Sometimes getting the family to try something new requires creativity. Maybe it’s not the ingredients; perhaps it’s the presentation. Take these lollipops for example. My son Luke “doesn’t eat pork.” This from a kid who devours all the bacon at every breakfast buffet we encounter. I’d rather he eat pork tenderloin – it’s crammed with protein and devoid of all that visible bacon fat. Enter pork tenderloin on a stick!
My youngest goes gaga for store-bought donuts–but I steer clear of my temptation to reward her with sweets. Food should never be used as a reward (or punishment). Children need to appreciate food as a means of nourishment and enjoyment.
If you think rewarding kids with food isn’t a big deal, think again. It can lead to all types of unhealthy actions and behaviors:
Encourage unhealthy eats: Using sweets or non-nutritious foods as rewards sends the message that these types of foods are more valuable than other foods.
Empty calories: Foods served to your kids should contribute to their growth and development. But oftentimes foods used to reward kids aren’t carrots, watermelon and broccoli but fat- and sugar-laden processed foods.
The benefits of exercise are numerous for the mind, body and spirit. One of the biggest barriers to getting more physical activity is figuring out what to do. Expensive gym memberships or pricey fitness classes are big turnoffs for some folks but the truth is, they aren’t necessary. There are plenty of ways to get moving that won’t cost you a cent, just ask the First Lady. In a recent interview, Mrs. Obama revealed one of the ways she encourages kids — her own and those she meets — to move.
Mrs. Obama: We talk about fun. I mean, something as simple as turning on the radio and dancing with your kids to Beyonce. Kids are watching these videos — let me tell you, if you make it a task in your household to learn the Single Ladies dance with Beyonce — they’re trying to do that anyway. They want to learn every move.
Team gatherings are a great way to build team morale and make sure everyone gets a good meal the night before a competition. There’s no need for parents to over-think the menu. Provide plenty of fluids (water, 100% fruit juice and milk), some fresh veggies and pasta.
Some parents feel the need to shy away from carbs but this is exactly what athletes need prior to exercise. Pasta dinners are also easy and cost-effective. Add some protein from meatballs, turkey meatballs, chicken breast or chicken sausage, plus a big salad with vinaigrette dressing and voila — all your nutritional bases are covered.
When the weather permits, cook up a team barbecue complete with turkey burgers, veggie burgers, plus pasta and potato salads. Remember to make accommodations for anyone on the team who’s vegetarian or has food allergies.
Don’t forget dessert! A large fruit salad or watermelon wedges and some small baked treats will please the whole crowd. Cookies, brownies or cupcakes decked out with team colors are always popular.
A team brunch might also be a good idea before the team hits the road for a trip. In this case opt for bagels with cream cheese and peanut butter, smoothies, yogurt, fresh fruit, frozen waffles and scrambled egg wraps. All will provide healthy fuel that is easy to grab and go. Don’t forget the fluid here either. Water, 100% fruit juice and if it’s a hot day, sports drinks to take on the bus ride.
Ever wonder how moms like The First Lady, celebrity chefs and renowned nutrition experts speak to their children about healthy eating? Find out how four amazing women talk to their kids about food, weight and body image.
Q. How you talk to your daughters about a healthy weight and how do you recommend parents talk their kids about healthy weight?
Michelle Obama: I don’t talk about weight at all. I talk about healthy choices. When I talk about exercise I don’t talk about exercise in terms of you have to look good. Exercise is about competition; it’s about learning a new sport; it’s about being introduced to something interesting; it’s about learning about how to compete and why competition is important. We talk in those terms.
When we talk at the dinner table we talk about eating a balanced meal, not because of how you look but because of what your body needs.
Now that [the girls] are getting older they’re starting to conversations [about weight] in their community, so it’s not coming from us, it’s coming from the outside. But I always shift them back to health and tell them the best way to never have to worry about what you look like is just to get good food in your body.
