Choosing Healthy Snacks for Kids

MARCH IS NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH

​​While meals make up the majority of a child’s nutritional intake, most children eat at least one snack per day. While many of the most commonly offered kids’ snacks tend to be of lower nutritional value than meals, snacks still can support—or even enhance—your child’s overall healthy eating plan. Here’s how:

  • Use snack times as a way to increase fruits and vegetable intake. Most kids do not eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Snack times offer a great opportunity to increase access and exposure to these nutrient-dense foods. Consider pairing them up with dairy products or dairy substitutes (such as grapes and cheese) lean proteins (such as celery and peanut butter), or whole-grain cereals and bread (such as banana sandwich on whole grain bread).
  • Keep a range of healthy foods handy at home. It is much easier to make easy, healthy snacks when you keep a few key items stocked at home. Ideas include different types of raw vegetables and fruit, yogurt dip, hummus, and cheese sticks.
  • Avoid processed foods and added sugars. Processed foods (made in a factory and sold in bags and boxes) do not have many nutrients and often have a lot of added sugar and salt. In addition, children may become hungry faster after eating processed foods.
  • Teach your children to eat a rainbow of colors. Arrange your children’s foods to show the beauty of fresh, brightly colored foods. Talk about the farms where food comes from and the farmers who help grow it.

Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics. The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Avoiding Food Traps

MARCH IS NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH

Food traps are situations a​nd places that make it difficult to eat right. We all have them. The following tips may help your family ​avoid some of the most common traps.

Food Trap #1: Vacations, Holidays, and Other Family Gath​erings

Vac​ations

When on a trip, don’t take a vacation from healthy eating and exercise.

What You Can Do:

  • Plan your meals. Will all your meals be from restaurants? If so, can yo​u split entrees and desserts to keep portions from getting too large? Can you avoid fast food? Can you bring along your own healthy snacks?
  • Stay active. Schedule time for physical activities such as taking a walk or swimming in the hotel pool.

Holidays

It’s easy to overeat during holidays. But you don’t need to fear or avoid them.

What You Can Do:

  • Approach the holidays with extra care. Don’t lose sight of what you and your child are eating. Plan to have healthy foods and snacks on hand. Bring a fruit or veggie tray with you when you go to friends and family.
  • Celebrate for the day, not an entire month! Be sure to return to healthy eating the next day.

Other Family Gatherings

In some cultures, when extended families get together, it can turn into a food feast, from morning to night.

What You Can Do:

  • Eat smaller portions. Avoid overeating whenever you get together with family. Try taking small portions instead.
  • Get family support. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles can have an enormous effect on your child’s health. Let them know that you’d like their help in keeping your child on the road to good health.

Food Trap #2: Snack Time

The biggest time for snacking is after school. Kids come home wound up, stressed out, or simply bored, so they reach for food.

What You Can Do:

  • Offer healthy snacks such as raw vegetables, fruit, light microwave popcorn, vegetable soup, sugar-free gelatin, or fruit snacks.
  • You pick the snack. When children are allowed to pick their own snacks, they often make unhealthy choices. Talk to your child about why healthy snacks are important. Come up with a list of snacks that you can both agree on and have them on hand.
  • Keep your child entertained. Help your child come up with other things to do instead of eating, such as playing outside, dancing, painting a picture, flying a kite, or taking a walk with you.
  • Make sure your child eats 3 well-balanced meals a day. This will help cut down on the number of times he or she needs a snack.

Food Trap #3: Running Out of Time

Finding time every day to be physically active can be very difficult. However, if you plan ahead, there are ways to fit it in.

What You Can Do:

  • Make a plan. Sit down with your child and plan in advance for those days when it seems impossible to find even 15 minutes for physical activity. Have a plan B ready that your child can do after dark, such as exercising to a workout video.
  • Make easy dinners. If you run out of time to make dinner, don’t run to the nearest fast-food restaurant. Remember, dinners don’t have to be elaborate. They can be as simple as a sandwich, bowl of soup, piece of fruit, and glass of milk.

