Posts Tagged ‘healthy food for kids’

I started eating sushi when I was a toddler – yes, I am half Chinese, so perhaps the concept of rice that I was accustomed to made sushi more appealing, but I do remember LOVING tuna!! Especially dousing it in soy sauce (not so healthy – ha!). Many parents are skeptical about sushi because of the mercury content in tuna and other fish, but as long as it is in moderation and from a safe/clean restaurant or from a clean grocery store that sells “sushi grade” tuna, I think you and your children are fine. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that fish and shellfish under 12 oz. per week are an important part of a healthy diet for children and pregnant or nursing women. I see sushi as a great way to incorporate a more international diet palate for your child, and also can be quite healthy!

19% of all children are classified as obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It seems as though children are always hungry, but turn their noses up at healthier food and opt for greasy (French fries / burgers / chicken tenders) or sugary foods instead. Not quite ready to give your kids raw fish? You can always use cooked food such as shrimp tempura or even making sandwiches look like sushi!

Disguising healthy foods by using fun ways of making nutritious snacks for children can take the focus on the ingredients and make healthy snacking an interesting part of your child’s day.

Sandwich Sushi
Sandwiches can be made nutritious with whole wheat bread and lean meat ingredients, but they might not always be attractive to children who’d rather have a peanut butter and jelly on white. Making sandwiches into sushi shapes and allowing kids to eat with chopsticks make it more fun. Make your sandwiches with ingredients that can be easily rolled, including meat and cheese. Then, flatten the sandwich and roll tightly. Slice the roll into half-inch thick pieces and offer with chopsticks.

Snack Art
Cut up a variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, cheese and lean meat, into bite-sized squares, triangles and circles. Have your child wash her hands, and then set out a clean plate for her to make nutritious snack art using the shapes available. She’ll be enjoying making faces and pictures so much that she’ll hardly even notice as she pops a few pieces into her mouth for sampling. Once the picture is done, challenge her to eat everything on her plate.

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First lady Michelle Obama walks through the White House east colonnade with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, left, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, second from right, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, as they meet regarding the childhood obesity initiative. By Jack Gruber, USA TODAY

How much do you know about First Lady, Michelle Obama’s, initiative to end child obesity in one generation? Today is her 1 year anniversary in her initiative, “Let’s Move.” I watched an interview with her on NBC’s Today Show this morning and it was very inspiring and relatable. I grew up with parents who worked all the time (wait a sec, they still do!), and it was often that we would pick up food or go out because it was “too late to cook.” Similarly, Michelle Obama’s daughters were 6 and 9, and like any other working mom — struggling to juggle office hours, school pick-ups and mealtimes. By the end of the day, she was often too tired to make dinner, so she did what was easy: She ordered takeout or went to the drive-through. 

What is the overall concept of “Let’s Move”?
Most parents would do anything for their kids and want to give them the best chance in the world to be their best. Let’s Move operates under the principle that every family wants the same thing for their kid.  

Let’s Move (letsmove.gov) aims to do for healthy eating and exercise what the government’s anti-smoking campaign did in the 1960s: change how people think about their health. 

Michelle Obama stressed in her interview today that she doesn’t want parents to beat themselves up if they slip up from time to time or get a little relaxed about the food they serve or the time their kids spend in front of a screen. 

“We don’t have to be 100% perfect,” she says. “My kids eat dessert. My kids watch TV. … I love burgers and fries, and I don’t want to live a life where I can never have them again. And if we told families and children that that was the answer, we’d never get there. The beauty is we don’t need to be 100% of the way there. If we get 20% of the way there, we will change the health status of our kids for a generation.” 

So what is her ultimate goal?
To eliminate childhood obesity in a generation.  

“It’s an ambitious goal, but we don’t have time to wait,” the first lady said in an interview with USA TODAY. “We’ve got to stop citing statistics and wringing our hands and feeling guilty, and get going on this issue.” 

She says about 32% of children and adolescents today — 25 million kids — are obese or overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I completely agree with her that the extra LBS. are putting kids at great risk! Risk of what?

  • type 2 diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • shorter lives 

Scary facts:
A 2005 study found that kids today may lead shorter lives by two to five years than their parents because of obesity.
Obesity costs the country a staggering $147 billion a year in weight-related medical bills, according to government data. 

How does Michelle Obama plan on doing it with her power in the White House?

  • more healthful food in schools
  • more accurate food labeling
  • better grocery stores in communities that don’t have them
  • public service announcements and efforts to get children to be more active. 

Her inspiration?
Upon moving into the white house – she took a year to settle her kids, but also got involved in a local elementary school where she set up an organic garden for the kids. “The garden was an important first step — just sort of exploring the ideas around nutrition and children,” Obama says. “I was curious to find out whether kids connected with this issue if we talked about it in terms of fun and gardening.” 

Image: By Mark Wilson, Getty Images

And they did. “Kids from urban environments, from households (like) mine, who were raised on fried foods and good, tasty stuff, were fully engaged in the process of planting these vegetables and watching them grow and harvesting them and cleaning them and cooking them and eating them, and writing about how vegetables were their friends,” she says. “So we thought we could be on to something here if we make this conversation a national conversation.”

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Time magazine ran a story called “Rethinking First Foods.”  It was a great article on the importance of feeding your baby or child healthy food in the first two years of their life. It also had some frightening statistics from doctors about child obesity.

When it comes to developing your child’s eating habits, one of the points the article made was that parents tend to feed their babies or toddlers “kid food” – pizza, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, chips, fries, etc and it is NOT healthy.  It can be easy to open up a bag of baby carrots, as it is to open a bag of chips – so why do parents take this route of “kid food”?  Most parents that I know say that their child is a “picky eater” and that it is the only food a child will eat.

What most parents don’t recognize is that all little kids or toddlers are picky eaters. It’s totally normal and expected in any child’s developmental stages. According to studies, this behavior has little to do with the taste of the actual food; it is more about wanting control of the situation. Most toddlers learn early that eating is very easy to control and it is will get a response out of you, a.k.a you, the parent. The biggest challenge for parents is to NOT give into this behavior, and DON’T fall into the trap of offering bland, unhealthy foods as a replacement for flavorful, healthy foods.

If you’re concerned that picky eating is compromising your child’s growth and development or if certain foods make your child ill, consult your child’s doctor. In the meantime, remember that your any child’s eating habits will not likely change overnight — but the small steps you take each day, can help promote a lifetime of healthy eating.

Here are some TIPS to make it easier on you and healthier for your child:

Start early
Children form habits that make them picky eaters. Habits are hard to break. At the first signs of being a picky eater, explain to your child that it is not healthy to eat the same foods all the time and serve a good variety of foods at meals (it is good if you can feed your child what you are eating at mealtime). Encourage your little ones to taste new foods and try to explain the new food choices as “special meals” or “special treats.”

Recruit your child’s help
Children are more likely to eat something that they have helped make. Try to involved your children when prepping meals. As an alternative, you can also take them shopping at the grocery story and make it a teaching lesson on how to find “good” food. When you involved your kids in making decisions, it reinforces that you care about their opinion and want to make things that they like. For example, never ask “Do you want broccoli for dinner?” offer choices like “Do you want broccoli or cauliflower for dinner?” Providing choices makes your child feel like they are the ones in control.

Make it fun
Serve broccoli and other veggies with a favorite dip or sauce. Cut foods into various shapes with cookie cutters. Offer breakfast foods for dinner.

Don’t offer dessert as a reward
Withholding dessert sends the message that dessert is the best food, which may only increase your child’s desire for sweets. You might select one or two nights a week as dessert nights, and skip dessert the rest of the week — or redefine dessert as fruit, yogurt or other healthy choices.

Be Realistic and Set goals
Be realistic about setting goals. It is not realistic to try to force your child to eat everything you are serving that is new. Instead, ask him or her to take one bite of the new food and work your way up from there.

Be consistent, firm, and don’t give up
Use the same tactics at each and every meal. Put new foods on your child’s plate first. Encourage your child and DON’T give in to stubbornness. A good tactic is to say, “Look, Mommy (or Daddy) will eat it too with you!”

Don’t rush meals
Most kids are slow eaters, and this is a good habit to encourage (plus it is better for digestion). Offer your child plenty of time to eat a meal.

Even if it is just a tiny nibble, praise your child. For a picky eater – this little bite of food is a big deal. Ask them if they thought it was tasty. If the say “no,” tell them it may take a few bites to notice the yummy flavor. Don’t let them shutdown the thought that this food may actually taste good someday.

Be a good role model
This is KEY.  It is plain and simple. You cannot expect to raise children that eat a good variety of healthy foods if you do not. This fact goes for all adults who sit at the table with your children. Your child learns from watching and mimicking you. You may have to venture out of your own comfort zone of eating and try new foods yourself.

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