Practicing Mindful Eating During the Holiday Season

Posted December 9, 2015 | kids, Nutrition & Health Tips, recipes

Tis’ the season for friends, family, traditions and…. yummy food! Kids are introduced to a myriad of traditions during the holiday which typically engender warm and fond memories. When it comes to mealtimes, they can become a bit challenging. From sweet treats like pumpkin pie to decadent entrees like turkey and stuffing, the holidays are often a time of caloric indulgence and motivating healthful behaviors while not compromising the joys of indulgence can be tricky.

While we can’t ignore the fact that tasty treats seem to appear everywhere during the holidays, we can still be mindful, healthful and enjoy the season and all of its delicious glory! While it is okay to celebrate and enjoy yourself, it is important to make sure that your family practices moderation, especially when it comes to your young children.

Here are some tips to help you and your family stay on track with good eating habits:

  • Depending on their age, take your children with you when you shop for the holiday meal and ask for their input. Should our vegetable be carrots, broccoli or cauliflower?
  • Bring the kids into the kitchen. This will help allow them to understand and appreciate the work that goes into preparing the meal.
  • Plan ahead. If you know that Grandma’s house is going to be filled with sugar-laden desserts and sweets, bring carrot sticks or other healthful snacks. Try giving them to the kids when they’re hungry and before you arrive to Grandma’s.
  • Practice what you preach. If you want your kids to eat well, then you have to eat well. Remember that they will follow your lead and that children model their behaviors after ours!
  • Eat normally leading up to the big meal. Don’t encourage skipping meals or “saving calories” for the big meal. Incorporate fiber and protein throughout the day. You want kids to not feel crazed with hunger, particularly if they aren’t going to eat much on their rather different-from-usual plate.
  • Let kids serve themselves. Adults tend to overestimate the amount of food kids can eat, and young kids are usually good at self-regulating.
  • It’s OK if they don’t clean their plate. Even if your kid serves themselves more food than they can eat, don’t make them be part of the “clean plate club” – it’s okay if they don’t finish everything.
  • End the day on a healthy note. Take a walk with everyone after big family dinners. You can enjoy one another’s company, fresh air or the pretty neighborhood lights.

The holidays are a time of appreciation and togetherness. As families get together and share meals, children are introduced to an array of different and often new foods. For the picky eater, these experiences may bring about verbal criticisms and down right refusal to try certain things.

For those who tend to be on the pickier side, the following tricks can be helpful:

  • Do a dry run– experiment with a certain food or dish before the event in a non-stressful environment. You want the experience to be as positive as possible.
  • Try using this time as a fun experiment and put them to work! For example, if Brussel sprouts elicit a “blechild santa flourh” response, talk about new ways to prepare them like roasting them so that they’re crispy and tasty rather than dull and mushy. Collaborate with them and allow them to help. They will be much more inclined to try it when they’ve been involved in the process.
  • Encourage them to try what’s on their plate. Communicate the importance of gratitude towards the meal and all that went into it.

The holiday season also brings about colder weather. Therefore it is also important to
make sure that children are getting their nutrition that they need. Cold weather requires healthy fuel such as those offered by warming foods. Soups, stews, and other warm, hearty meals are a good choice, as are winter vegetables such as dark, leafy kale, pumpkins, and squash. Swap out cold breakfast cereal for warm oatmeal and add in dates to give it a sweet texture without adding in too much sugar.

Really and truly, it’s all about balance, moderation and about teaching your children to enjoy treats thoughtfully and sparingly. Remember that it’s important not to make your child feel guilty about enjoying foods that they love. This way, treats are always a special and exciting occurrence, and your children stay healthy and strong all winter long.

Tips on Making Healthier Versions of Some Holiday Favorites…

  • Add Several healthier options to your menu such as salad and sautéed greens with almonds rather than green bean casserole.
  • Did you know that low-fat Greek yogurt can be a great substitute ingredient in mashed potatoes?
  • When making mashed potatoes, use low-fat skim milk or coconut milk rather than appleswhole milk or half and half. You can even use low-fat Greek yogurt instead of buttermilk. Or you could add some pureed cauliflower to add flavor and fiber to your dish.
  • Remove some of the top crust on the apple pie to reduce calorie and fat intake.
  • Bake cored apples, stuff them with cranberry relish and top them with a dollop of whipped cream for a healthier dessert option.

Healthy Holiday Recipes!

Quinoa and Roasted Yams and Feta-

Dry-brine Roasted Turkey-

PCC Roasted Squash and Apples and Bacon-

Grinch Kabobs-

Oatmeal Cookies with Banana-

Carrot and Yam Soup with Cardamom- 

Apple Dumplings with Cider-Cinnamon Sauce-

Holiday Turkey with Rice Stuffing & Gravy with Fresh Herbs-

Greek Yogurt Banana Bread- bread

Back to school! Lets get ready!

Posted August 23, 2015 | kids

By Lisa Yang, ND

September is fast approaching and the school is about to start! New school year, new teachers, new classmates, this is a time of great transition. Now is the time to help your kids transition out of summer and get ready for the school year. Take a look at the following tips on how to prepare and stay healthy this school year.

Get enough Zzz’s

This may be a struggle especially since the sun is still setting late in the evening. But, now is the time to start going to bed 1/2 an hour earlier each week. This will allow enough time for your kids to adjust to the new bedtime routine for school.

To help this process, turn off all electronics at least an hour before bedtime, remove electronic devices from child’s room if possible to ensure that the devices are not turned on after they have been tucked in.  Adding a handful of nuts or protein can help stabilize your child’s blood sugar as well.

Eating breakfast

Scheduling enough time in the morning to get in a hearty and balanced breakfast is very important in aiding your child in staying focused and satiated. Sitting down and not eating on the go will allow the body enough time to digest the food properly. And, if your child is taking supplements, eating a solid breakfast can help the body absorb those nutrients as well.

Balance that lunchboxlunch-box-200762_640

As the season is changing, our local produce is also changing. Now is the time to start getting your kids involved in making a lunch menu. Making sure to have protein, vegetables, fruit and water is vital to staying healthy. A general rule of thumb is to make sure your child gets at least 1/3 of their body weight in fluid ounces. Staying hydrated throughout the day can help with constipation and potential headaches.

Keep hands clean, watch what is being shared

As school starts, your child will also be exposed to significantly more people and germs. The flu, colds, strep infections can travel through the school fast. Make sure your child is washing their hands after every bathroom use and especially before and after eating lunch. Remind your child that sharing food and drinks can also be a way to share germs.

School orientation

Most schools have a set time for orientation to meet teachers, see the classrooms, and become familiar with the new schedule. This is the perfect time to have your child get familiar with the new environment and to help transition to their school routine. If you feel that your child may need more than just one visit to become adjusted to school, then setting up a few school visits may be necessary. Consider also sending an introductory e-mail to the teacher about your child and goals or tips of how to help your child have a successful year.

Talk about bullying

Between 1 in 4 U.S students say they have been bullied at school. Whether its physical, verbal or cyberbullying, this is something that can happen to any child. Working with your child’s teachers, aides, and school counselors are important in preventing bullying from happening in the school setting. Setting aside time after school with your child, to explore their emotions, engage in imaginative play, or using emotion cards at home can be a good way help them express how they feel. Working with teachers before the school year starts to keep a safe environment at school will also help reduce the risk of bullying. Please see for more information about warning signs, risks, and what you can do to stop bullying.

We at Vital Kids Medicine hope everyone has a great start to the new school year!

  • Vital Kids Medicine, PLLC
    5350 Tallman Ave NW, Suite #510
    Seattle, WA 98107
    fax: 206-525-3273

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