[VIDEO] 6 Reasons Cooking Can Save Your Kid’s Life

[VIDEO] 6 Reasons Cooking Can Save Your Kid’s Life

When it comes to cooking healthy, homemade meals, most people aren’t on board.

They either don’t like to cook, or think cooking is too difficult, too time consuming or isn’t worth the effort especially after factoring in work, kids’ after-school activities and sports, and everything else that has to get done each day.

In fact, according to data collected by Eddie Yoon, a researcher and consultant for the consumer packaged goods industry, a whopping 45 percent of people hate to cook and 35 are lukewarm about it.

Our dislike for cooking however, is surprising considered the surge in meal kit subscriptions, food delivery apps, restaurants who offer on-the-go ordering, the popularity of cooking shows and Tasty-style videos and the rise of cookbook sales in 2018.

Despite our near-obsession with food and cooking, Americans still spend more money eating out than they do on groceries.

Dining out and ordering in may be quicker, easier, and tastier, but the reality is that doing so is slowly killing our kids.

Not only are we facing a childhood obesity epidemic and more kids than ever are being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, but studies show our kids will have a shorter life expectancy than older generations.

Fat or skinny however, all kids are at risk.

According to a May 2012 study in the journal Pediatrics, 37 percent of kids who have a normal weight have one or more cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar.

One of the reasons kids are sicker than ever is because they’re not given enough opportunities to learn how to cook and actually see what a healthy meal looks like.

The truth is that cooking can save your kid’s life. Here are 6 reasons why. 

Short on time? Check out my video.

1. Cooking makes kids healthier—physically and mentally

Studies show kids who consistently eat meals with their families are healthier kids overall.

In fact, according to a February 2018 study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, kids who share family meals together have higher fitness levels, drink less sugary soft drinks, and seem to have better social skills.

Studies also show that kids who eat with their families are less likely to have an eating disorder or become obese and family meals are linked to lower rates of depression, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, better grades and higher levels of self-esteem.

Conversations had around the table may even improve a child’s vocabulary and help them become more resilient.

2. Cooking puts an end to picky eating

If your kid is a picky eater, eating out may seem like an easy solution especially if the restaurant you’re dining in has a kid’s menu.

But feeding kids what they want instead of what they need only reinforces the picky eating pattern.

We tell ourselves (and others), “my kid will only eat X,Y, and Z,” or “there’s no way my kid will eat that,” and that’s exactly what ends up happening.

Dinner may not always be peaceful but when your kids eat a homemade meal and there are no other options, it’s one of the best ways to get them out of their picky eating behaviors.

The more opportunities kids have to enjoy healthy meals and the only choice is what’s being served, they’re more likely to at least try it.

3. Cooking shows kids what real food looks like

Instead of eating out where French fries is the side dish, meals aren’t served with vegetables and everything is smothered in cheese or a sauce, cooking at home gives kids plenty of opportunities to learn what real, fresh food and healthy, balanced meals actually look like.

Cooking means meals are healthier and portions are smaller

A December 2016 study in Nutrition Today found most items on kid’s menus at the top 200 restaurant chains in the U.S. contained 147 more calories than what experts recommend.

When you eat out with your kids, you could avoid the kids menu and instead order a salad and a healthy appetizer, for example.

But since most restaurant meals are 2 to 3 times larger than what they should be, chances are the portions will still be too large. What’s more, most restaurant meals are high in calories, sodium and unhealthy fats. 

Cooking at home lets you control the ingredients, the cooking method and the portion sizes.

4. Cooking strengthens family bonds

Life gets hectic when you have kids and families don’t spend nearly as much time as they’d like.

In fact, a March 2018 study commissioned by Visit Anaheim found Americans spend just 37 minutes of “quality” time together during the week.

The more time you spend together around the dinner table, the more opportunities there are to share stories, resolve conflict, share positive moments from your day and strengthen family bonds.

5. Cooking prepares kids for real life

You may not like to cook, but cooking is a life skill your kids will need, just like doing laundry and cleaning a home.

Sure, you can hire someone to do just about any errand or chore, but if you want to raise kids who are self-sufficient and not lean on mom or dad for everything, teaching them how to cook is key.

Teaching kids basic cooking skills like how to measure ingredients, chop vegetables, use appliances and follow a recipe, are skills that will carry them through life and ensure they’ll put their health first.

6. Cooking keeps kids with food allergies safe

If you have a child with food allergies, you know that going out to eat—or eating anywhere other than your home—is seriously nerve-wracking.

Although you’ll tell your server about your kid’s food allergies, ask the kitchen to use a clean pan and urge them to avoid cross contamination, anything can happen and unfortunately, you can’t put the onus on the restaurant.

When you cook at home, you don’t have to worry about food allergies, and you know your kid will be safe.

8 Supermarket Shortcut Foods To Make Healthy Eating Easy

8 Supermarket Shortcut Foods To Make Healthy Eating Easy

The new year always comes with the best intentions: eat healthier, work out more, get more sleep and cut down on all that stress.

When it comes to your kid’ health, perhaps you’ve made a commitment to stock your kitchen with healthy food, cook more and share more family meals together.

Those are all great New Year’s resolutions to have of course, but so often we find ourselves back to our old habits come February.

Between work, after-school activities and every other obligation you have, carving out time to plan, shop and cook gets really challenging.

With some healthy eating hacks and a few supermarket shortcut foods on hand however, you don’t have to rely on processed foods, ready-made meals and grab-and-go options to make sure your family stays on track.

Here are 8 supermarket shortcuts that will make healthy eating a breeze all year long.

1. Salad kits

My family has become hooked on a salad kit made with shaved Brussels sprouts, shredded cabbage, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. Not only is it healthy and delicious, but having a salad kit on hand helps us pull together dinner in minutes flat.

When choosing a salad kit, always read labels since many salad kits are high in calories, sodium and sugar and use low-nutrient greens like iceberg lettuce instead of dark leafy greens.

