Healthy Eating Tips for the School Year

It’s time to head back to school, and with that comes a fresh opportunity to establish new habits with children and teens. As your family falls into a routine around the school day, be sure to incorporate healthy eating into the mix to ensure everyone has a strong year.

Tips for School-Age Children (Ages 6-12)

School-age children need healthy foods and nutritious snacks to fuel their busy bodies. They have a consistent but slow rate of growth, requiring them to eat four to five times a day (including snacks). Eating healthy after-school snacks is important, as these snacks may contribute up to one-third of the total calorie intake for the day. Remember that school-age children may also be eating more foods outside of the home.

Many food habits, likes and dislikes are established during this time. This makes it a perfect time to experiment with new foods, as school-age children are often willing to eat a wider variety of foods than their younger siblings.

Follow these seven tips to ensure good nutrition habits for school-age children:

  1. Always serve breakfast, even if it has to be “on the run.” Some ideas for a quick, healthy breakfast include fruit, milk, bagel, cheese toast, cereal, peanut butter sandwich and fruit smoothies.
  2. Take advantage of big appetites after school by serving healthy snacks, such as fruit, vegetables and dip, yogurt, turkey or chicken sandwich, cheese and crackers, or milk and cereal.
  3. Make healthy foods easily accessible.
  4. Allow children to help with meal planning and preparation.
  5. Serve meals at the table, instead of in front of the television, to avoid distractions.
  6. Fill half of the plate with colorful fruits and vegetables.
  7. Provide calorie-free beverages (water) throughout the day, to avoid filling up on non-nutritive calories.

healthy eating tips

 Tips for Adolescents and Teens (Age 13 and Up)

During adolescence, children become more independent and make many food decisions on their own. Many adolescents experience a growth spurt and an increase in appetite, and they need healthy foods to meet their growth needs. Adolescents tend to eat more meals away from home than younger children. They are also heavily influenced by their peers.

Discuss these nine healthy eating tips with your adolescent to ensure he or she is following a healthy eating plan:

  1. Have several nutritious snack foods readily available. Oftentimes, teenagers will eat whatever is convenient.
  2. If there are foods that you do not want your teens to eat, avoid bringing them into the home.
  3. Drink water. Try to avoid drinks that are high in sugar. Fruit juice can have a lot of calories, so limit your adolescent’s intake. Whole fruit is always a better choice.
  4. When cooking for your adolescent, try to bake or broil instead of fry.
  5. Make sure your adolescent watches (and decreases, if necessary) his or her sugar intake.
  6. Eat more chicken and fish. Limit red meat intake, and choose lean cuts when possible.
  7. Arrange for teens to find out about nutrition for themselves by providing teen-oriented magazines or books with food articles and by encouraging them and supporting their interest in health, cooking or nutrition.
  8. Take their suggestions, when possible, regarding foods to prepare at home.
  9. Experiment with foods outside your own culture.

Get more tips for establishing healthy eating habits with kids.

Related posts:

  • Overcoming the Struggles of Picky Eating
    Picky eating is very normal for children, particularly in toddlers who have a natural fear of new foods. In fact, research shows that most kids get appropriate nutrition regardless of ...
  • Warning Signs of Eating Disorders
    Parents encourage their children to develop healthy eating habits, but extreme changes in a child’s behavior or attitude towards food could be a warning sign of an eating disorder. In this ...
  • Potatoes: A Winter Comfort Food
    By Janelle Sanchez, RD, clinical dietitian at CHOC Children’s Whether they are mashed, roasted, baked, or served as pancakes, hash browns, or scalloped, potatoes are a delicious comfort food perfect for ...

Overcoming the Struggles of Picky Eating

Picky eating is very normal for children, particularly in toddlers who have a natural fear of new foods. In fact, research shows that most kids get appropriate nutrition regardless of their eating habits. But that may not ease the minds of parents who struggle daily with a picky eater or who worry their child isn’t getting the right nutrition.

In this episode of CHOC Radio, clinical dietitian Jessica Brown and social worker Leigh Volker explain:

  • When picky eating is normal and when it is cause for concern
  • How parents can make sure their children are meeting their nutritional needs
  • Techniques for getting kids to try new foods
  • How to make meal times less of a struggle
  • Ways to overcome eating problems that remain after a related medical condition is resolved.

Related articles:

  • Healthy Eating Tips for the School Year
    It’s time to head back to school, and with that comes a fresh opportunity to establish new habits with children and teens. As your family falls into a routine around ...
  • Warning Signs of Eating Disorders
    Parents encourage their children to develop healthy eating habits, but extreme changes in a child’s behavior or attitude towards food could be a warning sign of an eating disorder. In this ...
  • Potatoes: A Winter Comfort Food
    By Janelle Sanchez, RD, clinical dietitian at CHOC Children’s Whether they are mashed, roasted, baked, or served as pancakes, hash browns, or scalloped, potatoes are a delicious comfort food perfect for ...

Warning Signs of Eating Disorders

Parents encourage their children to develop healthy eating habits, but extreme changes in a child’s behavior or attitude towards food could be a warning sign of an eating disorder.

In this episode of CHOC Radio, Dr. Wayne Nguyen, director of psychiatry at CHOC Children’s, and Dr. Alexandra Roche, a pediatrician in CHOC’s Eating Disorder Clinic, discuss:

  • Warning signs of eating disorders
  • What to do if you suspect a family member or friend has an eating disorder
  • How CHOC Children’s multidisciplinary team approach to treating eating disorders benefits CHOC patients and their families
  • How CHOC’s Mental Health Initiative will further support adolescents who are struggling with an eating disorder

Hear more from Dr. Nguyen and Dr. Roche in this podcast.

If you have concerns regarding your child’s eating habits and/or weight, talk to your pediatrician. Ask about the possibility of an eating disorder, and request a referral to a psychologist. CHOC partners with a number of organizations to make sure all our patients’ and families’ needs are met.

CHOC Radio theme music by Pat Jacobs.

Potatoes: A Winter Comfort Food

By Janelle Sanchez, RD, clinical dietitian at CHOC Children’s

Whether they are mashed, roasted, baked, or served as pancakes, hash browns, or scalloped, potatoes are a delicious comfort food perfect for this winter season! Today the potato is produced in more than 100 countries and is the fourth largest food crop worldwide, following wheat, corn, and rice.

With more than 4,000 potato varieties, the debate continues as to which is the best.

Russets are classically used for baking, french fries, hash browns, mashed potatoes, and potato pancakes because of their ability to hold together. Waxy potato varieties are best for making chowder, potato salad, and scalloped potatoes. Learn more about cooking with different varieties.

You may be asking, “Are potatoes healthy?” Of course they are! Let’s take a look at their composition:

  • Carbohydrates– Despite the common misconception that carbohydrates make you gain weight, we know a balanced diet without excessive intake of any food or food group is healthy. That being said, potatoes are primarily composed of carbohydrate, your body’s most important source of energy.
  • Potassium– Potatoes with skin are packed with potassium, an essential element your body needs. Diets high in potassium may reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke.
  • Vitamin C– This is important for healthy skin and gums, and may also help support the body’s immune system.
  • Vitamin B6 –Some of the functions in this extremely versatile vitamin include converting food into glucose to be used for energy, maintaining normal nerve function, and contributing to protein metabolism.
  • Antioxidants Substances like carotenoids and anthocyanins help prevent the damaging effects of oxidation on cells throughout your body. It is best to include an assortment of colors and kinds of potatoes in your diet, as the amount and types of antioxidants are dependent on the potato variety.
  • Calories vary depending on the potato variety. For example a large russet potato provides about 300 calories, versus a large sweet potato at 160 calories.

There are a few ways to create a health-conscious potato dish. Choose to bake instead of fry those sweet potato fries, french fries and tater tots. Brush potatoes with a little olive oil and seasonings or herbs to flavor instead of butter. When picking out toppings or additives, select low-fat or nonfat dairy products including cheese, sour cream, cream cheese.

