eating?

There are alarming statistics concerning the number of overweight kids. The fast food industry and TV food ads tend to get blamed for the over-sizing of America.

English: Child eating a veggie burger at a fas...

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According to a group of physicians, voluntary guidelines for reducing ads on TV have not been effective. They say it’s time to get tougher with the food industry about not advertising junk food to young children. The assumption here is that young children often can’t tell the difference between ads and programming. If fast food ads were banned, they say, this could decrease obesity and overweight by 17 percent.

Looking at the bigger picture though, we can see it is not only the food industry’s problem. It is one for all families. Studies show that one in five children (ages 2 to 5) is overweight or obese before entering kindergarten. These children aren’t even in school yet. It appears the school lunch program is not the problem at this early age.

That places much of the responsibility of providing healthy foods on parents and caregivers. It is  their job to decide what foods are served, when they are served, and where they are served. They are the ones in charge. For families with small children, they determine what their children eat. Therefore, they need to know what foods children need and in what portion.

With all the media talk and nutrition information available, it would appear that everyone should know what to eat to stay healthy and maintain weight. But people are still confused about what constitutes valid information, or they choose to ignore it.

Children need to be exposed to fresh, less-processed foods at an early age. Their appetite and palate should adapt to healthy real foods before they are exposed to hamburger, chicken nuggets, soda pop, sweets, and other empty calorie foods. Children need to be educated in knowing and believing real food is the natural way to eat, rather than highly processed packaged foods.

Here are suggestions for promoting good food habits in and out of the home:

  • Don’t use food as a reward or punishment. Proper food and nutrition is much too important to be a bargaining tool in the lives of children.
  • Plan meals that are rich in plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables.
  • Clear the kitchen of sugars, processed foods, soda pop and any energy drinks. Water, the best choice of beverages, can be flavored with lemon or other fruits and/or juices.
  • Take children grocery shopping and talk about healthy and less-than-healthy foods.
  • Try to buy organically grown fruits and vegetables when possible.
  • Look for the words “Whole Grain” as the first ingredient on breads and pastas.
  • Cook with your children. Show them cooking is a part of normal life, is fun and creative, and does not need to be a burden. Involve them in cooking with real food and help them know where their food comes from.
  • Sit down together as a family to eat.
  • Be a good role model and eat healthy. Yes, that means eating your fruit and veggies at every meal.

Healthy kids don’t just happen. Parents have the responsibility of setting the stage for good food habits and helping their children understand the importance of healthy food for healthy bodies.

Go to the top of this page and get your Free Cooking Report or click here.

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Get the Sugar Habit Under Control

After all the Christmas goodies, it is hard to get back into a schedule of healthy eating. Our bodies may be so attuned to eating foods with a high sugar content that the craving for sugar continues.

Just as with any other addiction, sugar craving needs to be controlled. This includes cutting out artificially sweetened foods as well. Getting the sugar habit under control is especially important for children for health reasons as well as weight control.

How can we help get the sugar habit under control?

  • First of all, those desserts and holiday candies need to be out of the house by now. As the expression goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Stock your cabinets and refrigerator with fruits and vegetables instead of chips, cookies, and candies. Yes, fruits are a source of sugar but they also provide vitamins necessary for good health.
  • Start your kids off with a good breakfast. This doesn’t  mean a bagel or bran muffin, but foods more nutritious such as a vegetable omelet, some oatmeal with chopped almonds, and fresh fruit.
  • If you are the chief meal planner and one who prepares the meals, eliminate sugars and any sugar derivatives (honey, molasses, corn syrup, high fructose syrup and the like) from the menu. Plan  meals in advance, shop intentionally, based on what you need, and prepare the meals at a set time.
  • Pack the meals with plant-based foods from the vegetable group, the fruit group, small amount of grains, beans and legumes, and high-quality protein sources from animal or plant protein sources such as seafood, poultry and lean meats.
  • Set a good example by not eating foods with sugar. This means eliminating any “diet” soft drinks and other processed, sugary foods as well.
  • Take your kids shopping and ask them to help you make dinner or prepare their school lunch. Praise them for their good choices.
  • Have pitchers of water handy so your kids can drink this anytime. Kids should drink water rather than any soda or other sweetened drink.
  • One of the biggest helps is for parents to teach kids the value of staying active and exercising. When they are playing baseball, hiking or biking they are not as apt to want a piece of cake. Then, have some healthy snacks when they are through, such as nuts or peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat bread, carrot sticks, etc.
  • Your child may be tempted to eat sweets, just as you, perhaps, are tempted. Try to get past the temptation by focusing on another activity. Perhaps on some hobby you have, or a pleasant experience you had.

