Archive for November, 2009

The Plan will Fail if you Fail to Plan —heard this one before?

Let’s apply this to feeding a family.  If you are like many parents, you are busy with children, their activities, and homework.  Perhaps you work, or maybe you are busy with housework and volunteer activites…regardless, time given to others is time taken away from planning and preparing meals for a family.  We all know that good nutrition is the cornerstone of healthy, growing kids.  So, how can we be efficient with meals and consider nutrition too?CBR001368

Here are some simple suggestions for planning your family meals:

Select a day for menu planning, grocery list making, and shopping.

Itemize a complete dinner meal for each night of the week (and don’t forget to include the dining out nights on your list–it always feels nice to see that you have a night off from cooking!).  Remember to include the healthy, balanced components of a good meal:  protein source, dairy, vegetable, fruit, and whole grains.

Divide your week into theme nights–Crockpot night (I use this theme for my busiest night of the week); Vegetarian night, Fish night, Potato Bar night, Soup and Sandwich night, Kid’s Choice night, etc.

Plan your lunches, breakfast items, and snacks for the week.  Don’t forget to account for these–planning will help bring variety to these meals and avoid the boring “bowl of cereal” and “same old sandwich” every day.

Compile your grocery list from the daily meals and snacks you have listed.  Remember, the great thing about having a list is that you can recycle it!  Save your menus and grocery lists and rotate them on a cycle. 

Think about your budget.  If you use coupons or store specials, take these into consideration when planning your weekly menu and grocery list.

Not sure what to make?  Check out the array of Cooking Light cookbooks–one of my favorites is “5 Ingredient, 15 Minute Cookbook”–for superfast, healthy meals, or the online food bloggers, such as MealMakeoverMoms, for inspiration.

Keep that menu list handy and refer to it throughout the week.  Having a game plan and the needed items in the kitchen can calm the stress that goes along with pulling a meal together at the end of a busy day, help you feed your family healthier meals and snacks, and help you feel more successful as a parent/provider.


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“Mom, I’m home!…What can I have to eat?”

Children come home after a day of school hungry and looking for food.  They have had a day of bustling activity with little time and attention spent on eating.  In this day of maximizing learning and optimizing standardized test scores, nutrition in the school has suffered.  For a child, “after-school” is synonymous to hunger.  Surely, those individually packaged, pre-portioned, calorie-controlled 100- Cal snack packs are perfect for the hungry student running up the driveway…

Perhaps developed with the dieter in mind and/or in response to the growing girth of our society, 100- Cal snack packs are pervasive and have transcended generations.  It is not uncommon to find them in school lunch boxes, diaper bags, the commuter lunch sack, and in America’s pantries.  Many of us believe that because they are pre-portioned and calorie-controlled, they must be good for us.  However, for children who are hungry, they may not be the best choice. 

Few children get full and satisfied after consuming one snack pack.  When children are left feeling hungry, they proceed to other snacks or more snack packs to fill their bellies.  After-school eating can turn into a scavenger hunt for food in an effort to feel satisfied, or full.  The result?  Overeating and nutrient-poor choices.

If your pantry is replete with 100-cal snack packs, use them to your child’s advantage.  Pair them with other healthy foods, such as a glass of milk (or milk substitute) or a piece of  fruit and they can be part of a nutritious snack… and you may have peace until dinner-time!

Better yet, approach after-school snacking with a “mini-meal” mentality.  This tactic may satisfy your child’s hunger and improve the overall nutrient quality of their diet.

Provide a wholesome “power snack”, one that includes a source of complex carbohydrate (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, or milk products) and a protein source such as nuts, peanut butter, deli meat, milk, yogurt, or cheese.  Opting for healthy, whole foods will give your child a rich source of nutrients and help them to be physically and emotionally satisfied. 

“Power snacks” pack a punch and may eliminate the feeding frenzy after school, and contribute to the overall nutritional quality of your child’s diet.  A good rule of thumb:  include 2-3 food groups in your child’s power snack…and be sure to be aware of portion sizes.  Here are three examples to try this week:24l-yogurt

  • 1 mini-bagel with 2 tsp. peanut butter and 1/2 banana, sliced on top
  • 1/2 sandwich (1 oz. turkey, lettuce, tomato, 1 slice whole wheat bread) with a small bunch of grapes
  • 1 c. unsweetened cereal with ½ c. lowfat milk and 1 Tbsp. raisins

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A three-letter word that stings, slaps, and scars.  Modifications of this word hurt just as much.  Unjustified use is common.

Fat.  Fatso.  Fatty.  I consider these “F’ words.  Unspeakable and with rank and power as high as some of the dirtiest words in the common colloquiem of our nation.

What does “fat” mean?  Too much adipose tissue?  A size XL?  Bigger than your peers?  Unfortunately, when it comes to kids, there is no clear-cut indicator for its use.  The word can be used to describe just about anyone, whether its use is justified or not, scientifically proven or not, based on fact or just unrealistic perceptions.  But what it really means is “less than”, “not good enough”, “ugly”, “inadequate”…or at least that’s the message that kid’s internalize when they are labeled with this word. 

“Just joking…”  Even its use in joke form, turns a funny into a flub.  Amazingly, when the “F” word is used, children listen – 376661752_ea66a3f8bfand sometimes hear much more than intended.  The “F” word is a serious one, calling into question self-value, attractiveness, peer acceptance, and one’s role in social circles.

A February 2009 study in Social Development looked at the psychological impact of weight-related teasing in 7th graders who were enrolled in weight loss camp.  Through a self-reported questionnaire, researchers found that the adolescents demonstrated decreased psychological functioning, lowered self-esteem, increased depressive symptoms and reduced social involvement–these results appeared regardless of how frequently these teens had been teased.  Bottom line:  A child doesn’t have to hear it often to feel the sting.

The use of the “F” word can result in lasting damage—a broken self-esteem, a poor body image, more weight gain, or disordered eating.  And it can set the stage for a lifetime of battles and wars against food and eating.

So, what can we do?  Parents–outlaw the “F” word in your home, just as you do other 4-letter words.  The “F” word may be far more dangerous to your child.  Set an example and don’t use the “F” word…it’s a put-down, a pejorative, and a bummer to hear a grown adult use it.  Focus your efforts on instilling self-worth, passions, and an appreciation for differences in people!

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