While some schools have re-opened, many are offering and providing virtual, learn-from-home options to families. Learning from home can be successful with some organization. Establishing household schedules for everyone is crucial. Schedules help set expectations which can decrease anxiety. Once schedules are established, individual workspaces can be created and managed. Separate spaces empower kids by giving them a sense of ownership. Allow some input from your kids by offering a few fun and unique office supplies for them to choose from. Weather permitting, suggest lunches be outdoors to encourage space change that will get kids out of chairs and away from screens. Allowing special breaks or treats within the daily schedule can go a long way in making a new experience positive by allowing it to be different yet functional.
A few food tips to keep in mind:
Knowing your family history can be an important tool in illness prevention. Typically, children are not screened for diseases unless they become symptomatic. When children are taught healthy habits such as eating well and regularly being active, their need for screening declines. There are a few diseases worth learning about ahead of time, particularly if your family has a history of them. Type 1 Diabetes normally is not diagnosed until a child’s symptoms are severe. Recognizing these symptoms quickly can help manage your child’s care. Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes include urinating often, excessive thirst, blurry vision, extreme fatigue, weight loss even with increased intake and slow healing wounds. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommends children be screened around age ten for high cholesterol. There are not typically signs or symptoms associated with high cholesterol in kids, which is why it is important to heed the testing recommendations of the AAP. Hypertension is generally screened by age three. Signs and symptoms of hypertension in children include headaches, vomiting, chest pains, shortness of breath and seizures. In all cases, be sure to share your family disease history with your pediatrician who can help you understand possible signs and symptoms of potential risks that your child may be exposed to.
The concept of “Eating the Rainbow” is a wonderful model families can refer to when meal planning each week. Each color in the rainbow represents nutrients we can get from colorful foods. Red produce, for instance, boasts carotenoids and flavonoids both which have antioxidant effects in humans. Orange and yellow foods, such as butternut squash and carrots, often contain a trio of benefits that include antioxidants, vitamin A and Vitamin C. Even those blue-hued potatoes and purple eggplant contain anthocyanins that in addition to antioxidant effects, may offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits.
Quick breakfast options are helpful to have on hand and cereal has been a staple in American homes for decades. Choosing healthy cereal options that kids (and adults) actually want to eat is achievable. Start with reading labels. Oftentimes, parents are surprised by what they learn from nutrition facts panels. For instance, when comparing options, shoppers may discover the sugar content is Cinnamon Toast Crunch is no more than the sugar content of Honey Nut Cheerios. Ensure that the cereal you pick is whole wheat or whole bran. From there, pick three options and choose the one with the highest amount of fiber and protein. Some ideal choices include Kashi by Kids Super Loops, Original Cheerios, Kashi Go Cinnamon Crisp Cereal, Nature’s Path Maple Pecan Crunch and Barbara’s Cinnamon Puffins. You can also get creative and mix one of these options with a favorite that may not be on this list.
Bone is living, growing tissue, whose growth is significant from childhood to near age twenty-five. Thus, there is a limited time to effect bone health. Nutrients that aid in building healthy bones include calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin K. Regular physical activity is also a benefitting factor that can increase bone size, strength and reduces fracture risks. Calcium can be found in dairy products as well as almonds and dark, leafy greens. Dark leafy greens also boast vitamin K. Dietary vitamin D can be found in egg yolks and fatty fish.
Being at home more often can create meal prepping fatigue. As Americans continue to navigate COVID19, making every single, daily, for all family members is a real possibility. Sometimes it might feel like you never leave the kitchen. One way to ease mealtime burdens is to solicit help from your family members. For instance, if your kids were packing their lunches for school, have them prepare their lunches at home. The end results may be a little odd, but they usually will include a variety of food groups in adequate portion sizes that will leave your child feeling satisfied. Research shows that things like packing their own lunches and helping to choose a dinner theme, improve independence and build confidence in kids. In addition, by letting them pick the foods and amounts they want to eat, you are teaching them early on to trust their bodies. There will be opportunities for you to guide and provide good food knowledge. For instance, if you notice there's always a certain food group missing, use neutral words to encourage the addition of that food group. One example of neutral language is, “I noticed you don't usually put any vegetables on your plate." Phrasing in this manner, affords an open dialogue that may provide insight. In this example, you may come to find out that there aren't any vegetables your children like that are cut up, and they are not confident chopping those vegetables by themselves. With this knowledge, you can troubleshoot the concern. We encourage having at least a little something from all the food groups on the plate for variety and to ensure that kids are getting all the nutrients they need. However, not every meal needs to be perfect. It is our choices that add up over time that determine our health, not one meal or one day.
