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Tips: Healthy Eating for Kids & Adults

Parent Tips > Fitness & Nutrition & Spas > Tips: Healthy Eating for Kids & Adults

Help Keep Your Child Healthy

Submitted By: First Five of SB County

Childhood obesity is at an all time high.  The number of children who are overweight has tripled in the past 25 years. And Type 2 diabetes, once a disease seen only in adults, is now found in children as young as age 4.  High blood pressure and cholesterol levels are also showing up earlier.


Good nutrition and physical activity will make a huge difference for your child now and in the future. In recognition of National Nutrition Month, First 5 Santa Barbara County offers the following Tips for Toddlers & Preschoolers:

  1. Stick to a regular meal schedule
  2. Keep portion sizes small
  3. Make fruits and vegetables a priority
  4. Offer your child a variety of healthy food choices
  5. Limit high sugar and high fat foods


Making smart food choices in only part of helping your child have a healthy weight.  Being active as a family is also important.

  1. Help your child be active
  2. Limit TV time
  3. Enjoy the outdoors
  4. Be active as a family


For more information and links to resources visit


Candy: Trick or Treat?

Submitted By: Kristi Miller, Solutions in Parenting

We don't want to SCARE you this Halloween, but we can't pass up an opportunity to chat about a topic that causes seasonal upset for families, and potentially fatal results for the children of our nation: Candy.


Why are we so serious about such a short and sweet word like "Candy"? Because, we are entering into the "Official Candy Season". It starts with school candy bar (cookies, candy, bake sales, etc.) fundraisers, Halloween, Thanksgiving, special holiday celebrations, Valentine's Day and Easter baskets. Throw in the usual birthday parties, sports field snack-shacks, movie theaters, grocery stores, shopping malls, media, and grandma's house, and our children and teens are bombarded with candy and sugar-filled foods most days of the year!


The statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are supporting the gravity of this bombardment. Our children are getting "fatter" and "fatter" each year. In 2007, according to the CDC, 16 percent (that's over 9 million!) of American 6-19 year olds are overweight or obese. This is a number that has tripled since 1980. Another 15 percent in the same age range are considered "at risk" for becoming obese. In other words, almost one-third of children today are at risk for becoming overweight or obese. Sixteen percent of them already are. (Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among Children and Adolescents: United States, 1999-2002, Oct.6, 2004)


Combine those statistics with the fact that 79% of our high school students ate fruits and veggies less than five times per day, 34% drank at least one soda a day, and 65% did not meet the recommended levels of daily physical activity!


The problem of obesity among our children is a grave one, in that it can have lasting effects on their physical as well as their emotional health. People who are overweight are at major risk for severe chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and hypertension (Institute Of Medicine, 2001) as well as gum disease, dental caries and other periodontal issues. The emotional ramifications of obesity cut deep and overweight children may find themselves stigmatized and isolated for their weight in a society that has little to no tolerance for this condition.


As parents, we spend an extraordinary amount of time making sure our kids and teens are safe. We hold their hands when they cross the street, teach them to wear seat belts, and give them cell phones to keep track of them. During this potentially challenging "candy season", protect your kid's health, as well as your family's peace, by following our Five Tips for Handling Halloween Candy Madness. Practice at least one of these tips, and you may find you have healthier, happier kids and families this Halloween.


1. Set Limits. Setting limits allows kids to understand your expectations, gives them guidelines to follow, and helps them to relax into being kids. Use Halloween as an opportunity to set limitations on candy before your kids go trick-or-treating. Decide on how much candy will be eaten a day, where the candy will be kept (*hint* not in their bedrooms!), and how candy eating may affect other opportunities for treat consumption ("If you choose to eat candy today, you will not be able to eat that cupcake as well. That's too much sugar for your body"). Setting limits first, may dramatically cut-down on power struggles and increase the amount of peace in your household.


