6 ways to a balanced diet for your kids

A balanced diet is important for everyone when it comes to your personal health, but it can be doubly important in children. What your child is eating now is laying the foundation for later in life, and your behavior and attitude about food is making an impression on them every time you sit down at the dinner table.

Beyond offering up balanced meals and healthy options at mealtime, sometimes it can be difficult to get your child to actually eat them. Sure, you may be serving them up, but if they’re discarding or eating just a bite or two of their vegetables every meal in favor of their chicken strips or tuna bites, their diet is still lacking.

If your kids are anything like mine, threatening them with the old “you can’t do that until you eat your vegetables” is only going to make them more stubborn about not eating their vegetables. Below I share what I’ve found works best in making sure that my kids are getting nutrition from all areas of the food pyramid and in the right amounts. [Read more…]

Serving healthy food to your child and still struggling? Here’s why. (giveaway)

Editor’s note: Please welcome Maryann from Raise Healthy Eaters blog as my guest poster today.

Jane served her child (Lila) homemade baby food and let her eat off of her plate. By the time Lila was two, she ate practically everything. But as she approached three, it seemed like a switch turned off and she became more selective and started whining constantly for sweets. Jane didn’t want to bribe her daughter with dessert but it seemed the only way she could get her to eat vegetables and protein. She felt horrible.

The reason health-conscious parents like Jane struggle is because feeding kids healthy food is only part of what it takes to be successful with feeding. When parents run into feeding challenges it’s not their fault, it’s just they haven’t learned to expect them at each stage of development. For example, Jane had a ton of information on feeding babies but when her daughter became a toddler everything changed and she simply wasn’t prepared.

To help prepare parents we wrote the bible on child nutrition:Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School. Our Fearless Feeding strategy helps make feeding kids a source of joy, not fear. This strategy consists of the following three components: what to feed, how to feed and why children act the way they do around food. Let’s take a look.

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Avoiding Monosodium Glutamate: One Family’s Story

Three years ago after a day spent with the in-laws, I tucked my son into bed. Minutes after walking out of the room, he stumbled in the dark, unable to stand. From there he spiraled to losing his vision, and we headed to the emergency room, rushed through the double doors, a barely breathing shell of my child delivered to doctors.

In the next 18 months we would visit the hospital three times. Each time started the same and ended with an emergency room visit, intubation, drug-induced comas, and a stay in the pediatric intensive care unit.

For the past 17 months, however, we have stayed clear of all of those things.

The answer for us, temporary as it may be, came after a long drive and a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. While looking for answers and getting a “probable” diagnosis, I noticed that some research showed sensitivities to glutamates could be a cause of migraines. While not a cure, the doctor did agree that removing all instances of monosodium glutamate from his diet could help to decrease the frequency of the hemiplegic migraine episodes we were experiencing.

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5 Secrets of Successful Feeding (recipe: Summer Vegetable Slow-cooker Lasagna)

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD is a mom of two, registered dietitian, and co-creator of the Fearless Feeding Community in preparation for her first book due out next year. Maryann is also founder and creator of Raise Healthy Eaters and blogs at WebMD’s Real Life Nutrition.
Welcome, Maryann!

As parents, we often define feeding success by the number of foods children eat, especially healthy items.  Not only is this definition of success limited, it leaves most parents filled with guilt because children are still learning about food.

As a dietitian and family nutrition expert, I want to introduce you to a whole new way at looking at successful feeding by sharing 5 secrets.  This outlook will not only empower you, it just might make you a more confident feeder.

1. Think of your child as a future adult.

How and what parents feed children has a lasting impact on how they will eat into adulthood. For example, if food is constantly used as a reward, children are much more likely to reward themselves with food as an adult.  If they are always being nagged to eat veggies, they probably won’t choose veggies when out on their own.

Always think about how the way you feed today impacts your child for life, when they are making choices on their own.

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The Hunger Games: 5 tips for feeding your tweens

Editor’s Note: With the arrival of Clara, I’m taking a short maternity blogging break. I’m excited to welcome several guest writers, among them, my friend and mother of tweens, Jan of Family Bites. Welcome, Jan!

The Hunger Games might be the name of a popular book and movie series, but for me it’s an activity I participate in daily.

I live with three hungry boys: my husband and our two growing sons, who are 10 and 11.  Food makes up a major part of our daily lives, and not just because I spend my working hours as a food writer.  The people in my house eat so much these days that I would still be thinking about food around the clock, if only to devise ways of keeping my ravenous boys fed.

On average my kids eat 6-8 times a day.  There’s breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, a second afternoon snack, dinner, and yet another snack before bed.  When Ben, my oldest, has a hockey outing (which is five days a week right now) I can be certain there will be another serving of food interjected at some point in the day.

Why are my kids eating so much? Between the ages of 6 and 12, kids can double their body weight and grow up to two feet in height.  Both of my boys are in this stage right now, and between them we’ve seen 13 inches of vertical growth since spring of last year.

When you add in all of the sports and general physical activity, not to mention hormonal changes and a speedy metabolism, there is no doubt that these are hungry times, and they are likely to continue for another four or five years.

So what’s a mom to do?  I don’t have all the answers, but here are my tips for feeding tweens that have worked well for me over the past two years. [Read more…]