Parents can lead the way to good health

For most families, it’s difficult to change daily routines and lifestyle habits to be healthier. NEW Kids at the Y teaches parents how to stick with lifestyle changes and improve the health of all family members. Starting and sticking with a program long enough to affect change is much more likely when you get quality information and motivational support.

The program empowers families to become healthier by teaching them to:

  • Become smart grocery shoppers.
  • Adjust serving sizes.
  • Choose healthier snacks and beverages.
  • Increase activity and play time.

Kids look to their parents to be role models in all aspects of life. When parents make good decisions and take steps to improve their health, it’s a great example for their children.

NEW Kids at the Y is a great partnership between Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee. The program is offered at the following YMCA centers:

South Shore YMCA: Thursdays from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
West Suburban YMCA: Wednesdays from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Northside YMCA: Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Tri-County YMCA: Wednesdays from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Feith Family Ozaukee YMCA: Mondays from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

For more information about enrolling in the NEW Kids at the Y Program, contact Stephanie Navarre at (414) 274-0832.

~ Erin Ruenger, YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee

All about whole grains

Eating whole grains can reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation and colorectal cancer. Whole grains are rich in antioxidants that help prevent damage to the body. The fiber in whole grain foods helps you feel full faster and regulates bowel functions.

Whole grains have fiber, vitamins, minerals and more. Good examples of whole grain foods include:

  • Whole-grain pasta.
  • Whole-grain bread.
  • Whole-grain crackers.
  • Brown or wild rice.
  • Barley.
  • Low-fat popcorn.
  • Oatmeal.

A good way to see if food contains whole grains is to look for a whole grain stamp. This stamp means the food has at least half a serving of whole grains.

If you can’t find a stamp, check the product’s ingredient list. Food with whole grain listed as the first or second ingredient can be good for you. Don’t be fooled by products that include enriched flour at the beginning of the ingredient list – these are not whole grain!

According to the Whole Grains Council, an average person eats less than one serving of whole grains per day. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s choosemyplate.gov recommends at least three servings or more of whole grains each day. Encourage your family to eat healthier by gradually introducing more whole-grain products. The benefits will do you a whole lot of good.

~ Heather Fortin, RD, CSP, CD, clinical dietitian specialist, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin with Stacy Brand, RD, CD, manager, Patient Services, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Maintaining structure during summer vacation

Summer vacation is here. Without the pressures of school, many kids spend their days riding bikes, eating ice cream and going swimming with friends. One of the best things about summer vacation is having a break from the structure and order of school.

At the same time, structure and order help put parameters around our lives. It helps us know when to get up in the morning, when to go to bed at night, when to eat and how to spend our time.

During the summer, some kids become more active. Others spend their days conquering new video games, spraining their thumbs while texting and updating their social networking sites. Some kids wander in and out of the kitchen, finding new things to eat. Others get so busy they forget to eat meals. This lack of structure can create an environment where kids can find themselves in a world of weight loss trouble.

During summer vacation, parents should set their children up for success. Set a bedtime, wake-up time, schedule of daily activities and a menu. This structure will help children make significant strides in managing their weight, even while enjoying summer vacation.

~ Brian Fidlin, PsyD, director, NEW (Nutrition, Exercise and Weight Management) Kids Program

Let’s go on a picnic

June signifies the end of spring and the beginning of summer. It is a time to enjoy the warmth of the sun and head outdoors for some fun. One way I like to enjoy the summer sun is to go on a picnic. Here are a few tips to help make your next family picnic fun and healthy.

  • Is it the journey or the destination? For your next picnic, take some time with your kids to plan the menu. My kids love taking part in planning meals and helping in the kitchen. We each choose a favorite recipe for part of the meal and then put it all together to create the menu. Try one of Chef Wayne’s favorite picnic foods, the basil 5-bean salad. Sometimes, we even take a trip to a local famer’s market. June in Wisconsin can bring tasty salads, sandwiches or quiche that are prepared using seasonal asparagus, potatoes, peas, broccoli, corn or carrots. Also in season are strawberries and raspberries. These berries are great when eaten alone, used in fresh drinks or added to desserts.
  • Take time to smell the roses. I still remember helping my grandmother in the kitchen and spending hours with her and my mom talking and laughing. Time spent in the kitchen preparing meals with kids makes for great memories. Young kids can help by adding premeasured ingredients into bowl, stirring cookie batter or frosting cupcakes. Older kids can shop, read recipes or assemble sandwiches. When kids help in the planning and preparation of meals, it can lead to improved trial and acceptability of new foods.
  • Temperatures really do matter. Perishable foods, such as raw or cooked meats and poultry, have the potential to cause food-borne illnesses if not handled or stored properly. Bacteria will grow rapidly between 40°F and 140°F. Store hot foods in insulated containers. Cold foods should be stored using ice, cold packs or even frozen juice boxes. Perishable food should not be left out for more than 2 hours. Lastly, pack only what you think you will eat and leave the leftovers home in the refrigerator.
  • Special touches show you care. To add color, bring an empty mason or jelly jar to add flowers that were cut from your yard. Or, try rolling utensils in napkins that are tied together with a fun fact or joke for your kids to read while eating. Pack fun games to play with your child such as a flying disc or ball and glove.

