Many think of the holidays as a time to give back, but no matter what time of year it is, taking the time to show someone kindness is a great thing to do. Giving back is a win-win situation. It’s now only good for others, but it is also good for you and your health. The University of the South conducted a study in 2016, which suggests that performing "random acts of kindness" for others or the world can boost your mood. In fact, the study found that helping others can boost your mood more than if you had done something to help yourself.
Performing acts of kindness promote your psychological health because it encourages your body to release dopamine, which is the brain's feel-good neurotransmitter. Showing kindness and helping others can help you reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose.
Right now, many families are experiencing some of the hardest times of their lives due to the pandemic, so to help bring joy to their lives, let's give back in whatever way we can. Whether you choose to do something small or something big, the gesture's impact will be immeasurable.
Here are our Top 12 Ways You Can Give Back During the Holidays:
The benefits of volunteering are enormous to you, your family, and your community. While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. Even volunteering 1 hr of your day can make a significant impact on those who need it. With the holidays quickly approaching, the need for volunteers in the community is never-ending. If you are looking for volunteer opportunities in your area, check out Volunteer Match, or get in touch with us and see how you can help HealthStart achieve our goals.
2. Help a neighbor.
One way to give back is by helping your fellow neighbor. They may need help getting groceries, mowing their lawns, or even getting to their doctor’s appointments. If you’re unsure where to start, you can make a posting in your local Facebook groups and offer your support, such as offering to pick up groceries or walk their dog. And even better, you can get your little ones to help too! This will teach your child the importance of helping others and how it can uplift someone’s spirit.
3. Give to Your Local Charity.
Another way to give back is by donating to a local charity of your choosing. In fact, there is a day dedicated to giving back called Giving Tuesday. This year, this global day of giving is on Tuesday, December 1st. Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. If you’d like to donate to HealthStart this Giving Tuesday, you can make a donation here. But you don’t have to wait until GivingTuesday to give back to organizations that matter to you. You can donate anytime as donations are always needed to support your community.
4. Participate in Holiday Food Drives.
There is always a need to feed families who can't afford a holiday dinner. Food drives are an excellent opportunity to get the whole family involved! With COVID-19 precautions, make sure to check what your local food bank's guidelines are for Food Drives this year before donating food. Don’t forget to wash your hands and sanitize before putting together your donation box. You can also bring the family along and have them volunteer to help serve out food and/or hand out donations to families in need.
5. Give blood.
Another great way to give back is to donate blood. It is an excellent way to help someone in need and can even save someone’s life. Just remember there are some restrictions on who can participate. Visit the Red Cross website to learn about local guidelines and to find a blood drive near you.
6. Thank Your Mother (Earth).
While giving back to human beings is excellent, giving back to our planet is also important. One thing we teach at HealthStart is how to take care of the earth by not littering. Try taking the whole family to your local park and pick up nearby trash. Another way to give back to Mother Earth is by reducing single-use items that take years and years to degrade. This holiday you can do this by reusing gift bags, making digital holiday cards, or recycling any used paper, plastic, or glass.
7. Compliment Someone.
There’s nothing that puts a smile on someone’s face, like receiving a compliment. Taking the time to give a friend or stranger a little compliment can change their day for the better! Even something as small as telling someone you like their outfit can put a big smile on their face.
8. Run for Charity.
Many charity runs are still happening worldwide. The pandemic has forced most marathons to go virtual, so running for a charity has never been easier! HealthStart is participating in a charity run this upcoming year with the Austin Marathon. Anybody can join #TeamHealthStart and run for our organization from anywhere around the world! You can also support #TeamHealthStart by donating online or joining our team to help raise money to give every kid the healthy future they deserve.
9. Donate Unused Items.
Most of us have been stuck at home quarantined, which has allowed us to see what items tend to go unused. Those items could be clothes, household goods, or maybe some holiday decorations you don’t use anymore. If you have things like these, then think about donating them to those in need. Don’t forget to have your little ones go through their toys and clothes and donate anything they’ve outgrown or don’t play with anymore. A great place to start is at your local homeless shelter, Goodwill, or donation boxes.
10. Do a Few Chores.
One way to get your child involved in giving back is by having them help do a few chores around the house. They can help you cook dinner, put away toys, feed the dog, or make the bed. And you’ll be surprised how happy they will be to help! Helping with chores is a great way to help them learn why giving back is a good thing to do and understand the importance of helping others.
11. Support Local Businesses.
COVID-19 has impacted small businesses more than imaginable. When you are thinking about shopping for your loved ones during this holiday season, try shopping locally. Shopping local will not only help small businesses continue to thrive, but it will also make a memorable, one of a kind gift for your loved one. Another way to support local businesses is by sharing their work on your social media or buying gift cards.
12. Let Your Loved Ones Know You Care.
Sometimes, all someone needs is to know they are loved and cared for. Give a friend a call just to let them know you were thinking about them. Send someone a card via snail mail or a short video letting them know how special they are to you. You could also send them a surprise gift of something you know they would love or something they need. No matter how you do it, they’ll forever appreciate your kindness.
