Jessica McGee, MS, RD, CSP, LD, CNSC, the Food and Nutrition Services Clinical Nutrition Manager at Children’s National wrote for the Rise and Shine Newsletter that as alternative meat products continue to generate buzz, it is important to understand the ingredients before swapping out meat for meatless. We asked our expert nutritionist Jessica McGee to weigh in on whether fake meat is good or bad for children.

Plant-based products are emerging as the newly popular food choice for meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters alike, but they may not be the smarter choice for your kid. There are pros and cons to eating meat alternatives so it’s important to be informed when deciding what to feed your child.

Comparing Meat vs. Meatless

One of the challenges we face when selecting meat substitutes is that they are often highly processed, resulting in greater amounts of saturated fat and sodium than the whole plant and even sometimes higher than meats High sodium and saturated fat intake in children is associated with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, respectively, which can raise the risk for heart disease or stroke later in life. Read more

Help your kids develop healthy habits in the new year

Edward-Elmhurst Health asked in its Healthy Driven Blog, “Did you know the habits your kids are forming now will affect their health later in life?”

“Not only is it extremely important for kids to get all the vitamins, nutrients and physical activity they need to stay healthy, but habits formed early in life — both good and bad — can last a lifetime,” says Thomas McInerny, MD, FAAP, past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Bad habits can have unhealthy consequences, such as obesity, which currently affects more than one in three children in the United States. Kids who are obese are 70 percent more likely to become obese adults, increasing the risk for health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, and osteoarthritis.

Your child can learn healthy habits early in life that will bring lifelong benefits. It starts with you. Kids see and hear everything. Your child is learning by watching you. Be a positive role model. Send the message that good health is important to your whole family. Read more

Help your child overcome childhood obesity

Edward-Elmhurst Healthy Driven Blog shared that in the past 30 years, childhood obesity in the United States has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents. Today, it affects more than one in three children, making it the most common chronic disease of childhood. It’s no wonder the battle over childhood obesity has gained national attention, with September declared as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

Childhood obesity is caused by various genetic, behavioral and environmental factors. Exposure to unhealthy foods and eating patterns, increased portion size, physical inactivity, socioeconomic status, medications, and other factors contribute to this growing national epidemic.

The consequences of obesity during childhood affect a child’s health and well-being now and later in life. Obese youth have a greater risk of heart disease caused by high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and other serious health issues, including:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Asthma
  • Joint problems
  • Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and heartburn
  • Psychological distress (e.g., depression, low self-esteem)

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Cooking is more fun with kids

Edward-Elmhurst’s Healthy Driven Blog shared that if there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that kids love getting their hands dirty.

They have just as much fun making mud pies in a back yard “kitchen” as they do making a more-edible yogurt parfait.

It’s a great idea to get kids working in the kitchen, even at a young age. The more you teach kids about good nutrition, the more likely they will be to make a habit of healthy cooking. Another bonus — cooking provides math, literacy and science lessons that are guaranteed to be fun!

Working on a recipe together gives adults an opportunity to teach kids about cleanliness. Thoroughly wash hands, utensils and work surfaces before starting, and make sure kids know not to sample the food before it’s cooked.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides an excellent breakdown of tasks kids can safely handle in the kitchen by age:

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Helping Kids Understand Alzheimer’s Disease

The National Institute on Aging’s ADEAR Center offered this advice.  When a family member has Alzheimer’s disease, it affects everyone in the family, including children and grandchildren. It’s important to talk to them about what is happening. How much and what kind of information you share depends on the child’s age and relationship to the person with Alzheimer’s.

Helping Kids Cope

Here are some tips to help kids understand what is happening:

  • Answer their questions simply and honestly. For example, you might tell a young child, “Grandma has an illness that makes it hard for her to remember things.”
  • Help them know that their feelings of sadness and anger are normal.
  • Comfort them. Tell them no one caused the disease. Young children may think they did something to hurt their grandparents.

Talk with kids about their concerns and feelings. Some may not talk about their negative feelings, but you may see changes in how they act. Problems at school, with friends, or at home can be a sign that they are upset. A school counselor or social worker can help your child understand what is happening and learn how to cope.

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Olanrewaju Falusi, MD, a pediatrician at Children’s National and Associate Medical Director for Municipal and Regional Affairs at Child Health Advocacy Institute (CHAI) wrote for  Rise and Shine shared that fall is in full swing, which means kids are back in school and it’s time for your family to prepare for the flu vaccine.