Try these tasty recipes for a healthy way to incorporate potatoes into your family’s diet.

Out with the French Fries, in with the Oven Fries:

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (just enough to lightly coat)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Toss potato wedges with oil, salt and thyme (if using). Spread the wedges out on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Bake until browned and tender, turning once, about 20 minutes total.

Nutrition

Recipe makes servings. Per serving: 102 calories; 5 g fat (1 g sat, 4 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 2 g protein; 1 g fiber; 291 mg sodium; 405 mg potassium.

Source: www.eatingwell.com

Warm up with a bowl of Healthy Potato and Vegetable Soup:

Ingredients:

  •  1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups cubed peeled acorn squash
  • 2 cups diced peeled red potato
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can navy beans or other small white beans, rinsed and drained

Preparation:

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pancetta; sauté 3 minutes. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Add squash and next 6 ingredients (squash through thyme), stirring to combine; cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomatoes; cook 2 minutes. Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 8 minutes. Add kale; simmer 5 minutes. Add beans; simmer 4 minutes or until potato and kale are tender.

Nutrition:

Recipe makes 4 servings. Per serving: 349 calories; 10.4 g fat (3.3 g sat, 4.6 g mono, 1.4 g poly); 10 mg cholesterol; 55 g carbohydrates; 14.4 g protein; 10.5 g fiber; 405 mg potassium

Source: www.myrecipes.com

Optimizing Your Omega-3 Intake

By Emily Barr, MS, RD, CSP, CLEC, clinical dietitian at CHOC Children’s

You’ve probably heard the many health benefits associated with eating omega-3 fatty acids, but it’s easy to be confused by each variety. Which one is the one you need? Where can you find it? And most importantly, how much? Let this be your guide to sorting out the confusion.

Essential Fats

Omega-3 fat is an umbrella term for the polyunsaturated fat family.  There are three main fats in this group:  Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA). These fats are essential because the body cannot make them on its own; it relies 100 percent on you to include these foods in your diet.  A small amount of ALA can convert into EPA and DHA in the body, but since the process is not efficient, it’s important to eat a variety of foods rich in omega-3s.

An Important Part of Heart Health

Omega-3 fats have anti-clotting effects that help prevent heart disease and stroke. They also help your heart keep a steady beat, preventing it from increasing in rhythm, which puts your heart at risk. These fats also help lower your blood pressure, keep your blood vessels healthier, and lower your triglycerides.

As an anti-inflammatory, omega-3s can reduce your risk of clogged arteries, as well as help with conditions like eczema and arthritis. Omega-3 consumption has also been linked to lower risks of cancer. DHA specifically provides additional benefits to your brain health and functioning.

Recommended Intake

The suggested daily intake for ALA varies between 0.7-1.6 grams per day depending on age and gender. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Heart Association, and the World Health Organization agree that your diet should consist of 500 mg DHA/EPA per day, which is equivalent to eating fatty fish twice a week. The highest amounts of EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish including salmon, tuna, halibut, mackerel, cod, and if you dare, anchovies and sardines.

If fish is not on your weekly menu, you may want to consider some of the following sources of omega-3s. ALA are found in vegetarian fats, especially rich in vegetable oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean, and walnut oils), nuts, seeds (flax, hemp and chia seeds), and leafy vegetables including Brussel sprouts, kale and spinach.

Foods fortified with omega-3s include:

  • Eggs
  • Buttery spreads
  • Milk
  • Juice
  • Yogurt
  • Some bread and pasta

Introduce a few omega-3 rich foods into your diet, and in time you will be replacing unhealthy fats with healthy ones. Try the recipe below for an omega 3-rich smoothie as an easy way to start incorporating these essential fatty acids into your diet.

“Oh-MEGA-3” Fruit Smoothie

1 cup Mixed Frozen Fruit

1 Tablespoon Flaxseed

1 Tablespoon Hemp or Chia Seed

½ Banana

½ cup Milk or Omega-3 fortified Orange Juice

Blend all ingredients and enjoy!