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Feeding Your Children Healthy While Having a Busy Schedule

12 Nov

As a parent or guardian you may already know that you can give your kids a lifetime of good health by making regular fitness and exercise a part of their daily life. This same theory applies to their daily diet too.

When you feed your kids a healthy diet – no matter how busy your schedule – you are providing them with optimal nutrition for growth, and offering an idealized role model for good eating for life too.

It all begins, however, with an acceptance of the simple truth that children’s appetites and needs are nothing like those of an adult. This is why you have to use the following guidelines in order to support their diets:

  • Growth means fluctuation – children are growing and yet there are days when they seem to be implementing a hunger strike. Don’t panic over these fluctuations because all kids experience them. If, however, they go for a few days on little more than light snacks it could be a sign of illness, so keep an eye on whether or not their appetite returns in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Fill in the gaps – don’t fall into the idea that all snacking is bad. Yes, the child who grazes all day and eats so much that they cannot get onto a regular meal schedule is a bad situation, but so too is the child who gets upset, tired, and moody because they are so hungry. Choose to provide plenty of whole food snacks such as fruit, veggies, dairy foods like yogurt and cheese, and other satisfying snacks that get them through to the next meal time.
  • Portion control – while you can eat a plate full of food with your parent-sized belly, a child is far less likely to consume more than one-third of the amount you can put away. Keep this in mind and get rid of the “empty plate” rule if you are the one who overfills it. Remember however that these smaller portions tend to also mean that kids do want and need to eat more often than adults. Five small meals a day is a great plan for kids.
  • Never force eating – there is no easier way to get kids to really hate nutritious foods than by insisting that they eat them. Rather than using adult bullying and bribery tactics, why not just make good food fun? For example, kids really love to dive into a serving of “finger foods”. Veggies and dip, fruit and yogurt, hummus with crackers, and any other combinations that can allow kids to play with their foods is great. Also try to encourage them to discover good foods by bringing them along on shopping trips. Yes, it is perilous and can be very exhausting but it is going to always get kids thinking about food and allows them to be very excited in any participation during meal prep.
  • Be a good role model – if you serve healthy foods and you eat them at each meal, your kids will accept this as the norm. If, on the other hand, you make an adult meal and then craft something “for the kids”, well…you are really setting yourself up for trouble. Not only is sitting down to the meal together important, but even more so is serving everyone the same things. Doing this from the child’s earliest days of table food is showing them that there is nothing that is “unfriendly” in terms of a kid’s diet.

It is not really “easy” to get kids to eat the healthiest of foods (just try to get them to dig into a pile of broccoli) but you can create good eating habits that last a lifetime when you use the suggestions above. People like to eat; kids are people and will enjoy eating if you encourage them to do so.

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.

 

 

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Do You Have Over-scheduled Kids?

20 Aug

Your Family Matters

10 Jul
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Running your kids………..

I usually don’t compare people to dogs, but then again, we are all animals by nature. As a dog lover of 6 ( 4 are rescue dogs ), I have 2 labs and a Golden and energy are their middle names, especially the Labs. I know quite well that if they don’t get that 15 to 20 minutes of exercise a day ( we play fetch and an interesting version of dog/person baseball ), they will likely get into trouble or dive me crazy . On the other hand. If they are given the attention to get things off their “paws”, they are loving, relatively calm ( Labs?) , and rest peacefully at night. If this sounds familiar to kids, you are dead on.

The plethora of studies emphasizing the beneficial effects of regular exercise for children far exceed the amount of space for this week’s column. I will instead suffice it to say, exercise is better than any magic pill for both the physical and emotional sides of life. What’s nice is that the effects are immediate and long lasting if they are fun and enjoyable.

But for most kids, exercise is boring unless they are really into sports. This lasts into the teenage years when some then decide to pay attention to their bodies and decide to get into shape or are forced to by that high school coach The motivation here for most of the teens is to attract the opposite sex and become stronger than the concept of exercise as a form of self-therapy and self-care. That comes into play for many adults. The rest of the teens and adults alike tend to be sedentary and often overweight and depressed.

Now, getting kids to exercise when they don’t want to is a common parental battle often compared to bring a horse to water. On this one, I think we pick this battle for it has to do with both the physical and mental health of our kids. As a loving parent, we owe them a long and healthy life. So, how do we win this one? It’s actually pretty easy especially if you have dogs.

1. Exercise yourself as an example to your kids. Modeling behavior as a parent carries a lot of weight. Most kids identify with their parents – both the good and not good stuff – Exercise and fitness is obviously a good one.

2. Exercise with your kids on a daily basis. I personally love this one. My kids and I do a variety of challenges daily. Running time trials ; swimming; tennis; or we make up games like “tickle monster”. We engage in one of these for 20 minutes a day and we all feel and act better towards one another.

3. Reward the behavior. Make the outcome a celebration – make a healthy smoothie together. Kids love to win by the way and parents need to be okay with losing.

4. Take turns making up sport or activity games. The rules might get a little confusing and change frequently, but the idea is that everyone plays and gets the benefits of exercise. Consider NOT keeping score to reduce competition unless they are all against you make a big deal if they beat you.

I officially recommend adding running to your parent list of “things to do with my kids everyday”, and watch the benefits before your eyes. Stay healthy.

Dr. Keith Kanner

Anchor/Host Your Family Matters

Mental Health Expert/Contributor

NBC California Nonstop

http://www.kanner.tv

Bubble Stuff

28 May

I love this idea for a bubble refill station. There are so many cute jugs and dispensers out there now. For the bubble recipe, click on the picture.

