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Make Healthy Foods a Priority

August 11, 2011 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

When my sons were little, I always felt as if I had a hundred things to do, and at least half of them needed to be done immediately. There were clothes to wash and fold, floors to sweep, meals to make, and phone calls to return. It was a challenge for me to put all these pressing tasks completely out of my mind at breakfast, lunch, and dinner so that I could focus my attention on preparing healthy, delicious meals. The temptation was great to call out for pizza and hot wings, but I knew that it was critical to get my kids eating right from the start.

Children need a balanced diet consisting of three meals a day and two nutritious snacks, that provides key nutrients for growth and development including:

  • Protein: to build healthy muscle and tissue
  • Carbohydrates: the body’s primary source of energy
  • Fat: stored for energy and to transport essential fat-soluble vitamins
  • Calcium: to support healthy, strong bones and teeth
  • Fiber: to help keep the gastrointestinal system clean and running smoothly

Of course, I quickly learned that I could prepare the healthiest food in the world, but my kids might not eat it! That’s when I realized that eating should be fun. Kids are more likely to eat fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods if they’re fun and easy to eat.

If you can get your child to put her hands on his food, there’s a good chance it will end up in his mouth! Cut your child’s food into fun shapes and sizes. For example, you can cut apples into building blocks, slice celery and carrots into quarters to make logs, and cut broccoli and cauliflower florets so that they look like miniature trees.      

Kids love dipping and decorating their food, and this often leads to eating! Fill a small container with yogurt or a wholesome type of salad dressing, such as one made with olive oil, and allow your child to dip away.  Or fill a squirt bottle with yogurt or salad dressing and allow her to decorate her food. Nutritious food can be fun, and when it is, kids will eat it!

—Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a mom of three and grandmom of one, coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth and The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, and a member of the PediaSure Mom Brigade.

Introduce Healthy Foods First

August 3, 2011 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Fostering good childhood nutritional habits can lead to lifelong healthy eating habits. But that’s easier said than done. Moms today race through life at speeds that should be envied by NASCAR drivers, but our pit stops are all to easy to make at the local drive-thru. Do you want fries with that?  Who can resist?

With parents pulled in so many directions at once and so many less-than-ideal nutritional choices so easily available, some children don’t eat the nutritious foods they should. This is a real problem because every growing child needs protein, calcium, fiber, and other critical nutrients.  

I was determined not to introduce chicken nuggets and French fries to my children until they had sampled every fruit and vegetable under the sun. One of the physicians in my residency program had started feeding her daughter chicken nuggets when she was just a baby, and that child didn’t want to eat anything else. If she couldn’t have those chicken nuggets, she’d clamp her jaws shut, and then she would refuse to eat whatever she was offered.

I figured that if babies found chicken nuggets and French fries that addictive, I’d just bypass them altogether. I started feeding my boys tiny pieces of bananas and grapes and other fruits, and then moved on to bits of cheese, meat, and cut-up vegetables. Fortunately, none of my boys ever developed a serious addiction to chicken nuggets or French fries.

Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a mom of three and grandmom of one, coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth and The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, and a member of the PediaSure Mom Brigade.

Chuck Hustle

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

As a wife and the mother of three sons, it has come to my attention that in general, individuals with an XY chromosomal makeup tend to be a teensy, tiny, bit less industrious in some domestic tasks than individuals with XX chromosomes. Simply stated, many males don’t seem to be inclined to work as hard around the house as most females. Although this tendency may be observed at any age, it is never more apparent than in the teenage years.  As the sole woman in my household, I’m in charge of the laundry. I have scooped up and laundered countless pairs of wayward dirty socks, briefs and boxers, casually dropped on the bathroom floor or draped across the nearest bed. 

Fortunately, I actually derive a measure of satisfaction from doing the laundry, so I really don’t mind the work. But I do worry, from time to time, that this careless casting off of clothing is a sure sign of—God forbid—laziness in my teenage boys. As a card-carrying Type A workaholic, I rank laziness right up there with irreverently sassing one’s mother or skipping school to hang out at the local pool hall.

To add fuel to the fire of my maternal concern, my two teenage boys often seem incapable of dragging themselves out of bed in the mornings or remembering to take out the trash. If not for my interference, I feel certain they could remain virtually motionless on the couch for days on end, playing games on X-Box or texting their friends. In my darkest moments, I’m convinced that these are sure signs that my teenagers will grow up to be unemployed ne’er-do-wells, still living in my basement in their late twenties.

Fortunately, my 27-year-old son, Chad, recently dispelled my fear that teenage lethargy invariably leads to adult laziness. Last month, I drove with my daughter-in-law, Lindsey, to attend a homecoming ceremony for Chad and his fellow Marines who were returning from an eight-month deployment to Afghanistan. As we drove to the military base, I asked Lindsey about some of the men in Chad’s unit: a soldier fondly known as “Biscuit” and one called “Grease” by his buddies. As she shared the latest news about these Marines, it occurred to me that my son might also have a nickname.

“Does Chad have a nickname?” I asked, bracing myself for a potentially unflattering moniker.

“Yes!” Lindsey laughed. “The guys call him ‘Chuck Hustle.’ They say he works harder and faster than anyone, and they have to run to keep up with him. ”

I was speechless. Tears of maternal joy and pride sent my carefully-applied mascara streaking down my cheeks. My lovable, easy-going Chad, the former X-Box-playing, late-sleeping, laundry-producing, couch-warming teenager had matured into an enthusiastic, hard-working, Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps known as “Chuck Hustle.” 

Moms of teenage boys, take heart. The rapidly growing bodies of adolescent boys require lots of sleep and rest. Until they are emotionally mature, they may not see the need to voluntarily pick up their dirty clothes or take out the trash. In spite of experiencing bouts of teenage lethargy, chances are excellent that our teenage sons will grow up to be happy, hard-working and self-sufficient young men. When the realization hits you, let’s hope you’re wearing waterproof mascara!

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