All children are different and there are a multitude of factors that shape food preferences over one’s lifetime. Parents should expect some bout of picky eating. It is normal for children to go through phases where they feel less adventurous or to even have less of an appetite. Family mealtimes with limited distractions can aid in setting expectations around eating habits and individuals’ responsibilities. For example, it is the parents’ responsibility to provide the meal and then the child decides what and how much to eat from the food provided. Some helpful tips to increase a child’s acceptance of meals include frequent exposure to a variety of food groups and involvement of kids in the planning and preparing of meals.
Amid the current stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel is still being affected. From flights booked at seventy percent capacity, to closed airport businesses, you should consider rebooking travel if possible. If you must fly, set your expectations accordingly. In most airports across the states, a majority of businesses are closed. At a minimum, these businesses are operating at adjusted hours. This includes food establishments. There are some options, but expect lines even with a decline in the number of travelers. Stocking up with food items that hit at least two food groups will go a long way in sustaining oneself throughout an unpredictable day. You may feel like you are packing too much food, but feel confident in knowing that typical conveniences will not be available. Here are a few of our favorite travel snack options:
Summer brings with it an abundance of produce. Consider certain guidelines when stocking up to increase freshness. For bunched items, cut off any greens that may pull moisture out of your fruit or vegetable. Examples include beets and carrots. Removing fasteners such as rubber bands helps increase circulation, which aids in maintaining freshness. Finally, avoid washing less hearty varieties of produce, such as strawberries, as this can result in soggy items.
Due to COVID-19 re-opening phases, summer trips may include more car time travel. A few tips can help make the most of your drive. With hand sanitizer is back in stock, you will want to ensure its use when you exit the car and prior to any meals or snacks. Also consider taking a trash receptacle. By taking a cereal container and adding a trash can liner, you can create a small, yet functional garbage can. Be sure to prepare a large Ziploc with disposable napkins and utensils even if you think you will not need them. Pack non-messy, but yummy road trip snacks like these.
Quinoa is a fantastic whole grain to add as a pantry staple! Chock-full of fiber and protein, this is a healthy and versatile meal base. Here are some quinoa recipes to give you some inspiration to get started.
Quinoa Zucchini Fritters
Directions: Shred zucchini and carrots. Set aside for 10-15 mins. Wrap in cloth or paper towel and wring out excess moisture. Mix zucchini, carrot, quinoa, eggs, and spices in a bowl. Fold in bread crumbs once mixed. Portion fritters and flatten into patties. Heat skillet and coat with avocado oil. Place fritters in pan, fry until golden brown on both sides (about 3 minutes). Repeat until all the fritters are done and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Recipe from: https://thekitchengirl.com/crabless-cakes-zucchini-quinoa-fritters/
Shrimp Avocado Quinoa Bowl
Directions: Combine shrimp, garlic, oil, and spices. Heat a pan over medium-high until hot. Coat with a light drizzle of oil and cook shrimp until charred. Divide greens into two bowls, top with half of quinoa, shrimp, avocado, tomato, and onion. Drizzle with lime juice & serve.
Recipe from: https://gimmedelicious.com/avocado-shrimp-quinoa-salad-bowls/
Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole
Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Line 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper. Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix. Spread into a prepared pan and bake for 28 minutes. Turn off the oven and let it sit in an unopened oven for another 25 minutes.
Recipe from: https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2016/09/19/quinoa-casserole-mexican-black-bean/
Mediterranian Quinoa Salad
Directions: Make the dressing by combining olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine. Add in veggies and quinoa. Toss to coat in dressing. Top with goat cheese and parsley.
Recipe from: https://www.thekitchn.com/quinoa-salad-22955988
We’ve been at this quarantine thing for about 2 months now and it seems that I’m still expected to prepare 3 meals a day for my whole family. Meal prepping and planning looks a little different and in our previous blog, we broke down the basics of meal time to help you manage stress. Here are some other tried and true go-to tips.
