Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall for These Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables!

Many thanks to Joanna Dolgoff, M.D., pediatrician and child obesity specialist, for this article on encouraging children to sample the nutritious seasonal fruits and vegetables available in the fall.

The fall is my favorite time of year.  I love taking in the scenery on a fall foliage bike ride-and getting some outdoor exercise before winter rolls around.  I also  especially love the fall for it’s seasonal produce!  However, when it comes to picky eaters, their love for seasonal fruits and vegetables can oftentimes be a struggle.

This week as I was educating a picky 8-year-old patient on the benefits of fruits and veggies and we came to an agreement.  This month he would have to try at least one new vegetable, more than once.  This is perfect for fall because there are a ton of fruits and veggies in season.  Not only do these fruits and veggies taste great, they are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, such as vitamin K and carotenoids, which have been linked to protect against certain cancers.

For your guide on fruits and veggies in season I have provided you with a list.  These are some of my faves! 

Broccoli: Broccoli is a green cruciferous vegetable packed with folic acid, vitamin K, A, and C. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Add it to cold salads, whole grain pasta, serve it cold or hot with toasted sesame seeds or simply lightly sautéed in garlic and oil. 

Brussel Sprouts: A member of the cabbage family, brussel sprouts get a bad rap. In my experience many people are scared of the little guys, but if made properly, they taste phenomenal and keep you full-- brussel sprouts are packed with filling fiber! My favorite way to eat them is roasting them in the oven. Brussel sprouts are a very good source of folate and a good source of iron.

Pumpkin: In addition to making a beautiful carving, pumpkin is a nutrient powerhouse. Its high levels of beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin C may boost immune function. Pumpkin is also rich in potassium and high in fiber. Use pumpkin as a soup base, add it to chili, or simply heat it up with some cinnamon and Splenda for a sweet, savory dessert. 

A type of winter squash, pumpkin can be used for much more than jack-o'-lanterns. Its sweet taste and moist texture make it ideal for pies, cakes, and even pudding! Health benefits include:
Spinach: Probably my favorite green veggie, spinach is packed with iron, fiber and folic acid. Use spinach as a side dish, add it to soups, or eat it raw in a salad. 

Sweet potatoes: More nutritionally dense than their white-potato counterparts,
sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, and C and also contain potassium, iron and copper. Not only are they super healthy, but they’re naturally super sweet, too! For a savory dish, brush with some cayenne pepper, salt, and a sprinkle of olive oil for a healthier version of French fries.

Winter Squash: Best in October through November, winter squash is an amazing veggie. Sure, it's full of fiber, but did you know that our friend winter squash is also a  good source of vitamins A and C, several B vitamins, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids? Winter squash has a sweet flavor and is great as a side dish tossed with a few dried cranberries and paired with turkey, chicken or pork.
: Apples are full of antioxidants and some experts say it can curb your appetite and cause you to take in fewer calories throughout the rest of the day. Sweet or tart, apples are satisfying eaten raw or baked into a delicious dish. Just be sure to eat the skin—it contains hearty healthy flavonoids.
Grapefruit: Research suggests that this sweet 'n sour citrus fruit can aid in weight loss.  One small Scripps Clinic study found that eating half a grapefruit or drinking 4 ounces of juice with meals (without making any other changes in eating habits) resulted in an average weight loss of more than 3 pounds in 12 weeks.  Scientists speculate that the weight loss happens because grapefruit lowers insulin levels, which curbs your urge to snack. In addition, grapefruit contains more than 75% of your daily recommended intake (DRI) of vitamin C, is a good source of lycopene, and contains pectin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol. If grapefruit is a little too tart for you, try sprinkling a little Splenda on top. If not, try adding it to mixed greens, combine it with avocado and shrimp, or enjoy a fresh glass of its antioxidant-rich juice.               

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Age of Entitlement

This post is an expansion of an article of the same name that will appear in the October issue of Viva Magazine.  

Much has been on the parenting radar recently – in books, interviews, and articles – about a drop in children’s gratitude and an increase in their entitlement.  An August 28 article in the Deseret News was entitled “Selfishness is Rampant”.  The article says that a child’s lack of gratitude is a “symptom of a greater phenomenon that psychologists, family experts, sociologists and scholars say is gripping the world.  Now, more than ever, entitlement — the idea that "I should get everything I want when I want it, even if I haven't worked for it" — is rearing its ugly head.” 

Entitlement is not just about the “gimmies.”  It reveals a child’s beliefs about work, choices, consequences, respect for others and self, team, contribution and relationships.  It impacts the child’s happiness now and as an adult.  It is an indicator of one’s self-reliance.  “The attitude of entitlement doesn't just mean that kids and teens believe they should have everything they want when they want; it's also that they believe they're entitled not to do some things — like work.”

Karen Deerwester, author of The Entitlement-Free Child Raising Confident and Responsible Kids in a "Me, Mine, Now!" Culture, emphasizes the importance of responsibility in raising entitlement-free children.  “Entitlement children are not defined here as those with healthy self-respect and a gracious respect for others.  Entitlement behavior is negative when it is defined by Me-Mine-Now attitude and Me-Mine-Now behavior.  When entitlement becomes a relentless demand for immediate gratification, it hurts the child and the child’s ability to reach her fullest potential.” 
What can parents do to raise entitlement-free children?  It begins with examining several areas in your family. 

How does your child contribute and serve within the family? The fulfillment of serving and being part of team is learned in childhood as is cooperation.  Having chores, working together and feeling the satisfaction of assisting others is vital.  If you are doing it all for your child, you are not doing him any favors.  It is comparable to a personal trainer doing the workout for you.  He is earning money, learning about his body and getting fit while you are static.  Allow your children to do more, even if it is not perfect.  Very young children can match socks.  Teens can cook meals and do laundry.  Your children can make grocery lists, mop the floors, feed the pets and much more. 

Do you allow your child to fail and make mistakes knowing they have a “safe place to land” at home?  It is through mistakes that we learn.  Many parents fear that mistakes or failures will damage their child’s self-esteem when actually the opposite is true.  Making mistakes and subsequently learning how to do something in a different way builds self-esteem.  Self-esteem involves knowing that you are loveable AND capable.  Children learn that they are capable through making mistakes, learning from them and then going for it again.  Edison made hundreds of mistakes (also known as new inventions) on his way to the incandescent light bulb.  Examine how you handle your own mistakes and allow your child to make his, knowing that home is a “safe place to land”. 

Where does your family stand with consumerism and how do you handle the rampant marketing aimed at your children?  Young children do not have the ability to handle the advertising that is targeting them.  Parents are the filter.  How do you handle your children’s demands for things and do you distinguish between needs and wants?  Tied in with this is your child’s allowance and his responsibility with money.  “In an attempt to evaluate what impact paying for chores had on children, Kristine Manwaring did her master's thesis on the topic, interviewing 30 families, half of whom had monetary systems in place.” Manwaring said, “We found that the methods they used to teach their kids about money and work actually had unintended consequences. The families who felt strongly about paying their kids for work and trying not to (promote) entitlement had kids who would only work when they wanted to buy something.  So parents were in the awkward position of encouraging their children to buy things, which promoted materialism and a fixation on money beyond what a child at certain age levels would have."

There are other areas to consider – such as how you respond to your child’s demands for things, how you set boundaries, if you use rewards or encouragement – and these three are a terrific place to begin.  Your child’s efforts – in serving within the family and learning from his mistakes – will contribute to his happiness now and as an adult.  When you really take a look, happiness is what all parents desire for their children.