15 Kids’ Healthy Eating Myths That Are Dangerous To Believe

15 Kids’ Healthy Eating Myths That Are Dangerous To Believe

When it comes to nutrition and healthy eating, it seems that a lot of what we read is confusing and contradictory, and separating fact from fiction is no easy task especially when you’re a busy parent.

Let’s take safely introducing nuts to babies, which is a new food philosophy that can make healthy eating tricky.

When my kids were babies—which was only a few years ago—I was told to wait to feed them nuts because of the risk of food allergies. Now that advice has changed and parents are encouraged to feed nuts to their babies early on.

Unless you’re a nutritionist, chances are, you don’t have time to sift through the research and figure out what’s true and what’s not. Although I can’t guarantee that a new study won’t come out tomorrow and influence how we should feed our kids, here are 15 kids’ healthy eating myths that you should stop believing today.

 

1. Healthy eating is time consuming

Serving healthy meals definitely takes time to plan, prep and cook—definitely more time than opening up a box of chicken nuggets or ordering take-out.

If you work, have more than one kid at home, care for an aging parent, and have other obligations, your time is even more limited.

A myth about healthy eating however, is that it’s too time consuming but I want to assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.

With easy, simple strategies like meal planning, batch cooking and sticking to the basics, it is possible to serve healthy meals everyday.

Related: How I Work Full-Time and Cook Dinner (Almost) Every Night

2. The Keto diet is healthy for kids


Low-carb diets like keto are all the rage for adults looking to lose weight, but in recent months, it’s shocking to see how many bloggers are posting keto diet recipes for kids.

When it comes to refined carbohydrates like those found in white breads, pastas and rice and processed foods, I agree, they should be limited.

These types of carbs break down into simple sugars easily, cause blood sugar levels to spike and don’t satiate hunger—which might be one of the reasons your kid is always hungry.

Complex carbohydrates on the other hand, provide kids with the energy they need and they support their muscle growth and brain development. They also take longer to break down, which keeps blood sugar levels steady.

Complex carbs are also high in fiber which satisfy hunger and prevent constipation.

So instead of cutting carbs, offer a variety of foods with complex carbohydrates. These include:

  • Vegetables like pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes
  • Fruits like berries, apples and pears
  • Beans and legumes
  • Whole grains like brown rice and quinoa

Related: Is Keto Safe For Kids?

 

 

3. Sneaking vegetables is the best way to encourage healthy eating

Pureeing vegetables and sneaking them into sauces, baked goods, and smoothies can definitely give your kids the nutrition they need and otherwise wouldn’t get.

Yet sneaking every type of vegetable they eat into their meal isn’t going to make them into healthy eaters.

Our goal as parents is to raise kids who not only accept but LOVE to eat healthy.

And one of the ways to do that is to give them plenty of opportunities to smell, touch and taste vegetables in their whole form.

Sure, they may not love everything you serve, but they must have plenty of chances to learn what they like and dislike.

So while I don’t see anything wrong with green smoothies or adding a vegetable puree into a meal for extra nutrition, whole vegetables should make up a bulk of their plates.   

4. Kids should eat kid-friendly foods

I get it: it’s really easy and convenient to open a box of macaroni and cheese and serve it to your kids. It’s quick and easy and you know they’ll eat it.

I’m not saying that I don’t rely on some Annie’s macaroni and cheese when I don’t feel like cooking or we’re short on time, but here’s the thing: if you’re serving kid-friendly foods because you know your kids aren’t going to eat the healthy dinner you made, they’re missing out.

Without plenty of opportunities to taste and experience new types of food, they won’t develop the preference for healthy fare—and the picky eating behaviors will continue.

 

5. Healthy eating includes drinking milk 

Milk is a good source of calcium and protein as well as vitamins A, B6, B12, magnesium, niacin, selenium and zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Yet one of the biggest kids’ healthy eating myths is that kids need to drink milk for calcium.

The truth is that there are far better sources of calcium than milk, and they also don’t contain growth hormones, allergenic proteins and antibiotics. Some include:

  • Chia seeds
  • Black turtle beans
  • Sardines (my kids love them!)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Almonds
  • Rhubarb
  • Tofu
  • Spinach
  • Bok choy
  • Collard greens
  • Salmon
  • Figs
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Turnip greens

Research also shows cow’s milk is inflammatory and linked to a host of diseases.

In fact, in February 2019, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine called on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to update the new guidelines to include a warning about the health dangers of dairy.

6. “Gluten free” means healthy

If your kids are on a gluten-free diet because of Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease or another reason, it can definitely be a healthy way to eat.

Yet just because the food label says gluten free, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

So many gluten free foods sold in stores contain artificial ingredients, sweeteners and food dyes you don’t want your kids eating. 

If you’re going gluten free, do it the healthy way and make sure your kids eat mostly whole foods including fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and gluten-free grains like oats and quinoa.

7. Yogurt is a health food

Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, which can satisfy hunger and prevent weight gain.

It’s also a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B12 as well as probiotics, the healthy bacteria that boosts gut health and strengthen the immune system.

Yet many yogurts, those that are marketed to kids or otherwise, are also sneaky sources of sugar.

Yogurts with pretzels, candy and crushed cookies are obvious sources, but those that are blended with fruit can also be high in the sweet stuff.

Read labels carefully and stick to brands with less than 11 grams of sugar, according to nutritionist Joy Bauer.

Siggi’s is one of my favorites for kids. Or serve plain Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit for a hint of sweetness and fiber.

Related: 10 Foods High In Probiotics For Kids

8. Kids who refuse to eat are picky eaters


When kids refuse to try a new food they’ve been introduced to once or even several times, it doesn’t mean they’re picky eaters.

Repeatedly introducing foods to kids is an effective way to prevent picky eating.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it can take between 8 and 15 times of introducing a new food for a child to accept it.

Plus, a December 2007 study in the journal Food Quality and Preference found that when mothers introduced a vegetable their infants initially disliked, by the 8th day of serving it, their intake of it increased rapidly. And by the 8th exposure, their intake was similar to that of a vegetable they liked. Nine months later, 63 percent of the infants were still eating the originally disliked vegetable.

Introduce tiny bites of new foods alongside your kid’s favorite foods.

Also, instead of serving the food the same way over and over again, try a different cooking method (roasted vs. steamed), or serve it alone and mixed in (but not hidden!) with another food your kid enjoys eating.

9. Kids should only get dessert if they eat their dinner

When you’re frustrated with your picky eaters, you can beg, plead and negotiate—and bribe them with dessert but it’s not a long-term strategy for healthy eating.

Allowing them to have dessert after a certain requirement has been met, i.e. take two more bites or eat all of your vegetables, teaches them that dessert is more desirable than healthy food.

It’s also something they start to believe as they get older—just think about how most adults view dessert.

Bribing kids with dessert also interferes with their hunger and satiety cues. Telling a kid he must eat some or everything on his plate is a pressure tactic that doesn’t allow kids to recognize when they’re not hungry or when they’re full and makes mealtimes a negative experience.

Can we encourage healthy eating? We sure can. But just like anything else, we can’t make our kids do what they don’t want to.

So instead of trying to enforce “food rules,” serve healthy foods and encourage healthy habits.

If you decide to serve dessert, which by the way can be fruit, a muffin, or yogurt, for example, kids should be allowed to have it no matter what or how much they ate.

10. Store-bought baby food is just as good as homemade


Although many of the store-bought baby food brands don’t have preservatives or additives, open them up and you’ll smell—and taste—the difference.

In 2015, Good Morning America found that water was the most predominant ingredient in Plum Organics’ baby food and other ingredients like fruits, vegetables and meat, were in smaller quantities.

Store-bought baby food may also contain less than 20 percent of the recommended levels of many minerals and micronutrients, a 2012 study out of the U.K found.

There are some exceptions, however.

Once Upon A Farm uses fresh, whole, organic foods to make their cold-pressed, refrigerated baby food. There are also companies that deliver homemade baby food to your door.

Making homemade baby food definitely takes more time then opening up a jar but it’s also one of the best things you can do for your baby.

You know exactly what’s going into your baby’s meals and you can choose food that is organic, local, from the farmer’s market and in-season so it’s fresher and more affordable.

13. Kids shouldn’t 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.

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.

Earlier this year, another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that eating eggs can increase cardiovascular disease risk and death. Yet experts say the study has limitations and eating eggs in the context of a healthy diet is fine.

14. All processed food is bad and prevents healthy eating

You already know that kids should eat less processed foods and more real, whole foods.

Most processed foods are loaded with sodium, sugar, saturated fat and artificial ingredients you can’t identify or pronounce. They also lack fiber and the vitamins and minerals kids need in their diets.

