Kids Reflect What We Do

December 27, 2017

Family Enjoying Meal At Home

Each issue of the WOWS Newsletter includes an inspiration quote. In the most recent issue is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.

When it comes to developing healthy eating habits for children, that quote is very relevant. Just as important as the way parents talk about food is the way in which they choose to eat.

Children can also pick up on their parents’ attitudes about food. As role models, parents need to make sure they’re demonstrating a healthy attitude toward food so their children do, too.

Research shows that family mealtimes have a big impact on how children eat as they grow into adulthood and start making food choices of their own. One study showed that children who eat meals with their parents tend to eat more fruit, vegetables and dairy products than children who don’t. There is also research that shows that when parents increase their physical activity, kids do too.

Holidays are a great time to start making healthful eating the standard at home and at work. What you do everywhere you live, learn, work and play is reflected in your attitudes. Healthful behaviors don’t require giving up all the things you enjoy. In fact, the healthy attitude is that in a normal diet there are no good or bad foods, only the way in which you choose them. Making healthful choices comes down to developing healthy habits that guide balance.

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Meeting the Holiday Challenge

November 27, 2017

Multi Generation Family Eating Lunch At Kitchen Table

The holidays are a good time to think about what is actually a “smart serving”!

No wonder it is hard for us to recognize a “smart serving.” We’ve become aware, over the years, that portion sizes have grown in restaurants and by manufacturers but may not recognize all of the ways they have become a “new normal.”

Think about it. Automobile manufacturers have expanded the size of cup holders to accommodate larger sizes of drinks. Our plates and other dishes are larger than those of years ago. Even in classic cookbooks, recipe servings have increased. When it comes to holiday comfort foods and goodies, it seems that too often we develop an attitude of all things go. And too often, around the New Year, we begin to regret it.

Using the following tips, it is possible to enjoy those holiday foods and develop healthier holiday habits:

  • Offer fruits and/or vegetables every time food is served. The fiber, volume and lower caloric density of these foods help to fill you up.
  • Cut desserts in half or serve in small portions.
  • Eat slowly and recognize feelings of fullness. Stop when feeling pleasantly full instead of uncomfortably full.
  • Rather than skipping meals, choose to eat them on a regular schedule.
  • Put food on a plate so you recognize how much you are eating.

The following recipe from The American Diabetes Association is an example of a portion controlled, festive holiday snack or side dish.

Caprese Kabobs

Ingredients

  • 18 bamboo mini forks or small skewers
  • 18 grape tomatoes
  • 18 small basil leaves, folded in half
  • 18 fresh mozzarella balls (1/4 ounce each)

Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  • Place 1 grape tomato, 1 basil leaf, and 1 mozzarella ball on each bamboo fork/skewer. Repeat this process for 18 kabobs. Place the kabobs on a serving platter.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Right before serving, pour the dressing over the kabobs to coat evenly.

Happy kids preparing a meal in the kitchen

This week’s WOWS Newsletter discusses the benefits of implementing a “taste and learn” activity and provides guidance for creating one. In that spirit, following is an easy-to-implement nutrition education activity designed to encourage healthy holiday choices.

  1. Talk about Snack Attack, i.e., many snack choices are filled with “empty calories.” In other words, some snacks provide a majority of calories from sugar or fat with few nutrients or health benefits. Examples: cakes, cookies, pies and pastries, doughnuts, fries, jams, syrups, jelly, sweetened fruit drinks, chips, salted snacks, candy, and soda provide lots of sugar or fat but have no or minimal vitamins, minerals, protein or fiber!
  2. Suggest kids create some healthier snack alternatives, i.e., choices we can enjoy. Because the holidays are approaching, include some with a holiday twist.
  3. There are many ways we can begin to think about choices; however, let’s begin by getting creative with ways we might make a hearty snack out of an English muffin. Set up the activity by listing potential ingredients:
    • Start with:
      • A whole grain English muffin or bagel
    • Choose a spread:
      • Peanut butter (or other nut butter)
      • Low fat cream cheese
      • Spaghetti sauce
    • Be creative with choosing a healthy topping mix such as:
      • Grated carrots and dried fruit
      • Chopped apples (sprinkled with cinnamon and softened in the microwave) and raisins
      • Chopped kiwis, strawberries and drained crushed pineapple
      • Chopped bananas and a sprinkle (1 tsp.) of mini chocolate chips
      • Sliced peaches and blueberries
      • Mozzarella cheese and shredded ham
      • Mozzarella cheese, chopped green pepper and tomatoes
      • Thinly sliced cucumbers and shredded ham (toss ham with small amount of low fat dressing)
      • Sliced hardboiled egg and shredded low fat cheese
  4. Create a list of the ideas generated and encourage kids try them with the help of their family.

How Much Do We Taste?

