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HEALTHY LIVING

Now’s the time to teach at-home nutrition

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(Family Features) With a lot of parents facing the challenge of keeping housebound kids happy and healthy, this is the perfect time to teach kids the basics of nutrition and eating right.

Consider these simple suggestions from Melanie Marcus, MA, RD, health and nutrition communications manager for Dole Food Company.

  • Healthy Snack Time Taste Tests – Sometimes it feels like kids can snack all day long on easy-to-grab crackers, chips or cookies. Next time they reach into the snack pantry, try incorporating a taste test or food critic activity to encourage something different and more nutritious.
  • Purposeful Playtime – Many households have a play kitchen or some kind of play food. Use this as an opportunity to act out how to create a healthy kitchen with activities like making salad, setting the table, peeling bananas and washing dishes. This can help young children become more independent, learn what to expect and grow into little helpers at family mealtime.
  • Sensory Activity – One idea that can work for school and at home is making a sensory box. Simply place a fruit or two inside a tissue box and have children put their hands inside then try to guess which fruit it is by feeling it.
  • Recipes for Fun – If you’re preparing a meal, it could be a good time to teach children of reading age how to review a recipe. Evaluating ingredients to learn how food transforms from raw to cooked or how a dish is created can help kids learn kitchen skills. For example, try this fun, fruity recipe for Kids with Almond Toast.
  • Food Groups Focus – Get kids involved in making dinner by setting a rule that each food group must be represented. Give them a warmup activity by asking which food groups are found in family favorites like chicken soup, lasagna or meatloaf. Asking kids to guess which ingredients are used in these dishes and identifying which food group each ingredient belongs to can help them understand dietary balance. Find more at-home tips in the free, downloadable Healthy Eating Toolkit from the nonprofit organization Action for Healthy Kids.
  • Reading Time – From food labels to children’s books to cookbooks, there are plenty of reading materials to choose from that reinforce healthy eating habits. Exposing children to fruits and vegetables outside the kitchen is a subtle way to show that nutritious ingredients are part of everyday life.
  • Explain the Bathroom Routine – Make sure to wash hands and explain that this is a way of washing away germs to stay healthy. Also explain why brushing teeth is important by reminding children that food can get stuck in teeth and cause cavities.

Find more kid-friendly recipe ideas at dole.com plus nutritional tips, free printables and other healthy fun on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.

“Kids” with Almond Toast

Total time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

  • 4          slices whole-grain bread
  • 6          tablespoons unsalted almond butter
  • 2          teaspoons honey (optional)
  • 1          DOLE®  Banana, peeled
  • 2          Dole Strawberries, trimmed and halved
  • 4          chunks (1 1/2 inches) fresh Dole Tropical Gold Pineapple
  • 2          Dole Blackberries
  • 2          teaspoons toasted flaxseed (optional)
  1. Toast bread slices. Spread with almond butter and drizzle with honey, if desired.
  2. To make “kids”: Cut eight slices and 32 matchsticks from banana. Arrange one strawberry half and one pineapple chunk on two slices toast; arrange remaining strawberry halves and blackberries on  remaining slices. Place one banana slice “head” at top of each piece of fruit and arrange four banana matchsticks around each “kid” for arms and legs. Sprinkle flaxseed along bottom edges of toast under kids’ feet, if desired.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (mother and daughter)

SOURCE:
Dole

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HEALTHY LIVING

Spilling the secrets to early literacy

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(Family Features) For young children, learning to read is a critical step in their educational journeys, as literacy helps build cognitive abilities and language proficiency and has a direct impact on later academic achievement.

While there are no shortcuts to early literacy, there are steps parents can take to promote the development of children’s reading abilities. Dr. Lauren Loquasto, senior vice president and chief academic officer at The Goddard School, and Steve Metzger, award-winning author of more than 70 children’s books, share this guidance for parents.