2. Educate. Candy has a very important role in our nutritional lives. It's a fun, celebratory food, it tastes incredibly yummy, it is a special treat, and it usually has no nutritional value (peanuts in a chocolate-nut bar don't really count!). Parents can use Halloween as a unique opportunity to teach their kids about nutrition and healthy eating habits . Kids don't need to feel guilty for eating candy, but they do need to know that it is a special treat, to be enjoyed in moderation. Teach your children how candy can fit into their lives, while balancing their diet with healthier foods as well. Teach them to value the enjoyment of candy as a special treat, to be eaten after they have enjoyed fruits, vegetables, proteins, etc. Make sure your kids know what the food pyramid looks like, and teach them how to eat balanced meals when they are young, so they can make healthy choices as they get older. Click here for a copy of the Food Pyramid.


3. Exchange. Halloween candy can be a fun opportunity to teach your older kids (starting at about 7 or 8 years old) the value of money. Before trick or treating begins, sit down with your kids and develop an exchange system. Decide the monetary value of different kinds of candy and offer to buy candy from your kids. For example, the little pieces may be worth five-cents, where the bigger ones may be worth 25-cents. This way, kids can choose to sell or keep candy (either choice needs to be okay), learn the value of money, and learn to make choices with the money they make from selling their candy. Make sure your family has discussed what is appropriate for them to spend money on or not. For example, is it okay for them to buy more candy with their money? Hopefully they will end up consuming less sugar, making a bit of spending/saving money, and you get to enjoy kids who feel good about making responsible candy choices. For more creative ways to use Halloween candy, click here.


4. A Rewarding Experience? Many parents may want to use the abundance of Halloween candy as a reward or a motivation to get kids to behave, perform chores, finish homework, or some other task. Using candy this way distorts its role, teaching children that the candy is the more important concept, and not the task at hand. Almost always, using candy as a reward backfires, creating more of a dependency and focus on the candy and more conflicts within a family. Instead, let your children experience the reward of making successful choices about their candy throughout the day. For example, if they are allowed to have three pieces a day, you can give your younger kids the choice, "you can choose to have one piece before dinner and two after, or all three after dinner. Your choice". As long as both choices are okay with the parent, it's a win-win situation for everyone. For older kids, more flexibility is appropriate. They can eat their three pieces when they choose (keeping in mind any previously made agreements); knowing that when those pieces are gone, they don't get more until the next day. Set your kids up for success by keeping choices appropriate and reasonable and chances are they will have a very rewarding Halloween candy experience.


5. Check Yourself. The over-abundance of candy during Halloween can be an extremely haunting experience for some adults, as well. Before Halloween comes, spend some time checking in with yourself regarding your relationship with candy. Many adults find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to regulate their candy consumption as well. Does having all of the candy around cause anxiety or temptations for you? Do you eat more candy during this season and fear weight-gain or unhealthy consequences? Perhaps candy is not a problem for you and you feel comfortable with your self-control. Whatever your feelings and beliefs are surrounding candy, you can be sure that your kids will pick up on it. So, if you want to teach your kids to have self-control and healthy beliefs surrounding food, candy and sugar in their lives, be sure to model those behaviors to your kids.


Try using one or more of these tips for handling Halloween candy madness and see what happens. You may just find that the madness doesn't have to be so mad after all!


The End of Overeating

Submitted By: Machelle Lee

Certain foods are powerful.


They cast a spell over the most well-meaning dieter, and cause logical people to overeat until their sides hurt.


They occupy your thoughts to the point of obsession as you try to ignore a plate of cookies.


And when it's all said and done, they accumulate on your body in the most obtrusive way as a result of dozens of unused calories.


Why does food hold such power? And, most importantly, how can you control your eating?


The End of Overeating

David A. Kessler, MD set out to answer these pressing questions in his instant bestseller, The End of Overeating. Despite being a pediatrician, a former FDA commissioner, and former dean of the medical schools at Yale and the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Kessler struggles with his weight.


Observing the current obesity epedemic, he knew that he wasn't alone.


Dr. Kessler, with the insight of some of the brightest minds in medicine and science, discovered the following three reasons that most of us are compelled to overeat.
An Irresistable Combination Rewires Your Brain: Think of your favorite treat - most likely it can be broken down into the basic building blocks of sugar, fat and salt. This combination is known of as the ‘three points of the compass', a combination that has been shown to literally alter the biological circuitry of your brain.


Sugar, fat and salt give food a high hedonic value which gives you pleasure. This pleasure reinforces you to return to your favorite foods time and time again.


