ó Parents have a new ally in the effort to clean up their
kitchens and improve their childrenís eating habits ó
and their own.
are hugely interested in the cooking shows like ĎIron
Chef,í" said Jodie Shield, co-author of "Healthy
Eating, Healthy Weight for Kids and Teens" (Academy of
Nutrition and Dietetics, 2011) and a registered dietitian in
that as an impetus to cook and eat more at home, using
vegetables and other fresh ingredients, just as the chefs
exciting about healthy eating is, the recommendations for
most families are the same thing we keep saying,"
Shield said. "But I think theyíre starting to be
with total fat at 25Ė30 percent of calories, saturated fat
less than 10 percent of calories, and cholesterol intake
less than 300 mg has been shown to reduce cholesterol (the
bad kind) in healthy children older than 2.
numbers like those for weeks (or even a day) isnít
realistic for most parents, let alone children. So Shield
recommends referring to ChooseMyPlate.gov, the U.S.
Department of Agricultureís heir to the food pyramid.
plate visual in your mind can help your kid load it up, she
said. "Portion size fits into all of this."
outlined some healthy eating habits that parents should
establish (but often donít):
Start with dairy. "When I look at a low-fat diet, I
look at dairy right away, because itís such a big part of
kidsí diets," she said.
2, most children should shift to 1 percent fat or skim milk,
Shield said. "But I can tell you it doesnít happen.
Most people I talk to drink 2 percent, and 2 percent still
has a lot of fat."
8-oz glass of 2 percent milk has 120 calories, 5 grams total
fat, 3 of which are saturated, and 20 mg of cholesterol. By
comparison, skim has 80 calories, 0 grams of fat and 5 mg of
kids are drinking four cups of milk a day, itís very
healthy for them to make the change," Shield said,
"and both are equally nutritious, assuming they are
fortified with vitamins A and D, as most are."
such as almond milk may not have the same vitamin package,
she pointed out, so compare labels.
need vitamin D to absorb calcium, which has been a big
problem. Especially in the Midwest, most people are fairly
deficient. We donít get enough sun so our bodies donít
Make vegetables tasty. They donít have to be raw, Shield
said. "But you donít have to cook them in butter. If
youíre going to add fat, try olive or canola oil. It still
has calories, but theyíre much healthier (calories)."
not above cooking green beans in bacon fat ó once in a
like to start with healthy fat, which helps with certain
vitamins being absorbed, but if you give kids a little ranch
dressing and they eat a few more, thatís okay, too. The
point is to get them to love to eat healthy foods."
Direct the sweet tooth to fruits or low-fat dairy.
"Fruits are fat-free and wonderful," Shield said.
And they donít have to be organic. "Thereís no
science that shows organic is healthier."
yogurt, look for low-fat or fat-free, and consider the
rule out an occasional treat such as a restaurant shake.
"Some make them with 1 percent milk," she said.
Seek fiber; watch sugar. Soluble fiber, as in oatmeal, beans
and many fruits, can make you feel more full and lower LDL,
the bad cholesterol. "Oatmeal is one of the best
cereals kids can eat," Shield said. "Instant
oatmeal is (okay), but get plain and add your own sugar or
whatever else," since some packets are loaded with
of the grains you eat should be whole grains, as in some
boxed cereals. Those have insoluble fiber, which can help
a little trick parents can do as theyíre reading labels.
It only works if thereís no fruit in the cereal, because
raisins have natural sugar, and the number on the label
lumps natural and artificial sugars together.
the grams of sugar by 4 to find out how many teaspoons of
sugar are in a serving. Aim to keep that number under 2
teaspoons. Thatís pretty generous," Shield said.
formula doesnít work for yogurt and other dairy products,
because they have lactose, a natural sugar. "Natural
sugar isnít the problem," Shield said. "Youíre
better off looking at the ingredient list at that point,
because ingredients are listed in order of dominance."
that some ingredients, like corn syrup or brown rice syrup
arenít called sugar, but thatís what they are. "If
theyíre in there, Iíd like them to be one of last
Choose meat, poultry and fish carefully. Opt for lean cuts
of meat, such as loins and rounds. Buy skinless chicken.
"Skin doubles the fat," she said. Though they are
higher in cholesterol than boneless skinless breasts,
boneless skinless chicken thighs are less expensive, have
more flavor and are more forgiving of novice cooks.
"You canít wreck them. They stay moist. I marinate
them in olive oil, lemon juice and oregano, then bake them,
and itís so easy."
fish, rich in omega 3 fatty acids, at least twice a week.
Not fried catfish and coconut shrimp, but grilled or baked
fish such as cod, flounder, tilapia, shellfish and salmon
(if itís not too strong for your familyís tastes).
Present unfamiliar foods in a familiar way to improve kidsí
reception. Shieldís kids, for instance, love fish tacos.
frozen, partly for affordability, but also because so-called
"fresh" fish often has been frozen previously and
rethawed. "So you donít want to take it home and
refreeze it. Ask the fishmonger, "Was this
Take advantage of easy reference guides. If you eat fast
food, look at the nutrition boards in the restaurant, or
download a fast food app to find the healthiest options,
Shield said. (Fast Food Calorie Counter, available on both
iTunes and Google Play for 99 cents, is a popular one.)
frequently consults bestfoodfacts.org, an independent
website that interviews and fact-checks advice from food
experts. Her blog healthyeatingforfamilies.com has tips and
recipes, including one of her most popular, the lemon