2. Spinach

High in iron, spinach is also a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins A,C,E, B6, folate, magnesium and calcium.

Pre-washed baby spinach (organic when possible), cooks super-fast and can be incorporated into almost meal you’re making.

Sauté spinach with olive oil and garlic, add it to soups, stews and stir-fries or incorporate it into a quiche or frittata. Raw spinach can be mixed with other salad greens or used for your morning smoothies or green juices.

3. Frozen fruits and vegetables

Since frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at their peak freshness and flash frozen, they may be healthier than fresh varieties. In fact, a June 2017 study in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis found in some cases frozen produce is more nutritious than fresh that’s been stored in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Stocking your freezer with a variety of frozen options will help you pull together meals in no time. Add frozen veggies to pastas, omelettes, or a stir-fry and incorporate frozen fruit into smoothies and yogurt or serve it as dessert.

4. Beans

Beans are one of the healthiest foods for kids and make for a quick and easy meal.

Add canned beans to tacos, fajitas, soups and stews, serve them solo in your kid’s lunch box, or puree them into a healthy and delicious bean dip.

5. Tempeh

If you’re looking to add more plant-based protein sources into your meals, try tempeh.

With more than 5 grams of protein in every ounce, tempeh is also high in fiber and magnesium.

Since it’s made with fermented soybeans, tempeh is also a great way to get probiotics into your kid’s diet.

Marinate tempeh and bake it, slice it thin and sauté it with vegetables, or swap crumbled tempeh for meat in your favorite Mexican dishes.

6. Canned fish

One of the best supermarket shortcuts to help your family eat healthy is canned fish like salmon, sardines and anchovies.

Packed with protein, low in saturated fat and rich in micronutrients, fish is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support kids’ brain health and memory.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend kids eat fish 1 to 2 times every week, starting at age 2.

If your kids refuse to eat fish however, try non-sneaky ways to incorporate small portions into their meals. For example, serve canned salmon as a dip paired with cut up raw vegetables, top toasted whole-grain bread with a bit of anchovies, or add a few sardines to pasta dishes.

7. Edamame

An excellent source of protein, fiber, iron and magnesium, edamame (soybeans) are high in calcium: one cup of provides 97 milligrams.

Purchase edamame frozen or fully cooked and add it to rice dishes, soups and salads or serve it as a side dish. You can also serve edamame as an appetizer before dinner when kids are hungry and more likely to try new foods.

8. Quinoa

Quinoa, a seed, is high in both protein and fiber as well as B vitamins, which support the nervous system.

Quinoa is also a quick and easy grain that can be served for breakfast with fruit and cinnamon, mixed into a yogurt parfait or as a side dish for lunch or dinner.

10 Healthy Eating Hacks For 2019

10 Healthy Eating Hacks For 2019

Whether your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, get in shape—or nothing at all, the month of January is a great time of year to set new, healthy goals for your family.

Perhaps you want to encourage your kids to eat healthier, try new foods or leave behind their picky eating behaviors for good.

Just as other New Year’s resolutions don’t happen overnight, getting your family to eat healthy requires consistency, patience and simple, yet realistic, strategies to make it happen.

Here are 10 healthy eating hacks for the new year that will make it doable.

1. Make a list

Without a grocery list, it’s easy to be tempted by processed foods and convenience foods that can easily derail you. You may also end up buying too much food that goes to waste or find yourself resorting to unhealthy takeout when your refrigerator becomes empty mid-week.

Before you head to the grocery store, try to have a rough meal plan for the week and make a list of the foods and ingredients you’ll need.

You don’t have to plan out each meal perfectly, but as long as you have a general idea of what you’re going to make for dinner each night, and what you need to stock up on for all of your other meals, you’ll have plenty of options.

2. Prep ahead

If you can carve out an hour or two on the weekends to wash, prep and store your aromatics and fruits and vegetables, it will save you a ton of time during the week.

3. Take shortcuts

Buying pre-chopped ingredients may cost a bit more, but if doing so means you’re able to make healthy meals faster, then it’s totally worth it.

Most grocery stores have pre-chopped mirepoix, garlic, cauliflower “rice,” spiraled vegetables, and shredded Brussels sprouts that can shave off a ton of time making healthy meals.

4. Batch cook

I work full-time, write this blog and have two kids but I still manage to get dinner on the table (almost) every night.

I’m not a super-mom by any stretch of the imagination or a pro chef, but with bath cooking, I’m able to pull it off.

On Sunday and a few times throughout the week, I make large batches of vegetables, rice, quinoa, lentils, beans and hard-boiled eggs that can be used for healthy school lunches and dinners throughout the week.

5. Use an appliance

Cooking healthy meals can be time consuming especially if you have to chop vegetables or wait for rice to cook, for example. Luckily, there are so many appliances like the Vitamix, Instant Pot and slow-cooker to make it quick and easy.

6. Make sheet pan meals

When you’re rushing to get dinner on the table, you need fast, fuss-free meals.

Instead of using multiple pots and pans and making meals that require multiple cooking methods, make sheet pan meals. Choose your vegetables, add a protein, and roast everything together to cut down on cooking and clean-up time.

7. Assemble meals

Don’t like to cook? No problem. You don’t have to use a single appliance to pull together healthy meals.

Instead, assemble pre-washed bagged salad or try a salad kit and add a protein and healthy fat for a quick, easy and no-brainer meal.

8. Rely on frozen foods

Many types of frozen, microwave meals are high in calories, sodium and trans fat and low in fiber and overall nutrition, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use your freezer to get a healthy dinner on the table.

Make large batches of stews, soups, bean burgers and casseroles or double a recipe that can be frozen and reheated.

Also, stock your freezer with quick and easy options like frozen shrimp, vegetables and peas that can be used in several different meals. Frozen fruit can also be used in smoothies, added to yogurt or served as dessert.

9. Stock your pantry with canned food

When you’re short on time, canned food can be a great alternative to fresh.