The Food Industry Targets You: Everywhere you go you'll see the clever work of the food industry, tempting you with highly palatable creations. Food has become a science, and your taste preferences the guiding light.

The food industry has one goal - to get you hooked. By constructing food items that are high in sugar, fat and salt they know that you will come back time and time again.


Conditioned Hypereating Becomes a Way of Life: Humans are conditioned to seek more reward. When readily available, hyper palatable food become our reward a pattern of hypereating quickly emerges. Dr. Kessler describes the cycle:

"Foods high in sugar, fat, and salt, and the cues that signal them, promote more of everything: more arousal...more thoughts of food...more urge to pursue food...more dopamine-stimulated approach behavior...more consumption...more opioid-driven reward...more overeating to feel better...more delay in feeling fulll...more loss of control...more preoccupation with food...more habit-driven behavior...and ultimately, more and more weight gain."


Breaking the Cycle

The good news is that you don't have to remain trapped in a cycle of overeating. The following three tips will put you back in control.

Set Your Rules: In order to resist overeating in today's tempting food environment, you must eat by a set of self-imposed rules. Predetermined rules take away the need to make food decisions in vulnerable moments.


Dr. Kessler thinks these rules should be, "simple enough to fit with your busy life, but specific enough to remove uncertainty from the food equation."


For suggestions as to what rules you should adopt, let's turn to another authority on eating, bestselling author of ‘In Defense of Food', Michael Pollan:


Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
Pay more, eat less. Look for quality of food over quantity.

Eat meals. Cut out snacking, stick with structured meals.
Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does. Gas stations are great for fueling your car, but the food they sell are not suited to fuel you.

Try not to eat alone. Eating can become mindless when alone, leading to overeating.
Eat slowly. Eat foods that have been prepared slowly - that means no fast food.

Make Negative Associations: When was the last time you peeled a lemon and ate it whole? Probably never. That's because your taste buds have a negative association with the sour taste.


Our taste buds have traditionally been our guide when it comes to food selection, but this must change for you to successfully avoid overeating. Since the food industry purposely crafts food items to please your taste buds (not waistline) what tastes good can no longer dictate what you eat.


It's up to you to create negative associations with unhealthy food - despite their pleasing taste. Here are some negatives to focus on:

Those extra calories will accumulate around your waist.
Your health will suffer.
You will become more disspointed with your appearance.
You'll feel sluggish.

Give Yourself a Real Reward: The bottom line is that we eat unhealthy food as a reward, even though it causes more harm that good. It's time to give yourself a truly benificial reward - exercise.


Exercise is a healthy reward that will not only release endorphins into your system, but will also give you the benefit of weight loss and improved health.

I truly believe that you can overcome your pattern of overeating with healthy eating and regular exercise. Call or email today to get started on a program that will truly change your life.


Attention Yo-Yo Dieters: Please READ THIS before going on another diet this year!

Submitted By: Jennifer Brewer

If you are like millions of Americans, losing weight tops your list of New Year's Resolutions and chances are, you are thinking about starting some kind of diet. For years, losing weight was a top resolution of mine and January was when I would start my diet. You know the drill: "I won't eat any sugar, I will stop drinking wine, I will stop eating all bread products, etc, etc. Does any of this sound familiar?


And I would lose weight. In fact, I am probably one of the only people who think this but, DIETS DO WORK! Yes, you read that right. Think about it: a diet is designed to help you lose weight quickly, and most of the time, you do. However, the keeping the weight off part is where diets fall short. And year after year, I would typically gain the weight back and find myself making the same resolution again come December 31st. It took me a long time to figure out what Albert Einstein meant when he said so brilliantly, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."


Looking back, I realize that I NEEDED diets to give me direction because I simply did not trust myself to make good food decisions. The reality was I felt that I had to restrict bread because I did not trust myself to stop eating it once I started. But, the thing is, I love bread and when I wasn't eating it I felt like I was on a diet and that was always a temporary situation in my mind. I mean, I never actually thought I would have to live my whole life without bread (oh, the horror!), I just thought I would "get" to eat it once I reached the "magic weight" (you know, the weight where all of your problems go away in a poof!) and became "enlightened" enough to stop eating bread after one or two slices.


When I sadly realized that food enlightenment wasn't going to come knocking on my front door, I had a choice to make: I could ride the diet rollercoaster for the rest of my life or I could learn to trust myself to make healthy food decisions. This meant opening my life up to all foods I loved, not counting calories or restricting my foods. It took a leap of faith (what if I gained 100 pounds?!!) but in learning to trust myself, I was able to lose weight without dieting and keep it off for good.

Since then, I have been on a mission to change the way people lose weight. I really feel the key to getting off the yo-yo dieting rollercoaster is learning to trust yourself to eat the foods that your whole body wants (not just your taste buds) and listening to your body when it tells you when it is hungry or has had enough.


Instead of resolving to just lose weight this year, why not resolve to lose weight without dieting, keep it off for good and NEVER go on another diet again? The process of losing weight without dieting isn't a simple formula and each person has their own process but the following steps worked for me:


Focus on what you GET to eat instead of what you cannot eat: Add more healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables to your diet and fill up on those foods first. You shouldn't have to give up anything to lose weight when the majority of your diet is healthy, unprocessed foods. With no more off limit foods, you can begin to change the notion that foods are either Good or Bad, and in doing so, remove the idea that you have "broken your diet" when you eat an off-limit food.


Plan your meals: Take 30-60 minutes each week and plan out your meals and snacks for the week. Think about it: if you had a plan for the week and there was healthy food waiting for you in the refrigerator, wouldn't it be SO much easier to eat well and nourish yourself? A plan will make it easier to make healthy food decisions, and the more healthy decisions you make, the better you feel and the more empowered you are to keep making those healthy food decisions.


Warm Your Kitchen: Does your kitchen feel like the heart of your home or the appendix? As a happy chef I may be a bit biased, but I truly believe that cooking at home is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and your family. And I am not talking about warming things up in the microwave. Cooking, you know, from scratch--with amazing smells! Cooking at home allows you to eat fresh, less processed foods, which in turn can help you lose weight and have more vitality. Cooking also allows you to feel more connected to your food, and in my experience, much more satisfied with the entire process of eating.


Eat When You Are Hungry: Sounds simple, right? But how many times have you thought to yourself, just one more errand, meeting, phone call...then I will stop and eat?" When we repeatedly ignore our body's signals we lose touch with our inner signs of hunger and fullness. In my opinion, eating when you are hungry is the best way to STOP eating when you are not hungry.


Trust your Instinct: Traditional weight loss and dieting tend to be left-brained activities-this food has this many calories, grams of fat, etc. Add some right-brained intuition to the mix. Start by simply asking yourself, "how does this food make me feel when I eat it?" Generally, we want to feel good (right?) so you will find yourself naturally gravitating towards healthier foods because you are in tune with how they make you feel.


Accept who you are and the types of foods you love. One of my favorite go-to diets in my early years was the low-carb diet, mainly because it worked so well for me (since it eliminated like 75% of what I would typically eat-I LOVE CARBS!). I could lose weight like crazy on that diet. But, I was seriously neglecting a part of me that loves bread and starch. Now I realize that I just can't eliminate an entire group of foods that I LOVE and expect to feel peaceful about it. And I also know that I feel better (trusting my instinct) when I choose carbohydrates that are whole and minimally processed, like brown rice or sprouted grain breads. Find a way to have the foods you love the most be a part of your life.

If you have resolved to make changes to support a happier, healthier, more vital you this year, then congratulations! Knowing you want a change is a crucial step, and isn't making changes always easier when we feel supported? I would love to make the process of eating healthy, satisfying meals easier for you. That's why I created my Healthy Meal Planning Service. Every week, I send you healthy recipes, a shopping list and a dose of inspiration to support you on your journey to eating healthier. You also get weekly coupons for New Leaf Community Markets valued at twice that of the cost of the subscription! The best part is you can try it absolutely free for an entire month at


Here's a sample of one of my most popular Meal Plan recipes:

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
Serves 4-6

Let's hear it for comforting and nourishing foods that make our kitchen smell great!