Although highly-processed foods, which are those that that have sweeteners, oils, flavors, colors and preservatives should be avoided, not all processed foods are bad for kids.

Minimally-processed foods like bagged salads, washed and pre-chopped fruits and vegetables, or canned beans for example, can be healthy, encourage healthy eating and make your life easier.

Related: How To Cut Processed Foods From Your Kid’s Diet

15. Chocolate milk is healthy for kids

In schools, serving chocolate milk is seen by proponents as a way to encourage kids to drink milk when they otherwise wouldn’t. In recent years, it’s also been promoted as a post-workout recovery drink for athletes.

While chocolate milk is a good source of protein, calcium and other vitamins and minerals, it’s also high in sugar: 24 grams or more sugar than a Mr. Goodbar!

Suffice to say, chocolate milk isn’t something kids should be drinking regularly, but can be served as an occasional treat. 

10 Foods High In Probiotics For Kids

10 Foods High In Probiotics For Kids

In recent years, it seems that everything you read about when it comes to health is about gut health, eating foods high in probiotics and taking probiotic supplements.

In our family, I do my best to get probiotics into my kids especially this time of year when colds and fevers are almost inevitable. In the last few months, we’ve also been working with a naturopath to help my older daughter who has food allergies boost her gut health and lower her immune response with a protocol that includes vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc and probiotics.

My kids also eat (and enjoy!) foods high in probiotics like fermented vegetables— no matter how strange they may seem. Of course, there are other healthy, delicious and convenient options that you can start to incorporate into your kid’s diet.

But first, let’s take a look at why your kids need healthy gut bacteria, what can throw it off balance, and how to boost their gut health.

Let’s get started.

Why healthy gut bacteria is important for kids

Healthy gut bacteria starts with the microbiome, which is a vast collection of 100 trillion microbes or microorganisms that actually live in and on the body, but most are found in the gastrointestinal tract.

Bacteria are one type of microbes and although we do everything we can to prevent our kids from coming into contact with bad bacteria that can cause colds and infections for example, there are also healthy bacteria that our bodies need to stay healthy.

Although researchers continue to study the benefits of probiotics and figure out what all the different types are good for, there is a lot we know now about the importance of healthy gut bacteria for kids.

A strong immune system

Kids are like little petri dishes for germs, especially when they’re in daycare and school. They all touch the same surfaces, share the same toys and put everything in their mouths. So if you have young kids, you know how often they get sick. Kids under the age of 6 in particular, get 8 to 10 colds a year!

Perhaps one of the strongest areas of research that has looked at the benefits of probiotics is immunity. In fact, a June 2018 study in the journal Synthetic and Systems Biotechnology, which was conducted in adults, showed probiotics are safe and effective remedy for colds and flu-like respiratory infections.

Better mood and behavior

The gut is often called the second brain because of the strong pathways that are along the gut-brain axis. In fact, the enteric nervous system, which directs the function of the GI system, has 30 types of neurotransmitters and 100 million neurons.

So although we often think the brain is entirely responsible for mental health, mood and behavior, experts say the gut has a lot to do with it too. While your kid will still cry and have meltdowns, optimizing healthy gut bacteria with foods high in probiotics may boost his mood and improve his behavior.

Improved sleep

No parent is immune to bedtime battles especially with young kids, but research suggests probiotics may improve sleep. That’s because a whopping 90 percent of serotonin, the building block for melatonin, the “sleep hormone” is located in the gut.  What’s more, certain bacteria in the gut are important for the production of serotonin, a 2015 study out of Caltech found.

Cures constipation

A lack of fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains or dehydration is often to blame for kids’ constipation. But some kids have “functional constipation,” which can happen when they avoid going to the bathroom because they fear pooping will be painful. In those kids, an imbalance in healthy gut bacteria may be the cause and probiotics may help, according to a February 2019 review in the journal Frontiers in Medicine.

Eases colic and reflux

If you have a baby with colic or reflux, you know how tiring and stressful it can be but strengthening their gut health may help.

A March 2014 study in JAMA Pediatrics found when probiotics were given to infants during the first three months after birth they cried less and had less reflux.

Another 2018 study found in breastfed infants, probiotics can reduce fussiness and crying.

Improves allergies and eczema

Studies suggest probiotics may help with allergenic conditions.

In fact, a February 2018 meta-analysis in the journal PLOS One suggests taking probiotics during late pregnancy and while breastfeeding may reduce a baby’s risk for eczema.  Another study out of Vanderbilt University suggests probiotics can improve symptoms of seasonal allergies, but more research is needed to make recommendations, the authors noted.

Can probiotics help kids with stomach viruses?

Research suggests that probiotics can help ease diarrhea after a round of antibiotics.

Yet in recent years, giving probiotics to kids to help ease diarrhea and vomiting for any reason has become increasingly common but new research shows it’s not effective. 

According to a November 2018 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, a common type of probiotic called Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, or LGG, which is sold over the counter as Culturelle, had no effect on kids’ symptoms. “Parents are better off saving their money and using it to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables for their children,” the study authors stated.

Are probiotics for kids safe?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a clinical report in 2010 which states that products with probiotics seem to be safe for infants and children but the long-term effects are unknown and more research is needed.

They also say there are safety concerns in children who have compromised immune systems, are chronically debilitated or seriously ill and have indwelling medical devices like catheters or endotracheal tubes.

It’s also important to note that the FDA doesn’t regulate dietary supplements as rigorously as they do for prescription and over-the-counter medications.

What can disrupt healthy gut bacteria?

It’s ideal to have good and bad bacteria in the right balance in the gut, but there are so many factors that can throw it off.

Antibiotics

If your kid has a bacterial infection, antibiotics are necessary, but they can also wipe out all the healthy gut bacteria which is why taking a probiotic can help restore balance.

Processed foods 

Experts say eating processed foods and those high with sugar over the long term can lead to intestine hyperpermeability or leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut occurs when the tight junctions in the large intestine open and allow undigested food particles and pathogens in, which in turn elicits an immune response.

Leaky gut syndrome has been linked to various conditions including allergies, asthma, fatigue, autoimmune diseases, migraines and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

If your kids eat a lot of foods that are in a bag, box, or package, chances are they’re  also missing out on key vitamins and minerals that keep their guts and immune systems strong and keep them healthy.

Lack of sleep

Researchers are also looking at how sleep may affect gut health. In fact, an April 2019 study in the journal SLEEP suggest better sleep quality and less sleepiness are significantly associated with a richer and more diverse gut bacteria.

Toxic chemicals

In September 2017, the FDA banned triclosan in anti-bacterial hand soaps, but companies still add the pesticide to some dish soaps, personal care products and Colgate Total toothpaste.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says triclosan may cause changes in the hormone system, and harm reproduction and development, and studies show it may also alter healthy gut bacteria.

In fact, according to a May 2018 study in the journal Science Translational Medicine, mice who were fed a diet laced with triclosan for 3 weeks had significantly lower levels of a species of bacteria that has been shown to be anti-inflammatory. 

Lack of physical activity

Exercise is important for kids’ overall growth and development and of course, it can prevent childhood obesity but studies suggest a lack of physical activity can affect gut health, regardless of what they eat.

According to an April 2018 study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, (which was conducted in adults) regular exercise increases short-chain fatty acids which promote gut health.

How to give kids healthy gut bacteria

Fortunately, there are several ways to improve your kid’s gut health, both with diet and healthy habits.

Eat the rainbow

A whole foods diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables of all colors gives your kid the nutrition she needs for a strong immune system. These foods also contain prebiotics, or non-digestible food ingredients, that work with probiotics, the live microorganisms found in the gut, to grow and work to boost your child’s immunity.

Add fermented foods

Kefir tastes too tangy for me but my kids love it and that’s a good thing. The probiotics found in kefir and other foods like yogurt, kimchi, and naturally fermented vegetables, including sauerkraut and pickles can help improve gut health.

Consider taking probiotics

As previously stated, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) hasn’t recommended regular use of probiotics in children because there’s a lack of evidence for their efficacy. Of course like any supplement, if you want to give your kid probiotics, check with his pediatrician first.

Get moving

Getting your kids outside is always ideal but during the dog days of winter or on snow days when you can’t get out, put on music and have a dance party or enjoy a game of Twister.

Let kids play in the dirt

Encourage your kids to get outside and get dirty—whether it’s digging up dirt, playing with the dog, or planting a garden together to expose them to healthy gut bacteria.

10 Foods High In Probiotics For Kids

Your kid’s diet is one of the best ways to promote a healthy gut and fortunately, there are many foods high in probiotics.

1. Kefir

Kefir has a healthy dose of probiotics but read labels and you’ll discover most brands of kefir are high in sugar.