Some like to use visualization when this happens. They imagine and visualize how much healthier they will be without the sugar, or they will see a firm, slender body if they don’t indulge. Sometimes it helps to just tell our body what we need and what we don’t need.

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Food Facts Essential for Safety


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Have the summer doldrums got you down? Is it you or is it the food you are eating (or not eating)?  Here is a “must” article to read to stay healthy. Take a couple minutes and take a look:  http://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/everyday-healthy-living/nutrition/protect-your-family-from-food-poisoning

To your health,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Food and Nutrition Consultant

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Can you Eat Healthy When Eating Out?

Good eating habits are often forgotten when eating out. Even parents sometimes forget they are setting examples for their children by what they order in restaurants. Here are some tips to help parents and children keep healthy eating in mind when eating out.

–  Bread or rolls are often brought first to the table. Ask for whole wheat breads, if possible. When you add the butter and/or oil, you increase the fat and calorie intake. Eat in moderation.

–  When you choose a soup, remember that cream- based soups are higher in fat and calories than other soups.  A soup can be a great appetizer, as most are low in calories and you have a feeling of being full quickly.

–  If you’re looking to eat less, order two appetizers or an appetizer and a salad as your meal.

–  As key ingredients to your meal, choose dishes with fruits and vegetables.  Both fruits and vegetables are great sources of dietary fiber as well as many vitamins and minerals.

–  Order salad dressings or sauces on the side.  This way you have control over how much you add to your food.

– Ask to have fish and chicken grilled rather than fried. Request that food be grilled without butter or oil, or prepared with very little.

–  Always look for food on the menu that’s baked, grilled, broiled, poached, or steamed.  These cooking methods use less fat in the cooking process and are usually much lower in calories.

–  If you get a choice of side dishes, get a baked potato or steamed vegetables instead of French fries.

–  When ordering a baked potato, ask for salsa instead of sour cream, butter, cheese, or even bacon.  Salsa is very low in calories and provides a healthy alternative with plenty of flavor and spice.

–  Choose foods made with whole grains. In addition to whole wheat bread, look for dishes made with brown rice and whole wheat pasta.

–  When you order pasta dishes, order tomato-based sauces instead of the cream-based sauces. Tomato-based sauces are much lower in fat and calories and you can count this as a vegetable!

–  If you crave dessert, look for something with low fat, such as berries or fruit.

–  If you order dessert, share with a friend. Half of the dessert will equal half of the calories.

–  Drink water or tea instead of soda or other sweetened beverages. Sodas are loaded with sugars and not healthy for young or old. Avoid artificially sweetened drinks as well.

–  When you are full, stop eating.  Listen to your body and what it tells you.

–  When you are full, take home what you have left. This part of your meal can serve as a second meal, or part of a meal, later.  You will get almost two meals for the price of one.

– Always remember not to deprive yourself of the foods you truly love.  All types of foods can fit into a well balanced diet.

Eating healthy while eating out can be challenging, but it can be done and enjoyed. You will thank yourself later.

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Three Simple Things Parents Can Do to Help Their Children Lose Weight

More children than ever before are overweight or obese. Overweight children are prone to being teased and ridiculed at school. They’re also susceptible to many more illnesses and health conditions. Helping a child lose weight is one of the best things a parent or adult can do. It helps the child live a longer and hopefully a happier life.

There are many things a parent can do to help a child lose weight. In this article we take a look at three very simple but powerful strategies.

#1 Get rid of the junk

A child, any child, will inevitably choose junk food over a healthy snack. If junk food is in the house, you can bet your child will find it. To help your children lose weight, get rid of the junk food. Get rid of the soda. Throw out the sugary drinks. Toss the cookies, cakes and ice cream. Get rid of the candy. Throw away the sugary cereals,  chips,  and pizza rolls. Throw away the junk foods and don’t buy it any more.

