August 24th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
As your child returns to school, you face the usual dilemma: Brown-bag it or rely on the cafeteria menu?
“Lunches served in school cafeterias are not always the best choice, and I recommend that sometimes lunches need to be packed,” says Mary Pat Alfaro, a registered dietitian at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
A homemade lunch puts you in control of what your child eats, as well as portion size, she notes.
Here are some of Alfaro’s tips for a healthy lunch:
- Use the Food Guide Pyramid for preschoolers and elementary-school children to plan lunches. Include at least two servings from the bread group and one serving from each of the other food groups for a balanced meal. Go easy on fats and sweets.
- Aim for variety to provide different nutrients and beat boredom. Try whole-grain bagels, English muffins, crackers, pita bread or tortillas paired with your child’s favorite spread or sandwich filling.
- Find healthy alternatives to snack chips: trail mix, flavored rice cakes, pita chips and baked tortilla chips.
- Pack fruit that’s easy to eat: grapes, strawberries, melon chunks, apple wedges, berries and orange sections. Include a dipping sauce made with yogurt or peanut butter.
- Make raw vegetables like baby carrots, celery and bell pepper strips more appealing. Pack them with a container of hummus, salsa or ranch dressing.
- Pay close attention to beverages. Remember that even 100% fruit juice is loaded with sugar. Opt for plain or sugar-free flavored water.
- Experiment with different sandwich fillings. Top peanut butter with fruits like raisins, apples, bananas or pineapple instead of jelly. Make a burrito with refried beans, salsa, grated cheese, and chopped lettuce and tomatoes.
Editor’s note: We encourage you to choose organic foods, whenever possible, to avoid exposure to pesticides, preservatives and other chemicals.
Read More:Back-to-School Lunch Options
June 8th, 2009 - Laura Klein
Last week, I blogged about the superior nutritional value of pesticide- and herbicide-free plant-based organic foods vs. their conventional counterparts, something I’m deeply passionate about.
This week, I’ve got more fuel for the fire.
A recent study about chronic exposure to low-levels of atrazine, the most heavily-used herbicide in the U.S., links it to myriad health issues in lab rats including:
- insulin resistance
- a heightened risk of diabetes, especially when exposure to atrazine is coupled with high-fat diets.
We’ve all heard about our nation’s unfortunate obesity problem; is it any wonder when obesity-enhancing herbicides are ‘baked in’ to our food? Check out the opening comments of the study…
“ATZ (atrazine)-usage and obesity maps [in the U.S.] show striking overlaps, suggesting that heavy usage of ATZ may be associated with risk of obesity.”
When you opt for organic food, your choosing high doses of nutritionally rich flavors and cancer fighting antioxidants, which adds up to a healthy dose of preventative medicine. When you choose and consume conventionally grown foods you are consuming the toxic traces left behind from herbicides like atrazine…all the more reason to spend a bit more for them at the market – or you can get my free report: The Definitive Guide To Shopping For Organic Foods on a Budget” when you sign up for our free newsletter). Or better yet, grow your own organic favorites or visit your local farmers’ market where you’ll find many pesticide- and herbicide-free fruits and veggies at great prices.
I always advise budget-minded readers that if they have to choose only a few organic foods to invest in, they opt for the ones they consume the most.
What are your experiences with shopping for organic foods on a budget? Leave us a comment – we love hearing from you!
Source: THE SCOOP – May 2009 Organic Center Newsletter Study: Soo Lim et al., “Chronic Exposure to the Herbicide, Atrazine, Causes Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Insulin Resistance,” Plos One, Vol. 4, Issue 4:e5186, April 2009.
Read More:Eat Your Obesity-Enhancing Herbicides, Kids!
February 19th, 2007 - Barbara Feiner
Some interesting news for parents dedicated to healthy eating and organic living: Children who snack when they’re with a large group of friends eat almost one-third more than those who snack with only a few peers, according to researchers at the Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Julie Lumeng, MD, and Katherine H. Hillman, MPH, analyzed how 54 children between the ages of 2½ and 6½ ate when they were in groups of nine and three kids. Their study was published in the January issue of Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Children ate slightly more in the larger groups when snack time lasted less than 11 minutes. But when snack time increased, children in the larger groups ate 30% more than those in the smaller groups, irrespective of the time they spent snacking.
The researchers believe kids in large groups start snacking sooner and eat more quickly, with less time spent socializing. They call this phenomenon “social facilitation,” which occurs when the brain’s normal signals of satiety are overridden by the sights and sounds of others eating.
If your children tend to eat too little, they’ll fare better having meals with family and/or friends at home, the researchers note. And “for the child who overeats, overconsumption may be driven by having meals in overstimulating busy or chaotic environments, as is often the case when eating out, particularly at fast-food restaurants,” they write. “Thus, the results also support recommendations to have mealtimes at home with the family, but for the purpose of providing a calm and peaceful eating environment.”
