Archive for the ‘nutrition’ Category

It’s still a Happy New Year!!

January 26th, 2012

Sometimes as I start these blogs my mind wanders… then I have to think about what I really wanted to say. I started out thinking I wanted to talk about winter activities for families. Then looked outside at the shining sun and melting icicles and my mind wandered. It wandered to New Years! I started thinking about an article I had read on the eXtension website and wondered “how many families are already frustrated and disheartened with their New Year’s Goals?” So I went back to the article and thought I would share it with you here.

I have excerpted it and added the full link at the bottom. My question to you is this…  Instead of getting frustrated about things that haven’t gone right or things you haven’t achieved… is there something that you and your family can do TODAY to start over with your goals and plans? Tell us here!!! We can help keep you accountable!!

By the way family goals can be a great way to create family togetherness!

Wishing You a Healthy & H-A-P-P-Y N-E-W Y-E-A-R

H – ealth Make health a priority this year. Health should be more than the absence of disease – read on for ideas.

A – ttitude A positive attitude may not cure a disease. However, thinking positive can help you deal with misfortune, make the most of your situation and enjoy life more.

P – hysical activity The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends for adults: “Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Additional benefits occur with more physical activity. Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial.”
For more information and for guidelines for children:

P – eople Numerous studies indicate social networks, whether formal (such as a church or social club) or informal (such as meeting with friends), make people less vulnerable to ill health and premature death. Be wary, however, of social support that drains you through people being too demanding or encouraging you to engage in harmful behaviors.

Y- our body Schedule physical checkups as needed: eyes, teeth, mammogram, colonoscopy, general physical, etc.

To find the rest of the article go to:

And just in case you think I don’t really want to know – I DO!!  Is there something that you and your family can do TODAY to start over with your goals and plans? Tell us here! It’s about family togetherness!

Lori Hayungs

education, nutrition, positive parenting, social-emotional , , , , , ,

Positive Parenting and Your Child’s Weight

June 15th, 2011

Last month’s Science of Parenting Podcast highlighted childhood obesity, and this month it focused on Parenting Styles.  Although these may seem like two very different matters, there is actually a lot of research linking the two topics.  A recent study followed 2,516 adolescents for five years to explore how parenting styles affected children’s weight.

First, researchers labeled parenting styles of both moms and dads by looking at responsiveness (level of love, affection, and warmth) and demandingness (level of strictness and expectation).  Historically, when parents have high expectations and boundaries for their children (high demandingness), but also show their children how much they love and care about them (high responsiveness), the children have the most positive outcomes.

Second, researchers calculated the children’s Body Mass Index (BMI), a number used to determine if a person is underweight, a healthy weight, or overweight.  Finally, they asked the children what types of food they typically eat.  The results are summarized below.

  • When moms showed high demandingness and high responsiveness, it led to sons who had healthier BMI scores than the sons of moms who showed high demandingness and low responsiveness.
  • When moms showed high demandingness and high responsiveness, it led to daughters who had healthier BMI scores than the daughters of moms who showed low demandingness and low responsiveness.
  • When dads showed high responsiveness (regardless of their level of demandingness), it led to daughters who ate more fruits and vegetables than the daughters of dads who showed low responsiveness.

To summarize, moms who set high expectations in a structured environment, but also show children a lot of care and love, create environments that promote healthy BMIs for both sons and daughters.  Also, when daughters feel a lot of warmth and love from their fathers, they are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.

What are some demands you set for your children to help develop healthy eating habits?  In what ways might your love and affection also help your children develop healthy eating habits?

nutrition, positive parenting

Nutritional Value

May 20th, 2011

On March 10th, we discussed a few simple ways to help children develop healthy eating habits.  The first suggestion was to stock up on healthy and nutritious snacks.  While fruits and vegetables are a natural choice, beyond these selections, it can be difficult to know what is most nutritious for your children.  Consider, for example, yogurt.  With such a wide variety of options available, which one is healthiest for your children?  You can examine the label, but even then it can be confusing…calories, fat, protein, sugar, fiber, minerals, carbohydrates… It is overwhelming!

An independent team of researchers developed a system called Nuval to help customers determine the nutritional value of food.  The system scores food on a scale from 1 to 100.  The higher the number, the higher the nutrition.  This system considers more than 30 nutrients when assigning a Nuval score to food.  In other words, it takes all the information on the food label, and converts it into an easy to understand, overall nutrition score.

Now, when you’re in the dairy section wondering which kind of yogurt to buy, you can be armed with nutritional knowledge, like that below.

  • Stonyfield Fat Free French Vanilla Yogurt, Nuval score = 39
  • Chobani Non-Fat Plan Greek Yogurt, Nuval score = 91

It is also useful when shopping for other foods, including peanut butter.

  • Skippy Reduced-Fat Creamy Peanut Butter, Nuval score = 18
  • Teddie Smooth UnSalted Peanut Butter, Nuval score = 90

Grocery stores can independently adopt this system.  Currently, you can find the Nuval information at HyVee and other participating grocery stores around the country.  Simply look for the Nuval score on the shelf tags, next to the item price.

Have any of you had the opportunity to try out this new system?  Did you find it helpful?  What surprising scores did you come across?


The Importance of Play

May 3rd, 2011

As summertime approaches, it might be tempting to enroll your child in a variety of events to keep him/her busy while not in school.  While extra curricular activities certainly can benefit your child and be very fun for him/her, too many activities can be overwhelming.  Having a jam packed schedule can leave your child without any free time to just play.  So, with summer quickly approaching, I wanted to remind everyone of a few of the benefits of play.

Creativity. When children are given time for free play, they create play scenarios, imagine a new world, and turn common objects into magical props.  Their creativity and imagination can take them anywhere!

Social development. During free play, children interact with one another in a variety of ways.  They may need to cooperate to help a friend in need, determine who will “play” the pilot and who will “play” the passenger, solve a disagreement, or tend to a crying “baby” doll.  All of these scenarios help them learn how to communicate and cooperate with one another.

Physical development. Especially outside in the summer, free play gives children a chance to develop their gross (running, jumping, throwing) and fine (finger painting, tying shoes, coloring) motor skills.  It also helps to keep them active and healthy!

An escape. Let’s face it, the world is a busy, stressful place.  Whether it’s a big soccer game, a bully at school, a math exam, or troubles at home, life can be stressful and serious for children of all ages.  Play gives them a chance to escape reality, and just have fun being a kid for a while.

Have you noticed a difference in children when they’re overbooked?  How does it affect their energy level?  Their mood?  Their relationships?

nutrition, positive parenting, social-emotional

Episode 3: Childhood Obesity

May 1st, 2011

Doug and Mike discuss what parents can do about childhood obesity with Gregory Welk, director of clinical research and outreach for the Nutrition and Wellness Research Center at Iowa State, in this month’s Science of Parenting radio program podcast.

From the The Science of Parenting blogFighting Obesity: Healthy Eating

ISU Extension and Outreach Resources

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Fighting Obesity: Healthy Eating

March 10th, 2011

It’s no secret that obesity in America is on the rise.  Over the past 40 years, obesity rates in children have more than tripled.  Parents can help their children learn to live a healthy lifestyle and fight obesity from a very early age.  Following are a few tips that parents can use to help children develop healthy eating habits.

First, remove temptation for your children.  Stock up on healthy and nutritious snacks, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts.  Keep these foods in easily accessible locations that are convenient for your children.  Put snacks like cookies in less accessible locations and save them for special occasions.

Second, plan regular meals and snacks.  Missing meals can lead to on-the-go snacking and unhealthy food choices.  With regular meals and snacks, you can teach healthy eating habits by providing nutritious choices.

