Two months ago the AAP released a policy statement warning about the dangers of food additives and child health. Some of you may have panicked and some of you may have thought this wasn’t new information. We landed somewhere in the middle. One of the main points the statement made was that placing these items in the microwave and the dishwasher can cause the chemicals to be leached out and into the food and drinks we’re storing in them. Some of the biggest offenders were nitrites that are used to cure meats (think bacon and hot dogs), BPA which is used to line most cans, phthalates used in plastics. The statement also called for action on the part of our government for tighter regulations on these chemicals so that we don’t have to be afraid of the food we put in our body and the products our food comes in/we store it in. Does this mean you should never eat bacon again? Or throw away everything in your kitchen made of plastic? Of course not! Here are some of the AAP’s recommendations along with our input:
Any reduction in exposure is good so don’t feel like you have to drive yourself crazy trying to avoid these things 100% of the time ! Maybe if you eat bacon everyday you can try to cut back to once on the weekend for a special breakfast with the family. If swapping out all plastic for glass or stainless steel isn’t an option then try hand washing those items. Sit down with your family and discuss what changes will be feasible for your family and of course consult your Registered Dietitian with any questions you may have.
Kayla Fitzgerald, RD LD
Take a deep breath and try to relax. These back-to-school weeks don't have to be steeped in stress. In fact, here are a few ways to approach food as you head into a new schedule.
1. Delegate - As much as you can, delegate. We know that involvement instills a sense of ownership. If all your kids do in the kitchen is set the table, that's still an investment on their part, which can increase their receptiveness to the meals you provide.
Lucky you...St. Patrick's Day is a gift. If your kiddo shies away from greens, take this opportunity (no matter how long you expect it to last) to get their buy in on green food. Some true crowd pleasers include:
Shamrock chips (of which you can also make quesadillas) from Spiced Blog. Tip: This is a good one to make with the kids.
Green mac n' cheese from Weelicious. Tip: This is a good one to make ahead; then, attach a funny leprechaun story to it (e.g., the broccoli are leprechaun trees and the pees are leprechaun rocks).
Home/urban gardening has sprung up as a pretty popular trend in recent years. Heartier plant breeds, easier DIY solutions and increased support from organizations as large as the USDA all feed into a trend that promotes healthy eating, decreased food waste and community. My area (Charleston, SC) even boasts resources like Rita's Roots, which provides garden education, design, install and maintenance.
When involved in gardening, Kids:
If you've ever thought about starting an at-home garden, know that there are many options - from services as complete as Rita's Roots to these fabric pots I found on Amazon (they're amazing by the way).
Some beginner ideas:
If you're near Charleston, visit Rita this Spring!
I'm the kind of dietitian who prefers NOT to reinvent the wheel. Instead, I steer my clients towards useful and healthy options that exist. The best part of my job is letting people know that I have already sifted through the meal delivery kits, frozen food items, and millions of other products and services being thrown consumers' way.
That being said, this is Owen enjoying Harvest to Highchair's English Pea & Mint baby food.
While I have given you many tips and tricks in the past regarding making your own baby food, you have probably found that having a few back up jars of food on hand is also important. If you're in the greater Charleston area, take note of what Harvest to Highchair has to offer. The best thing about their products?
The nutritional value and taste of the fruits and vegetables used is retained more so than products that are pasteurized and made shelf stable. Check out the "born on" date on the label.
Beyond having a few extra items on hand, you may not have time to make your own baby food. This beautiful company will deliver whatever you need right to your door (coming soon to Amazon!). So...if you truly want homemade baby food without the fuss, try Harvest to Highchair....ASAP.
Sign up for this kid-focused eating workshop coming up in Mount Pleasant. I focus on the realities of life with young children, and how to realistically become confident in feeding these growing (and oftentimes picky) individuals. You will leave with tools that can be applied immediately. You may even leave with a new "mom-friend" who shares some of the same challenges you face. Can't wait to see you there!
This is a tricky question because Cheerios and Gerber Puffs are pretty similar. However, here's my breakdown.
Nutritionally, each product is enriched similarly (i.e., with thiamin, niacin, etc.). They also both are made primarily from a starch-based product (either rice or wheat flour).
The differences lie in fact that Cheerios have both protein and fiber, which we want our kiddos to get! Even though the total carbohydrates in Cheerios is more, the real focus is on the grams of sugar (which again, is the same) so don't make your decision off carbs alone.
My Vote? CHEERIOS
I read yet another article on the benefits of kids in the kitchen. Hands down, "children are more likely to try a food if they've invested the time and effort into making it," says RDN Kara LeClaire in an article by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. When kids get to help with the decision-making, they're that much more likely to get involved and have fun (this applies to cooking as much as it does to anything else).
Highlighting the importance of kids in the kitchen, helps us grown ups cook more meals at home, too. There has been a downward trend in homemade meals, and while time is a huge limiting factor, it's not the only thing. We've gotten so far away from cooking that we actually don't know how, don't have the tools or we're intimidated (or all of these).
If you're eating in less than you're eating out, try setting a few basic goals. Start to decrease the frequency of eating out, meal prep one more day per week or delegate certain kitchen items to individual household members. Once you've set that goal, ensure you can achieve it. For example, if you're going to eat out less, this means you need the proper supplies at home. Make a go-to shopping list or dedicated themed nights so you know what to shop for.
Overall, cooking is a lifeskill. The camaraderie, health benefits and financial savings that comes along with cooking at home are all bonuses.
1. Martin, Donna. Before it's a lost art: Help Clients and patients learn to cook. JAND. (2017). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2017.08.025.
