Do You Make These Mistakes When Giving Your Kids a Snack?

nachosI was waiting for the ferry yesterday when I noticed a group of kids around me all wearing red tee shirts. They were team shirts and the kids ranged from around 7 to 13.  The ferry was a little late so the mothers with the group decided they would go to the store for snacks.

Now, we know I’m a food snob but there are some good choices available in the ferry terminal. Unfortunately they didn’t pick them. There was a day glow green drink, bright orange cheese, one of those pre-wrapped cheese buns that is full of trans-fat and high fructose corn syrup and, of course, candy.

I thought of talking to them a bit but figured any food comments would not be well received by this group of parents. Sometimes I will say something and other times I just mind my own business. Why waste my breath on something that will not be heard?

But I have some regret, hence the blog post. Why on earth do we feed ourselves and these budding young athletes crap? Food coloring, sugar, trans-fat and who the heck knows what else is not food and it certainly doesn’t support their bodies. They became a little hyper pretty quickly after the sugar rush. I didn’t notice them on the ferry but from experience I’d say there was a not so fun sugar crash a little while later. How are they supposed to excel in school or sports without having proper nutrition?

I’m all for a treat but snacks should be like a mini meal. String cheese, hard boiled eggs, salads, fruit, yogurt and sandwiches were all available. Any of them would have been a better choice than glow in the dark substances masquerading as foods. And if these foods were treats, there were still better options available.

I have seen pop tarts and donuts given out at track meets. It’s cheap and gives the kids a quick buzz. There are way better inexpensive options. Give them a banana or an apple, they’re portable and cheap. If we don’t teach them healthy habits who will?

Wondering what some better portable snacks are? Grab a copy of my 20 Tasty Ideas for Snacks.

Got a Picky Eater in the House?

picky eaterMy friend was complaining to me the other day that her son is a really picky eater and that he wouldn’t even try a vegetable. She doesn’t want dinner time to be stressful so she generally lets him eat something separate from the rest of the family. Often he will have a  sandwich that is only bread and meat or a bowl of cereal when the family eats dinner.

I asked her where he learned the eating habits from. She said she didn’t know but he has strong preferences for what he does and doesn’t like. I had to laugh because I know where he gets his eating habits from but had to phrase a bit more nicely than what I was actually thinking. Your kids learn what they see. Sure you may eat a vegetable at dinner but they see what you are eating throughout the day.

They see what you order when you eat dinner out and what snacks you prefer. So what are you teaching your children by example? My mother had a wicked sweet tooth but she also ate vegetables during the day. We got fruit with lunch, salad and a vegetable with dinner. I also didn’t have a choice, you ate or you didn’t. Hardcore? Maybe but we also didn’t have to eat something we absolutely hated.

That may very well be because watching me gagging on lima beans grossed both of my parents out. I really can’t think of vegetable I hated more than lima beans, although cooked green beans are a close second. I do try them periodically when someone makes them but I still don’t care for them. (I will in lima beans in pasta fagioli, it’s pretty much the only way I can stand them. I still prefer cannellini or fava beans).

A wise friend told me it’s her job to introduce foods to her son and to keep putting a little bit of them on his plate. It wasn’t her job to force him to eat them but to put them consistently on his radar. That makes sense, forcing would reinforce the hatred of the vegetable. But by used to them he will eventually start eating some of them.

A client of mine started changing her eating habits. Her children noticed, her son ordered a salad over french fries when the went out to eat. She was so proud of him but I was proud of her. He most likely would not have made that choice if he did not see her ordering a healthier dinner. She was empowering her family to eat better as well.

This can work even if you aren’t the parent. Be the cool aunt, uncle or friend who shows how foods can be yummy and healthy. I came home after spending time with my grandma and asked that my mother buy cantaloupe, something my mother hated. I also learned to like asparagus and artichokes from my dad’s sister.

So what are you teaching your children? Making small changes in your eating habits will have a big impact on theirs.

Want to start making better snack choices? Grab your copy of my Top 15 Desk Snacks. These are yummy shelf stable snacks that you can keep on hand whether you have a desk, kitchen, or a back pack that you carry around.

I Lied About My Diet

Scenic008I always say that I don’t really follow any particular diet. But actually, after reading a few articles, I realize I do follow a type of diet. I eat in the style of the Mediterranean diet.

It’s not a fad or a particularly stringent diet. I certainly don’t count points on it, I don’t even count calories. I do eat a lot of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts. I eat poultry and fish a few times a week and red meat on occasion. I like a good glass of red wine and some dark chocolate periodically as well.

