Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables – The fresher the better!
Fill a quarter of the plate with a lean meat/protein – Beans, yogurt, and eggs are great sources of protein.
Fill the last quarter with a grain/bread
– Try whole grain breads and pastas, for increased fiber.
Add a glass of milk
– The best choices are Fat Free or 1%.
When it comes to excelling on the playing field, what young athletes eat can make a huge difference. A well balanced diet provides children and teens with the energy and nutrients they need to power their workouts and support their rapid growth. While kids who play team sports have slightly better eating habits and higher intakes of key nutrients than kids who don’t suit up, there’s still plenty of room for improvement according to a 2006 Journal of the American Dietetic Association study. Now, school cafeterias are getting in the game, helping student athletes fuel up for maximum success.
Spices and Herbs Are Surprisingly Rich in Antioxidants, on Par With Many Fruits and Vegetables.
Nutritionists have long recommended spices and herbs as a way to add flavor without fat, salt or sugar — making it easier to meet today’s dietary guidelines. But now studies suggest adding more spices and herbs to your diet may not only please your palate, it could enhance your health.
In many cultures throughout history, spices and herbs have been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Only recently have scientists turned their attention to the potential health benefits of spices and herbs. “The study of spices is a relatively new area of nutrition science investigation, but one that holds great promise. What is especially encouraging is that the spice amounts being studied are reasonable for culinary usage.
Many spices and herbs appear to have some beneficial effects, but seven Super Spices that may hold the greatest potential to improve our health include: Cinnamon, Ginger, Oregano, Red Peppers (including cayenne, crushed red pepper and paprika), Rosemary, Thyme and Turmeric (commonly found in yellow curry powder) More Reasons to Season.
This year, when you visit your favorite farmer’s market, you might notice new competition for that organic baby spinach you’ve been craving: your local school district. Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it is improving efforts to get farm-fresh food into school cafeterias, normally stanchions of processed and canned cuisine.
As part of the agency’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food campaign, the USDA issued a new rule that would allow school lunch purchasers to give preference to locally grown or raised produce, dairy, and meat products used for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. Efforts to encourage farm-to-school programs, which are so popular they now operate in 46 states, were a big part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that was signed into law last December. Replacing canned, processed, and frozen foods with fresh local food is recognized as the best way to combat the childhood-obesity epidemic, which seems particularly problematic among children who eat school lunches. According to a recent study, children who eat school lunches every day are more likely to be obese than kids who bring lunches from home. The ruling also benefits rural America by allowing farmers to attract a larger number of customers beyond weekly farmer’s markets or community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs.
As part of its announcement, the USDA also said that agency officials were in the process of selecting certain school districts to work with on farm-to-school initiatives, not just those related to fresh produce but also farm visits, gardening, cooking, and composting activities. If you’d liked to see some of those things implemented in your child’s school, here are a few tips:
- Eat your kid’s lunch. In order to fix a problem, you need to know what you’re up against, and most parents will inherently know something’s wrong if they share a meal with their child in the school cafeteria, says the Renegade Lunch Lady,” Chef Ann Cooper.
- Then, go to the board. Once you know what improvements can be made, call or pay a visit to your local school board to see what their nutritional policies are. Although all schools must meet specific nutritional requirements with each meal, each school district has different ways of meeting those requirements. Once you know what the policies are, you can form a task force or find some other way to get healthier food into your school lunches.
- Enlist the help of a local celebri-chef. Last year, first lady Michelle Obama issued a call to chefs nationwide, asking them to get more involved with their local schools. In fact, that call was part of another USDA initiative, Chefs Move to Schools—not just because chefs make delicious foods, but also because they know how to be extremely creative on a very limited budget. And as evidenced by Jamie Oliver’s TV series Food Revolution, good chefs can make a huge difference. Find local restaurateurs in your town and see if one of their chefs would be willing to spend an afternoon, a day, or even more of her time to get kids to eat more healthfully.
- Start a school garden. If changing the food system seems too daunting, that’s OK. A school garden can be just as successful in improving childhood nutrition as what the kids eat in the school cafeteria, studies have shown. It can be difficult to get one up and running, simply because gardens are most productive during summer, when kids and school staff are on vacation. But it’s not impossible; the growing season for leafy greens and other fall vegetables extends into November—plenty of time for kids to get their hands dirty. For tips, see Without Gardens, Schools Lack Some Important Lessons. If all efforts at a school garden fail, keep your children engaged at home by starting a kid-friendly backyard veggie patch.
- Go school-to-farm. While adults want to educate kids about where their food comes from, children might find it more entertaining to find out where all their food waste goes. Encourage your child’s science teacher to start a school compost pile and find a local farm that needs it to feed its crops.
- Grandma tells your 4-year-old that she made cookies just for her, and hands her a plate of frosted cookies and a glass of milk an hour before dinner.
