Help Your Child Maintain a Healthy Weight with These 5 Strategies

If you’re a parent of a school age chid, chances are you have received a note from the school nurse outlining your child’s growth patterns and their BMI.  Sometimes this can create a sense of frustration, but others may feel a sense of defeat.  We know that childhood obesity is a concern.  Obesity in general can lead to many health concerns including heart disease, diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, social stigma and psychological pain.  We already know that studies (1 and 2) show obese children are more likely to become obese adults.  With all this in front of us, as concerned parents, what can we do?

Here are five tips to take the focus off of your child’s weight and instead focus on habits and health!  Create an environment where its no longer about a number on the scale or a BMI chart, but instead about the choices that they make.

1) Fresh Fruits & Veggies

Parents, we are the ones who are doing the grocery shopping. We need to have fresh fruits and vegetables on hand and EASILY accessible for the children to eat.  When you purchase produce, wash and prepare it so it is easy for the kids to grab as a snack.  We keep containers of carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, grapes, and apples in our fridge for the kids to be able to just grab and GO!

2) Help Kids Stay Active

If you are the parent of a toddler, you are just waiting for the day when they keep your kids movingjust CHILL!  Unfortunately, when our kids are ready to just chill, its hard to
get them moving again.  As a parent, we need to make sure we encourage our children to be active with fun games and family activity.  Going on walks
together, jumping rope, tag, or enrolling your child in a youth sport or dance.  In the summer with longer days, this is certainly easier.  In the winter with shorter daylight, youth sports or dance are easy ways to get in active time.  Also take advantage of indoor recreation centers.  Allow your children to be as creative as they can be with their active movements!

3) Limit Screen Time

If you follow me at all, you know that one of my passions is to use technology responsibly with my children.  This means that I have specific times and specific days of the week when my children are permitted to use their screens.too much technology This includes gaming systems, iPads, Kindles, television and web surfing. We have a set limit of two hours a day and weekends are only one hour in the mornings. By having a set time for screens, you then force your children to come up with other activities.  In the summer, we even reduce the two hours to 30 minutes!   When we limit screen time for kids, we help them to create healthy habits of exercise and movement!


Most people who know me know that I’m not once to mince words.  So I’m going to share a bit of tough love here — Parents, WE are the ones who are  buying the groceries.   WE need to be responsible.  Tip number one was to offer more fresh vegetables and fruits and I’m going to take it even a step further and encourage you to save sweets & treats for once a week or a special occasion.  Snacks really should be low calorie and high nutritional dense foods such as apples, bananas, berries, grapes, or vegetables like carrots, broccoli, peppers with hummus.  If you have an ice cream junkie in your house like I do, you can also blend frozen bananas or berries to make a “nice cream”.  If you don’t have the junk food in your house you can’t eat it!  The bonus is this helps YOU as much as it does your kids!

5) Understand PORTION = Power!

There is a tremendous amount of power in understanding portions.  If you are not familiar with what portions look like, is a great resource.   Both you and your children should eat a variety of fruit, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, low fat dairy daily.  But don’t forget the WATER!  Lots & lots of water. Be mindful of how many calories your children are drinking.  Really limit or eliminate sugary beverages like soda, juice or fruit punch.

For more in-depth details on portion and meal planning for families check out the Jumpstart to Meal Planning Success.

what are kid friendly portionsReferences:
1 Whitaker RC, Wright JA, Pepe MS, Seidel KD, Dietz WH. Predicting obesity in young adulthood from childhood and parental obesity. N Engl J Med 1997; 37(13):869–873.
2 Serdula MK, Ivery D, Coates RJ, Freedman DS. Williamson DF. Byers T. Do obese children become obese adults? A review of the literature. Prev Med 1993;22:167–177.

10 Ways to Enjoy Healthier Holidays Without Giving Up Your Favorite Foods!

10-ways-to-enjoy-healthier-holidays-without-giving-up-your-favorite-foodsIt is that time of year where we have to start thinking about all the candy all the cookies all the snacks that are around.  Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas — we got that holiday overindulgence of food thing going on and on and it can be a struggle for indulgence for many of us.  It IS hard to resist grandma’s pumpkin cake, Aunt Dolores’ apple dumplings and my mom’s amazing fudge!  But I have a plan and I want to share that plan with you!   For many of us, holiday gatherings revolve around food, which it can pack on several pounds over our lifetime according to the National Institute of Health.  I want to try to help you avoid that!  Here are my best tips on how to beat the holiday bulge this year:the consequences of holiday weight gain

1) Be realistic with yourself
If you are fully aware of your struggle with holiday food, acknowledge it and simply try to just maintain your current weight. If we completely eliminate any of the holiday traditional foods, we may feel deprived and then we sort of end up crash dieting.  This can lead to a yo-yo cycle that just creates a vicious spiral.

2) Plan time to exercise

Go for a walk, go to the gym, workout at home to a DVD…getting in even as little as ten to fifteen minutes of exercise a day can help you to maintain and not gain.  There are a ton of free home workouts available.  THIS one even has my health coaching and support!

3) Don’t skip meals 

So many times people say “oh I’m not eating before the holiday party because I want to make sure I can eat at the holiday party.”  Trust me! You will be able to eat at the holiday party.  Having small snacks throughout the day, maybe it’s a piece of fruit, maybe it’s some Greek yogurt, or a handful almonds before leaving for your party.  Eating something light and healthy will help you from over indulging at the party. Whatever you don, avoid going to the party starving!

4)  Choose your favorites!

If you’re at a holiday party, only choose your favorite foods and skip the least favorite foods.  Why would you want to bother with calories that are not something you would really enjoy!  This is an easy way way to cut down on calories without feeling like you’re missing out!Tricks for holiday parties

5)  Don’t eat until you’re overly stuffed!

I don’t necessarily need a whole piece of pecan pie but doggone it I am so eating a piece of pecan pie.  Maybe it’s a little slower rate like I take a little sliver of pecan pie that gives me three bites I am perfectly happy with three bites OK maybe four and I don’t need the crust why because I don’t love the crust and I am not going to eat something I don’t love why do I want to waste calories on something I don’t love So I don’t eat the crust grandma may not like that but in my family everyone knows Erin does not eat the crust and my cousin is the same way we don’t eat the crust of our pie It’s chicken food So sit down get comfortable enjoy your meal and eat until you’re satisfied.

6) Avoid drinking your calories

Hey, I love that glass of wine or a craft beer as much as the next person.  But, I always want to choose WHEN I drink my calories and take that into account.  If I”m at a gathering where i know I’m going to over consume calories, I limit myself to ONE drink.  Alcohol is full of sugar.  It has tons of calories and alcohol lessons our inhibitions.  This can then lead mindless munching. More important than anything else, please don’t drink and drive — always have a designated driver.

7) Have a plan

Many of us visit multiple holiday parties over the months of November and December.  There have been times our family has traveled to THREE holiday meals in one day.  Oh my aching stomach.  After one year of unsuccessfully navigating that experience I learned to HAVE a plan!  When traveling to multiple meals in one day, decide what and how much you’re eating before you get to each location.  If mom is serving a meal at 1pm, then eat your salad, lean protein and smaller portions of your favorites.  I did mention veggies, right?  Then for your second meal, you can still enjoy, just smaller portions and this is where you enjoy a small portion of dessert.  By sharing your plan in advance with the host or hostess, you can avoid hurt feelings.

8) Take the focus off of food 

Many of us have our holiday traditions revolve around food. We bake cookies, we set the fancy table settings out, we have extra candy, candy canes, etc….  Take the focus off food and turn those holiday cookie and candy baking traditions into crafts!   You can turn the season of giving into blessing nursing home residents, shut ins, young children or even your neighbors!  There are a TON of ideas out there!  You can even peruse Pinterest for a little inspiration!

9) Bring your own food to a holiday gathering 

Yep.  I’m that family member who is sure to bring a gluten free dessert and some sort of healthy veggie.  This way I’m guaranteed to have at least one healthy option and a dessert that I can eat.  When you’re the only one in your family who has special dietary needs, you learn quickly that if you need something prepared a certain way, you have to just bring something yourself. We can’t expect everyone to always accommodate us — it can be confusing, so why risk it.  Brining you own favorites allows you to share what you love with others; often presenting an educational opportunity!

10) Practice healthy cooking habits

Prepare those favorite dishes that you love with lower calories.

prepare-those-favorite-dishes-that-you-love-with-lower-caloriesI love cranberry sauce I think it’s one of my favorite things to eat in the holidays. But the stuff in a can is just so unhealthy!  I learned how to make my homemade cranberry sauce that’s very clean.  I also allow my turkey broth to chill in the fridge can scoop off some of the fat before making gravy!  Scooping the fat saves almost  50-60 grams of fat per cup of gravy!