~ Beth Polzin, MBA, RD, CD, is a clinical dietitian specialist at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Wayne Roe is the executive chef and manager of Nutrition Services at Children’s Hospital.

Stay safe while exercising at home

Home can be a great place for families to exercise together – especially when the clouds and rain make it difficult to get outside. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says more than 25,000 kids are injured by home exercise equipment every year. It is important for families to learn how to use home exercise equipment safely.

Treadmills
Treadmills are a top safety hazard. Children are fascinated by treadmills and want to imitate their parents by walking on them. On a moving treadmill, children can slip and fall, get clothing or hair caught in the belt or sustain burns from the moving belt.

Children younger than 10 should not use a treadmill. Children older than 10 should be watched closely while using a treadmill. When not in use, the activation key should be placed out of reach and the treadmill should be unplugged. If possible, the room where the treadmill is located should be locked.

Weightlifting equipment
Weightlifting equipment also can put children at risk for injury through misuse. Until children are preteens, they should use only body weight or resistance bands for strength training. Children do not have the understanding of their limits that is required for controlled weight training. This can lead to overuse or trauma injuries. A child also can easily get a hand caught in the pulleys of weight equipment.

To prevent weightlifting injuries, place weights in a locked cabinet or room so children do not have access to them. Instruct preteens and teens in proper weight training techniques. Parents should seek information through the school gym teacher, a fitness instructor or athletic trainer.

Other safety tips
In general, parents should not wear headphones while exercising to be more aware of the environment. This can help prevent children from sneaking up and getting hands caught in pedaling bicycles, treadmill belts or plates of weight-training equipment. Parents also should explain that exercise equipment is for adults only.

~ Stacy Stolzman, MPT, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Packing goodness into lunch

Many schools are taking steps to improve the quality of student lunches. They are limiting fats and sugars, including fruits and vegetables and avoiding highly processed foods. Here are some tips on how you can do the same for your child:

  1. Always include a serving of fruit. Ideas include any fresh fruit, canned fruit packed in its own juice or dried fruit.
  2. Always include at least one vegetable serving. Fresh vegetables cut into fun shapes makes them more appealing. Include a small container of ranch dressing or salsa for dipping.
  3. Include a source of calcium. The best and easiest option is to have the child purchase white milk at school. This will include calcium and vitamin D, avoid the added sugar of flavored milks, and the school will keep it cold. If your child will not drink white milk, pack low-fat yogurt or string cheese.
  4. Variety in the entrée. Get creative with the sandwich. Cut it into different shapes. Use different breads such as tortilla wraps, pita bread, English muffins or mini bagels. Substitute a salad topped with cooked chicken, tuna or a hard-boiled egg for the traditional sandwich.
  5. Lunch does not need dessert or chips. Kids occasionally may enjoy those items but should not expect them every day. Parents should ask, “Is the food I am placing in my child’s lunch going to help their health or make them happy?” To help brighten a child’s day, include a personal note, sticker or pencil instead.

Keeping these tips in mind will help keep lunches healthy and fun to eat.

~ Heather Fortin, RD, CSP, CD, clinical dietitian specialist, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Help get your portions under control

Sometimes a child can eat all of the right foods but still gain weight. This is when parents should examine portion control. From a young age, kids can become conditioned to eat all of the food in front of them, whether they’re hungry or not. Serving appropriate portions to children helps them eat only what they need. Here is a general guideline about how much kids should be eating:

  • Toddlers should eat approximately one quarter of an adult-sized portion.
  • Children age 4 to 8 should eat one-third of an adult-sized portion.

Even when portion sizes are in check, the ratio of food groups offered can lead to weight gain. According to the “plate method,” one-half of a child’s plate should be vegetables, one-quarter should be starchy sides (including corn, potatoes and peas), and one-quarter should be lean protein. Fruit and low-fat dairy servings may be added. If a child asks for seconds, offer more vegetables.

~ Jennifer Crouse, RD, CD, CDE, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Exercising with asthma

Asthma is one of the most common conditions impacting children today. In fact, asthma accounts for a loss of more than 10 million school days and costs parents more than $700 million due to missed work each year.

Many parents worry about their children with asthma participating in exercise. As a result, these parents limit their children’s physical activity. The truth is, asthma diagnoses often are misunderstood. Having asthma should not keep children from exercising.

