Healthy Lunches and Healthy Snacks for Healthy Kids

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N

            When my sons were in school, I always made brown bag lunches for them.  In high school, they usually took extra money to enhance the lunch that I provided  because they were growing boys who needed lot of extra calories.  Trying to come up with lunch choices that would taste good by noon after being stuck in their warm locker all morning  was a challenge.  But, today’s children have more options to keep their brown bag lunches at an optimal temperature.  Food safety has become paramount.  But the bottom line is what you pack for your child must be something they will actually eat.  If they are trading the lunch you pack or simply not eating it –  what’s the point.  Here’s some suggestions.

Rules for Packing Lunches for Your Kids That They Will Actually Eat

  1. Talk with your child about lunch likes and dislikes and what works and what doesn’t.  A bag lunch is different from a fresh lunch.
  2. Get your children involved with the process.  Don’t send things the child does not like.
  3. Come up with a list of foods that your child would like to eat at lunch – not one that you want him/her to eat.  The trading game is very popular.
  4. Rotate the lunches so your child will not tire of the same old thing – plus a variety of foods offer a variety of nutrients.
  5. Purchase an insulated lunch box to ensure that foods are kept at their proper temperature and wash it routinely to prevent bacteria buildup.
  6. Pack hot foods in a thermos – as long as your child can remember to bring it home.
  7. Keep cold foods cold by using an ice pack or freezing juice boxes.  Juices will be thawed out by lunchtime and will be good and cold to drink, too.
  8. Stay away from pre-packed lunch-ables – they are high in fat and calories and low in nutrients.  They are expensive as well.
  9. Keep the lunch simple.

Sandwich choices:

•     Use a variety of breads: bagels, rolls, pita pockets, English Muffins, raisin or multigrain bread.

•     For the younger children, you can use cookie cutters such as a star or triangle to make some designer sandwiches that will be fun to eat.

Protein choices:

•     Luncheon meats – lean cuts of turkey, ham, or roast beef.  For the artistic parent of a younger child, you can get thicker cuts of meat and use a cookie cutter to design the protein source as well as the bread.

•     Chicken, tuna or egg salad using light mayonnaise or salad dressing. Besides using bread you can serve in a pita pocket or in a small cup or container.

•     Add raisins, Cinnamon Trail Mix (see recipe below) or granola to add some pizzaz to the plain peanut butter and jelly sandwich for added nutrients and added crunch.

•     To boost the protein and calcium in the lunch, pack a slice of string cheese or add

cheese slices to the sandwiches.

•     You can also add a container of yogurt which will boost the protein and calcium content.  Yogurt can also serve as a dessert.

Vegetable Attack

•     Pack raw vegetables such as carrot, peppers, cucumbers or celery sticks. Serve with fat free plain yogurt  dip or fat free sour cream dip which provides a good source of calcium (Fat Free Flavored Dip see recipe below).

•     Add vegetables slices to the sandwiches such as tomatoes, green, red or yellow peppers and a deep green lettuce or spinach to boost the nutrient content of the sandwich.

Healthy Snacks for Healthy Kids

Snacking is an important part of growing up. Growing kids need to snack but  making good snack choices is a challenge especially since there are many not so good snacks on the market.  And, kids see all those enticing commercials on TV that offer some very poor snack choices.  Parents are often pressured into purchasing these types of snacks as a result. But, keep in mind parents are in the drivers seat, not the children.  You are the gate keeper as to what comes into the house to eat.

Snack Ideas

Pretzels

Graham crackers

Whole-wheat crackers like Triskets® (you can reduced fat ones, too)

Spicy Cinnamon Trail Mix (see recipe below)

Granola bars

Frosted miniWheats® (made with whole grains)

Yogurt  (you can add whole grain Grape Nuts® for an added crunch and extra nutrients)

Homemade tortilla chips, bagel chips or pita crisps with chunky salsa or with Fat

Free Flavored Dip (see recipe below)

Frozen Fruit Nuggets (see recipe below)

Fruit Smoothies (fresh fruit, yogurt, milk, ice and put in a blender)

Pizza Bagel –  add a little pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh veggies then  place under broiler until heated

 

Crunchy GORP

Makes: 1 serving

Nutritional Information: 296 calories, 9 gram of fat, 4 grams of fiber, 259 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of protein, 51 grams of carbohydrate, 69 milligrams of calcium

Preparation time: 5 minutes

¼ cup Wheat Chex

¼ cup Corn Chex

¼ cup pretzels

¼ cup raisins

2 tablespoons peanuts

Combine all the ingredients in bag.  Shake it up.  Then enjoy!

