Tag Archive for: Diet

Food-Related Activities for Kids

The way in which a child learns about food, health, and what foods they enjoy is influenced by what they are exposed to in their daily vegie rainbowenvironment. Younger children learn so much through playing freely with toys and with other children. All children learn from what they witness their parents do and say. Children at a preschool age through adolescence are influenced by their peers as well as a variety of media (television, movies, magazines, and Internet).

The important thing to recognize is that healthy eating is not necessarily intuitive, especially in today’s society. Consider all the ways in which your child is influenced about food. They see commercials on TV, observe eating experiences in the home and see what foods their friends eat. As a parent, these are things you can control in the feeding dynamic:

• What foods you buy, prepare and offer to your kids
• What foods you eat with them
• When, where and how you set up mealtimes

Being a good role model for your children when it comes to nutrition and mealtimes is a critical way in which their learning is shaped. If you wish to take it one step further, there are food-related activities you can do with your kids that “speak their language”. These activities help them learn the importance of eating healthy, and that it is acceptable to try new foods. Here is a list of things to try with your kids:

Food Activities For Toddler/Preschool Children:

  • Read simple books about food and eating.
  • Let your children watch you make meals. Talk to them about what you are doing. Allow them to do simple things like stirring and pouring.
  • Color pictures of healthy foods.
  • Have play food and even a play kitchen. Play with them and make sure to pretend eating the healthy foods you want them to eat.
  • Have them name foods that are the different colors of the rainbow. Make a “rainbow” meal.

Food Activities For Elementary Children:

  • Talk about the food groups as well as the basics of why each is important.
  • Take your children to the grocery store or farmers’ market and have them pick out fruits and vegetables.
  • Have them read you the recipe steps when you are cooking meals.
  • Plant simple vegetables with them in a garden. Harvest them together and use them in a meal.
  • Have “theme meals” (fiesta, rainbow, dippers, shapes, etc).

Food Activities For Middle School Children:

  • Ask them to help you with cooking.
  • Have them to develop meal ideas that you can then prepare.
  • Ask them to explain how foods affect health, then have a discussion about why nutrition is important.
  • Take them to the grocery store or farmers’ market and have them pick out fruits and vegetables.
  • Ask them to write a menu for the family dinners for a week.

Food Activities For High School Children:

  • Have them prepare simple recipes.
  • Let them experiment in the kitchen.
  • Offer to let them invite friends over for dinner.
  • Have positive conversations about what is occurring in their lives during breakfast or dinner.
  • Have a cooking competition in the family in which each family member creates a dish and everyone votes on the best one. In addition, you can ask your teens to participate in “taste-testing” new recipes and they can rate them on scorecards.

If your child has nutrition-related health issues or has a poor diet, schedule an appointment to see a registered dietitian at North Shore Pediatric Therapy. 877-486-4140. Our registered dietitians can utilize these activities along with other therapies and educational tools to help improve your child’s health.


Finger Foods for Little Fingers

When infants are transitioning to solid foods, it is important to remember that this transition process is a learning experience for the baby with finger foodchild. Feeding involves many systems in the body, including the brain, sensory processing system, muscles of the mouth, tongue and throat. Feeding also involves the entire digestive system. The transition to solid foods follows a continuum of developmental stages that coordinate with the infant’s ability to handle new types of foods, textures and methods of feeding.

When children reach the age of around 8-10 months, most of them develop a fine motor skill known as the “pincer grasp”. This is when the child is able to pick up small objects using the pointer finger and thumb. In addition, according to speech-language pathologists, when children reach the age of around 9 months, infants develop the oral reflex to bite down on more advanced textures of foods in the mouth. In other words, if they are given a food other than a smooth pureed texture, they will instinctively bite down and mash it with their gums at this age.

Given the above developmental skills, it is appropriate to introduce finger foods to your infant once they are around 8 or 9 months of age. They will be able to practice their pincer grasp as well as their chewing reflexes. It also teaches them to self-feed.

Here are some ideas for finger foods for little fingers:

  • Ripe banana slices, cut into quarters
  • Soft cut-up fruits (no skin or seeds), such as ripe pears, ripe peaches, kiwi, soft melon, blueberries (may even cut in half), plums, etc.
  • Soft cooked vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, cauliflower, cooked carrots, squash, peas and beets.
  • Avocado pieces
  • Toast bits
  • Crackers that can easily dissolve in the mouth with minimal chewing
  • Cheerios or puffed rice cereal
  • Cooked pasta bits
  • Cooked and mashed beans
  • Very soft cooked meat. Cook the meat in a Crockpot or slow cooker for 8+ hours with plenty of liquid until the meat is falling apart. Give very small pieces of meat to your child, one at a time, and make sure they are swallowing the pieces by offering water sips.

Remember to always watch your infant carefully when they are eating, especially as they try more advanced textures. They are at high risk for choking when they are just learning to handle these new foods, so it is important to keep these things in mind:

  • Offer very small bites of food, such as the size of a Cheerio or a quarter of a banana slice.
  • Offer very small quantities of food. At this young age, children are not always aware of how to regulate the amount of food in their mouth. They might enjoy something so much that they stuff in more than they can handle, which is a choking hazard. Give them a little at a time on their tray.
  • Offer soft or textures that can easily dissolve. Avoid sticky or very hard textures.
  • Offer sips of water to help with the swallowing process.

For more information on feeding infants or children, make an appointment with one of our registered dietitians at NSPT.


5 Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

While discussing the topic of New Year’s Resolutions, health-related resolutions must be the most popular. With this in mind, hownew years resolution many of these resolutions are actually kept through the year’s end?   This is a list of healthy resolutions that involve small changes and have a significant impact on health.  These resolutions are achievable if you are able to make them a priority. One or more of these habits can become your new lifestyle in 2013.

5 Healthy New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Eat vegetables at least twice a day. We are aiming to be realistic. Many individuals do not get veggies at least once per day. Eat one of these fresh veggies as opposed to cooked or canned. If you are already eating vegetables twice a day, increase it to three times per day. For the kids, the goal is to offer vegetables at least twice a day and model the good habit. Here are some ideas to incorporate more vegetables into your diet:
    1. Roasted vegetables. Chop a variety of colors, such as red or green peppers, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, etc. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and any of your favorite spices. Put in the oven at 375 until softened and slightly browned. Great for dinner or leftover for lunch.
    2. Have plenty of prepared vegetables available for quick snacks or lunches. This can be sliced carrots, pre-washed salad greens, sliced or diced broccoli and cauliflower, snow peas, sugar snap peas or roasted vegetables leftover from dinner.
    3. Spinach or other baby greens blended in smoothies.
    4. Stir fry a variety of chopped veggies with meat, shrimp or tofu and your favorite sauce.
  2. Switch to whole grain. Once you make the switch from white to whole grain, your body will thank you. When you are used to eating whole grain products, your taste preference will adjust and the difference will not be as noticeable. Whole grain contains the fiber and nutrients that have been stripped from “white” grain products. The fiber slows the glycemic load of the carbohydrates that are digested into the blood stream so that your blood sugar does not spike and then drop as drastically after meals. Fiber also keeps things moving along in the gut as well as indirectly lowers cholesterol.
  3. Eat out once per week or less. This probably means you will need to revamp your grocery shopping routine so you always have food for meals in the house. It also means you will need to do some time management and planning so that you are able to prepare meals each week. In addition, you may need to get new recipes that will fit into this lifestyle change. Although cooking may seem more time-consuming, eating from home is one of the healthiest habits you can have. Eating out most often means consuming calories, more sodium, more additives and spending more money.
  4. Eat three meals per day, including breakfast. Eating breakfast gives your body and brain fuel to get through the day. In addition, individuals that do not eat breakfast each day tend to overeat later in the day. Aim to include whole grains, fruit and protein at each breakfast.
  5. Schedule an appointment to see a registered dietitian. All of the above ideas are great recommendations for anyone but by meeting with a dietitian, you will receive a personal assessment of your current health status. You will also receive a nutrition plan that is created just for you and your family in order to improve health and quality of life. Our dietitians can provide meal planning, recipes, grocery store meetings and in-home cooking demonstrations. They can also recommend dietary changes to improve gastrointestinal problems, food sensitivity issues, weight issues and more.

To schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian, click here.



