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Posts Tagged ‘healthy eating’

a bunch of kale

If there was a Cinderella of the vegetable world, I think it would have to be kale. Once upon a time, kale was commonly used as a garnish at upscale restaurants. Today, this nutrient rich green veggie is known to some as the Queen of Greens! Kale is rich in Vitamins A, B6, C, K, folate, and fiber, and it contains calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium among other nutrients as well.

Kale is a versatile vegetable that grows in different forms and colors and has many different culinary uses. Kale is generally best served cooked to reduce its bitter taste, but small leaves can be torn into a salad or blended in a smoothie. Kale can be sautéed, stir-fried, cooked into a soup, or used to make kale chips. Kale chips are fun and easy-to-make, and they make for a tasty, healthy snack! Kale chips can be prepared in a dehydrator as demonstrated in the video below, but they can also be baked in the oven if you don’t have a dehydrator.

Do you have a favorite kale recipe? If so, please share by leaving a comment below!

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Fairfield County

Sources:

Healthline (2018). 10 Health Benefits of Kale. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-kale#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

NC State Extension (2020). Kale: Grow it, Eat it. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/kale

National Center for Home Food Preservation (2014). Drying: Food Dehydrators. https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/dry/dehydrator.html

The Nutrition Source: Kale. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/kale/

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“Finish your vegetables before you can leave the table” was a daily mantra my mother had for me at our dinner table. It always seemed like it was her objective in life to force those vegetables that simply could not compare to the extremely over-sweetened treats that had spoiled my taste buds. I never understood why I had to eat her under-seasoned steamed carrots or corn, and now my mother is still unable to give a solid explanation why she wanted me to eat my vegetables. She had been told from her mother to eat her vegetables and this has been shared from mother to child over time.  The more I have learned about nutrition, the more I understand just how important vegetables are in our diet.

basket of fresh vegetables

Eating the same steamed vegetables can be boring but using seasonal vegetables and making dishes with many colorful vegetables are much more enjoyable. One dish I enjoyed trying with vegetables as the star was a vegetable galette. Of course, when making a dish with many vegetables it is more economical, convenient and tasty to use vegetables that are in season. A salad with out-of-season tomatoes will simply not compare to fresh tomatoes grown in the summer. Before trying a new vegetable, be sure to check if they are in season. Eating vegetables in season means that your diet will change throughout the year and you will have new and different recipes to try out!

Vegetables not only provide many different flavors and color to a dish; they are also a vital part of a healthy diet. Vegetables provide important nutrients like: fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can have a positive impact on our health. High fiber foods like vegetables have been shown to decrease cholesterol, help regulate blood sugar, and increase fullness. Trying out different seasonal vegetables and using them in different recipes is a fun way to eat healthier.

About the author: Landon Griffin is a senior Nutrition and Food Science-Dietetics dietetics student at Middle Tennessee University with a bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Performance from the University of Tennessee at Martin. He works as a dietetic aide at NHC Healthcare and on the MT Nutrition Team. In fall 2020, he will attend Eastern Illinois University for a Master of Science Nutrition and Dietetics. In the future, he wants to work with athletes to help them reach their full potential through nutrition.

Author: Landon Griffin, senior dietetics student at Middle Tennessee State University, future dietetic intern at Eastern Illinois University

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Sources:

Maynard, D.N. and G. Hochmuth. 1997. Knott’s Handbook for Vegetable Growers 4th Edition. John Wiley & Sons, New York. Retrieved from: https://extension.psu.edu/seasonal-classification-of-vegetables

Retrieved from: https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/vegetables

Holly Larson. March 1, 2021. EatRight. Retrieved from: https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/easy-ways-to-boost-fiber-in-your-daily-diet

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People eating breakfast

I have a routine that I begin each day with that includes brushing my teeth, working out, showering, getting dressed, fixing breakfast then heading out the door to go to work or teleworking from home. We all have actions that get our day started no matter what time it begins. Routines can lead to habits which can be positive or negative depending on the choices we make. Because routines are habitual, we don’t often evaluate whether they are positive or negative.

Do you usually grab a granola or protein bar in the morning? Or do you find yourself buying a pastry or sandwich when you stop for coffee or gas? Maybe you have a habit of sitting down to eat breakfast. Or maybe you don’t typically eat breakfast at all!

Take a moment today to think about the breakfast choices that start your day. Consider taking a break from your breakfast routine and try something different for a week or two.