If you’re going to feed your kids fruit-flavored kefir, it’s probably OK as long as they have a low-sugar diet but keep portion sizes in mind. A better option however, is plain kefir which you can add fresh or frozen fruit to and blend into a smoothie.

2. Green peas

Green peas are an excellent source of fiber, protein and vitamins A, C, B6, and K, magnesium and folate.  Surprisingly, they’re also probiotic-rich. In fact, a December 2018 study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology found that a particular strain—leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides—can boost gut health. The study was conducted in mice however, so it’s not clear if the same findings can be replicated in humans.

3. Sourdough bread

Sourdough bread is made with a fermentation process that uses wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria that’s naturally present, making it a good source of probiotics.

Your kids may not immediately take to the taste of sourdough bread so serve a small piece with a pat of grass-fed butter, which has a dose of probiotics too.

If you’re looking for a gluten-free option, I recommend Simple Kneads.

4. Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the best foods high in probiotics. According to a March 2018 study in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy, babies who ate yogurt on a daily basis reduced their risk for allergies and eczema by up to 70 percent. The authors note however, that it’s unclear what type of yogurt and how much is actually beneficial.

When reading labels, look for brands that state “live and active cultures.” Also, avoid yogurts that are fruit-flavored or contain fruit because they’re usually high in sugar. Sugar can feed unhealthy bacteria in the gut so to get the full immune-boosting benefit, aim for yogurt that has less than 9 grams of sugar per serving.

5. Fermented pickles

Most kids love pickles, but most pickles on store shelves won’t cut it. To get the benefits of probiotics, you’ll want to look for pickles in the refrigerated section and those brands that are labeled “naturally fermented,” like Bubbies.

6. Kimchi

A popular Asian side dish, kimchi is a naturally fermented cabbage that contains probiotics and is rich in vitamins A, C, K, B6, folate and iron. Since kimchi is a bit spicy, give your kids a small amount alongside their favorite foods and they may actually try it.

7. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut, another type of fermented cabbage, is a good source of probiotics as well as fiber, calcium and magnesium, vitamins B6, C and K, folate, iron and potassium. Most store-brands of sauerkraut don’t contain probiotics however, so look for those that state they’re naturally fermented.

8. Miso

A traditional Japanese condiment that’s made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, miso is one of the best foods high in probiotics. A good way to introduce miso to kids is to offer miso soup since it has a mild flavor and it’s delicious.

9. Coconut milk yogurt

If your kids can’t consume dairy or your family is dairy-free, coconut milk yogurt is a great option.

Like many types of yogurt however, coconut milk yogurt can be high in sugar so read labels carefully. Or find plain, unsweetened versions and add fresh berries for added fiber and a hint of sweetness.

10. Tempeh

Made with fermented soybeans, tempeh is a great source of probiotics as well as protein, iron and calcium.

Add tempeh to your favorite stir-fry or salad, or use it in place of meat on taco night.

Don’t forget prebiotic foods

 

It’s also a good idea to offer your kids foods rich in prebiotics, which are non-digestible food ingredients that work with probiotics to boost your child’s immunity.

Prebiotic rich foods include onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, barley, oats, when bran, apples, Jerusalem artichokes, flaxseeds, cocoa, seaweed.

 

Do you feed your kids foods high in probiotics? Which ones do they like the best? Let me know in the comments.

15 Companies & Charities Dedicated to Fighting Childhood Obesity

15 Companies & Charities Dedicated to Fighting Childhood Obesity

In August when Weight Watchers rolled out weight loss app Kurbo, it released a wave of sharp criticism from health experts, eating disorder specialists and parents alike—and once again shined a spotlight on fighting childhood obesity.

Although Kurbo is certainly extreme, it’s not anything new. Just think about weight loss camps or companies who have started to sell fitness trackers for kids in recent years.

Instead of putting kids on diets, segregating food as “healthy” and “unhealthy,” and encouraging kids to track their steps every day, kids need repeated exposure to healthy foods, and they need to have healthy eating and lifestyle habits modeled for them.

So although Kurbo, fitness trackers, or any other adult weight loss solution that’s re-packaged for kids isn’t the solution, the sad truth is that we are still facing a childhood obesity epidemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity affects:

  • Nearly 14 percent of children 2- to 5-years-old.
  • More than 18 percent of 6 to 11-year olds.
  • More than 20 percent of 12 to 19-year-olds.

Of course, childhood obesity is just one part of an overall health epidemic in the U.S. Studies show kids who are overweight are at risk for other conditions including type-2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), both of which are on the rise.

Children who are obese also have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and problems with blood glucose tolerance. Obesity may also play a role in kids who have asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, joint problems and mental health problems. 

In fact, a recent study out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham found teens who consume high levels of sodium and low levels of potassium in fast food and processed foods that are linked to obesity, are more likely to develop symptoms of depression.

Most of the responsibility of preventing childhood obesity starts at home but schools and communities also play a role especially for families struggling with food insecurity.

Fortunately, there are several companies, including many start-ups, and non-profit organizations that are dedicated to fighting childhood obesity. Here are 15.

 

1. Revolutions Foods

Founded in 2006 by Kristin Groos Richmond and Kirsten Saenz Tobey, two businesswomen and moms, Revolution Foods’ mission is to build lifelong healthy eaters and provide healthy meals to every child who is food insecure. 

To date, the company has designed, produced and delivered more than 360-million

kid-inspired, chef-crafted meals to childhood education centers, school districts, charter schools, and community and after-school youth programs in 15 states. 

With their community partners, they also offer nutrition curriculum, cooking classes, gardening lessons and other education events.

2. Chef Ann Foundation 

If you’re looking to change your child’s school lunch program like I am, the Chef Ann Foundation is an excellent place to start. 

Founded in 2009 by Ann Cooper, an internationally recognized author, chef, educator, public speaker, and advocate of healthy food for all children, the Chef Ann Foundation is dedicated to providing fresh, healthy school lunch every day. 

With tools, training, resources and funding, the Foundation helps schools create healthier food and redefine lunchroom environments. 

3. No Fuss Lunch

Founded in 2012 by Gabriella Wilday, No Fuss Lunch provides kid-centric, healthy school lunches, after-school snacks and meals for summer camps that exceed the National School Lunch Program’s standards. 

Their food is made without white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, nuts, GMO’s or MSG and is safe for kids with food allergies. 

4. YMCA

For nearly 160 years, the YMCA has made it their mission to strengthen local communities and improve the nation’s health and well-being.

With programs that provide meals to those who struggle with hunger, teach healthy eating, encourage physical activity and healthy lifestyle habits and strengthen families, the YMCA is dedicated to fighting childhood obesity.


5. Sweat Makes Cents

Sweat Makes Cents is a non-profit organization with a particular focus on supporting millennial women who want to find a solution for childhood obesity.

The organization hosts jumping jack challenges, fitness fundraisers and city fitness teams that raise funds for nationwide childhood obesity prevention programs.

6. KidsGardening

Teaching kids how to garden is one of the best ways for them to be exposed to healthy food and learn where real food comes from.

KidsGardening is a national non-profit that offers grants, programs, curriculum, contests, and activities to create opportunities for kids to play, learn and grow through gardening. Approximately 70 % of the teachers who receive their grants say their students have improved attitudes about nutrition. In 2018, KidsGardening reached approximately 920,000 kids.

7. City Blossoms

City Blossoms is a Washington, D.C-based non-profit organization that develops creative, kid-driven green spaces. Their focus is on a combination of gardens, science, art, healthy living, and community building and they work with community-based organizations, neighborhood groups, schools, and learnings centers in the Washington D.C area and across the U.S.

8. Power of Produce (POP) Club

Bringing kids to farmers’ market is a great way to encourage access to healthy food and teach healthy eating habits which can go a long way in fighting childhood obesity.

At Power of Produce (POP) Club at the Oregon City Farmers Market kids get $2 every time they visit the farm to purchase their own fruits and vegetables, and they lean how to plant sunflower seeds, and make salads and jam, for example.

Related: 5 Reasons You Should Bring Your Kids To The Farmers Market

9. Hungry Harvest

Founded in 2014 and featured on Shark Tank, Hungry Harvest rescues “ugly” fruits and vegetables from farmers that would otherwise go to waste and sells them in discounted subscription boxes.

For every Hungry Harvest delivery, they also offer their reduced cost produce to SNAP (food stamps) markets and donate to local organizations whose mission is to solve hunger. To date, they have provided more than 750,000 pounds of produce to SNAP reduced-cost markets, food banks and local nonprofits.

10. Farm to School

The National Farm to School Network is an information, advocacy and networking hub that sources local food to be served in schools, establishes school gardens, and brings food and agriculture education into schools.

11. DrumFit

DrumFit, a cardio drumming physical education program for schools, is on a mission to teach kids to love cardio fitness for life. The company provides online video content, lesson plans and routines.