Get Started Early
It’s never too early to start reading with children. In fact, they respond to being read to prenatally. One of the best ways to encourage early literacy is modeling the act of reading. Young children love to imitate, and if they see their parents reading, they are more likely to want to read themselves. Instead of scrolling on your phone or watching television while your children play, pick up a book or magazine.

Use Conversation to Build Literacy
To help build their vocabularies, consistently engage children in conversation. Literacy is more than reading and writing; it’s also listening and speaking. Children understand words before they can articulate them, so don’t be discouraged if it feels like a one-way conversation.

Expose Children to More Than Books
Make your home environment print-rich, as the more exposure children have to letters and words, the better. For example, keep magnetic letters and words on the fridge, put labels on your toy containers and position books and magazines in different rooms. Also remember reading isn’t limited to books. Words are everywhere, from street signs to restaurant menus. Take advantage of every opportunity to connect with your children through words throughout your day.

Let Them Take the Lead
Children engage with books in different, developmentally appropriate ways. Some children quickly flip through pages or only look at pictures while others might make up stories or their own words or songs. Some only want to read the same book over and over and some want to read a new book every time. Embrace and encourage their interest in books, no matter how they choose to use them.

Establish a Routine
Parents of young children often have busy and hectic lives, so it isn’t always easy to find time to read. Consistency is key, so be intentional about setting aside time for reading every day – perhaps it’s after dinner or before bedtime – and stick to it.

Select the Right Books
Helping young children choose books is an important part of their learning-to-read process. Developmental appropriateness is critical. For infants and toddlers, start with nursery rhymes, which are mini-stories that grasp children’s attention through repetition, rhythm and rhyming. Visuals are also important because they aren’t yet pulling words off the page. For emerging readers, choose books that align with their interests. Focus on books that are printed with text that goes from left to right and top to bottom.

Expose children to both fiction and non-fiction books. Non-fiction provides real-world knowledge children crave and helps them make sense of what they read in fictional stories. For example, the learnings about the life cycle of a bat they read in “Bat Loves the Night,” a non-fiction book, can help them better understand what’s happening in “Stellaluna,” a fiction book about a young bat.

If you’re in doubt about book choices, consult with a teacher or librarian, who can make recommendations based on your children’s interests and reading levels.

Foster a Love of Reading
Children’s early exposure to books can set the stage for a lifetime of reading. Make reading a time for discovery. Take children to a library or bookstore and encourage them to explore and find books on their own. Display genuine interest in their selections and use books as a tool for engaging and connecting with them. Don’t pressure children to learn how to read. Accept, validate and encourage them as they progress on their unique literacy journeys.

To watch a webinar recording featuring Loquasto and Metzger providing additional literacy guidance and recommendations, and access a wealth of actionable parenting insights and resources, visit the Parent Resource Center at GoddardSchool.com.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
The Goddard School

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HEALTHY LIVING

Breathe better with asthma, wherever you are

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(Family Features) If you have asthma, you know that symptoms can come on quickly, then worsen.

The things that make them do that are called triggers. An important part of managing asthma is knowing your triggers at home, work, school or while you’re outdoors.

A health care provider can help you figure that out, then you can take steps to avoid those triggers and breathe easier.

At Home
Because asthma is usually due to allergies, triggers are often allergens, or things that cause allergic reactions. Allergens such as pet dander, dust mites, pests and smoke can make asthma symptoms worse in some people, and for others, even trigger an asthma attack.  

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) suggests that it may be helpful to combine a few different strategies to help reduce exposure to triggers.

People sensitive to dust can clean with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration vacuum and use mattress and pillow covers that prevent exposure to dust mites. If you’re sensitive to pests like cockroaches and rodents, consider integrated pest management, which involves removing and controlling pests through methods such as traps or poison. Avoiding tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke, can be especially helpful for some people with asthma.

At School
Asthma is one of the leading reasons children miss school. At school, kids may be exposed to dust mites, pests and mold, which may be asthma triggers for some children.