Giving in even simple ways can help others who are in need and improve your health and happiness. We hope your holidays are filled with joy, and we would love to see you spread that joy by giving back this holiday season!
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Fall has arrived, leaving Daylight Savings behind us. This means fewer hours of daylight and colder weather. Adapting to shorter and darker days can be hard on your family's health.
Ever wonder why the fall and winter are known as cold and flu season? Researchers have discovered that cooler temperatures result in a "sluggish immune response," leaving people more prone to infection. Viruses tend to live longer in colder and drier climates, making it easier to pass from one person to another. The dry, cold air makes you more susceptible to germs because the cold air dries up your nose. Without the helpful mucus that lives in your nose, germs have an easier path into your body.
Your mental health can also be affected by colder weather. Dark days with less sunlight may lead to a gloomy mood and even depression. Have you heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Millions of Americans suffer from SAD each year, or the "winter blues," resulting in low energy, extreme sadness, and just an overall funk.
We've put together 10 ways to 'Fall Back into Health' to keep you and your family's mental and physical health in check.
1. Start increasing the amount of Vitamin D you consume. Most of the Vitamin D we get comes from the Sun, and with the colder weather arriving, we tend to go outside much less. To make up for less time in the Sun, try eating foods high in Vitamin D, such as fish, milk, and yogurt. A great recipe to try is our Tuna & White Bean Wraps, packed with Vitamin D and many other healthy nutrients that your child is sure to love!
2. Eat immune-boosting foods. Boost your immune system by drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, and eating nutritious foods. One nutrient that sure to help keep our immune system healthy is Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps build white blood cells. White blood cells fight off infections and destroy free radicals in the body. Beta-carotene, Vitamin D, and Zinc also increase immune function. You can check out our blog post with 6 Quick & Easy Snacks to Boost Your Immune System for recipes that your child will have a ton of fun making.
3. Prioritize sleep. When we don't get enough sleep, it can compromise our immune system and harm our overall health. Therefore, ensuring you and your little ones get adequate sleep is essential. In general, toddlers need around 12-16 hours of sleep, children age three to six require 10-12 hours of sleep, pre-teens age seven to twelve need 10-11 hours, and teenagers and above about 7 to 9 hours of sleep. You can read more about the benefits of sleep in our Back to School with Better Sleep blog.
4. Buy food that is in season. Did you know that when you buy in season, it tastes better and is even more nutritious? It's true! Seasonal fruit and veggies vary slightly depending on where you live. Still, the fall brings apples, beets, broccoli, cabbage, kale, pumpkin, winter squash, root veggies like sweet potatoes, pears, and other produce bursting with immune-boosting nutrients. Buying foods in season gives you a chance to introduce your child to new ones. Take your child to the Farmers Market to see what foods are in season and learn more about where it comes from. Find out which foods are in season in your area using this Seasonal Food Guide.
5. Bundle up. As the colder weather arrives, layer up with jackets, scarves, and warmer attire to protect your body from dropping temperatures so you don't get sick. With flu season upon us and COVID-19 still present, it's best to be prepared and take care of each other, and you can do so by following our 4 Tips to Help Beat the Flu.
6. Practice good hygiene. It is always essential to practice good hygiene, but even more so during the colder months. Ensure your little ones are washing their hands and keeping germs to themselves. Be sure to check out our Snack Science Germs Playlist to help your child understand the importance of good hygiene.
7. Stay hydrated. People tend to drink less water as it gets colder since they don't feel the need. People experience 40% less thirst in winter than in warmer months, even though the body's need for water remains the same all year.* Although you may not be as thirsty, make sure you and your child get enough water throughout the day. Your immune system will thank you. If you are having trouble getting your child to drink more water, read 5 Ways to Help Your Child Drink More Water.
8. Stay active. In colder weather, we tend to want to stay indoors, bundled up on the couch for hours, plus the current pandemic guidelines encourage families to stay at home for their safety. Just because you're stuck inside doesn't mean you can't be active! It's no surprise that staying active is vital for your child's health and mood. One way to be active indoors is to play our Dance Attack Game. This game also teaches your child how their heart keeps them moving and grooving. Staying active yourself encourages your child to join in on the fun. You may want to try an at-home workout work together.
9. Find time for joy. One of the reasons shorter days and less light may cause moodiness or even depression is that reduced sunlight causes your Serotonin levels to drop. Serotonin is the brain chemical responsible for mood. It also throws off our body's internal clock and may affect our sleep leaving you feeling stressed, depressed, or low energy. When this happens, it's harder to take care of yourself and others. A great way to combat these feelings is to find time to do something that brings you joy. This is true for you and your little one. Maybe that's playing a favorite game or having some craft time. For more ways to help your child when they are feeling blue, check out 6 Ways To Help Kids Deal With Stress Now.
10. Stay in touch with loved ones. The current pandemic is forcing us to spend time away from our loved ones, which can be incredibly hard during the holidays. Being away from family can be isolating and make your little ones feel lonely. So make time for your children to talk to their loved ones and close friends often. Set up a time to Zoom (or other conference call platforms) with the whole family. You can even use remote calling platforms to play games like Charades or host a talent show. Another way for your child to feel connected is to have your child write a letter or draw a picture to give to a loved one.
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You may be wondering, “How can my child enjoy Halloween treats without feeling sluggish or grumpy afterward?” Well, we’ve got 10 ideas for you!
When people think of Halloween, they usually think of lots and lots of candy. However, you can make your own spooky Halloween treats that your kids will love and are full of nutrients to feed their body with everything it needs. Not only will your child love crafting these spooky treats, but they will get to spend some quality time learning about what foods are good for their health.
Here are 10 recipes to try out this season:
Who doesn’t love pizza? This is a fun, spooky take on the classic. These Zucchini Eyeballs from Super Healthy Kids is a great option for a nutritious and Halloween-themed snack. This recipe is so easy to follow and your child will love making it too! All you need are 4 simple ingredients that you probably already have at home, including a medium zucchini, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and black olives. This recipe is also high in vitamin C and is a good source of Calcium and Vitamin A, making it even more nutritious!
Halloween Spooky Spider Deviled Eggs
Another great recipe is by Lighthouse Rita, a contributor for Food.com who turned a simple dish into a spooky treat. Halloween Spooky Spider Deviled Eggs are a fun twist on the original and just as delicious! All you need for this recipe is hard-boiled eggs, black olives, and mayonnaise, and if you want to spice it up you can add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. This protein-filled snack is extra fun with spiders made out of the olives placed right on top of the deviled egg, making an even cuter spooky snack.
Frozen Yogurt Strawberry Ghosts
If your looking for something a little sweeter, then Julie's Frozen Yogurt Strawberry Ghosts are a perfect healthy Halloween treat! This sweet treat will be so much fun for your child to help create, from dipping the strawberries into a yummy greek yogurt to adding their finalizing touch of chocolate chip eyeballs. Did you know yogurt is a great source of probiotics? Probiotics are good bacteria that keeps your digestive system healthy. Mix that with Vitamin C-packed strawberries and you’ve got yourself one nutritious snack!
Halloween Grazing Board
One very easy and beautiful Halloween idea would be to create a grazing board. It’s like a cheese board but a spooky style. This grazing board, full of cheese, meat, and fruit give you a balance of important nutrients like protein, healthy fats, calcium, and vitamins to keep them healthy and active. Plus it’s great for sharing with the family! Kids have a blast using their creativity putting together the board and choosing their favorite foods to add-in. Below is a lovely example of a grazing board from she knows blog that is sure to excite your child and help them get the nutrients they need during Halloween:
Practice your snack art with another healthy snack option by making a Veggie Skeleton. You can use a combination of veggies that are every color of the rainbow for this one, giving you lots of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to keep your body healthy and strong. Let your child use their creativity to make their Veggie Skeleton any way they like. You can find our recipe for the Veggie Skeleton here.
Spooky Apple Monster
One of our favorites is this recipe for Spooky Apple Monsters. Not only are these little guys adorable, but they have healthy fats, fiber, and lots of vitamins to help your little one grow big and strong. If you don't have edible eyeballs, you can always use a combination of white chocolate and mini chocolate chips. Your child is sure to have a thrill creating this simple but healthy Halloween treat, and even more so enjoy eating it too!
Spooky Trail Mix
Not only can trail mix provide your child with a balance of nutrients like healthy fats, protein, and vitamins, but it can also help them try new foods. This is also a great snack to share with your family while watching spooky movies. If you need ideas for kid-friendly Halloween movies, then check out our last blog post here with our Staff Picks.
Trail mixes can be made in so many different ways, however here are our favorite nutritious foods that can be mixed in with your favorite Halloween sweets:
Snack Science Ep. #36 - Healthy Halloween Treats
In our most recent episode of Snack Science, HealthStart Sharon and her friend Roxy make three healthy Halloween treats made with only a handful of ingredients and almost no preparation. These healthy treats are full of good-for-you nutrients like potassium and Vitamin C. Watch Snack Science Ep. #36 and learn how to make Boo-nanas, Tangerine Pumpkins, and Candy Corn Fruit Cups.
Try mixing in some of these healthy Halloween snacks with your traditional favorites. We hope you and your family have a blast making these spooky treats. Happy Halloween!
We've got a lot more tips and tricks to share with you. Be sure to subscribe to our blog to get notified every time a new blog post is released.
Halloween festivities are going to be a little different this year because of COVID-19. Many of our favorite celebrations involve large groups of people like fall festivals, trick-or-treating, and school carnivals. This year, families should take significant precautions when it comes to traditional Halloween celebrations. “But how can we have a Happy Halloween and stay safe,” you may ask.
Staying at home and forgoing these usual activities can be a bummer, but there are plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween safely in 2020 and still have all the spooky fun!