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 anaheim pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sweet potatoes (1 1/2 lbs), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 28-can whole plum tomatoes
1 cup water or vegetable stock
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained
1 dried chipotle pepper (smoked jalepeno), seeded and chopped (easiest to do with scissors)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves, washed and dried

Warm the oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion, pepper, garlic, and sweet potato chunks. Saute, stirring often, until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with the back of a wooden spoon. Add water or stock, beans, chipotle, cumin, and chili powder, bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir in cilantro and serve.


Jennifer Brewer is a nutritionist and natural foods chef who is on a mission to change the way people lose weight. After years of yo-yo dieting, Jennifer found that by eating REAL food that she LOVED, she could finally stop dieting and start living! Through cooking classes, interactive workshops and her online Healthy Meal Plan, she educates and inspires individuals to prepare healthy foods that unlock their body's optimal potential AND taste amazing. Jennifer's recipes have been featured on numerous websites and in publications and books, such as Free To Eat: The Proven Recipe for Permanent Weight Loss. She is a graduate of the Chef's Training Program at the Natural Gourmet Cookery School in New York City and has a Masters Degree in Nutrition. Meet her at



I enjoy family dinners...but it hasn't always been that way!

Submitted By: Susan True, Executive Director First 5 Santa Cruz County

"I enjoy family dinners...but it hasn't always been that way. My kids were picky eaters and we would end up fighting over what they would eat. I even made them each separate meals so they would eat something. I was stressed and wondering how much longer I would have to do this. Then I learned a few simple things from Triple P and now I make one nutritious meal that we all eat. Mealtimes have become a time to have conversations with my children instead of fighting with them". Triple P Parent


Mealtimes can provide great opportunities for families to connect and enjoy each others' company. But if children have a difficult time with eating or they are not behaving well during meals, this time becomes a ‘battle' for parents, who find themselves stressed out and frustrated. Common mealtime problems include refusing to come to the table, leaving the table during the meals, complaining about the food, refusing to feed themselves, playing with food, and eating very slowly.


If you are a parent who experiences these challenges with your child, you are not alone! There are several steps that parents can take to encourage positive mealtime behaviors. Here are some things you can try right away.


Establishing a daily mealtime routine can be very helpful for children. Serving three main meals and a morning and afternoon snack at regular times of the day will help your child separate mealtime and playtime. Also, setting a time limit for finishing up the meal, such as 20-30 minutes, and explaining that to your child ahead of time, will help keep him from getting bored and restless or disruptive.


Let your child know ahead of time when the meal will be ready. Giving your child a 5-10 minute time block to finish up their play will make it easier for them to come to the table.


Having everything prepared before seating your child at the table can prevent unnecessary waiting. Once he is seated at the table, remove any toys or other distractions.


Teaching new skills and recognizing your child's accomplishments around meals will help him become a healthy independent eater. Mealtimes present an opportunity for children to learn new skills and to recognize your child's growing competence. Model and Explain 1-2 mealtime skills that are important for your family. These skills should tell your child what to do rather than be rules of what not to do. For example:
• Eating with a spoon or fork
• Participating in family conversations and mealtime games
• Enjoying time at the table until the meal is over
• Developing specific manners that are important to your family (chewing with the mouth closed)
• Eating a variety of foods with different nutritional values


Parents may want to offer rewards for meal times that go smoothly. These rewards can be a special activity after mealtime or an extra bedtime story. As your child masters new mealtime skills, you can add a few more skills that you want him to learn. It is important that children don't become overwhelmed with too many new things at once and are given a chance to succeed. Pick your focus carefully and stick with it - without adding more - until the child succeeds.


It is common for mealtime problems to persist even when parents have tried these strategies. There are several other techniques to assist your child in developing good eating habits. Local accredited practitioners can assist in finding the best approach for your family. For more information on Triple P services please visit or contact Stephanie Bluford at (831) 465-2217.

3 Soups and Soup #4

Submitted By: Parmalee Taff

Make sure you have a dozen quart canning jars on hand for storing soups.  Make three soups, store in quart jars and if you like, make Soup #4 by combining some of all three together.


Vegetable Soup

Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast every favorite vegetable 45 min. at 350. Add cooked veggies to either vegetable or chicken broth and simmer.  Season and salt to taste.


