It is that time of year, you know, the time when families hunt for the perfect Halloween costume, or the best treat to distribute next week! Because many families have a desire to eat more healthy, they may be making better decisions about the “treats” they provide, as costume clad children knock on the door. Let me share a few ideas Science of Parenting contributor Rebecca Brotzman, RD, LDN made several years ago, that would certainly be helpful today too!
1. Do not make the focus entirely on candy. Distract your kids with other activities like making masks, decorating the house with cobwebs, bobbing for apples, going to corn mazes and/or haunted houses.
2. Check stores, online, and in newspapers for coupons. Most major stores will have specials in their circulars the week before Halloween as well. When you combine coupons and specials you can save even more.
3. Think creatively. You do not HAVE to give out candy, and the alternatives can be cheaper and healthier. For example: one bag of 144 spider rings costs about $5.00, or a package of 100 glow sticks costs about $9.00. Both are healthier alternatives, and who doesn’t love glow sticks or spider rings!?
4. Compare prices before you buy. Look at the unit count in the bag of candy before you buy it. Sometimes a 14 unit count bag costs the same as a 21 unit count bag. When the prices are the same, it is easy to see which bag has a better value (just check the unit count), but you can ALWAYS figure out the value of a purchase by figuring out the unit price (divide the price by the unit count).
5. Do not be afraid to run out of candy. Some people buy way too much and then end up with all that candy left over plus what their kids bring home!
6. Have some control over candy consumption. Do not be too strict (let your kids enjoy the holiday), but have some kind of plan in place to control their intake of candy.
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 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?
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 blog … Fighting Obesity: Healthy Eating
ISU Extension and Outreach Resources
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 the 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?
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
- 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
- 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 http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/.