Canned salmon, tuna, sardines and beans are all healthy, easy and versatile protein sources that can be paired with a salad or cooked vegetables.

10. Rethink dessert

Bribing kids with dessert to eat dinner or take a few bites of their vegetables may be effective, but it puts a sour taste in their mouths—so to speak.

When kids are told they’ll get dessert if they eat the healthy stuff, a tactic Dina Rose, PhD calls the dessert deal, it teaches them that dessert is more desirable than their meal.

A workaround is to let your kids have dessert but consider offering dessert choices that you can live with. In our family, dessert is usually fresh fruit but it can also be dried fruit, yogurt, or a homemade muffin, for example.

How To Safely Introduce Nuts To Your Baby

How To Safely Introduce Nuts To Your Baby

My kids were babies just a few years ago, but at that time parents were told to avoid offering peanuts, almonds and other tree nuts until they were toddlers and as late as 3-years-old.

The food philosophy was meant to prevent babies from developing severe and life-threatening food allergies.

Nearly 8 percent of children in the U.S. have food allergies and peanuts are the most common allergen, according to a 2018 study in the journal Pediatrics.

In a short amount of time a lot has changed however. Now experts say introducing peanuts and tree nuts early on when babies start solids can actually prevent food allergies.

In January 2017, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorsed new guidelines from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in an effort to reduce the amount of kids with peanut allergies.

The updated recommendations came after a 2015 landmark study, the Learning Early About Peanut (LEAP) trial, which found that early introduction of peanuts can prevent peanut allergies in kids who are considered “high risk,” meaning those who have eczema and/or an egg allergy.

As a result, the AAP now recommends parents with babies who don’t have eczema or food allergies can “freely” introduce peanuts between 4 and 6 months of age.

Babies with mild or moderate eczema can be introduced to peanuts and tree nuts at 6-months of age.

Those with severe eczema and/or an egg allergy should also be introduced to peanuts and tree nuts between 4 and 6 months of age and after they have started other solids without any reactions, but they should also have allergy testing done beforehand.

Knowing whether your child has a moderate or high risk for food allergies can be tough, so air on the side of caution and talk with your pediatrician first before introducing nuts into your baby’s diet.

Nuts are a healthy first food for babies

For infants without food allergies, nuts can be one of the best first foods for babies.

Nuts are an excellent source of protein, and are high in omega-3 fatty acids which supports brain and eye health, and vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that protects cells from the damage of free radicals.

Here, learn how to safely introduce nuts to your baby.

Never feed your baby whole nuts

It goes without saying, but whole nuts are a chocking hazard for babies. The AAP says you shouldn’t introduce them into your baby’s diet until he can chew them well—probably around age 4 or 5.

Also, never feed your baby a spoonful of peanut butter or another nut butter, which is also a choking hazard.

Start slow

Once you get the green light from your baby’s pediatrician to introduce nuts into your baby’s diet, offer just a taste at first.

As long as your baby has no symptoms of an allergic reaction or an intolerance, you can gradually increase the amount the next time.

Offer a tiny taste

Peanut butter, almond butter and other types of nut butters are an ideal way to introduce nuts to your baby.

Since they’re so sticky however, make sure you mix a very small amount with yogurt, a vegetable or fruit puree or infant cereal. Blend it well and make sure the nut butter is super smooth and has a consistency your baby can handle.

Serve a spread of nut butter with finger foods

When your baby is ready for finger foods, spread a small amount of nut butter on toast, pancakes, or waffles or even soft fruits like bananas or pears.

Adding nut butter to finger foods is a great way to get protein, more nutrition and extra flavor into your baby’s diet.

Prepare a pesto sauce

Pesto is a healthy and delicious way to introduce nuts to your baby.

Since many types of store-bought pesto sauces are high in sodium however, make your own version with pine nuts, walnuts or almonds.

Add pesto to pasta, grain dishes, soups or vegetable purees.

Swap all purpose flour for almond flour

Using almond flour in your baking recipes is a great way to introduce nuts to your baby.

Almond flour has more protein than all-purpose flour, is gluten-free and quite tasty. Use it to make breads and muffins for your baby, but be mindful of the amount of sugar you use.

6 Tips To Manage Your Kid’s Food Allergies During The Holidays

6 Tips To Manage Your Kid’s Food Allergies During The Holidays

When you have a child with food allergies like I do, keeping them safe during holiday parties and family get-togethers can be challenging.

Between new types of foods, homemade dishes with secret ingredients and all those Christmas cookies, you’ll be laser-focused on what your kid can eat and what he must avoid.

Although managing your child’s food allergies can definitely be nerve-wracking, with some planning and a few simple strategies you can enjoy the holidays and keep your kid safe.

Here are 6 tips that will help.

1. Talk to the host

If you’ll be attending an event at someone else’s home, call the host and let them know about your child’s food allergies and what can happen if they accidentally ingest an allergen.

When you have a child with food allergies, the reality is that you are his biggest advocate.

Unless the host of the party has a child with food allergies, it’s unlikely that they’ll read food labels or even know how to read a label.

What’s more, most people don’t understand how serious an accidental exposure can be and may say a meal is safe, when it really isn’t.

While some hosts may go out of their way to check labels and read every ingredient they used, it’s always a good idea to ask what foods will be served so you’ll know what your kid will have to avoid.

2. Bring a safe dish and dessert

One of the best ways to keep your kids safe and make sure they’ll have something to eat is to bring a safe dish and a dessert that they and everyone else can enjoy, including guests who may have other dietary restrictions.

3. Supervise your kids

It goes without saying that if your kid is young, you must ask about the ingredients in every dish and choose foods carefully.

But since family and friends may give your kid something to eat without asking, it’s important to also watch your kids throughout the event too.

4. Talk with your kids

When kids are old enough to understand what it means to have food allergies, it’s important to talk to them about how to stay safe but without scaring them.

Make sure they know not to eat a food without asking you first and not to share foods with other kids who may also have food allergies.