 

Frozen Fruit Nuggets

Grapes, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches or other fruits.

Clean as needed.  Cut fruit into bite-sized pieces.  Spread fruit on a cookie sheet and cover.  Put into freezer for 1 hour.  Place individual pieces into baggies and store in the frezzer.  (You can also buy frozen fruit in the frozen section of your supermarket.  Make sure they have no added sugar)

Cinnamon Trail Mix

Makes: 10 servings

Nutritional Information: 156 calories, 2 gram of fat, 2 grams of fiber, 222 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of protein, 33 grams of carbohydrate, 45 milligrams of calcium

Preparation time: 5 minutes  Baking time: 20 minutes

3 cups oat squares cereal

3 cups mini-pretzels

2 tablespoons margarine, melted

1 tablespoon brown sugar packed

½ – ¾  teaspoon cinnamon*

1 cup raisins or other dried fruit

*If you like the cinnamon taste – use more cinnamon.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine the oat squares in a large plastic bag or plastic container with a lid.  Melt margarine.  Add brown sugar and cinnamon to melted margarine.  Mix well. Pour this mixture over the cereal mixture.  Mix well by gently shaking until well coated.  Pour mixture onto a baking sheet.  Bake uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes stirring once or twice.  Completely cool.  Then add raisins or other dried fruit.  Store in airtight container or small zip-lock individual bags.

Fat-Free Flavored Dip

Makes: 16 – 2 tablespoon servings

Nutritional Information: 25 calories, 0 gram of fat, 0 grams of fiber, 260 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbohydrate, 40 milligrams of calcium

Preparation time: 5 minutes

 

1 eight-ounce container of fat-free plain yogurt or sour cream

(you can use reduced fat or light yogurt or sour cream as well)

1 package of onion soup mix, vegetable dip mix or other mixes

Combine  yogurt/sour cream with package mix and blend well.  Serve with veggies, baked tortilla chips, bagel chips or pita crisps.

 

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHEALTHWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 11 grandchildren.    

 

Cooling Down Kids in the Summer

By Ashli Collins, MD

Growing up a few decades ago we thought water was for sissies.  Sports drinks weren’t invented except for maybe Tang and we didn’t even have bottled water.  Occasionally at a picnic someone would bring a big water cooler with a spigot and that was the pinnacle of rehydration.  Thankfully, someone decided that an unnamed team in the South needed replenishment after hours of practice in the hot sun and the world of sports drinks and better hydration was started.

Several noted sports figures have died in recent years from “heatstroke” or heat related illnesses.  What is under appreciated though, is the danger of heat illness in our young athletes.  The dramatic increase in competitive, year round sports for our youth has caused a similar increase in the number of cases of heat related illness.

Children are especially susceptible to heat related problems for several reasons.  Kids have fewer sweat glands than adults, thus limiting the amount of sweat they produce to cool their body.  Their bodies generate more heat than adults and thus increase their core body temperature sooner.  They have a higher ratio of body surface area to body mass.  And as children, are usually dependent on their coaches/parents to provide fluid and shade.

Our bodies, both adults and children, gain heat from internal and external forces.  Internally, we generate heat by the amount of work expended-from couch sitting to being outside running we generate heat.  Externally, our body “gains heat” by the surrounding  temperature.  We lose heat by several mechanisms, the most important being evaporation and radiation.  As our “heat in” exceeds our “heat out”, we run into heat related problems.  Interestingly, when the humidity is greater than 75%, the air is so saturated with moisture that sweat cannot be evaporated.  Thus, high heat, high humidity days are the most dangerous.

Heat related illnesses range from mild cramping to death.  Heat cramps are the earliest sign of a problem with short muscle spasms or cramps that usually last less than a minute.  The legs, shoulders and abdomen are the most common areas to have cramping.  They may also occur during or after exercise.

Treatment for heat cramps includes moving the child to a cooler place, allowed to rest and given fluids.  Fluid support can either be water or electrolyte enriched sports drinks.  Salty foods, such as pretzels or chips, may also aid in recovery as a large volume of salt is lost in sweat.

As practice/play in the heat progresses, so can heat illness.  Heat exhaustion from either excessive water loss or excessive salt loss can occur.  Symptoms of this include nausea, vomiting, headache and fever.  Weakness, dizziness or confusion may also occur in some children.

Treatment for heat exhaustion begins with the same measures as that of cramping with rest, moving to a cooler environment and fluids.  If the child is vomiting, IV fluids may be needed as well as monitoring of labs.

Heatstoke, the most serious heat related illness, is described by high temperatures (above 104.9o), coma and hot, dry skin.  Seizures, increased heart rate and low blood pressure may also be seen.  This is an emergency and must be treated aggressively by an emergency room.  Untreated heatstroke can lead to total cardiorespiratory collapse and death.

In addition to our children out playing and increasing their chances for heat related illness, children left in cars on a warm day may also suffer.  One report states that an outdoor temperature between 86o and 104o can raise the temperature inside a car to 120-140o within minutes.  Another forgotten danger zone for children are hot tubs and saunas.

Preventative measures go a long way in keeping heat related illnesses away.  Hydrating before activity is recommended.  Urine should be a very light yellow before activities in the heat.  Rehydrating during activity is also paramount.  One recommendation is that a 40 kg child should consume 5 oz of fluid for every 20 minutes of activity and a 60kg child 9 oz/20 minutes.  For activity lasting an hour or less, water is ok.  But, for longer activity, a glucose/electrolyte replacement drink is preferred.

Other helpful hints are to dress your child in lightweight, lightly colored clothing for play.  Also, weighing your young athlete before and after practice can help you estimate how much fluid they are losing.  Adjustments to their rehydration can then be more adequately figured.  Coaches need to be aware of the duration of practice in regards to temperature and humidity. Mandatory water breaks based on those conditions should then be instituted to protect their athletes.

Ashli Colins, MD.  Dr. Collins is a pediatrician with Oldham County Pediatrics, PLLC.  They have offices in LaGrange and in Louisville near the Summit.  She has two kids, twins, Sarah and P.J.  For more information call 502-225-6277 or www.oldhamcountypeds.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Implementing The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act: By Improving Milk and Water Requirements in Schools

 

Presented by Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

With schools getting ready for the 2011-12 school year, changes have been made regarding water and milk requirements. Kids may not be getting enough fluid throughout the day so adding more access to water during school lunch.  In addition, the USDA has lowered the amount of fat and calories in the milk choice to include skim or 1% milk only. Flavored milk can still be offered but it must be either skim or 1% milk.

USDA  guidance on improving water and milk requirements to states on:

  1. Making water available during school lunch, and
  2. Offering a variety of milk consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Summary of Changes to the Water Availability during School Lunch Meal Service

  • Free water must be made readily available to children during lunch.
  • Schools are given flexibility in how to implement this change. The memo reads: “For example, schools can offer water pitchers and cups on lunch tables, a water fountain, or a faucet that allows students to fill their own bottles or cups with drinking water.”
  • Water is not considered part of the reimbursable meal. However, reasonable costs from providing water will be considered an allowable cost to the nonprofit food service account.

Summary of Changes to the Nutrition Requirements for Fluid Milk

  • Schools should offer children at least two choices of fluid milk that are either fat-free or low-fat (1 percent).
  • Schools may continue to offer plain or flavored milk as long as they are fat-free or low-fat until the new proposed school meals rule goes into effect.

Implementation

Even though local school districts have until the start of next school year (SY 2011-2012) to comply with the requirements, school officials and food service directors should start to make these changes now. Implementing these changes quickly is key to making the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act a success.