12. The Adventures of Super Stretch

The Adventures of Super Stretch app is a children’s yoga program that can be done at home, and in daycares, schools, and after-school programs. Free, iTunes and Google Play.

13. KaBOOM!

KaBOOM! is a national non-profit that creates safe, community-based play spaces.

Over the last 20 years they have built or improved more than 17,000 play spaces and in 2018 they built more than 3100 playgrounds. KaBOOM! teams up with funding partners to build safe spaces in one day.

14. My First Workout

Founded by Michelle Mille, a certified personal trainer and mom, My First Workout is designed to connect parents with their children and pull kids away from the technology and sedentary behaviors linked to childhood obesity.

The step-by-step strength and conditioning program is designed for kids 5- to 10- years-old and includes fitness equipment, a video and a poster so parents can feel confident performing the exercises with their kids.

15. Wholesome Wave

Wholesome Wave is a national non-profit that makes healthy food accessible and affordable for families who struggle with food insecurity through two types of programs.

Doubling Snap allows people with SNAP (food stamps) benefits to receive double the value to spend on produce at select farmers’ markets and grocery stores. Through their Produce Prescriptions program, people receive produce vouchers from participating hospitals and clinics to purchase fruits and vegetables. In 2017, Wholesome Wave reached more than 973,000 people.

Is Chocolate Milk Good For Kids?

Is Chocolate Milk Good For Kids?

My kids like to drink milk, but it’s not something they drink often. After interviewing experts about the benefits and drawbacks of different types of milk for this Fox News story, I was sold on the research that shows cow’s milk is inflammatory, linked to a host of diseases, and it’s not even the best source of calcium in the first place. From time to time, my kids also indulge in chocolate milk but it’s usually for a special occasion. Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about why school lunch isn’t healthy and its link to childhood obesity, and because it’s on the school lunch menu, it begs the question, is chocolate milk good for kids?

Is Chocolate Milk Good for Kids?

Benefits of drinking chocolate milk

In schools, serving chocolate milk is seen by proponents as a way to encourage kids to drink milk when they otherwise wouldn’t.

According to DairyMAX, a non-profit organization affiliate of the Dairy Council, flavored milk is good for kids for some of the following reasons:

 

  • Kids who drink flavored milk drink more milk overall.
  • Kids who consume flavored milk get more nutrients than kids who don’t drink milk.
  • Kids who drink flavored milk are less likely to drink soda and juice.

When it comes to the benefits of chocolate milk, let’s take a look at the nutritional composition of one cup of  low-fat chocolate milk:

 

Calories: 157

Protein:  8.1 grams

Carbohydrates: 26.1 grams

Dietary fiber: 1.2 grams

Sugars: 24.8 grams

Fat: 2.5 grams

Calcium: 29 %DV

Vitamin D: 25 %DV

Riboflavin:  24 %DV

Phosphorus: 26 %DV

Milk also has other nutrients like vitamins A, B6, B12, magnesium, niacin, selenium and zinc, as well as omega-3 fatty acids.

Related: 5 Foods With Healthy Fats Your Kids Will Love

There’s no doubt chocolate milk has some nutritional value, including calcium, which kids need for strong teeth and bones.

Yet there are far better sources of calcium than milk, which also don’t contain growth hormones, allergenic proteins and antibiotics.

Some include:

  • Chia seeds
  • Black turtle beans
  • Sardines (my kids love them!)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Almonds
  • Rhubarb
  • Tofu
  • Spinach
  • Bok choy
  • Collard greens
  • Salmon
  • Figs
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Spinach
  • Turnip greens

 

Is chocolate milk good for kids as a post-workout recovery drink?

In addition to school lunch, chocolate milk is also often promoted as a post-workout recovery drink for athletes.

Thanks to its’ protein, carbohydrates, fat and water and electrolytes, chocolate milk may be a great recovery drink that rebuilds and refuels muscles, according to research out of the University of Connecticut.

In fact, a June 2018 meta-analysis in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found drinking chocolate milk has similar—or superior—results compared to either water or other sports drinks.

However, it’s important to note that the authors say this isn’t definitive and more research is needed.

Interestingly, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says flavored milk in schools is OK, but instead of sports and energy drinks (which are also high in sugar) after a workout, water is best. Sort of contradictory, right?

 

Drawbacks of drinking chocolate milk

Although it’s a good (but not the best) source of calcium for strong teeth and bones, as you can see, chocolate milk is high in sugar: 24 grams or more sugar than a Mr. Goodbar!

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.

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.

Chocolate milk, as well as soda, sweetened ice teas, lemonade, sports and energy drinks, fruit punch, and apple juice already 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).

The other drawback of drinking chocolate milk is that some brands add artificial ingredients and additives.

One more thing to consider is the motivation behind serving chocolate milk in schools.

Despite a lack of evidence that milk is the best food to build strong bones—and may actually lead to more fractures—the government mandates schools serve milk at every meal because they can’t get their federal lunch money unless they do, Dr. Mark Hyman states in his book, “Food: What The Heck Should I Eat.

Although studies show that when chocolate milk is removed from school lunch menus, milk consumption drops, I’m not so sure this is a bad thing.

In fact, in February 2019, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine called on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to update the new guidelines to include a warning about the health dangers of dairy.

Regardless of where you stand on giving your kids regular milk or chocolate milk, I think it’s a good idea to take stock of their diets overall.

For example, if your child eats a mainly whole foods diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy protein and fats, and whole grains, there’s probably nothing wrong with serving up chocolate milk for an occasional treat or dessert.

If your kids already eat a lot of sugar however, including sneaky sugars like those found in yogurt, cereal, dressings, sauces and dried and canned fruits, chocolate milk isn’t going to do their bodies any good.

 

 

Let me know what you think: is chocolate milk good for kids? Leave me a comment.

11 Healthy Breakfast Ideas For Kids

11 Healthy Breakfast Ideas For Kids

Growing up in the 80’s, breakfast usually consisted of cereal: Cheerios, Corn Flakes, Cinnamon Toast Crunch (still my favorite!), and Honey Bunches of Oats. Today, so much has changed and although as parents we want meals to be easy and fast, we also need healthy breakfast ideas that are packed with protein, filled with fiber and have plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Another thing that’s changed over the years is that because of our kids’ dietary restrictions, food allergies, food preferences and picky eating behaviors, we as moms have found ourselves focused on things like:

  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Plant-based
  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Low-carb
  • High-protein
  • Nut-free

So despite all of the choices we have, we’re all short on time (and patience!) and can’t sift through the tons of healthy breakfast recipes that will work for our kids. As a result, we tend to serve the same breakfasts day after day.

Nevertheless, the old adage, breakfast is the most important part of the day, still holds true today. So busting through the boredom and having healthy breakfast ideas you can put into rotation will help your kids thrive—and make your hectic life a bit easier.

 

Benefits of a healthy breakfast for kids

Serving up a healthy breakfast daily can:

  • Give kids the nutrition the need for healthy growth and development
  • Provide the energy they need at school
  • Help them stay alert and focused
  • Prevent weight gain, childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes
  • Improve their mood and behavior

 

More nutrition

Kids who eat breakfast everyday have a higher daily consumption of key nutrients such as folate, calcium, iron and iodine than those who skip breakfast, according to a August 2017 study in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Lower risk of weight gain and childhood obesity

According to a March 2016 study in the journal Pediatric Obesity, kids who ate breakfast at school, even if they already had breakfast at home, were less likely to be overweight or obese than those who didn’t eat breakfast.

Although I don’t think we should encourage our children to eat two breakfasts, eating even a small, healthy breakfast can go a long way.

Lower risk of type-2 diabetes

According to a September 2014 study in the journal PLOS Medicine, 9 and 10-year-old children who reported regularly skipping breakfast had 26 percent higher levels of insulin in their blood after a fasting period and 26 percent higher levels of insulin resistance, a risk factor for type-2 diabetes, than children who ate breakfast every day.

A healthy breakfast helps to balance your child’s blood sugar and give him a steady amount of energy until lunchtime.

Better mood, behavior and body image

You know the feeling when you’re hangry: you’re tired, irritable and on edge. And your kids are no different.

When kids skip breakfast, their energy and blood sugar dips, which affects their mood and behavior. If your kids are snappy with you, have frequent meltdowns or seem cranky, try feeding them a healthy breakfast.

What’s more, a February 2019 study in the journal Social Work In Public Health found teens who eat breakfast with their families have a stronger body image than those who skip the meal.

Improved academic performance

Kids need to eat a healthy breakfast because it’s nearly impossible to stay focused and concentrate on anything when you’re hungry.

Breakfast fuels their bodies with the key nutrients they need to listen, learn, understand, complete tasks and boost their overall function at school.

In fact, a June 2016 study in the journal Public Health Nutrition, which included 5,000 kids, found those who ate breakfast and those who ate a better quality breakfast, were twice as likely to do better in school than those who didn’t.

 

What should a healthy breakfast include?

 

Vegetables

I know it sounds like a pipe dream, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend kids eat vegetables at every meal and snack. Depending on your kid’s age, they need between 1 and 3 cups of vegetables a day.

Serving vegetables at breakfast is actually a great opportunity to teach kids what a healthy meal looks like. And the more opportunities they have to eat vegetables, the more likely they will.

When kids eat vegetables at breakfast, they’ll get the nutrition they need for their  growth and development and to help prevent serious health conditions as they get older. Vegetables are also filled with fiber which will help them stay satiated and may prevent weight gain.

Related: 7 Ways to Feed Kids Vegetables for Breakfast


Fruit

Fresh, whole fruit has plenty of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber and water which kids not only need to thrive, but promotes feelings of satiety and can prevent constipation.

Protein

Protein helps to build muscle, carry nutrients through the body, regulate hormones, and strengthen skin and bones. Making sure to include protein with breakfast staves off hunger, balances blood sugar and can prevent weight gain.

Whole grains

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 50 percent of the grains we eat be made up of whole grains, which are a great source of B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and fiber. Unlike white, refined grains, whole grains do a better job of satisfying hunger and balancing your kid’s blood sugar levels.

Healthy fats

We now know that fats are not the villain they were made out to be for years. Healthy fats like those found in fish, avocado and nuts are a vital source of energy for our kids and help satisfy their hunger.

Fats are essential for healthy cell membranes, they support kids’ brains and the growth and development of their nervous systems, and help their bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins like  A, D, E, and K. Fat are also necessary to make hormones and immune cells and they help regulate inflammation and metabolism.   

 


Healthy breakfast ideas with eggs

With nearly 30 grams of protein in one large egg, plus several key nutrients like potassium, vitamin D, B vitamins, lutein and omega-3 fatty acids, eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

Hard-boiled eggs

Boiling a batch of hard-boiled eggs in the beginning of the week is the ultimate time saver and ensures you’ll have a quick and healthy breakfast that’s also a great option when you’re rushing out the door in the morning. Pair eggs with veggies, a fruit and whole grain option and you’re set.

Egg muffin cups

The great thing about egg muffin cups is that you can make a batch and have a quick and easy option ready to go. You can also customize the egg muffins with leftover vegetables and your choice of meat and cheese—or none at all.

Try this recipe: Veggie Egg Muffins

Frittata or quiche

Using eggs in a frittata, quiche or breakfast casserole is easy and a great way to serve vegetables for breakfast. Try this recipe: Broccoli, Cheddar & Spinach Frittata

Breakfast burrito

A breakfast burrito with eggs, veggies and beans is a great healthy breakfast to have on hand.

Beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber which will give your kids plenty of energy and brain power until lunch time. Also, the more often you serve them—at breakfast or at other meals—the more likely your kids will eat them.

Try putting out beans with their favorite extras: salsa, avocado, cheese and a whole wheat tortilla and let them make their own breakfast burrito.

 

Healthy breakfast ideas without eggs

Healthy overnight oats

Cooking oatmeal in the morning takes time but putting together individual mason jars of overnight oats takes just a few minutes. Start with rolled oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill) and add milk, fruit and chia seeds and you have a healthy and easy egg-free breakfast ready by the time your kids wake up.

Baked oatmeal

Baked oatmeal is my (and my kids’) new favorite way to serve up a healthy breakfast. Instead of waiting for oatmeal to cook on the stovetop, you simply add your ingredients to a loaf pan, bake it the night before and you have breakfast for a few days. Try this recipe: Baked Oatmeal With Pumpkin and Bananas.

Healthy breakfast smoothies and smoothie bowls

I’m not a fan of pureeing vegetables and sneaking them into meals so kids will eat them, but when you make a green smoothie or a smoothie bowl, it’s no secret what they’re eating.

Smoothies are a great way to feed kids vegetables for breakfast and get several servings in at once. A good rule of thumb when making smoothies or juices is to use 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent fruit. Add protein like your kid’s favorite nut or seed butter and serve with whole grain toast.

Yogurt parfait

Greek yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and protein and a parfait for breakfast couldn’t easier. Since most yogurt brands have plenty of added sugar, stick with plain Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit like raspberries and a low-sugar granola for extra fiber.

Related: How To Choose a Healthy Kids’ Yogurt


Avocado toast

Avocado is chock full of nutrition, and high in fiber and healthy fats. When it’s paired with whole grain toast and vegetables and fruit, it also makes for a healthy and easy egg-free breakfast.


Protein bars

Grabbing a protein or breakfast bar is quick and simple, but most bars are high in sugar and contain artificial ingredients. Read labels carefully and look for those with protein, fiber and low sugar.  Or, make your own breakfast bars with whole ingredients like oats, dried fruit and nuts or seeds.

Healthy breakfast pudding

Pumpkin is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids so I was so excited when—after interviewing Danielle Walker of AgainstAllGrain.com—I discovered her delicious recipe for Paleo Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding.

If you’re trying to avoid gluten or simply looking for new breakfast options, try it out. My kids loved it and it was so quick and easy to make.


What are some of your favorite healthy breakfast ideas? Let me know in the comments.

10 Easy and Healthy School Lunch Ideas  These nutritionist-approved easy and healthy school lunch ideas will make back-to-school stress-free.

10 Easy and Healthy School Lunch Ideas

These nutritionist-approved easy and healthy school lunch ideas will make back-to-school stress-free.

When it comes to packing a healthy school lunch, do you often find yourself in a rut, relying on the same ho-hum foods every day?

I certainly do.

Call me boring, but in an effort to make things easy for myself and my husband, I cook a large batch of lentil stew on Sunday that lasts most of the week.

We definitely switch things up a bit and use leftover chicken or salmon, make egg salad or crack open a can of sardines, but the key for us is that school lunch is healthy, quick and easy.

The funny thing is that my kids actually don’t seem to mind eating the same school lunches over and over again.

Still, I know that exposing them to a wide variety of foods is important if I want to raise kids who are healthy, adventurous foodies.

So on a quest for creative, easy and healthy school lunches, I found some great options.

All of these ideas were developed from nutritionists, so they have a guaranteed health stamp of approval, and they’re super quick to boot.

Related: 10 Best Tips For Packing a Healthy School Lunch

How to Pick a Healthy Peanut Butter For Kids + Best Brands

How to Pick a Healthy Peanut Butter For Kids + Best Brands

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links and I earn from qualifying purchases. I recommend these products either because I use them or because companies that make them are trustworthy and useful.


Peanut butter has been a quintessential food for generations of kids in the U.S. who love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or after-school snacks like crackers with peanut butter. Although it can be a healthy, delicious part of your kid’s diet, when it comes to choosing a healthy peanut butter, not all are created equal.


Here, learn the health benefits of peanut butter, when to introduce peanut butter to babies, and how to choose a healthy peanut butter, plus some of my favorite brands.

Health Benefits of Peanut Butter

What many people don’t realize is that although “nut” is in their name, and they look and taste similar to other nuts, peanuts are actually legumes, just like lentils and edamame.

Regardless of how you think of them, peanuts and peanut butter have a ton of health benefits.

For starters, they’re packed with protein. With 8 grams of protein in two tablespoons, peanut butter promotes feelings of satiety, satisfies your kid’s hunger and helps to balance blood sugar levels.

Peanut butter also has a decent amount of fiber—nearly 2 grams per 2 tablespoons—which also helps to fend off hunger and can prevent constipation. 

Related: 10 Foods That Relieve Kids’ Constipation

It’s also rich in several vitamins and minerals including magnesium (the calming mineral), potassium, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that protects cells from the damage of free radicals.

Although peanut butter does contain saturated fat, it’s also made up mostly of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. It’s also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fats like those found in fish.

Related: 5 Foods With Healthy Fats Kids Will Love

When Can Babies Eat Peanut Butter?

A lot has changed in a few short years and instead of telling parents to avoid peanut butter, experts now say it’s not only safe, but a good idea to introduce it to babies early on.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend parents with babies who don’t have eczema or food allergies “freely” introduce peanut butter (not nuts since they’re a choking hazard) between 4 and 6 months of age.

I recommend however, that before introducing peanut butter and other nut butters to your baby, you read all of the guidelines here and talk to your pediatrician.

Related: How To Safely Introduce Nuts To Your Baby

Tips For How To Pick A Healthy Peanut Butter

When you’re looking for a healthy peanut butter, it’s important to read labels carefully and know what ingredients to look for and what to avoid.

