Tag Archives: family

Good eating habits as a way of preventing obesity and eating disorders

Back-to-school time involves changes in just about everything: schedules, homework, sports, family time—even eating. Being rushed in the mornings makes having a decent, healthy breakfast a challenge. Families have to decide if kids will take lunch or buy the school lunch. Then comes the evening meal with people going in different directions, and often little time to prepare or eat a meal together. It’s no wonder that healthy eating and family time often take a back seat to homework, sports, and other activities.

As we all know by now, obesity among children and teens in our country is a widespread problem, and eating disorders (EDs) are also more common than before.

An article published last week on the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discusses how the same attitudes and habits can lead to both obesity and EDs. According to one study, dieting can actually be a precursor to obesity and EDs. Dieting “was associated with a twofold increased risk of becoming overweight and a 1.5-fold increased risk of binge eating…  Another study found that normal weight girls who dieted in ninth grade were three times more likely to be overweight in 12th grade compared with non-dieters.”

In addition to dieting as a cause, “weight talk”—no matter how well-intentioned—and “weight teasing” can lead to EDs and obesity.  “Weight talk, or comments made by family members about their own weight or to the child to encourage weight loss, has been linked to both overweight and EDs. Teasing children about their weight also has been associated with the development of overweight, binge eating and extreme weight-control behaviors in girls and overweight status in boys. Body dissatisfaction is a known risk factor for both obesity and EDs.”

So, how does a parent help a child be satisfied with her or his body? How do you encourage your teen toward a healthy relationship with food? “Adolescents who are more satisfied with their bodies report parental and peer attitudes that encourage healthful eating and exercise to be fit, rather than dieting.”

The article contains recommendations for pediatricians, and that guidance also applies to parents:

  • “Discourage dieting, skipping of meals or use of diet pills to lose weight. The focus should be on a healthy lifestyle rather than on weight.
  • Encourage more frequent family meals, which provide an opportunity to model healthy food choices and provide time for teenagers and parents to interact.
  • Promote a positive body image among adolescents. Body dissatisfaction should not be used as a reason to lose weight.
  • Encourage families not to talk about weight but rather to talk about healthy eating and being active to stay healthy.
  • Carefully monitor weight loss in an adolescent who is obese or overweight to ensure the teen does not develop the medical complications of semi-starvation.”

Don’t forget family meals. Though your children and teens may roll their eyes, the time spent together around the table is a time to connect over healthy food and discussions about topics great and small. Turn off the television and cell phones (including yours!) and enjoy each other’s company. It will make all of you healthier.

© 2016, MBS Writing Services

Children with special needs and their parents

If you are not the parent of a special needs child, you know someone who is. We encourage you to send them this link of a terrific article we’ve found, entitled, “10 Things I Wish My Parents Knew While Raising a Child With Special Needs.” Sally Ross Brown, a person with cerebral palsy, tells her own story and inspires the rest of us. Read it here

Spider bites

Both spiders and ticks are common in our area. We’ll deal with ticks next time.

While most of their bites aren’t dangerous to most people, it’s good to be informed about different types of spiders, their bites, and diseases that might result from some of them.

Spiders use a venom to anesthetize and paralyze their tiny prey. The venom from most species is not dangerous to most humans (see below for exceptions). Watch for signs of infection and report those immediately to your pediatrician. If you are concerned that a bite is getting much larger, note the edges with a Sharpie marker so you can see if it’s continuing to grow.

The female black widow spider can be extremely poisonous to humans, sometimes even fatal. She has an hourglass shape and is dark colored with yellow or red on her abdomen. Symptoms can be severe muscle cramping and pain. Call EMS if you think someone has been bitten by a black widow spider.

The brown recluse spider is fairly common in Kentucky, and can also be fatal at times. People often don’t know they’ve been bitten until the bite starts to swell and get painful. Reactions greatly vary. Call EMS if you are concerned about a brown recluse bite.

According to this article by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), here are things to watch for after a spider bite, and a signal to call your pediatrician or EMS:
• “Tiny fang marks
• Pain
• Pain begins as a dull ache at the bite site
• Pain spreads to the surrounding muscles
• Pain moves to the abdomen, back, chest, and legs
• Blister at the bite site
• Mild swelling and a blue-gray mark at the bite surrounded by lightening of skin color
• Progressive soft tissue damage; the skin becomes dark blue and then black (necrotic).”

Wash the affected area with soap and water, and treat a bite with an ice pack (make sure you put a layer of cloth between the ice pack and the skin) Another resource for your questions about spider bites is the Poison Control Center.

As with anything, whenever you have a concern, call our office.

© MBS Writing Services, 2015, all rights reserved

Talking to your kids about alcohol and drugs

Every parent worries about their child’s health, including whether or not that child will use drugs or alcohol.

It’s a valid concern.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several studies in 2011 showed that:

“among high school students, during the past 30 days

  • 39% drank some amount of alcohol.
  • 22% binge drank.
  • 8% drove after drinking alcohol.
  • 24% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.”

In addition, 40% of high school students have used marijuana at least once, and 25% have been offered, sold or given illegal drugs on school property.

What can parents do to prevent drug and alcohol use and abuse with their own children?

There is no single answer, and some children and teens will use or abuse substances no matter how hard parents try to keep them safe, but here are some things that may help.

  • Start young.  Teach them how to say “no” when they don’t want something.  Show them how to be strong in the face of peer pressure.  Make sure they know the dangers and consequences of drugs and alcohol use.
  • Educate yourself.  Don’t hide from statistics, but learn from them.
  • Be firm.  Set rules and stick to them.
  • Be an example.  Don’t abuse alcohol or consume illegal substances.  If you drink, be responsible and don’t EVER drive intoxicated.  Keep alcohol and prescription drugs inaccessible to your youngster.  Never offer alcohol to an underage person.

If you think your child or teen is drinking or taking drugs, talk to your pediatrician or school counselor.  They can find you the right kind of help.

© 2014, MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved.

Manners? Yes, please.

Summertime is easy—so they say.  It can also be an easier time to remind children and teens about good manners.  Hopefully, you will have more times of relaxed conversation when you aren’t trying to juggle homework, school and extracurricular schedules all at once.

Manners are important because they remind us of the value of every human being.  Saying please and thank you is respectful, whether those words are spoken to someone in the family, a teacher or coach, or a complete stranger.  Being helpful ingrains kindness in the helper and encourages it in the recipient and observer.

What are age appropriate manners?

  • Ages 2—5.  Teach children to say please and thank you at the right times.  Children at this age usually love to help people, so encourage that tendency.  At the playground, they can help a younger child, with supervision.  At home, they can learn to pass the potatoes.  When meeting someone, they can shake hands and learn to answer questions that are asked.
  • Ages 5—7.  As the child develops physically and emotionally, so should their moral growth be progressing.  Teach good phone manners by practicing in a game.  Have a “manners night” once a week at the supper table, where everyone has to speak politely and initiate good conversation.  Give a small reward at the end of the meal for the person who showed the best manners.
  • Older children.  Learning to smile and maintain eye contact during a conversation is important as children grow.  They can learn to ask people about themselves, and to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate questions.  Your suppertime conversations can engage their imaginations and teach them how to talk to other people.
  • Teens.  When our children mature into teens, they often become less receptive to their parents’ helpful instructions on manners, but that doesn’t mean you can let them off the hook.  By now they should know your standards, and you should be able to witness them using their manners at home and elsewhere.  Teens who are mannerly, you may tell them, will likely advance at school and work because others respond positively to our good behavior.

Perhaps the main thing to remember about teaching manners to your children is this: be an example.  Use please and thank you when you remind them about their chores.  Treat your spouse and other adults and youngsters with respect.

If you are often cross with them, they will reflect that attitude back to you and to others.  But if you treat them and others kindly, they will learn to mimic that behavior, both consciously and unconsciously.

Expect good manners from your children and that is likely what you will get.

© 2014, MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved

Stomach virus recovery

“Stomach bugs” are making their rounds right now.  Rotavirus, in particular, is quite contagious and may have even made the rounds through every member of your household.  It causes diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, etc.  Sound a little too familiar?

What to do?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, usually, the virus goes away on its own.  Watch, though, for dehydration and high fever.  Dehydration can be serious in a small number of cases.  Give small amounts of fluids until the vomiting ceases.  Water is fine, but fluids like Gatorade can add electrolytes.  Stay clear of acidy drinks (like orange juice) and milk.

Be watchful regarding dehydration.  Pay attention to the frequency of urination.  The urine will become more concentrated and less frequent, but child should still be urinating.

While your child is sick, give a very bland diet:  avoid dairy, fried foods, fast foods, hot dogs, etc.  Some good foods are bananas, rice, applesauce and toast (BRAT).

However, it’s recommended that as soon as the stomach is settled, you should return to a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and protein (meat, yogurt).

Call the pediatrician if diarrhea and vomiting don’t subside within three days, if there’s been no urine output for 10 hours, or if the fever is high or doesn’t subside.  See our blog about when to be concerned about a fever.

As always, stay healthy!

 

© 2014 MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved

On-the-go eating

Families today are scrunched with work, school, sports, activities, friends…and the list goes on.  And while all of you want to make sure your child eats well, that can be hard when you’re running from place to place.

Here are a few QUICK! guidelines to help.

  • Stay aware.  Know what your child is eating when.
  • Plan ahead.  Think about the week’s activities when you’re shopping and save yourself extra trips to the grocery.
  • Eat together.  Whenever you can, have a meal with your kids, even if it’s on the tailgate at the soccer field.  Eating is a great time for catching up, and for bonding as a family.
  • Check it out.  Is your child in a sport?  Ask the coach if there are specific nutritional guidelines to avoid fatigue and help with energy levels.
  • Think “nutrition,” not just “fill them up.”  Fast food isn’t evil, but a regular diet of it leads to obesity and doesn’t provide all they need.  For about the same amount of money, or less, you can pack a healthier meal.
    • Shelf-stable milk that doesn’t have to be refrigerated, string cheese, yogurt.
    • Carrot sticks, broccoli florets, apples, grapes.
    • Sandwiches on whole wheat bread.
    • Do a little research.  Not sure what your child needs, nutritionally speaking?  Here’s the perfect web page from the American Academy of Pediatrics, giving that information for every age group.
    • Let them help plan.  Sit down with your child or teen one evening and plan some meals and snacks for the week.  Use the internet to research healthy ideas.  Make some things together, like an easy homemade granola.

It takes a little extra planning, but your family will be much healthier and happier with good nutrition under the belt!

Artwork by Kendall

Artwork by Kendall

© 2013 MBS Writing Services, all rights reserved