Replace the junk food with healthy snack options. Seriously, if it’s in the house and children are hungry they’ll eat it. Good snack options include cheese, fruit, whole grain crackers and pretzels. Popcorn, low fat and low sodium, is a good snack option too.

Fill your refrigerator with easy to use vegetables and dip. Low-fat dip or hummus works best. Buy your children low-sugar oatmeal and low-sugar cereals and give them fresh fruit to put on it. You’re not going to be able to completely wipe out their sweet tooth. However, they can satisfy it with fruit instead of sugar and white flour.

#2 Get active

Children’s bodies are meant to be active and in constant motion. If your child isn’t involved in any after school or extracurricular sports, sign them up. If they’re not interested in sports, then get outside with them and get active. Ride your bikes together. Go for walks or hikes together. Make sure your child does something active every day. Sign them up for a break dancing or martial arts class. Support them to join a sports league or take lessons in an individual sport like tennis.

The more active your child is, the more calories they’ll burn. It may be difficult at first. Overweight children may experience physical discomfort. Be patient. Help them gradually increase the intensity of their activity. Many children who are overweight are uncomfortable with their bodies. They fear ridicule and would rather stay inside their home. Help them get over any embarrassment they have.

#3 Be a good role model

If your child is not allowed to eat junk, then you’re not either. If your child is supposed to be active, then you need to be too. Children learn by the actions and behavior of the adults around them. Yes, it may be difficult at first. If you’ve been living an unhealthy lifestyle there will be some discomfort. Change isn’t always easy. But it does get easier. Support your child to live a better, healthier life, by living a better and healthier life yourself.

Childhood obesity is at an all-time high. It’s up to parents and the adults to help children overcome weight problems. Teach children about healthy eating when they’re young so they can grow into strong and healthy adults.


Healthy Homemade Treats for Kids – Quick and Easy Baking Strategies to Reduce Calories and Stay Healthier

Kids love to snack. Who doesn’t? Snacking is fun and it feels like a special treat. Snacking also helps keep blood sugar levels even so children have energy all day. However, snacks and treats can also be jam-packed with sugar. Too much sugar wreaks havoc on blood sugar levels. Behavior issues pop up. Children start feeling poorly and their long-term health can be affected.

Too much fat and enriched white flour are also unhealthy options that are prevalent in baked goods. However, they’re options you can change with a few alterations and substitutions. The answer to healthier baked goods may be to make healthy homemade treats at home.

#1 Lower sugar – Muffins and other baked goods can be high in sugar, particularly when you buy them from the bakery or store. However, when you make them at home, you can reduce the sugar or sweeten them with fruit juices, Stevia, or even fruit preserves.  Fruit or some vegetables can be added to muffins and baked goods as well.

#2 Low-fat substitutes – Did you know you can replace the oil in many baking recipes with apple sauce? You can! Additionally, you can use lower-fat products when baking. For example when a recipe calls for whole milk you can substitute low-fat or fat-free milk. If it calls for eggs you can use egg substitute. Take a look at the ingredients in a recipe before you bake and make low-fat substitutions when available. You can even find low-fat chocolate chips.

#3 More whole grains – Children generally seem opposed to whole grains. They prefer the fluffy goodness of enriched white flour. However, you can make small substitutions of whole grain flour to help your children develop a healthier palate. For example, when a recipe calls for two cups of all-purpose flour, use one and a half cups of all-purpose flour and a half cup of whole wheat flour. They?ll hardly notice the difference.

It should be noted that whole wheat, oat and other whole grain flour can taste sweeter or nuttier. Keep that consideration in mind when adding sugar to recipes where you’re making substitutions.

#4 Adding protein – Protein powder is a wonderful thing. A little protein added to a chocolate chip cookie recipe doesn’t change the flavor but it does increase the nutritional value. A child eating a homemade cookie with a little extra protein will digest that cookie more slowly. The sugar will enter their bloodstream more slowly and they won’t experience a sugar rush. Nuts are another easy way to add protein to baked goods.

With a few simple changes, baked goods can be both healthy and delicious. Take a look at the baked treats you make at home. How can you make them better? Can you replace the fat with low-fat options? Can you reduce the sugar? Can you add whole grains? Can you add protein? Simple substitutions can make your homemade baked goodies healthy and nutritious.