All about Vitamins and Supplements for Kids

There are many vitamins and supplements that are marketed towards children and parents. Do all children need vitamins? Which oneschild with vitamin should they have? Are the gummy vitamins just as effective as the non-gummy vitamins? The following questions will help clarify when at what vitamins may be appropriate for your kids:

What vitamins should I give to my children?

The answer to this question needs to be from your pediatrician or a registered dietitian. It is an individualized answer that is based upon your own child’s nutrition intake as well as their medical needs. Vitamins and minerals do have recommended “upper limits” of dosage. Exceeding these upper limits can have harmful effects on the body. This is especially true of fat soluble vitamins.These fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body for a longer period of time than water soluble vitamins. The fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K. There are many situations in which vitamin supplementation is very important. Make sure to consult with a medical professional before giving your child any vitamins or supplements.

Does The Brand Matter?

Vitamins and supplements are not tightly regulated in the United States, especially compared to other foods and pharmaceuticals. The FDA has strict guidelines as well as evaluation processes in order to ensure safety and validity of food and drugs in the U.S. On the other hand, in the case of supplements, there is no one regularly policing product to verify that what is on the label is what is actually in the bottle. There is no third party agency that verifies that every bottle of XYZ multivitamin actually contains 500 mg of Calcium in it. Similarly, there could be excipients (added ingredients used for manufacturing properties) or contaminants that are not listed on the label. Of course, a supplement company with these practices would not be ethical and, ultimately, will likely not be successful. The point is that brand and quality do matter greatly when it comes to supplements.

How Do I Know Which Vitamins are of Good Quality?

There are several supplement companies who produce good quality supplements. These companies use manufacturing standards and testing methods that are comparable to pharmaceutical companies.

Here are a few things to look for on labels to determine quality:

  • Labels that have dates and/or serial numbers that indicate batch testing, manufacture date and expiration date. Batch testing means that the company randomly selects a sample of supplements from a batch made and tests them in order to rule out contamination, verify quality, etc.
  • Labels that state that the supplements are food allergen-free. This means that the company takes great care in selecting what ingredients they put into their supplements. It also means that they are likely testing their products in order to make sure that there is no cross-contamination occurring from other food products that may be manufactured in the same facility.
  • Multivitamins that contain methylcobalamin as opposed to cyanocobalamin. Methylcobalamin is the natural form of B12 and is metabolized and utilized more effectively in the body compared to cyanocobalamin. The latter form is a synthetic, less expensive form of B12, but it requires additional steps to convert it to methylcobalamin in the body. Both serve as the same function, but supplement companies that use methylcobalamin are carefully selecting their ingredients.
  • Those that are recommended by pediatricians and registered dietitians. I have a list of supplement brands that are well-respected in the nutrition field as well as those that I know adhere to pharmaceutical-grade practices. Pediatricians and dietitians also research which products provide the most appropriate levels of vitamins for children based upon their needs. For example, a supplement that only contains 50 mg of calcium and no iron is not the ideal choice for a picky eater who refuses dairy and meat and needs 800 mg of calcium and 10 mg of iron daily.

The main message is to make informed decisions when it comes to giving your children vitamins. The main goal is to provide adequate nutrition through food and not supplements. To discuss your child’s nutrition needs with a registered dietitian, schedule an appointment at North Shore Pediatric Therapy.


Should I Give My Child Dessert?

The word “dessert” can conjure up groans from many parents and cheers from kids. Parents may, at times, cheer about dessert too. On child with dessertthe other hand, dessert may cause more issues than benefits in several families. This is due to the fact that desserts tend to be high in sugar that are devoid of quality nutrients.

Here are some tips on how to handle desserts in your family:

  • Avoid making dessert a daily habit in the family. This also means that you should avoid buying dessert foods at the market as well as avoid keeping dessert foods in the house. Keep in mind that you are responsible as to what foods you provide to your family. If you do not have dessert available daily, then they will not likely eat it on a daily basis. Examine your own mealtime habits. Make sure that you are setting the example for how you want them to eat.
  • Avoid using dessert as a reward or not serving dessert as a punishment. It is common to use dessert in these ways in many families. “No dessert unless you eat your vegetables.” “If you take three bites of chicken, you can have dessert.” “If you behave, I will buy you ice cream after dinner.” It is important to avoid using unhealthy foods as bribes for children. It develops a bargaining tool for the child. They will then start seeking this reward more and may act out until they can get this reward again and again. It also sends a message to children that healthy foods you would like them to eat are not enjoyable or are part of a normal meal. Instead, they are a hurdle to get over so that they can have something unhealthy.
  • Help your child enjoy and appreciate all types of foods. As I discussed above, dessert is not the ultimate prize for finishing a meal. Encourage your child to eat a variety of foods by modeling good eating habits yourself. Offer 3-4 healthy foods at meals, including one or two foods that you know your kids enjoy.
  • Dessert foods DO have their place. Of course, these foods are enjoyable and can be a fun part of special occasions as well as family traditions. Allowing your kids to have dessert foods once in awhile is a normal part of life. This teaches them that these foods are perfectly fine to eat in moderation and they are intended to be consumed in that manner.