Because children spend lots of time at school, it can be helpful for teachers, school nurses or coaches to know what to do if your child’s symptoms flare up. Team up with a health care provider to develop an asthma action plan and share it with trusted adults at your child’s school.

At Work
The workplace can have hundreds of potential triggers, like chlorine-based cleaning products, bleaches, hair dyes and metal dust. Repeated exposures in the workplace can also lead to new triggers. Report new or worsening symptoms that occur at work to your health care provider and your workplace supervisor.

Outdoors
Everyday weather like cold, dry air can set off breathing problems. Air pollution can affect asthma, too.

It may be helpful to avoid some of the worst pollution by adjusting when and where you exercise. Try to avoid exercising near busy roads or industrial areas. Visit airnow.gov to check your local air quality so you can plan to avoid outdoor activities when pollution is highest.

Managing your triggers is just one part of keeping your asthma under control. Work with a health care provider to develop an asthma treatment plan that includes taking medicines as prescribed and keeping track of your symptoms and where you are when they occur. That way, you can know what’s making your asthma worse or better.

To learn more about asthma, visit NHLBI’s Learn More Breathe Better® program at nhlbi.nih.gov/BreatheBetter.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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HEALTHY LIVING

Walk your way to better health

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(Family Features) A walk is not just good for your body, it’s also good for your soul. Physical activity, like walking, is one of the best ways to reduce stress and boost your mood. However, reports show walking rates are declining steadily in the United States.

On average, 1 out of every 4 U.S. adults sits for longer than eight hours each day, per research from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which can have negative consequences on physical and mental health. Regular exercise improves mood, boosts energy and can even help you sleep better. Staying active is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy.

Consider this advice from the American Heart Association, which has worked for decades to promote policies and strategies that make it easier for communities to get and stay active. One example is National Walking Day on April 3, established by the organization to encourage people to move more throughout the day so they can feel, think, sleep and live better.

Indeed, adding more movement can benefit your body and mind in numerous ways, such as:

Lowering disease risk. Getting the recommended amount of physical activity (at least 150 minutes of moderate, 75 minutes of vigorous or a combination of those activities per week) is linked to lower risk of diseases, stronger bones and muscles, improved mental health and cognitive function and lower risk of depression, according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.

Increasing sunlight exposure. Outdoor exercise is an easy way to get moving and take in the sunlight, which can improve mood, boost immunity and help you get some vitamin D. Spending time outdoors is a no-cost option and has been shown to reduce stress, promote a sense of belonging and improve mood.

Improving cognitive and mental function. Physical activity keeps your mind sharp now and later. Studies show higher fitness levels are linked to better attention, learning, working memory and problem solving. What’s more, a study published in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” shows people who get the recommended amount of physical activity are less likely to develop depression.

Living longer. Healthy life expectancy can be positively impacted by increasing activity. According to research published in the “American Journal of Epidemiology,” swapping just 30 minutes of sitting with low-intensity physical activity reduced risk of death by 17%.

Get moving to reduce your stress and step into better health. Learn more at heart.org/movemore.

Get Inspired to Get Moving

A little creativity can go a long way to make your walk more fun. You might think of walking as a solo activity, but a companion makes it even more enjoyable. Ask colleagues, friends or family to join you.

A walk is a perfect excuse to take a break from a long day at your desk. If you work remotely, take a conference call on the go or plan your walk as a reward for completing a project.

Use your walk as a guilt-free opportunity to listen to a new audiobook or create a walking soundtrack of your favorite upbeat music.

Mix up your scenery. Taking new routes keeps your walks interesting and helps prevent boredom from traveling the same predictable path.

If you need an extra nudge to get moving, a pet may help you get fit. Dog parents are more likely to reach their fitness goals than those without canine companions. In fact, according to the “Journal of Physical Activity & Health,” dog parents are 34% more likely to fit in 150 minutes of walking a week than non-dog owners. Pets can also help lower stress, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar and boost your overall happiness and well-being.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
American Heart Association

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