Preventing Childhood Obesity – Seven Simple Tips and Strategies

The number of obese children has tripled over the past thirty years. The reasons are twofold: poor diet and an inactive lifestyle. The good news is that childhood obesity can be reversed and prevented. Here are seven simple tips and strategies to help children stay healthy and active.

#1 Limit sugary drinks and snacks. Make them a treat rather than the norm. Aim for one sugary drink or snack each week. Take care to not make sugary snacks a reward. They can be part of a celebration or a special tradition. However, when food becomes a reward it sends the wrong message to a child.

#2 Limit the time a child is allowed to look at or sit in front of a screen. That includes televisions, computers, handheld games and iPods. Electronic devices have become part of society. However, they don’t need to dominate a child’s day. If you don’t want to struggle with arguments, consider getting a device that limits the time your child can watch television.

Move the computer to the center of the home, and keep all electronic devices in a central location. Make children sign their electronics in and out.

#3 Find an activity the child loves. There are so many fun things a child can do that gets their body moving and their blood pumping. Take a look at what’s offered in your community. Explore teams, classes and lessons. Take a look at some ” out of the box” ideas like ice skating, skate boarding, rock climbing, dancing, and Thai kickboxing or jiu jitsu.

#4 Provide your child with a variety of fruit and vegetable options. Ideally your child will eat five fruits and vegetables each day. Support them to try new foods. It may take some time for their taste buds to appreciate some vegetables. Be patient.

#5 Be a good role model. Your child will emulate your behavior. Eat a healthy diet and live an active lifestyle. Honor your body and your health and your child will too.

#6 Eat as a family. When families sit down together for mealtime, children tend to develop a different appreciation for food. Also, get active together. Take family hikes. Play family games outdoors. Go for bike rides together. Play football or go skiing or sledding.

#7 Eat in more often. Restaurant food is generally high in fat, salt and sugar. Eating at home gives you and your family more control over what you put into your body. You know what is in the food you’ve prepared. Eating at home is generally healthier than eating out.

Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t difficult. However, it does take attention and planning. Plan activates for your family. Pay attention to your child’s activity level and screen time. Plan meals and help your child learn to make healthy choices for life.


Easy Five-a-Day Strategies

It’s tough for parents to make sure their children get all the nutrients they need. This is particularly true if you’re the parent of a picky eater. Picky eaters rarely like fruits and vegetables. Here are five tips and ideas to help you get more fruits and veggies into your child’s body.

#1 Smoothies – Children love smoothies and milk shakes. You can add fruits and even vegetables to a child’s smoothie without them knowing they’re drinking their fruits and vegetables. Bananas, berries, carrots and even apples and celery can be added. You can also add leafy greens like spinach but the green color of the smoothie will be a dead giveaway. You may want to introduce leafy greens later when your child is accustomed to smoothies.

#2 Snacks – It’s amazing what happens when you place a tray of vegetables and dip on the table during snack time. When children don’t have to eat their vegetables they’re more likely to enjoy them. A low-pressure snack with celery, carrots, cucumbers and other child-friendly vegetables is a great way to get a few more vegetables into their diet. Good dips to consider include ranch dip and hummus. You can also switch it up with an occasional fruit and cheese tray.

#3 Purees – Okay, it’s sneaky but it works. You can add vegetable purees to just about anything. You can add them to spaghetti, muffins, brownies and even taco meat. Squash makes a great puree but so, too, do vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and even beans.

#4 Serve two vegetables at mealtime – One great way to get more vegetables into your child?s diet is to serve two vegetables at mealtime. Serve a cooked vegetable and a salad, for example. If you’re also being sneaky and placing purees in your food, then your child may be getting three servings of vegetables at dinner time.

#5 Serve salsas, sauces, relishes and dips – Any sauce or dip that’s made from a vegetable helps you get more veggies into your child’s diet. Serve salsas and sauces at mealtime when appropriate. For example, salsa with scrambled eggs or hummus with celery stalks. Even apples and peanut butter can get a serving of fruit into your child.

With a little planning ahead, a bit of sneakiness and a commitment to five a day, you can get more fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet. It’s important to take a relaxed approach to eating. If you force a child to eat veggies, they’re likely to resist. Instead, ask them to try their fruit and veggies.

