Tips for parents and grandparents to get kids to eat more vegetables

11 Ways to Get Kids to Eat More Vegetables

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS CAN USE THESE TIPS TO GET KIDS TO EAT MORE VEGETABLES

 Parents and grandparents alike want to know how to get kids to eat more vegetables. It was the number one question my clients asked me when I was a pediatric dietitian over 20 years ago. Since then, the quest to find ways to get more vegetables into children has grown steadily.

I knew we had reached the tipping point after reading the results of a survey done by a major frozen vegetable company a few years ago.  They found parents thought their children had a greater chance of becoming president of the United States than eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day! I can’t find a link to the study, but the results stuck with me.

Are Vegetables and Obesity Linked?

I remember wondering at the time if this was a global problem? Have children around the world suddenly started turning up their noses at turnips? And if so, is there a link between the aversion to vegetables among children today and the growing rates of obesity?

My professional instincts told me it wasn’t that simple. Modern lifestyles have changed dramatically since the dawn of the “Information/Digital Age” in the late 70’s. The impact of all that technology and information has been universal, and rapid.

One could argue that the only reason parents worry about how many servings of vegetables their kids eat today is because they now know how many they should be eating. Technology has added to their  frustration by making an abundant assortment of vegetables available all year round.  All that’s left is getting kids to eat them.

The USDA’s new ChooseMyPlate eating plan did its part by recommending that we fill half our plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal.  Here are some other proven strategies to help your little ones eat like bunnies.

Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables

Imitation. Make sure the child sees you and others in the family eating the same vegetables.

Smile! Ever see someone frowning while licking an ice cream cone?  Children need to see the same expression of enjoyment when you are eating or serving them vegetables.

Repeat exposure. Don’t stop offering them, even if they have been rejected by the child in the past, and don’t stop eating them yourself.

Different textures. Vary the textures (and odors) by serving them raw, cooked, and frozen, such as frozen peas and carrots.

Visual stimulation. Feature different colors and shapes to spark curiosity, such as lima beans, button mushrooms, and baby beets.

Pair with favorites. Vegetables can be put on a pizza, in a dip, or under melted cheese that the child already likes.

Offer any time. Dinner is typically the meal with the most food to eat, so vegetables have to compete with other preferred foods. Make vegetables available at other times of day, especially when kids are hungriest.

Reward the willing. Research suggests a tangible reward or verbal praise can be effective in getting a child to try, and learn to like, a food they are not otherwise motivated to eat.

Change the Name. Some vegetables may have unpleasant associations to a child, such as “squash” and “succotash.”

Let them help. Take them to the grocery store or farm market to select vegetables they’d like to try; let them use age-appropriate gadgets to peel, shred and chop.

Don’t deceive. If you incorporate vegetables in another dish, tell them you made “carrot-tomato sauce” or “carrot-raisin muffins.” They need to appreciate that the vegetables are there, not be wary of them.

 Which list is longer, the one of vegetables you do like or the ones you don’t?

Find plenty of tips and recipes on vegetables from artichoke to zucchini at Fruits & Veggies More Matters

Nothing could be easier than these quick desserts with just 3 ingredients!

Cooking With Kids: Quick Desserts with Just 3 Ingredients

NOTHING COULD BE EASIER THAN THESE QUICK DESSERTS WITH JUST 3 INGREDIENTS!

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

If you want to get your children and grandchildren more interested in cooking,let them make dessert. Having a file of quick dessert recipes on hand makes it easy to get them involved. And with only 3 ingredients in each of these, clean up time is much faster, too. You’ll enjoy eating some of these desserts right away, while others are great gifts to give away.

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Perfect Peach Sherbet

8-ounce container nonfat peach yogurt frozen + 8 ½-ounce can sliced peaches in heavy syrup frozen + 1 tablespoon peach preserves. Empty yogurt and peaches into food processer by dipping them in hot water for up to one minute first to loosen. Add preserves. Break up frozen chunks with a knife to make processing easier. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Serve immediately in 4 small wine glasses.