To better control asthma triggers, follow these steps:

  • Ask your child’s health care provider for an asthma action plan that will help you control your child’s asthma.
  • Teach your child use the proper medication to manage the condition.
  • Encourage and promote an active lifestyle.
  • Make sure your child exercises in a controlled environment (clean space or outdoors) and always has his or her asthma medication readily available.
  • Educate your child on what to do if an asthma attack occurs, so he or she knows how to react quickly.
  • Talk to your child’s health care provider if current medication is not helping and your child is having symptoms on a regular basis.

For fun ways to increase your child’s physical activity with controlled exercise, visit the Centers for Disease Control. Information for parents can be found at the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

~ Michele Polfuss, APNP, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

4 Ways to Tailgate to Health

April may bring showers, but it also brings the smell of charcoal grills and tailgating for the boys (and girls) of summer. This baseball season, be sure to balance your kids’ favorite tailgate classics with some healthy options.

Explore new options. Your local grocery story has lots of tailgating alternatives to plain hamburgers, brats and hot dogs. Try introducing your kids to turkey or chicken brats. Or, scour your freezer section for great meat alternatives like black bean burgers. I personally enjoy the Gardenburger® Black Bean Chipotle Veggie Burger. Even hot dogs have gone healthier. Now, there are many brands with less fat and fewer calories than the dogs we grew up with. If you do choose hamburger, make sure you choose a leaner variety. 

Be sure you pair your meat with a bun that contains at least 3 grams of fiber. I like to use Healthy Life® Original Wheat Sandwich Buns. They have more fiber, fewer calories and can be cheaper than other buns.

Don’t skimp on the sides. While your meats are sizzling on the grill, offer your guests fiber-packed fruits and veggies with dip. In need of a healthy potato salad? Try Chef Wayne’s spicy summer potato salad. Chef Wayne’s healthy baked beans also is a great way to fill up on fiber. Chips can add a nice crunch, but look for baked chips or offer corn chips with salsa. Whole-wheat crackers with hummus can also be a hit, even a home run!

Watch out for liquid calories. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s NEW (Nutrition, Exercise and Weight Management) Kids™ Program recommends water instead of sweetened beverages. Because kids get dehydrated in the hot summer sun even faster than adults, water always is the best option. If your kids want something with more flavor, choose beverages that have 3 grams or less of sugar per serving.

Practice portion control. Watching the game isn’t as much fun with an overly full belly. Make sure your kids fill up on fruits and veggies while going easy on the meats, cheeses and crackers. Peanuts and popcorn are ballpark favorites, but watch the portions. Eating a whole bag of peanuts and popcorn simply is too much for anyone, especially kids.

Now, let’s play ball. Go Brewers!

~ Heather Fortin, RD, CSP, CD, is a dietitian at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Wayne Roe is the executive chef and manager of Nutrition Services at Children’s Hospital.

Celebrate with the chef: National Nutrition Month

As a chef at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, I see how hard it is to get kids to eat the right foods. Because of this, I created the Chef-to-child Program. This program promotes healing and wellness for our long-term patients by allowing them to choose a healthy diet from a variety of special menu options.

These patients have diseases ranging from diabetes to cystic fibrosis and cancer, and they need to meet and maintain weight goals. It is especially important to help these kids find something they like to eat, that’s also good for them.

The theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month is “eat right with color.” This will encourage children (and adults) to choose a variety of different fruits and vegetables to make each meal fun and colorful – and nutritious. Listed below are just a few benefits from these colorful foods.

• Red: tomatoes and red pepper. Red foods contain lycopene, which may help prevent certain cancers.
• Green: zucchini and green pepper. Green foods contain beta-carotene, which aids in better vision.
• Purple: eggplant. Purple foods contain anthocyanins and phenolics, which have antioxidant and anti-aging benefits.
• White: onion and garlic. White foods contain allicin, which has numerous health benefits.

Using these colorful ingredients, I created a delicious recipe that follows this month’s guidelines of color.

Italian Rainbow Ratatouille
makes 8, six-ounce servings

–    One five-by-six tomato cut into 10 wedges, lengthwise.
–    One medium red pepper cut wide julienne, lengthwise.
–    One medium green pepper cut wide julienne, lengthwise.
–    One medium eggplant, with skin, largely diced (one and a half inch by one and a half inch).
–    One medium yellow onion, largely diced.
–    One tablespoon minced garlic.
–    One ounce fresh basil, chopped (yes, you can use the stems too).
–    One teaspoon dry oregano.
–    Four ounces of a quality olive oil.
–    Salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

This is a simple and fun dish to cook. Sauté the vegetables in the olive oil, either separately or all at once. The veggies should have some color to them when done. Place the sautéed veggies in a baking dish and add the herbs and spices. Cover the dish and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve and enjoy.

Please post a comment or share your recipes if you have any suggestions to make our March menu a more colorful, nutritious one.

~ Wayne Roe, executive chef, manager, Nutritional Services, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin