Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Every Kid Needs Nutrients

Are school lunches stabbing you (the parent) in the back? You are trying so hard to get your child to eat right but once they go to school, the cafeteria ladies place junk onto their lunch tray and disintegrates all of your hard work in one slimy ‘splat!’

Your mindset needs to be: I’m in competition with my kid’s school lunch foods! How do I keep my kid eating healthy instead of the unhealthy processed foods they serve?

To those of you who don’t put that much of an emphasis on healthy foods where your children are concerned, consider this: Research suggests deficiencies in nutrition can be the cause of behavioral problems. I know some parent’s ears would perk up if they caught wind of this. I can hear them now! “Eating the right minerals and vitamins will improve his behavior? Which ones? I need to know!”
Deficiencies in nutrition can also lead to everything from asthma to attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.  There is a world of nutrients they might be missing.

“Nope, nope, nope. Spit out the mouth full of skittles you just put in!” You watch as your child’s filled cheeks deflate as they spit the candy into the trash. You make them open their mouth checking for any hidden treasures. Once you find none you reward them with four skittles .They aren’t too ecstatic but take an angry monstrous bite showing you how they feel about the wasted candy.  While giving your children the essential nutrients they need, banning sweets is unnecessary. But a less frequent intake is highly advisable.

Los Angeles-based dietitian Ashley Koff, co-author of Mom Energy (Hay House) states, “Any food found in nature will provide a healthier balance of nutrients than a processed, fortified ‘food product’ can.”

Magnesium serves a very important role that corresponds and works together with calcium. Calcium is a muscle contractor while Magnesium is a muscle relaxant. Does your child have restless leg syndrome, inability to settle down at night, muscle cramps, etc.? If so, your child is not receiving enough Magnesium.

•Ages 4-8 need 110 mg
•Ages 9-13 need 350 mg.
•Magnesium is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables

Potassium: “If your child isn’t getting enough potassium, he may be dehydrated – even if he’s drinking plenty of water,” says Koff. Potassium ensures that muscles, the digestive tract, and the heart are functioning properly. It also keeps the body hydrated by drawing water into the cells. Lack of this mineral can cause weakness and fatigue, muscle cramps, and digestive problems.

•Ages 1 to 3 need 3,000 mg
•Ages 4 to 8 need 3,800 mg
•Ages 9-13 need 4,500 mg
•Potassium is found in colorful fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes and greens.

Vitamin D is essential to building strong bones and decreasing the risk of diabetes, asthma, allergies, and some autoimmune diseases. Studies have showed that low levels of vitamin D affect our mood. Although it’s labeled a vitamin, it’s actually a hormone that most foods don’t have. Children today don’t spend much time out in the sun which leads to the lack of vitamin D.  Sunlight exposure is the best source. Lack of this hormone leads to muscle pain, weak bones or teeth.

•Infants need 400 IU
•Children need 600 IU
•Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified milk or other “vitamin D fortified” foods.

Feed your child real foods.  Tell the school’s food for lunch (not the lunch lady, please) to take a step back and watch itself when dealing with your child! Your kid may feel extremely embarrassed when they see you smack talking their food; but it’s totally worth it when you see your child as healthy as can be.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Healthy Alternatives for Kids

There is always this constant struggle to feed your children healthy foods. In this day and age fast food restaurants are the more popular go-to food source and child obesity increases at an alarming rate. What many parents don’t consider (or even think about) are alternative food choices they can put in place of their child’s favorite junk food.  These healthier foods don’t necessarily have to be broccoli and carrots but instead just a healthier choice. This is what we call “starting off slow.”

Now don’t fret, I will provide you with just some of the healthier choices you can swap into your child’s daily routine:

“Mom can I have french fries on the side?” “Honey, we’re going to try baked fries tonight.”
Grill the baked fries in the oven and salted lightly. Or even better: baked sweet potato fries.