Remember

Your job is to provide good nutrition to your child and family and encourage regular physical activity. Stay positive and focus on how well your child is doing in all areas of life. It can help keep nutrition and activity change moving along.


Written by Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP. Pediatric Obesity: Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment Strategies for Primary Care (Copyright © 2014 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Beyond Chicken Nuggets: Protein-Rich Alternatives for Picky Eaters

MARCH IS NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH

All parents want their children to have healthy diets—and part of that is getting enough protein. With picky eaters, that can feel hard. But it doesn’t have to be hard.

Here are some things about protein that you may not know—and some ideas to make mealtimes easier.

When all your child will eat is chicken nuggets:

As a pediatrician, I talk with parents all the time about what their children eat. And very often I find that when it comes to giving their children protein, families feel frustrated—and worried. “All he will eat is chicken nuggets” is something I commonly hear.

When babies are small it’s not really an issue, because they are on breast milk or formula. But as they grow into toddlers and preschoolers and we expand their diets, that’s where the worry sets in—because the age when they are expanding their diets is also the same age when they become more independent and willful. It’s a power struggle that often plays out as picky eating.

Enter the chicken nugget. I’m not sure what it is about them that makes kids almost universally like them; perhaps it’s the same thing that makes French fries universally appealing. Some even look like French fries. And for many families it can seem like once you’ve started the “nugget habit,” there’s no turning back. But here’s the thing: you don’t need to start that habit. And for those of you already in the habit, there is hope.

Why protein is an important part of your child’s diet:

When we think of protein we think of muscles, but protein is a building block for many other parts of the body, such as hair, bones, enzymes, skin and blood. Our bodies are very good at recycling and reusing proteins as they break down, but we do need to get some from our diet.

Here are three things about protein that many parents don’t know:

1. Children don’t need as much protein as you might think. The body is remarkably good at recycling.

Daily Protein Foods Table
Daily Recommendation•
Children 2-3 years old
4-8 years old
2 ounce equivalents 4 ounce equivalents
4 ounce equivalents
Girls 9-13 years old
14-18 years old
5 ounce equivalents
5 ounce equivalents
Boys 9-13 years old
14-18 years old
5 ounce equivalents
6 ½ ounce equivalents
Women 19-30 years old
31-50 years old
51 + years old
5 ½ ounce equivalents
5 ounce equivalents
5 ounce equivalents
Men 19-30 years old
31-50 years old
51 + years old
6 ½ ounce equivalents
6 ounce equivalents
5½ ounce equivalents
*These amounts are appropriate for individuals who get less than 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, beyond normal daily activities. Those who are more physically active may be able to consume more while staying within calorie needs. Source: choosemyplate.gov/protein-foods

2. If children are drinking the recommended amount of cow’s milk, they are likely getting all or most of the protein they need. Every ounce of cow’s milk has 1g of protein (soy milk has nearly as much, though not all soy and plant-based milks do).

Recommended Amounts of Cow’s Milk by Age
Daily Recommendation
1-2 years old
24 ounces
2-3 years old 16 ounces
4-8 years old
20 ounces
9+years old
24 ounces

If you compare this to the recommended amounts of protein above, you’ll see that milk alone could take care of all a child’s protein needs until age 9! Hopefully, that eases some parents’ worries. After age 9, your child is hopefully old enough to negotiate about healthy food choices.

It’s certainly true that some children don’t like milk, and that drinking more than the recommended amount can lead to constipation or anemia (and sometimes poor eating habits when children want milk instead of food). Which leads to the third point…

3. There are lots of ways besides meat or cow’s milk to get protein and mix it up at mealtime. Here are some other protein-rich ideas.

  • Other animal products. Salmon, fish sticks, eggs, turkey lunch meat, yogurt, or mozzarella string cheese.
  • Beans and grains. Soy products like soy milk or tofu. (You can even try soy “chicken” nuggets). Lentils, nut butter, hummus, oatmeal, or whole wheat pasta are more options.
  • Vegetables. Yet another reason to get kids to eat their veggies! Peas, broccoli, and even potatoes have protein. (Not that potatoes are the best vegetable, but it’s good to know they have some protein).

