6 Habits of Healthy Dads  Healthy dads put their health, themselves and their families first.

6 Habits of Healthy Dads

Healthy dads put their health, themselves and their families first.

Whether you’re a new dad or a seasoned pro, there’s no doubt you want to be the best dad ever.

But being a great father goes way beyond teaching your kid to ride a bike or throw a ball.

Happy, healthy dads make certain habits a priority in their lives so they can be great parents and spouses.

Here, learn 6 habits of healthy dads that can make you a better, stronger father.


1. Healthy dads see their doctors


According to a 2018 survey by the Cleveland Clinic, only 60 percent of men see their doctors for a yearly check-up.

Whether it’s because you don’t think your health is a huge concern or it’s something you don’t talk about—53 percent agree, the survey found—it’s important to re-think your old ways.

Studies show women live nearly 5 years longer than men, and avoiding their doctors is one of the reasons why.

An annual physical with your primary care doctor can prevent and identify early signs of conditions like heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and prostate cancer and ensure you’re getting the screenings you need.

Regularly visits can also help your doctor identify symptoms that may actually be signs of serious medical conditions. For example, snoring and high blood pressure are symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, and erectile dysfunction can be a sign of type-2 diabetes or blocked arteries.

So make that appointment—and put an end to your wife’s nagging once and for all.


2. They don’t smoke


The amount of smokers have declined over the years, but more than 15 percent of men in the U.S. still smoke.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death, and accounts for about 1 in 5 deaths every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),

Although you know secondhand smoke is unhealthy, thirdhand smoke has garnered a lot of attention in recent years because of its dangers, especially to kids.

Thirdhand smoke is the residue from smoking on the smoker’s clothes, hair, and car, as well as the carpet, furniture and walls of the smoker’s home. 

A January 2019 study in the journal Tobacco Insights found not smoking around kids doesn’t prevent them from being exposed to nicotine.

Not only do kids inhale the dangerous chemicals, but since they’re always putting their hands in their mouths, they’re ingesting it too.

Higher levels of exposure to thirdhand smoke may also be linked to respiratory problems like wheezing and coughing, the same study found.

Quitting smoking isn’t easy but there is support available. Check out resources from the CDC, SmokeFree.gov and the American Lung Association.


3. They do their best to eat healthy

 

 

Although you might think you’re a “big guy” or your beer belly is endearing, carrying extra lbs anywhere in your body could kill you.

More than 73 percent of men are overweight or obese in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Obesity is associated with an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), an epidemic and silent killer.

Research shows men who aren’t considered overweight are at risk too.

A December 2015 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found men who carry weight around their midsection, even if they’re slim in other areas of their body, have twice the mortality risk of men who are only overweight or obese.

Overhauling your diet isn’t going to happen overnight, especially if you’ve been eating that way for years.

But making changes and creating new, healthy habits can make a huge difference in your health.

Small changes might include bringing a healthy lunch to work instead of ordering in, put an end to snacking in front of the TV, or adding extra veggies to your meals.

Related: 8 Ways To Eat Healthy When Dad Doesn’t

 

4. They make exercise a priority

You might think the goal of your workout is only to get bigger and stronger, but exercise is vital to your physical, mental and emotional health too, something healthy dads already know.

Exercise can:

  • Prevent weight gain
  • Improve blood glucose levels
  • Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Improve your brain health
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Reduce the risk of certain types of cancer
  • Improve sleep
  • Boost mood and combat stress
  • Improve sexual function
  • Improve longevity

Of course, whether you have toddlers or big kids, staying in shape can also help you keep up with them.

Joining a gym is an obvious first start, but if it’s not your thing, there are so many ways to get in more physical activity.

Look for organized sports leagues, running or cycling groups, or sign up for a fitness app you can do in the privacy of your home.

 

5. Healthy dads find ways to cope with stress

The World Health Organization recently announced that burnout is a syndrome, linked to chronic work stress, and suffice to say, most men are at risk.

