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Published: Sunday, 3/23/2003

Parents given game plan for nutrition

For 30 years, the American Dietetic Association has been sponsoring an annual March nutrition education and information campaign called National Nutrition Month. The emphasis is on making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits, which is important for adults and kids.

The ADA recommends:

  • Actively pursue a variety of foods. Expand your range of choices and explore new tastes, within and among food groups.

  • Make moderation your goal. Healthy eating doesn't mean feeling deprived or guilty. Look at what you eat over several days; it's not just one day or one meal that's important.

  • Develop a personal fitness plan that fits your lifestyle and your budget. Find a variety of activities you enjoy. You don't need expensive equipment or fitness programs.

    Among the topics that dietitians and nutritionists are often asked to discuss is the idea of childhood obesity. According to the American Obesity Association, more than 15 percent of children ages 6 through 12 are obese. That's up from 11 percent in 1988-1994. Type II diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, orthopedic complications, and other physical problems can result, according to Chow Line, a publication of Ohio State University.

    Last Tuesday, Jan Meyer, nutrition program coordinator with the American Dairy Council, spoke on the topic to the Maumee Valley Country Day School Parent Association. The lunch-hour meeting included a Grand Tasting of the nutritious foods.

    Maumee Valley school chef Joe Prince adapted recipes from parents for quantity cooking. Among the food stations with salads and side dishes, entrees, desserts, and soups were lemon chicken kebabs with herb rice, vegetarian chili, and cucumber and salmon sandwiches.

    Ms. Meyer shared ideas on how to get children to try something new; buy inexpensive and uncomplicated healthy food, and how to help kids make the right food choices when parents are not nearby.

    “Loving to eat is normal,” says the nutritionist. “All kids have food preferences. There are eating variations from day to day.”

    She recommends planned snacks for children. “You as a parent have more control over what foods they are eating,” she says.

    “It's normal for kids to have a negative reaction to new foods. They aren't sure they will like it. A child should eat until they feel full.”

    Parents often ask how to get their child to eat. “It's the parent's responsibility for when, what, and how the food is presented,” she says. “It's the child's responsibility for eating it.”

    Leading to childhood obesity are declining physical activity, sometimes because of too much television or Internet and computer usage; parents' eating habits, which may not be the best; food trends, and the school environment.

    Chow Line also points to:

  • Some schools' food offerings where students have unlimited access to high-calorie, low-nutrition foods such as a la carte items in the cafeteria line and in vending machines;

  • Some research indicates that children in families who do not eat together at the dinner table are more likely to be overweight than those who do;

  • An inability to determine proper portion sizes;

  • Eating due to stress, boredom, or other reasons besides hunger;

  • Eating too much fast food;

  • Eating too many chips, candy bars, and other unhealthful snacks.

    To head off this problem, parents, school food service staff, health-care providers, and nutritionists can work together to help kids choose healthy foods.

    As Ms. Meyer advises, planned snacks are a good beginning.

    DOUBLE STRAWBERRY MILKSICLES

    1 10-ounce package frozen strawberry halves in syrup

    1 cup 1 percent milk

    1/2 cup fat free strawberry frozen yogurt or strawberry sorbet

    1 frozen-treat mold tray (holding eight 2.5 ounce molds)

    8 frozen-treat sticks (may come with frozen mold kit)

    Partially thaw berries by leaving at room temperature for 10 minutes or microwave the unopened plastic pouch at high power for 10 seconds. Place partially frozen strawberries with liquid in blender container. Add milk and frozen yogurt or strawberry sorbet. Cover; blend until smooth. Pour into frozen treat mold tray. Place frozen treat sticks in centers. Freeze until firm.

    Yield: 8 treats



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