Need ideas?

  • Make breakfast sandwiches or breakfast burritos at home. You can prep them ahead of time by scrambling eggs, adding in your favorite veggies, and refrigerating them overnight or until ready to eat. In the morning, just heat the eggs in the microwave and place into a tortilla for a breakfast wrap along with other toppings like cheese or salsa. 
  • Add fruit to your favorite morning drink or breakfast bar. Grab a fresh orange, apple or banana; a cup of applesauce or canned, diced fruit; or serve yourself a bowl of sliced berries or melon.
  • Try a new recipe such as Banana and Peanut Butter Overnight Oats, Granola and Yogurt Parfaits, or No Bake Breakfast Cookies

For more ideas, view these OSU Extension videos on Food Prep for Breakfast and Breakfast Made Easy.

What you eat can set the tone for the day. Eating breakfast will help you perform better throughout the day by helping with concentration, problem solving and even eye-hand coordination. In addition, eating breakfast can raise your energy level, mood and overall health! Those who eat a morning meal tend to make healthier food choices throughout the day compared to those who skip breakfast.

Writer: Tammy Jones, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Pike County

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Ellis, E. (2020). 5 Reasons your teen needs breakfast. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/5-reasons-your-teen-needs-breakfast

OSU Wexner Medical Center (2017). Improve your mood everyday: Just Eat Breakfast. https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/improve-your-mood-just-eat-breakfast

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At the beginning of the pandemic, while many of us were under lockdown and shelter in place orders, the hashtag #Quarantine15 started to circulate the internet to describe the weight gain some were experiencing while at home in isolation. Initially, the hashtag received backlash; some health professionals spoke up and advised the public not to worry about this weight gain, acknowledging that baking and eating “comfort food” can serve as a coping strategy in difficult times. However, while most health experts would agree that a preoccupation with dieting or obsession over body image is not good for one’s mental or physical health, there is reason to be concerned about #Quarantine15.

One reason maintaining healthy weight is important is that obesity is associated with serious complications in those infected with COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), having obesity increases risk for many serious chronic diseases – not just COVID-19 – and also increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 in those infected. Obesity is also linked to impaired immune function, which can impact one’s ability to avoid infection in the first place. Eating a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains not only helps one maintain a healthy weight, it also provides the body with important nutrients that strengthen immune function.

a spread of fruits, vegetables and nuts

Unfortunately, the ultra-processed and carbohydrate-heavy foods and sweets that many turn to for comfort in stressful times tend to be high in calories and low in nutritional value. Alcoholic beverages also contain calories and can contribute to weight gain.

If you slipped into less healthy eating habits during the pandemic and are ready to make some changes, here are a few tips from health experts:

  • Adopt a positive perspective. Rather than giving in to #Quarantine15 and accepting weight gain as inevitable, look at the pandemic as an opportunity to change your routine and establish new healthy habits.
bowl of raspberries
  • Adjust your setup. If you are still spending the bulk of your time at home, try not to hang out in or around the kitchen all day. Set designated times for meals and snacks. Keep sweets and processed foods out of sight or out of the house altogether, and make sure healthy snacks like fresh fruit, chopped veggies, cheese cubes or whole grain crackers are readily available.
hummus plate with celery sticks and crackers
  • Plan ahead.  Take time to plan meals, and then prepare or pack food as needed so you’re not tempted to grab something “easier” when you get hungry.
  • Focus on easy meals. Planning, preparing and cleaning up meals can be exhausting! See these tips for coping with cooking fatigue, and keep your pantry well-stocked with staples items so you can throw together an easy meal in a pinch if plans go astray.

Finally, be kind to yourself and set realistic expectations. Remember that nourishing your body with nutritious food is a form of self-care. Getting adequate sleep, coping with stress, and exercising regularly are also important components of self-care. Decide today to adopt one new healthy habit, and then build on that habit until you reach your ultimate goal!