I use gluten free bread to make stuffing and add more vegetable like extra onion, celery, and even add whole cranberries!  Instead of using butter to smother the bread, I use organic vegetable broth.  For creamy mash potatoes, I use almond milk and chicken broth to help thin out the potato and add parmesan cheese instead of butter.

Keep in mind the whole goal is to enjoy the holidays by planning time for activities, work on incorporating healthy recipes into your holiday meals and don’t feel the need to restrict yourself because who wants to go through life with deprivation and really not enjoying themselves?  But if you can just make a few healthy choices, your body will thank you in the long run!

To help us stay on track, I am am running a Finish Strong 2016 Accountability Group to focus on nutrition and fitness and support for the remainder of 2016! I will be sharing with you

  • Tips for going to holiday parties
  • Things that you can eat before you go to holiday gatherings
  • Things that you can do while you’re there to help you stick to your goals
  • A deeper dive into these 10 tips
  •  Accountability with your nutrition and fitness

APPLY TODAY for the accountability group

One Simple Trick To Get Picky Kids to Eat Healthy

how to help picky eaters

You’ve just slaved over an amazing dinner.  The kitchen is filled with the smells of delicious food.  Everyone sits at the table together and then it starts.  The “EWWWW, I don’t like this”, “do I have to eat this?”, “I’m not hungry”.  Then we get discouraged and feel like we shouldn’t even bother.  But like you, I got TIRED of this exhausting cycle and decided it was time to make some changes!

My husband and I created a “Family Food Pact” and this applies to everyone eating with us, including the ADULTS!

1) No complaining about Food

No one is FORCED to eat anything, we just don’t allowed or tolerate negative food talk.  See, the entire point of food is for nourishment, not comfort, entertainment or just because you’re bored.  When we complain about the food, it is disrespectful to the cook and says that we don’t appreciate the work it took to prepare the meal.  If one of the kids  complains, it is an immediate pick from the consequences can!  Negativity spreads like  wildfire!  It must be nipped ASAP!

2) Food is not a reward

I have to work with many of my health coaching clients on this same concept.  We treat ourselves to ice cream or cookies. If we try one bite we get dessert.  Or even worse, if you don’t eat your veggies, there are negative consequences (early bedtime, a spanking, no TV).  As parents, we want our children to develop memories of people and events — NOT food.  By making the focus on food, we will constantly struggle with this.

3) Mealtime is Family Time

I’ll be totally honest and say that my husband and I both go crazy about this pact!  VERY, VERY rarely are outside activities  allowed to interfere with dinner.  Yes, this is tough, but necessary.  I’m also often asked if we all eat the same thing.  The answer is YES and we eat it with a positive attitude.  family meal time

4)  Try it Again & Again

Look, I get it!  I”m a very picky eater myself.  But I eat waaaaaay more food these days than I ever did before.  Even as an adult.  SO our pact is that we each are willing to try at least one small bite of the food served.  This can be as simple as one green bean, one bite of chicken or one bite of sweet potatoes!  If you like it, GREAT!  You can always ask for more.  Don’t like it?  NO PROBLEM!  We praise their willingness to try foods.

5) A Hungry Tummy is OK!

I know children who are given a snack as soon as their tummy growls or they are just a little hungry.  Or they feel like enjoying a bowl of cheesy crackers.  Or we are trying to entertain them in public or on a longer car ride.  Look, I get it!  Sometimes we just need to do what to do to save our sanity, right!?  But it is when we make daily, or sometimes multiple times a day, that it becomes a problem.  We we have normal hunger at meal times, we are all more likely to eat whatever is served and eat enough of it to avoid hunger pangs 30 minutes after clean up.   We should all want our children to learn how to identify what it feels likes to be full and hungry.  The constant indulging in snacks and eating does not give our tummies a chance to inform us that we are hungry.  Then we are less likely to try to limit snacks

6) Quality not Quantity

When we are eating whole foods our bodies know exactly how to process and use the fuel we nourish ourselves with.  This is easier when we actually cook from scratch.  YES, this involves a little planning and preparation, but when we focus on real ingredients and real food, it can be done with less stress.  One of the things I teach in The Stress-Free Jumpstart to Meal Planing Success is getting the kids involved! When everyone is involved and invested, they start to encourage OTHERS to eat the quality food that has been prepared.

Does your family have any rules around meals, food or nutrition?  What works for you?