- Granddad says, “Eat up. Don’t leave food on your plate or you’ll never grow to be strong like your big brother.”
- Your sister is hosting dinner. She says to your kids, “I’ve got a fresh batch of chocolate brownies for anyone who finishes their dinner.”
Each of these scenarios features well-meaning relatives pushing food on your child. While the grandparents and aunt have the best intentions, they could be innocently contributing to several potential problems affecting your children, such as:
- Teaching children to eat to please others rather than themselves.
- Encouraging the child to eat more frequently, making it difficult to recognize the body’s hunger cues.
- Training children to associate food with punishment because they feel that they must eat certain foods to “earn” dessert.
Change the Scenario
Address the family member. If the food-pushing relative is someone your children see sporadically, ignoring the issue is unlikely to do any long-term harm and may be the best response, says Karen Ansel, MS, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
On the other hand, if this relative frequently pushes food on your children, it’s important to address it — but make sure to approach the subject delicately. “Rather than doing so in front of your child, speak to the family member in private and explain why it’s a problem,” Ansel says. “Once you explain your perspective, they will likely have the best interests of your child in mind.”
Help relatives find other ways to realize their best intentions. Suggest reading or playing a game together, going out for a movie or special outing, or hiding a sweet note in the child’s backpack, lunchbox or under their pillow.
Determine What is Appropriate Child Involvement
If your children are young, it’s best to keep them uninvolved and avoid discussing the problem around them, suggests Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, co-author of We Can Cook: Introduce Your Child to the Joy of Cooking with 75 Simple Recipes and Activities. “If children are aware of the conflict, they may feel self-conscious about what they are eating,” she says.
In addition, involving youngsters relays the message that food is an emotionally charged issue, Ansel says.
If your children are old enough to speak for themselves, help them find the right words to express how they are feeling. Before spending time with relatives again, discuss the possible scenarios in which your kids may want to turn down food. Instead of simply saying “no thanks” and fearing you’ve hurt someone’s feelings, have your children prepare saying “no” with a compliment. For example, they can say, “It looks delicious, but it’s too close to dinner. May I take some for later?”
Regardless of their age, children shouldn’t be made to feel they must eat food they don’t want. Consistently teaching them to listen to their own feelings of hunger and fullness will empower them to eat appropriately.
By Jill Weisenberger, MS RDN CDE FAND, courtesy of Kids Eat Right
You’ve heard it since grade school: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But with a morning of competing priorities, snooze buttons and questionable appetites, it’s easy to skip breakfast. It’s estimated that 12 to 34 percent of children and adolescents regularly miss the morning meal.
While teens aren’t always on board with what you say, they are easily influenced by their friends, and that includes breakfast behavior. A study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that teens are more likely to eat breakfast if their friends do, which is especially true in a social setting.
Eating a healthy breakfast (versus one that includes doughnuts or soda) can help your teen get more nutrition and even perform better at school. Need more? Check out these five reasons for your teen to eat breakfast this new school year.
Energy. Along with sleep and exercise, breakfast is one of the best ways to recharge your batteries. It’s the perfect opportunity to get energy-boosting carbohydrates like whole-grain bread, oatmeal and fruit. Create a breakfast with staying power using protein and carbohydrate combos like fruit and yogurt, whole-grain cereal with milk or a whole-grain waffle with nut butter. Breakfast is an ideal way to energize so there will be no sleeping in class!
Improved concentration. Studies suggest that eating a healthy breakfast improves brain function — particularly memory and recall. This is essential for soaking up new knowledge and applying it later for a big exam.
Better grades. Research shows students who eat breakfast perform better academically. It’s not fully understood why, but scientists believe it may be because breakfast supplies essential nutrients to the nervous system to rev up brain power. Or the explanation could simply be that breakfast alleviates hunger and a rumbling tummy, which can interfere with academic performance, behavior and self-esteem.
Healthy weight. Teens may think skipping breakfast is a good way to save on calories and lose weight, but quite the opposite is true. Breakfast skippers tend to weigh more than those who eat breakfast regularly. Additionally, those who eat a morning meal tend to make healthier food choices throughout the day, which can positively impact weight and long-term health.
It tastes great! This may be the most compelling reason to enjoy breakfast before a long school day. Warm up with a hearty bowl of oatmeal on a cool morning or hydrate with sweet chunks of fresh fruit and yogurt when it’s warm outside. With so many options on the table, you’re sure to find something that works — peanut butter on whole grain toast, fruit, eggs, yogurt or last night’s leftovers … what’s not to love?
Encourage eating breakfast daily at home or school and make it easy. Grab-and-go meals like a waffle with peanut butter, a boiled egg and fruit or homemade oatmeal bars make eating breakfast a breeze.
Though it may take time, helping your teen eat a nutritious breakfast today will build healthy eating habits that last a lifetime.