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Fruit Cocktail Cake

1 cup self-rising flour + 1 cup sugar + 15-ounce can fruit cocktail in juice. Combine all ingredients in bowl and stir until well blended. Pour into greased 8” square pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

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Crunchy Chocolate Clusters

16 ounce chocolate morsels (milk chocolate, semi-sweet or mix of both) + 8 ounces crunchy chow mein noodles + 1 cup lightly salted dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped. Melt chocolate morsels in microwave or double boiler. Add noodles and peanuts and stir to coat. Drop by teaspoonful onto paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate to set.

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Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter + 1 cup sugar + 1 egg. Combine ingredients until blended. Drop 1” apart onto ungreased cookie sheet using teaspoon. Flatten with back of fork. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

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Pretzel-Pecan Candy

50 mini pretzel twists + 50 Rolo candies (chocolate covered caramel) + 50 pecan halves. Line cookie sheet with foil. Arrange pretzels in single layer. Top each pretzel with Rolo, small side up. Bake at 250 degrees for 4 minutes. Remove and press pecan half into the top of each.

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Cute Crispy Cut-Outs

6 cups crispy rice cereal + 4 cups mini marshmallows + 3 tablespoons butter. Melt butter with marshmallows in a large bowl in microwave. Stir in cereal until coated. Press into an even layer in a greased 13” X 15” baking pan. Let set one hour then cut into shapes using large cookie cutters.

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Simply Sweet Baked Apple

1 apple + 1 tablespoon maple syrup + 1 tablespoon raisins. Cut a thin layer off the top of the apple and core. Fill cavity with syrup and raisins. Microwave on high power 3-5 minutes, testing with fork after 3 minutes to see if tender.

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Banana Cream Pudding Parfaits

1 box instant banana cream pudding + 2 cups low fat milk + 1 medium banana. Whip pudding and milk together 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Spoon into parfait glasses in alternate layers with banana slices.

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Foolproof Coconut Macaroons

14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk + 14 ounce bag flaked coconut + 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Combine all ingredients in bowl and stir to combine. Line baking sheets with parchment paper then grease the paper. Drop macaroons by teaspoonful onto to baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove immediately onto cooling racks.

Learn some fun facts about honey during National Honey Month

Fun Facts About Honey for You and Your Family

LEARN SOME FUN FACTS ABOUT HONEY DURING NATIONAL HONEY MONTH

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

Honey is one of those foods that has been around for so long we don’t think about it too much. But any food that is made exclusively by honey bees and has remained in the human diet for over 8000 years deserves our attention. After doing some research for National Honey Month I can say there are many fun facts about honey worth celebrating!

But first, let me interrupt this blog for an important public service announcement.

At What Age Can You Give a Child Honey?

The most urgent question I am ever asked about honey is, “When can I safely give honey to my child?”

It seems many parents hear loud and clear the warning from their pediatrician not to give honey to an infant, but miss the part about when they can offer it. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, honey can be introduced into a child’s diet after their first birthday.

That’s valuable information since the Food and Drug Administration recommended in 2008 that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines not be used in children under age 4 years. Honey is a good cough suppressant and has been shown to be more effective in reducing nighttime coughing than drug store cough syrups. It can also relieve a sore throat, and because of its sweet taste, can help other medicines go down.

Fun Facts About Honey from the National Honey Board

How many types of honey are there?

There are more than 300 varietals of honey in the U.S. alone, each with distinct flavor profile and color based on the floral source where the bees collect the nectar. Popular varieties include alfalfa, orange blossom and clover honey. Less familiar ones are avocado, eucalyptus and sage honey.

How many bee keepers are there in the US?

The U.S. has an estimated 139,600-212,000 beekeepers. The majority are hobbyists with no more than 25 hives, while commercial beekeepers have 300 or more.

How many flowers does a honey bee visit during one collection trip?

Honey bees tap between 50-100 flowers in a single trip.

How many flowers must honey bees tap to make one pound of honey?

At least two million flowers are needed to yield a pound of honey.

How much honey does the average worker bee make in her lifetime?

One worker bee makes about 1 ½ teaspoons of honey in her lifetime.

Where is honey produced?

Honey is produced in all 50 states. The top five producers are North Dakota, California, South Dakota, Montana, and Florida.

How much honey is made in the U.S.?

Honey production in the U.S. in 2011 was 148 million pounds, down 16% from 2010.

How much honey do Americans consume?