Author: Kari Johnson
"I’m hungry. Can I have a snack?” If you don't hear this at least once a day, then you more than likely do not have a toddler residing in your home (or they have an all access pass to the refrigerator, which is not recommended).
The "snack battle" is real, because oftentimes as caregivers, we have to decipher between boredom and actual hunger. A few tips for healthy snacking:
Following a few general rules helps cut down on potential frustration later on. For example, I enjoy cooking dinner for my family, but it takes time and planning to get the job done. With the effort that goes into it, I want my 5-year-old twins to actually eat what I cook for dinner. If snacks consume their afternoon, dinner becomes a hopeless cause.
My solution? On Sundays we have snack prep day as a family. We end up with healthy snacks that are ready for the week, and we also enjoyed a little quality time together. This plan also helps decrease needless snacking that can create unhealthy eating patterns for years to come.
Here are a few “nut free” ideas for the parents out there packing snacks for school as well!
Prepackaged Refrigerated Snacks:
Prepackaged Freezable Snacks Recipes:
Apple Carrot Muffins
½ cup oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup honey
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
3 large eggs and 1 large egg white
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup grated carrot
Preheat oven to 350oF. Whisk eggs, honey and apple sauce together. Mix all dry ingredients together. Add dry with wet. Fold in zucchini and carrots. Fill cupcake holders ¾ of the way. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Peach oatmeal cookies
1 cup oats
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp baking powder2 cup
2 Tbsp coconut oil or canola oil
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup honey
½ cup diced peaches
Whisk oil, egg, and extract together. In a separate bowl add all dry ingredients together. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients until incorporated. Fold in peaches. Chill for at least 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 330oF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon cookie dough into 15 cookies and bake for 11-14 minutes. Cool on pan for 10 minutes.
Guest Blogger: Kari Johnson
If you're finding yourself at a crossroads to buy or make your own baby food, here are a few helpful tips to help you decide!
Benefits of homemade baby food:
What about the time it takes to make baby food?
The time is takes to make baby food is both a pro and a con. If you have a blender and a peach that is just a little too soft, you could have fresh food in a matter of seconds. On the other hand, if you don't have a few staples ready to go or if your baby's needs are a bit more specific, then you may be spending a bit more time in the kitchen.
So...exactly what do you need to make baby food?
A steamer or a stove top steaming insert for your pot, a blender, and containers with a tight seal for refrigerator and freezer storage.
Recommended starting age is at 6 months for a variety of pureed and mashed foods to be introduced.
While doing some research for an adult client, I found this great (yet simple) article on whether or not low carbohydrate diets are safe for kids.
Here are the article highlights:
Gum chewing is a big deal at my house right now. My 3-year-old asks for gum a lot. Mostly because he sees me chewing it and it oftentimes looks like candy. Here's the 411 according to dentists:
Son: Can I have some gum please?
Son: I want blue, not pink.
Son: (chew - chew - chew) Can I have a bowl please?
Son: (spits gum in bowl)
I did it all wrong on this front. While he doesn't swallow the gum (a plus), I gave it to him a tad too early so I really emphasized that you spit it out, which is why he wants the bowl. When he spits it out in the bowl, it no longer looks pretty. Thus, he'll ask for a new piece. If you give him a new piece even one time, he'll expect a new piece every time and now you have an expensive gum habit. It's funny, but also completely true!
We don't want the iPad to become our generation's version of the tv tray. That being said, there's something to keeping mealtime and screen time separate. Keep mealtime sacred...it'll prove beneficial in fighting weight gain and obesity.
If you answered "Yes" to all of the above questions, then cooking as a Mother's Day gift is a great idea. The quiz is meant to be funny and isn't a knock on those who don't cook all that often...it's just a gentle reminder that cooking takes a little thought and effort (and so does clean up).
One of the main reasons people struggle with eating healthy is because of how busy they are. I get it! Cooking oftentimes gets put on the back burner (no pun intended). We opt for fast food and preprepared items where we have no control over nutrient content. In tandem, we are marketed products that appear healthy when they really aren't. Given all this, I encourage you to find one small change you can make to cook more. For example, I finally found an iRobot - Roomba vacuum at Costco for $399.99 (down from $999.99). The average cost of my family of 4 to eat out is $45 (a little over $10/person). It would only take 8 times of cooking at home to pay for the Roomba. While the Roomba is vacuuming, I can cook. Boom! You can do it!
There's not just one contributing factor to obesity. Calorie-in vs. calorie-out gets a ton of warranted attention. Beyond that, things such as stress affect how efficient one's metabolism is. Stress specifically affects hormones such as cortisol in kids that can lead to changes in how their bodies use glucose, and changes are not necessarily good.
We may not need lab work to identify stress. Eating habits oftentimes can be a good indicator. Stress takes the cake as far as emotional eating (from anger, boredom, etc.) is concerned. Physicians say that being mindful is key in managing stress and any emotional eating effects that come along with it.
Ways you can be mindful to stay healthy:
Yep! I really do.
Rewards for good behaviors are a no-brainer. There's tons of research that supports a rewards as an effective and safe tool. However, using food as a reward has been associated with negative things such as emotional eating.
In the long run, it is worth taking a couple of extra minutes to be mindful of the types of rewards you are offering. By providing non-food rewards, you'll encourage your child to begin developing a healthy relationship with food that will last a lifetime.
Here are some non-food reward ideas to add to your arsenal:
Parents are busy, which means food prep can end up falling on someone else (e.g., a sitter, a grandparent, a spouse). Here are a few tips to ensure healthy eating survives even the busiest times!
Registered Dietitian, Austinite, Mom with a 2-yr old, Dog lover