When it comes to eating healthy, it’s never to early to start. Although nutrition can seem like a difficult topic to discuss with a young child, keeping it simple can set them up for a lifetime of healthy choices.
With the recent unveiling of the new USDA food icon MyPlate, starting up nutrition conversations with individuals of any age has become much more simple. In fact, the new icon is so recognizable that even young children can begin to identify what a healthy plate should look like. Educators and parents alike should use this symbol to not only help their children build healthy plates, but to start conversations with them about what eating healthy is and the importance behind it.
To help educators and parents out, many lesson plans exist to incorporate the MyPlate icon into the classroom and the home. To add to this ever-growing list of fabulous resources, please find two additional lesson plans ready for use below. The idea behind these is to make talking about nutrition fun and help children identify how their food choices fit into a well-balanced meal plan.
My son has a severe, life threatening allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. We discovered this food allergy when he was two years old and we just could not figure out why he had severe asthma, requiring multiple emergency room visits, steroids and the like. He also randomly developed enormous hives all over his body and had difficulty breathing when the hives occurred. We took him to an allergist who tested him with both a skin test and a blood test, and we learned of the severity and breadth of the allergies.
Food allergies are different from food intolerances. A food intolerance can cause stomach upset, gastric distress, and possibly digestive issues in the form of diarrhea and constipation. Many people claim that they have a food allergy when a food does not agree with them, and this diminishes the severity for those with a true, life threatening allergy. A food allergy is defined as an abnormal response to a food triggered by your body’s immune system, and is most often triggered by the so called “Big 8”. These eight foods account for 90% of all food reactions and are milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, shellfish, sesame, wheat and soy.
You may hear of a person outgrowing their food allergies, but peanut and shellfish most often remain as lifelong allergies. A food allergy affects the breathing and heart and can, if not stopped in time, lead to death. People who have been diagnosed with a food allergy are often prescribed an epi-pen, an auto-injector of epinephrine that must be injected into the upper thigh to stop the reaction.
By Tanisha Williams
As children succumb to the obesity epidemic, schools are turning to all teachers— not just physical education teachers—to instruct and encourage students to develop healthier lifestyles.
Although obesity amongst children has become a national concern, more and more schools are being forced to scale back or cut physical education classes to focus on academia. According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, currently 16% of our nation’s children are overweight; this is a result of poor nutritional habits and lack of physical activity.
Below are five activities that combine academics with health, fitness and a nutritious curriculum that you can begin using in the classroom. Say that five times fast!
By Jennifer Gregory
It’s a scene that plays out in many houses each afternoon: The kids come home from school and they are starving. Not just merely hungry, but absolutely famished and they want something to eat this very instant.
While it is tempting to reach for cookies, chips or ice cream to satisfy their munchies, with just five minutes of preparation you can give your kids a snack that you can feel good about serving.
Here are five quick and healthy ideas that you, and more importantly, your hungry kids, will love:
Do you ever wish you could invite a registered dietitian into your kitchen during mealtimes to peer over your shoulder and help you modify your favorite meals into healthier options for your family?
If you do, then Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD and Liz Weiss, MS, RD, of the award-winning website Meal Makeover Moms, have the perfect solution with their latest cookbook, No Whine with Dinner (M3 Press, 2011).
The book contains 150 recipes that were tested by their own families and offers advice on choosing “healthy basics” from the grocery store – from fresh fruits and vegetables to convenience foods like jarred pasta sauce and salsa.
“We don’t believe in ‘kid food,'” said Bissex and Weiss in the book’s forward. “All of our recipes are made with color and flavor in mind and incorporate nutritious ingredients into their essence.
With healthier school lunch guidelines on the way, some parents might prefer to let their child buy lunch, especially with the recent findings that “sack” lunches can pose serious health threats for children.
According to ScienceNews.org, a recent study from the University of Texas, Austin found that bag lunches are likely to harbor bacteria that causes food borne illness. Researchers tested the temperature of 235 packed bag lunches with an electronic temperature gun to determine the safety of the food inside.