Remember, your child is capable of demonstrating good behavior as well as eating a meal without having to eat something sweet after doing so. When you do have dessert, try a healthy treat such as fruit puree popsicles, cinnamon almonds or homemade fruit and yogurt smoothies. For additional information on how to make mealtimes successful for your family, contact a registered dietitian at North Shore Pediatric Therapy.


Fiber for Kids: How Much and What Foods?

We have all received the message that fiber is important. Kids often snicker when I explain to them what fiber does in digestion (“It Fiber for Kidshelps you poop!”). This is the truth. Insoluble fiber helps move things along more quickly and it is the non-digestible “roughage” found in many fresh vegetables and whole grains. Soluble fiber helps bulk up stool, which also stimulates the digestive tract to push things along. This type of fiber is found in foods, such as oatmeal, applesauce, bananas, citrus fruits, sweet potatoes and legumes.

How Does Fiber Help?

Both types of fiber help reduce serum lipid levels (cholesterol and triglycerides). Soluble fiber helps promote satiety, which can prevent unnecessary over-eating. It also helps keep you feeling full until the next meal or snack. Furthermore, soluble fiber binds bile acids during digestion, which is formed by cholesterol. Soluble fiber indirectly lowers cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber prevents constipation.  Food is moved through the gut more quickly  in which reduces some absorption. In addition, foods that contain insoluble fiber are low in calories and fat.

Here is a list of  recommended dietary fiber needs for kids*:

Age: 1-3 years Fiber/day: 19 grams
Age: 4-6 years Fiber/day: 25 grams
Age: Girls 9-13 years Fiber/day: 26 grams
Age: Boys 9-13 years Fiber/day: 31 grams
Age: Girls 14-18 years Fiber/day: 29 grams
Age: Boys 14-18 years Fiber/day: 38 grams

Here are some ideas to incorporate fiber into your family’s meals and snacks:


  • Oatmeal with fresh or frozen berries on top
  • Whole grain cereal (more than 3 grams of fiber and less than 5 grams of sugar per serving is ideal) with a banana.
  • Yogurt-granola-fruit parfait
  • Smoothie made with yogurt, berries, banana and spinach


  • Sandwich using whole grain bread with spinach and tomatoes
  • Lentil soup
  • Salad with greens, variety of veggies, lean meat, tuna or hard boiled egg
  • Bean burrito with whole grain wrap and brown rice.


  • Baked garbanzo beans seasoned with garlic powder and salt (Use canned garbanzo beans- drained, rinsed, spread out on cookie sheet, seasoned and baked at 400 degrees for approx imately30 minutes or until light brown and crunchy)
  • Ants on a log (celery with crunchy nut butter and raisins lined upon it)
  • Sliced veggie sticks and hummus
  • Apple slices and crunchy nut butter


  • Stir fry with a variety of fresh or frozen vegetables
  • Baked potato topped with steamed broccoli (served as a side)
  • Fresh side salad
  • Brown rice, quinoa or whole grain pasta served as a side or accompaniment
  • Chili made with diced tomatoes, green and/or red peppers, corn, onions, garlic, spices, kidney beans and black beans

Do an experiment at home and read labels to determine how many grams of fiber are in the foods your kids consume throughout the day. If the food does not include a label (such as with fruits and vegetables), you may find the information on www.calorieking.com by typing the food into the search bar. Add up the amount of fiber that your child is eating to see how it compares to the recommendations that are shown in the table above.

