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'nutrition' Parentelligence posts

Family Meals with Young Children

Many parents don’t realize how much eating meals together as a family helps their children’s development and well-being in addition to being known to reduce the risk of obesity and improve the nutrition of children. Eating meals together is a valuable lesson and practice in sharing. By eating the same foods, hearing about someone else’s day, and telling stories, kids learn to compromise and show respect. Sitting around the table with the family is a great setting for children to see how they are a part of something bigger than just themselves.

When you have young children, it is a key time to start eating meals as a family and develop this lifetime habit. Even babies old enough to sit in a high chair but not old enough to eat everything everyone else is eating will benefit from joining the family at the table.

Here are some tips to make mealtimes more pleasant with young ones:

Helping kids eat, thrive, and grow

Is your child under the age of 6 and having problems with feeding or weight gain? Swedish’s GAINS program can help you and your pediatrician by doing a full assessment and providing specific recommendations. The Growth and Integrated Nutrition Service at Swedish (GAINS) is a multidisciplinary program, which includes doctors, nurses, dietitians, behavioral specialists, and feeding therapists.

There are many medical conditions that lead to growth and nutrition problems in children. We are experts at working with children with:

  • Feeding difficulties
  • Poor weight gain
  • Malnutrition
  • Failure to thrive
  • Prematurity
  • Children with feeding tubes
  • Aspiration
  • Breastfeeding Difficulties

Here are some frequently asked questions about the GAINS program:

Picky Eaters - Tips for Establishing Healthy Eating Habits

Picky eaters. We all know at least one, have a child that’s proud to be one, or heck, might have a history of being one (gulp). Every child is unique, hence the approach to picky eating needs to be highly individualized, but here I will outline some general tips on how to establish healthy habits for picky eaters!

The Basic Rules...

Childhood obesity

Eating healthy and being physically active are important things to keep in mind during and especially after the holidays when an abundance of food is present.

Parents often have questions about their child’s weight such as: Is my child’s weight appropriate? Is there a difference between being overweight and being obese? When should we be worried about his or her weight? If I am overweight, what is the risk that my child may become overweight?

Physicians often use the term BMI (body mass index) to define the terms overweight and obese, and this provides physicians and parents with a guide to monitor weight in children. BMI can be calculated using the weight and height (weight in kilo divided by square of height in meters; this can also be calculated using the BMI calculator. A child is considered overweight if the BMI is greater than the 85th percentile and obese if greater than 95th percentile. Once a child is obese, they are at risk of developing complications like hypertension, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, etc.

Physical activity should be a significant part of everyday life of your child. Each child should aim to be active for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. They can be enrolled in an organized sports activity program like football, soccer, baseball, or swimming, or they can remain active by riding a bike, jogging and so on. Parents need to be aware if their child is playing video games for hours at a time and restrict the amount of screen time if necessary. Reduced television watching and computer use may reduce BMI and sedentary behavior.

Eating healthy plays an essential role in the well-being of every child. Studies have shown a lower prevalence of obesity in children who eat a healthy breakfast every day. Parents need to provide children with healthy food options at home so that they can develop a habit of eating healthy. It is important for children to try to eat all food groups, including grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and meat or fish. Fats, oils and sweets must be consumed in limited amounts. Lifestyle modification involving the whole family is a key factor in maintaining healthy weight in children.

What if my child is obese or overweight?

Lunchbox Battles

In order to be successful in school, our children need fuel. School lunches can be tough. We have to balance what is healthy and what our child will eat. There’s also the distraction factor.  They have 20 minutes and a cafeteria or gym full of other kids who are all talking and eating.  The distraction is enough to delay nutritional intake past the time when lunch is over. (To see what I'm talking about, Try to fit in a lunchtime visit to your child’s school sometime. Prearranged with your child and the office. You'll be amazed.)

So, we need something tasty and quick and easy to prepare, but nutritionally sound and easy for our kids to eat quickly.

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