Physical Activity and Healthy Weight

Physical Activity and Healthy Weight

Kids and teens are under more stress than ever before, and development of a healthy self-image can be challenging. Join this informative discussion with Betsy and Jen, and special guest – licensed counselor and social worker, Lynn Zakeri, who shares from her years of experience helping people with body image concerns. Great episode for parents looking for guidance on how to have healthy body conversations with their kids and teens. Don’t miss it!

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podcast weigh and disorderly eating

When Weight is a Symptom of Disordered Eating

Jen and Betsy, along with fellow Feed to Succeed colleague Gia Diakakis, discuss disordered eating among children and teens of different ages. Join in to hear more about signs, symptoms and prevention. 

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high iron food for kids

How Much Iron Does a Toddler Need?

Ask Amanda Question for this week: My 22 month old toddler does not eat much meat.  He takes a multivitamin supplement with iron, but does he need a separate iron supplement?

He is likely getting enough iron between his diet and his multivitamin with iron.  Many toddlers don’t eat much meat and often get the iron they need from other foods.

Iron comes from “heme” sources or animal sources like meat, seafood and eggs.  Iron also comes from “non-heme” sources including fortified breakfast cereals and grains, oatmeal, breads, green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, nut butters and dried fruit.  

Children ages 1-3 need 7 mg of iron a day.  

What does 7 mg of iron a day looks like? Here’s an example:  ¾ cup of Cheerios, 1 egg, 1 slice of bread with peanut butter, ½ cup of cooked rice with canned tomato sauce and 2 oz of cut up chicken.

Low iron levels in toddlers and kids can cause low energy levels, fatigue, and poor appetite.  If you are concerned about any of these symptoms or that your child may have low iron levels, check with your doctor to see if a blood test is needed. If iron levels are low and your child is recommended to take an iron supplement, make sure to recheck with your doctor within 3 months. Iron stores in kids replete quickly and iron supplementation is often not needed for the long term.

Ask Amanda is a weekly column from Feed to Succeed dietitian Amanda Gordon. Have a question? Email Amanda and let her know or submit an “Ask Amanda” question for a future column.

teens healthier BMI

One Teen’s Journey to a Healthier BMI

On this week’s pediatric nutrition podcast, special guest, Hannah, joins registered dietitian Betsy and Jen in this heartwarming and real view into the realities of trying to improve the weight of her son, as the adolescent years began to pack on extra pounds. Hannah shares the emotional moment that her son realized he had to decide for himself how to manage his health, as well as the guilt she felt as a parent. Helpful tips on what worked for them, including a fun and clever “Top Three Best” game for guiding tough food decisions. Don’t miss this amazing episode!

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raising a child food allergies

Parenting Children with Food Allergies During the Holidays

As we approach the holiday season, we look forward to time with family and friends, gift exchanges and sharing memories and traditions. And of course, there’s all of the food–which for parents of children with food allergies can also bring a time to worry.  Is the food safe? What if there was a mistake? Is there a risk of cross-contamination? And will my child feel bad when he can’t eat all the desserts?
As a parent of a 16-year-old son with peanut allergies, these worries are all too familiar. Our son was diagnosed around age two when we gave him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a cream cheese and jelly sandwich. Both sandwiches were broken into little pieces on his high chair tray. He was agitated and only eating about half of the sandwich pieces. As the moments progressed, he aggressively itched his eye and before we knew it, it swelled shut. We don’t know if he ate a piece of peanut butter and jelly or just touched it. A trip to the ER and follow up allergy testing confirmed a peanut allergy.  
We have worked very hard to make our son respect his allergy as a part of him that not define him. We have experienced a wide range of emotions over the past 14 years – fear, sadness, anger, frustration, worry and gratitude. Most of these emotions usually are a result of people who just don’t get what we are dealing with in regards to our son’s allergy.  However, we’ve definitely experienced gratitude, as we have been blessed by kindness too – parents trying to accommodate our son at birthday parties, a grandma having a special jar of jelly for our son when he comes to visit to make sure there is no peanut butter residue, kids asking their parents not to pack peanut products in their lunch so they could sit by our son and a kind uncle choosing to eat graham crackers with our son rather than the cake provided at a family birthday party.  Small gestures have made a huge difference for our family and make dealing with the uncertainty of food allergies more tolerable. 
There are a lot of uncertainties with food allergies. There is no guarantee what a reaction will be – hives, vomiting, anaphylaxis, maybe a combo and it can be different each time. What helps some children outgrow the allergy while others remain allergic their entire life? And we as parents of children with food allergies have different levels of comfort – one may allow a child to eat a product manufactured on shared equipment, one may not let their child be at a house that has peanut butter. This is an individual choice and there is no “right” answer in how parents should handle allergies.  Seeing your child unconscious, gasping for breath or wiggling in discomfort as their skin itches and they develop hives or seeing your 2 year old’s eye swell shut is an image hard to forgot and shapes how we handle our comfort level.  
Our son will be going to college in a few years, and I would not be honest if I didn’t admit that it terrifies me. However, the same fears I anticipate with college will be similar to when he went to preschool or grade school or a new friend’s house or a holiday party. I want him to be safe. But ultimately my hopes for my 16-year-old with a peanut allergy are the same as my hopes for his two younger siblings who do not have a food allergy.  I hope that they all are surrounded by supportive friends, hope that they all make good choices and that they are kind.  But most importantly, I hope that they all are happy and healthy individuals.  Keeping them healthy, can sometimes prove tricky for food allergic parents, especially in situations where we can not always control the environment. So when we ask about ingredients in the food at the family potluck or if you used the same cookie sheet to bake peanut butter cookies, please know we are just trying to keep our kids happy and healthy, just like many parents are this time of the year.   