Here are our Top 5 Ways to Celebrate Halloween Safely at Home:
1. Have a Halloween Movie Marathon
One of everyone’s favorite things to do when staying home is watching tv or movies. So, why not spend this Halloween in and have a spooky movie marathon with your loved ones. Watching movies together can get everyone in a festive mood! Make the evening even more fun by serving delicious Halloween treats, like the recipes we provide in our next tip. Our staff shared some of their favorite kid-friendly Halloween movies below:
2. Make Spooky Treats
Add some fun and nourish your body this Halloween by making delicious spooky treats with the whole family. This can be as simple as our Spooky Apple Monster recipe, or it can be more elaborate, like making treat bags to give out to friends and family. Don’t forget to remind your little ones to wash their hands before handling any food. If you plan to share Halloween treats with people outside your household, we suggest as a further precaution to wear gloves for each task. Try out our other Halloween tasty treats like these Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers and Veggie Skeletons.
3. Ghost Your Friends and Family
One way to show your friends and family that you care is to ghost them. Sounds weird, right? Unlike leaving someone hanging on a text message, ghosting your friends and family on Halloween is like ringing the doorbell and then ditching. First, make them a fun spooky basket filled with Halloween goodies and treats. Second, drop it off their door, ring the doorbell, and run back to your car. Everyone stays at a safe distance celebrating the holiday in a fun new way. Be sure to wash your hands and sanitize everything before making the basket to prevent spreading germs [ link to germs playlist]. Below is an example of a spooky basket that you and your child can make for your friends and family:
4. Get Crafty with Pumpkins
Carving a pumpkin is a common tradition for most families on Halloween. Luckily, it’s easy to do right in your own home! A basic jack-o-lantern face is a classic, but you can also find simple templates online to try something new. An adult should always be present to help the little ones as they take on this spooky fun task. Once you've finished carving your pumpkins, put a candle inside to light it once it gets dark so that everyone can see your spooky creation.
Another way to decorate pumpkins is to paint them instead of carving them. Painting a pumpkin is safer and simpler for young children. They can also use their imagination to create beautiful paintings. If you are worried about the mess, place a trash bag or newspaper on the ground, and create outside. If painting is not an option, another cool idea is to use stickers instead. You can find affordable Halloween stickers at stores like Hobby Lobby or even at the Dollar store.
5. Ghost Photoshoot
If you have the app Tik Tok, you may have seen the app's ghost pictures trending. If you haven't seen it, all you do is put a white sheet over yourself, cut holes for eyes, or wear sunglasses. Then, take pictures in your spooky outfit doing everyday things like reading or just simply walking. This DIY photoshoot is so easy that you can even do it with your pets, like in the picture below:
Although Halloween won’t be quite the same this year, we hope our tips will help make your Halloween a spooky and memorable event. Just remember that staying at home is the safest option. However, if you are considering going trick or treating, check out our last blog post with 7 Ways to Safely Trick-or-Treat During COVID-19. Happy Halloween!
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October is finally here, and many families and kids wonder how they will celebrate Halloween this year. Many states are encouraging their families to avoid trick-or-treating because of COVID-19, but if you do decide to participate in trick-or-treating this year, there are ways to do it safely.
Even before COVID-19, most parents took safety precautions when trick-or-treating. For example, they made sure the candy their child brought home was in its original wrapper and hadn't been tampered with, or having their child carry a flashlight or wear reflectors, so they'd been seen. These precautions are still needed for safe trick-or-treating, but this year, there are a few more to consider.
The year's Halloween activities require some additional forethought. Here are our Top 7 Ideas for Safely Trick-or-Treating During a Pandemic:
1. Wear a Mask
Do this even if your family is outdoors and social distancing. Masking is necessary because people outside of your family unit will out and about. Wearing a mask at all times will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep your children safe. Some of the youngest trick or treaters may need help in understanding the importance of wearing a mask. HealthStart explains the ins and outs of wearing a mask in Episode #33 of our Snack Science Video Series.
2. Practice Proper Hygiene
When it comes to COVID-19, it is vital that everyone practices proper hygiene and that they so that they stay safe. Before heading out, make sure everyone has washed their hands and sanitize to prevent spreading germs. Once your kids are ready to trick-or-treat, make sure that your children wait in a socially distanced line instead of bunching up around strangers to get candy. You should also bring hand sanitizer and have your child use it after they get candy. Even if your child wants to eat the candy, you must remind them that they will have to wait to eat it until they get home so you can inspect it for any tampering and disinfect it with spray. While they wait for their treats at home, this will be a great time to have them wash their hands and sanitize before eating any candy.
3. Avoid Houses Not Practicing Social Distancing
Even though grabbing candy is a very brief activity, it can be just as dangerous as throwing a Halloween party. If a house only has a grab bowl, then it would be best to avoid it. "It is a good idea … not having a bunch of kids' hands in the candy bowl," according to Dr. Angela Myers, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Mercy. If you plan on giving out candy this year, a great option would be to pre-make individual candy bags and pass out to trick-or-treaters one at a time.
4. Get Crafty: 3 Ideas Below
Suppose your family plans on giving out candy for Halloween. In that case, check out some of these unique ways that other families have innovated to keep everyone healthy this Halloween. Such as making a candy chute that will keep everyone at a safe distance and allow kids to have even more fun by catching the candy in their bucket.
Have A Halloween Egg Hunt
Just like you would do for Easter, but make it Halloween themed, such as adding glow sticks and candy in the egg so that trick-or-treaters can find their treats. You can make if a fun DIY with your little one by painting some spooky designs on the eggs such as these:
Transform Your Yard Into A Candy Graveyard
This is similar to the egg hunt, but more so! You and your family can get super creative with this one. You can also choose how you want to have trick-or-treaters join in on the fun. You could have one-child come into the yard at a time and having the rest wait in a socially distanced line until it’s their turn to hunt for the candy.
5. Reverse Trick-or-Treat in Neighborhoods
Some neighborhoods plan to reverse trick-or-treat. This is similar to COVID-19 birthday parades. Instead of driving by someone’s house and dropping off birthday presents, drop off Halloween candy instead. This requires a bit of coordination by neighbors, but it certainly can be done. You can also choose to have people drive or walk by the house with an adult delivering candy to the kids. The adults can dress in spooky costumes and make it like a Halloween parade!
6. Follow Your State/Local Recommendations
According to CDC guidance, traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating and many regular Halloween activities are considered "high risk" for spreading the virus. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t participate in Halloween activities. At the same time, many state and local governments discourage traditional trick-or-treating such as going door to door. Instead, they suggest that if you put candy in a bowl, you should wash your hands before doing so and leave the candy at the edge of the driveway. Or use a candy chute to keep a social distance like our previous examples. There are many ways to keep a distance; you just have to get creative.
7. Have Fun and Stay Safe
Although Halloween will require us to be more cautious this year, it doesn’t mean you and your child can’t have fun. You can stay as safe as possible by following our tips, practicing proper hygiene, and having a fun Halloween with a little creativity.
One more thing, if you want to hang out with HealthStart and thousands of other parents, make sure to click here to join our HealthStart family on Facebook.
Does your child refuse to eat anything other than pizza and chicken nuggets? Do you struggle to get them to try new foods? You are not alone!
As many as one-third of parents struggle with picky eaters. By the time a child is five years old, most children have established their food preferences. Early food preferences can link childhood and adult health. When children learn smart food habits at a young age, they bring those into adulthood. And we all know it’s much easier to learn a good habit than break a bad one!
Eating a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables, is essential to get all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. However, parents may find it challenging to convince their children to try new, unfamiliar foods once their kids have set their preferences. So you want to introduce your kids to lots of different foods starting in infancy before they establish their likes and dislikes. As they get older, it helps your kids make good food decisions when they know how foods take care of their bodies.
At HealthStart, we give children the science to understand how specific foods keep our brains and bodies healthy. For example, HealthStart teaches that vegetables are rich in nutrients like Vitamin C and antioxidants, which help boost your immune system, preventing illness.
Below are 10 tips to help deal with picky eaters.
1. Explain that food is a gift
Did you know food is a gift? That’s right; food is a gift. Someone took the time to grow it, get it to the store, and prepare it for them to eat. You can also remind your child that when we receive a gift, we are thankful. Ask your child, “What do you say when you receive a gift? Thank you.” Then you can further explain, “So when someone offers you a new food, you try it, so you don’t hurt the giver’s feelings.” You will also want your child to know that they don’t have to like it, they just have to try it. By trying it, they may discover it tastes pretty good.
2. Practice flexible thinking
HealthStart teaches little ones that it’s important always to try something at least once because that’s how our brains grow and get stronger. In HealthStart’s Snack Science Ep. #33, HealthStart Sharon talks all about flexible thinking and how it makes dealing with change or new things a lot easier. Flexible thinking helps us think about something differently, like foods we think we may not like. By being flexible, kids stay open to foods that might otherwise seem scary or unappealing.
3.Try a little bit at a time
Your child may be hesitant to try something new, especially if they see a lot of it on their plate. A big portion of something may discourage them from trying it. That’s why it’s helpful to introduce them to a new food a little bit at a time. Serving small portions will help avoid overwhelming your child. If they like it, they can ask for more!
4. Try and try again
Younger children tend to test out new foods by smelling or touching, and they might even take a bite and spit it right back out. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up. Instead, encourage your child with repeated exposure. For example, one night, you could serve a side of green beans, and the next, you include them in a casserole. It’s also helpful to talk about the particular food’s color, shape, smell, and texture to help your child consider more than the food’s taste.
5. Make it fun
Most likely, your child won’t find plain broccoli as visually appealing as a fun dessert. However, making food in a new way, such as creating beautiful snack art, will help your child be more willing to eat foods like fruits and vegetables. An excellent example of making food fun are these Apple Nachos or Hungry Caterpillar SnacksHungry Caterpillar Snack, which are sure to excite your little one.
