Tag Archives: healthy eating

Snacks to Keep Your Kids Fueled in the Summer Sun

trail-mixWith summer fast approaching and school years wrapping up, many families are gearing up for new routines and schedules. With the new season comes a variety of fresh produce and different meal and snack schedules for the kids. It can be hard to navigate food preferences for unpredictable days at the beach, away at camp, or hot summer nights at home. Here are some top snack tips to make the sunny season a little easier (and more delicious!) for everyone.

For a Day at the Beach or Pool
Packing up a cooler for a long day out can be tough. Alongside the sandwiches throw in some mozzarella sticks or Babybel cheese circles for a quick snack between sand castle building and swimming. Peanut butter sandwiches (or sunflower seed butter for kids with allergies) cut into quarters can also make an easy on-the-go treat for fuel. Keep fruit such as cut apples or grapes and veggies, such as baby carrots, celery, and bell peppers handy for kids to munch on throughout the day.

Packing Up for Camp
If your kids are headed to day camp, be sure to keep them fueled with extra snacks. Have your kids help build their own daily trail mix, choosing from a variety of nuts (such as cashews, peanuts, and almonds) and dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried strawberries, dried bananas, and/or coconut flakes). They can also add a little cinnamon or cocoa powder to dust on extra flavor.

Frozen Summer Treats
There’s nothing like ice cream and popsicles in the middle of a sweltering day. If you want to steer your kids away from a sugar overload (and subsequent crash!) try mixing up yogurt pops or smoothies instead. For the yogurt pops, blend Greek yogurt with berries or other favorite fruits. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze (at least two hours). If you’re craving something chocolate-y, blend cocoa powder, peanut butter, and a frozen banana with milk for a twist on the traditional milkshake. You can even add extra ice to make it closer to a soft-serve ice cream consistency.

Overall, remember to embrace the summer season choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure you’re eating all the vitamins and minerals throughout the day. Enjoy the summer and all the treats that come with it!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Bridget Murphy, MS, RDN, CDE, CDN is a registered dietitian and clinical nutritionist at the Child Study Center, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.

 

Tricks and Treats to Keep Your Family Healthy This Halloween

halloween

With Halloween fast approaching, many households find themselves filled with mini bags of M&Ms and fun-sized candy bars scattered throughout the cupboards. Part of being a kid is trick-or-treating and trading candy for the best loot. Kids should always be kids and enjoy dressing up and collecting bags filled with chocolate, lollipops, and other sugary treats. This does not mean that they need to gorge themselves on candy, which will only lead to stomach aches and sugar crashes—a situation more frightening than a haunted house! Try these tips for keeping meals healthy and kids happy.

1. Keep a balanced perspective. To support healthy habits, set rules before Halloween treats flood your house about how much candy can be eaten on any given day. Try one fun-sized candy bar in lunch boxes balanced with their usual healthy sandwich and fruit. Decide ahead of time (with your kids) that 1 regular candy bar is equivalent to 2-3 fun sized bars and share after dinner. By keeping the usual healthy foods in your kids’ diet, the occasional shared indulgence can be part of that overall healthy lifestyle.

2. Freeze the leftovers. Have kids help organize candy by type and preference. After setting aside 15 fun-sized pieces to be eaten over the next week or two, put the rest away in the freezer to be pulled out for later occasions. It will take some of the temptation and immediacy away.

3. Mix it into healthy snacks. Consider taking extra M&M packs or other mini pieces and mix them in with dried fruit and nuts to pack as an after-school trail mix snack.

4. Give it to others. Encourage kids to make care packages for grandparents or other relatives, “trick or treat” it back to the doorman, or bring it to school for a favorite teacher. Nursing homes, children’s hospitals, and other charities also accept candy donations after Halloween. Giving candy back will help to encourage sharing, while keeping excess candy out of the house.

Remember, many kids have various food allergies that may affect their trick-or-treating experience. The Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) organization has been working to promote the Teal Pumpkin Project, which encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies and support all kids participating in Halloween, while avoiding risk of allergic reaction. FARE asks participants to provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters, place a teal pumpkin in front of your home or apartment door to indicate that you have non-food treats available, and consider displaying signs or posters from FARE to explain the meaning of the teal pumpkin and encourage others to consider joining in! For more information about the project, visit http://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project/faqs.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Bridget Murphy, MS, RDN, CDN is a registered dietitian and clinical nutritionist at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center. 

The Real Facts About Celiac


May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month! If you suspect that you or your child has this disorder, your first step should be to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist, who can accurately diagnose your symptoms. To get you started, here are some important facts about celiac disease.

What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is a genetic, autoimmune disorder affecting the gastrointestinal system. Children and adults with celiac disease cannot digest gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

How is it treated?
A gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease.

How do you know if you have it?
Symptoms associated with celiac disease vary widely from person to person. Everything from fatigue and headaches, to bloating, diarrhea, and constipation can be signs of the disease. Celiac disease may also be present without any symptoms at all. Blood work for elevated celiac markers, as well as genetic testing, can help rule out or establish suspicion for celiac disease. If it is suspected, an endoscopy with biopsies is recommended for definitive diagnosis.

What foods must you avoid?
The gluten-free diet eliminates all food items containing, or that have come in contact with, wheat, rye, barley, and their derivatives. This includes spelt, farro, and malt. One of the biggest challenges of living with celiac disease is learning to identify all hidden sources of gluten in recipes and prepared foods. For example, soy sauce, salad dressings, and mustard often contain gluten.

What if you don’t avoid these foods?
In a person with celiac disease, failure to comply with a gluten-free diet leads to increased risk for certain cancers, poor growth and development in children, persistent abdominal pain, and nutrient deficiencies.

What sort of things need to be monitored after receiving the diagnosis?
The first step after diagnosis is initiating a gluten-free diet—a multidisciplinary approach is key to a successful transition into a gluten-free lifestyle. A dietitian helps to establish meal planning and maximize dietary intake. A nurse practitioner follows with blood work. A social worker and certified child life specialist team up to provide emotional and educational support as needed. Depending on the person and disease process, blood markers are checked every three months to yearly to ensure adequate control of the disease.

Support for children with celiac disease
Beginning and maintaining a completely gluten-free lifestyle can be challenging for children and adolescents with celiac disease. NYU Langone’s Pediatric Celiac Disease and Gluten-Related Disorders Program offers families the tools they need to make this transition as easy as possible. In this program, pediatric gastroenterologists, nurse practitioners, and other nursing professionals, nutritionists, and social workers focus on improving the health and quality of life of children with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Ayelet Schieber, MS, RD is a registered dietician in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Program at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Tricks (and Treats) For a Fun Gluten-Free Halloween

With Halloween right around the corner, what do you do if your little pumpkin is gluten-free? Well, there’s no need to fright—these tricks will keep superheroes and princesses alike safe and happy on All Hallow’s Eve.

Make a Game Plan
During the weeks leading up to Halloween, as your child selects her Halloween costume, talk about eating gluten-free on Halloween night, as well as at parties leading up to the holiday. Propose a few strategies, but let her be a part of the conversation:

• Agree that no Halloween candy will be eaten while trick-or-treating, unless mom or dad has checked the label first—the Celiac Disease Foundation’s 2015 Gluten-free candy list is a great reference
• Bring gluten-free snacks for trick-or-treating:*

  • Annie’s Homegrown Fruit Snacks
  • Snyder’s of Hanover Gluten-Free Mini Pretzels
  • Nestle Raisinets
  • Homemade Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (look out for our next post with the recipe!)

• Trade gluten-containing candy at home for gluten-free treats
• Donate gluten-containing candy to an organization that sends care packages to troops or veterans such as Operation Shoebox or Operation Gratitude
• Enlist the Switch Witch, who magically leaves a gift in return for candy on Halloween night
• Out of sight, out of mind—keep the stash out of immediate view, and distribute 1-2 pieces of candy each day only after kids have had a nutritious snack

Spread the Word
• Tell neighbors and your child’s school about the Teal Pumpkin Project, started by the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) organization! The organization encourages households to include all kids, no matter what food allergy they may have, to participate in trick-or-treating by placing a teal painted pumpkin outside, meaning they have non-food treats such as:

  • Crayons
  • Bubbles
  • Playing cards
  • Mini Slinkies
  • Glow bracelets

• FARE’s website includes free downloadable flyers to advertise the Teal Pumpkin Project in communities

The Bottom Line
Prepare for Halloween and other holidays ahead of time, talk to your family about the best plan for you, and have fun!