5. Ask guests to bring a non-food item

When my daughter was 3-years-old, we attended a party at a neighbor’s house and while we were chatting, she tasted a dip that had nuts in it. Luckily, she only had hives and we gave her a dose of Benadryl, but it was a big wake up call to watch her more carefully.

If you’ll be hosting and grandma insists on bringing her famous cookies, there may not be much you can do. But if guests ask what they can bring, have a list of alternatives like a bottle of wine, another beverage, or festive napkins.

6. Plan non-food traditions

During the holidays, food is a big part of the festivities. But for kids with food allergies, they may feel left out if they can’t enjoy some of the food.

To take some of the focus off food, plan other activities or start new holiday traditions which will create magical memories your kids will remember for years to come.

5 Winter Superfoods for Kids

5 Winter Superfoods for Kids

The winter season lends itself to a wide variety of brightly colored vegetables bursting with flavor and packed with nutrition for your kids.

With more time indoors, winter is also one of the best times of year to experiment with new recipes, cook with your kids and give them plenty of opportunities to try—and even learn to love—new foods.

These 5 winter superfoods are chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, can be incorporated into most dishes and are so delicious your kids will ask for seconds.

1. Cabbage

Green leafy vegetables are some of the healthiest vegetables you can feed your kids, and cabbage (white or red) falls into this category.

Cabbage is a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins C, K, B6 and folate.

Roast cabbage, sauté it with some coconut oil, or add it to your favorite stir-fry for a healthy and delicious meal.

2. Sweet potatoes

Rich in vitamin B6 and potassium, sweet potatoes also contain 3 grams of fiber and 284 percent daily value of vitamin A per 1/2 cup—making them one of the best winter superfoods for kids.

Roast sweet potatoes, mashed them or slice and top with scrambled eggs for a quick and healthy breakfast.

3. Beets

I know what you’re thinking: there’s no way my kid will eat beets. Beets have been a tough sell for my kids too, but it’s still worth a try

A good source of iron, vitamin C, magnesium, folate and potassium, beets are also high in fiber.

I don’t advocate sneaking vegetables for the sake of getting your kids to eat them, but there are some ways to make beets more palatable.

Try making your own roasted beet hummus like this one from Minimalist Baker.

Or roast beets with other root vegetables for a filling and delicious side dish or incorporate them into a fresh green juice.

4. Carrots

Most kids like carrots—a good thing since they’re so nutritious.

Carrots are high in vitamins A, B6 and folate, C and K, as well as iron and potassium. They’re also a great source of fiber: a 1/2 cup has nearly 3 grams.

Carrots are also a really versatile vegetable. Serve raw baby carrots with hummus or black bean dip, roast them with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, or add pureed carrots into soups, stews or make a carrot soufflé.

5. Parsnips

Sweet, savory and filling, parsnips are one of the quintessential winter superfoods for kids.

Parsnips are a good source of potassium and vitamins C, K and folate. With 5 grams of fiber in a 1/2 cup, they’ll satisfy your kid’s hunger and may cure constipation.

Roast parsnips, sauté them with some grass-fed butter and nutmeg or incorporate them into your favorite bread recipe for extra fiber and flavor.

What is High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

What is High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

As a parent, you’re always hearing about the laundry list of ingredients and toxic chemicals you should avoid in your kid’s diet.

Things like artificial food dyes, GMO’s, pesticides, antibiotics, arsenic and one of the worst offenders: high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

But what is high-fructose corn syrup? And is it really that bad for your kid’s health? Here are answers to those questions and more.  

 

What is High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

In recent years, there’s been a lot of buzz about HFCS, but the artificial sweetener made from processed corn starch has actually been in use since 1967, when it was first introduced.

Like table sugar (sucrose), HFCS is made up of two sugar molecules: glucose and fructose.

Regular sugar is broken down by the enzymes in our digestive tracks and then absorbed into the body.

HFCS is also made up of glucose and fructose but since the two molecules are unbound, they don’t have to be digested and they’re absorbed into the body at a much faster rate, Mark Hyman MD, states in this article.

Enzymes are added to HFCS to convert some of the glucose into fructose so it has a higher fructose-glucose ratio, making it even sweeter than sugar.

High fructose corn syrup is big business in the U.S.

Since high fructose corn syrup is government subsidized, it’s cheap to make and profitable. According to a 2018 report by Zion Market Research, the global market for the sweetener is expected to be worth more than $5 million by the year 2024.

Manufacturers also use the sweetener since it offers more flavor, stability, freshness, texture, pourability, color and consistency in foods than sucrose, according to one study.

 

Which foods contain high-fructose corn syrup?

High-fructose corn syrup is used in sweet foods, processed foods and surprising foods you’d least expect, including:

  • Cereals
  • Canned fruit
  • Condiments
  • Desserts
  • Granola bars
  • Ice cream
  • Juice
  • Salad dressings
  • Sodas and sweetened beverages
  • Sports drinks
  • Soups
  • Yogurt

Is high fructose corn syrup bad for kids’ health?

Research suggests foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup can spike the blood sugar, lead to inflammation, type-2 diabetes, weight gain and childhood obesity, high triglyceride levels and heart disease.

A landmark April 2004 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was the first to show a link between HFCS consumption and the obesity epidemic.

Yet a few years later, Barry M. Popkin, one of the study authors, pulled back on his theory, The New York Times reported.

Then in 2008, the American Medical Association (AMA), also came out to say that it’s unlikely that high fructose corn syrup contributes more to obesity or other health conditions than regular sugar, and there’s insufficient evidence to limit it or use warning labels on food.

Still, the debate around high-fructose corn syrup and its health effects persisted.

According to a February 2010 study out of Princeton University, rats with access to HFCS gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, despite consuming the same amount of calories.

The same study also found that long-term consumption of HFCS led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially abdominal fat, and an increase in triglycerides, or fats that circulate in the blood stream.

Studies also suggest the ingredient is harmful to the liver.

