Nutrition News: Getting Kids to Eat Healthy, the Case for Pale Veggies and a Breakfast Challenge

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Raise healthy eaters

Trick-or-treating will soon be upon us, scattering bite-size candies in its wake. Given that, how can you nudge your kids toward healthier eating? Writing in The New York Times, psychologist and author Lisa Damour offers a trio of suggestions.

No. 1: Frame eating as a “zero-sum game.” Let children know they can take in only so much food, and explain to them that unprocessed foods are better than processed foods at providing their bodies with the nutritional elements needed to lower inflammation, prevent disease and boost immune systems.

No. 2: Make it about “self-care.” Damour recommends we remind children that eating healthily is key to taking care of themselves and that they can generally rely on their own appetites to regulate consumption.

No. 3: Find broader, “beyond-the-self” motivations. Damour suggests underscoring the broader environmental effects of food choices when discussing them with your kids, telling them, for instance, “Eating a real green apple is way better for the environment than a green-apple-flavored Starburst.” And, she reminds us that the behavior we model sends our kids a message as well. In other words, we should probably all put down the Starburst and reach for an apple.

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Embrace the beige

Also doling out advice is registered dietitian and nutritionist Carrie Dennett, in The Washington Post. Dennett notes that, although we’ve all been advised to “eat the rainbow” to take advantage of all the “health-promoting phytonutrients” in deeply colorful foods like deep-green and vibrant red and orange vegetables, we shouldn’t turn our backs on beige, but nevertheless nutritious foods like bananas, pears, parsnips and potatoes.

Dennett calls out three pale veggies for special consideration: cauliflower, rich with phytonutrients; alliums, like garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, scallions and chives, which, she says, are “nutrient powerhouses”; and mushrooms, which, Dennett maintains, may, among other benefits, “enhance our immune system, reduce inflammation and even help prevent cancer.” Let’s hear it for pastel power!

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Challenge yourself to eat breakfast

Meanwhile, Health.com, via Time, has issued a challenge: Eat a healthy breakfast every day for three weeks straight. “When assembling meals, follow this formula: a bit of protein along with a healthy carb and a good fat (like nuts or avocado),” the article states. Don’t worry, the publication offers strategies to meet this challenge.

Among them: Prep meals ahead of time, perhaps taking time on Sunday to set your week up for success in advance. Have a roster of “five-minute meals” you can throw together when you roll out of bed late. And when you really don’t have time to eat at home, have a plan for “on-the-go” meals. Twenty-one days of breakfast sounds like a challenge worth rising to (no pun intended).

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Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish.

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