Healthy Kid Tips: Explore the Great Indoors

17, July 2014 9:00 AM



Whether the sun is scorching or rain is pouring down, what do we do with energetic children who are eager to play outdoors? We asked moms how they keep their tots active indoors during our “Eat, Play, Love This Summer with Your Tot” #Tips4Tots Twitter Party.

Here are the Top 15 most creative and fun indoor activities for healthy kids shared by the moms who know them best!

  1. Arts and crafts

  2. Sing karaoke and have a dance party

  3. Camp indoors by building a fort out of sheets

  4. Hop, jump or roll on a piece of bubble wrap

  5. Join a "band" in the living room using pots and pans

  6. Create a magic show and invite friends over as an audience

  7. Dress up to act out children's stories

  8. Play board games

  9. Help bake a yummy treat in the kitchen

  10. Build an indoor obstacle course

  11. Enjoy a movie marathon

  12. Create your own story or play

  13. Visit a local museum or library

  14. Host a tea party

  15. Stay active by playing tag, hide + go seek, hop scotch or charades

What tips would you add to this list? Add them in the comments below and stay tuned for our next #Tips4Tots chat in August.


Best wishes for a healthy, hydrated and happy summer! 



Mackenzie Gomes, Dairy Council of California Intern


Tags: healthy kids indoors physical activity
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating for Kids

Kids Can't Weight for Summer

15, July 2014 8:00 AM

Recently we have published a number of blogs on childhood feeding around the topics of sugar and getting kids to eat their vegetables

My registered dietitian nutritionist friend and colleague Marcia Crawford teaches nutrition to university students. Toward the end of the spring quarter, she published a blog that describes her dialogue with the students on recommended versus not-recommended strategies to help children grow up at a healthy weight.

Here is one of the "not-recommended" ideas:

  • Avoid weekly weigh-ins for children. While weekly weights help some adults manage their weight, this is not appropriate for children.

Read her blog, More on Kids and Weight to learn more.

This is especially important in the summer since a recent Harvard study found that children gain more weight in the summer than during the school year.

What are your suggestions to help children develop and grow to a healthy weight?

Visit our Healthy Kids section for more articles, tips, recipes, presentations and a webinar on feeding children.


Maureen Bligh, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist


Tags: Healthy eating healthy eating for kids sugar summer
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating for Kids

How to Get Your Gut on the Inside Tract

02, July 2014 11:06 AM

My San Jose dietitian's book club met recently to discuss our latest read, The Inside Tract by Gerard Mullin, M.D. and Kathie Madonna Swift, registered dietitian nutritionist. We were thrilled to see a popular nutrition book penned by both a medical doctor and a dietitian!

We had high attendance at our meeting since dietitians so often see clients with stomach disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome and gastric reflux. Antacids are one of the most commonly taken over-the-counter medications, which is a clear indicator of the scope of the problem. 

The book's intended audience is someone who is suffering from gastric distress and is ready to dramatically change their lifestyle. Based on the severity of the distress, the book recommends one of three diet tracks. Track 1 is pretty much a standard, healthy diet based on the principles listed below. Tracks 2 are 3 are designed to give the GI tract a rest, then slowly add foods back to discover and isolate food sensitivities. 

Research is quite clear that digestion is very complex and one-size-fits all solutions just don't work. We wondered however, if more consumers actually followed these basic healthy eating principles, the more restrictive food plans would be increasingly unnecessary. 

  • Eat a diet based on whole, minimally processed foods. 
  • Eat functional foods that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition.
  • Eat probiotic-rich foods.
  • Eat in a relaxed state -- learning to be aware and mentally present while eating. 
  • Chew your food! Gas, bloating and indigestion can simply be caused by not chewing enough.
  • Eat foods you cook.

We started to deviate with the authors' perspectives on these topics:

  • Gut-healing supplements. This book recommends high levels of supplements, which makes our group uneasy. Although the authors mention that supplements are unregulated and there is no guarantee that what's listed on the label is what you are buying, there is not much recourse for the consumer on this issue. We wonder if the supplements are necessary or if a healthy diet sans supplements would get the job done. 
  • We segued into the topic of juicing, which really got a rise out of the group! Too many consumers equate juicing to healthy eating. While these beverages are loaded with nutrients, we are concerned that these drinks are often high in sugar and low in fiber. We'd prefer that consumers eat their vegetables and fruits rather than pulverize them. 
  • Fear of food is an unintended consequence of elimination diets. 
  • Many consumers eliminate foods and even if they don't feel any better, neglect to add the foods back, which can cause long term nutritional deficiencies. 
  • One dietitian made recipes found in the book for several weeks. She said they were very time intensive to prepare and probably would not work for many consumers who need simple solutions in order to change their behavior. 