The bottom line:

When it comes to getting protein into your child’s diet, you don’t have to get into battles—or give in to the daily chicken nugget diet. There are lots of ways to do it, and with a bit of creativity and persistence, your child can get what he or she needs.

  • No clean-plate club. Don’t force your kids to eat something or finish everything, because that doesn’t work well (and makes everyone miserable). Kids don’t need a balanced meal at every meal of the day―what’s important is achieving balance over a day or two.
  • Keep it on the plate; have a “one bite” rule. It can take lots of tries before a child realizes that something tastes good. It also helps when others set an example, so eat meals together whenever you can!
  • Cook more meals at home. A homemade breaded chicken breast, for example, is healthier than takeout nuggets. Kids learn a lot about different foods and how to read food labels when they are involved in shopping for groceries and preparing meals―making them into healthier adults. Here are five more great reasons to cook with your kids.

​If nothing is working, or you are worried about your child’s diet, call your doctor.

Yes, picky eating can just be a phase. But it’s important to bring up any concerns with your pediatrician, so you can brainstorm possible solutions together.


Written by Claire McCarthy, MD, FAAP. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2019). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Childhood Nutrition

MARCH IS NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH

​Nearly 1 in 3 children in America is overweight or obese. Despite all the focus on kids being overweight and obese, many parents are still confused, especially when it comes to what kids eat. How much does your child need? Is he getting enough calcium? Enough iron? Too much fat?

Whether you have a toddler or a teen, nutrition is important to his or her physical and mental development. Here’s what children need — no matter what the age.

Babies

During this stage of life, it’s almost all about the milk — whether it’s breast milk, formula, or a combination of the two. Breast milk or formula will provide practically every nutrient a baby needs for the first year of life.

  • At about six months most babies are ready to start solid foods like iron-fortified infant cereal and strained fruits, vegetables, and pureed meats. Because breast milk may not provide enough iron and zinc when babies are around six to nine months, fortified cereals and meats can help breastfed babies in particular.
  • Once you do start adding foods, don’t go low-fat crazy. Although the AAP guidelines state fat restriction in some babies is appropriate, in general, you don’t want to restrict fats under age two because a healthy amount of fat is important for babies’ brain and nerve development.

Toddlers & Preschoolers

Toddlers and preschoolers grow in spurts and their appetites come and go in spurts, so they may eat a whole lot one day and then hardly anything the next. It’s normal, and as long as you offer them a healthy selection, they will get what they need.

  • Calcium, the body’s building block, is needed to develop strong, healthy bones and teeth. Children may not believe or care that milk “does a body good,” but it is the best source of much-needed calcium. Still, there’s hope for the milk-allergic, lactose-intolerant, or those who just don’t like milk. Lactose-free milk, soy milk, tofu, sardines, and calcium-fortified orange juices, cereals, waffles, and oatmeal are some calcium-filled options. In some cases, pediatricians may recommend calcium supplements.
  • Fiber is another important focus. Toddlers start to say “no” more and preschoolers can be especially opinionated about what they eat. The kids may want to stick to the bland, beige, starchy diet (think chicken nuggets, fries, macaroni), but this is really the time to encourage fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans, which all provide fiber. Not only does fiber prevent heart disease and other conditions, but it also helps aid digestion and prevents constipation, something you and your child will be thankful for.

Gradeschoolers

It isn’t uncommon for a 6- or 7-year-old to suddenly decide to be a vegetarian once they understand animals and where food comes from. This doesn’t mean your child won’t get enough protein; animal tissue isn’t the only place we get protein. Rice, beans, eggs, milk, and peanut butter all have protein. So whether your child goes “no-meat” for a week or for life, he or she will likely still get sufficient amounts of protein.