Third, involve your children in meal planning.  Try giving your child two or three healthy options for supper (chicken and rice or meatloaf and carrots), then involve them in the preparation process in an age appropriate manner.  For example, you can ask younger children to help you measure or stir tge food.  Children are more likely to eat healthy foods when they feel it’s their own choice, and they get a sense of accomplishment by helping you prepare the meal.

Finally, be conscious of portion size.  Rather than letting everyone prepare their own dishes, try preparing your family’s meals for them by dividing up the food into age appropriate portion.  This will help ensure that your children eat from each of the different food groups, and it will also help them to resist overeating.

What are some other ways you encourage your family members to eat healthy?


Exergaming: A better option than sedentary games for holiday gift-giving

November 24th, 2010

If you want to buy your child a video game, buy a game that rewards physical activity. New research shows that playing some activity-promoting video games can be as beneficial as other forms of moderate exercise. For instance, adolescents who played Wii Sports Boxing showed physiological effects that were classified as moderate physical activity. Researchers concluded that children, ages 10-to 14-years old, who played eight hours of Wii Boxing per week, burned 1,990 calories; this is three times more calories than they would have expended if they were playing a sedentary video game. Researchers do not dismiss the importance of children engaging in traditional physical activities, such as walking briskly and running. However, if your child is going to play a video game, encourage those that reward physical activity as opposed to a sedentary video game.

Additional exergaming options include Wii Fit™, EA SPORTS Active,™ Dance Revolution™, and The Beatles: Rock Band. In fact, other research has shown that children who played certain video games burned:
• 125 calories in 15 minutes while boxing
• 92 calories in 15 minutes while playing tennis, and
• 77 calories in 15 minutes while bowling.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children between 6-and 17-years of age should engage in 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity most days of the week. Running and brisk walking are examples of aerobic activities that can improve your child’s overall health and reduce the risks for developing many diseases. Children should also participate in muscle-strengthening exercises at least three days a week. Also, The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests:
• Absolutely no screen time or video game playing for children under the age of three years, and
• No more than 1 hour of total screen time (includes playing video games) for children ages 3-12 years per day

If your child will be playing video games, find games that increase your child’s energy expenditure, heart rate, and perceived exertion, because many of these exergames produce effects similar to moderate-intensity exercise. More important, parents should remain mindful of the benefits of traditional exercise, as well as the recommendations for the amount of time children should play video games and engage in physical activities.

media and kids, nutrition , , ,

Children’s weight related to media use

October 8th, 2010

Did you know that media use has been linked to being overweight and obese? In the U.S., children between 8-and 18-years old spend an average of 44.5 hours a week using media and only 8.75 hours a week exercising. Children who spend too much time using media tend to be overweight. In fact, research shows that a preschooler’s risk of becoming obese increases 6% for every hour of T.V. watched per day.

Obesity is a major health concern and an epidemic for our nation, including our nation’s children of all ages. The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. increased from 15% in 1980 to 34% in 2008 among adults and increased from 5% in 1980 to 17% in 2008 among children and adolescents.
Too much media use can increase body weight and reduce:

  • physical activity
  • reading
  • doing homework
  • playing with friends
  • spending time with family
  • metabolic rates

Parents must set rules and limit their child’s access to media and encourage healthy alternatives to media use, especially exercise.

Scientists have found that reducing the amount of time preschoolers watch television lowers their body weight. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests:

  • Absolutely no screen time for children under the age of three years
  • No more than 1 hour of total screen time for children ages 3-12 years per day

All children should get at least 60 minutes of moderate or intense aerobic physical activity each day. There are many alternatives to media use that parents can recommend to their children, such as:

  • Riding a bike
  • Playing outside
  • Going to the library
  • Attending a sporting or musical event
  • Playing with a friend
  • Walking a dog
  • Practicing a musical instrument
  • Playing a board game
  • Reading a book
  • Drawing
  • Swimming
  • Going for a walk
  • Participating in organized activities such as baseball, tennis, dance, and swimming, and
  • Cooking family meals together

For more information about preventing obesity, visit

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