The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently came out with the “Choose My Plate” campaign to encourage healthy eating. You can visit www.choosemyplate.gov for more information. They recommend that half your plate be fruits and vegetables. When I talk with children and adolescents about their diets, I find many of them are having trouble getting enough servings of fruits and vegetables in their diet. The recommendation is 5 servings a day. That means a fruit or vegetable at every meal, maybe even both, and probably fruits or vegetables for snacks as well to be able to meet that goal. Fruits and vegetables are high in essential nutrients for good health, have fiber for digestive health, and are often lower in calories than other food choices.
Many children tell me that they don’t like vegetables. I always encourage them to try at least a taste. Vegetables that they thought they didn’t like, may taste better to them if made in a new way. The parent’s job is to offer their kids healthy choices at each meal and for snacks. It is the child’s job to choose to eat them. Some ways to encourage children to eat vegetables:
- Model eating vegetables on a regular basis.
- Have them help you plant and take care of a vegetable garden. They may be more willing to eat something they helped grow.
- Use dips or sauces to add flavor (many children like ranch dressing or melted cheese).
- Have them participate making foods with vegetables. One idea to make it fun is to make a 3 inch slice of celery into a car. Use peanut butter in the center for protein, this will hold raisins upright in the “car” as drivers and passengers, and place round slices of carrots on toothpicks pushed through the piece of celery to make the wheels.
- Cook shavings or small pieces of vegetable in foods that children like such as spaghetti sauce to add nutrients (e.g. carrots, green pepper).
- Try the “Cheetos Cheat” (recently seen on Dr. Oz). Crumble Cheetos on steamed broccoli to add flavor and crunch.
- Experiment with child friendly recipes. See the “Choose My Plate” web site for ideas. The Healthy Lunch Challenge Cookbook has 54 recipes from America’s Jr. Chefs sponsored by an event at the White House hosted by the President and Mrs. Obama.
- For older kids, have a contest on preparing the tastiest veggies.
Julie Averbeck, RN, MS, CPNP
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season approaching, we can all seem to have our sleep habits change. With family events and school, our children are likely getting up earlier and earlier. This is great time to talk about sleep in our school age children. A good night’s sleep is essential to a good day in school. I am convinced that many children who are “distracted in school” are likely to be over tired. The recommendations for sleep vary depending on age, but a typical amount of sleep for a child between the ages of 5-10 years would be around 10 hours of sleep and teenagers likely need 8-9 hours of sleep. However, you know your child best, as to how many hours he or she needs.
It is very important to make sure that we get our school children to bed at a reasonable time. Some very basic tips for helping with sleep are a consistent bedtime routine. The most important thing is to turn off all electronics, at least 30 minutes before that scheduled bedtime. Video games and televisions keep those brains stimulated and typically leave children too awake to fall asleep at a reasonable time. So remember that outside of good nutrition, sleep is the most important aspect that will improve your child’s performance in school.
~ Chris Zukowski, MD, Forest View Pediatrics
May 1st was the deadline. That was the date by which my son needed to confirm his acceptance at the college he chose to attend. My wife and I have now been through the college search three times (one more to go!) Here are some things I found out along the way…
May 1st is not the only deadline. While ideally the process of choosing a college begins in the student’s junior year, there are numerous deadlines to monitor, mostly in the senior year, for applications, recommendation letters, and scholarships. Most schools ask for a …Continue reading →
Prom brings many adult choices for teens, some of which have real effects on their health. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following advice for parents of prom-going teens:
- Exclude tanning beds from pre-prom preparations. They cause premature skin aging and skin cancer. Offer sunless tanning alternatives, such as lotions or professional …Continue reading →
You can now schedule a summer physical for your child! Our summers tend to be busy with a lot of physicals, so the sooner you get in the better.
If your child needs his or her physical for WIAA sports, a physical done after April 1 is good for the following two school years. For example, a physical done in April 2011 is good for …Continue reading →
With school now in full swing, it’s a good time to review some safety tips with your kids about that big yellow school bus:
- If your child is riding the bus, it’s good to show up 5-10 minutes early.
- Remember, it’s NEVER safe to run after the bus.
- Stand five giant steps from the curb (10 feet) and in plain view of the driver.
- Remind your kids that if they can’t see the driver, then the driver also can’t see …Continue reading →
Your kids are back in school, and hopefully by now they’ve gotten through the stress of a new routine, school, teachers or friends. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published helpful back-to-school tips, including some great safety reminders about backpacks.
Backpacks can sometimes be too heavy or worn incorrectly, leading to strained muscles and back pain in kids. Backpacks are considered better than over-the-shoulder, “messenger-style” …Continue reading →
As the school year quickly approaches, many parents are thinking about ways to make that first week of class easier on everyone. Here are a few tips from The Forest View to help with the transition back to school:
- Be sure you’ve completed all the necessary sports and school forms. If you have any forms that need our review and signature, you can bring them to our office or fax …Continue reading →