Areas that might be a little too sufficient are sugars, fats, and sodium.

  • This is a time when kids first go to school and have a little bit more choices in what they eat, especially if they’re getting it in the cafeteria themselves. Cakes, candy, chips, and other snacks might become lunchtime staples.
  • The body needs carbs (sugars), fats, and sodium, but should be eaten in moderation, as too much can lead to unneeded weight gain and other health problems.
  • Packing your child’s lunch or going over the lunch menu and encouraging him or her to select healthier choices can help keep things on track.

Preteens & Teens

As puberty kicks in, young people need more calories to support the many changes they will experience. Unfortunately, for some, those extra calories come from fast food or “junk” foods with little nutritional value.

  • Some adolescents go the opposite way and restrict calories, fats, or carbs. Adolescence is the time kids start to become conscious of their weight and body image, which, for some, can lead to eating disorders or other unhealthy behaviors. Parents should be aware of changes in their child’s eating patterns and make family dinners a priority at least once or twice a week.
  • Like calories, calcium requirements are higher. Calcium is more important than ever during the tween and teen years because the majority of bone mass is built during this time. Encouraging kids to have milk, milk products, or calcium-rich alternatives, should help them get more calcium.
  • Your child’s gender may play a role in whether he or she needs more of a particular nutrient. For instance, teen girls need more iron than their male counterparts to replace what’s lost during menstruation, and males need slightly more protein than girls.

Although getting your child to eat healthy — regardless of his or her age — can be a constant battle, its one well worth fighting. A healthy child becomes a healthy adult, and only with your support and guidance will your child be both.

Water: Drink Up!

Water makes up more than half of kids’ body weight and is needed to keep all parts of the body functioning properly.

  • There’s no specific amount of water recommended for children, but it’s a good idea to give them water throughout the day — not just when they’re thirsty.
  • Babies generally don’t need water during the first year of life.
  • If your child doesn’t like the taste of water, add a bit of lemon or lime for flavor.
  • Fruits and veggies are also good sources of water.
  • Kids should drink more water when ill, when it’s hot out, or when engaged in physical activity.

Recommended Amount of Calories

Here’s what the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends kids get calorie-wise and from each food group for a healthy, balanced diet:

Calories per day table


SOURCE: Committee on Nutrition (Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

5 Great Reasons to Cook with Your Kids

MARCH IS NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH

When it comes to raising an adventurous eater, it is not just about coaxing kids to eat their veggies. Bringing up a child who can enjoy a cantaloupe as much as a cupcake takes patience and persistence, but it does not have to feel like a chore.

Kids may need to have frequent joyful experiences involving food to overcome the anxiety they may have around tasting the unfamiliar. Over time, cooking with your children can help build that confidence—and provide rich sensory experiences.

Here are five ways to enjoy cooking with your children while raising an adventurous eater along the way.

1. Engage other senses. For a hesitant eater, tasting an unfamiliar food can sometimes be intimidating. You can help your child explore foods when cooking using other senses besides taste. This helps to build positive associations with food. Kneading dough, rinsing vegetables, and tearing lettuce all involve touching food and being comfortable with texture. The complex flavors we experience when eating food come from both taste sensations from the tongue AND smelling with the nose. While cooking with new ingredients, some children may feel too overwhelmed to taste. If this happens, you can try suggesting smelling a food first; this may provide a bridge to tasting in the future.

2. Use cooking to raise smart kids. There are so many lessons that can be taught while cooking. Math concepts like counting, measurement, and fractions naturally unfold when navigating a recipe with kids. Explaining how food changes with temperature or how certain foods can help our body be healthy provide great lessons in science. While cooking with your child, practice new vocabulary as you describe how food looks, feels, and tastes. Following a recipe from start to finish helps build the skills for planning and completing projects.