Children have different taste buds than adults. It may take a few “tastes” for them to learn to like a fruit or vegetable. Of course, don’t reward them with dessert if they don’t eat their vegetables, but forcing it may result in a backlash. Provide your child with plenty of opportunities to eat fruits and vegetables and they will develop healthy eating habits.


Common Childhood Obesity Treatments and Recommendations

If your child or someone you know has been diagnosed as obese, there is good news. Childhood obesity can be reversed. A diagnosis from your doctor will likely result in several treatment options and recommendations. Here’s what you can expect.

Obese Children Under 7 Years

If your child is under seven years old, then your doctor may recommend helping your child maintain their weight. The key will be to help them stay the same weight as they grow in height. In a few years their height and weight will balance out. They will have reached a healthy BMI or body mass index. The reason behind this is that dieting can be difficult if not a bit traumatic for young children who may not understand that their body weight is an issue.

It’s important to know that maintaining weight is still quite challenging for an obese child. Dietary and lifestyle changes will have to be made.

Obese Children Over 7 Years

If your child is over seven years a doctor will recommend a weight loss program. The recommendation will range from losing one pound a week to one pound a month depending on circumstances.

It’s important to note that losing weight does not mean going on a diet. It means changing eating habits and lifestyle. The difference is significant. A diet is a short-term solution. Children often return to their old eating habits and lifestyle afterwards. Dieting as a child sets them up for a life of yo-yo dieting. This is hard on a body and on a person’s self-confidence.

Other Recommendations

There are many common sense strategies to use. Here are some of the lifestyle changes your physician will recommend regardless of the child’s age:

* No more sugary drinks
* Replace sugary and high white flour snacks with fruits, vegetables and protein
* Eat as a family
* Monitor serving size
* Eat home-cooked meals rather than fast food or restaurant meals
* Limit time with electronics to two hours or less each day
* Help your child find activities they enjoy. For example, ice skating/hockey, swimming, dancing, martial arts or team sports. Emphasize fun and activity rather than exercise.

Much of the burden to reverse childhood obesity is placed on the parents. This is because parents buy the food, make the meals, and give permission to turn on the television. As a parent the responsibility rests with you to be a good role model and to help your child learn to make healthy choices. With patience and determination, childhood obesity can be reversed.


Tame that Sweet Tooth

Sugar is a habit that can be tough to break. In fact, many people don’t realize just how much sugar they eat every day. It’s often worse for children who tend to eat things parents are unaware of. That makes it even more important for parents to be vigilant at home. You need to tame your child’s sweet tooth.

Track What They Eat

The first step to taming a child’s sweet tooth is to actually take a look at what they’re eating. You may be surprised to learn how much sugar is in the foods they eat. Cereal, ketchup, bread and of course snacks are all full of sugar. Track what your child eats and read the labels. Make notes of how much sugar they eat and begin to plan how you can make changes.

Tame It Slowly

Sugar is actually something that many people, children included, are addicted to. Our bodies become reliant on the sugar for energy. You experience highs and lows in your blood sugar. When the low sugar levels hit, you crave more sugar. It can be a never-ending cycle. If your child consumes a lot of sugar, they may be addicted. That means if you simply eliminate the sugar, they’re going to experience withdrawal.

Sugar withdrawal can include a number of symptoms. They include insomnia, stomach distress, headaches and fatigue. It can be quite unpleasant. And chances are you’re going to see some very unpleasant behavior changes while your child is going through withdrawal. It’s tough!

Instead of going cold turkey, start making small changes to your child’s diet. Gradually decrease the amount of sugar in their diet. Replacing sugary foods with low-sugar substitutes is much easier. Simple things like replacing jam or jelly with peanut butter or buying bread without added sugar are a great start. Replace juice and soda with water.

Notice the Change

As your child consumes less and less sugar, you’ll notice a difference in their health and behavior. They may even notice a difference. They may feel more energetic. They may feel more in control of their emotions and they may be able to focus for longer periods of time. It’s definitely motivation to continue reducing sugar in their diet.

Children may be resistant to the idea of reducing sugar. You may have to be covert about your sugar reduction plan. Take an inventory of what your children eats on a regular basis and how much sugar they’re consuming. Make a plan to gradually replace sugary foods with healthier ones. Little by little you can tame your child’s sweet tooth and help them toward living a longer and healthier life.