Americans consume approximately 1.3 pounds of honey per person annually. About 61% of the honey eaten by Americans is imported to meet demands.

What other value do we get from honey bees?

One third of the total human diet is derived directly or indirectly from insect-pollinated plants, including the cattle and dairy cows that feed on insect-pollinated legumes (alfalfa, clover, etc.). The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 80% of insect crop pollination is accomplished by honey bees.

Are any crops totally dependent on honey bees for pollination?

The almond crop is entirely dependent on honey bee pollination. It takes more than one million colonies of honey pees to pollinate the California almond crop each year. Apples, avocados, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, and sunflowers are 90% dependent on honey bee pollination.

What is the shelf life of honey?

The low moisture content and high acidity of honey makes it an unsuitable environment for bacteria and other micro-organisms, so it can be stored indefinitely. The appearance can change during storage and crystallization may occur over time, but this does not affect wholesomeness.

Tap into some great recipes using honey here.

Care packages from home can contribute to college weight gain

Tips to Prevent College Weight Gain

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

CARE PACKAGES FROM HOME CAN CONTRIBUTE TO COLLEGE WEIGHT GAIN

Now that everything has been purchased and packed to send your recent high school graduate off to college, what’s left to do? For many parents and grandparents, it’s time to start worrying about the notorious freshman 15.

College weight gain is a bigger concern today than ever before because so many more young people are arriving on campus overweight. Packing on five or ten pounds between now and winter break and another five or more by the time they move back home in the spring can saddle them with excess weight they may never lose.

The health risks of starting adulthood overweight should not be ignored. As anyone who has tried to lose 15 pounds – and keep it off – knows, it’s not easy. Taking steps to prevent gaining those unwanted pounds in the first place is far easier.

As the author of Fighting the Freshman Fifteen, I can show you how you can help your college student do just that.

What Causes College Weight Gain?

Life on campus is filled with opportunities to eat, drink, and party too much. The rest of the time is often spent sleeping, sitting in classes (sometimes both at the same time) and studying. That combination of overconsumption and under activity is all it takes for some kids to gain a pound a week, which happens to add up to 15 pounds at the end of the first semester.

Yes, the school has a state-of-the-art fitness center, a campus that stretches over several acres or city blocks, and round-the-clock recreational activities. But somehow all of that opportunity to burn calories is underutilized. It’s sort of like all the home exercise equipment and gym memberships that go unused.

Another source of unneeded calories are those care packages that come in the mail filled with all their favorite foods. Bags of Twizzlers, boxes of Cheez-Its, and tins of homemade chocolate chip cookies arrive one day and are gone the next.

Repackaging those care packages from home can eliminate the temptation, and extra pounds that go with them. Try some of these instead.

Care Packages That Prevent College Weight Gain

Hair Care

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Gel or Mouse
  • Spray or Spritz

Dental Care

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Mouthwash

Laundry Care

  • Detergent
  • Bleach
  • Dryer sheets
  • Stain remover

Body Care

  • Bar soap
  • Shower gel
  • Bath powder
  • Deodorant
  • Body lotion

Appliance Care

  • Printer cartridges
  • Computer paper
  • Batteries
  • Gift cards for apps

And whatever you do, don’t keep reminding them of what it was like when you were in college!

Easy Picnic Ideas the Whole Family Will Love!

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

If you want to take the family on a picnic, that means you’re packing portable food that goes with fun! There’s no need to fuss when your tablecloth is on the ground. Plan a utensils-optional meal and pass the hand wipes instead. Finger food is easy to serve and even easier to clean up. And single portions and packages allow for more variety so there are fewer complaints.

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Shorty sandwiches – Cut wraps and hoagies into 1-inch pieces for easy handling and the chance to mix & match these smaller portions.

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Bird-in-hand – Prepare chicken legs and wing drummettes your favorite way and let the family enjoy eating them right off the bone.

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Meal-on-a-stick – Nothing is more fun to eat than kebobs! Thread them with cooked and chilled meat, poultry, shrimp and vegetables and forget about the need for forks.

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Untossed salad – Use a divided serving tray to pack grape tomatoes, olives, cucumber chunks, carrot coins, broccoli florets – whatever your family likes – and a couple of dips so they can be munched as desired.