I think of it more as a lifestyle than a diet. Meals are simple and generally relaxed. At dinner I sit down and eat with my husband. We are focused on each other, we aren’t watching TV or checking our email. Listen, if you can’t pay attention to each other for 20 – 30 minutes you may be better off alone.

Food is fresh and delicious, it’s not about eating a big bowl of pasta. It’s about fresh foods that are in season or have been canned or frozen for the year. I am not going to the market every day to buy fresh food, it’s not realistic for me to do so. I’m sure it’s not realistic for a lot of you either.

But I do go to the farmers market on Saturday and make a game plan for the week. My weekly meal plan is based on what looked good and what I purchased. I am not wondering every night what to make because I have this beautiful food that I purchased earlier in the week.

I’d rather live my life thinking that food was pleasurable, delicious and something to look forward to rather than something that was tasteless, low-fat, and something to be endured. Which way would you rather think?

Do you want to finally lose weight and keep it off with out yo-yo dieting or deprivation? Send me an email, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, for a 20 minute strategy session to find you 3 key blocks.

 

Do You Do a Disappearing Act at 3 p.m.?

coffeeDo you run out for coffee, tea or chocolate at 3 p.m.?  Can you imagine what your boss thinks when she looks out and sees either zombies or empty seats? Imagine if you were the one still there and bright eyed. Which employee would you want to keep?

A better lunch and a little exercise on your break can help ward off your fatigue. Foods that are heavy, fried, or fake will have you crashing two hours later. Grilled chicken on whole wheat bread and a side salad will power you up without leaving you sluggish.

If you do need a boost make it something that won’t leave you with another energy slump.  If you are reaching for a large coffee go for a green tea instead. Caffeine causes spikes and drops in blood sugar which causes the lift and the subsequent crash and leads to both mood swings and irritability.  Skip the sugar and use a natural sweetener such as honey or stevia to minimize any further sugar lows.

I think a better option is to take a  10-20 minute walk at lunch.  The walk will clear the cobwebs from your brain and the exercise will get the blood flowing.  You’ll feel refreshed and energized without experiencing a crash later on.  And you’ll have gotten in some  exercise.  If you do that two or three times more during the day you’ve hit the recommended 30 – 40 minutes.

Another option is to have a green juice or smoothie.  If you are new to green drinks I’d recommend starting with ones that are more fruit and have some greens added in.  The fruit will make it sweet and delicious and the leafy greens are full of nutrients and are powerhouses for our bodies.  They purify the blood, strengthen the immune system and improve circulation.   I also find they help curb my cravings, after drinking one I’m not looking for snacks or sweets.

A final thought:  You could just be slightly dehydrated.  Try drinking a glass of water and waiting 10 minutes to see how you feel.

Feeling sluggish regularly? Need help on figuring out what to eat? I can help you with that. To schedule a complimentary 40 minute strategy session, send me an email at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com or visit my website, http://www/.empoweredplate.com/.

Staying Healthy On the Go

suitcaseI’m traveling next week for a conference and I’m starting to plan how I’m going to eat healthy and fit exercise in. It’s definitely a challenge when my schedule is not my own and I feel like I’m at the mercy of others. Last week I blogged on how to go out and enjoy a meal without going crazy. It’s a little different when all meals will be eaten out for a week and you don’t have access to a kitchen.

I have packed some healthy snacks: nuts, clean protein bars, low-fat & low sugar granola, and oatmeal. Even though I am not really familiar with the area I know that I can usually order salads, grilled fish or chicken and such. If the choices aren’t that stellar I’ll make the best of what they do have and stick with smaller portions.

I look for local markets to stock up fresh fruit and Greek yogurt but in a pinch I have been known to ask the restaurant of the hotel I’m staying in if I can buy a piece of fruit from them. They are always glad to help out.

I’ll do a little more research to see what restaurants are in the area but I know that I’ll end up in a group and eating with others. Having some sort of plan before I go makes me feel more in control and able to make good choices along the way. Having snacks will keep me from grabbing what ever happens to look good.

The hours for the conference are long, 8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m., but I know fitting in at least walks on my break will keep me sane. I’ve also packed an exercise band and my yoga paws – they slide on your hands and feet so you can have the stickiness of a yoga mat without having to carry a mat. I can use a towel from the hotel so I’m not laying on the floor. The hotel has a gym and I’ve checked online and found a park nearby so if I’m up early I can go for a run.

Having plans in place to stay healthy make me feel empowered and they get me out of the “how am I going to fit this in” mindset. Now I’m thinking :”great! let’s see where I can schedule this in.” Subtle but it gives the power to me rather than my schedule.

Having trouble fitting in healthy habits into your day and making them stick? Email me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, for a complimentary 40 minute power session. Together we will come up with a plan that works for you and your lifestyle.