So best wishes to a season full of family, friends and food. Let’s all toast to raising happy and healthy kids the best way we know how!

31 Days of Family Activities

31 Days of Staying Active in the Winter with Kids

The winter months and holidays make it challenging to stay active. However, engaging in physical activity at a young age can help children develop lifelong habits of being physically active. We recommend kids are  active 60 minutes per day, which helps promote a healthy weight and heart, strong bones, muscles, and joints. 

To stay active, help your child entertain themselves without relying on media. Have the entire family pledge to do an activity together instead of using media screens. Plan a goal to complete screen free activities throughout the winter months and have your child help pick the activity. To get you started, here’s a list of 31 Days of Family Activities

  1. Indoor ice skating. Skate around the house with paper plates or mittens on or under your feet.
  2. Use a balloon to play volleyball.
  3. Build a fort and go indoor camping.
  4. Create an obstacle course with chairs and blankets.
  5. Play sock ball. Use a laundry baskets as the hoop or goal.
  6. Jumping jack contest.
  7. Wall sit contest.
  8. Go for scavenger hunt. Parents hide fun objects and write clues on how to find them.
  9. Rainbow contest. Find household objects of each color of the rainbow as fast as you can. 
  10. Count how many hops, skips, big steps, and small steps it takes to get around the house.
  11. Create a tower of plastic cups as fast as you can until the tower is as tall as you. Then time how long it takes to take the tower down and restack the cups.
  12. Plant an indoor garden.
  13. Build a blanket fort, hang string lights, and read or play a board game inside.
  14. Minute to win it games.
  15. Play catch with a rolled up t-shirt and then play hockey with the t-shirt using brooms. 
  16. Sock or paper bag puppets. Write a show to use your puppets.
  17. Fold paper airplanes and have a contest of how far the planes will fly.
  18. Play leap frogs. Put a finish line and start line. Have a leap frog race.
  19. Have a dance party or dance off. 
  20. Build a snow man and see how big you can make it.
  21. Family yoga. Name yoga poses after your favorite movie characters.
  22. Go outside and play a game of tag.
  23. Make paper snow flakes and hang them throughout the house. 
  24. Build a tower of pillows. Measure how many pillows high you can jump.
  25. Build your own town out of toys and things found around the house. 
  26. Start a family craft or do housework together.
  27. Go for a nature walk and collect interesting things that you find. 
  28. Prepare and cook a meal together.
  29. Put together a puzzle. 
  30. Play winter charades. Act out winter themed objects and movies. 
  31. Have a snowball fight. 
nutrition podcast worth the weight

Feed to Succeed Podcast: Season 3

Welcome back to season three of the Feed to Succeed podcast! Betsy and Jen are ready to take on the sensitive subject of children, teens and weight problems – both under AND over – with honest dialogue, special guests this season, and lots of empathy to help provide some insight to these difficult situations. In this episode, is weight a good measure of health? Can one be a healthy weight, and still be malnourished? Tune in to hear more. 

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artificial sweeteners safe for breastfeeding

Ask Amanda: Is artificial sweetener okay for breastfeeding Your Nutrition Questions Answered by Expert Dietitian

Ask Amanda is a weekly column from Feed to Succeed dietitian Amanda Gordon. Have a question? Email Amanda and let her know or submit an “Ask Amanda” question for a future column.

Hi Amanda, I am wondering what is the research on artificial sweeteners and breastfeeding?

This is an area that surprisingly lacks a lot of research. There are many sweeteners on the market, including some that claim to be natural, so it can get confusing.  Luckily, there is a fantastic go-to resource I often recommend for questions about food and medication safety and breastfeeding.

The Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech University has a great website where you can look up many foods, additives and medications. They also have a free app that you can download called MommyMeds. In addition, they have a hotline that you can call to discuss any questions about medication safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

As to your question about artificial sweeteners, with NutraSweet/Equal (Aspartame), no adverse effects have been reported in infants, likely because milk levels are too low to produce significant side effects. The only contraindication is in infants with Phenylketonuria.

Newer sweeteners such as Stevia have not been studied as thoroughly yet, and for this reason, they are not indicated for use during breastfeeding. There have been no adverse outcomes reported, there is just not enough data to make a recommendation.

Other sweeteners are listed in this resource as well, so be sure to check it out. And, keep the great questions coming!