Book Pick of the Day: American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Your Child’s Nutrition
Read More:How Children Snack
January 4th, 2007 - Barbara Feiner
Yesterday, I posted ideas for keeping kids active and confident in 2007. Here are some additional tips from Randy McCoy, curriculum director for The Little Gym International.
- Lead by example. Some kids aren’t eager to try new physical activities. To encourage them, don’t demand; demonstrate the skill yourself and provide positive motivation. Your child will likely want to give it a try.
- Repetition, repetition, repetition. Repetition of a skill is necessary for kids to internalize and eventually master it. It also gives them more opportunities to experience success, build confidence, and develop strength and endurance.
- Safety matters. If your children are participating in organized physical activities, make sure they’re led by trained instructors. Sports equipment should be appropriately sized for children.
- Don’t mistake kids’ physical development for Olympic training. Your child may be the fastest runner in the class, but this isn’t a reason to shun other activities in pursuit of a gold medal. Focus on fun and health—not fame and world records.
Suggested Reading from OrganicAuthority.com:
Read More:Kids on the Move (Part 2)
January 3rd, 2007 - Barbara Feiner
As a parent dedicated to organic living, you play a crucial role in shaping your children’s exercise habits and attitudes.
Here are some tips on keeping kids active and confident in 2007 from Randy McCoy, curriculum director for The Little Gym International. The company’s gymnastics-based classes help kids ages 4 months to 12 years develop motor skills and self-confidence.
- Kids should try their best—but they don’t have to be the best. For most kids, success is about more than winning or losing; it’s about benefiting from the learning that occurs when taking on a challenge, trying their best and having fun.
- Positive reinforcement is a must. Kids thrive in environments where they feel supported and safe. Even more important, children who play and work out in these environments are more likely to continue physical activities later in life.
- Challenge your child. It’s healthy to present new challenges and risks, but do so without expectations. Let kids take challenges at their own pace.
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of this story.
Read More:Kids on the Move
August 24th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
With a new Superman movie in theaters, Phil Black knew he could count on the Man of Steel to help him accomplish his mission: to get sedentary kids moving.
“Superman’s greatest enemy is no longer Lex Luthor. It’s childhood obesity,” says the former Navy SEAL officer and certified personal trainer.
As the founder of FitDeck, Inc., a company that produces exercise products for all ages, Black is committed to inspiring children to “get off the couch, away from the computer, and start exercising again,” he says. And who better than the world’s most famous superhero to help him achieve his objective?
The new Superman FitDeck is a colorfully packaged card deck that includes 50 exercise, four instructional and two stretching flashcards, accompanied by a games and activities workbook (pictured above). Each flashcard features illustrations and instructions describing a different exercise. It’s a novel product, targeted toward children ages 4 to 16. After all, what kid wouldn’t want to work out with the big guy sporting the “S” on his chest?
The FitDeck series also includes the original FitDeck for adults and the FitDeck Jr., designed for children ages 5 to 16.
As an Organic Authority reader, you’ll receive a 15% discount on the Superman FitDeck if you type the word “SUPERMAN” in the coupon discount box when ordering online.
Read More:Working Out with Superman
August 11th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
When I voiced my concerns about the marketing campaign for Burger King’s new BK Stacker (see A Mountain of Meat and Cheese), many OrganicAuthority.com readers took me to task. Because this website is dedicated to organic food and living, it seemed a bit perplexing.
My views, however, haven’t changed. As Dr. Rallie McAllister points out in Sobering Stats on Childhood Obesity, 90% of the products food manufacturers hawk to children meet the criteria for junk food.
Jeff Novick, director of nutrition for the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa, doesn’t mince words about the BK Quad Stacker, whose commercials proudly advertise that it contains “no vegetables.” (When did this become a key selling point?)
“With four slices of cheese, four fatty patties and four slices of bacon, this burger might better be called the quadruple bypass special,” Novick says. “Maybe they call it the ‘stacker’ because it helps stack the odds against the long-term consumer collecting much from Social Security. Fast food like this is great if you’re in a hurry—to die.”
I sent Jeff some of the comments on A Mountain of Meat and Cheese and asked him how he’d respond to the folks who are proud of their fast-food habits.
“We live in a very permissible society,” he tells OrganicAuthority, “and unfortunately many of us indulge in self-destructive products and behavior. As a nutritionist, it is my job not only to give people the best education possible on how to live and eat healthfully, but to model the behavior that I teach to our clients, to my children and to anyone with whom I come into contact. But as the saying goes, ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.’
