2011 Nutritional Tune-up

Nutritional Update

Newsletter.jpgWinter 2010
Volume 13 Number 4

Nutritional Tune Up - 2011

chef cutting.jpg

With the new year upon us, it’s time to review one of our annual resolutions: the Nutrition Tune Up.

This year’s tune up includes:

  • Avoid mindless eating
  • Health snacking
  • Increasing fruit and vegetable intake
  • High tech nutritional tools

Healthy Habits:  Too often our eating habits are a reflection of our environment—chaotic and on the run. Brian Wansink, PhD, Director of Cornell University’s Food Labs and author of Mindless Eating notes, “Eating mindlessly is a natural by-product of a hyper-stimulating environment.” For families and kids, meal and snacks often merge and little time is set aside to encourage healthy eating patterns. But there are ways to combat our runaway eating. For example, never eat out of a bag of chips in front of the TV; rather choose a handful of chips or portion size as noted on the food label.

Dr. Wansink has expanded his web site www.mindlesseating.org to include exercises for kids and families to develop mindful eating habits instead of our eat-now, think-later eating style.

On Track with Healthy Snacks

Snack your way to better health? Snacking is often associated with unhealthy eating. There is some basis for that. Recent research suggests that snacking may be a contributor to the childhood obesity epidemic. American children were noted to snack on junk food more often, accounting for 27 percent or more of daily calorie intake.

But the problem is not the act of snacking, but what kids are munching on. The study showed children continued to eat candy, chips, crackers and other refined or processed foods, rather than a healthier
balance of fruits, vegetables, dairy, lean proteins and whole grains. Junk food snacks can prevent a child from getting adequate nutrition.

Healthy snacking helps manage hunger and keep appetite in check. Children generally eat about every two to four hours, typically three meals and one to three snacks every day depending on age. Children who eat a balance of healthful foods during snack time typically will eat appropriate portions
at meals.

Healthy snacks also provide additional nutrients children may not get at meals since their appetites can vary and this can help to improve overall daily nutrition.

Sweets and treats are okay occasionally, but parents can help their children become healthy snackers by making healthy foods available and removing the junk food except as an occasional treat.

Aim to choose from two to three different food groups at snacks, including snacking on the rainbow of choices from the fruit and vegetable groups.

Fruits and Veggies - More Matters

Every five years the U.S. dietary guidelines are updated. The 2010 dietary guidelines note that 35 percent of all calories consumed by the public are from solid fats and added sugars.

One third of all children and adolescents are obese. Just by cutting back on these particular calorie sources and substituting more fruits and vegetables, the rate of obesity for everyone would be lowered.

Only ten percent of Americans consume the level of fruits and vegetables recommended by the Dietary Guidelines. The 5-a-day servings of fruits and vegetables guideline has been pushed to five to nine servings per day.

In addition, the program is targeted toward moms who still are the primary healthcare and food gatekeeper for the family. The emphasis has shifted to whole servings of fruits and vegetables rather then salsa or juice.

Good Nutrition through Technology

Today’s youth are increasingly tech savvy.  Try using technology to promote healthy eating for kids. New initiatives designed to promote healthy eating and exercise are reaching children via online games, text messaging and more.

In March of 2010, the USDA and First Lady Michelle Obama launched Apps for Healthy Kids, a competition in which software developers, game designers and students developed fun games and activities to send wholesome messages and promote healthy eating and physical activity.

It is estimated that children spend over five hours per day using media. A recent report on teens and technology found that almost one-half of American teens have cell phones and 87 percent use the internet. The use of both these technologies is expected to rise.

Obesity prevention experts place some blame on the rise in childhood obesity on the increased use of TV, video games and other sedentary activities. However, to turn this around, health professionals are looking to such technology as a channel for health promotion to youth.

Explore these technologies which you can use in helping your children learn about healthy eating and increased activity: web sites with health tips and recipes, active or informational online games, exer-gaming (Wii Fit & Dance, Dance, Revolution) and text messages with health tips, and
entertainment education.

Kids today are more likely to search online for information rather than in the library, so reputable sources on the web can be an important tool for parents in educating the whole family about nutrition and fitness.

Try the tune up tips above. Log on with your children to one of the web sites listed on our web page for recipe suggestions, healthy eating discussion points and healthy activities. This year, put new knowledge and healthy eating goals into practice.

More Information

We have a list of helpful web sites for you to explore with more information about our 2011 Nutrition Tune Up. Please visit this web site’s "Fit Futures" section under the Education Info menu at the top of each page.  Click here to take a look at some great resources.

—Karen Moberg, RD, LD and
—Jackie Uglow, MS, RD, LD