For additional information about nutrition, meal planning, or addressing issues such as constipation or weight management, schedule an appointment with one of our registered dietitians today.
*Texas Children’s Hospital Pediatric Nutrition Reference Guide, 8th Ed. 
American Heart Association. References 4/11/07. 
2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans


Eating Healthy on a Budget

There is a stigma that eating healthy foods results in spending a lot of money. This does not always have to be the case. Instead, we food and moneyhave to be wiser grocery shoppers, have open minds to cooking and trying new things and we must be willing to change our mindset toward spending money on food.

Rather than think of food as an expense that puts a dent in the family budget every month, think of food as an investment in you and your child’s future. The type and quality of food that you feed your family has a large impact on their overall health. Ultimately, poor health can result in costing a lot of money. The small choices you make every week at the grocery store as well as meal planning can result in having a large effect over time. Altering our perspective justifies the money that we spend on quality food, while also making food a priority in the family budget.

Here are some ideas for eating healthy on a budget:

  1. Buy local produce that is in season. Seasonal produce is less expensive because there is more produce available in the current growing season (more supply = lower prices).
  2. Shop around. Find what grocery stores in your area carry the best prices for the best quality foods. When it comes to food and your health, quality does matter.
  3. Reconsider buying in large bulk. Although it seems like you are getting a good deal when you save a little by purchasing a lot, consider the fact if your family really needs an excessive quantity of any given food around the house. Often, if it is there, it will be consumed. With this in mind, the family will likely eat more, which results in purchasing more than necessary.
  4. Incorporate new foods that are nutritious and inexpensive. Some of the most nutrient-rich and least expensive foods out there are legumes. These include beans, lentils and dried peas. Many adults and children are not huge fans of legumes. Search for appealing recipes that use legumes as the main ingredient. You will receive a lot of nutrition for your money! For example, a bag of dried green or yellow split peas costs less than $1.00 and can make a large pot of soup to feed a family of four.
  5. Consider decreasing the amount of meat you and your family eat. It is common for many Americans to over-consume calories and more specifically, protein. Meat can be a major expense. The recommended serving size for a piece of meat is 4 ounces. This amount is comparable to a deck of cards. Consider how much meat your family is consuming on a regular basis and determine if there is room to trim back. Replace excess meat portions with less expensive whole grains, legumes or seasonal produce.
  6. Eat out less; eat in more. Paying for food prepared and served by someone else is more costly compared to purchasing and preparing that food for yourself at home. In addition, when you prepare meals, you can choose healthy ingredients. Using the split pea example: A bag of dried yellow or green split peas that can feed a family of four costs less than $1.00, and a cup of plain coffee from a coffee shop costs almost $2.00.

For those who are financially able, I hope that healthy food is a priority in the family budget. It will pay off in the long run in terms of health outcomes and the quality of life. For more information on healthy meal planning on a budget, contact one of our registered dietitians to schedule an appointment.


5 Reasons to Cook for the Family!

Most parents would agree that good nutrition for their kids is a priority, but it is difficult to put that priority into action on a daily basis. Parents today family cookingare busier than ever. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of 2011, both parents are working in 58.5% of married-couple families (1). This is compared to 51% in 1998 and 33% in 1976 (2). Also, the labor force participation rate (the percent of the population working or looking for work) for all mothers with children under age 18 was 70.6% in 2011 (1). More time at work for parents means less time at home to make meals for the family. And of course it takes additional time to plan meals, find recipes, and grocery shop for the food.

As a dietitian, it is my job to educate families on the importance of nutrition and how to achieve good nutrition status, especially for growing children and those who have special healthcare needs. But I am also able to personally help those busy parents and families by offering in-home cooking sessions, meal planning, and grocery store visits. In this way, better nutrition status as well as nutrition education can be accomplished.