According to a May 2017 study in the Journal of Hepatology, obese children and teens who had diets high in foods that contain fructose like soda, sweetened beverages and processed foods, had an increased risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

What’s more, 38 percent also had nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a more chronic and severe form of fatty liver disease.

Does high fructose corn syrup contain mercury?

Studies show some foods with high-fructose corn syrup also contain mercury.

A January 2009 study in the journal Environmental Health found toxic levels of mercury in food samples containing high-fructose corn syrup.

Yet just a few months later, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) announced that independent testing and expert review showed no detectable levels of the toxin in food samples with the sweetener.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies mercury, a toxic metal that has been linked to a host of health problems and can have adverse effects on a child’s nervous, digestive, and immune systems, as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals that are a public health concern.

Should you avoid high fructose corn syrup in your kid’s diet?

Although much debate continues to exist around HFCS and its harmful effects on our health, there’s no question that limiting any type of added sugars in our—and our kids diets—is ideal.

The demand for high-fructose corn syrup has been on the decline in recent years is promising, but it seems that we’ve replaced it with sugar. 

According to a 2017 report by the USDA, between 2015 and 2016, consumption of refined sugar increased by 6 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say kids should get less than 10 percent of their total daily calories from sugar, yet most kids are getting much more.

Since foods that contain high fructose corn syrup also lack the nutrition kids need to grow and develop at a healthy rate, it’s one more reason to limit or avoid the sweetener altogether.

By focusing on real, whole, healthy foods instead, you can ensure your kids are getting the nutrition they need to be healthy now, and throughout their lives.

 

 

9 Healthy Holiday Tips for Your Family

9 Healthy Holiday Tips for Your Family

With countless opportunities to enjoy sweet, savory and decadent dishes at family gatherings, holiday parties and special events, combined with treats tempting us at virtually every store (food or otherwise), it’s no wonder most people overindulge during the holidays.

Blame it on food marketing, the societal draw or stress, but 87 percent of Americans say they have an increase in food cravings this time of year and 75 percent experience guilt after giving into their cravings, a recent poll found.

The holidays are meant to be enjoyed and food is a big part of that enjoyment, but overindulging from now until New Year’s Eve can cause weight gain, affect mood, interfere with sleep and make your family more likely to get sick.

With a bit of planning and some simple strategies however, you can enjoy all the season has to offer without all the pitfalls. Consider these 7 healthy holiday tips for your family.

 

1. Don’t arrive hungry

If you know your family will eat a large holiday meal later on in the day, you might be tempted to skip meals.

If you arrive feeling famished however, you’ll be more likely to overeat when the meal is served.

Skipping breakfast in particular is a mistake. Studies show people who eat breakfast, especially one that’s high in protein, eat less calories throughout the day.

Do your best to serve healthy meals and snacks at the same times you and your family usually eat.

The same goes if dinner will be served in the middle of the day, although you may want to have a snack instead of a meal. A combination of protein and fiber like celery sticks and hummus or an apple with almond butter is ideal.

2. Bake healthy

Between pumpkin pie, eggnog and all those Christmas cookies, there will be plenty of sweets to go around, but that doesn’t mean everything you make has to be high in calories, fat and sugar.

With a few simple substitutions, there are several ways to bake healthy during the holidays and still enjoy all the desserts.

Check out my healthy holiday baking tips here.

3. Bring a healthy dish

If you’ll be attending a holiday event at someone else’s home, offer to bring a healthy dish that everyone can enjoy.

If your kids have food allergies or someone in the family has specific dietary restrictions or preferences, bringing a healthy dish is also a great way to keep them safe and ensure they have something to eat as well.

4. Model healthy eating habits

You can teach your kids how to enjoy all the delicious food without going overboard by taking small, healthy portions, making choices about what goes on your plate and enjoying everything in moderation.

When most people are reaching for second and third portions, you can show your child that it’s possible to enjoy the food without stuffing your face.

5. Get moving

To help burn off excess calories, combat stress and keep everyone on an even keel, carve out time before or after a holiday celebration to do something active.

This can be as simple as a walk around the neighborhood, a game of catch in the backyard, an indoor dance party or a game of Twister.

6. Make sleep a priority

Irregular schedules and later-than-usual bedtimes can throw everyone in the family off schedule.

Without enough sleep, everyone will be more irritable and more likely to reach for food and make unhealthy food choices.

In fact, an August 2018 study in the Journal of Sleep Research found that kids who regularly fell asleep after 11pm were 2 to 3 times more likely to eat junk food at least 5 times a week.

8. Give kids a kids-sized plate

Kids don’t need the same size dinner plate as adults, and may end up eating more because of it.

Make sure your kid has a kid-sized plate or an appetizer plate to keep portions healthy.

9. Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues

When food is in abundance during the holidays, it’s easy to overeat. Paying attention to your hunger and fullness cues however, can prevent you from reaching for seconds.

If your kids tend to overeat on special occasions too, depending on their ages, you can talk to them about eating when they’re hungry and to stop when they’re not hungry.

Sure, there’s always room for dessert but teaching them how to recognize their hunger and satiety cues can prevent them from eating just because the food is there.

10, Strike a balance

Raising kids to be healthy eaters includes teaching them how to enjoy delicious food, not be deprived of it.

Allow treats, but also strike a balance by serving plenty of healthy, whole foods including plenty of vegetables when you’re not celebrating.

10 Easy Ways To Slash Sugar From Your Kid’s Diet

10 Easy Ways To Slash Sugar From Your Kid’s Diet

Homemade cookies, your hometown ice cream shop and trick or treating on Halloween are what childhood memories are made of.

But let’s face it: kids can get sweets almost anywhere whether it’s the school cafeteria, on the sports field, in your local bank or in your own pantry.

What many parents don’t realize however, is that it’s not only the sugar that shows up in desserts or treats that are problematic, but also the sneaky sources that are in everything from cereal to yogurt.