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Stuffed stalks – Fill celery with flavored cream cheese, cheddar cheese spread or peanut butter and raisins, then cut into 2 inch pieces so easy to serve and share.

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Finger Fruit – Make sure no peeling, seeding or cutting is needed for the fruit you serve. Try cubed melon, plucked grapes, hulled berries, stemmed cherries, chunked pineapple, and sectioned oranges, either tossed together or packed in separate containers.

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One-at-a-time snacks – Pack single serving bags of crackers, pretzels, and chips so there are no leftovers to go stale once the bag is opened. A bigger assortment means there’s something to please everyone.

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Two-bite desserts – Cut blondies, brownies, and bar cookies cut into small wedges or bake mini muffins so there’s a chance to sample just what you like, or one of each, without over doing it. Skip anything with frosting that will smoosh and be sticky.

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Just enough drinks – You can provide more variety and eliminate the need for cups and refills if you chill an assortment of small drink boxes, pouches, bottles and cans.

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Pack to play – A walk through the garage or trip to the dollar store will provide all the toys you need. Look for inflatable balls, Nerf balls, Wiffle bat and balls, velcro mitts and balls, Frisbee, ring toss, croquette set, bean bag toss, butterfly net, soap bubbles and let the fun begin

Two women toasting a man while dining at an outside table

Great Summer Foods for Grown Ups

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013.

TRY THESE HEALTHY RECIPES AND SUMMER FOOD CHOICES WHILE THE KIDS ARE AT CAMP

When children are home and school is in session, meal schedules and menus revolve around them and their taste preferences. Once they’re off to camp for the summer it’s time for adult tastes to rule the kitchen (and grill). Foods with adult flavors can be found in every aisle of the store. Here are 7 of my favorites that will definitely be on my summer food shopping list and part of my healthy summer recipes.

Chobani

 

Chobani Greek Yogurt Bites Fig with Orange Zest

This is the most exceptional flavor combo in the dairy case! I just love it and am so happy the “bite” size containers are just 100 calories each. I can have one as a midmorning snack then enjoy another for a satisfying, thick and creamy dessert at night. The Chobani Blood Orange Non-fat Greek Yogurt takes second place for best grown up food flavor of the year.

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Wegman’s Organic Wild Mushroom & Herb Chicken Sausage

There are other brands of chicken sausage out there, but Wegman’s Organic Wild Mushroom & Herb does it best for me. If you don’t have a Wegman’s in your neighborhood, you can try the Al Fresco or Dietz & Watson chicken sausage, but it’s hard to find a comparable product to the Wegman’s regular or organic line. Just grill with vegetables or cut them up to top a summer salad.

campbells

Campbell’s Golden Lentil with Madras Curry GO Soup

I fell in love with the Campbell’s line of Go soups in pouches over the winter and am not about to give them up as the temperatures rise. Each variety is authentically seasoned and the pouches maintain the texture of the vegetables, chicken and lentils like no other prepared soup I’ve ever tasted. Just turn down the A/C and give them a try.

triscuitbrownricepepseasalt

 

Brown Rice Sea Salt & Black Pepper Triscuits

There are so many crackers on the shelves it’s hard to imagine there could be anything new worth trying. But there is. Nabisco’s new line of Triscuits made with brown rice are lighter and crisper and come in five flavors that weren’t developed with toddlers in mind.

morningstar farms

 

Morningstar Farms Mediterranean Chickpea Burger

I’ve become a big fan of bean and veggie burgers because they deliver such big taste in so few calories and with a lot less fat than straight-up meat patties. The flavor profiles go from the Southwest to Asia and the Mediterranean, so just add the complementary condiments for a burger that won’t bore you. And if you’re as wild about mushrooms as I am, don’t overlook the Morningstar Farms Mushroom Lover’s Burger.

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Glaceau Orange Mango fruitwater naturally flavored sparkling water beverage

I’m not a fan of plain water so run the risk of not drinking enough in the summer months when hydration requirements are highest. Now I don’t have to worry because I love these great-tasting, naturally fruit flavored, zero calorie sparkling water beverages from Glaceau. They’re available in 5 flavors that refresh without drowning your palate in artificial flavors like so many kids’ drinks do.

dole

 

Dole Banana Dippers covered in dark chocolate

I’ve found the perfect frozen novelty that tastes like ice cream but isn’t. They’re banana slices dipped in dark chocolate. Each sleeve has 4 slices with only 25 calories each, but it feels like so much more as the dark chocolate slowly melts in your mouth and combines with the soft, sweet banana. The kids won’t know what they’re missing!