It’s all about balance. It’s not about never having birthday cake, or going out to lunch and not having a burger. I don’t even want them to think about that. I don’t want them to obsess about food. I just want them to live their lives.
So if they’re doing a sport, if they stay active, if they’re eating vegetables most meals and not overeating, if we treat foods as treats — so the weekend I’ll tell them you can have one breakfast that’s a splurge breakfast, just once a week — because you just don’t need to have pancakes and sweet rolls — at the White House, you walk in and it’s like pancakes and a sweet roll and a biscuit — (laughter.) it’s like, who’s idea was this?
It’s becoming more common to see parents eliminating foods or food groups from their healthy child’s diet. Even superstar mom Gwenyth Paltrow reportedly cut all gluten and carbs from her kids’ diets. Is it a good idea for parents to make drastic dietary changes without medical supervision?
We’re not talking about a child who is allergic to a food or needs to avoid it due to a medical reason. Parents are eliminating food groups like gluten, carbs, sugar, eggs or milk because they feel they aren’t healthy. Perhaps they spoke to “specialists” who advised them to do so or they made their own decision based on views they’ve seen in the media. (Oftentimes, these recommendations are geared towards adults, not kids.) They may also decide to follow a hot trend that isn’t scientifically sound.
According to this US Weekly article, Paltrow states that all the doctors, nutritionists and health-conscious folks she’s approached agree that gluten isn’t healthy. However, most registered dietitians agree that gluten shouldn’t be avoided if not medically warranted, especially in children.
Food Groups Matter
It’s not just about throwing together easy foods, but making sure your little ones gets the nutrients they need from a variety of food groups. As a rule of thumb, I make sure at least 3 food groups are represented in any of my kid’s breakfasts. Choose from dairy, whole grains, fruits, veggies, and lean protein. The more food groups you can include, the better.
Quick Recipe Ideas
Simple, no-fuss recipes you can throw together in less than 10 minutes.
- Peach Pie Smoothie
- Mixed Berry and Banana Smoothie
- Scrambled Egg Wrap
- Eggs In A Basket
- Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and a new study shows just how important breakfast is for kids. The study, released by Share Our Strength, an organization Food Network has partnered with to raise money to fight childhood hunger, reveals that of the 21 million U.S. kids that get free or reduced-price school lunch, only a shocking half get breakfast. That means millions of children are starting their day hungry, making it more difficult for them to learn. The study also found that kids who eat school breakfast attend on average 1.5 more days of school, average 17.5% higher on math test scores and are 20% more likely to graduate high school.
Share Our Strength is making breakfast in schools a priority through Breakfast Changes Lives, an initiative in conjunction with the organization’s No Kid Hungry campaign.
There’s a wide range of granola bar options and an even broader range of ingredients. Some brands do a much better job of making their bars with quality stuff. They all contain some form of sugar (they wouldn’t taste very good without it), but we looked at all the ingredients very carefully to evaluate the best options.
For this taste test, we rated chewy chocolate chip bars on taste, ingredients and nutritional information—focusing on calories, fat and sugar. We rated each on a 5-point scale (5 being the highest).
It’s not just the ghouls and ghosts causing a scare on Halloween — how about the mountains of treats handed out to kids by friends and neighbors? Some treats are worse than others — these are the ones that I pick out of my kiddos’ candy stash when they’re not looking and toss them into the trash.
Depending on the brand, taffy has about 160 calories and 27 grams of sugar for about 5 pieces. The fact that my kids need to try VERY hard to bite into one tells me they shouldn’t be eating it. Read the ingredient list and you’ll find corn syrup, palm oil, hydrogenated oil and artificial colors. In one bite, your kid can eat at least 4 ingredients that many experts tell you to avoid.
Gum or chewy-candy filled lollipops may be exciting for kids but why on earth do they need a 2-in-1 treat? The only thing they’ll be getting more of is sugar!