6. Pair a familiar food with a new one
Another great way to interest your little one in eating new foods is to incorporate foods they already know and love. A great example is to bring in one of their favorite dips or sauces to eat along with broccoli, carrots, or other veggies. You can even whip up a dip that has veggies mixed right into it like this Spinach Yogurt Dip.
7. Get your kid involved
Kids are much more likely to be willing to try foods if they are involved. Next time you’re at the grocery store, have your child help choose the fruits, vegetables, and proteins that look tasty or interesting to them. You can also take them to local Farmer’s Markets to see foods they might not see at the grocery store or discover fruits and veggies in season. While at home, encourage your child to help wash the fruit and vegetables and prepare snacks or meals.
8. Prepare meals/snacks together
Continue involving your child in the meal process by asking them to help prepare what they will eat. While young children may not be able to help with every task, you can still get them involved. Even the youngest can help pour ingredients in a bowl or mix ingredients together. When they help, they connect to their food and are inspired to eat it since they made it with their own two hands!
HealthStart’s Snack Science YouTube series features various simple snack recipes that even the pickiest of eaters will love. Plus, children as young as five can make them all on their own! Check out Ep. #25 to learn how to make Watermelon Pizza.
9. Be creative
There are tons of ways to incorporate a mixture of foods into your child’s meals. You can get creative by sneaking veggies into dishes like a smoothie or spaghetti sauce. When you add veggies to meals in this way, your child obtains the variety of nutrients they need while being exposed to foods in a new way. You can even be creative with desserts! Try making these yummy and nutritious, Healthy Avocado Brownies to sneak in tons of vitamins, fiber, and even healthy fats.
10. Set a good example
Your child picks up their eating habits from you, so showing them that you are willing to try new foods and make healthy choices is extremely important. When they see you eat healthy foods, you encourage them to do so, and you may even find a new food that you both like!
No matter what tips and tricks you try, just remember that your child’s eating habits won’t change overnight. And that’s ok! It’s the small steps you take each day that will promote a lifetime of healthy living. Let us know which tips you plan to try in the comments below.
Most children going back to school will be learning 100% remotely, at least for the first few school weeks. Many schools will continue remote classes on a parttime basis to ensure proper social distancing. This means fewer engagement opportunities with their teacher and classmates and more responsibility on parents.
A child younger than eight years of age may be clingy and won't necessarily understand the difference between "homework time" and "home-play or mommy time." But there are ways to still engage with your child's learning while also establishing boundaries and instilling in them a sense of independence to complete activities and school work on their own.
Why is parent engagement so critical?
Parent engagement is recognized as one of the largest contributors to success, not only in school but also in life. The U.S. Department of Education reports that only 75 percent of American parents are high or moderately involved in school-related activities. This number continues to drop as children get older. While parental involvement naturally declines as children age and gain more independence, the effect of early, positive influence persists to adulthood.
According to the National Education Association, “Ongoing research shows that family engagement in schools improves student achievement, reduces absenteeism, and restores parents' confidence in their children's education. Students with involved parents or other caregivers earn higher grades and test scores, have better social skills, and show improved behavior.”
7 Ways to Engage With Your Child's Learning
Learn with them
Learning along with your children, is a great way to get involved. This learning approach has shown great value in supporting children, both in terms of school readiness and developing positive, long-term health behaviors. HealthStart has many ways for parents to get involved, such as our HEY! Curriculum parent materials include prompts for students to practice what they've learned at home and family-friendly recipes to make together. We also have a Snack Science Video Series where parents can follow along with their child and learn more about the science behind healthy habits.
Take brain breaks
With most classes meeting virtually right now, learning time may look slightly different, including more screen time and less time to interact and play with their classmates. After sitting still for a while staring at a screen, you may notice your child starts to become restless and lose focus. A great way to help with this is to take mini mindfulness brain breaks. Having your child get up and move around or practice some relaxing breathing techniques can help your child release that nervous energy and refocus.
Just a few minutes will do the trick! Check out our Snack Science video Ep. #16 and get your little ones moving with a fun game called Dance Attack.
Set a designated workspace
Learning from home may make it more difficult for kids to focus. That's why establishing a designated workspace at home is so important. This removes distractions and confusion around when it's time to work. You could use a guest room or a specific corner in the living room, as long as it's a comfortable and quiet place to work, it will help your child stay focused on the task at hand.
Help your child get organized
Children can become easily distracted while learning, but being organized can help them stay sharp and learn better. When your little one understands what to expect, they feel better prepared and tend to stay on task. A great place to start is to review your child's schedule with them and make sure they know what the plan is for the day. Having a set schedule will teach your child about setting priorities, so they get the most important stuff done first. Things like setting a designated time for completing homework and studying will also help them form good studying habits for the future.
Set your child up for success
There are a variety of ways to set your child up for success for each school day. Two of the most important are a nutritious breakfast and sound sleep. These two things will help boost your child's attention, span, concentration, and memory and help them stay ready to learn all day. Try setting a bedtime, so they feel rested and ready for school in the morning. Providing a nutritious breakfast full of fiber, protein, and low in added sugar will fuel your kids and prepare them for the day of learning. In general, kids who eat breakfast have more energy and do better in school. Try this recipe for Sweet Potato Boats: HERE
Lead by example
Another way to be more engaged is by showing them ways you involve what they are learning into your everyday life. When your child sees you reading a book and using math to set a budget, they understand why education is needed. This understanding will help them concentrate on their classwork and make them want to improve their skills.