Written by: Jenny Lobb, MPH, RDN, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by: Melisa J. Rupp, M.Ed., Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Fulton County

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Obesity, Race/Ethnicity, and COVID-19. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/obesity-and-covid-19.html

Finch, S.D. (2020). 7 reasons why you don’t need to lose your “quarantine 15”. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/7-reasons-why-you-dont-need-to-lose-your-quarantine-15

Katella, K. (2020). Quarantine 15? What to do about weight gain during the pandemic. https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/quarantine-15-weight-gain-pandemic

Koenig, D. (2020). The “Quarantine 15”: Weight gain during the COVID-19 pandemic. Medicine Net. https://www.medicinenet.com/the_quarantine_15_weight_gain_during_covid-19-news.htm

Markey, C. (2020). Obsessing over #Quarantine15. Rutgers-University Camden. https://www.rutgers.edu/news/obsessing-over-quarantine15

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While many of us are just happy to be able to watch the madness of basketball tournaments this March – we know that it will not be like other tournament years. We will not be gathering for parties, many of us are still not eating in restaurants/pubs, and we cannot watch the games live yet (in most cases) – so you will likely be fixing the game day snacks yourself. When you plan your game-day menu, do not throw out your goals of a healthy diet – keep in mind that there are better snack choices.

You may have heard of the new 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans which focus on several messages that you can follow for a great game-day snack plan:fruit tray

  • Limit food and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium
  • Limit alcoholic beverages (eat your calories instead of drinking them)
  • Focus on eating nutrient dense foods which include a variety of vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins (including meatless meals, nuts, eggs, and fish)

Looking at those guidelines lets choose a few tourney time snack options that keep us on track for a more healthful diet overall:

  • A vegetable tray with hummus or bean dip instead of high fat (and usually sodium) dip
  • Cheese and whole grain crackers or bread
  • Fresh fruit skewers with yogurt and nut butter dip
  • English muffin mini pizzas with veggies on top (instead of ordering takeout pizza)
  • Buffalo cauliflower bites (instead of wings, I personally LOVE these!!)
  • Homemade Banana Nice Cream
  • Infused water made with fruits the color of your favorite team (mine will be scarlet berries)

Most of these snacks can be made the night before for easy game-time serving, you will just need to make your mini pizzas quickly and heat your buffalo bites. I will share a buffalo bite recipe that I enjoyed recently (and I do not even like cauliflower). If you compare this recipe to many others online, it has no butter and a lot less breadcrumbs – and trust me – it still tastes great! I preferred the oven-baked to air-fryer, but air-fryer was super quick.

I cannot wait to hear your favorite healthy versions of tourney time snacks. Comment below to let us know what you serve.

Buffalo Cauliflower Recipe

 

Source: Start Simple with MyPlate Today, file:///C:/Users/barlage.7/Documents/Dietary%20Guidelines%202010/2021%20-%202025/DGA_2020-2025_StartSimple_withMyPlate_English_color.pdf

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Roseanne Scammahorn, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County.

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picture of fruits, vegetables, and meat and poultry foods.

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were just released! While much of the information they contain has been carried over from previous guidelines, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) continue to review research and present evidence-based recommendations for a healthy life. Below are the main themes and takeaways from the 2020 guidelines.

“Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.”  This guideline emphasizes the importance of healthy eating at every stage of life to promote health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. For infants to 6 months of life, the guidelines recommend the exclusive consumption of human milk. If human milk is not an option, it is important to choose an iron-fortified infant formula. Regardless of human milk or formula, infants should also be given a vitamin D supplement. At 6 months, infants can begin to eat nutrient-dense foods. When introducing new foods, do so one at a time in case there is an allergic reaction. From 12 months on, the guidelines recommend eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods and establishing a healthy dietary pattern that can span one’s lifetime. This will help meet nutrient needs, maintain a healthy weight, and ultimately reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and obesity.

“Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.” The current American population is vastly diverse and culture extends to the plate. The current document welcomes this diversity and looks to customize the guidelines to fit an individual’s cultural background.

“Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages and stay within calorie limits.” Throughout the document, the phrase nutrient-dense comes up quite a few times. What is the difference between nutrient-dense and calorie-dense? Simply put, nutrient-dense food contains many nutrients with minimal added sugars, saturated fat, or sodium. Calorie-dense foods, on the other hand, tend to be high in added sugar, fat and sodium with limited vitamins and minerals. Filling your plate with nutrient-dense foods to meet your caloric needs will result in a healthier life.

“Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.” The guidelines recommend individuals age two and older limit added sugars and saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day. Sodium intake should be less than 2,300mg per day. Men should limit their alcohol intake to two beverages a day and women to one drink per day.

two hands holding a beverage in glass

Modifying one’s diet can be daunting, but there are tools to make it easier to eat better. MyPlate can help you visualize your plate, and the new MyPlate planning tool can help you customize it! Eating better for one’s health does not have to be a difficult endeavor, or one you embark upon alone.

