Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner

Well, the Thanksgiving weekend is finally over! How did you all do? Did you follow my 'Holiday Tips?' My family did- and we survived Thanksgiving without any extra pounds (or cholesterol).

I gave my kids a snack before heading out to my Aunt's house. When we got to the party, I let my kids eat a few appetizers and then encouraged them to leave the den with the food. Instead, I set up some activities in the next room. We started dinner with a salad. Then, when the main course was served, my husband and I made plates for both kids. I started their plates with a nice serving of white meat turkey and some broccoli. Then I added two tablespoons of mashed potatoes and a medium serving of candied yams. I avoided the stuffing because it is very caloric and while my kids like it, they don't love it.

After dinner, the kids ran to play while the adults helped clear the table. Then, dessert was served. Each child got to pick their dessert of choice. One serving and they were done.

We definitely had a happy Thanksgiving! Hope you did too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Back from Disney World

Hi everybody! I am back from my vacation and my blogging hiatus. We took the kids to Disney World and we all had a blast. I was actually very impressed with Disney, in terms of nutrition. Of course, they had the junk food. But they also had healthy options. In fact, they had a fruit and vegetable cart in the middle of the Magic Kingdom! And to my delight, there was a line waiting for fruit. (This was actually one of the very few lines we saw at Disney! The place was empty.) Also, all of the restaurant/cafeterias had kids' meals which came with a main course and a choice of two of the following: grapes, apple slices, carrot sticks, or applesauce. None of the kids' meals included french fries. Fries were available for an additional charge. What a great idea! Why not make the fruit and veggies the standard- with an option of fries, rather than making fries the standard with the option of fruit/veggies. I think Disney has it right. Hopefully other companies will follow suit!

Monday, November 10, 2008


I had a great meeting with Subway today. The Subway people are intent on providing healthy choices for children. Lanette, the official Subway Registered Dietician, went over the menu, pointing out all the healthy options. They are offering kids' meals with a choice of mini-sandwich with baked potato chips, low-fat yogurt, or apple slices. They also offer bottled water, juice, or low-fat milk for a beverage. They are proud that they do NOT include a cookie with the meal (although they do include a toy). The Chief Marketing Officer told a story about going to McDonald's and ordering apple slices. The server placed the apple slices and a container of caramel on his tray. He said, "No thanks. I don't want the caramel," and the server said, "But it all comes together." "Why," he asked. "Aren't apples naturally sweet enough?" It seems that McDonalds insists on making everything more caloric than it needs to be. Subway does not. Subway is also spending money promoting children's health issues. Jared was also at this meeting. What a nice guy. He has started his own foundation to increase awareness about childhood obesity. He goes to schools all over the country, warning kids not to make the same mistakes that he made.

I can honestly say that I endorse Subway and its products. Parents can be sure that Subway will provide a fast, inexpensive, HEALTHY meal for their children.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How to teach your children to enjoy fresh herbs in their food.

Herbs add lots of taste to food without adding lots of calories. But most of my patients tell me that their children refuse to eat anything with 'clumps' of green in it. They are missing out on a very low-calorie way to make their food taste better. Read on to see how I handled introducing my children to herbs in their food.

The other night, I was eating a dinner of chicken and barley. The chef had used a bunch of different herbs in the seasoning. I didn't know which herbs they were- but they smelled and tasted great. My kids were examining my plate, as usual. "Mommy, I want some rice," my daughter told me. I let her try the barley and she liked it. "This type of rice is called barley," I explained. "What's this?" my son asked, pointing to a dark green leaf on my plate. "That's a seasoning, a type of herb," I informed him. He wrinkled up his nose. I told him, "It smells and tastes great. And it's healthy!" He looked at me skeptically. "I want to smell it," he said. So I held the leaf up to his nose and he inhaled the aroma. "It smells good," he said.

Now- you have to realize that my mother has an herb garden and has always let him smell and taste the different herbs. We had conditioned him to the idea of herbs.

"It tastes great, too," I said. He agreed to try it. "Wow, it does taste pretty good." I replied, "It makes my chicken taste extra fresh and extra delicious." "Cool," was his reply.

Let's analyze this a little more closely.

The first step is to introduce your kids to herbs from a young age. Plant a small pot of parsley and mint. Let your child watch it grow. Water it together. Pick leaves, smell them, and taste them. Teach your children that these herbs make food taste better and are very healthy. Then, when they encounter them in restaurants (or even at home), they are used to the idea of 'leaves' in food.

Secondly, let them see you enjoying foods with herbs. Zachary was skeptical until I told him that it makes food taste great. It was a stress-free environment. I don't think it would have been as successful if I have put a plate of chicken with herbs on his plate. But since it was on my plate, he knew that he didn't have to eat it if he didn't want to. Plus, everything tastes better from mommy's plate!

I also think it helps to let them smell the herbs. Our smell sense is closely related to our taste sense. He smelled it and recognized that it smelled just like the herbs he grows with Grandma.

Finally, ask them to taste it. Just be sure to act very positively about it. Don't say, "Taste it. You don't have to eat more if you hate it." That implies that you think there is a good chance he is going to hate it. Instead, say "Taste it. I just know you are going to love it as much as mommy does!" It puts a more positive spin on the food.

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why don't I exercise more often?

My patients often tell me that they want to exercise. They have no problem starting an exercise regimen. Yet they are unable to continue with an exercise regimen. "I always have such good intentions," they tell me. "I even plan when I want to exercise. But then something always comes up and it just doesn't happen."

How can we handle this? The bottom line is that exercise is essential. Planning is definitely the first step but you have to follow through. Consider it an appointment. You wouldn't just bail on a doctor's appointment or a piano lesson. So don't bail on your exercise. If you have a calendar, write it down. Don't accept any excuse to cancel.

Another idea is to exercise with a friend. If you can't actually exercise with a friend, at least pick an 'exercise buddy' to keep you on track. Make a deal with a friend that you will report to each other with your exercise progress. It is psychologically more difficult to skip an exercise session if you know you have to report to somebody.

You can also come up with a reward for yourself for perfect exercise attendance. For example, treat yourself to a manicure if you work out four days this week. Or ask your parents if you can stay up a half hour later for each day that you exercise.

Don't let excuses derail your exercise plans. Stick to your program and you will see great results.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How was Halloween?

Hopefully, we are all coming out of our Halloween chocolate-induced comas. Now it's time to reflect on the holiday. How did it go? Did your children eat every piece of candy in sight? Or were they able to moderate their intake?

I'll be honest... my plan backfired. Throughout the year, I monitor my kids' junk intake but I have a sweet spot (ha!) for Halloween. So, as in the past, I told my children they could eat as much candy as they wanted. In the past, they ate a decent amount and then decided they were finished. This method allowed my children some unrestricted candy intake- but I was there to make sure it didn't go overboard. And in the past, I didn't have to intervene.

This year was different.

My son didn't stop eating chocolate. I broke my first rule by not leaving enough time for my children to eat a healthy snack before leaving the house. So we went trick-or-treating on an empty stomach. And we went before dinner so they were hungry.

By the time we got back home, I was in a bind. Naively, I had told my son that he could eat as much candy as he wanted. But I realized that I didn't really mean it. I was getting nauseous as I watched him eating chocolate after chocolate. My husband and in-laws actually intervened. We were all aware of the irony of them telling me that I was giving the kids too much chocolate. Luckily, they played my usual role of the 'bad guy' and made him stop eating. But I learned my lesson. There will be different rules next Halloween.

Hmmm... maybe I need to read my own newsletters a little more closely!

Happy Halloween. And don't forget to vote on Tuesday.