Choose brands with one or two ingredients

The peanut butter you choose should only contain peanuts (and list it as the first ingredient), and salt, depending on your preference.

Scan labels for oils, sugars and additives

Avoid peanut butter brands that contain hydrogenated oils, palm oils, added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup and fillers.

Also, don’t be fooled by the tubs of peanut butter that are made in-house at the grocery store because although they’re marketed as “natural,” I’ve found these brands to have added oils and sugars as well.

“Reduced-fat” or “low-fat” doesn’t mean healthy

You might think reduced-fat or low-fat peanut butters are a good option, but these brands usually contain added sugars. The full-fat version is fine, just be mindful of portion sizes.    

Take stock of the sodium

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90 percent of kids get too much sodium in their diets every day. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which about 3.5 percent of kids already have, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and vision loss, among other health conditions. So even if your kids don’t have high blood pressure now, if they continue to eat too much sodium, there’s  a good chance they will in the future.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend the following limits for daily sodium intake:

  • Ages 1-3: 1,500 mg
  • Ages 4-8: 1,900 mg
  • Ages 9-13: 2,200 mg
  • Ages 14+: 2,300 mg

When looking for a healthy peanut butter, take into consideration your child’s overall diet and how much sodium they’re already consuming, and consider purchasing a brand that’s low in sodium or sodium-free.

 

 

 

Healthy Peanut Butter For Kids: My Favorite Brands

 

Here are some of my favorite brands of peanut butter but a word of caution: always read labels carefully because some varieties of the same brand contain palm oil and other additives, for example.

Santa Cruz

Stonewall Kitchen

Smucker’s Natural Creamy

MaraNatha Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

Teddie All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter

 


What’s your favorite healthy peanut butter? Let me know in the comments!

10 Best Tips For Packing a Healthy School Lunch  Packing a healthy school lunch doesn't have to be difficult or time-consuming.

10 Best Tips For Packing a Healthy School Lunch

Packing a healthy school lunch doesn't have to be difficult or time-consuming.

Back to school season is right around the corner—please, contain your excitement! But after you go shopping for clothes, gear and everything else, chances are you’ll be thinking about packing a healthy school lunch every day especially if you (like me) think school lunches served in the cafeteria are some of the worst.

When you pack lunch with the right balance of nutrition, your kids will have the energy and focus they need to make it through the day.

Packing a healthy school lunch everyday is also an opportunity to switch things up and introduce a variety of foods that your kids can grow to love—even if they come home with it untouched at first.

From what foods to include, and which ones to leave out, of your kid’s lunch box, here are my best tips.

1. Start with fruit and vegetables

You might think that the foods you pack are healthy, but there’s some research that shows many parents actually miss the mark.

According to a July 2014 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, only 27 percent of the lunches from more than 600 kids surveyed met at least three of the five National School Lunch Program standards, which include things like including whole grains and cutting sodium.

One of the best tips for packing a healthy school lunch is to start by including a fruit and a vegetable—which should make up 50 percent of your kid’s lunch box. 

Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, which will  help to satisfy your kid’s hunger and help him feel fuller longer. 

2. Always include protein

Protein is important for your kid’s growth and development and meals with protein keep hunger at bay, balance your child’s blood sugar and give her enough energy to keep up at school.

Protein should make up 1/4 of a healthy school lunch but you’ll want to focus on lean, quality protein sources instead of processed foods like deli meats and cheeses or hot dogs.

Instead, stick with chicken, beef, turkey, beans, edamame, tempeh, eggs, fish and seafood.

Related:  What Types of Fish Are Safe For Kids?

3. Choose whole grains

Grains should make up about 1/4 of your kid’s lunch box but do your best to focus on whole grains like whole grain bread, pasta, brown rice, quinoa or another type of gluten-free grain.

Whole grains have vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and filling fiber, which are stripped from refined grains.

4. Add a source of calcium

The USDA MyPlate recommends milk or sources of dairy with meals because of the calcium kids need for strong teeth and bones. 

If your kids are dairy-free, or you’re trying to avoid dairy, they can still get plenty of calcium from green leafy vegetables, chia seeds and other calcium-rich foods that aren’t dairy.

5. Upgrade your PB&J

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is an easy, affordable and a sure-fire way to get your picky eater to eat lunch.

Look at most brands of peanut butter however, and you’ll discover they’re filled with oils, sugar and salt. Most types of jelly and fruit preserves are high in sugar too.

Read labels and look for peanut butter or another type of nut butter with minimal ingredients. I like Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter or Justin’s. Instead of jelly, mash up fresh raspberries for a delicious, fiber-rich option.

6. Switch it up with seasonal eats

Do your best to help your kid “eat the rainbow” and offer a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Also, consider including in-season fruits and vegetables which are fresher and can be more affordable.

Cauliflower, cabbage, pumpkin and figs are great choices for the back to school season.

Related: 5 Health Benefits of Figs

If your kid is a picky eater however, pack fruits and vegetables you know he’ll eat. After a few weeks, start to add in small amounts (a teaspoon will do) of new fruits and vegetables you’d like him to try.

If you’re consistent, he may eventually come around and they may even become his new favorite foods.

7. Get a cool lunch box

A bento box is a great way to pack a variety of foods and plenty of nutrition into a school lunch that your kid will love.

8. Stick to real food

Most processed, packaged foods are loaded with sodium, sugar, saturated fat, and artificial ingredients you can’t identify or pronounce. They also lack fiber and the vitamins and minerals kids need in their diets.

What’s more, experts say the more processed foods you eat and the longer you eat them, the higher your risk for inflammation, leaky gut syndrome, and a host of health conditions in the future.

Although you may not be able to completely eliminate processed foods in one fell swoop, try to replace fruit gummy snacks with fresh fruit or a bag of pretzels with seeds, for example.

Related: 5 Healthy After-School Snacks

9. Offer water instead of sugary drinks and juice

Juice boxes and pouches are convenient especially for school lunch but juice—yes, even the organic kind—doesn’t have a place in a child’s diet unless you don’t have access to fresh fruit or your kid won’t eat any fruit.

Drinking water is always a better alternative and a good habit to get your kids into. Yet if they snub plain water, add slices of cucumber, strawberries, or lemon into their water bottles for a little sweetness and hint of flavor.

10. Stick with it

There’s no doubt your kids will be envious of what other kids are eating for lunch, complain that they don’t like what you’re packing, or refuse to eat altogether.

It’s really frustrating and you’ll probably worry that your kid isn’t eating enough but stay consistent. Remember that your goal is to raise healthy kids who are willing to try—and eventually accept—a variety of healthy foods.

Studies show proper nutrition can prevent chronic health conditions, is linked to increase in cognitive function, attention and memory, higher achievement on standardized tests, athletic performance and improved sleep.

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

That’s not to say you can’t add in a cookie or a dessert, because part of learning how to eat healthy includes balance, but make it a special, occasional treat instead of an everyday thing.

What are some of your tips for packing a healthy school lunch? Let me know in the comments!

10 Kids’ Healthy Eating Tips That Are Evidence-Based

10 Kids’ Healthy Eating Tips That Are Evidence-Based

If you’re a parent, going to Dr. Google and searching for answers to health-related questions is a given. Whether it’s about cold and flu symptoms, an odd skin rash, or kids’ healthy eating advice, we all go online first.

In fact, an April 2015 study in the Interactive Journal of Medical Research found 80 percent of parents who searched online for information about their child’s health started with a search engine, while only 20 percent went to a university or hospital-based website.

Although it’s easier than ever to get the answers you need quickly, what you’ll find isn’t always credible.

Newsguard, a site run by journalists that rates the reliability of news sites found 1 in 10 websites include misinformation about health, a recent story by STAT found

When it comes to kids’ nutrition, it’s much of the same with bloggers promoting sneaky tactics to get kids to eat vegetables or kids’ Keto recipes. And more recently, parents posting videos of scare tactics to get their kids to eat.

In our fast-paced, high-stress, mobile-driven world, searching online for health information isn’t going to stop.

My advice however, is to use sites that have articles reviewed by doctors or medical professionals like Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials or EverydayHealth.com and be sure to check in with your child’s doctor too.

Through these channels, you’ll find information about health and kids’ healthy eating tips that are backed by research. Here are 10 tips to consider.

1. Eat more plant-based foods

Whether your family is made up of vegetarians, vegans, pegans or full-fledged meat eaters, getting more plant-based foods in your kid’s diet is one of the best things you can do for their health.

Plant-based foods are packed with the nutrition kids need for their growth and development. Most plant-based foods also have filling fiber to satisfy their hunger and prevent constipation.

Recent studies show plant-based diets are linked with a lower risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and obesity.