*Once recipe calls for glycerin and the other for corn syrup. Both are added to give the bubble a stronger outside so it will last longer. We recommend the glycerin recipe, however be prepared because a small bottle costs about $5. The corn syrup recipe works but leaves a sticky film on hands. It’s much cheaper though.

Ask the Teacher

25 May

Whether your child is a high achieving student or needs some extra help, summer is a great time to practice all kinds of school related skills. Your child’s teacher knows your child’s skills better than anyone else and are your best resource.

Ask your child’s teacher for a suggestion on each of the following:

  • What is the most important skill my child could work on academically?
  • What social/emotional skill could my child work on improving?
  • If there was one thing your would recommend that my child could do over the summer what would it be?

Some of parents who read this will think that their child doesn’t need to work on any of the skills listed above. Believe it or not, every child has something to work on! Your child’s teacher spends at least 8 hours a day with your child in a setting far different than your home. They know many things you don’t know about your child!

Finally, and most importantly, when you ask the teacher these questions, listen carefully and be open-minded to what they are saying. Their advice will only make your child a better person and student.

Mapping Out the Big Stuff

22 May

When I think about my childhood summer, I think about days on end spent outside swimming and playing. When I think about my own children’s summer, I think about scheduling. It’s unfortunate, I clearly know, but I function better with a routine and so do my kids. The most important thing I remember about creating our summer routine is that it is never set in stone and can always be changed.

My last blog gave you a video overview of how I plan my summers with my kids, and today I’ll break it down in to how I map out the “big” stuff. Since the school year is busy and exhausting that we often don’t take advantage of our great city or spend as much time doing the things that are truly important to our family. Our summer calendar allows us spend more quality time together and enjoying the things we love. Now that my children are older, we also have some major activities, events, and camps that they attend. Here’s how I make it all work.

First: The first thing I write on my calendar are: camps, vacations, mission trips, and any other events that have unchangeable dates.

Next: After those are in place, I give each weekday a specific activity. In our house, Monday is library day, Tuesday is volunteer day, Wednesday is major chore day, Thursday is school work day, and Friday is field trip day. Your family may want to make one day play date day or pool day. It just depends upon what works for your family and how old your children are.

Now that you see how I map out the major events, let me give you a few suggestions for the each day.

Library Day: You may not know all of the services your library offers; I know we didn’t. Here’s a list of some things your library may offer during the summer. Storytimes, art activities, guest musicians, performances, summer reading programs. We even found out that our library has a program for kids 12 and up that gives them the opportunity to review books before they are even published. My avid reader can’t wait to be part of that this summer. Teach your kids about all of the resources the library can offer them. Trust me, when they’re in high school they’ll appreciate it! Don’t forget to check out some books, too!

Volunteer Day: Did you know that even infants can volunteer? When my kids were ages 0 and 3, we would make a weekly visit to the assisted living home. The residents loved it! I will never forget the older woman who sat in her wheelchair and rolled a ball with my son who was a crawler at the time. At the end of our visit, she would always ask if we would be back. My 3-year-old would color or do a simple puzzle with the residents. They always loved getting her pictures when she was finished.

Some volunteer places have age restrictions but Meals on Wheels and nursing homes are always appreciative of children’s art work. (I’m sure you have a lot of drawings around your house you don’t know what to do with. ;)) Older children can help prepare meals, stuff envelopes for an organization, dust the shelves or clean pews at a church. There are so many organizations needing help, I’m sure you will easily find something that works for your family. (You can always contact Smart Mom U for volunteer ideas. We’d be happy to help you.)

Major Chore Day: Daily chores are great but why not get some help with major chores around the house. Aren’t kids closer to the baseboards than you? This is a great life lesson to teach kids about keeping their living area clean and healthy. Here’s a list of some chores your kids can do to help around the house.

School day: Even though school is out, it’s still important to keep those little minds engaged. Research shows that kids who don’t do any work over the summer lose 2 months worth of learning and they spend the beginning of the new school year catching up. If your kids are little, spend only 15-30 minutes working on some simple skills. Older elementary and middle schoolers should spend about an hour on some kind of school work. This summer, we’re going to work on our writing skills. Although my kids have learned good writing skills at school, we’re going to focus on learning how to narrow down a story topic, writing more interesting sentences, improving word choice. It sounds daunting but all I am doing is taking what they have brought home from school and helping them edit one or two stories during the summer. You can get more ideas for school-like activities on our website in our Summer School or Junior College. (P.S. Workbooks are good but not necessary. We do recommend Summer Bridge workbooks and have them for sale through Amazon in our website bookstore.)

Field Trip Day: This is one of my favorite days because our city has so much to offer kids of all ages. We have been on some field trips that weren’t so fun, but most of them have been fantastic. There are even some my kids request every summer. Some of the field trips we take are for learning purposes so I try to choose some that went along with what they studied during the year. For instance, they all learned about Kansas History so we will take a field trip to one of the sites that has costumed interpreters who will demonstrate what Kansas was like during the pioneer days. Other field trips are just to get out and have some fun. We may bring a picnic and some friends and try a park we’ve never been to. Younger kids may enjoy being engaged during a field trip and we have lots of ideas on how to do this, so let us know how we can help.

You’ll be amazed at how much fun you can have this summer with a little bit of planning. Don’t forget to contact us if you need some ideas.

The Calendar

21 May

If you have trouble viewing the video, click on the title.

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