 

 

Older man in a kitchen wearing an apron and cooking at stove

Father’s Day Gift Idea: Help Him Learn to Cook

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the post here.

ANYONE CAN LEARN TO COOK WITH SOME BASIC COOKING LESSONS AND SIMPLE COOKING TIPS

I grew up in a household with very a clear division of labor when it came to the household chores done by my parents. My mother did everything inside of the house and my father did everything outside.

The kitchen and all of the food that passed through it was my mother’s domain.

If my dad was home when my mom returned from the grocery store he would help carry the bags from the trunk of the car into the kitchen, but that’s as close as he ever came to putting a meal on the table.

I never saw him cook anything. On a few occasions I believe he made himself a sandwich.

Then after 52 years of marriage and eating the three meals a day my mother prepared for him, she died suddenly. How was my dad ever going to able to fend for himself in the kitchen?

If this sounds familiar, or possible, in your world, I’ve got a great Father’s Day gift idea for you. Teach your dad (husband, boyfriend, son) to cook. In fact, everyone you care about should learn to cook.

Here’s how I taught my dad to cook.

Cooking Tips For All First-Time Cooks

My dad’s cooking lessons did not begin with a cutting board and knife. They began with a pad and pencil.

Cooking requires planning.

Even though there was plenty of food in the house when my mother died, my father had no idea what was on hand or what to do with all those random ingredients in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer. To figure it out and provide a template for his future food shopping trips, I divided a piece of paper into six sections and headed them according to the basic food groups:

  • Meats/Poultry/Fish
  • Milk/Dairy
  • Fruits/Vegetables
  • Breads/Cereals/Pasta/Rice
  • Oils/Spreads
  • Seasoning/Sauces/Condiments

Once we completed the inventory, we were able to plan a menu for the coming week using simple recipes I found online. (My mother’s cookbooks and recipe card index were no help.) As we reviewed each recipe I showed him what pot or pan they called for and any small appliances mentioned. We then made a shopping list of what was needed to execute the week’s menu.

Navigating the grocery store was the next lesson in my dad’s training program. Unlike the chefs in those well-stocked kitchens on the cooking shows he loved to watch, if he wanted to learn to cook he had to buy the food. It definitely helped to have the shopping list arranged according to the store layout and cross off things as they went into the cart.

Learning how to properly store all the groceries when we got them home was an equally important lesson. All this happened before he actually prepared anything he could eat.

Cooking 101: Skills for a Lifetime

One of the skills my dad had going for him when his cooking lessons began was that he could carve a roasted turkey. I decided to build on his knife skills and teach him to cut, chop, slice and dice a variety of vegetables. Once he could do that, it was a natural progression for him to learn how to sauté those vegetables.

Sautéing vegetables led to sautéing meats, which led to making finishing sauces in the pan. He could now make pork chops smothered in onions, skillet chili and a chicken and broccoli stir-fry.

The skills we focused on after that were ones that allowed him to make the foods he liked best. Since he enjoyed stews, he learned to use the slow-cooker. He also liked pancakes, so learned to measure and mix the batter (but not over mix) and use the electric griddle. And since he didn’t like pasta, he didn’t need instructions for the colander.

older woman wearing sunglasses, headband and love beads

Myths About the Aging Process

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

AGING AT HOME IN AMERICA REQUIRES CHANGING THE WAY WE VIEW THE AGING PROCESS

Those of us who grew up living with or near our grandparents have formed an opinion about what it means to grow old. Good or bad, we saw it, smelled it, heard it, touched it and felt it. The aging process, for us, is based on what was imprinted on our impressionable young minds. For everyone else, it has been created by culturally constructed stereotypes.

Neither view is necessarily correct.

Counting Gray Hairs

There are many signs of aging in America. More than 13% of the people who were counted in the 2010 U.S. Census were over the age of 65. It is projected that by 2056 more people in the country will be over 65 than under 18. That’s evidence enough that we need to rethink what it means to be old.

