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     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2010 issue 2



10 Ways To Get Kids To Eat Healthier

Roughly 45 percent of children are overweight or obese. Overweight children have a 40 to 90 percent chance of becoming overweight adults.  Also, 20 percent of today's children and teens who are overweight, are overweight enough that it will threaten their future health.  Although both diet and exercise are recommended improvements to prevent or correct this situation, this article will focus on recommendations to get kids to eat healthier.

1. Model healthy eating - Although it's easier said than done, one of the most important actions adults can take to help children eat healthier is to eat healthier themselves.  There have been several studies that have shown that parental modeling was associated with increased milk, fruit juice and vegetable intake.

2. Eat together - In an era where family meals are on the decline, there are reasons to make an effort at eating together.  Not only are family meals generally more nutritious for children, eating together also offers an opportunity to socialize about food and eating, and model healthy behaviors and eating habits.

3. Increase exposure to healthy foods - Children like what they know and they eat what they like.  One of the best ways that parents can help their children develop healthy eating habits is to repeatedly expose them to a wide variety of foods.  While children may not accept the novel food on the first try, repeated attempts and familiarity will cause them to be more likely to develop a preference for it.  Just because a child shuns a food once, it should not be labeled "rejected".  Instead, continue to reintroduce it and expect that it may take up to 15 times before the child will accept it.

4. Let them choose the portion size - Adults can empower children to let their internal cues of hunger and fullness guide how much they eat by allowing children to choose their own portion sizes.  Adults are notoriously bad at guessing how much food a child should eat and then require kids to "clean their plates."  This scenario sets the stage for overeating since kids will eat more food when portion sizes are big.  When adults force them to finish these oversized portions, children learn to override their internal hunger cues and develop a tendency for overeating.  Several studies have shown that when kids are allowed to choose their own portions, they tend to choose appropriate portion sizes and they eat less in comparison.

5. Share the control - Studies have shown that there is only minimal difference in caloric intake when a child is allowed to self-regulate food intake.  Several studies have confirmed that requiring a child to consume a particular food to receive a "reward" such as a dessert, led to increased dislike of the food the child was required to eat and increased liking of the typically unhealthy "reward" food.  Higher levels of parental control and pressure to eat are associated with lower fruit and vegetable intake and higher intake of dietary fat.

6. Refuse to be a "short order" cook - Picky eaters can compel some parents to make special accommodations for each child just so everyone will have something that they will eat.  Parents can promote healthier eating by refusing to accommodate special requests, while at the same time making sure to serve at least one healthy food that the child likes at each mealtime.  Experts promote a "division of responsibility" in which parents are responsible for the types of food that are offered and children are responsible for deciding whether or not to consume those foods and how much to eat.  If the children refuse what is offered, it is not up to the parents to offer them something else.  Rather, the children can have ready access to the meal later should they become hungry.  This may seem like tough love, and many parents may express concern that the child will go hungry, but by consistently following this rule, parents will go a long way toward helping their child to develop a taste for previously rejected foods.

7. Limit television time - While television viewing has been associated with a variety of negative behaviors including poor school performance and childhood obesity, it is also linked to overall worse nutrition.  This may largely be due to the enormous amount of advertising for unhealthy foods.  Research has shown that exposure to advertisements for food products increases children's choice of, and preference for, these advertised foods.

8. Exploit similarities - Experts suggest that parents exploit similarities to develop a taste preference for new foods.  Once a food is accepted, find a similarly colored or flavored "food-bridgers" to expand the variety of foods a child will eat.  For example, if a child likes pumpkin pie, try mashed sweet potatoes, and then mashed carrots.

9. Make eating healthy fun - Adults can make learning about healthy nutrition and physical activity fun and educational.  For example, what better way to teach a child about plants and the importance of eating them than having his or her own small garden?  Families can grow the plants and then show the child how to use the produce in delicious recipes.

