Posts

Get the Family Healthy in 2014, Part 2 of 2

Last week, I discussed three New Year’s resolutions to help get your family healthier in 2014. Here are some more ideas. Like I said in last week’s post, adopt as many of these as you think are realistic for your family. Or pick one change to implement each month as the year goes on. By summer, you will see some real changes!

More Fixes for Healthy Family Eating:

1. Eliminate sugary beverages, including juice. This change is pretty simple and can have a huge impact. Sugary beverages are problematic because it’s easy to quickly consume a lot of calories without feeling full. Juice and sports drinks are not ideal drink choices either, as they are just as calorie-dense as other sugary beverages like soda. It is better to get the vitamin C and electrolytes from healthy food choices. Kids rarely need sports drinks to replace electrolytes during or after physical activity unless they are involved in multiple hours of continuous physical activity and are sweating a lot. Chocolate milk is also considered a sugary beverage, and should be replaced with plain milk. If you are wondering how much sugar is in some of your family’s favorite drinks, measure out one teaspoon of table sugar for every 4 grams of sugar in the “Total Sugar” content on the Nutrition Facts Label. Be sure to look at what the serving size is and how many servings your family member is consuming. I have done this experiment with many families, and they are always shocked since no one (not even the kids) would consider drinking that heap of table sugar.

2. Do something active for at least 60 minutes, every day. Encourage your child to be active by having plenty of outlets for physical activity all year round. For days the weather is not conducive for outdoor play, have a bin filled with things like jump ropes, hula hoops, balls, and other toys. Encourage your child to participate in sports or other hobbies that involve physical activity. Be a good example. Find ways to be physically active as a family, such as walking places within a mile or so instead of driving. This is possible even in cold winter months as long as you dress warmly. If your child is resistant to doing fun physical activities, then offer another option— house chores.

3. Limit screen time to less than 2 hours per day. When you think about how many hours your child spends sitting at school, then how many hours they spend sitting doing homework, then how many hours they spend sitting watching TV or playing on the computer—it adds up to a pretty sedentary lifestyle. This is one of the biggest implications of childhood obesity in our culture today. We have transitioned from a society that relied on physical labor to complete daily tasks, to a society that relies on convenience. Kids used to play outdoor games and sports for fun, and now they play video games. I have had some school-age kids tell me that they just don’t know how to play. Set boundaries around screen time. One idea is to have the kids earn screen time by doing 60+ minutes of physical activity and completing homework.

Any of these New Year’s resolutions will make a healthy impact on your family, especially if the whole family is on-board and participating together. The resolutions described are all simple changes, but can be challenging to implement and sustain without commitment. For more personalized planning and troubleshooting, make an appointment with a registered dietitian at North Shore Pediatric Therapy.

Click here if you missed part 1 of this series, Get Your Family Healthy in 2014.

How to Talk to Your Kids about Weight and Healthy Eating

We all want our kids to be the healthiest they can be. In recent years, we are seeing serious health problems presenting in young kids and adolescents. An unhealthy diet and lifestyle affects kids’ quality of life, and this is often what hurts them most. Kids with weight issues may get teased at school or start to withdraw from activities that were once a big part of their life, such as sports. This can make the weight issues even worse for them.

If you find yourself in a position of having to talk to your child about his or her weight, consider some of the points below. These tips apply to both overweight and underweight issues.

Explain BMI and the importance of being in a healthy range.

BMI stands for body mass index. Your child’s pediatrician should be measuring your child at well checkups and plotting their BMI on a growth chart. You can explain BMI to kids by saying, “BMI is a measurement of how much weight is on your body for how tall you are.” Read more

Spring Clean Your Family’s Diet

Spring is here and, just like we give the house a good spring cleaning, this is a great time to do the same for your entire family’s diet. junk food garbage The growing season is beginning which means farmers’ markets will be opening in the next few weeks or months. In addition, we will be able to finally get outside more after a long, cold winter.

Here are a few ways in which you can help clean up your family’s diet this spring:

  • Eat more foods that “clean you out”. Think fiber. Foods that are high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Fiber binds fat in the gut and blood stream and carries it to be excreted in waste. Speaking of which, the more waste you are able to eliminate, the more toxins you are also disposing of as well.
  • Focus on foods that support detoxification processes in the body. The body has major organs that detoxify our system, specifically the liver, kidneys, skin and gut. Certain foods have phytonutrients that support these detoxification processes. These foods include lemon juice, onions, garlic, asparagus, apples and brassica vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and brussell sprouts.
  • Drink plenty of water. I recommend that kids drink milk with meals and water only between meals. Water helps “flush out” toxins. Drinking water throughout the day provides our blood and cells with fresh fluids continuously for optimum function. Drinking water throughout the day prevents sluggishness that accompanies inadequate hydration.
  • Get rid of sugar. If sugar is present in your family’s diet more than once per day, consider decreasing what sweets you keep in the house. Eating sugar in moderation is fine, which is about once per day. Remember that sugar is in many more foods than just candy and cookies. It is a major ingredient in many cereals, granola bars, yogurts, fruits snacks and beverages.
  • While you’re at it, clean out the food pantry. Just go ahead and toss or donate any foods that are not “clean”. This includes processed foods (think boxes and bags of snacks) and refined flours and sugars.

For more ideas on how to clean up your family’s diet, schedule an appointment with one of our registered dietitians today.