According to Science News, roughly 40 percent of lunches containing perishable foods arrived without ice packs and more than 90 percent of meals were packaged in thermally insulated plastic containers. Of the 618 perishable foods packed in lunch bags with a single ice pack, only 14 food items were deemed to be at an acceptable temperature, according to the report.
One of my memories as a child was going to McDonald’s to get a Happy Meal. (It happened maybe once every six months.) I knew that my mom didn’t think that the Happy Meal was a healthy meal, but it was a treat. I still wanted to eat it more often, like my friend Beth, whose parents took her to McDonald’s every week. My mom didn’t think it was healthy, and so we weren’t allowed to have it often.
The Happy Meal that I remember is still the same. The hamburger, fries and a drink meal that was first debuted more than 30 years ago has remained virtually unchanged, although apples and low-fat milk were introduced as options in 2004 in an effort to make the kids favorite more healthy. Unless specifically requested, however, each Happy Meal included a 2.4 ounce serving of french fries. Now that I have children, I (shh!) make the same choice as my own mother – McDonald’s isn’t a healthy choice for my family and so we visit rarely.
McDonald’s is hoping to change our minds.
The commercial seems innocent – a mom, trying to do the right thing for her family. She’s looking for a healthy breakfast choice, one that her kids will eat. She opens the pantry and pulls out a jar of Nutella, and the family happily sits down to nosh on it. She’s surrounded by smiling faces, all enjoying a breakfast of Nutella spread on whole grain toast. It’s a blissful shot, one that most moms would give their right arm to enjoy. Everyone eating breakfast with no fuss, no complaint, no “I hate that!” within hearing.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, it is. We’ve been ’round this debate before. Despite a lawsuit, the company is still insisting that Nutella is a nutritious breakfast choice. But is it really, or is this just a case of false advertising?
Janine Bolton, RD, has this to say about Nutella for breakfast: “I would not consider Nutella part of a healthy or balanced breakfast for kids. A balanced breakfast is one that features foods from different food groups, so that we get a variety of nutrients. Nutella does not belong to any food group and packs in over 10 grams of sugar per tablespoon. I wouldn’t recommend Nutella for anything other than an occasional treat.”
In an opinion piece that ran last week in the Journal of American Medicine, Harvard University child obesity expert Dr. David Ludwig set a fire when he called for parents to lose custody of their obese children.
“In severe instances of childhood obesity, removal from the home may be justifiable, from a legal standpoint, because of imminent health risks and the parents’ chronic failure to address medical problems,” Ludwig said. Ludwig goes as far as to compare obesity to extreme child abuse. The thought is not without precedent: More than 10 years ago, 3-year-old Anamarie Regino was taken from her parents and placed in foster care simply because she weighed 90 pounds. When questioned about this case, Ludwig admitted that “state intervention is no guarantee of a good outcome, but to do nothing is also not an answer.”
Ludwig has received heat for this point of view, and he’s since clarified his position. He said in later publication that in 99% of the most severe cases, he would not recommend that an obese child be removed from the home. He further explained that state intervention could include financial support to families, social services, access to safe recreation areas and even parenting courses to help manage a child’s uncontrolled eating habits. “The ultimate answer to the obesity epidemic is not to blame parents, it’s to create a more healthful and supportive society,” Ludwig said.
Teen star Selena Gomez was recently hospitalized for malnutrition. Since her hospitalization she’s announced that her condition was a result of bad nutrition, not a lack of eating. According to a People magazine article, the 18-year old said that she just has unhealthy eating habits. “The problem is I don’t eat right. I love everything that’s possibly not good for me.”
Gomez claims that she has always had bad eating habits. She mentions that since childhood she’s always added an unhealthy element to her food in order to enjoy it. Gomez also describes her favorite foods as junk food. Since her diagnosis of malnourishment, the star states that her mother is watching her closely and forcing vitamins in her.
This event made national news due to the celebrity status of the patient, but it’s quite possible that this type of malnutrition is common among many teens in this country.
As teenagers grow in independence, begin earning their own money, driving their own cars, and making their own meal choices, are they making good ones?