3. Make cooking part of the family culture. The family meal can start in the kitchen as you cook together. Family meal preparation is an opportunity to celebrate your cultural heritage by passing down recipes. Help your kids find new, seasonal recipes to add to your repertoire and family cookbook. Cooking together and prioritizing health over the convenience of processed food are great ways to lead by example and help your children buy into a culture of wellness. Building daily and seasonal traditions around cooking together helps strengthen your family’s commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

4. Keep it safe. Teach kids the importance of staying safe while cooking by showing them how to hold kitchen tools safely, how to use oven mitts to protect hands from heat, and how to turn appliances on and off safely. Always supervise children when cooking to ensure they are sticking with safe and age-appropriate tasks. The best way to keep cooking safe is to know your child’s abilities and his or her stage of development. A four-year-old child, for example, may not be ready to sauté vegetables over a hot pan, but may have the fine motor skills to rinse fruits or tear salad leaves. Keeping safety in mind, it is not difficult to get kids—even toddlers—involved in the kitchen.

5. Ask for input. Children feel more included in mealtime when they are asked to be a part of meal preparation. Collaborate with your kids when selecting recipes for main dishes or sides. Let them help you make the shopping list and find groceries in the store or farmers market. When cooking together, let children offer a critique of the foods you are preparing. Together you can decide what ingredients you should add to enhance the flavor. Talk about how people enjoy different tastes, and share your preferences with each other. Letting children be “in charge” of details like how to set the table will help them feel invested in mealtime.

Over many years, cooking as a family will help develop a happy, adventurous eater with some pretty valuable life skills—and plenty of happy memories in the kitchen. With enough practice, your child will someday be able to cook YOU a delicious meal!


Author: Nimali Fernando, MD, MPH, FAAP. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2016). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Cooking with Kids: Basic Chicken Soup

​​​​​​​​​​​

Makes 10–12 c​​ups

Once you’ve cooked the chicken, this soup is a snap to make.

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Kitchen Gear
Measuring spoons
Measuring cup
Sharp knife (adult needed)
Cutting board
Large heavy bottomed pot
Wooden spoon

Ingredients
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 carrots, scrubbed or peeled and sliced
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or more, if you like it brothy)
½ cup brown rice, barley, or small pasta (such as alphabets or orzo)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken

​Before You Begin:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them.
  • Clean the counter top with a sponge.
  • Gather all your kitchen gear and ingredients and put them on the counter.
  • Scrub all the fruits and vegetables and lay them out on a dishtowel to dry.
  • Prepare your ingredients, which means you may have to do something before you get started with the instructions.

Instructions

Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium. When it is hot (flick some water on—it should dance and evaporate immediately), carefully add the oil.

Add the onion, celery, and carrots, and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the chicken broth, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. (You’ll know the broth is boiling when you see bubbles breaking all over the surface.) Lower the heat to low, and cook, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender and no longer float on the surface, about 30 minutes.

Add the rice, barley, or pasta and cook until tender, about 20 minutes for pasta, 40 minutes for brown rice or barley. (If you want, you can use leftover cooked grains or pasta. If so, skip this step and add them when you add the chicken in step 5. This will also cut 20 minutes off the cooking time.)

Add the chicken, stir, and cook until heated throughout, about 3 minutes.

Serve right away or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.


CHANGE IT UP…

Lemony Chicken Soup: Add 1 bay leaf and 1 strip lemon zest when you add the stock. Remove both before serving.

Herby Chicken Soup: Add 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh), 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh), and ¼ teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh). If you’re using dried herbs, add them when you cook the veggies. If you’re using fresh herbs, stir them in right before serving the soup.

Garlicky Ginger Soup: Add 1 tablespoon fresh ginger and 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced, when you add the onion.

Curried Chicken Soup: When you cook the veggies, add 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cubed, 1 to 2 tablespoons curry powder, and 1 tomato, cubed. Stir in ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut and 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves just before serving.

Lettuce Eat Chicken Soup: Add 6 leaves romaine lettuce or spinach, chopped, when you add the rice, barley, or pasta, and ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese just before serving.

Basil Chicken Soup: Swirl in 1 to 2 tablespoons pesto just before serving.

