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7 benefits of eating together as a family

Regular family meals are good for children and for the family as a whole! Here's why:

1. Eating together encourages family togetherness
  • Positive family mealtimes help family members maintain relationships and feel a sense of belonging
  • When children can count on regular time with a parent or adults, they feel loved, safe and secure
  • Children set roots for a lifetime as they experience their family’s values and traditions

2. Eating together fosters happy, well-adjusted kids
  • Kids can feel accepted by their family and may not need to seek approval from the wrong crowd
  • Adolescents are less likely to be depressed and generally have a better self- esteem
  • Adolescents are less likely to smoke cigarettes, use marijuana, illegal drugs or alcohol

3. Eating together helps kids do better in school
  • Listening to grownups at the table exposes children to new works which helps them read better
  • Table talk gives youth a safe place to express their ideas. They ....

How to eat more vegetables

Did you know half of your plate should be from vegetables? Here are some ways to get more vegetables into your family’s meals and snacks.
 
1. Experiment with a new vegetable each week or each month!

Check out your local farmers market or produce aisle for something new and seasonal. Search the web or your favorite cook book for ideas on preparation, and don’t be afraid! Find recipes with some of your other favorite flavors or styles and you may just find your new favorite vegetable.

2. Get sneaky

  • Pureed peppers, zucchini or carrots can be “snuck” into tomato sauces for pasta or pizza. Not even the pickiest eater will notice!
  • Cauliflower, carrots or sweet potato can be steamed and pureed into mashed potatoes or a casserole.
  • Have a ...

New nutrition labels, same healthy eating advice

We all know that as a nation, we are getting bigger and heavier. Worse still, our future - our children- are becoming obese and unhealthy at increasingly younger ages. For decades, the scourge of obesity was blamed on a high calorie, high fat diet. Turns out, we have probably been doing it wrong all these years and our bulging waistline attests to this colossal failure. Research and the medical community now have increasing evidence that the real villain of the story is a very sweet little molecule called fructose. Fructose is what gives us the sweetness in table sugar (sucrose)…also in brown sugar, honey, agave, and of course, high fructose corn syrup. Call it by any name, but sugars are dangerous to our health. Fructose is addictive, much in the same way as alcohol and illicit drugs are. In fact, sugar (fructose) metabolism closely replicates alcohol metabolism except for the acute effects on brain. Sugar has been likened to alcohol without the buzz!

You may already have heard about First Lady Michelle Obama’s work with the FDA which has led to newly proposed changes to nutrition labels on packaged foods. The amount of sugars, specifically, “added sugars” will be part of that new label. I am not implying that a zero added sugar diet will be the panacea for the pandemic of obesity and ill health. We still need to eat healthy and exercise right. There is no magic pill, no startling new advice. Remember what our grandmothers used to say:
 

More tips for feeding picky eaters

In my last post, I shared a few tips about what to expect and how to help encourage your child to eat more. Here are some more tips to help your child eat more variety of foods, including more vegetables:

How can I get my child to eat more variety?

  • Offer a "nibble tray". At snack time, fill a muffin tin or ice cube tray with bite-sized portions of colorful, nutritious foods. Try cooked macaroni, cheese cubes, kidney beans, grape halves, broccoli florets, ready-to- eat cereal, and canned pineapple tidbits.
  • Let children cook. Your child is more likely to eat what he has helped to make.
  • Children can help wash vegetables, tear up lettuce, scrub potatoes, or stir batter.
  • Be playful. Call these finger foods playful names that a two-year-old can appreciate, such as: apple moons (thinly sliced), avocado boats (a quarter of an avocado), banana wheels, broccoli trees (steamed broccoli florets), carrot swords (cooked and thinly sliced), cheese building blocks, egg canoes (hard- boiled egg wedges), little O's (o-shaped cereal). "Olive or raspberry fingers" are much more appealing to be nibbled off their fingertips.
  • Serve new foods over and over again. A food not eaten at first may ...

Healthy tips for parents and kids to help prevent the spread of colds and the flu

Summer has ended, the kids are back in school, and fall is officially here. Which means….cold and flu season is upon us! Hospitals are already seeing documented cases of seasonal influenza. There are no known cures for colds and flu, so cold and flu prevention should be your goal.

Why do we care about preventing influenza? The flu can be very dangerous for children, causing illness, hospital stays and death each year. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports about 20,000 children below the age of 5 are hospitalized from flu complications each year.

The most effective way for preventing the flu is to get the flu shot. It works better than anything else. (Flu vaccination is recommended for all children aged 6 months and older). There are additional strategies you can employ to help ward off those nasty viruses.

Here are 6 tips you can use to help prevent colds and the flu:

Feeding Tips for Picky Eaters

It is important that children develop healthy eating habits early in life. Here are some ways to help your child eat well and to make meal times easier.

What to Expect:

  • After the first year of life, growth slows down, and your child's appetite may change.
  • It's normal for your child to eat more on some days and very little on other days.
  • A child may refuse to eat in order to have some control in his life.
  • A child may be happy to sit at the table for 15 to 20 minutes and no longer.
  • A child may want to eat the same food over and over again.

How can I encourage my child to eat more?

  • Set regular meal and snack times. Avoid feeding your child in between these times, so that they are hungry at meal and snack times. If you want your child to eat dinner at the same time you do, try to time his snack-meals so that they are at least two hours before dinner.
  • Limit juice and milk between meals. Offer water between meals, which will satisfy thirst without spoiling the appetite. Serve drinks at the end of the meal.
  • Respect tiny tummies. Keep portion sizes small. Here's a rule of thumb – or, rather, of hand. A young child's stomach is approximately the size of his fist. A good serving size for a young child is 1/2 slice of bread, 1 oz of meat, or 1/4 cup of fruit or vegetable pieces.
  • Respect changing appetites. Offer ...

Tips for kids with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Working as a CMA (certified medical assistant) in Swedish Pediatric Gastroenterology, I have the responsibility and honor of taking care of children diagnosed with a variety of gastrointestinal problems, one of the most serious being Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).  IBD is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic intestinal inflammation.  Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two main types of IBD, depending on the location and depth of inflammation in the gut. 

As I work with the families of children diagnosed with IBD, I am constantly amazed at what a complicated job they have, balancing life between a chronic illness and the challenges of “normal childhood”. 

As the school year gets off to a start, seeing how hectic life can become for most kids, I wanted to write down a few ways children with IBD might better empower themselves to gain control over their chronic disease:

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