Sometimes children are afraid of getting in trouble because of bad grades or not understanding something, so they aren't as willing to share that they are having a hard time. That's why experts suggest that parents check in regularly with their child's teacher, so you know how they are doing in class. This awareness helps you and your kid understand where they can improve and how you can help them do better. If you see that your child received a bad grade, resist the urge to get upset with them. Learning from mistakes is an essential part of the process. Instead, go over what they missed and contact their teacher to discuss strategies to help your child do their best in class.
We hope that these tips will help you find ways to engage with your child's learning. Your involvement will help motivate your child to want to do better in school and inspire them for a lifetime of success.
What does parent engagement mean to you? Let us know in the comments below.
When the COVID-19 pandemic caused drastic changes to everyday life, many organizations were faced with the imperative need to evolve. Though this has been an unprecedented time, the dedicated Events Committee of HealthStart Foundation has risen to the challenge.
The organization will be hosting the Cooking 4 Kids Virtual Gala on September 17th at 7 PM CST. The event will include a virtual happy hour, silent auction, and a virtual cooking demonstration led by award-winning Chef Bobo of the Calhoun School in New York City.
Katie Kahn, Events Committee Chair, believes that having a virtual gala creates unique opportunities for HealthStart. “It was a heavily weighted decision to have a virtual gala, but I knew it was not only the responsible decision, but one that gave us a unique opportunity to reach new individuals, companies, and other organizations outside of the Austin area. In hosting a virtual gala, non-Austinites can easily attend and support HealthStart’s critical work,” said Kahn.
HealthStart’s Events Committee has worked hard to make this a one of a kind event that is not to be missed. Throughout the planning process, they have been creative and enthusiastic problem solvers. “We have had to think differently about how to raise money and broaden our reach to continue to make a positive impact on the community during such a challenging time. Additionally, the events committee has really had to come together to reimagine what this year’s gala would look like. This is our first virtual event, so initially, we had to do quite a bit of research to figure out what our approach would be for HealthStart. I am so proud of everyone on the events committee because each person has worked really hard to make this year’s event a success.”
The efforts of the Events Committee have definitely paid off. They have worked hard connecting with businesses and friends to inform them about the importance of HealthStart’s mission and the exciting opportunities the virtual gala has to offer. HealthStart has received a generous and positive response from the community in Austin and around the country. The virtual nature of this event is creating a space to reach beyond the borders of Central Texas. “My hope is that attendees from far and wide fully understand the importance of HealthStart and consider how the foundation can benefit their own communities. I would love to gain new partnerships and re-energize our current supporters,” said Kahn.
This is truly an exciting and unique event. Many people, including Kahn, are looking forward to the event. “I am most excited about connecting everyone who has been so supportive of HealthStart at our virtual event. I am also very excited about watching our headliner, Chef Bobo Surles, in the kitchen! He has been at the forefront of healthy school lunch programs, so watching the expert will be a real treat for everyone who attends. I encourage everyone to visit www.bit.ly/C4KGala to learn more about HealthStart, donate to our cause, and register for our Cooking 4 Kids Virtual Gala.”
It’s August, so that means we’re all trying to get into a back to school routine. Whether your children are starting classes in-person or online, this change in routine really shakes things up. This often means longer days, more responsibilities, and having less time to rest, but a great way to set yourself up for success is by prioritizing sleep.
Sleep makes a huge impact on our health and well-being. During the day, our bodies work hard to make sure we have all the energy we necessary to do the things we need to do. And by the end of the day, our body craves a break. Good, quality sleep allows our body to rest and recover for the next day. Having a regular sleeping schedule can improve sleep quality and prepare us to tackle the day ahead.
What happens if I don’t get enough sleep?
Getting a full night of rest has many benefits for our minds and bodies, so when we don’t get enough sleep, especially quality sleep, it can harm our health.
How much sleep do I need every night?
One of the first steps to getting a good night's rest is to make sure we are sleeping enough. In general, toddlers need around 12-16 hours of sleep, children age three to six require 10-12 hours of sleep, pre-teens age seven to twelve need 10-11 hours, and teenagers and above need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Getting enough sleep isn’t just about the hours slept. The quality of sleep can play a significant role in our ability to perform throughout the day.
What are the benefits of getting enough sleep?
There are many benefits to getting quality sleep each night.
How can I improve my sleep quality?
To enjoy the benefits of getting quality sleep, you might need to adjust your sleeping schedule. Make falling and staying asleep easier by following some of these tips.
What are your tips for a better night’s sleep? Let us know in the comments below!
Have you heard about HealthStart’s Cooking 4 Kids Virtual Gala? On September 17th at 7 pm (CST), award-winning Chef Bobo Surles will be headlining HealthStart’s event. Chef Bobo signed up to support HealthStart because he shares the organization’s mission.