Whether you are quarantined with your family and kids, significant other, or with your pets, here are some tips to help alleviate meal-time stress!
Creating a Flexible Grocery List that Works
3 Ways to Use Potatoes
If you've been following us you have likely noticed that I like to run. I'm not fast but I like to go far. When I'm talking about my longer runs I usually hear friends say "that sounds miserable" and maybe you feel that way, too. Or maybe you're wondering if exercise aligns with HAES and Intuitive Eating principles? In short, exercise and HAES/Intuitive Eating can coexist.
First, though, we want to touch on enjoyment as it pertains to physical activity. Whatever you are doing to move your body should be enjoyable. Whether it's going for a walk, rowing, basketball, strength training, yoga or training for a marathon. We are all different and will find different activities enjoyable. Find what YOU enjoy and do that. Exercise is not supposed to feel miserable and if it does it is likely because of 2 key reasons that are highlighted in Intuitive Eating:
1) The exercise regimen was started when a diet was initiated. Which means you are likely not properly fueled enough for exercise to feel good.
2) The body was being subjected to unrealistic amounts of exercise. Over exercising can lead to a lot of problems including poor sleep and injuries.
Both of these usually happen when weight loss is the goal, which brings us to the next point on whether or not exercise aligned with HAES and Intuitive Eating?
The answer is yes, it absolutely can be. There's even an entire principle in Intuitive Eating dedicated to moving your body. In addition to being enjoyable, moving your body is also a way to take care of yourself mentally and physically with the byproduct of these benefits:
The goal is to shift your focus to how it feels to move your body rather than the calorie-burning effect of exercise. Let's explore 2 different exercise mindsets:
Diet and Exercise Mindset: If the goal of exercise is to lose weight you are also likely dieting which means exercise is not going to feel good because your body doesn't have the fuel it needs. You only feel good when the number on the scale goes down or you burned a certain number of calories. If you don't see progress on the scale you feel as if all that dieting and exercise was for nothing.
Fueling and Training Mindset: This mindset focuses on how exercise makes your body feel. You are fueling your body properly so that you have enough energy to feel good while exercising. The goal is not to lose weight or to burn a certain number of calories but rather to have enough “gas in the tank” to be able enjoy what you're doing and maybe even see improvements in your performance if that's a level you're at.
This picture is my fuel for a longer run. If I was in a diet/exercise mindset I would go out there and not take in any carbs or calories. I would feel miserable during my run. I would likely not be able to finish my run. And I would be doing some serious damage to my body and likely end up injured and not able to exercise at all. Instead, I approach moving my body with a fueling and training mindset. If I’m going to exercise I make sure I eat something containing carbs beforehand since that is our body's preferred source of energy and will help me to not feel fatigued during my workout. If I’m exercising for more than an hour (like on a longer run) I will eat during the run. When I’m done exercising I refuel my body with the nutrients that I just used up.
If you decide to exercise it needs to be when you're ready and in the right mindset. Don't do it for weight loss. Don't do it because that person you saw on social media showed a picture of their ripped abs. Do it for the joy and health it brings you. If you aren't ready to go down that path or it's medically contraindicated that's ok, too. We are all in different places and just like the food we eat does not make us "good or bad," the amount of exercise we do or don't do does not determine our worth either. ️
Potatoes are a great produce item that will last for weeks, sometimes up to a couple months with proper storage! They are a versatile item that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Here is a little potato-inspo for you! Also, check out this visual on the nutrition of potatoes. It's one of our favorites!
Currently, product availability in grocery stores across the nation has fluctuated significantly from week to week. As individuals' schedules are also in flux, there may not be a set day that one can get to the store, causing even more uncertainty when planning meals. Here are some ways to make your grocery list more adaptable!
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released guidelines on food safety and COVID-19 to help ease fears regarding food during this stressful time. Per the FDA, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging as COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, not a sickness that affects the GI tract.
There has been no significant connection between food packaging and the transmission of COVID-19, whether it be from takeout or from grocery store packaging.
Consider these facts when grocery shopping and ordering takeout!