According to a survey by LinkedIn, 50 percent of men say work stress, workload and lack of work/life balance top the list of reasons.

High levels of chronic stress can also lead to anxiety and depression.

A September 2018 study in JAMA Pediatrics found more than 4 percent of fathers of young children screened positive for depression—almost as much as mothers (5 percent).

It’s important to address stress, because left unchecked, it will only get worse.

Make time for downtime, take up a new hobby, seek out a mentor or get a referral for a therapist.

If you also struggle with anxiety, depression, past trauma or addiction, there is help available.

Seek support through the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) or an organization like Celebration Recovery.

 

6. Healthy dads make time for their partners

 

 

Once the baby comes along, it’s easy for all romance, or any time for each other for that matter, to go out the window.

According to a 2011 study conducted by the American Psychological Association, 67 percent of couples say their marital satisfaction took a nosedive after having a baby.

Research shows this dissatisfaction can also increase the chances for children to have poor social skills, develop depression and behavioral problems.

Couples who make time for date nights, or carve out time for each other on a regular basis, have happier, healthier marriages.

The good news is that date nights don’t necessarily have to be dinner and movie.

A February 2019 study in the Journal Of Marriage and Family found painting or playing a board game may increase levels of oxytocin, “the love hormone,” even more.

6 Best Healthy Summer Eating Tips For Kids

6 Best Healthy Summer Eating Tips For Kids

 

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There’s an abundance of healthy super foods for kids during the summer, and while it may be a great opportunity to get your kids out of their picky eating habits and transform them into super-healthy kids, studies show summer may actually be the worst time of year to make that a reality.

According to a July 2015 study in the American Journal of Public Health, body mass index (BMI) for kindergarteners and first graders increased two to three times as fast during the summer than the school year.

More opportunities for grab-and-go foods at the pool, the boardwalk and the carnival, trips to the ice cream shop, longer, less structured days, and more time spent on devices are likely culprits.

If you plan ahead, make some simple swaps and use a few easy strategies however, your family can stay on track.

Here are 5 of my best healthy summer eating tips for kids.


1. Avoid sugary drinks


Long, hot summer days mean your kids will be drinking more fluids anyway, but what they drink is important.

According to a 2015 poll by the YMCA, about 75 percent of kids drink sugar-sweetened beverages at least weekly during the summer, and about 25 percent kids consume one or more sweetened beverages every day or almost every day.

Instead of soda, juice, sugar-sweetened beverages like lemonade, ice tea and sports drinks which are high in empty calories and sugar, spike blood sugar and may encourage cravings for other sugary fare, stick with plan H2O.

Since dehydration can often be mistaken for hunger—which is one of the reasons your kid is always hungry—it’s even more important that they make a point to drink plenty of water. 

Encourage your kids to drink water first thing in the morning, when they’re most likely to be dehydrated, sip throughout the day and before meals.

If water is too plain for them, add cut up cucumbers or strawberries for some flavor.


2. Take advantage of grilling season

 

When you grill up your hamburgers, chicken or fish, add zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus, onions and peppers which your kids may be more willing to eat because it’s simply a different way to serve them.

Or put out several types of vegetables and let them make their own vegetable kabobs to grill.

When kids have a hand in making a meal, they’ll be more likely to eat it.

You can also grill fruit like peaches, pineapples and melon which make for a  healthy dessert.


3. Stick to a schedule

If your kids aren’t in camp and there’s no set schedule to your days, there may also be less consistency when it comes to regular meals.

Your kids might skip meals, eat meals at different times each day and ask for snacks—all habits that can lead to overeating and weight gain.

Although vacations or day trips can definitely throw off your schedule, one of the best summer healthy eating tips is to do your best to have regular meal and snack times, make sure your kids eat a healthy breakfast, and try to prevent grazing and mindless snacking.


4. Use your cutting board


During the summer, kids eat more vegetables, but they still don’t eat enough, the same YMCA poll found.

Kids need 2 to 3 servings of vegetables each day, but the serving sizes vary by age.