I find the emerging research on gut health to be fascinating and suspect our knowledge on this topic is still in its infancy. Health professionals should stay current on the emerging research and not accept any book currently in print as "the answer".    

Book club members, since I couldn't hear all of the conversations around the table, please feel free to add your comments/perspectives below!

Maureen Bligh, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Tags: book digestive health Healthy eating registered dietitian nutritionist
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

Weekly Family Meals: All American Favorites

30, June 2014 8:30 AM

Celebrate Fourth of July with favorite American dishes and other Red-White-and-Blue themed recipes.

Read on for a complete family meal menu, shopping list and additional recipe selections.

Mom's Mac + Cheese, Dairy Council of California.


Tags: family meals Healthy eating recipes
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating

Please Stop Asking Your Kids to Eat Their Veggies

24, June 2014 8:00 AM

During our camping trip this weekend my son befriended a boy several campsites away. After our dinner one night, my son asked if I would walk him up to see if his friend could come back and play. As I approached the family's campsite I wasn't sure what was happening – mom and dad were in lounge chairs with drinks in their hands and the son was alone at the picnic table. When I asked whether it was a good time, his dad said to me, "Oh, he's having a particularly hard time finishing up his vegetables tonight, so I think he'll be there for a while." Then he turned to my son and implying that good kids eat all their veggies, said, "I'm sure you would have eaten up all your vegetables, wouldn't you?" 

The irony in that question is that my son eats a total of five different types of vegetables: carrots (only raw), corn, peas, artichokes and potatoes. About six months ago, I celebrated when he started eating tomato sauce on pasta and pizza again, so I guess we can make that six vegetables. In my son's world, no one is forced to eat anything they don't want to, so he stared blankly at this man and said, "I really love mashed potatoes!"

I know that parents feel like they are doing a good thing when they cajole, bribe and mandate that kids eat their vegetables. But I wonder if they have thought about what forcing kids to eat will look like in 20 years

What You Are Actually Telling Your Child When You Force Them to Eat Their Veggies

  1. Don't trust your body, someone else knows what is best for it. 
  2. Vegetables are something to be choked down and disliked. Too bad, eat them anyway.
  3. Being healthy is really just about eating your veggies. It's not about giving your body the fuel it needs or eating a variety of foods that taste good to you.
  4. Dinner is not meant to be an enjoyable family experience, but a battle of wills.
  5. Join the clean plate club and continue eating even when you are no longer hungry. 

What You Should Do To Encourage Eating Vegetables/Healthy 

  1. Serve family meals and strive to include at least one food from each food group.
  2. Role model healthy eating.
  3. Practice the Division of Responsibility from Ellyn Satter: you serve the foods, the child chooses whether or not to eat them. 
  4. Make mealtime pleasant, focusing on conversation and polite manners rather than how much or what is eaten.
  5. Give light prompts to encourage trying new foods or eating from all the food groups that you've included in the meal: "Wow, have you tried this asparagus, it's really good?"
  6. Check out these 15 strategies from Fearless Feeding author Maryann Jacobsen. 

What If You Didn't Force Vegetables on Your Child?

I understand the parental fear: "If I were to let my child eat from whatever was available at our dinner table, they would eat all the bread, rice or pasta and nothing else." If you have been feeding your child with an authoritarian feeding style, you are probably right. But if you shift to the division of responsibility in feeding, your child may binge on preferred foods for several weeks until they trust that the new pattern and your new attitude will persist. Then they will likely surprise you by experimenting with some new foods. Not every day, but rather making slow, incremental progress that will gradually expand their food choices. It takes some kids years (decades even!) to learn to enjoy certain vegetables. Give them the time they need to come to the conclusion on their own – it's truly the healthier way to approach healthy eating.

What has your experience with getting kids to eat vegetables been like? 

LeAnne R. Ruzzamenti, M.A.
Director of Marketing Communications
Dairy Council of California

Visit our Healthy Kids section for more articles, tips, recipes, presentations and a webinar on feeding children.


Tags: division of responsibility Healthy eating healthy foods
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating for Kids

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