Yesterday, I appeared on CNN to discuss the
childhood obesity epidemic in America. To see the interview, Click Here. While
the topic has been addressed in the media for nearly a decade, the subject has
been heightened in the wake of Michelle Obama’s announcement that she’d like to
eliminate the epidemic within a generation. To do so, she is spearheading a
campaign called Let’s Move, to get the job
Of course, this is a topic I can discuss for hours, so, for
those of you interested in additional ways to help your children fight and win
the war against weight gain, below are frequently-asked questions and my
At what age can I start feeding my child a healthy diet?
A: It’s never too soon for parents or grandparents to
make healthy food choices for their children or
grandchildren. Beginning at six-months of age, when a child is weaned, he
or she can begin eating wholesome, all-natural foods. This approach will
prepare a child for a lifetime of wellness. Their palates will be trained
to accept the natural sweetness of a peach and they’ll learn to appreciate the
savory flavors of vegetables. Patience is all that’s needed; eating is a
new adventure for babies! With time, they’ll accept healthy, unprocessed
foods. My book, The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet, will be out in
November, 2010, and will provide hundreds of ideas and recipes for getting
babies and toddlers off to the right start. If you’d like to know more about
the book, just send me an e-mail.
How is it possible to eat smart when we each have such hectic schedules?
A: Planning is critical. Unfortunately, in our
culture, meal-time is rushed, not a ritual that’s meant to be slow and
savored. As a result, mealtime has become a bit of
an afterthought. We need to change that behavior and make our food
choices and meal times a very conscious decision. Also, freezing food is
wildly underrated. Like canning, I think freezing food fell out of favor,
but now it’s back, thanks to the recession. So, pick a day — a Sunday morning,
for example — to cook several dishes and freeze them. You’ll always
have healthy meals on hand when you need them. Last, stocking a healthy
pantry is critical. This way, there’s no excuse for not being able to
prepare a nutritious meal or snack.
What are some common mistakes parents make when buying foods for their
A: Parents succumb to what I call the nag factor, and it’s
very hard to say “no,” but we have to, if things are going to
change. The obesity issue is really a behavior-based public health
issue. We need to start leading by example and be somewhat
disciplined in our approach. The problem will not be solved by education
alone. We need to work hard and apply all of the information that’s being
What types of meals can I make for my kids that are healthy and
A: I always love to talk about what you can eat,
since everyone is always talking about what foods to avoid. Here are some
fun suggestions for healthy meals, and don’t forget to get the kids involved in
choosing and making their meals! They’re more likely to eat what they make
- Breakfast: Breakfast wrap made with
eggs or egg whites, low-fat cheese, black beans, chopped tomato and
wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla; a fruit smoothie made with frozen
banana, berries, mango and skim milk; whole grain waffles with a touch of
maple syrup; oatmeal with strawberries.
- Lunch: Homemade soups; pasta and
rice salads mixed with veggies; tuna sandwiches (that’s a brain food!);
chicken and couscous salad (easy to make and inexpensive!); banana and
peanut butter sandwiches and leftovers like homemade pizza with low-fat
cheese, veggies and grilled chicken.
wonderful, either fresh or frozen. Then there’s pork, roast or
grilled chicken; there are 19 lean cuts of beef; and my favorite dinner
entree, pasta, which is not fattening. The cream and butter sauces
are to blame.
What types of food should parents avoid buying?
A: Try to avoid foods that are deep fried, high in sodium,
packaged and processed with a shelf-life of ten years, and foods that have
no nutrient value.
How can I make healthy food choices at fast foods chains?
A: Try to limit visits to fast-food restaurants, but if
you find yourself on line looking at a menu board, opt for the salads, a plain
burger, skim milk or any of their grilled selections. Now, many fast food
restaurants have menu items under a certain number of calories. Corner Bakery
has “100 under 600,” or 100 meals under 600 calories. KFC has 395-calorie meal
options for $3.95 and Applebee’s has the Applebee 550, and you can guess what
Q: What are some
easy and inexpensive ways that I can get active with my family?
A: Go for walks,
run, ride a bike, or go ice skating or rollerblading. Spend time playing games
at a local park with your children or your dog. There are mall walking groups
for seniors and new mothers. Just explore what your community has available,
and you may be surprised by all your options!
To continue the discussion, just send me your questions, and
I’ll be happy to respond!