10. Skip the food fights - The more that parents pressure their children to eat certain foods, the less likely they will be to develop a taste for them and continue to eat them as often as an adult.  Several studies have shown that encouraging children to consume a particular food increases their dislike for that food.  Kids instinctively resist persuasion.  Better strategies would include increasing accessibility and exposure, minimizing the competition, modeling, vowing not to say anything when a child refuses a food, and helping make food taste good.

ref:  ACE Fitness Matters - Jan 2010


Partner Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Inverted Row

OK, get your minds outta the gutter!  This one may look funny, but it's actually quite an effective exercise.  Back and bicep exercises are sometimes very difficult to do without equipment.  This partner inverted row is a great option that requires no equipment and there are three levels of difficulty to challenge you.  The above pic is the first level which involves the standing partner bracing their elbows on their knees.  The next level is to keep the elbows off of the knees, and the final alternative involves both of you alternating your arms individually up and down.


Target:  back and biceps (latissimus dorsi, biceps brachii)

Count:  2 count

Description:  Starting position involves one person laying flat on their back and the other to straddle them in a standing position facing them.  The standing person must then squat their butt down (rather than bending at the hips) in order to brace their elbows on their knees.  The down person then grabs their partners wrists and pulls up as far as they can before lowering back down.

Calories on Menus

The practice of printing calorie counts on restaurant menus is not universally popular: Many people would simply prefer not to know how many calories their favorite meals contain. (And the question of whether forcing restaurants to list calorie counts is overreaching on the part of lawmakers is best debated in other forums.)

However, there is near universal support for this practice among public health experts. Studies suggest that seeing those calorie counts—which are often shockingly high—does influence what people order. At the very least, it educates consumers about what they are eating, perhaps leading them to modify their food choices later in the day.

But any potential benefits are lost if the calorie counts aren't accurate. A recent sampling found that meals served in fast-food and chain restaurants may contain more than twice as many calories as advertised.

Personally, I am a fan of the "Eat This Not That" books.  There are several of them out now, and each provide some excellent (and eye opening) comparisons of food choices at popular restaurants and stores (along with the pretty pictures that mostly just make me hungry).  Although nutritionists will suggest that you prepare your meals at home to understand what type of ingredients go into them... these books are a great reference when you're dining out as well as deciding between common food items at home.  Consistently making smart choices can go a long way!


Try This

Start every day, and every meal with a tall glass of water!  In addition to the hydration benefits, water is an appetite suppressant and having a nice sized glass before your meal will help to prevent you from overeating.  If you're not too excited about drinking water yet (I know I wasn't) try putting some lemon juice or orange juice in it for a little bit of flavor.

Water lubes your muscles, transports nutrients around your system, and shuttles waste out of it, allowing your kidneys to function smoothly.  If you are dehydrated you will fatigue earlier and lose coordination skills, your heart rate rises, your core temperature increases, you can experience dizziness and disorientation. 

Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink, and do not stop drinking once your thirst has been quenched.  If you relied on thirst, you would only put back 50 to 75% of the fluid that you lost and you would start your next workout already in a state of dehydration.  Rather than drinking bottle after bottle all at once after a workout, it is advised to sip no more than 16 ounces an hour. 

It's Go Time!

T minus 4 months... and counting!  You know what I'm talking about, even if you don't want to think about it right now.  Well now that the holidays are over its time to make improvements... lasting improvements.  No diets... no short term exercise plan... I'm talking about changes that you are going to continue FROM NOW ON!  Short term programs give you short term results... Lasting changes require long term commitment.  Make the decision to make the change and then go after it!

I've received a few questions recently about how to get a list of all the exercises that I have highlighted in my newsletters throughout the years.  In response to this I decided to update the index on the eNews page of my website to include the pictures of the highlighted exercise of each issue.  You can access this index page at the following link -->

As always, I appreciate your input since it helps me to improve upon my website as well as the content of this eNewsletter.  If you have any questions, ideas for articles, inspirational quotes, YouTube videos, etc... just shoot me an email at the address below.  Thanks for your support!

Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

"It's not what you've got, it's what you use
that makes a difference

youtube of the month --> Stair Intervals
Some highly effective stair exercises that you can do anywhere | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




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