Every year, she gives the flu vaccine to dozens of kids at Children’s National Health System. Most parents are happy to have their child get the flu shot, but some have questions about side effects, the safety of the vaccine and if it’s really effective.

She reassures parents by telling them that there’s a unified voice amongst pediatricians: The best way to protect your child from getting sick from the flu is to get them vaccinated against the flu each year. She also proudly shows her patients the colorful Band-Aid on her arm the day she got her flu vaccine each year, and share with them why her husband and young daughter also get the flu vaccine. Here are five reasons why the flu shot is essential for children – even for those who are generally healthy:

1. The flu makes kids very sick

Flu season runs from October to May and the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated. Why? The flu isn’t just a bad cold; it’s a deadly and highly contagious illness that causes the most harm to kids. The flu can have your child in bed for a whole week or more with a fever, painful cough and body aches. Even worse, the flu can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, hospitalization and severe dehydration. Every year, about 20,000 kids younger than 5 years old are hospitalized with complications from the flu. Read more

17% of Food-Allergic Children Have Sesame Allergy

Investigators at the National Institutes of Health have found that sesame allergy is common among children with other food allergies, occurring in an estimated 17% of this population. In addition, the scientists have found that sesame antibody testing—whose utility has been controversial—accurately predicts whether a child with a food allergy is allergic to sesame. The research was published on Oct. 28 in the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.

“It has been a challenge for clinicians and parents to determine if a child is truly allergic to sesame,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH. “Given how frequently sesame allergy occurs among children who are allergic to other foods, it is important to use caution to the extent possible when exposing these children to sesame.”

Sesame is among the 10 most common childhood food allergies. Only an estimated 20% to 30% of children with sesame allergy outgrow it. Severe reactions to sesame are common among sesame-allergic children. About 1.1 million people in the United States, or an estimated 0.23% of the U.S. population, have sesame allergy, according to a recently published study funded by NIAID. These factors underscore the need to optimize the recognition and diagnosis of this allergy. The Food and Drug Administration is currently considering whether to include sesame in the list of allergens that must be disclosed on food labels. Read more

How Much Sleep Do Babies, Toddlers and Kids Need?

Parent Wish List shared with Healthy Lombard that parenting is an amalgamation of countless challenging tasks. This unpaid job also requires you to monitor your child’s healthy sleep routine. Perhaps, you do know that your child’s sleep time will consequently affect your sleep schedule and sleep duration. Because even during your sleep, your worst nightmare is waking up to your toddler crying and not being asleep at a decent hour.

Why Should Parents Emphasize More On A Consistent Bedtime?

Did you know an Australian experimented conducted on school-going children concluded that children who have a variable bedtime with a 60-minute difference were twice as likely to exhibit a more hyperactive behavior and had difficulty in controlling emotions? And children who had a two-hour difference in bedtime were 6 times more temperamental! So your child’s varying bedtime can only aggravate his behavior over time.

What Do You Think Bedtime Should Be Exactly?

Do not worry parents! We have all the necessary information you need to structure the perfect sleep schedule for your child which will give uninterrupted time to mothers to watch cooking and television shows and ample time to fathers to not miss out on sports updates!

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Drunk driving is scary

The Lombard Police Department is urging motorists to commit to sober driving this Halloween when children and their families will be walking through neighborhoods after dark in search of candy and spooky fun. If you plan on drinking, remember to plan for a sober ride home.

“Even one drink can impair your ability to make responsible decisions,” said Lombard Police Officer Paula Rojas.  “That’s why it is so important to know how you’ll get home before you leave for the party. We urge you to plan ahead to help keep yourself and others safe.”

Impaired drivers should never get behind the wheel. It is illegal in Illinois to drive impaired by alcohol, drugs or any other substance. Remember: DUIs are not restricted to alcohol-related offenses. If you drive high, you’ll get a DUI. Read more

What’s a Teal Pumpkin?

What’s the Teal Pumpkin Project®?
The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies and promotes the inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season. The nationwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option. The steps to participate are:

  1. Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters.
  2. Place a teal pumpkin – the color of food allergy awareness –in front of your home to indicate you have non-food treats available.
  3. Add your home to the Teal Pumpkin Project map.

  4. Spread the word! Share the Teal Pumpkin Project with your friends and family. Social media is one of the best and easiest ways you can spread the word about the Teal Pumpkin Project®. Be sure to use #tealpumpkinproject each time you post!

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