1. NCSU. Handling Groceries COVID-19. https://foodsafety.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Handling-Groceries_COVID-19_Flyer-1.pdf?fwd=no
2.FDA. Food Safety During Emergencies.https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/food-safety-and-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19
The five senses work together to provide both our minds and bodies with satisfying and nourishing meal experiences. Sight, sound, smell, taste and touch each add their own element to mealtime. Besides taste and smell, the sight of a food item sets certain expectations about things like intensity of flavor (e.g., a brighter colored food provides a more intense expectation of flavor). Touch contributes to detecting texture and temperature. Of less obvious understanding, is how sound is integrated into acceptance or rejection of certain foods. Sound helps one anticipate the feel of a food (e.g., the crunchiness of a carrot). Try these fun sensory games with your kids today:
Smelly Spicy Art by Mindful Littles
Five Senses Popcorn Mini Book by I Heart Crafty Things
Desalinization Experiment by STEAM Powered Family
Basic Biscuit Playdough Recipe
2 cups Bisquick (or other brand biscuit mix)
1 cup salt
2 cups water
1 TBSP cream of tartar
1 TBSP oil
Your choice of kool aid or cocoa (for sight and smell)
Pour and mix all ingredients into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 3 minutes. Remove from microwave, scrape and stir the bowl. Next, microwave for another 3 minutes. Remove from microwave, stir, and let cool for 1-2 minutes. The final step is to knead the dough.
Recipe from: No Time for Flashcards
Providing meals for school-aged kids throughout the day is not entirely new to parents since weekends typically provide more family time. Reflecting on weekend days is a great place to start in terms of tackling homeschool eating habits. From there, it is helpful to follow a fairly set meal schedule. Having meals at regular intervals is a basic nutrition tip that helps establish many healthy lifestyle choices. Eating about every 3-4 hours keeps kids fueled for the day, prevents grazing and creates an ideal plan for meal planning and preparing. Ensuring meals and snacks are substantial and satisfying can be achieved by aiming for at least 2-3 food groups per meal. Including kids as part of the planning and preparing can be fun and helpful.
More on building healthy meals at Making the Grade at Lunchtime
Every day, we eat multiple times to provide fuel that will sustain all our planned work and activities. How do our bodies break down something like a peanut butter sandwich into the nutrients they can utilize to support normal daily needs?
The food we eat is broken down into one or a combination of 3 key macronutrients known as carbohydrates, protein and/or fats. Each of these nutrients is digested in a slightly different way, using different enzymes at different rates . Let’s walk through the process!
1. Mouth: Active chewing begins the mechanical digestion of our food. Some digestive enzymes are released directly into your mouth through saliva, and thus begins the digestion of carbohydrates and fat.
2. Stomach: After swallowing, the (bolus) of food passes down into the stomach. The food is combined with a mixture of stomach acid and digestive enzymes. The acid and digestive enzymes break down the protein in our food into amino acids, and the other digestive enzymes work to break down the fats into fatty acids.
3. Small intestine: From the stomach, the partially digested food (chyme) enters the small intestine, which is the main site of digestion and absorption. Other organs like the pancreas and liver secrete digestive enzymes into the small intestine to aid in the further breakdown of each of the macronutrients. After they are broken down into their simplest forms, the small intestine can absorb these macronutrients to be used by the body.
4. Large intestine: Finally, the large intestine is the main site of water absorption. After water is absorbed, what is left, the body gets rid of.
Each person's body digests and absorbs food somewhat differently, which may affect things such as an individual's blood glucose level. On average, it take 6-8 hours for food to pass through the stomach and small intestine. It then takes nearly 36 hours for undigested material to pass through the large intestine.
Eating a well-balanced variety of foods that include all macronutrients aids in optimal nutrition. Besides ensuring adequate vitamin and mineral intake (e.g., proteins boast zinc and iron while carbohydrates can provide fiber and energy), pairing foods increases satisfaction, slows digestion and aid in increasing absorption of nutrients.
Adding in plant-based meat extenders to a meat dish is a way to combine the best of both worlds! Plant based foods added into meat dishes boost flavor, add volume, and are budget-friendly.
Health at Every Size (HAES) may be a word or acronym floating around in the media, but this approach to mindful and healthful eating is gaining traction in the research world.
What it is: HAES encourages (1) body acceptance, (2) respect for diversities of body shapes and sizes, (3) finding joy in physical activity, and (4) promotion of eating habits that balance the individual’s nutritional needs with the feelings of hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure¹.