“Mom can we get ice cream?” “Tonight we’ll try low-fat yogurt.”
Other Alternates: Sorbet; Fresh Smoothies

“Mom can we have fried chicken tonight?” No, but we’ll have grilled chicken.”
Another option: Baked chicken

Following a healthier diet in the comfort of your home doesn’t always mean banning sweets entirely. Having a ‘no sweets’ rule may cause cravings and overindulgence the first second the sugary sweet comes in contact with their awaiting tongue after a long duration of abstinence. Looking at the overall picture, limits will be your best friend. There is no need to ban all of your child’s favorite foods but only limiting their consumption of said foods. Always turn to fruits. Fruits will be your most popular food to push out in front of their hungry eyes.

So drop the carrot and step away from your child. There are some more appealing foods to get through your children’s ‘no vegetable’ barrier. Having your kids eating healthy will surely put pep in their step and help you reduce the notorious worry lines. You can wipe the sweat off of your brow and congratulate yourself on a job well done! Healthy doesn’t always have to taste grotesque or bland. Healthy can be delicious!

Kid-friendly junk food alternatives
Instead of…
    French fries

    Ice cream
    Fried chicken
    Doughnuts or pastries

    Chocolate-chip cookies
    Potato chips


    Sugary Breakfast cereal

    Canned Soup

    Macaroni and cheese
(Very high in sodium and low in nutrients)
    “Baked fries” grilled in the oven and salted lightly or even better “Baked sweet potato fries”, they a are much healthier option.
    Low-fat frozen yogurt; sorbet; fresh fruit smoothies
    Baked or grilled chicken
    Try oatmeal (you can have it hot or cold and its tasty both ways)
    Bagels; homemade leather wraps
    Graham crackers, fig bars, vanilla wafers, fruit and caramel dip
    Kale chips, broccoli chips, Pretzels, unbuttered popcorn, baked potato chips
    Try making a fruit smoothie by using sparkling water. It will give it a twist.
    You can try quinoa, oat or millet as a hot cereal with some sprinkled cinnamon.
    Make your own stock (either veggie or chicken) you control the amount of salt.  Canned soup has added sodium.
    Make your own pasta, add a little olive oil and some Parmesan cheese.

Eating out with kids: fast food and restaurant nutrition for children
It might be challenging to persuade your youngster to order a salad instead of a cheeseburger, but you can steer them towards healthier options. Some important tips to remember about fast food and restaurant dining for kids:
-Avoid sodas – Kids should drink water.
-Avoid chicken nuggets – They are unhealthy imposters of real chicken.
-Skip the fries – Consider taking along a bag of mini carrots, grapes, or other fruits and    
 vegetables to have instead. This will add vitamins and fiber to the meal.
-Order the kid's meal with some substitutions – Children often love the kid's meal more  
 for the fun box and toys than for the food. Ask to substitute healthier choices for the
 soda and the fries if possible.

Opt for chicken and vegetables or spaghetti with tomato sauce in a sit-down restaurant, rather than a big plate of macaroni and cheese.

To do at home

Your home is where your child most likely eats the majority of his or her meals and snacks, so it is vital that your kitchen is stocked with healthy choices and treats.
Don’t ban sweets entirely. While many kids' sugar consumption exceeds healthy limits, having a no sweets rule is an invitation for cravings and overindulging when given the chance. Instead, limit the amount of cookies, candies, and baked goods your child eats and introduce fruit-based snacks and desserts instead.

-Limit juice and soda. Soft drinks are loaded with sugar—“empty” calories that don’t do anything healthy for your child’s growing body. Many juices aren’t any better nutritionally.Instead of soda, offer your child sparkling water with a twist of lime or a splash of fruit juice.

-Keep snacks small. Don’t turn snacks into a meal. Limit them to 100 to 150 calories. Focus on fruit. Keep a bowl of fruit out for your children to snack on. Offer fruit as a sweet treat. Kid-friendly favorites include frozen juice bars, fruit smoothies, frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and nuts, strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream, fresh fruit added to plain yogurt, and sliced apples and peanut butter.