What to Eat and How Much?

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Who is the decision-maker when it comes to food choices? Is it the school? government? family? children?

 What to Eat and How Much?

Ground rules for this go something like this:

Parents should have the final word about what foods are bought and used for meals and snacks. It’s the parents who need to make healthy choices about foods for themselves and their family. This is for foods eaten at home or outside the home. It’s important to choose nutritious foods so that the goal for healthy food is met each day.

Buying crispy vegetables and fruits instead of cookies, chips and dips is a better trade-off. You can find already cleaned carrots, green beans, and grape tomatoes ready-to-eat. Add some raw broccoli and there is enough goodness for a salad or snacks for awhile.

The same can be done for fruits. Some require a little more preparation. For example, cutting up apples and oranges and putting them in little plastic bags or glass dishes in the refrigerator takes more time but is worth it.

Within reason, children should decide on the amount of food they want to eat at meals and snacks. Some guidance may be necessary, depending on the age of the children. Some families are concerned about children eating too much, while others worry about children not eating enough.

Always talk with your child about why they are choosing not to eat. Try to keep the communication open about food.

Eating should be a pleasant experience. Food should not be used as a reward or punishment. Make mealtimes an important and essential part of the day.

To your good health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson
Good nutrition advocate

 What to Eat and How Much?
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Getting Kids in the Kitchen – Preparing and Eating Food

PinExt Getting Kids in the Kitchen   Preparing and Eating Food

It’s important that children not only learn to appreciate food, but also learn to cook for themselves. Even preschool children can learn how to help with meals and prepare or help cook simple foods.

Teaching children to cook is probably the best way to get kids to eat right and respect food. The whole point of getting them in the kitchen and involved is to get them to feel and taste the food. Let them use their sense of smell, taste, and touch. Children need to be exposed to different foods several times before they will taste it. Preparing it themselves increases their interest and desire to try it.

Children love the experience of mixing, stirring, and chopping, depending on age. Let them discover the joy of creating delicious, healthy dishes by encouraging them to help you.

One of the easiest and quickest ways to get dinner going with your young help, is to work together preparing roasted vegetables. For this you and the children scrub the vegetables well and then cut them up into about same-size pieces. This can be foods such as potatoes (white or sweet), carrots, onion, garlic, green and red pepper, celery, mushrooms, squash, broccoli and others.

Then the children can dribble a little virgin olive oil over them, stir well to distribute the oil, and splash a little balsamic vinegar over them, along with a little salt and fresh ground pepper.

Spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or other large flat pan. Roast in 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Using a long handled spatula, you need to stir them periodically to keep them from sticking to the bottom.

They will come out with a nice dark color, perhaps more brown in places, but crispy, and oh, so good.

Even though you start with a large quantity of vegetables, the children will be amazed how much  smaller the portion is after roasting. Take time to explain here the reason for this.

300px Grilled vegetables Getting Kids in the Kitchen   Preparing and Eating Food

You may want to add a protein to the meal, such as cooked chicken, hamburger, or roast beef. Or you can just sprinkle shredded Parmesan or Cheddar cheese over the vegetables and you and your helpers have just prepared a one dish meal for your family.

Let’s stay healthy,

Lee Jackson
Child nutrition advocate, author



 Getting Kids in the Kitchen   Preparing and Eating Food
PinExt Getting Kids in the Kitchen   Preparing and Eating Food

Is There a Problem Eater or a Happy Eater in the House?

PinExt Is There a Problem Eater or a Happy Eater in the House?
4799458063 4e5dbfb774 m Is There a Problem Eater or a Happy Eater in the House?

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You may know children who are picky eaters, or who refuse to try new foods, or even those who exhibit bad behavior at mealtime. As food patterns develop early, parents need to guide young children toward having good attitudes about food and mealtimes.

Here are hints for establishing good eating patterns in childhood.

Don’t force children to eat everything on their plates. Sometimes food helpings are larger than needed so don’t expect them to eat everything. Sometimes children do not feel like eating, just as happens to adults. Encourage the sampling of all food but children should not be made to sit at the table until everything is eaten. You can imagine the kind of feelings toward food this action represents.

Don’t scold or nag about poor eating habits. Yes, children need to know what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behavior. But the constant talk and attention to “eat all your vegetables” or “sit up straight” raises the tension level at the table. Relax and enjoy the food and company.

Don’t reward or punish with food. We all know the dangers of “if you eat all your food you can have ice cream (or add any favorite food)”, or “if you’re good, you can have cake”.  Food, including cake or ice cream, should not be a bargaining tool. If it’s a planned part of the meal, it should be available for all. Those that use treats for good behavior or punishment are using food as a means of gaining control. Food is nourishment and should be considered as such, as well as for enjoyment.