November 28, 2016

Multi Generation Family Celebrating With Christmas Meal

The holidays are often filled with once-a-year special smells and tastes. How much do we truly taste, enjoy and appreciate? How often do we leave a table feeling satisfied instead of uncomfortably full? As educators, parents, caretakers and others with links to kids (KidLinks), one of the best ways we can help kids build healthy habits is through mindful eating. Mindful eating is being aware of what we are eating…the taste and smell…the way it feels in our mouth…and if it is pleasantly taking away the hunger and making us feel comfortably full. In our fast-paced world, we lose sight of things like whether or not we really feel full and what we are enjoying.

Encourage kids and families to practice mindful eating during the holidays. Slowing down, turning off our “screens” and taking smart portions are the beginning of being in tune with what we are eating. Try this mindful eating experiment yourself. Get a small piece of soft chocolate that is at room temperature. Cut the chocolate in two. Hold your nose and put one piece of chocolate in your mouth. Determine the taste and feel of it. Now for the second piece of chocolate, release your nose and take some time to pay attention to the taste and feel of it. The look, smell, texture and temperature of foods all impact how we enjoy what we eat.

Small boy and his sister cooking in the kitchen

Let’s review what we know about the benefits of kids in the kitchen. It is a way to:

  • Start the conversation and help kids develop skills, like healthy meal planning, shopping, cooking and clean-up that last a lifetime.
  • Help them feel good about themselves; the delight and pride in making something themselves.
  • Become aware of what to look for on nutrition labels.
  • Learn about food safety.
  • Help them discover the appeal and taste of foods they prepare.

Beyond those great benefits, it is a way to build appeal for healthier choices. It is not hard to imagine how using elements similar to those in art can build appeal for healthier meals. Try the following and add it to your collection of healthier holiday foods.

Blueberry-Pineapple Parfaits

  • 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 container (8 ounces) fat-free lime-flavored yogurt
  • ¾ cup fresh blueberries
  • ¾ cup fresh strawberries, chopped
  • ½ cup granola

In a small bowl, combine the pineapple with half of the yogurt. In small parfait or juice glasses, alternately layer the pineapple-yogurt mixture, blueberries, strawberries and granola. Repeat the layering twice. Top each parfait with a spoonful of yogurt.

Teachable moments:

  • Compare ingredients in the recipe for taste, texture, and color.
  • Discuss how the taste and appearance would change by substituting plain for flavored yogurt.

young family preparing meal in kitchen

In this month’s WOWS Newsletters, we are talking about Taste and Learn. It is another example of Healthy Kids Challenge’s signature Hear-See-Do learning. Learning is enhanced when kids can visualize (see) the message they are hearing and they practice the behavior (do).

Any time you can get kids to help in the kitchen is a great time. Starting with Halloween and through the end of the end of the year, we see a surge in access to sugary holiday sweets! Taste and Learn activities can give a boost to a balanced approach.

Along with cooking, recall the Healthy Kids Challenge Healthy6 for healthful holiday balance:

  • Fruits & Veggies Every Day the Tasty Way! At parties and holiday meals, plan to include and choose fruits and veggies.
  • Breakfast GO Power. Skipping meals to save up before a party isn’t a good strategy. Having a healthy snack before a party can help you eat less.
  • Drink Think. Water is always a great choice.
  • Smart Servings. Eating holiday candies and cookies is okay; just eat smaller portions less often.
  • Active Play Every Day. Turn off the electronics. For healthy balance, do something that gets you moving and that you enjoy for at least an hour every day.

Mix and Learn

November 7, 2016

Happy kids preparing a meal in the kitchen

When it comes to kids, cooking provides one of the best ways for learning about healthy eating without them being aware they are learning! At holiday time, simple mixes make a festive snack and can provide many teachable moments. Try it. You may like it!

If you are a classroom teacher, consider giving the following recipe to room mothers for holiday party preparation rather than having the kids mix it up. However, with teachable moments you can still give kids some touch, smell, taste and learn experiences!

Snack Mix Recipe

4 cups Wheat Chex cereal
4 cups Cheerios
2 cups mini pretzels
6 cups packaged popcorn
1 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
1 cup dried fruit (such as cran-raisin)
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients. Makes approximately 25-¾ cup servings.

Note: Save the Nutrition Facts labels for each ingredient.

Teachable moments:

  1. Identify MyPlate food groups for each ingredient. Discover which ingredient does not belong to any food group.
  2. Look at the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list.
    • Look at each label for the serving size. Use a measuring cup to demonstrate the size.
    • Look at each recipe ingredient for the amount of sugar it contains. (As a reference, four grams of sugar is about 1 teaspoon.) Which ingredients have the most sugar? Look at the recipe and amount of each ingredient in the recipe. Related to healthier balance, ask why the recipe has smaller amounts of dried fruit and chocolate chips than cereal.
    • Find the products with whole grain listed as a first ingredient. Point out that MyPlate encourages us to eat more whole grains.
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