Black Bean with Ham Soup

Soak a quart jar of black beans all day or night, rinse and add chicken broth.  Meanwhile simmer in water a hamhock and ham several hours until the ham is falling off the bone and you can scrape out the marrow into the soup.  Cool and skim off fat.  Combine beans, ham juice and extra water or chicken broth as needed and cook until beans are soft.  I like to take out a cup or two to run through the blender, then add back for thickening.  Saute a whole minced onion and add it and the ham to pot.  Season and salt to taste. I use a teaspoon each of curry and chipotle pepper.


Butternut Squash Soup

Bake two butternut squashes at 350 on a cookie sheet for about an hour or more depending on size.  Be sure to stab them so they can vent without exploding. Bake 3-4 apples also.  Peel and boil 4-5 yukon or white potatoes.  Cut out the seeds and combine squash, apples, potatoes, a minced onion sauteed in olive oil and vegetable or chicken broth.  Simmer until well blended.  Then, take your hand blender and mash the lumps into mush.  Season with a little nutmeg and cinnamon.


Soup #4

Add equal parts of all three together. Yum!

Tips for Canning with Children

Submitted By: Emily Paster

Printable Version

1. Decide what to make together. Look through a cookbook on canning and preserving with your child. Recipes for jams and pickles tend to be short and sweet and within the range of even a young reader. A cookbook with pictures does not hurt either! My daughter enjoys poring over the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which does have some nice illustrations. Mark some recipes that you look interesting to you and your child. It may be an obvious point, but your child will be more invested in the project if he or she has some ownership over it.

2. Take your child to gather, or buy, the food you want to preserve. In general, you want to preserve the freshest fruits and vegetables. That means using what is in season and, where possible, using local produce. If you are not growing your own produce, and your child is old enough, consider finding a good pick-your-own farm. Imagine the sense of accomplishment that comes from making jam out of fruit you picked yourself! Alternatively, take your child on an expedition to the local farmers' market. In many communities, the farmers' market is a community gathering place. Our town's market, for example, has live music and freshly made doughnuts, making it a fun Saturday morning outing. By coming to the market regularly, my children are learning that their favorite fruits have a limited growing season, despite what they see in the supermarkets. One week the cherries are at the farmers' market; the next week they are not. Learning this important lesson helps today's children understand why our ancestors needed to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables, and why it is meaningful to do so even today.

3. Be patient! There is a lot of prep work involved in making jams and pickles. Green beans need to be snapped; berries need to be crushed; cherries need to be pitted. These are terrific chores to hand off to, or do with, your child. Give them clear instructions, but let them do it themselves and don't micro-manage. Just be sure to build in extra time. They will take longer to do these tasks than you would. (Also, do check their work, surreptitiously, if you have to. I found plenty of pits in the cherries my daughter had allegedly pitted.)

4. Be safe. Obviously, there are many aspects of the canning process that are not suitable for young children. You are working with very hot liquids, for one. I let my daughter stand on a kitchen chair and stir the jam while it is cooking, but I am very, very careful about it. I make sure she has a long spoon and wears an oven mitt. Most importantly, I stand next to her the whole time. This is not the moment to take a phone call or do the dishes. And when the fruit starts to boil, I move her back and take over. I also fill the jars and process them by myself with my daughter watching from a safe distance.

5. Get creative! Come up with silly names for your goodies. Have your child decorate the labels. Personalization is a big part of the fun of making something yourself.

6. Acknowledge your child's contribution. When I decide to give someone a jar of our jam, I let my daughter choose which kind, and I let her present the gift. If I am talking to someone about canning, I always mention how much my daughter helps me and let her overhear me. This will make young child glow with pride. (Older children will still feel proud, even if they don't let you see it.)

7. Keep cooking together all year long!

CAA Contributor Emily Paster is a passionate home cook and novice canner who lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children. You can find her here on Twitter.


Increase Childs Interest in Healthy Foods

--Submitted by Meri Raffetto RD - Real Living Nutrition Services

1. Bring your kids grocery shopping.While in the produce section, let your kids pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try. Kids are more interested in trying new foods when they get to pick them out.

2. Prepare meals together.Let your child be part of the preparation. Whether they mix something in a bowl or pour a sauce they will be happier to eat and try new foods when they played a part.