Check out this chart from the American Academy of Pediatrics to see portion sizes for your kid.

Do your best to include vegetables at every meal and snack, which will give your kids the nutrition they need, help satisfy their hunger, prevent overeating, and cure constipation.

The good news is that you don’t have to turn on the oven or spend too much time preparing them.

Kids love bite-sized and finger foods, so cut up raw vegetables like celery, cucumbers, and bell peppers to add to meals or serve as a snack with a healthy dip.


5. Put healthy food at eye level

According to the 2010 White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity report, “children’s choices depend on what is most visible and easily accessible.”

So resist the urge to stock your pantry with chips, crackers and cookies and other types of fake food and put healthy food at eye level.

Spend 30 minutes or so on the weekend to wash and cut up fruits and vegetables and store them in clear glass containers front and center in the refrigerator.

Make individual portions of smoothie ingredients or set aside portions of nuts, seeds and dried fruit that are easy to grab, especially when you’re on the go.


6. Get kids in the kitchen

With more time to spend together, the summer is an ideal time to get kids in the kitchen, which encourages them to eat healthy because they feel empowered to do so.

Read: 5 Surprising Benefits of Cooking With Kid

Get your kids a set of kid-friendly knives and a chopping board and show them how to wash, prep and chop fruits and veggies.

Or make a salad together using my favorite chopping bowl.

If you’re not the greatest home chef or could simply use some pointers, I recommend you take my friend Katie Kimball’s Kids Cook Real Food online video eCourse. Check out her video: 

11 Best Books About Kids’ Nutrition & Healthy Eating

11 Best Books About Kids’ Nutrition & Healthy Eating

You don’t need to be a pediatrician or a nutritionist to raise kids who eat healthy but like all things when it comes to parenting, getting more information, advice and support makes the job a little easier.

This list of kids’ nutrition books include information about healthy eating, picky eating advice, and how to navigate issues like food allergies, sensory problems and food industry marketing.

I selected these books because they have high ratings, are written by leading kids’ nutrition experts or because I’ve enjoyed reading some of them myself.

Happy reading!

1. Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables―with 100 Easy Activities and Recipes, by Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP.

2. Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater: A Parent’s Handbook: A Stage-by-Stage Guide to Setting Your Child on the Path to Adventurous Eating, by Nimali Fernando, MD, MPH and Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP.

3. Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating: A Step-by-Step Guide for Overcoming Selective Eating, Food Aversion, and Feeding Disorders, by Katja Rowell, MD, and Jenny McGlothlin, MS, CCC-SLP.

4. It’s Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating, by Dina Rose, PhD.

5. The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers: Practical Answers To Your Questions on Nutrition, Starting Solids, Allergies, Picky Eating, and More (For Parents, By Parents), by Anthony Porto, MD, MPH and Dina DiMaggio, MD.

6. Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters From High Chair to High School, by Jill Castle, MS, RDN and Maryann Jacobsen, MS, RD.

7. Try New Food: How to Help Picky Eaters Taste, Eat & Like New Foods by Jill Castle, RDN

8. Born to Eat: Whole, Healthy Foods From Baby’s First Bite by Leslie Schilling, MA, RDN and Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RDN

9. The Clean-Eating Kid: Grocery Store Food Swaps for an Anti-Inflammatory Diet by Jenny Carr.

10. Kid Food: The Challenge of Feeding Children in a Highly Processed World, by Bettina Elias Siegel. 

11. Cure Your Child With Food: The Hidden Connection Between Nutrition and Childhood Ailments, by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LDN

What books about kids’ nutrition and healthy eating have you found to be helpful? Let me know in the comments.

6 Facts About Child Hunger in the U.S. + What You Can Do

6 Facts About Child Hunger in the U.S. + What You Can Do

We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and yet, the U.S. is home to millions of children who go hungry every day.

If you’re able to put food on the table every day and never have to worry about feeding your kids, it can be really hard to wrap your head around this issue, as it was for me.

I wondered, what does it really mean when kids “go hungry?”

Living in a food insecure household can mean a family doesn’t have food in their home and not enough money to purchase it.

Some families may have food, but not enough to feed their families each month. As a result, parents may skip meals or cut back on their kids’ portions.

The reasons for food insecurity are complicated, but there are some important facts about child hunger you should know. Here are 5.

 

1. Children go hungry regardless of where they live

According to a 2017 report by No Kid Hungry, 1 in 6 kids in the U.S.— an estimated 13 million—face hunger. 

A misconception is that food insecure families only live in low-income areas. In fact, 93 percent of Americans don’t believe they know children in their neighborhood who go to school hungry, a 2019 report found.

Yet kids in affluent communities are certainly affected. According to a 2019 report by Feeding America, every U.S. county and congressional district has people who face hunger, at a rate that ranges between 3 to 36 percent for the overall population.

 

2. Child hunger has devastating health effects

Kids who go hungry have an increased risk for a host of chronic health conditions and problems including anemia, asthma, anxiety, depression, tooth decay, fatigue, headaches, stomachaches and more frequent colds. Hungry kids are also more likely to be hospitalized.

3. Child hunger affects school performance and behavior

Eating a healthy breakfast is important for a child’s overall health and academic performance, but sadly, 59 percent of kids from low income families don’t eat before school because of food insecurity and three out of four teachers say they have students who regularly come to school hungry.

As a result, teachers say students who are hungry lose their ability to focus, have poor academic performance and behavioral and discipline problems.

Kids from food insecure households are also more likely to have developmental delays, be held back, repeat a grade in elementary school, and drop out of high school.

4. Children are more likely to face hunger than the general U.S. population

The rates of children who are food insecure are higher than those of the overall population in the U.S., a recent report found. Although child hunger is a nationwide problem, rural and southern communities are impacted the most.

5. More kids go hungry during the summer

Kids who rely on free and reduced school lunch and breakfast are often left without meals during the summer months.

According to No Kid Hungry, only 1 in 7 kids who are eligible for free summer meals through the national Summer Food Service Program, aren’t getting them, either because families don’t know about the program or they don’t know where to find it.

To help a family in need, search the USDA’s meal service site finder tool or text ‘FOOD’ or ‘COMIDA’ to 877-877.

6. Children may not eat healthy, even when they have access to food

Local food banks can help to fill the gap for food insecure families, but they may not always have the healthiest foods.

Most food is processed and packaged food that have a long shelf life and tend to be made with refined carbohydrates like white pasta and rice, and high in sodium, like canned goods.

In fact, less than 10 percent of the food offered through food banks nationally is fresh produce, according to The New York Times.

What’s more, an April 2017 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found diets of people who access food banks have low nutritional value, and inadequate amounts of fruits and vegetables, dairy and calcium.

Even when nutritional intake was sufficient, many did not meet the recommendations for vitamins A, C, D, and B vitamins, or iron, magnesium, and zinc.

The good news is that through initiatives like Feeding America’s National Produce Program, more food insecure families are getting the healthy food they need.

What you can do to help end child hunger

 

Childhood hunger is a widespread problem in the U.S., but there are several ways you can help.

Advocate

To help protect and expand federal programs like SNAP for food insecure families, contact your senators and representatives today.

Volunteer

Local food banks need volunteers to sort, stock shelves, pack and distribute food. Search Feeding America for a list of local food banks in your area.

If you’re looking to volunteer with your kids, it’s a great opportunity for them to learn about—and serve—others in need, but many food banks do not allow kids under age 10.

Check with your local churches, shelters, and community organizations, or search VolunteerMatch.org for other opportunities that you can do with younger kids.

Curb food waste

Despite the overabundance of food in the U.S., we’re a nation of waste. Homes and  businesses like grocery stores and restaurants are wasting more than 80 percent of food.

If you own or operate a food business, contact Meal Connect, an organization that accepts excess food and donates it to local food banks, food pantries and meal programs.

For tips for your home, read, 10 Tips To Reduce Food Waste When Feeding Kids.

Fundraise or donate

No Kid Hungry and Feeding America have information available for people interested in fundraising opportunities, special events, and ways to donate.

 

[VIDEO] 5 Spring Activities That Will End Picky Eating

[VIDEO] 5 Spring Activities That Will End Picky Eating

When you have kids who are picky eaters, it can take months—even years—

to get them to try a bite of new, healthy foods.

You do your best to offer fruits and vegetables, try new recipes, different cooking methods or add butter or cheese to make them more appealing but nothing seems to work.

Picky eating is really frustrating and if you’re ready to throw in the towel, you’re not the only one.

According to a 2018 survey out of the U.K., half of moms and dads have given up persuading their kids to eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day.

Take heed—and stick with it.

With spring time in full swing, there is perhaps no better time of year to offer all the healthy superfoods the season has to offer and take advantage of fun activities that can get your kids out of their picky eating behaviors for good. Here are 5.

Short on time? Get 3 tips in this quick video.

1. Berry picking

Although my kids eat just about anything, they have fallen into picky eating patterns in the past.

Last year for example, the only types of fruits my older daughter would eat were bananas, mangos, watermelon and cantaloupe.

As a toddler, she used to eat berries by the handful but now it had become impossible.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal—she was eating fruit after all—but berries are high in fiber, a great source of antioxidants and low glycemic, so they don’t have as high of an impact on blood sugar as the types of fruits she was eating.

Kids have their own food preferences of course, so I didn’t push the issue. But my gut feeling was that it was a phase.

Everything changed when we visited my mother-in-law in Delaware and made an impromptu trip to a blueberry orchard.

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).

But within seconds, my daughter was saying: “I love blueberries!” and “blueberries are delicious!”

As we continued to pick the blueberries, I shook my head. I couldn’t believe how one new experience could literally change her perspective in seconds flat.

One of my Instagram followers had a similar experience:

“… this is how I got my daughter [to] eat more fruit. We go pick fruit all the time! She loves it and most of the time more goes in her tummy than in the bucket.”

May is the season to pick strawberries, but keep up the fun throughout the summer by picking blueberries, peaches, nectarines and cherries as well.

2. Farmers’ market

Visiting your local farmers’ market is a spring activity that can put an end to picky eating.

Kids learn where food comes from and it’s a new way for them to be exposed to local fruits and vegetables.

Let your kids pick out something they’ve never tried before and prepare it together at home—it will make them feel empowered and more likely to eat it.    

3. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm allows you to purchase local, seasonal food directly from local farmers.

You purchase a “share,” usually a box of vegetables, but some CSAs also include other farm products like eggs and cheese, that you receive each week.

It may be a benefit or a drawback depending on how you look at it, but you’ll receive varieties of vegetables that you never tried or heard of before.

Some CSAs may also allow you to personalize your share and choose some of the produce that’s included.

If you’re not ready to commit to a CSA, then take a visit to a local farm. Many local farms host tours, cooking classes and special events that can encourage your kids to try new foods.

4. Plant a garden

Last year, our family planted our first vegetable garden and my kids were thrilled to pick and eat the salad, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers that we grew.

A family garden is one of the best ways to encourage healthy eating. In fact, a September 2016 study out of the University of Florida suggests kids who garden are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables throughout their lives.

When kids learn how to grow their own food, they get really excited to see the fruits—and vegetables—of their labor and their perspectives can change overnight.

If you don’t have space for a garden, use small potted plants, grow herbs, sprouts or microgreens, or look for community gardens where you can plant your own food.

5. Have a picnic

Sometimes all it takes to get your kids out of their picky eating behaviors is a change of scenery.

Take advantage of the warmer weather and longer days and head out to the park, picnic grounds or even your own backyard for a picnic with your kids.

Pack foods you know they’ll eat in addition to some new, in-season foods, which they may be more likely to eat because eating outside is something different—and fun.

What are some of your favorite spring activities that have encouraged your kids to eat healthy? Let me know in the comments!