Posts Tagged ‘Health’

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:

To your health,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Food and Nutrition Consultant

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Easy Ways to Reduce Calories Consumption

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We seem to live in a super-sized world. We’ve become accustomed to large portions, clean plates and stuffing ourselves. This has led to an epidemic of obesity and it is affecting our children in greater numbers. However, children don’t respond well to severe limitations. Really, who does?

They respond better to gradual changes and new habits. One great way to help your child gain control over their weight and their eating habits is to reduce the calories they consume at each meal. To help you with this process we’ve provided five easy ways to reduce calorie consumption.

#1 Replace high calorie ingredients in recipes. It’s often really easy to lower the calories in a meal by making a single replacement. For example, if you’re making Sloppy Joes you can replace the ground beef with ground turkey. It’ll taste just as good but your child will be consuming significantly fewer calories. Simple replacements are easy. Buy low-fat milk. Change your peanut butter and jelly to low or no sugar options.

#2 Cut the normal portion size in half. We’re accustomed to large portions. Many also still follow the old “Eat everything on your plate” mentality. That’s fine, but when your plate contains a thousand calories it’s easy to gain weight quickly. Cut back on the portions you serve your child, particularly the meats and starches. For example, perhaps you’re serving chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans. Give your child a drumstick, a dollop of mashed potatoes and a healthy serving of beans.

#3 Skip the sugary drinks. One of the biggest contributors to calories are in the things we drink. Children consume chocolate milk, soda and juice at an alarming rate. These are all essentially empty calories. Make chocolate milk an occasional treat, eliminate the soda and reduce juice to no more than one glass a day. Water really is what everyone should be drinking. It may take some time to develop a habit of drinking water, but it’s the best thing for you and your child and it’s calorie free.

#4 Cut back on processed foods. Processed foods – foods that come in boxes, cans and bags – generally contains more calories, chemicals and fat. Natural food – food that is grown or raised – is generally much better for all of us. When you cut back on the processed foods your child eats, you’re helping them cut back on calories, sugar, and fat.

#5 Provide healthy snacks. Snack time may actually be the time when your child consumes the most calories. They eat things like cookies, candy, ice cream and other sugar-laden treats. Snacks are an important part of a child’s daily food needs. They help keep a child’s blood sugar and energy levels balanced. However, sugary snacks need to be replaced with healthy snacks in order to receive those benefits. Get creative. Cheese, yogurt, fruit, crackers, home cooked meats, and dips can all be used to create healthy and kid friendly snacks.

Help your child gain control over their weight. Embrace these five calorie reduction ideas. Your child will begin losing weight without having to deal with dieting, restriction or elimination. They’ll also adopt healthier eating habits and live a better life.

To your health and that of your child,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Specialist in Family and Consumer Studies

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Childhood Obesity Myths and Facts

PowerPlay Obesity Management

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Childhood obesity is a common problem. In fact according to the CDC, Center for Disease Control, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of our children are overweight or obese. This epidemic has caused several myths to surface. Myths only distort understanding. Let’s clear some of these myths up so childhood obesity can be faced and dealt with.

Myth #1 – Soda causes childhood obesity

Soda alone doesn’t cause diabetes. A child who drinks a lot of soda and also has poor eating habits may be obese. If that same child is also living a sedentary life, then obesity may be the result. However, soda alone does not cause obesity, but it does contribute to it.

Myth #2 – Obesity is inherited and you can’t do anything about it

It’s true that you tend to see obesity run in families. If a child is obese, chances are the parents are also obese or overweight. However, it is uncommon for genetics to cause obesity. Occasionally a child may be born with a hormonal imbalance that causes obesity, but that’s not the norm.

In most cases a parent has simply passed on their poor eating habits and inactive lifestyle to their children. Those two elements combine to cause obesity. Eat a healthy diet and get active and obesity can be reversed, even if the parents stay overweight.

Myth #3 Obese children are just lazy

Absolutely not. Obese children are the same as any other children. They love to play and be active. However, it’s also very easy to be sedentary today. Video games, electronic devices and television all keep children indoors and on the couch. Children of all ages and sizes need to be motivated by the adults in their life to get outside and to move their bodies.

Obesity can be reversed. Children can learn to live a healthy and active lifestyle. They can grow up into strong and healthy adults. However, they need the help of the adults in their life. They need guidance, controls and limits. They may also need motivation from time to time.

The Center for Childhood Obesity offers these simple recommendations:

* Five fruits and vegetables each day
* 2 hours of screen time, or less, each day
* 1 hour of physical activity each day
* 0 sugar sweetened beverages each day

Childhood obesity doesn’t have to be a life sentence. In the majority of cases, the simple act of eating healthier foods and getting active can turn it around. Learn the myths and uncover the facts about childhood obesity. Help your child live a better life.

To the health of you and your child,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Specialist in Family and Consumer Studies

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Creating Healthy Habits for Life

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One of the best ways to prepare your children for a long and healthy life is to get them started early with their own healthy habits. This is best taught by example. When the entire family practices healthy habits, they’re more likely to stick with your children for life. Here are six healthy habits to create for you and your family.

#1 Drink water. Most of us just don’t drink enough water. Sure, we’re hydrated but it’s often with calorie and sugar heavy beverages. Skip the soda, juice and sweetened drinks and stick to water. It may be a tough transition for the entire family. Make the change gradually.

#2 Consume far less during mealtime. We’re a super-sized society. We’re accustomed to eating a lot during mealtime. Work on eating smaller portions during mealtime. Serve more vegetables on the plate and less protein and starchy carbohydrates.

#3 Move your body. Find a way to be active each and every day. Walk or bike to places when you can. Take hikes and family walks together. Play sports or engage in physical activities. The more you’re active as a family and on your own, the more your children will be active too. An active lifestyle is key to a healthy mind and body.

#4 Appreciate food for what it is. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying food and consuming treats in moderation. When people have a healthy appreciation for food, they eat healthier. However, when they use food to soothe their emotions or as a reward, it creates a misguided relationship with food. Children will learn to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Parents can help by not using food as a reward or punishment.

#5 Make more food at home. Takeout and prepackaged foods are sometimes necessary, but they’re usually not very healthy. However, when a family makes food at home using fresh produce they’re more likely to eat healthy and to develop a healthy relationship with food. Make cooking a family activity on the weekends when everyone is home together.

#6 Eat less sugar. Sugar is in just about everything we eat. It’s in bread, sauces, it’s sometimes even in lunchmeat. Help your family break the addiction to sugar by choosing low sugar and no sugar options. Cookies and snacks are okay occasionally but they shouldn’t be an everyday choice.

One of a parent’s most important responsibilities is to be a good role model. As your child grows they’ll learn about healthy habits from you. They watch, they emulate and they adopt your habits. Creating healthy habits as a family will help your children grow up healthy and strong. They’ll take the habits they learned as children into adulthood.

To your health,

Lee Jackson CFCS
Specialist in Family and Consumer Studies

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