*Snacks listed are considered to be gluten-free as of the date of this blog post, but we recommend reviewing food labels to confirm, as manufacturing practices may change. Call manufacturers if you are ever not sure!

To learn more about nutrition and gluten-free foods, join us in the kitchen and get cooking! Through a partnership with the Natural Gourmet Institute, the Sylvia Center and NYU Langone Medical Center’s S.Q.U.A.S.H., and Pediatric Celiac Disease and Gluten Related Disorders Programs, kids learn to make fun, healthy, gluten-free recipes with professional chefs. Our next class, a Mexican fiesta, is on October 14, at 5:30pm. Class is FREE and open to the public for kids ages 7 to 12. Register here!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Jackie Ballou, MS, RD, CDN, is coordinator of Pediatric Nutrition and director of the S.Q.U.A.S.H. Program (Smart choices, Quality ingredients, Unique, Appetizing, Simple & Healthy) at NYU Langone Medical Center. 

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3 Great Reasons to Eat As a Family (Healthy Recipes Too!)


Shared mealtime is not just a traditional family ritual, but is also beneficial for many mental and physical aspects of health. According to research from Rutgers University, an average American family spends about 40% of their budget on eating out. Here are three great reasons to make family mealtime a priority:

Decreased probability of weight problems later in life. Children in families who frequently share meals tend to have a lower body mass index than those who did not share meals—this is according to research from Rutgers that reviewed a multitude of studies measuring the frequency and atmosphere of shared meals compared to children’s risk of weight gain. Family meals are associated with increased consumption of fruit and vegetables while also associated with less consumption of fried foods, soft drinks, and other less healthy food options. The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics states that a child may be 35% less likely to engage in disordered eating, 24% more likely to eat healthier foods, and 12% less likely to be overweight by sharing mealtimes.

Increased emotional well-being. The American Dietetic Association finds that family meals give structure to a child’s day and increase a child’s sense of security. In addition, they promote communication and family cohesion and make a positive impact on a child’s literary development and emotional well-being. A study by the University of Minnesota found that the frequency of family meals is actually a protective factor that may curtail high-risk behaviors among youth by easing everyday stress.

Greater academic achievement. Sharing family meals leads to improved vocabulary and reading skills in children, improved test scores, and decreased probability in taking drugs. The conversations had during family meal time improves a child’s vocabulary and conversational skills. As a result, test scores are improved in these children as well. According to a study by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, teens who eat dinner with their family at most twice a week were four times more likely to smoke cigarettes than those who participated in family meals more frequently.

And eating together can and should be fun! Try these ideas as a family that your kids may love:

BREAKFAST:

Two-Ingredient Pancakes with Creamy Berry Topping
Blend together 1 egg and 1 banana. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, or even ground flaxseed into the mix for extra flavor and nutrition. Cook in cooking spray on a pan until golden brown. For topping, mix 0% Greek yogurt with mashed blueberries and raspberries or powdered peanut butter.

LUNCH:

Egg Muffins
In a muffin tin, crack an egg into each spot. Add mix-ins like diced tomatoes, onions, spinach, mushrooms, fresh herbs, goat cheese! These can be refrigerated for breakfast the next day.

DINNER:

Zucchini Noodles with Chicken or Tofu Kebabs
Use a spiralizer or veggie peeler to make “noodles” from a zucchini and boil for a few minutes. Top with tomato sauce and grilled kebabs made with tofu or chicken cubes, cubed bell pepper, onion, cherry tomatoes and a squeeze of lemon.

SNACKS:

Yogurt Parfaits
Have your kids layer these up! They will have fun adding their choice of healthy mix-ins.