Diets high in sugar are proven to lead to weight gain and obesity, type-2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and heart disease—all conditions that can follow kids throughout their lives.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend we limit sugar to no more than 10 percent of our total calories for the day.

For kids, that works out to be about 30 to 35 grams of added sugar for little ones who get between 1,200 and 1,400 calories a day, according to Jessica Cording, a registered dietitian-nutritionist in New York City.

Yet studies show most kids—even babies and toddlers—are getting much more than that.

The good news is that even cutting out small amounts of sugar can make a dramatic difference in your child’s health.

According to a February 2016 study in the journal Obesity, obese children who reduced the amount of sugar in their diets but didn’t change the amount of calories they consumed had improvements in their blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL “bad” cholesterol after just 10 days. Researchers also saw significant improvements in their blood glucose and insulin levels.

So how do you slash sugar from your kid’s diet? Here are 10 ways.

1. Become an avid label reader

With more than 60 names, sugar is seriously sneaky and can hide in places you’d least expect it, such as:

  • Cereal
  • Yogurt
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Granola
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces
  • Dips
  • Granola, protein and cereal bars
  • Canned fruit and fruit cups

When you’re grocery shopping, make a habit of reading labels and comparing brands to ensure you’ll make the best choice.

2. Forget juice

 

Although juice has historically been seen as a healthy food for kids, it’s anything but.

Juice is high in empty calories, sugar, and carbohydrates, and drinking it can lead to weight gain, cavities and diarrhea.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says if you’re going to give kids juice, limit it to between 4 and 8 ounces a day depending on their ages while infants under 1 should avoid it altogether. 

Another option is to make homemade juices at home with 80 percent green leafy vegetables and 20 percent fruit, but still watch the portion sizes.

Although the sugars in homemade juice are natural, the calories and sugar can add up fast and they’re also processed in the body the same way as added sugars.

3. Cut sugary drinks too

Soda, sweetened ice teas, lemonade, sports and energy drinks, fruit punch, apple juice and chocolate milk make up a majority of the amount of sugar kids get in their diets.

In fact, between 2011 and 2014, 63 percent of kids consumed a sugar-sweetened beverage on any given day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Water is the best beverage to offer your kids but if they have a hard time giving up the sweet stuff, start by diluting their drinks or gradually replacing a few with water until you’ve completely eliminated them from their diets.

Or, serve water with slices of cucumber or strawberries for a hint of natural flavor and sweetness.

4. Serve kids real, whole foods

 

The more sugar your kids eat, the more they’ll crave. 

What’s more, foods made with white, refined carbohydrates including flour, white breads and pastas, and white rice can spike your kid’s blood sugar and lead to sugar cravings.

To curb their preference for sweet foods, serve healthy, whole foods at every meal and snack.

Focus on protein and healthy fats, green leafy vegetables and fruits, including those with a low glycemic load like apples, pears and strawberries.

Depending on their ages, kids need just as many, or more, servings of vegetables than fruit.

5. Add healthy fats to your kid’s diet

Healthy fats found in foods like eggs, salmon, olives, avocado and coconut oil help kids feel satiated and curbs their sugar cravings.

Despite what we’ve been told for years, fat doesn’t lead to high cholesterol, heart disease, type-2 diabetes or obesity.

Need more proof? I recommend you read Food: What The Heck Should I Eat by Dr. Mark Hyman.

6. Ditch the dried fruit

 

Dried fruit can be a convenient, portable snack but they’re little sugar bombs kids don’t need.

Fresh or frozen whole fruit is always better and lower in sugar. Save the dried fruit for the occasional treat or dessert instead.

7. Purge the processed foods

 

Processed kids’ snacks, kid-friendly frozen meals and soups—even those that are organic, gluten-free or “made with real cheese”—may seem healthy but many have added sugar.

The only way to avoid these sneaky sources of sugar is to purge your pantry and replace your child’s meals with real, whole foods.

8. Make homemade treats

 

I don’t think kids should be deprived of desserts, but making your own homemade versions helps you to control the ingredients and the amount of sugar.

With upgraded ingredients like oats, applesauce, pumpkin, nuts and seeds and cacao nibs, you can make healthy, delicious treats for your kids.

And if you let your kids bake with you, even better. Cooking with your kids teaches them about healthy foods and how to prepare healthy meals.

9. Curb “natural” sugars that are actually added sugars

 

Agave, honey, and maple syrup might be natural, but once it’s separated and added to a food as a sweetener, it’s actually an added sugar.

In fact, the FDA may even require companies to list honey and maple syrup as an added sugar by 2020.

Although I don’t see anything wrong with enjoying a drizzle of pure maple on pancakes, for example, keeping tabs on the overall amount of sugar in your kid’s diet will ensure he’s not going overboard.

Replace sugar with natural sources of sweetness

To slash sugar from your kid’s diet, choose whole foods that add flavor and sweetness.

Add fresh or frozen vegetables to plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt or apples, cinnamon and vanilla extract to oatmeal, for example.

Roasting fruits like apples or pears also brings out their natural sweetness and is a healthy and delicious dessert your kids will love.

 

11 Easy Food Safety Tips For Moms and Kids  These food safety tips can help to prevent food poisoning and keep your family healthy.

11 Easy Food Safety Tips For Moms and Kids

These food safety tips can help to prevent food poisoning and keep your family healthy.

Whether you buy organic, local, non-GMO or local, and shop at Whole Foods or the famers’ market, you and your kids can still be at risk for food poisoning.

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 48 million people each year get sick from foodborne illness from exposure to germs like norovirus, salmonella, E. coli and listeria.

Pregnant women and children under age 5 in particular, have some of the highest risk for food poisoning.

Kids’ immune systems are still developing so they can’t fight off germs and illness as well as older children can. Food poisoning is also a particular concern for young kids because diarrhea and dehydration can land them in the hospital.

When it comes to pregnant women, they’re 10 times more likely to get a listeria infection than women who are not. Pregnant women who are Hispanic are 24 times more likely to be affected.