A January 2015 study in the Journal Of Pediatrics found children who followed a plant-based, vegan diet or the American Heart Association diet lost weight, lowered their blood pressure and improved their cholesterol in just four weeks.

2. Serve new foods repeatedly—up to 15 times!

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it can take between 8 and 15 times of introducing a new food for a child to accept it.

A December 2007 study in the journal Food Quality and Preference found that when mothers introduced a vegetable their infants initially disliked, by the 8th day of serving it, their intake of it increased rapidly.

And by the 8th exposure their intake was similar to that of a vegetable they liked. Nine months later, 63 percent of the infants were still eating the originally disliked vegetable.

3. Offer more fruits and vegetables

According to a survey published in 2014 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 6 in 10 children don’t eat enough fruit and 9 in 10 don’t eat enough vegetables.

So no surprise here that one of the best kids’ healthy eating tips that are evidence based is to eat more. 

Yet studies show eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure, balance blood sugar, prevent weight gain and childhood obesity, reduce the risk for eye and digestive problems, heart disease and stroke, and prevent certain types of cancer.

Of course, when kids eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables it lays the foundation for healthy eating throughout their lifetimes.

4. Dish out fish and seafood every week

Fish can be a hard sell for kids but the nutrients they contain are those kids need for healthy growth and development, according to the AAP.

Fish and seafood are packed with protein, low in saturated fat, rich in micronutrients, and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support kids’ brain health and memory.

Many types of fish also contain high levels of calcium and vitamin D and some types of shellfish are high in iron, selenium and iodine.

Studies suggest that consuming seafood may improve neurodevelopment in babies and decrease cardiovascular disease risk.

The FDA and EPA recommend kids eat fish 1 to 2 times a week starting at age 2. Despite its benefits, kids aren’t eating enough fish however, mainly due to concerns over mercury.

Yet salmon, sardines, shrimp and tuna (canned light) are all safe choices.

Related: What Types of Fish Are Safe for Kids?

5. Cut down on sugar, juice and sweet drinks

Diets high in sugar are proven to lead to weight gain and obesity, type-2 diabetes, non-alcoholic 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.

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.

Juice and sugary drinks are also high in empty calories, sugar, and carbohydrates, and drinking them 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 age while infants under 1 should avoid it altogether.

Related: [VIDEO] Is Dried Fried Fruit Healthy For Kids?

6. Don’t be afraid of healthy fats

The long-standing myth that eating fat causes high cholesterol, heart disease and weight gain has been debunked and we now know that healthy fats are essential to our health and our kids’.

Healthy fats are a vital source of energy and help satisfy their hunger but the AAP recommends they make up no more than 30 percent of kids’ total calories.

Healthy fats are essential for healthy cell membranes, they support kids’ brains and the growth and development of their nervous systems, and help their bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.

They’re also necessary to make hormones and immune cells and they help regulate inflammation and metabolism.   

While experts agree it’s the trans fats and some saturated fats that should be avoided, foods with healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats from whole foods are beneficial.

7. Avoid processed foods

Most processed foods are loaded with sodium, sugar, saturated fat and artificial ingredients you can’t identify or pronounce. They also lack fiber and the vitamins and minerals kids need in their diets.

Research shows processed foods, but more specifically the sodium, sugar, saturated fat, trans fat, and food additives they contain, are linked to weight gain and childhood obesity, high blood pressure, and mental health and behavioral problems.

But your child’s health now isn’t all you should be thinking about because eating foods with added sugars and sodium early on can affect their taste preferences, the foods they eat and their health later on in life.

Experts say the more processed foods you eat—and the longer you eat them—the more likely inflammation, leaky gut syndrome and a host of health conditions will crop up in the future.

In fact, a May 2019 study in the journal Cell Metabolism found adults who consumed ultra-processed foods for 2 weeks consumed 500 extra calories than those who consumed unprocessed foods.

Two other recent studies show that consuming ultra-processed foods are linked to a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and death. 

8. Get kids to drink more water

According to an April 2019 survey in JAMA Pediatrics, 20 percent of kids don’t drink water at all and instead drink soda and sugary drinks—a sneaky source of calories and sugar.

When your kids are mildly dehydrated it can make them feel tired, lack focus and make them struggle with easy tasks.

Studies show brain tissue can even temporarily shrink without enough water in the body. And even if your kids eat healthy, they could become constipated.

9. Make time for breakfast 

According to an August 2017 study in the British Journal of Nutrition, only about one-third of kids eat breakfast every day, 17 percent never eat breakfast and the rest only eat breakfast a fews days a week.

Yet kids who eat breakfast everyday have a higher daily consumption of key nutrients such as folate, calcium, iron and iodine than those who skip breakfast, the same study found.

Eating a healthy breakfast gives kid the energy and focus they need to get through the day, and they may even do better in school.

In fact, a June 2016 study in the journal Public Health Nutrition, which included 5,000 kids, found those who ate breakfast and those who ate a better quality breakfast, were twice as likely to do better in school than those who didn’t.

Eating breakfast is also associated with a lower risk for obesity and serious health conditions.

According to a March 2016 study in the journal Pediatric Obesity, kids who ate breakfast at school, even if they already had breakfast at home, were less likely to be overweight or obese than those who didn’t eat breakfast.

And a September 2014 study in the journal PLOS Medicine found 9 and 10-year-old children who reported regularly skipping breakfast had 26 percent higher levels of insulin in their blood after a fasting period and 26 percent higher levels of insulin resistance, a risk factor for type-2 diabetes, than children who ate breakfast every day.

Related: 7 Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat a Healthy Breakfast

10. Cut down on sodium

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 90 percent of kids get too much sodium in their diets each day and more than 40 percent of it comes from only 10 foods.

Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which about 3.5 percent of kids already have, according to the AAP.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and vision loss, among other health conditions.

So even if your kids don’t have high blood pressure now, if they continue to eat too much sodium, there’s  a good chance they will in the future.

Related: 10 Sneaky Sources of Sodium in Your Kid’s Diet

5 Signs You’re Overfeeding Your Kids

5 Signs You’re Overfeeding Your Kids

Although most parents struggle to get their kids to eat and worry they aren’t eating enough, you might be one who worries you’re overfeeding your kids.

With rates of childhood obesity still at an all time high and other conditions like type-2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) on the rise in kids, your cause for concern is justified.

What’s more, raising kids who have healthy eating habits and a healthy relationship with food now can help lower their risk for obesity-related diseases and emotional eating when they’re adults.

Although you shouldn’t put your kids on a diet, count calories or make an issue out of how much they’re eating, it can be tough to tell whether you’re giving them enough or too much.

Here, learn 5 signs that might mean you’re overfeeding your kids.

1. Your child’s plate is the same size as your plate

My kids eat a healthy diet, but although I try to be mindful of portion sizes, there are many times that I think they eat too much.

I have to remind myself that that kids aren’t adults.

Kids have smaller stomachs and their nutritional needs can be met with much smaller portions than you’d expect.

Instead of using large dinner-sized plates to serve your child’s meals, use kid-sized plates or appetizer plates to keep portion sizes at bay.

Related: How To Teach Kids Portion Control


2. Your kid is always in the bathroom

 

My daughter loves to eat fruit, which isn’t a bad thing of course, but when she eats too much sometimes it lands her in the bathroom with a stomachache.

This was true for me as a kid too, although it was usually Sunday dinner (French toast, pasta, meatballs, coffee cake, etc.) that did it.

If you notice your kid is constantly in the bathroom, or he complains of stomachaches, it could mean he’s eating too much.


3. You’re overfeeding your kids if there’s food left behind


If your kid is a picky eater, chances are you’re always worried if he’s eating enough.

Although your expectation is that he at least try everything, and at most eat everything you serve, it’s not always going to be the case—if at all.

According to Ellyn Satter, an authority on eating and feeding, it’s the parent’s responsibility to decide the whatwhen and where of feeding, and the child’s responsibility to decide how much and whether to eat.

Kids shouldn’t be expected to eat everything on their plates. 

Instead of encouraging your kids, “take 3 more bites,” or setting a rule that they have to clean their plates before dessert or before being excused from the table, let them decide when they’ve had enough.

Give your kids plenty of opportunities to explore, taste, touch and smell food, and

time to develop their food preferences and learn what it feels like to be hungry and satisfied. 


4. Your kid loves snacks


Another sign you’re overfeeding your kids is that they’re eating too many snacks.

According to a March 2010 study in Health Affairs, kids reach for snacks 3 times a day and consume up to 600 calories from foods like chips, crackers and candy.

What’s more, the largest increase in snacking over the years is among kids between ages 2 and 6, the same study found.

Filling up on processed, packaged snacks in particular can crowd out calories and opportunities to serve up healthy, whole foods like fruits and vegetables. The same goes for juice or too much milk.

Although there’s no hard and fast rule about how often kids should snack, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggest toddlers need 2 to 3 snacks a day, while pre-schoolers need 1 to 2 snacks per day—healthy snacks that give them the nutrition they need.

If you cut back on the amount of snacks but you still find that there is food left on your child’s plate, consider making snacks smaller, adjusting the time between meals and snacks, or eliminating snack all together.


5. Your kid’s clothes are getting small


When you have young kids, it’s amazing to see how fast they grow.

It seems one minute you buy a bunch of new clothes and the next, they’ve grown out of them.

If you notice that your kid’s clothes are getting small in a short amount of time, it might be that he’s eating too much.

If your child’s BMI is high however, or he’s suddenly gaining too much weight, it’s not necessarily a cause for concern because sometimes their height hasn’t yet caught up with their weight.

However, it’s always a good idea to bring it up with your child’s pediatrician who will chart his growth trends every year and make sure he’s growing taller and gaining weight at a consistent pace.

You might also consider speaking to a registered dietitian-nutritionist (RDN) who can evaluate your child’s diet and help you with things like portion control, meal planning and recipes.

Do you think you’re overfeeding your kids? What have you done to curb the habit? Let me know in the comments!

15 Healthy Blueberry Recipes Your Kids Will Love  Blueberries are superfoods for kids and with these healthy blueberry recipes, you'll find new ways to serve them.

15 Healthy Blueberry Recipes Your Kids Will Love

Blueberries are superfoods for kids and with these healthy blueberry recipes, you'll find new ways to serve them.

“I love blueberries!,” my older daughter exclaimed.“Blueberries are delicious!,” she continued.

That was last summer when my daughters and I were visiting their grandparents and we decided to go blueberry picking.

As a toddler, she used to eat blueberries by the handful and would even come close to finishing off half of a pint.

But as she got older, bananas, mango, watermelon and cantaloupe became her new favorite fruits and getting her to eat one single blueberry was impossible.

Maybe it was the experience of berry picking (likely) or that her Italian grandmother, who can get her to eat just about anything, was there (even more likely).

Whatever it was, I’ll take it because blueberries are one of the best superfoods for kids.

Health Benefits of Blueberries

Not only are blueberries sweet and delicious, but they’re packed with nutrition.

Blueberries are a good source of fiber—1/2 cup has more than 2 grams—as well as vitamins C and K and manganese, an essential nutrient.

Blueberries are also high in antioxidants, including anthocyanin, a flavonoid which gives them their rich hue.

Anthocyanin is also known to support cognitive and motor function, improve visual and neurological health, and prevent disease.

In fact, a February 2019 study in the Journals of Gerontology conducted in adults found eating about a cup of blueberries a day can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease by 20 percent.

Another reason blueberries are healthy is that they consist of nearly 85 percent water to help satisfy your kid’s hunger and prevent constipation.

Related: 10 Foods That Relieve Kids’ Constipation

Since blueberries contain high levels of pesticide residue however, consider purchasing organic blueberries, fresh or frozen.

Sweet, succulent and delicious in pancakes, muffins, oatmeal, yogurt and desserts, there are also a ton of unique ways to incorporate them into other meals too.

Healthy Blueberry Recipes Your Kids Will Love

Here are 15 healthy blueberry recipes to try.

Breakfast

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

Blueberry Bliss Breakfast Bars

Magical Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Jam

Avocado Blueberry Baby Smoothie

Lunch and Dinner

Cranberry Blueberry Salad With Blueberry Balsamic Dressing

Blueberry Chicken Salad Wraps

Wild Rice Salad with Corn, Blueberries and Almonds

Blueberry Basil Chopped Veggie Salad

Vegetable Couscous With Wild Blueberries

Desserts and Snacks

Blueberry Cheesecake Bites

Blueberry Fruit Dip

Blueberry Muffin Energy Balls

Frozen Blueberry Yogurt Bites

2 Ingredient Vegan Blueberry Ice Cream

Wild Blueberry and Almond Butter Yogurt Popsicles

[VIDEO] Is Dried Fruit Healthy For Kids?

[VIDEO] Is Dried Fruit Healthy For Kids?

Getting your kids to eat their vegetables is usually a challenge, but when it comes to fruit, most babies, toddlers and big kids love it.

Fresh, whole fruit is ideal for kids: it has plenty of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber and water which kids not only need to thrive, but promotes feelings of satiety and can prevent constipation.

For those times when fresh fruit isn’t available or convenient however, you may have wondered, is dried fruit healthy for kids? Does dried fruit have too much sugar? And are raisins are a healthy snack for kids?

Here are answers those questions and more.

Short on time? Check out my video.

Dried fruit health benefits

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the amount of whole fruit kids consume has increased 67 percent, but 60 percent of kids still aren’t eating enough. 

So whether you buy it in a bag, a box, or as part of your favorite trail mix, dried fruit can be healthy for kids and a way to increase the amount of servings they get each day.

Dried fruit contains more fiber and phenols, a type of antioxidant that’s protective against certain diseases, than fresh fruit per ounce, Anthony Komaroff, M.D. states in this article.

What’s more, dried fruit can provide significant proportions of the daily recommended intake of several micronutrients like folate.

However, certain types of dried fruit lose some of their nutrients like vitamins A, C, thiamine and folate—a result of the drying process.

Unlike other types of kids’ snacks, dried fruit contains no sodium, cholesterol or fat (except for coconut).

Adding dried fruit to a salad, veggies, or plain Greek yogurt for example, can make it taste better and encourage your kids to eat foods they wouldn’t have otherwise touched.

Dried fruit is healthy because it has natural sugars, right?

When it comes to sugar, most experts say that it’s the added sugars that we should be paying attention to.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), too much added sugar can increase a child’s risk for obesity, tooth decay, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends kids between 2 and 18 eat less than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, of added sugars a day.

As the new Nutrition Facts labels continue to be rolled out, it will be easier than ever to decipher the grams of natural and added sugars in a food.

Although some experts consider dried fruit healthy for kids because it has natural sugars, I’m not convinced.

Through my work as a health journalist, I’m of the mind that all sugar, whether it’s natural or added, has the same effect on the body and should be limited.

And some experts agree.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, “…high fructose corn syrup is absolutely worse for you than the natural sugar found in berries and apples, but for the most part, sugar is sugar is sugar. It all wreaks havoc on your health.”

Another thing to consider is that some manufacturers add sugar to certain types of dried fruit like tart cranberries so that they’ll taste sweet.

Related: What is High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

The calories in dried fruit can add up quickly

When you compare the same serving size of fresh fruit to dried fruit, dried fruit has  more calories.

Counting calories isn’t something any kid should be doing, whether they’re overweight or not. But it’s important to keep in mind that since dried fruit is so sweet and snackable, it’s easy to go overboard.

Are raisins a healthy snack for kids?

Individual portions of raisins are a kid-favorite and can be a healthy addition to your kid’s diet.

One small box has nearly 2 grams of fiber and protein, and they’re also a good source of iron, potassium and magnesium, the “calming mineral.”

Yet keep in mind that raisins are also high in sugar— 25 grams worth—so stick with grapes when you can, which are lower in sugar and more filling thanks to the amount of water they contain.

What about yogurt-covered raisins?

Yogurt-covered raisins sound like a healthy option for kids, but take a look at what Sun-Maid Vanilla Yogurt Raisins are actually made with:

Yogurt flavored coating (sugar, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, nonfat milk  powder, yogurt powder (cultured whey and nonfat milk), whey powder, artificial color (titanium dioxide), soy lecithin—an emulsifier, and vanilla),tapioca dextrin, confectioners glaze).

When you consider the ingredients, it’s best to serve these as a treat—or not at all.

Tips for Buying & Serving Dried Fruit

The next time you give your kids dried fruit, keep these tips in mind.

  • Since certain types of fruit (whether they’re fresh or dried) make the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, consider purchasing organic dried fruit to avoid pesticide exposure.
  • Read labels carefully and look for products where dried fruit is the only ingredient.
  • When buying cranberries, choose those that are sweetened with fruit juice, not sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners, Cynthia Sass, RD states in this article.
  • Avoid dried fruit with artificial preservatives like sulfur dioxide and other additives.
  • Think of dried fruit as an extra: add it in small quantities to unsalted nuts and seeds, oatmeal, healthy cookies or homemade bars, and to vegetable and grain dishes.
  • Keep portion sizes in mind: one cup of fresh fruit is equivalent to 1/4 of dried fruit. But keep in mind, kids’ portion sizes are typically smaller depending on their ages.

The bottom line: dried fruit can be healthy for kids, but it’s best consumed in moderation and in the right portions.