HAES is a very different message than what has been the recent social norm regarding diets as presented by popular media, whereby the only way to lose weight and be healthy are to calorie restrict, ignore hunger cues, detach pleasure from eating, and/or to excessively exercise.
A randomized clinical control study conducted an intervention in a sample of Brazilian women using HAES. Participants were randomly assigned to either a control or intervention group. Both groups were exposed to traditional HAES teachings, but the HAES intervention group had more in-depth lessons including philosophical workshops, group physical activities, and individual nutrition counseling.
Results: Participants from both groups had an increase in guiltlessness of eating pleasure, greater reflection on food desires, and better social eating experiences¹. Instead of becoming even further removed from thoughtfully making food choices and finding pleasure in eating, both groups were bridging the gaps between eating and listening to their bodies. The intervention group experienced even greater benefits through decreased emotional eating, greater perception of autonomy over food choices, and increased cooking¹.
HAES is one approach that offers a more well rounded and sustainable approach to healthy changes for both body and mind. It is a direct tool that can help address such easily spoken, but hard to manage tasks such as eating "all things in moderation."
As noted, HAES is also a movement, aiming to bring about social justice where social stigmas and disparities may lie. Visit https://haescommunity.com/haes-connections/ to learn more or take the pledge. You can also email us at info@NutritionRites.com for more information on HAES.
Sabatini, F., Ulian, D. M., Perez, I., Pinto, A. J., Vessoni, A., Aburad, L., … (2019). Eating Pleasure in a Sample of Obese Brazilian Women: A Qualitative Report of an Interdisciplinary Intervention Based on the Health at Every Size Approach. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 119 (9), 1470-1482. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2019.01.006
While food is not medicine, it can play a role in helping your immune system function optimally. At the very core, your immune system needs adequate energy and nutrients to respond to potential pathogens. During cold and flu season, you can focus on getting a balanced mix of protein and vitamins that help build up the body’s defenses. Specific vitamins to include in your diet are Vitamins A, C and E. Vitamin A helps nourish your skin, which acts as your body’s first line of resistance. Sources of Vitamin A include fish, cheese and eggs. Vitamin C helps your body form antigens and can be found in products that are typically acidic, such as citrus and tomatoes. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, which helps to slow potential body damage. Vitamin E can be found in various nuts and seeds.
With the holidays fast approaching, traditions may have you doing a little extra meal planning and preparing. With many dishes that require oven use, you may be planning to employ your stovetop. Understanding a little food science behind your cooking method of choice can go a long way in helping you plate a delicious meal. Cooktops afford us the options to pan-fry, sauté and sear foods. These cooking methods differ in their use of fat and heat. Pan-frying uses enough fat to partially submerge the food item being cooked. To cook it through, medium heat is used and one side at a time is cooked. Examples of items that are pan-fried include skin-on chicken thighs and latkes. Sautéing cooks food just until tender in a thin layer of fat over medium-high heat. Shrimp, mushrooms and leafy greens are items that sauté particularly well. Searing gives foods a caramelized outside while not completely cooking the inside. Oftentimes, recipes call for a pan sear, followed by an additional cooking method such as baking.
We have long understood that food can serve much more than just a nutritional need. Because it is so essential to life, individuals can relate and connect through food and nutrition. Culture includes the beliefs, customs and habits of a group of people, and each cultural group has access to its own food and creates its own food habits. Home cooking proves to be particularly beneficial in providing mental stimulation and creativity. It also provides additional stimuli, such as aromas, to the senses that aid in meal satisfaction. Preparing food gives people shared experiences, just as eating socially does.
How we eat is also a derivative of our cultures, and table manners can be one of the earliest teaching opportunities for parents. Kids can be receptive to learning table manners as soon as they can sit and eat independently. Some of the more basic etiquettes include washing hands prior to sitting down, sitting up straight with a napkin placed in ones lap and waiting for other before beginning to eat. Family meals offer opportunities to not only model good table manners, but they also offer times to try new foods and practice appropriate responses to those things that kids may not particularly like. While cultural influences may afford some mealtime differences, using proper utensils, chewing with ones mouth closed and not reaching across the table are all still standard behaviors to follow.
Teaching Good Table Manners to Kids
10 Tables Manners Rules to Teach Children
Cheyenne is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist located in the Charleston, SC area.