Contamination can happen at any time along the food journey to your kitchen table, but there are several ways to prevent the spread of germs.

Here, learn about the food safety tips that can prevent food poisoning.

1. Check restaurant health ratings

According to a 2018 poll conducted by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, one in 10 parents say their kids have gotten sick from spoiled or contaminated food and 68 percent attributed the food poisoning to eating out in a restaurant.

One of the best ways to prevent food poisoning when eating out is to check health inspection ratings—something only 25 percent of parents do, the same poll found.

To review health inspection ratings, check with your local or county health department or try the What The Health app.

2. Clean out your refrigerator

Before you leave to go to the grocery store, go through your refrigerator and throw out food that has gone bad and shouldn’t be eaten.

Food that has mold, smells unpleasant, or whose color or texture has changed should be tossed.

Leftovers that have been cooked should be thrown away after 4 days and raw chicken and meat after 1 to 2 days.

It’s also a good idea to know what the dates on food packaging mean to prevent food waste.

3. Do grocery shopping in this order

When you run errands, try to do all of your regular errands first and leave your grocery shopping until the end so you can take your groceries home immediately and prevent food from spoiling.

Also, consider bringing an insulated bag with an ice pack to transport cold, perishable food items.

4. Keep meat and fish separate

At checkout, place raw meat and fish in plastic bags to prevent spreading germs to other foods.

When you arrive home, store these foods on a plate or in a shallow pan on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator and away from ready to eat foods.

5. Wash your hands before preparing food

Before you handle food, be sure to thoroughly wash all surfaces of your hands with warm or hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds.

After handling raw chicken, wash your hands before moving on to other foods to prevent the spread of bacteria.

6. Use designated cutting boards

It’s a good idea to use one cutting board solely for fruits and vegetables and one for raw meat, poultry and fish.

7. Wash and sanitize cutting boards

Scrub cutting boards after each use with hot, soapy water, especially after preparing raw meat, fish and poultry.

To deep clean cutting boards, scrub them with a paste of baking soda, salt and water and wipe them with full strength white vinegar to disinfect.

Rubbing a sliced lemon on the boards also helps to sanitize them and remove odors.

8. Always rinse fruits and vegetables

Always rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water and consider using a produce brush to remove dirt and debris.

If you plan to peel fruit, you should still rinse it before eating it to prevent germs from contaminating the inside flesh.

Ready to go, pre-chopped produce like bagged salad and cut up vegetables that aren’t labeled pre-washed should always be washed at home.

9. Defrost foods properly

Never leave food out on the kitchen countertop or in the sink to defrost.

Instead, thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf on a plate or a shallow pan. You can also defrost foods in the microwave but they should be cooked right away.

10. Cook foods thoroughly

Instead of making a judgment call about whether meat, poultry and fish are ready to eat just by looking at them, use a food thermometer to ensure they’re thoroughly cooked.

Unsure of the right temp? NSF International has a handy chart.

11. Serve food at safe thermometers

Cold foods should be served at 40º F or below while hot foods should be stored at 140ºF or above.

When foods are left out and in the “danger zone” range between 40º F and 140º F, they’re only safe to eat for 2 hours or 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees.

[Video] 6 Health Benefits of Eggs for Kids + How to Serve Them

[Video] 6 Health Benefits of Eggs for Kids + How to Serve Them

Eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids and many experts even call them a perfect food for babies, toddlers and big kids alike.

Since they’re high in fat and cholesterol however, you might be wondering if kids can eat eggs everyday or even twice a day.

Here, read about all the amazing health benefits of eggs for kids, how much is too much and how my kids eat eggs.

1. Eggs are packed with protein

One of the primary health benefits of eggs for kids is that they’re high in protein.

One large egg has more than 6 grams of protein as well as all 9 essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein that the body cannot make and must come from food.

Protein helps to satiate your kids’ hunger, balance their blood sugar, give them energy for school, sports and play, and prevent weight gain.

Protein is also vital for your kids’ growth and development. According to a June 2017 study in the journal Pediatrics, babies between 6 and 9 months of age who ate an egg a day had a 47 percent reduced prevalence of stunted growth.

 

2. Eggs are rich in choline

According to the National Institutes of Health, choline is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in your child’s brain development and function, memory, mood and metabolism.

Studies also suggest low levels of choline during pregnancy can increase the risk of neural tube defects.

What’s more, an April 2016 study out of Sweden found that higher levels of choline in teens were associated with improved academic performance.

3. Eggs have healthy fats

Not only does fat from food promote satiety but kids need fat in their diets.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says fat is an essential nutrient, it provides the calories and energy kids need for their growth and active play and it shouldn’t be severely restricted.

One large egg has 5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 2.6 unsaturated fat.

4. Eggs support eye health

Eggs are a good source lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids or plant pigments found in the eyes that can prevent macular degeneration, cataracts, and improve memory and processes speed, one study found.

5. Eggs help support a strong immune system

It’s inevitable that your kids will swap germs all day with other kids at daycare and school, but eating eggs is another way to boost their immune system.

Eggs are high in vitamins A, B12 and selenium, all nutrients that support immunity.

6. Eggs are rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Eggs are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support kids’ brain and eye health.

Look for omega-3 eggs, which are typically fortified with flaxseed and have even higher levels.

 

Can Kids Eat Eggs Everyday?

For many years in the U.S. experts said we should limit the amount of eggs in our diets because the saturated fat they contain was linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Experts now agree, and studies (here and here) show that there’s not enough data to support that theory.

Studies also show that dietary cholesterol doesn’t have much of an effect on blood cholesterol either.

A January 2015 study in the American Heart Journal found eating up to one egg per day is not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.

Despite the health benefits of eggs and the low risk of ill effects, eating several eggs a day probably isn’t the best idea. Instead, feed your kids a variety of protein-rich and other healthy foods to ensure they get the vitamins and minerals they need.

[VIDEO] How to Serve Eggs To Kids

Scrambled eggs take minutes to make and most kids love them but if you’re looking for other ideas about how to serve your kids eggs, watch this video for 3 ways I serve them up.

Do your kids eat eggs? How do you serve them?

10 Reasons Kids Should Eat Healthy That Have Nothing to Do With Childhood Obesity

10 Reasons Kids Should Eat Healthy That Have Nothing to Do With Childhood Obesity

If you’re a parent, you know your kids should eat healthy, but have you ever thought about the why?

Maybe it’s because you know a healthy diet is vital for their growth and development.

Or perhaps you’re sick of their picky eating behaviors and you want meals times to be peaceful.

If you’re an emotional eater and struggle with your weight, or have family members who do, you’re probably concerned about your child becoming overweight too.

With more than one-third of children who are overweight or obese, childhood obesity is definitely a good reason for your kids to eat healthy.

But fat or skinny, all kids should eat healthy. Here are 10 reasons why.

1. We’re a nation of (very) sick people

In the U.S., we’re facing a health crisis and 50 percent of Americans have at least one chronic health condition, mental disorder or substance use issue, a September 2016 study in the journal Psychology, Health & Medicine found.

We’re facing skyrocketing rates of:

  • ADHD and ADD
  • Allergies
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Arthritis
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Obesity
  • Reflux
  • Skin problems
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Type-2 diabetes

Perhaps the most compelling reason kids should eat healthy is because food can prevent them from getting sick.

In his book, Food: What The Heck Should I Eat?, Dr. Mark Hyman states:

“Food is the most powerful drug on the planet. It can improve the expression of thousands of genes, balance dozens of hormones, optimize tens of thousands of protein networks, reduce inflammation, and optimize your microbiome (gut flora) with every single bite. It can cure most chronic diseases; it works faster, better, and cheaper than any drug ever discovered; and the only side effects are good ones—prevention, reversal, and even treatment of disease, not to mention vibrant optimal health.”

 

2. Mental Health

According to a 2017 report by World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects a whopping 322 million people worldwide.

As someone who has struggled with both anxiety and depression since childhood, I won’t tell you that nutrition is a cure-all for all people with depression and anxiety.

Food cannot override low levels of neurotransmitters, genetics, past trauma, low self-esteem and stress, for example.

But it can make a huge difference to improve mental health as it has done for me.

For some people, diet alone is enough.

Studies suggest nutrients like vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D can support mental health.

In fact, a September 2014 study in the journal BMJ Open found consumption of fruits and vegetables was associated with mental well being in both men and women.

3. Boosts Brain Power

You can hire a tutor and encourage your kids to study harder, but for kids to learn, concentrate, and excel in school, they need to eat healthy.

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like fish, chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts are important to focus on.

According to a December 2017 study out of the University of Pennsylvania, kids who eat seafood at least once a week have higher IQ scores that are 4 points higher on average than kids who eat fish less frequently or not at all.

What’s more, a healthy diet is important for kids’ brain health when they’re young and throughout their lives.

In fact, a July 2015 study in JAMA Internal Medicine found in older people, a Mediterranean diet with foods like fish, nuts, olive oil and avocado is associated with improved cognitive function.

4. Sports and Athletic Performance

Playing multiple sports and joining travel teams are all great, but without the right nutrition, your kids won’t fuel their bodies with what they need to build muscle, strength and endurance.

Without a healthy diet, they’ll be sluggish and their athletic performance can suffer.

An April 2013 article in the journal Paediatrics Child Health states the right amounts of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and hydration are essential for young athletes’ growth, activity and athletic performance.

5. Gut Health

A healthy gut is linked to a strong immune system but leaky gut syndrome or “intestinal hyperpermeability” is something that can develop over years due to a poor diet.

Although controversial in the Western Medicine world, leaky gut syndrome is believed to occur when the tight junctions or cells that line the inside of the intestines open up and allow undigested food particles and pathogens in, which causes problems in the gut and throughout the body.

Experts say a diet high in processed foods, sugar and synthetic food additives, which disrupt the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut can leady to leaky gut.

6. Sleep

Sleep plays an important role in kids’ health and affects their overall function, mood and behavior, school and athletic performance.

But it’s an often-overlooked factor when it comes to eating healthy. Eating foods low in fiber and high in saturated fat and sugar is associated with lighter, less restorative sleep and more awakenings at night, a January 2016 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found.

Without enough sleep, kids are also more likely to make unhealthy food choices. Studies show the less sleep they get, the more likely they are to make unhealthy food choices.

In fact, an August 2018 study in the Journal of Sleep Research found that kids who regularly fell asleep after 11pm were 4 to 5 times more likely to eat less than three breakfasts a week and 2 to 3 times more likely to eat junk food at least 5 times a week.

7. Eye health

A healthy diet can keep support your child’s eye health.

For example, vitamin A helps the eyes see in low light conditions and keeps the cornea healthy and lubricated.

Omega-3’s can prevent dry eye syndrome, often a result of too much screen time.

Research suggests lutein, a carotenoid or plant pigment found in pumpkin and green leafy vegetables could improve learning, memory, focus and concentration.

A healthy diet can also prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration later on in life.

8. Prevents some types of cancer

Cancer isn’t something any parent should have to worry about but laying the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating can prevent certain types of cancer into adulthood.

A June 2017 review and multiple meta-analyses in the journal Nutrition Reviews found a healthy diet can reduce the risk of breast and colon cancers.

9. A longer life

It’s no surprise that eating healthy can prevent disease and extend your life.

But a March 2014 study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found people who eat 7 or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day cut their risk for premature death by 42 percent.

10. Your future grandchildren

What your kids eat now can set the stage for the way they eat throughout their lives and those choices can affect their fertility, whether they’re male or female.

What’s more, 2015 guidelines from The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics state that not only is optimal nutrition before and during pregnancy important for women but it can affect their future generations as well.