“I help many, many people every day,” Jeff adds, “but there are some who need to reach rock bottom before they finally decide to make healthy changes in their life. As a society, we are faced with the same dilemma in trying to stop people from smoking. I could show smokers statistics about death rates for cancer, I can show them a lung ravaged by disease caused by smoking, and I can model a nonsmoking healthy lifestyle. But with some people, no amount of information will stop them from smoking until, unfortunately, they are finally diagnosed with cancer. For some people who eat poorly, just as those who smoke, they have to reach a point where their bad habits have impacted their lives so profoundly that they decide to make a change. Then—and only then—can I truly help this particular group.”
Read More:You Can Lead a Horse to Water…
August 10th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
As OrganicAuthority.com Publisher Laura Klein reveals in Organic Food Fights Childhood Obesity, parents play a pivotal role in their children’s nutritional future.
Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a preventive specialist and author of Healthy Lunchbox: A Working Mom’s Guide to Keeping You and Your Kids Trim, provided excellent data and ideas for this article, and I’d like to share some additional points from her book.
Approximately 25% of obese American children show early signs of type 2 diabetes—a 50% rise in the last decade.
Incredibly, only 1% of U.S. children and adolescents consume a diet that meets the recommendations of the Food Guide Pyramid.
The average American gets 27% of his or her total daily energy from junk foods. Nearly one-third consume half of their daily calories from these non-nutritious foods.
Nine out of 10 products that food manufacturers hawk to children meet the criteria for “junk food.”
Skipping breakfast is strongly linked to the development of obesity, and one-third of American children and adults do so on a regular basis.
Children who regularly consume soft drinks take in about 200 more calories each day than their classmates who abstain. A daily excess intake of 100 calories can easily lead to a 10-lb. weight gain in just a year.
- Almost 35% of American children ages 2 to 5 drink sodas regularly. In 1979, the typical American teen consumed 20.6 gallons of soda per year. By 1994, this number rose to 64.5 gallons.
As Laura advises, “Get healthy! Go organic!”
Read More:Sobering Stats on Childhood Obesity
July 24th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
I’d normally come up with a more creative title for this blog entry, but there’s something so enticing about a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s healthy comfort food at its finest, so why tamper with perfection?
PB&J can also be one of your secret weapons in the war against childhood obesity, according to Dr. Gayl Canfield, a nutritionist at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa who we recently interviewed for our feature article Organic Food Fights Childhood Obesity.
“PB&J sandwiches, an old favorite, get much healthier when you use 100% whole-wheat bread and no-sugar-added or 100% pure fruit preserves,” she tells Organic Authority. “You might even find that your child prefers the nutty, firm texture of whole-grain breads to spongy white breads, which often get smashed paper-thin in their lunchbox. If your kids are banana lovers, use bananas instead of jelly. Slice the banana crosswise, and arrange your ‘banana pennies’ right on top of the peanut butter.”
I like my PB&J with slices of fresh pear (see photo, above). Couldn’t be juicier, and it’s a great summer lunch or snack—especially when it’s too hot to turn on the oven!
Note: Because you follow an organic lifestyle, OrganicAuthority.com recommends using certified organic ingredients, when available, in all recipes to maximize flavor and nutrition, while minimizing your risk of exposure to pesticides, chemicals and preservatives.
Photo courtesy of USA Pears
Read More:Peanut Butter & Jelly
July 6th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
If you’re wondering why Americans are overweight, check out the press release I received this morning from the folks at Burger King. The headline reads: “Guests Invited to Pile on Meat, Cheese & Bacon—Hold the Produce.”
The release promotes the new BK Stacker Sandwich (above): two, three or four hamburger patties “stacked high between a sesame seed bun with equal slices of melted American cheese and up to eight slices of crispy bacon, smothered in original creamy, savory BK Stacker Sauce for the ultimate sandwich helping. The bigger the burger ordered, the more layers of bacon and cheese.”
Customers can order the:
- Double Stacker (610 calories, 39 g fat, 1,100 mg sodium)
- Triple Stacker (800 calories, 54 g fat, 1,450 mg sodium)
- Quad Stacker (1,000 calories, 68 g fat, 1,800 mg sodium)
“The BK Stacker is simple and built with the very ingredients our restaurant guests love best—meat, cheese and bacon,” notes Denny Marie Post, Burger King’s senior vice president and chief concept officer, in the release. “We’re satisfying the serious meat lovers by leaving off the produce and letting them decide exactly how much meat and cheese they can handle.”
Of course, Burger King is enticing kids to order this “produce-free” behemoth through a series of TV ads featuring a crew of miniature construction workers that “diligently stacks meat, cheese, bacon and BK Stacker Sauce.”
If that’s not enough, “2.5″ collectible figurines of some of the most memorable characters from the BK Stackers television ads can be purchased online…Fans can purchase a set of three figurines, including Vin the Foreman, the Kid and the Cheese Welder.”
For parents who promote organic living and healthy eating, this is yet another example of how fast-food companies and advertising agencies pander to kids without any regard for their health. It’s irresponsible at a time when childhood obesity is epidemic.
Read More:A Mountain of Meat & Cheese