Advocates can support schools in this process by:

  • Working with school wellness councils to raise awareness of these new requirements and the timetable for making changes.
  • Collaborating with community stakeholders and the media to build awareness and excitement about these nutritional improvements.
  • Supporting  education and dialogue for school staff, students, and parents promoting the acceptance and understanding of the health benefits of lower-fat milk and the availability of water.
  • Connecting schools with best practice information on education materials, curriculum, and advice on lessons learned from the implementation of similar requirements.

 

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHEALTHWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 11 grandchildren.    

 

Kids: Fuel Like a Champion!

By: Christopher R. Mohr, PhD, RD

Parents often contact me looking for nutrition advice for their child and they all swear their kid is going to get a college scholarship, while even more are going pro!  Sound familiar?  Hopefully it is true, but aside from the training they have, there’s often one component of an overall program that’s missing from making sure they’re successful – learning how to fuel like a champion is important!
Let’s delve a bit into some specific nutrition tips for young athletes.

 

Carbohydrates should absolutely be the cornerstone of anyone’s diet.  The key, is to focus heavily on quality — “think fiber, not carbs!”  There is a huge difference between white bread and whole grain, high fiber bread; a sugar coated cereal and oatmeal; French fries vs. sweet potatoes.  Focus on the quality of the carbohydrates.

 

For example, definitely eat breakfast, but try a whole grain based cereal with some fresh fruit for the nutrients and fiber.  Sandwiches should be made with whole grain bread, rather than their white counterpart.  Snacks can be whole grain crackers with peanut butter, fruit or veggie sticks with peanut butter, etc.  The list can go on.  The focus of carbohydrates should always be on foods that provide a few grams of fiber per serving (exception is milk and yogurt, which are very healthy and carbohydrate based, but provide little, if any fiber).

 

Fruit and vegetables are also a crucial element to a healthy diet.  Kids often shy away from them and parents don’t always push them.  However, research has suggested it can take as many as one dozen times to determine if a child likes a particular food.  The key for a parent is to introduce kids to as many of these nutrient dense, colorful foods as possible!  Make it fun.  Here are a few ideas:

 

  • Ants on a log (celery with natural peanut butter and raisins)
  • Sailboats (apple slices with toothpicks holding a cheddar cheese “sail”— of course watch your child to ensure they don’t eat the toothpick).
  • Homemade trail mix (mixed nuts, dried fruit, and some whole grain cereal)

 

Keep in mind that dried fruit counts towards the total fruit intake for the day, as does 100% juice (of course this shouldn’t be the mainstay, though, as whole fruit provides more fiber), along with fruit puree.

Protein Needs of Young Athletes

 

In the world of athletics, no other macronutrient has received the same level of attention as protein.  Everywhere you look, everything you see, tells us we need more and more protein, whether you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle.  But how about for adolescent athletes; do they too have higher protein requirements like other fitness enthusiasts?  As you know, they too are trying to improve performance, put some muscles on those bodies, and of course just improve overall health (at least we hope they are!).

 

Of course protein plays a role and a very important one at that!  One important message is to make sure young athletes always focus on food first.  High quality protein sources include:

  • fish and other seafood
  • low or non fat milk or yogurt
  • chicken and turkey breast
  • lean red meat
  • tofu
  • mixed nuts
  • eggs
  • beans
  • natural peanut butter and more.

 

The greater the variety in the diet, the better off they will be getting the most “bang for their buck” in terms of various amino acids and other nutrients.

We need to teach young athletes proper nutrition habits, which should include whole, nutrient dense foods rather than teaching them to immediately turn to supplements, which is common with protein.

 

At the same time, there are quality supplements out there that can be of use.  I would much rather have a teen athlete have a high quality protein shake, blended with some fruit versus a snack like those served at the soccer game I alluded to earlier, or fast food, which is way too common these days.

 

  • Do they need a protein supplement?  No.
  • Will it make them into the next college or pro athlete?  Of course not!
  • Can it be beneficial and a healthier option than many of the alternative high sugar, high fat foods marketed directly towards children?  Absolutely!

 

But food first as whole foods provide more nutrients than any supplement does or ever will be able to provide.

 

Chewing the Fat

 

Fat is another crucial nutrient for children.  The key, like with the other macronutrients, is to focus on quality.  In fact, there have been a handful of scientific studies to even show that one component of omega-3 fats, DHA, is crucial in terms of brain development.  Fat also provides a lot of calories (over double that of protein or carbohydrates), which can be important for very active, young athletes who need more calories than most to develop healthy, strong bodies.

 

Here are a few fats to choose:

  • Fish
  • Whole eggs
  • olive oil
  • Raw mixed nuts
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Avocadoes and more

 

Don’t overdo the fats, but definitely don’t skimp on them either—moderation and quality is king!

 

Fluids

These are actually the most important nutrient anyone can consume.  The quality of the fluid is a struggle for kids in particular; they are surely drinking more fluids, but not the type we’d encourage.  Over the past few decades, milk consumption has decreased dramatically and is being replaced with soft drinks.  This is unfortunate because of the nutrients being lost without the milk and the empty calories they’re being replaced with.  Remember I mentioned earlier that 100% juice does count as fruit; however, we also don’t want kids to live off this, as it doesn’t provide all the same fiber and nutrients whole fruit does, in addition to being way too easy to over consume.  Keep in mind that 4 oz of juice counts as one fruit; this is ½ of a cup of juice.  It would be very easy to drink 2 whole cups of juice, but you are less likely to eat the equivalent 4 whole oranges, meaning it is easy to pack in a lot of excess calories.
Water is really the best option.  The 2005 Dietary Guidelines do in fact make a recommendation to consume at least 3 servings of low-fat milk or other dairy products, and the majority of other fluids should be water.  If you need to make water more exciting for kids, add a squeeze of orange, lemon, lime, or cucumber.  And always keep a pitcher in the refrigerator, so there is cold water at their fingertips.

 

In summary, here are a few tips to keep in mind when fueling young athletes.

 

  • Variety is crucial—the more the variety, the better
  • The more fruits and vegetables each day, the better
  • Think fiber, not carbs
  • Protein is absolutely important, just as it is with adults.
  • Fat quality is crucial
  • Be creative to get kids to eat a variety of foods
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
  • Very basic supplements, such as a high quality protein, are OK, within reason, but the food first approach is always the best with folks of all ages.

 

Most important, make sure your child has a chance to try a variety of activities, has fun, and enjoys him/herself.  At 9 or 10 years old, they are not trying out for the majors; they are trying to play and have fun.  Let them be kids, learn some basic skills, and camaraderie; it’s not the Superbowl, World Series, or World Cup!  In the meantime, feed them well and teach them positive nutrition habits that will stay with them for life!  For more information on how to make the best nutrition decisions for young athletes, visit www.FuelLikeaChampion.com

 

Christopher R. Mohr, PhD, RD is the co-owner of Mohr Results, Inc.  He has a PhD in exercise physiology, is a registered dietitian, and board certified sports dietitian.  Visit www.MohrResults.com to learn more about their weight loss seminars in Louisville, DVD’s, and other educational materials!

 

 

New Ideas for Fast & Easy-to-Make Breakfasts for Kids

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.
Kids and adults, too, need to eat breakfast every day. Breakfast means break the fast. Kids will do better in school and parents will do better at work if they eat breakfast. Here’s few easy recipes: Nutty Fruit Breakfast Wrap -1 whole wheat tortilla, ¼ cup low fat vanilla yogurt, ½ cup fresh or frozen fruit like blueberries, ¼ tablespoon of toasted wheat germ (high in folic acid and vitamin E) and 1 tablespoon chopped nuts like walnuts. Fold in sides of tortilla, then roll. 1 serving = 314 calories, 10 grams of protein, 39 grams of carbohydrate, 14 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber. Crunchy Fruited Yogurt- 1 tablespoon low fat granola, 8 ounces low fat vanilla yogurt, 1 tablespoon nuts like walnuts, ½ cup of fresh or frozen fruit like strawberries. 1 serving = 289 calories, 13 grams of protein, 43 grams of carbohydrate, 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber. Here’s a resource to figure out how many calories your kids need per day. http://www.bcm.edu/cnrc/healthyeatingcalculator/eatingCal.html.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition. The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers. Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues. Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHEALTHWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 9 grandchildren.