Written by: Emily Beasecker, BGSU Graduate Student interning with Ohio State University Extension, Wood County Extension, and Susan Zies, Extension Educator , Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, Zies.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County, Lobb.3@osu.edu

Sources:

Home | Dietary Guidelines for Americans [Internet]. Dietaryguidelines.gov. 2021 Available from: https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/

MyPlate | U.S. Department of Agriculture [Internet]. Myplate.gov. 2021 Available from: https://www.myplate.gov/

American Heart Association (2018). How can I eat more nutrient-dense foods? https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/how-can-i-eat-more-nutrient-dense-foods

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IMG_0190

My son eating an apple.

I am a Registered Dietitian and toddler mom. In the year my son was born, Weight Watchers rolled out an app called Kurbo by WW to help children ages 8 to 17 “build healthy habits for life”. The app allows users to track what they eat and how much they exercise – not by counting calories, but by using a “traffic-light system” to classify foods as healthy and unhealthy. For a fee, users can also work with a virtual health coach to set and evaluate progress toward health goals. 

Upon its release, Kurbo received overwhelming criticism and media attention from dietitians, pediatricians, therapists and other health professionals. While these experts agree that healthy eating is important, they recognize that both childhood obesity and eating disorders are serious concerns for adolescents. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, eating disorders are serious illnesses that have the second highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder, and they “are too often wrongly relegated to the sidelines as a minor consideration in the ‘obesity prevention’ conversation.” In a similar vein, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents and doctors to avoid discussing weight or prescribing weight loss to children and adolescents over concerns that it could lead to disordered eating habits. 

Parents and health professionals alike want to help young people establish healthy eating habits for life, which is the stated purpose of the Kurbo app. There is great concern, however, that using the approach of tracking food intake could lead to disordered eating, unhealthy relationships with food, low self-esteem and unhealthy body image among adolescents. A better approach for encouraging children to develop healthy eating habits and maintain healthy weight is to teach and model healthy eating without food shaming or guilt tripping. The New York Times offers a helpful guide that includes the following suggestions for parents and caregivers:

tuna

My son eating tuna noodle casserole

  • Model healthy habits
  • Involve children in food shopping and cooking
  • Initiative positive conversations about different eating patterns
  • Choose not to use food as a reward, bribe or punishment
  • Refrain from talking about weight or dieting
  • Allow less-than-healthy foods into your meal plan on occasion, without making a big deal about it
  • Respect food preferences and aversions
  • Encourage children to identify and respond to their body’s cues for hunger and fullness

Finally, be sure to voice concerns with a pediatrician or a dietitian if your child starts to obsess over food or weight at any given time. With these guidelines in mind, you’ll be doing your part to help the children in your life develop healthy eating habits.

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics (2016). How to prevent obesity without encouraging eating disorders. https://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/08/22/Obesity082216 

CDC (2020). Tips to Help Children Maintain a Healthy Weight. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/children/index.html

National Eating Disorders Association (2018). NEDA Statement on Kurbo by WW App. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/neda-statement-kurbo-ww-app

Sole-Smith, V. (2019). A New Weight Watchers App for Kids Raises Concerns. The New York Times. https://parenting.nytimes.com/childrens-health/weight-watchers-kids?te=1&nl=nyt-parenting&emc=edit_ptg_20190911?campaign_id=118&instance_id=12279&segment_id=16918&user_id=86dd6cac18c7ca41e6c8d433d5340d6c&regi_id=92717125

Sweeney, E. (2019). How to Teach Children About Healthy Eating, Without Food Shaming. The New York Times. https://parenting.nytimes.com/feeding/healthy-eating-habits?module=article-group&topic=Toddler&rank=3&position=7

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County and Olivia Levine, Dietetic Intern, The Ohio State University

Reviewed by: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Hardin County

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Today we are reminded of the importance of a healthy immune system.  Our body’s ability to fight infection and disease depends on our immune system.  Good nutrition is important to support a healthy immune system.  Eat well by choosing nutrient rich foods, such as the following to boost your immune system:

  • Choose more orange and brightly colored foods. like carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, mango, tomatoes, and broccoli. These foods contain the antioxidant Beta Carotene which has been shown to strengthen the body’s infection fighting methods.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C including citrus, red peppers, kiwi, broccoli, berries and tomatoes. Start the day with a grapefruit, add sliced peppers to a sandwich at lunch and enjoy a cup of berries for a snack.
  • Herbs and spices such as garlic, ginger, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. These herbs and spices contain ingredients that help fight off viruses and harmful bacteria and give your immune system a boost. Try garlic hummus or raw ginger tea, or add oregano and rosemary to salads, roasted vegetables, and tuna salad to increase your intake of herbs and spices.
  • Get your Vitamin D. Found in fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms, fortified milk and fortified orange juice. Vitamin D is essential for optimal immune function and has been shown to help address respiratory infections. Add mushrooms to salads, stir fry’s and soups to increase your Vitamin D intake.
  • Zinc is key to optimal immune function but intake tends to be lower in those who are older, vegetarians, vegans and those who take antacids. Foods containing zinc such asmeat, seafood, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Probiotics  is good bacteria that promotes health.  It is found in cultured dairy products like yogurt and in fermented foods such as kimchi.
  • Protein from both animal and plant-based sources including, milk, yogurt, eggs, beef, chicken, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils.

In addition to increasing your intake of nutrient-dense foods, you can protect your immune system by:

  • Minimize your intake of sugar, processed foods, and alcohol. Consumption of these foods may suppressthe immune system.
  • Practicing good hygiene and hand washing to help prevent the spread of germs. Remember to wash produce before eating or using in recipes. Clean glasses, dishes, forks, spoons, and knives to reduce the spread and growth of bacteria.
  • Manage stress. Physical activity, meditation, listening to music and writing are great ways to manage stress and help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases that could weaken your immune system.
  • Getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep contributes to a variety of health concerns including a weakened immune system. Seven to nine hours is recommended each day for adults and children need eight to fourteen hours depending on their age.

Take charge today of your health and add these tips daily to support a healthy immune system!

Written by:  Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County. stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County. lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2020). Support your health with nutrition. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/support-your-health-with-nutrition

WebMD (2019). How can my diet affect my immune system? https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/qa/how-can-my-diet-affect-my-immune-system

WebMD (2019). Super Foods for Optimal Health. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/antioxidants-your-immune-system-super-foods-optimal-health

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We have all been impacted one way or another by the Coronavirus pandemic. During a health crisis, taking preventative measures is important. The CDC has listed precautions people should be taking right now. These include washing your hands, staying away from people who may be sick, and protecting your nose and mouth with an appropriate mask. Another way to protect yourself from sickness is keeping your immune system strong, which is your body’s defense against illnesses.

The Cleveland Clinic notes 3 vitamins to boost your immune system:

Vitamin C: found in many fruits especially melons, berries, and citrus, bell peppers, and dark leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, anFresh Vegetablesd spinach.

Vitamin B6: found in chickpeas, green vegetables, chicken, and fish.

Vitamin E: found in spinach, seeds, and nuts.

Additionally, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states these nutrients listed will also help boost your immune system:

Vitamin D: found in fortified milk and juice, eggs, and fatty fish.

Zinc: found both in animal and plant sources such as meat, beans, tofu, and nuts,

Beta carotene: found in plant foods such a potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, and mangos.

Probiotics: found in cultured dairy and fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut.

Protein: both animal and plant-based sources, such as nuts, eggs, meat, beans, and fish.

Eating healthily during a pandemic can be tough but having long-lasting food on-hand is a great way to ensure you and your family are fed when practicing social distancing. There are also ways to focus on consuming the food listed above to keep those immune systems in tip-top shape. Before you stock up on all the frozen and non-perishable foods you can find, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Frozen meals: Be sure those frozen meals include some of the foods listed above, for example fruits and vegetables.

Pasta: Add some razzle dazzle to pre-packaged pasta meals such by adding vegetables to the dish or pair it with your favorites on the side. You can also try this stir fry recipe that includes meat and vegetables with packaged ramen noodles for a yummy twist.

Canned goods: great way to add some fruits, vegetables, and beans to any meal. And make sure your canned soup has vegetables in it for extra nutrients, and always look for the no-salt added version.

Smoothies: Make a smoothie with your favorite frozen fruit and be sure to use a little yogurt and orange juice for some added nutrients.

Snacks: Snacking is inevitable! Snack on things such as dried fruit, nuts, seeds, hummus, raw veggies, and more!

Below are two family fun snack and meal recipes that are sure to give you those nutrients that could give your immune system that extra boost!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Fruit and Veggie Snacks

All in all, you eat your way to a stronger immune system. Note that supplements are not recommended unless necessary. And always consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian first. We will get through this uncertain time together!

