Wednesday, October 5, 2016
"He took a few cups of love. He took one tablespoon of patience, one teaspoon of generosity, one pint of kindness. He took one quart of laughter, one pinch of concern, and then he mixed willingness with happiness. He added lots of faith, and he stirred it up well. Then he spread it over a span of a lifetime, and he served to each and every person he met."
--Muhammad Ali's words to a British journalist in 1972 for how he wanted to be remembered which became known as his recipe for life. Muhammad Ali was born January 17, 1942 and died June 3, 2016.
In working with families and children in the Growing Healthy Kids movement, one of the hardest things is meeting children who have been bullied.
One of the long-term psychological consequences of being an overweight child is caused by the bullying inflicted by other kids. You have probably heard the expression, “Kids can be cruel.” Sticks and stones can break our bones. Harmful or mean words, however, can damage our soul.
Bullying is never OK. Some of the families I work with to get to healthier weights have children who become withdrawn, skip school, and suffer from depression and/or low self-esteem as a result of what other kids have said or done to them, often because no adults did anything to protect them from the bully. Picking a kid last for an activity because they are overweight. Calling someone “fattie”. Leaving one person off the birthday invitation list when everyone else in the class is invited. Ostracizing someone. These are some of the ways our children are being bullied because they are overweight.
Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Be a positive role model for your kids and all the kids in your neighborhood. Be kind to everyone. Watch the words you use so they will not hurt others. If you see someone who is bullying a child, stop it on the spot.
To learn more about National Bullying Prevention Month and resources for your family, your school, and your community, please click here or go to www.pacer.org/bullying/nbpm.
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."
--Mary Anne Radmacher
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.
Obesity, especially in kids, is preventable AND reversible. With one in three kids at unhealthy weights, parents must become aware of the problem so they can be part of the solution. Kids who are overweight or obese are at increased risk for diseases typically seen in older adults, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Kids can suffer from psychological stress as a result of being bullied and having low self-esteem which can lead to depression and a lifetime of poor health outcomes.
We can ALL do something to be part of the solution to this national problem that threatens children’s health. If children remain at unhealthy weights, they are more likely to be obese as adults.
Start with small changes such as:
- Keep fresh fruit within your children’s reach.
- Go on family walks after dinner.
- Shop at your local farmers market for in-season vegetables and fruits.
- Talk with your kids’ teachers and principals about making schools healthier and having physical education classes every day instead of once a week.
- Ask your kids’ pediatricians and school nurses to be leaders in their communities by supporting programs to prevent childhood obesity.
Below is an easy and delicious recipe that is also inexpensive to prepare. Your kids can help with the prep work, although Mom or Dad will have to be in charge of the oven.
GROWING HEALTHY KIDS: Our Recipe Collection
- 2 teaspoons olive or avocado oil
- 1 large yellow or Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 ounce grated cheese (cheddar, feta, or parmesan)
Heat olive oil in an ovenproof skillet over low heat. Add onion and saute about 7 minutes or until golden. Add spinach and stir until wilted. Stir eggs into the spinach and onion and cook about 7 minutes or until almost set. Sprinkle cheese over the top and place in broiler for about 2 minutes or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let sit for one minute. Slice and serve.
NOTE FROM NANCY: This goes great with a green salad or steamed butternut squash. It also makes a great lunch for school or work the next day, if any is leftover!
Be courageous. Dare to care. Talk with your family about small steps you can take that can improve your children's weight - and their health. If you need help, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together, we can prevent and reverse childhood obesity.
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
"My children are the reason I laugh, smile and want to get up every morning."
--Gena Lee Nolin
Lately, more parents than usual have been asking for ideas feeding their kids good food. The conversation usually starts like this: “My 2 year old is a picky eater,” or “My kid will only eat white food,” or “The kids won’t eat any vegetables”.
If you suspect there is a food allergy or a medical issue, ALWAYS start with a call to your pediatrician. Once these issues are off the table, then start simply with the basics. All kids need protein, carbs, and fats every day, just like adults do. Almost all kids go through the “picky eater” stage. Many don’t like foods touching each other. Some kids go through color stages or texture stages (only white foods like potatoes and milk or only crunchy or smooth foods). Since kids don’t come with an instruction manual, it’s a wonder any of us survive childhood!
My recommendation is that kids be encouraged - and allowed - to play with their food. Look at how much fun kids have on their first birthday in their high chairs wearing only a diaper and a bib with their first baby chocolate cake to do whatever they want!
Here are some ideas to get going with good foods for your little ones:
- Steam vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash are all great choices). Place veggies on a plate, give the kids a fork and show them how to mash them up.
- Make a vegetable-bean soup and put it in the blender for a “protein soup”. Let kids grate parmesan cheese on top of the soup.
- Make grilled cheese sandwiches on whole grain bread and cut them into shapes with a cookie cutter.
- Make fruit smoothies with your kids using greek yogurt, frozen bananas, strawberries, and a little kale or cucumber. If you have any left over smoothies, pour into an ice cube tray or small plastic cups, put popsicle sticks in each one, place in the freezer and make pops for the next day. If not used within 24 hours, place in a ziplock freezer bag to protect the flavors.
- Cook quinoa pasta (a complete protein) and let the kids add a little olive oil (the good kind of fat) and some grated parmesan cheese.
- Get a box grater and give them a couple of vegetables such as zucchini and rainbow carrots to grate next time you are cooking rotini pasta. Let the kids decide which vegetable to mix with the cooked rotini. Add olive oil and toss.
- Cut up an organic carrot and place in a small kid-proof bowl with some homemade hummus (store-bought hummus has preservatives which can upset little tummies).
It’s simple. Food=life. Good food=healthy kids. Healthy kids=happy kids.
Healthy, happy kids=healthy, happy parents.
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids