Worried About a Child’s Weight? Here’s How to 'Slim Down' Meals
By Sara Seither, MS, RD, CSP, LD
If your child is overweight and you want to decrease his or her total calorie intake, consider not only what gets eaten at mealtime, but also what gets eaten in between. Parents also need to remember to monitor the fluids children drink.
Before embarking on a reduced-calorie diet, consult your child’s pediatrician to discuss weight trends and any chronic health conditions your child may have. If the pediatrician recommends a reduced-calorie diet, a pediatric dietitian can guide you in planning meals and snacks that will help your child reach a healthy weight.
Here are some general rules we recommend to parents:
Don’t let kids drink their calories. The No. 1 beverage of choice is water. Making the simple change to water from juice and soda can easily decrease the overall calories in your child’s diet. For example, a child who drinks one 8-ounce glass of juice per day typically takes in 120 calories. Doing without juice will prevent a weight gain of about 1 pound per month.
Keep it colorful. Include at least one serving of whole fruit at every meal, and two servings of vegetables at lunch and dinner (vegetables should occupy half your child’s plate.) The vegetables should be free of added fats, such as butter, cheese, oils, cream sauces and dressings.
Dial up the dairy. Children need three servings of dairy food every day to meet the calcium requirements so important to bone health as they grow. Include one serving of fat-free dairy at each meal — 1 cup of fat-free milk, 1 ounce of fat-free cheese or 1 cup of fat-free yogurt. If your child is having a hard time making the switch to fat-free milk, try adding sugar-free chocolate syrup.
Bake it, broil it or grill it. When you choose meat as the protein source for a child’s meal, baking, broiling and grilling are excellent options. These methods of cooking require no added fat. If your child doesn’t care for meat or wants to try something new, get creative with tofu or beans, such as pinto beans, black beans or kidney beans. These are excellent sources of protein. Servings of protein —whether meat, tofu or beans — should be 3 ounces (the size of your child’s fist).
Fold in some fiber. For a starchy side dish, go with whole-grain options that add fiber, such as whole-wheat pasta, brown rice or a whole-wheat dinner roll. Better yet, select a starchy side vegetable, such as a sweet potato. The starchy side should occupy no more than one-fourth of your child’s plate. For proper portion control, use one scoop from a standard serving spoon.
Keep snacking simple. Give your child fresh fruits and vegetables alone, without dips. If you choose a fruit cup, select only fruit packed in its own juice. To spark interest in veggies, try using hummus or fat-free dressing as a dip. Don’t give in to a child’s demand for high-calorie snacks. Typically, when children refuse fruits and vegetables, they aren’t really hungry.
Tip: Stay active for your kids’ sake
A new study associating inactivity with parenting young children won’t come as a surprise to many hardworking, exhausted young moms and dads. But did you know research shows that exercising regularly and eating well helps your kids stay healthy, too? Not only will you stay fit, trim and better able to cope with stress, but you’ll be teaching your kids by example — and doing your part to stem childhood obesity.
Parents Be Well – June 2011 Issue
Enjoy Your Pedicure — Safely
Pedicures can be fun and relaxing, but they also pose potential health risks — some quite serious. Why? Because infections can occur after your day at the spa.
Being informed can help you avoid them.
When pedicure instruments have not been properly sterilized, organisms can enter the skin or nails and cause health problems. Dina Stock, DPM, a podiatrist at Cleveland Clinic, says, “In some cases, you may know right away that something has gone awry. In other cases, it may be months before you realize something is not right.”
Battling bacterial infections
If the nail or area around the nail is red, hot, swollen and painful, you may have contracted a bacterial skin or nail infection. “These infections usually show up within a few days after having a pedicure,” notes Dr. Stock. “They should be treated with antibiotics and possibly an incision and drainage, depending on their severity.”
Staying alert for other infections
She cautions that unlike bacterial infections, fungal and viral infections may take months to appear. She suggests watching your feet and paying attention to these signs:
- Fungal infections. If your nail turns yellow and begins to lift, you’ve probably contracted a nail fungus, one of the most common results of pedicures gone bad. Topical and oral treatments for nail fungus are available.
- Viral infections. Plantar warts are probably the most common viral infection of the foot. You can pick them up in the spa or the neighborhood pool. A callus-like covering and dark spots beneath it give plantar warts away. So can feeling like you’ve constantly got a pebble in your shoe. Topical treatments are often helpful.
The bottom line
Seek word-of-mouth recommendations for a pedicurist from friends and beauty professionals. Ask the pedicurist about the salon’s cleaning and sterilization procedures. Autoclaving — the method hospitals use to sterilize surgical instruments—is preferred.
Finally, see your doctor or visit a podiatrist if you notice something abnormal on your feet.
Parents Be Well – June 2011 Issue
Video – Overuse injuries and how twins overcame them
Identical twins each developed a different overuse injury from working hard at gymnastics throughout childhood. Find out what they decided to do instead — and learn more about how your child can avoid an overuse injury.
Recipe: 'Vegetarian Spaghetti'
Surprise your family with this healthy, delicious dish that boasts a secret ingredient: spaghetti squash. You'll get more nutrition than you'd believe possible from a "pasta" dish. Serve with grilled chicken and a tossed salad.
1 spaghetti squash
2.5 cups tomato sauce, brought to a boil
5 oz. fat-free shredded mozzarella cheese
- Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Pierce a few holes in the skin.
- Place squash cut-side-up in a microwave-safe dish. Add ¼ cup water to bottom of dish. Cover squash with plastic wrap pierced with a fork to allow steam to escape.
- Microwave for 10 to 20 minutes or until skin easily gives. Using a fork, scrape out insides of squash and pile onto a plate like pasta. Warm tomato sauce and pour desired amount over squash; mix.
- Sprinkle with fat-free mozzarella cheese.
Makes about 10 servings (½ cup each)
Calories: 66 (14% calories from fat)
Fat: 2 g
Saturated fat: 0 g
Protein: 5 g
Carbohydrates: 18 g
Dietary fiber: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 333 mg
Potassium: 201 mg
Parents Be Well – June 2011 Issue
Now you can move it with Cleveland Clinic and enjoy free, exclusive access to Progressive Field in downtown Cleveland on select Mondays this summer. Invite your friends to walk the warning track with you over the lunch hour on Let’s Move It! Mondays — and stop by our booth for free giveaways and health information.