About the author: Carmen Bell is a senior Nutrition and Food Science-Dietetics student with a Health and Human Performance minor at Middle Tennessee State University. She is a part of the MT Nutrition Team where she works to provide nutrition education to children, students, faculty, and staff on campus. Beginning summer 2020, she will be an Iowa State University Dietetic Intern and upon completion of the program will continue her process of becoming a registered dietitian. In the future, she will obtain her master’s degree in Leadership in Nutrition and wants to work will all ages on their health.

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 18% or 13.7 million children and adolescents in the United States are obese. This means that they have a body mass index at or above the 95th percentile of the CDC growth charts. It is projected that this epidemic will affect 50-80% of children in the United States by 2030.

Childhood obesity can result from an unbalanced diet consisting of high-calorie, low nutrient food and drink choices, lack of physical activity, and a rise in sedentary, screen-focused activities such as video gaming. Many studies have shown that children with obesity are at increased risk of developing short-term weight-related health conditions, as well as chronic conditions later in life. These children have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, and even premature death. This condition can also impact mental health in children, causing isolation stemming from bullying, depression, poor self-esteem, and a general lack of confidence.

BUT! There is good news. Obesity does not have to follow children into adulthood. Adopting positive lifestyle choices as children can help establish healthy habits and prevent the onset of these weight-related health conditions. Although genetics and metabolic rates differ from one child to another, healthy eating and living an active lifestyle can help manage their weight status, regardless of whether the child is at a normal weight, overweight, or obese.

You may be thinking this sounds great in an ideal world where kids get excited about eating their greens, and request grilled chicken instead of chicken nuggets, but that’s just not the world we live in. So how can we get our kids to eat nutrient-packed, lower calorie foods?

Use fun colors! – Instead of using traditional colored foods, here are some fun ideas to make your child’s plate more vibrant:

  • Try rainbow colored carrots instead of regular carrots.
  • Make a rainbow veggie wrap with bright colored peppers, spinach, and red cabbage.
  • You can also use red cabbage juice, blueberry juice, or other natural dyes to color cauliflower, rice, and yogurt a new color!

Use fun shapes! – Try creating fun, new shapes with ordinary foods. rocket shaped sandwich with vegetables

  • Use cookie cutters to cut fruit or veggies into interesting shapes.
  • Try using a spiralizer or a spiral veggie knife to present vegetables into noodles or zoodles.

Hide the fruits and veggies! – Disguise fruits and vegetables in your child’s favorite foods

  • Create a tasty, nutrient-rich smoothie with your child’s favorite fruits and vegetables and freeze it into ice pops for a tasty treat.
  •  Substitute traditional dishes with healthier options that appear the same. Examples include mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes or spaghetti squash to replace regular pasta.
  • Add healthier substitutes in a dish that looks similar. Try adding squash to macaroni and cheese, chopped vegetables in meatballs, or making chocolate pudding with banana, avocado, cocoa powder, and vanilla!

Lastly, get your kids involved in the kitchen! Letting children help in meal preparation can motivate them to eat the dish they helped create.

  • Mother and daughter shopping for fruit.It begins at the grocery store – Consider bringing kids along and let them help you pick the produce they find most appealing.
  • Encourage your child to find a recipe they want to make, which includes a fruit or vegetable, and make it together.
  • Give your child age-appropriate tasks during meal prep such as washing the produce, mixing ingredients, and setting the table!

Check out the Ohio State University Extension Office’s Nutrition page for information about additional activities, classes, and education. Incorporating these fun, simple ideas into your child’s routine can help them develop lifelong healthy habits which prevent the onset of conditions related to obesity. Teaching our children how to practice these lifestyle changes can impact this generation, and generations to come!

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/causes.html

The Harvard Gazette: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/11/harvard-study-pinpoints-alarming-obesity-trends/

About the Author: Olyvia Norton is a senior student in the Nutrition and Food Science, Dietetics program at Middle Tennessee State University. Her interests are in clinical nutrition, specifically pediatric nutrition and nutrition support. She serves as the President of the Students of Tennessee Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is an active member of the Nutrition and Dietetics Association at Middle Tennessee State University and works as a dietitian’s assistant in Middle Tennessee for patients with special needs. Olyvia also enjoys serving on medical mission teams outside of the United States to bring better nutrition to underserved populations in developing countries.

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

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