Tortilla Soup: Skip the rice, barley, or pasta and stir in ¼ cup chopped cilantro, the juice of half a lime, and a handful of tortilla chips just before serving.

Tortellini Soup: Add cooked tortellini in Step 5 instead of the cooked rice, barley, or small pasta.


Source: ChopChop Magazine – Fall Issue (Copyright  2012). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

RECIPE: Best-Ever Applesauce

This fall recipe will give you such a good I-can’t-believe-I-made-it-from-scratch feeling! Maybe because maple and apple trees grow in the same climate, the two flavors taste delicious together. Eat this plain, spoon it into yogurt, or eat it alongside potato pancakes, chicken, or pork.

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Kitchen Gear
Sharp knife (adult needed)
Cutting Board
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Medium-sized pot with lid
Wooden spoon
Potato masher or fork
Lidded container

Ingredients

  • 4 Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled (if you like), and diced. “Diced” means cut up into cubes or squares about the size of dice.
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons
  • maple syrup

Instructions

Put the apples, water, and maple syrup in the pot, cover and put on the stove. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook until the apples are tender, about 30 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes to make sure the apples aren’t sticking. Set aside to cool a bit, about 10 minutes.

Mash the apples using a potato masher or fork, and set aside to cool until just warm.

Serve right away, or put it in the container and refrigerate until cold. The applesauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 4 days.

Or Else…

  • Chunky Applesauce: Don’t mash the apples too much.
  • Nutty Applesauce: Add ½ cup chopped lightly toasted walnuts or pecans after it’s cooked.
  • Cranberry Applesauce: Add ½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries when you add the apples.
  • Rhubarb Applesauce: Add ½ cup chopped rhubarb when you add the apples.

Source: ChopChop Magazine – Fall Issue (Copyright ©2012). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

RECIPE: How to Get the Seeds Out of a Pumpkin

Before you can roast and eat its yummy seeds, and before you can turn it into a spooky jack-o’-lantern, you need to get the inside of your pumpkin out. This is a very fun and kind-of weird job. Wear short sleeves and clothes that can get messy!

Kitchen Gear:

  • Sharp, heavy knife (adult needed)
  • Large bowl
  • Large metal spoon
  • Colander
  • Dish towel

Instructions:

Cover your work surface with newspaper to protect it and keep your pumpkin from slipping. Fill the large bowl with water. Ask your adult to use the sharp, heavy knife to cut around the top of the pumpkin, making a lid with the stem in the middle. Pull the lid off.

Using the large metal spoon and your hands, scrape and pull all of the seeds and stringy stuff (this is pulp and fiber) out of the pumpkin. Put all the pumpkin seeds and guts into the bowl of water.

Using your fingers, separate the seeds from the pulp and fiber, and put the seeds in the colander (the stringy stuff is actually full of nutrients, so it’s okay if a little stays on). When you’ve got the all the seeds pulled off, rinse them under cold water, and spread them out evenly on the dish towel to dry a little before you roast them.

Did You Know?
You can roast and eat the seeds of other winter squash, such as butternut and acorn! Just cut the squash in half and separate, clean, and dry the seeds the same way you would for a pumpkin — then roast them.


Source: ChopChop Magazine – Fall Issue (Copyright © 2011) The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Eating for Good Health

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What was your initial reaction when you realized that your child needed to control his weight? In that situation, many parents find themselves thinking, “I’ve got to put him on a diet.” After all, in a culture in which thinness seems to be the name of the game and Americans just can’t get their fill of diet books, you might instinctively think that the solution rests with the latest weight-loss fad, even though these diets are rarely designed with growing children or good nutrition in mind.

No matter what some diet gurus proclaim, calorie counting and exercising to the point of fatigue are not the answer, particularly for children. In fact, restricting calories in a growing child could pose risks to his health. You shouldn’t do so unless your pediatrician recommends and supervises those efforts.

So what’s the answer? Consistently good nutrition, meal after meal, is a foundation for a healthy childhood. Rather than becoming preoccupied with weightloss goals, you should focus instead on a wholesome lifestyle for everyone in your family, no matter what each member weighs. Establish some structure to your family’s eating — 3 well-thought-out meals and 2 snacks a day. If you take steps to minimize the junk food in your family’s diet, eliminate sugared beverages like soft drinks, pay attention to portion sizes, and add some physical activity to the mix, your heavy child will grow up to have a healthy weight.

In preparing foods high in nutritional value, build the family meals around selections like:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Whole-grain cereals and bread
  • Low-fat or nonfat dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheeses
  • Lean and skinless meats including chicken, turkey, fish, and lean hamburger

The basics of good nutrition really aren’t that complicated. It means choosing low-fat turkey bologna instead of beef, or preparing a grilled chicken sandwich instead of a high-fat cheeseburger. Portion sizes at this age should be less than that of an adult-sized serving. Remember that when you’re in the kitchen, choose cooking methods that involve a minimal amount of fat, relying primarily on broiling, roasting, and steaming.

During the middle years of childhood, there are plenty of obstacles that can trip up your well-intentioned efforts at keeping your family eating right. In the mornings, as you’re rushing to get your child off to school, are there days when he doesn’t have the time to sit down for a nourishing breakfast? At school, does he sometimes make poor choices in the cafeteria or from vending machines?

As a parent, part of your responsibility is to find solutions for any stumbling blocks that arise. If the school cafeteria doesn’t offer many healthy choices or your child cannot be convinced to purchase healthy options (and in many elementary and middle schools, only one lunch entrée is provided), pack a healthy lunch for your child each day. You might prepare a turkey sandwich on multigrain or pita bread. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is fine, too. There are plenty of good selections, but stay away from pastrami, salami, and other high-fat lunch meats. Add a piece of fruit to your child’s lunch sack and perhaps a bag of pretzels. Pack a small water bottle for him, or give him money to buy low-fat milk in the cafeteria.

Once your child gets home from school, he might head straight for the cupboard or refrigerator and look for something to munch on. Have some healthy snacks for him to choose from — raw vegetables with nonfat dip, fresh fruit, whole-grain crackers, air-popped popcorn, unsalted pretzels, or baked tortillas with salsa. Keep the ice cream, cookies, and cakes out of reach — or better yet, out of the house altogether (reserve them for special occasions). If you don’t limit access to snack foods like these, you’re unfairly setting your child up for a losing battle against weight gain.

Meanwhile, stay alert for other potential stumbling blocks to healthy eating. For example, your school-aged child may sometimes exchange food with friends, giving up the sandwich and fruit that you’ve packed for him and trading them for a bag of potato chips. After school, if he’s spending time at a playmate’s home, he might be snacking there on candy rather than an apple. In short, even if you’ve done a good job of educating your child on making nutritious food choices, he’ll face plenty of temptations, almost on a daily basis.

Also remember that you’re a role model in this process, so make healthy food choices for yourself as well as the rest of the family. Even though school-aged children are busier than ever, make an effort to find time for family meals as often as possible. When all of you sit down at the dining room table together, it’s a perfect opportunity for every family member to describe his or her day and the family to grow closer.


Last Updated 7/9/2014. Source A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Obesity: A Road Map to Health (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

National Fruits and Veggies More Matters Month

Fruits-and-Vegetables

September is National Fruits and Veggies More Matters Month, a chance to remind yourself and your family that we should all be eating more fruits and vegetables more often.

Dietician Meredith Mensinger, RD, LDN offers up these top 10 reasons by we should all be eating more:

10. All Forms Matter
9. Calories that Count
8. Fiber
7. Nutrient-Packed
6. Something for Everyone
5. Disease Prevention
4. Quick & Easy
3. Budget-Friendly
2. Simply Sweet
1. Delicious!

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Be sure to visit the Fruits & Veggies More Matters website for tips on meal planning, great recipes, nutrition lists for your favorite fruits and vegetables, and much more!