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Are You Stuck in a Cooking Rut?

I usually like to cook. In fact, I would cook more often if someone else always did the cleanup. At times I can feel like I get stuck in a rut with lack of inspiration leading to the redundancy of the same few recipes. This boredom leads to ordering more takeout and delivery, which often costs more time and money and increases the consumption of less healthy food. If you are finding yourself “stuck in a rut” and lacking inspiration here are a few ideas to shake up your everyday food routine.

A bowl of cereal with berries and nuts

Breakfast
Let’s start with breakfast, do you always eat the same thing? I like having cereal but after a few days it can become monotonous, and I find myself skipping this important meal or grabbing something unhealthy on the way to work. Try adding hot or cold cereal to the routine; include berries or other fruit in your meal or even on your cereal. Did you know adding more protein to breakfast will help you feel fuller longer? Easy sources of protein include eggs, yogurt, or milk. If you are looking for vegetarian or vegan friendly options, you can add a dairy alternative milk, seeds or nuts to your cereal or breakfast smoothie, or beans to a breakfast burrito.

Lunch
Lunch time meal shake ups may depend on your situation and if you have access to kitchen equipment, including a microwave. Salads can be a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet and shake up your meal ideas. Check out this recipe for Mason jar burrito bowl salads, another idea is to plan for leftovers. For example, you can, cook a little more of a main dish at dinner to ensure leftovers for lunch. For changes to your sandwiches try a new ingredient, make it a wrap, or turn your sandwich into a salad. One of my favorite lunchtime meals is to utilize healthy snack items as my lunch, such as hummus with veggies and pita chips, a yogurt parfait with granola and fruit, or crackers with cheese and nuts.

A tablet with recipe

Dinner
One the best ways to change up your dinner routine is to find new recipes. If you search recipes online, you can quickly become overwhelmed with all the possibilities. To reduce the fatigue of shifting through millions of recipes look for certain main ingredients or protein or, try to stick to staple ingredients that you already have in your pantry. The Ohio State University SNAP-Ed team has a great recipe website with many easy, low-cost recipes, check them out at CelebrateYourPlate.org

Still need inspiration? You can also try these ideas:

  • Have a recipe swap with friends.
  • Refresh a traditional family recipe.
  • Try cooking once and eating twice.
  • Pick one or two new recipes to try per week and have your family vote on their favorites.
  • Involve the rest of the family by having them choose a new recipe (this is a great way to involve your kids in learning to cook).
  • Explore a cuisine from another culture.

Whatever you decide to do, remember making small changes can benefit both your health and your wallet.

Written By: Laura Halladay, NDTR, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Greene County

Reviewed By: Laura Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Warren County

Sources:

Harvard Health. (2018, December 1). Extra protein at breakfast helps control hunger. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/extra-protein-at-breakfast-helps-control-hunger

Healthy meals: Low cost recipes. Celebrateyourplate. (n.d.). Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://celebrateyourplate.org/

Henneman, A. (2019, October 14). How to cook once and eat twice. UNL Food. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://food.unl.edu/how-cook-once-and-eat-twice

Oliver, V. (2020, December 8). Make a week’s worth of lunches with Burrito Bowl Mason jar salads. Make a week’s worth of lunches with Burrito Bowl Mason Jar Salads | UK Human Resources. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://www.uky.edu/hr/thrive/12-08-2020/make-week%E2%80%99s-worth-lunches-with-burrito-bowl-mason-jar-salads

Photo Credit:
Sarah Cervera via Unsplash – Breakfast bowl with berries, nuts, and grains.
Jeff Sheldon via Unsplash – Recipe displayed on tablet.

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The holiday season is here!  Holiday celebrations often center around food.  We plan to manage our healthy meal plan during the holidays and avoid weight gain yet find ourselves in the office breakroom with a tray of cookies, opening the door to your neighbors’ famous peanut butter fudge or get an invite to go out with friends.   Here are some tips to help maintain weight over the holidays:

  • Eat your fruits and vegetables.  Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits.  They will satisfy your appetite and induce fullness.
  • Keep moving.  Manage your daily physical activity.  Be active daily!
  • Treat yourself just once a day!  Enjoy that one item daily.  Take a smaller serving.  Cut out an extra 100 calories later in the day.
  • Control the risk of temptation.  Clear your home and office of tempting holiday goodies. Share any gifts of foods.
  • Balance protein intake.  Holiday meals tend to be higher in carbohydrates and low in protein. Include protein with every meal.
  • Never go to a party hungry.  Eat a serving of fruit, yogurt, or raw nuts before you leave for the party. Don’t linger over the buffet table.
  • Get plenty of sleep.  Those who do not sleep adequately tend to be hungrier, consume more calories and exercise less. 
  • Manage stress.  Holidays are often stressful and stressed individuals have higher cortisol levels which is linked to increased hunger and weight gain.

Socialize with friends and family at holiday gatherings and limit access to buffet and dessert tables.  Choose from the crudities tray. Happy Holidays!

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

Reviewed by:Michelle Treber, OSU Extension Educator, Pickaway County  treber.1osu.edu

References:   

Holiday Eating – Today’s Dietitian Magazine (todaysdietitian.com)

https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/1215p20.shtmlMay Your Holiday Season Be Light: How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain (todaysdietitian.com)

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This fall has presented many challenges for my family with eating a nutritious dinner as one of them. With back-to-school, work, homework and my kids extra-curricular activities, we found ourselves hitting the drive-thru more times than not. While discussing my troubles with a co-worker, they recommended I dust off my slow cooker and put it to work. Duh! Why didn’t I think of that? I decided to take full advantage of my slow-cooker and gain back my nutrition, time, and sanity.

Collection of slow cooker recipes graphic

As humans, we want tried and true recipes that we know others enjoy. What better way to get that than to team up with your co-workers and turn it into a project! At the beginning of the month, my office teammates and I started a Facebook campaign of slow cooker recipes for the month of October. Every day we have been posting a slow cooker recipe that our families enjoy. Not only did we want to share recipes, we wanted to share educational information with them.

Prior to the recipe posts we started with some slow cooker safety tips:

1. Make sure everything is CLEAN.

2. Keep food COLD until it’s time to assemble.

3. DEFROST meat first. Never put frozen meat into your slow cooker.

4. Cut meat into SMALLER pieces.

After that information was posted on social media, I received a lot of comments related to thawing meat prior to slow cooking. You can find additional information on this topic in one of our previous blog posts: “Using Your Slow Cooker Safely”.

We’ve also been keeping all the recipes on our county website to make it easier for people to find and print them. The great thing is you will find a mixture of recipes! We have a collection of breakfast dishes, soups, drinks, desserts, appetizers, and entrees. With the month coming to an end, we are sad to see this project come to an end, but excited to start working on the next one!

Sources:

Goard, L. (2011, October 18). Using your slow cooker safely Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2011/10/18/using-your-slow-cooker-safely/

Jeffers, M.K. (2021, August 3). Cook slow to save time: four important slow cooker safety tips Retrieved from https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2017/10/24/cook-slow-save-time-four-important-slow-cooker-food-safety-tips?fbclid=IwAR31cTEAHJQ06p-sUCtrU4Ca2KkSNuPfHMBiBWTR7CqgQ_oy8oSQ_olhrlI

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

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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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