The image of aging I took away from my childhood is based on the contrasts between my two grandmothers, with neither one a source of inspiration. Both did their aging at home, right to the very end. One grandmother was very soft and meek; the other was hard and stern. One needed to be taken care of from the moment my grandfather died until she died 16 years later. The other lived on her own for 28 years after her husband died, and she repelled anyone who tried to help her.

Since May is when we celebrate Older Americans Month, I find myself wondering what kind of impression I’m making on my grandchildren about aging. I certainly don’t want to be defined by inaccurate stereotypes. But since we Baby Boomers have never been conformists, I’m prepared to keep the revolution going a while longer as we drive our VW Minivans into the sunset!

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of some signs of aging you’ll want to avoid if you don’t want to age yourself. Be alert for these comments and complaints:

6 Signs of Aging That Aren’t True

I’ve always had a good diet so can continue to eat this way the rest of my life – Having had a good diet pays off by reducing our risk for diet-related diseases, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement as we get older. Our nutritional needs continue to change throughout life, from childhood to adolescence to adulthood and beyond, and one diet doesn’t fit all. As we get older our ability to fully digest what we eat and absorb the nutrients our meals provide also impacts the quality of our diets. Plus, many medications and diseases can interfere with our appetite and ability to stay properly nourished.

There’s no point in making lifestyle changes now – Any time we make an investment in our own health we can be rewarded with an improved sense of well-being, even if we can’t reverse the damage done by lifelong bad habits. Some changes, however, can reap measureable benefits, like quitting smoking, exercising more and including more fiber in our diets.

I can’t learn anything new at my age – The ability to learn new things never stops. What changes is the speed at which we grasp new ideas and technology, but our capacity to embrace new information continues throughout our lives. We need look no further for evidence of this than at the 40% of people over the age of 65 who use the Internet.

I’m forgetful, it must be dementia – Memory loss can be caused my many things, such as poorly controlled medical conditions, side effects of medications and untreated depression, so rule out these possibilities before jumping to conclusions. Forgetfulness is a sign of dementia, but only 6%-8% of people over age 65 have dementia and only a third of those over age 85. Depression should not be viewed as a normal part of growing old, so if the symptoms are present, treatment should be sought.

I’ve been alone for so long, I’m used to it – Our basic human needs for love, companionship, and social interaction do not change as we get older. Fear of being a burden or losing one’s independence can lead to isolation and loneliness, but these conditions are not easy to accept at any age.

Everyone my age has the same problems – The truth is our physical and psychological needs grow more unique as we age, not more similar. The longer we live the longer our individual genetic make-up, environmental and lifestyle influences and personal medical conditions have had a chance to differentiate us from other people our same age. It is more important than ever to treat the person, not the age.

What myths about aging are you ready to bust?

Assorted dried fruit, nuts and seeds for a gluten free snack

Great Gluten Free Snacks in a Hurry

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

CONVENIENCE STORES OFFER MANY GLUTEN FREE SNACK ITEMS TO ENJOY ON THE GO

If you or someone in your family is on a gluten free diet, then you know how hard it is to find something to eat when you’re in a hurry and hungry. Even though there are more gluten free items in stores and on menus than ever before, they’re hard to spot when you really them.

At least that’s what I’m told by people who are trying to avoid gluten.

They say eating healthy meals and snacks is easy when they plan ahead, shop regularly and prepare or pack their food for the day, but that doesn’t always happen.

Sound familiar?

Of course, the rest of us can always grab something to eat on the go from a vending machine, at any checkout counter or the drive-up window of a quick service restaurant. But if you must steer clear of all wheat, barley, rye and oats, it’s another story.

The best way around this dilemma is to keep a supply of portable, non-perishable, single-serving gluten free snacks on hand wherever you spend a lot of time, like your job or the car. A trip to your local supermarket or specialty food store is the best way to stock up on your favorite gluten free products or by placing an order online.

It also helps to know what you can buy when you’re out and about and forgot to tote your own.

Fortunately, there are many gluten free foods as close as the neighborhood convenience store, chain drug store, or even the corner Starbucks – a great place to find KIND bars. Just reach for a piece of fresh fruit or single-serve fruit cup, some sliced or string cheese, or a raw vegetable and dip combo for gluten free munching.

