A Back-to-School Nutrition Guide

I tell all my young clients (and my own kids!) that I think it’s crucial for everyone from the age of 12–20 to sit down and chat with a nutritionist at some point. Now I know I may be just a tad bit biased, but I truly believe that having a down-to-earth convo about what’s real and realistic when it comes to food, eating, and being healthful can really help sort through the daily confusion that we hear on this topic.   Since this is also an age where even the most well-intended and brilliant parent is considered less than wise by their own children, having a neutral party discuss food can often save much frustration and reduce power struggles.  Here are some suggestions written directly to your kids; this may open up some questions and conversations after they read it, but know that even if it doesn’t, you’ve helped create just a little more info for them to become their own responsible self and a more connected eater.

Photo Credit: Sidereal via Compfight cc 

Next Stop:  School!
Nutrition Tips for Middle- and High-School Success
By Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

 

Voluminous —your vocab word of the day!  It also describes the amount of confusing and contradicting nutrition info that comes at you on a daily basis.  There’s just so much, how do you know what to believe?  Students are not only bombarded with social media messages about food and bodies, they are influenced by friends, parents, teachers, and coaches who each have their own individual belief and bias about nutrition and health.

Photo Credit: shinealight via Compfight cc

As you head back into the fast-paced routine of school, studying, and extra-curricular activities, it’s important to remember a few simple things to keep you, your body, and your brain in top-notch shape:

 

  • Avoid “diets” at all costs—not only does restricting make it harder for us to access and use our intelligence, it also leads us think more about food, taking away brainpower from other important things.
  • Include complex carbs/grains at all meals—your body is using up food at rapid pace, and it needs to eat about every 3–4 hours most days.  Grains give us immediate fuel and go straight to our brain to help us think.  In fact, carbs are the only macronutrient that feeds our brain.  Protein and fats help keep us satisfied and are also important at each meal, but they won’t give you the immediate mental or physical energy that carbs do.
  • Keep some food with you—pack some trail mix, fruit, and/or a whole grain granola bar for the times when your meal doesn’t come soon enough.  Ask your teachers if they allow food in their class, something particularly important if you’re going longer than 4-ish hours without fuel.
  • Breakfast—yes, it really does set the pace for your day!  Without it, you are more likely to feel and function unbalanced, and you may even eat more later in the day.  A pbj sandwich, yogurt parfait, or leftovers from dinner can all work for a fast, little-effort meal.   And yes, when you eat breakfast, you’ll feel a little more clearly hungry at lunch.  That is a GREAT thing, because it signals that your body is functioning just as it’s supposed to!
  • Try a new food—your taste buds are becoming more diverse at this age, and things you didn’t like earlier (green beans maybe?!) may not be so bad now.  Add your creativity to it—throw some salsa on veggies or melt a little cheese on a new-to-you protein.  And try the new food at the beginning of your meal.
  • Don’t skip meals—if you can’t stand school lunch, pack your own.  Make sure you take a few minutes to sit down for dinner.  Skipping meals will confuse your body and make you over-hungry later.  If you eat regularly, you can better know when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re just right.
  • Include some color—add some fruit and/or veggies at each meal.  Not only do they help you feel satisfied, but they also give you nutrients you can’t get from other foods.  Your whole body system is working at a crazy pace at this age and needs a greater mix of different energy, vitamins, and minerals just to keep up with you.

 

MDIO Measurement Conversions

While I truly enjoy cooking, I often find myself scrambling to find the correct measuring tools for recipes. Does this ever happen to you? The tablespoon is missing, yet I have three teaspoons. Not only does it take up time to search for the missing tablespoon, but I also have to spend time searching online for the proper measurement conversions. So, I thought why not make my own measurement chart? Here it is! A sheet of measurement conversions that you can conveniently hang on your fridge to save you the time and stress of searching for that missing tablespoon:

 How do you remember proper measurement conversions? Do you have any handy ways to memorize these conversions? 

Likable Lunches: Citibabes' Style

Need nutritious ideas for likable lunches? Here are some flavor favorites you can add to your child’s springtime lunch box: remember exposure to new flavors and textures are key to increasing your child’s nutritional repertoire.

If you have a picky eater, introduce one new flavor with other favorite lunch foods.

* Whole-wheat wrap with thinly sliced fresh roast beef with thin layer of olive tapenade and an apple.

* Sushi bowl: Rice in a bowl with edamame, baked terrakyi tofu cubes, fresh corn and side of pickled ginger or cucumber slices.

* Whole grain sandwich with Cheddar, hummus, grilled red peppers, spring lettuce on whole grain bread with side of mini heirloom tomatoes.

 

To read more on likable lunches head over to Citibabes to read the rest of Laura’s article by clicking here.

Pizza Hut tunes to Pardo’s chicken…how to eat with your kids while traveling

Pizza Hut tunes to Pardo’s chicken…how to eat with your kids while traveling
By Laura Cipullo, RD CDE CEDRD CDN

My parents have assured me that they will never offer Burger King takeout food to my sons and I’ve made my sister promise she won’t bring them to McDonalds. My sitters always know—NO FAST FOOD! But I gave in! I broke down in Peru!

After almost ten days of traveling through South America and climbing Machu Picchu where my youngest son suffered from altitude sickness (Yes, he threw up all over me and my wonderfully warm fleece!), my kids just craved normal, everyday US fare. Upon our return from Cusco to Lima, my boys (especially Billy) wanted pizza. The poor thing had eaten pizza in Cusco at 10,500 feet above sea level and then couldn’t manage to attempt his next two meals. He was surviving on white bread plus all the healthy snacks I had packed the days prior to this event.. Back in Lima, we were almost out of snacks and he refused the Peruvian foods we were eating in the local restaurants. Billy was consuming bread only for three meals a day. Really! One night, I promised to get him pizza but the poor kid was so exhausted that he fell asleep before we could even find a place to eat. So, the next day we headed out to get pizza for lunch, and of course, it was the nastiest pizza ever. My boys would not dare to even taste it. I didn’t want to eat it! Eventually, I did, but I was definitely not going to make my boys follow my lead. Billy said you promised me pizza for lunch today—and I had. My husband said he had seen a Pizza Hut nearby. And as much I hate breaking the fast-food-free movement we always have going, I knew that Pizza Hut’s regular pizza could not be any more or less processed than normal NYC pizza—and certainly could not be worse than the pizza I had been trying to eat. So I happily escorted Bobby and Billy to the Pizza Hut.

The worst part is that they absolutely loved it and literally started singing praises to Pizza Hut. Perhaps because they were positively starving, they thought it tasted like the best pizza in the world! I must admit that it did look good. Bobby loved the chain’s guarantee—the pizza is free if it’s not delivered in ten minutes—even though we weren’t having the pizza delivered. The end result: Bobby and Billy left the Pizza Hut in Lima literally singing! And just tonight, back here in NYC, they screamed for Pizza Hut.

 

We actually got them pizza from our local Italian pizza parlor and they didn’t complain about it. After all, Pizza Hut pizza is just cheese, sauce and flour. It’s unquestionably not the pizza Billy regularly eats at home, but it’s not so different from any commercial NYC pizza.

 

Now that Bobby and Billy have been introduced to the concept of “fast food,” I just hope their cravings remain confined to pizza—and don’t get extended to burgers and fries. But please remember, it’s just food. My overall desire is that they come to love all food, never feel deprived, and are capable of making informed choices about the foods they eat and how those foods make them feel. At this point, I think it may have been a very positive thing that my fast-food ban was neutralized—at least slightly!

 

Moms, what are your thoughts on fast food? How often are you stopping for a quick, cheap meal?

And one last note to share with you from our travels:  Lima had the coolest family restaurant serving delicious chicken dishes. Called Pardo’s, it served grilled chicken and rice to the kids and prepared mouthwatering entrees with beautifully cooked veggies for us. The presentations were phenomenal for such a simple place. The best part is that this chain restaurant had a playground/jungle gym attached to it—kind of like the ones McDonalds used to have. While the parents dined on delectable meals, the kids ran off to play after they’d eaten their meals. Of course, they returned just in time for the ice cream that comes with every kid’s meal! I highly recommend this place.