6 oz 0% Fage Greek yogurt or fat-free Siggi’s
1/2 cup blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, bananas, etc.
1 T ground flaxseed
1 T slivered almonds or pistachios
Cinnamon, to taste

Peanut Butter Banana Rolls
1 whole wheat or brown rice tortilla topped with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and 1 sliced banana. Roll up and cut into sushi-roll pieces.

Chia Seed Pudding
1 cup skim, coconut or almond milk + 1/3 cup chia seeds, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/4 cup berries. Let sit overnight! Optional add ins: Cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, nuts, coconut. Get creative and have fun with this!

Research suggests that children who take part in family meals eat healthier foods, have less delinquency, greater academic achievement, and improved mental well-being. However, the benefits vary based on the frequency of family meal times. The most positive health benefits for children can be seen from three or more days of shared family meals per week.

This research also states that the quality of family interactions is even more important than just the shared time together. For example, families who ate together while watching TV did not have the same improved dietary intakes as families who ate together at home and conversed.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Maria A. Bella, MS, RD, CDN is a 70 lb. weight loss success story who runs, lifts, and eats great food. She is a clinical Nutrition Coordinator at the Center for Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at the NYU Langone Medical Center. Maria completed her Masters in Clinical Nutrition at New York University and her Dietetic Residency at NYU Langone Medical Center.

3 Easy Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy

happy family with two kids making dinner at homeIt’s important to many parents to find ways to get their kids to eat healthy—whether they have toddlers, young children, or teenagers. Healthy eating can improve energy level and focus, and even smooth out the moods of children and teens. If you’re looking for some easy strategies to improve your child’s eating habits, here are a few ways to make mealtimes healthier—and more pleasant—for your entire family.

Have regular family meals. Having a regular time for you and your children to eat together gives structure and predictability to the day. It is a chance for everyone to sit down together and catch up. Be sure to serve a variety of foods, such as lean meats and other sources of protein such as fish, eggs, and beans, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Aim for at least five total servings of fruits and vegetables a day. If you can, catch a few moments together in the morning for breakfast before the school day starts. Dinner time is another great opportunity for the family to gather and share what happened during the day. If you don’t have time to cook, bring in prepared food—the structure of mealtime together is what’s important for you and your children. It emphasizes the importance of food and mealtimes for your children.

Get kids involved in the process. Your children may be more open to trying a new food (especially a fruit or vegetable) if they get to pick it out at the store.Children really enjoy going to the supermarket, selecting what goes in the cart, and helping to pack up and unpack the food items. The supermarket is also a good place for children to understand the nutritional values of different foods and, for older children, to learn to read the nutrition labels on foods. Children of all ages enjoy helping with cooking, from gathering ingredients, to reading recipes, to helping with the cooking process. Children are much more invested in eating something if they have helped to make the food. Older children will also enjoy giving input on what is packed for school lunches or what to prepare for dinner.

Make mealtime fun for the whole family. When you are planning meals, make sure to present a variety of foods in an attractive manner. Colorful dips and sauces may help to encourage your children to eat more fruits and vegetables, and fruit can be arranged on a kebab for a fun treat. Food can also be cut into unusual shapes and arranged in a fun manner on the plate to increase acceptance. If your child does not eat a certain food the first time, do not give up—children’s tastes continue to change over time. Just because your child does not love broccoli the first time, it doesn’t mean he or she will never eat it in the future. Make sure to try it again at a later time and perhaps prepare it a different way. Another great way to encourage your children to eat well is to eat well yourself! Kids follow their parents’ leads, so by maintaining a well-balanced diet and showing that you care about eating healthy, you send a message to your children that healthy eating is important for our minds and bodies.

By encouraging healthy eating habits now, you can make a positive impact on your children’s relationships with food and give them the tools they need to develop into healthy, confident, teens and adults.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Dr. Lisa Kotler is a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist and the medical director of the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center-New Jersey Office in Hackensack, NJ. She has extensive experience working with children, adolescents, and adults with eating disorders and obesity in addition to anxiety and mood disorders and ADHD.