Mealtime is an important part of the day. Sharing food with family and/or friends is one of the pleasures of life.  If children are included in family conversations and are given lots of positive attention at mealtime and other times, they won’t have to resort to undesirable behavior.

What are other ways you have tried to establish good eating habits for children?

Here’s to developing healthy eating habits,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
See our books on cooking with children and others:
Books for cooks and apple lovers, kids,
families and parenting professionals

 Is There a Problem Eater or a Happy Eater in the House?
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What are Mealtime Goals?

PinExt What are Mealtime Goals?

Children vary in their food needs and eating habits. Some children are very picky eaters, others go on various same-food binges. Then there are others who like and eat a little of everything. Everybody is different. That’s a good thing!

Parents often get overwhelmed, though, by the so-called problem eaters. This is a difficult time to get through. However, if they can learn to adjust to the individual differences without making an issue of eating, mealtimes will be much happier.

Here are a number of fundamental mealtime goals most parents want their children to meet.

First, they want them to eat a well-balanced meal. It is up to parents to see that their children have foods available from the different food groups – protein foods such as meat, fish, chicken, or eggs; fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals; milk and milk products for strong teeth and bones; and breads and cereals for energy to run, play, and learn.

To taste a little of everything and eat only from their plate. All the food may not be to their liking, but encourage them to taste a little of everything. By tasting a little and eating other foods they like, they should be well-nourished. Some children like to eat what’s on their parents or other children’s plate, or to dip into the serving bowls. Nibbling on someone else’s food should be discouraged. If they want another serving of the food, they can ask for it.

To enjoy mealtime. Hopefully this is a time when the family can eat together. Many studies show how valuable this is to all members of the family. It should be a time of sharing and “catching up” with the activities of each. If there are unpleasant topics, disagreements or criticisms to discuss, they need to be left for another time.

To stay at the table and use good table manners. This isn’t the time to jump up and down from their chair but to remain seated until excused. Having good table manners makes mealtime much more pleasant for everyone.

Mealtime is a good time to sit together, learn about the foods to eat, about table manners, and how to talk to one another. Mealtimes can be the highlight of the day but everyone needs to work on making this time enjoyable.

Enjoy your mealtimes,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Check out our children’s cookbooks here

 What are Mealtime Goals?
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Eating Healthy Goals

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300px Good Food Display   NCI Visuals Online Eating Healthy Goals

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Top on the list of most person’s goals this year are to eat healthy, lose weight and stay more active. When we look at the whole picture, this is a pretty daunting list. How can we do everything and still have a life?

Today let’s focus on eating healthy. What we eat has magnificent powers. Food can give us health and vigor, protecting us from disease and minor discomforts. Food can also make us sick and miserable. We are in control of what goes into our mouth and stomach. We can’t always control noise factors, pollution, or other detriments to our health. What we eat and how much we eat is totally up to us.

Where to start?

Use food for the mind and the body. Food is not something to quickly gulp down when there is a gnawing feeling in the stomach. It’s to be enjoyed and appreciated. Therefore, take time to sit down and really sense what it is you are eating. Perhaps you can even visualize where the food was grown, who picked it, the landscape of the area. Think: I want to eat foods that will feed my body. Make this a positive mind-set.

Set up  conditions conducive to this mind-set. Is there still a supply of high-sugar holiday goodies around the house? Eliminating these, as well as any junk foods such as chips, crackers and soft drinks will help keep you from hearing them call you. The “cupboard cleaning-out” process may even include cake mixes, chili mixes, and other pre-prepared foods. None of these are necessary for good health. They do not provide any nutrients for keeping the body at its best.

Plan family meals. Look in your kitchen to see what foods are available. Do you have high quality protein foods such chicken, turkey, eggs, fish or lean meat? What vegetables could you prepare? Are there any fruits available? Any legumes, nuts, seeds or whole grains?  Your meals should revolve around these types of foods. It is best to write out possible meal suggestions. Consider your family’s ages, as well as likes and dislikes. Look in your cookbooks for any new and interesting ways to prepare what you have or want to prepare. This will save you time when you do your grocery shopping. Planning nutritious and tasty meals is a skill which is developed through practice. See http://www.imagesunlimitedpub.com for more suggestions on meal planning, as well as how children can help you in the planning and preparation.

I’ve included three good practices that will help get the year started with you and your family’s health and well-being in mind. What are some ways you will implement “eating healthy” this year?

To your success,

Lee Jackson
“Healthy Eating for Your Family”

 Eating Healthy Goals
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