There are also some national brands you can count on for gluten free options right alongside the other crunchy, crispy and chewy snacks on the shelves.

In honor of Celiac Awareness Month, I have 10 recommendations to help you with your search for gluten free snacks. Just be sure to check the ingredient list on all packaged foods before making your purchase since manufacturers can change their formulations at any time.

10 Grab & Go Gluten Free Snack Foods

KIND all natural whole nut and fruit bars that deliver the perfect combination of protein, carbs and heart healthy fats to keep you feeling fuller longer.

Blue Diamond single or mixed nuts sold raw, dry roasted, or seasoned for naturally gluten and wheat free munching.

Quaker rice cakes made from white or brown rice for a snack that can be sweet, salty or savory.

Indiana Popcorn FIT bagged popcorn for a whole grain snack from non-GMO corn.

Frito Lay white, yellow and blue tortilla chips in different shapes suitable for dipping.

Kettle brand potato chips that are baked, reduced fat or fried in more than 15 flavors.

General Mills Rice and Corn Chex cereal you can eat right from the box or add to a custom trail mix.

Sun Maid raisins and other dried fruit that deliver natural sweetness with no added sugar.

Welch’s chewy fruit snacks and fruit ‘n yogurt snacks for a fat free fortified snack.

Dove chocolate bars and novelties (just don’t leave them in the car in hot weather!)

Confused about who should be on a gluten free diet and why? Read my Q&A on gluten free eating here.

stressed out college student cramming for final exams

How to Help With Stress in College Students

This post was written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original post here.

END OF TERM STRESS IN COLLEGE STUDENTS CAN RESULT IN UNHEALTHY BEHAVIORS

The next two weeks are the most difficult time of year for college students. The end-of-semester demands they face are unrealistic and can lead to unbearable pressure. How our children cope with stress in college can have a devastating impact on both their physical and emotional health.

For those of us who can say “been there, done that,” it is not a rite of passage we would wish on anyone — especially our own children.

Stress in College Students

An estimated 15 percent of the 20 million young people attending college in the U.S. are diagnosed with depression. Those who do not have a clinical diagnosis of depression still experience stress and may suffer in silence or resort to inappropriate behavior.

The biggest risk is the threat of suicide.

A recent study reveals half of all college students have had suicidal thoughts. Tragically, 1500 of them are successful each year, according to Dr. Victor Schwartz, a psychiatrist and medical director of The Jed Foundation. The mission of this non-profit organization is to “promote emotional health and prevent suicide among college and university students.”

Here is just a partial list of what college students face this time of year.

End of Semester Stressors

  • Cramming for finals
  • Writing term papers
  • Completing projects
  • Making presentations
  • Studying for Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
  • Applying for Internships
  • Preparing resumes
  • Scheduling job interviews
  • Packing up and moving out

Any one of these “added demands” is reason enough to need help with stress. The year-end stress for college students is heaped on top of their on-gong concerns about paying off loans, changing roommates, declaring a major, traveling abroad, finding off-campus housing, dealing with relationships, and so much more

When forced to try to deal with it all, students may “self-medicate” as the pressure builds.

Inappropriate Coping Strategies

  • Depression – abuses of “uppers,” such as speed, cocaine, crack, Ecstasy
  • Anxiety – abuse of “downers,” such as marijuana, hash, codeine, heroin
  • Rage or Anger – abuse of alcohol in the form of binge drinking
  • Sleep deprivation – abuse of caffeine from energy drinks, pills, espresso and coffee drinks
  • Meal skipping – over-eating high foods high in fat, salt and sugar
  • Dehydration – inappropriate use of medications for headaches, dizziness, lethargy

The American Psychological Association provides an online tool to test your knowledge about stress. Telling your child about it may be a good way to help him or her recognize what is happening and encourage them to take advantage of campus support services.

Unfortunately, stress doesn’t end after graduation. Learning how to cope with it while in college is a life skill that will pay off for your child no matter what career he or she pursues.

And for your high school graduate who may be starting college in the fall, check out my Tips to Prevent College Weight Gain adapted from my book, Fighting the Freshman Fifteen.