3. Incorporate fun foods.Kids are drawn to foods that have different shapes, and bright colors. There are many fruits that can fall into this category such as kiwi or star fruit. You can also be creative! Instead of handing your child a whole orange, break it up into pieces and make a smiley face on the plate. You would be amazed what simple creativity can do!

4. Make desserts healthy.You can still have dessert and make it healthy too. Instead of depending on store bought cookies and candy (which provide minimal nutrients), try dipping fresh strawberries in chocolate sauce, a fruit smoothie, or a berry cobbler. These choices may have some sugar but are also adding nutrients at the same time. Remember- everything is healthy in moderation.

5. When your child wants candy:Candy is a once in a while treat. Try using one ounce of trail mix with a few m&ms instead of a whole candy bar.

Be a role model for your children. If you enjoy physical activity and eat healthy your children will likely do the same. Encouraging physical activity and healthy food choices during childhood will help build these habits for a lifetime.

Favorite Books:Honest Pretzels: And 64 Other Amazing Recipes for Cooks Ages 8 & Up. By Mollie Katzen

Emotions & Food: Why You Eat is as Important as What You Eat

--submitted by by Petra Beumer, M.A. Clinical Psychology, Life CoachWhy do we eat when we are not hungry? Using food to feel better is very common and causes unwanted weight gain, feelings of guilt and a sense of losing control. I have done it – for years! I didn’t want to feel my feelings at the time which were loneliness, not feeling connected after having moved into a new city, and boredom!

Instead of writing my feelings down in a journal or simply feeling them fully, I ate. And I gained a lot of weight. That was 25 years ago. Since then I have been able to change my behavior over time by addressing the true underlying emotions that triggered my emotional eating.

Emotional overeaters need to learn to separate hunger from other needs. Ask yourself: “ What am I really in need of right now?” “ How am I feeling?” “What challenges do I face?” “Am I angry?” “Am I lonely?” “Am I sad?” “Am I bored?” “Am I feeling unappreciated?”

It takes courage to honestly assess what’s going on inside you. Looking at your true feelings will help you to break the vicious cycle of eating instead of feeling.

Focus on your overall well-being. Eliminate chronic stressors and negative influences in your life. Seek professional counseling if necessary. Add positive things to your life like Yoga, meditation or try a new hobby. Give yourself the gift of self-love and treat yourself with kindness and patience. If feelings of sadness or hopelessness persist, seek the help of a health professional.

Discover when you feel most alive and energized. Follow that path. Trust your intuition. Laugh. Put things in perspective. Drink fresh water. Read inspirational self-help books. Trust that you can handle all your feelings. In time eating will become less and less important, you’ll see…

Holiday Health Tips

--Submitted by Dr. Iris Castaneda- Van Wyk, Pediatrician

The pace of life seems to quicken in anticipation of the holidays, and this pace can often bring stress that taxes our immune systems. All the more reason, then, to be mindful of our children’s health as the holidays approach.

The following list contains some common but important reminders for our children’s well being during the holidays.

**Get plenty of rest- plan ahead for times to rest

**Keep an eye on your little one’s sugar intake (especially holiday treats)

**Keep your children well hydrated- plan ahead to carry fresh water at all times!

**Wash your little one’s hands often especially after large gatherings (best way of prevention)

**Invest in a carbon monoxide detector (one for each floor of your house)

**Be especially careful with candles, matches and space heaters

In recent months we’ve been seeing a significant increase in the cases of whooping cough, croup and pneumonia, so it is especially important to seek professional medical care if you have any concerns regarding your child’s health.The hardest and best advice I personally have to offer is that your little ones will be reflections of your health habits. Our children are little sponges, absorbing and intuiting more than we used to think possible. Last night my four-year-old daughter walked in on my husband as he tried to sneak a few extra cookies. Just by smelling his breath she confidently announced, “Chocolate chip cookies!” Every parent/ guardian can improve their health habits to some degree- a better breakfast, fewer fast food runs, a walk in the afternoon. Remember- it won’t just be your own heath you’re improving. Take lots of pictures and enjoy one of our most incredible gifts this season- our children!

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