Here are 5 reasons why cooking from home is so important:

  1. It is almost always healthier. Cooking from home, especially when using whole food ingredients, most often means fewer calories, fat, sodium, preservatives, and other additives than eating out or eating packaged convenience foods. Alternatively, excessive calories, fat, and sodium are implicated in cardiovascular disease, hypertension, overweight and obesity, cancer, and many other chronic medical conditions.
  2. It is often cheaper. When you crunch the numbers, it can be much more affordable to buy ingredients to make meals from home (which may also provide leftovers for future meals) than it is to buy those same meals out at a restaurant. In other words, you could feed your whole family spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, and breadsticks for less than what that meal would cost to serve one family member at a restaurant.
  3. Home-cooked food instills good eating habits. When you are planning family meals, you are making an effort to include a variety of healthy foods. When you take time to make the meal and share the meal with the family, you have the opportunity to be a role model for healthy eating. You can also have positive discussions about eating well and what is nutritious about the meal.
  4. Cooking at home provides a platform for establishing and sharing family traditions. Food and cooking are a big part of cultural traditions. That is, if your family continues to cook and share meals that your relatives and ancestors did. If we stop making and sharing these recipes, then we lose that aspect of our family’s culture that makes us who we are. Instead we may end up aligned with the “culture” of major food corporations and their marketing efforts.
  5. Research shows that eating as a family has numerous positive effects on children. In fact, studies have demonstrated that teenagers who regularly eat dinner with their families are healthier, happier, do better in school and engage in fewer risky behaviors than teenagers who don’t regularly eat family dinners (3, 4). Again, the family dinner is a great platform for communicating with your kids. It is a chance to really hear about what is going with them and show them that you are engaged in their lives.

To make an appointment with a registered dietitian at North Shore Pediatric Therapy who can help YOUR family, call 877-486-4140 to schedule an appointment. Our registered dietitians offer grocery store shopping and/or education sessions, meal planning services to meet your families’ nutrition needs, and in-home cooking services. We are happy to help make your life easier and your family healthier.

Schedule A Nutrition       Assessment

1. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/famee.nr0.htm
2. Tamar Lewin, “Now a Majority: Families With 2 Parents Who Work,” New York Times, October 24, 2000.
3. Eisenberg, M.E., Olson, R.E., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., & Bearinger, L.H. (2004). Correlations between family meals and psychosocial well-being among adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 158, 792-796.
4. Lyttle, J., & Baugh, E. (2008). The importance of family dinners. Gainesville, FL: Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. FY 1054, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1054.


Eat These, Not Those: The Toddler Edition

When you think of the typical diet of a toddler, there are some common foods come to mind; however, the food industry has created many toddler-suited kids with cupcakes foods that may not always have a toddler’s nutrition needs in mind.For every not-so-great toddler food, there is a better choice.

Below is a list of toddler foods that have more nutritious alternatives:

  • Say no to: Flavored yogurts packaged for on-the-go.
    • These may contain artificial food coloring and some have up tp 20 grams of sugar or more per serving.
  • Instead, tryPlain yogurt with fruit and a little maple syrup or honey stirred in. Only feed honey to kids that are older than 1 year of age.
  • Say no to: Fruit snacks.
    • These often have artificial food coloring and minimal nutritional value as they are made of sugar or corn syrup, gelatin and other chemicals.
  • Instead, try: Dried fruit. Dried fruit is a great source of fiber. Try a variety, such as cranberries, blueberries, mangoes, strawberries, cherries and peaches.
  • Say no to: Processed meats.
    • These are often high in sodium and most have nitrates. Nitrites used as preservatives can form carcinogenic compounds during digestion.
  • Instead, try: Nitrate and Nitrite-free hot dogs and lunch meat. High quality products that are made of 100% meat without additives are a better alternative to processed meats. You may also forgo the processed part and stick with whole, cooked meats.
  • Say no to: Juice, especially if it is not made with 100% juice.
    • Kids do not need juice every day for nutrition. Drinking juice displaces room for other healthy foods.
  • Instead, try: Plain milk with meals and water throughout the day.
  • Say no to: “Puffed”snacks.
    •  Again, these snack foods often do not offer much nutrition and can take-up room for other more nutritious foods.
  • Instead, try: Whole grain crackers, brown rice cakes, or whole grain cereal pieces.
  • Say no to: Processed cheese.
    • If cheese comes in a package, read the label and take caution if there is anything other than milk, salt and enzymes.
  • Instead, try: Real blocks of cheese, grated or sliced by yourself or by the deli.
  • Say no to: Peanut butter products.
    • Read labels. If you see the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated”, the peanut butter includes trans-fats. These are particularly unhealthy fats that are highly susceptible to oxidation in the body, which leads to generation of free radicals that can contribute to cardiovascular disease and cancer.
  • Instead, try: Peanut butter or other nut butters that have only nuts listed in the ingredients.
  • Say no to: Cereals, specifically those with 10 grams of sugar or more.
    • The sugar content of some of kids-themed cereals should ultimately be categorized within the dessert aisle, rather than the cereal aisle.
  • Instead, try: Whole grain cereals with less than 5 grams of sugar per serving.
  • Say no to: Fast food, specifically the burger, French fry and chicken nugget variety.
    • Fast food, especially fried fast food, is high in sodium, calories and saturated and/or trans fats. Fast food is often chosen out of convenience.
  • Instead, try: Packing a lunch from home when you know you will be on the go.
  • Say no to: Candy, especially when given as a reward.
    • Many parents use candy as a bribe for potty training, for eating vegetables or for staying quiet in the shopping cart at the grocery store.
  • Instead, try: Dried fruit or a non-edible reward like stickers, stamps, crayons or hildren’s books.

It is the caregiver’s responsibility to make good nutrition choices to offer to children. Children, as they mature,  will then choose foods from the foods they are most often exposed to from an early age.  For more information on feeding toddlers or how to manage picky eating, contact one of our registered dietitians to schedule an appointment.


A Week of Meals for Mom and Toddler

Do you feel as if you are in a rut of making the same meals for your family each week? Are your kids eating the same things over and over? I sometimes breakfast for kidsfeel this way. Someone once asked me, “Do you really follow all of the nutrition advice you give people?” And the answer is: yes! I would never tell someone to follow nutrition advice that I don’t agree with or have scientific evidence to support it. So, I thought it might be fun to share what a week’s worth of meals looks like for this dietitian mom and her toddler.

Breakfast is usually a similar rotation of a few things:

  • Scrambled eggs and whole grain toast
  • Oatmeal and fruit (my daughter’s favorite)
  • Multi-grain pancakes with blueberries
  • Barbara’s Multi-grain Shredded Wheat cereal or Gorilla Munch cereal and some fruit
  • Yogurt-fruit-spinach smoothie with toast or cereal

When it comes to lunches, I often serve leftover dinner for lunch. Otherwise, we will have something such as:

  • Sunflower seed butter and superfruit jelly sandwiches with fruits and vegetables, such as peas or carrots.
  • Black beans or garbanzo beans, sautéed with onions and spices on soft corn tortillas with cheddar cheese and fruit.
  • Rice cake and hummus with peas, cheese and fruit.

So that leaves dinner. This was our week:

  • Day 1: Grass-fed, organic ground beef hamburgers on whole wheat buns with homemade kale chips and roasted potatoes.
  • Day 2: Went to a relative’s house and packed dinner to take there. I ate falafel on whole wheat pita with cucumbers and tomatoes. My daughter had a 100% beef, nitrite-free hot dog on whole wheat bun with carrots and grapes.
  • Day 3: Homemade chicken stew in the Crock pot (organic chicken, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, vegetable broth) with a side of dried cranberries.
  • Day 4: Spaghetti made with grass-fed ground beef, whole grain noodles and organic tomato vodka sauce with green beans and mangoes.
  • Day 5: Black beans sautéed with onions and spices on soft corn tortillas with cheddar cheese. We also added applesauce with cooked quinoa to the meal.
  • Day 6: Baked organic drumsticks with Harvest Grains (Trader Joe’s product) and green beans.
  • Day 7: “Picnic dinner”, which means we ate on a blanket on the floor. My daughter is thrilled by this aspect of dinner. I had a leftover drumstick, string cheese, steamed broccoli and tortilla chips and salsa. My daughter had a sunflower seed butter and superfruit jelly sandwich on whole grain bread with steamed broccoli.

In terms of what foods I buy and cooking methods required to prepare them, my goal is to keep things simple. I do cook almost every night. In fact, it’s actually rare when I don’t cook. I do not often make very elaborate recipes and I only cook using whole food ingredients. My daughter has been raised by being offered these kinds of foods for the past few years and this is what what she is used to eating.   I hope you enjoyed a look into our week!

*If you are interested in meal planning for your family, please contact North Shore Pediatric Therapy to schedule an appointment with one of our registered dietitians. Stephanie can even come to the grocery store or visit your home to teach you how to make a week of healthy meals for your family. She will also get your kids involved, which helps to encourage them to enjoy new foods.