Chef Bobo and HealthStart believe that the best way to ensure adults eat well is to start forming good habits early in life. HealthStart knows that investing in early health education is crucial to building the foundation for a lifetime of wellness. One of the ways HealthStart addresses this is with our school nutrition initiative, What Are YOU Feeding?. This program uses a labeling system that helps kids learn which foods are good for the brain, bones, circulatory system, muscles, and digestive system, connecting what they eat at school to their health.
What Chef Bobo and HealthStart do is critical to the future of young children, especially now. It has never been more important for children to understand how their body works and how to keep it healthy. By learning the importance of good health at an early age and providing families with nutritious and affordable food options, we can help prevent illness and future preventable diseases.
When creating school lunches, Chef Bobo’s motto is “Nutrition, bold flavor, and keeping costs down.” Almost everything he makes for lunches is made from scratch. Despite this, Calhoun’s lunches cost about $3 per meal (this is around the average budget for many public schools), proving that we don’t have to spend large amounts of money to feed ourselves and our families healthy, tasty foods. With the lunch program, they hope to promote a healthier mindset about food and eating behaviors.
Who is Chef Bobo?
Robert Surles (aka Chef Bobo) graduated from the French Culinary Institute. He was hired by Calhoun School to change the way their students saw school lunches. Traditionally, school lunches are not known to be very healthy or delicious, but Chef Bobo helped change that.
Chef Bobo believes that learning how to eat is a life skill. With his help, Calhoun began the Eat Right Now Lunch Program, which provides students with healthier meals and promotes a well-balanced diet. Chef Bobo started by offering food that looked like the processed food students were accustomed to, but instead was made with all fresh ingredients.
“I feel that, automatically, if food is made fresh, from scratch, it’s already healthier and tastes a whole lot better than the processed food they were eating,” says Chef Bobo.
Calhoun’s Eat Right Now program has been a model for healthy school lunches. It brings awareness to the impact of school lunch on children and the lifelong habits they form. This program also extends past the kitchen and tries to help students understand how food relates to their physical and mental well-being and even their success in the classroom.
“When kids return to class after a nutritionally balanced lunch, they have “fuel in the tank” to learn. They tend to be more alert.” says Chef Bobo
When you register for HealthStart’s free virtual event, you can watch and follow along as Chef Bobo cooks up his world-famous and family-friendly Jambalaya!
Chef Bobo's Recipes
Chef Bobo is also the author of the Good Food Cookbook. His cookbook features over 140 healthy, kid-friendly recipes along with tips for healthy eating. All the book recipes are favorites in Calhoun’s lunch program and include a variety of foods and cultures.
The book also includes tips on how to involve the entire family. Bobo is a big believer that cooking can be fun and an excellent way for families to spend quality time together.
“Cooking is fun, creative, and somewhat physical. It requires math skills and strategy, along with planning. Parents need to invite the kids to help them. Give kids some responsibility, i.e., if you are scaling a recipe up or down, let the kids do the math. When the food is finished, let the kids prepare the final presentation. Show them the fun that can be had in the kitchen. Also, I think it’s important to take kids to the farmer’s markets to select foods to prepare.”
Here are a couple of his recipes that will be similar to the ones in his books. Both of these recipes are easy to pack for school lunch and kid-approved.
Not only are quesadilla fun to eat, but they are also quick and easy to make. This vegetable quesadilla gives us the taste of quesadilla that we love while also serving assorted vegetables with high amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Ingredients: 2 small zucchini (cubed), 1 red bell pepper (chopped), 1 medium carrot (grated), 8 (8 inch) corn or flour tortillas, 1 cup of shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese, 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Directions: Place zucchini, bell pepper, carrot, onion, and mushrooms in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water, and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, about 2 to 6 minutes. Place two tortillas, side by side, on the prepared baking sheet. On each tortilla layer, cheddar cheese, vegetables, then Monterey jack cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Top each with another tortilla. Place under the broiler and cook until lightly browned. Carefully turn tortillas and cook on the other side until lightly browned. Remove from the baking sheet and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Cut into quarters and serve. Serves 4 people
Hummus Pitas with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
Chef Bobo’s lunches are mostly made from scratch. Learn how to make your hummus with this Hummus pitas with cucumber yogurt sauce recipe.
2 cans of garbanzo beans, 4 tbsp olive oil, 4 tbsp. Tahini paste, 1 tbsp. Sesame oil, ½ tsp. Cumin, 2 cloves garlic(crushed), juice 2 lemons
Yogurt Sauce Ingredients:
½ cucumber diced, 1 cup of yogurt, ½ tsp. Salt, 2 plum tomatoes (cut into slices), 1 cup of thinly sliced romaine lettuce, 6 pocket whole wheat pitas
Directions: Mix all ingredients for the hummus in a food processor, process until smooth. If too thick, add some water until the hummus is the consistency of soft mashed potatoes.
Stir yogurt sauce ingredients together, set aside.
Heat pitas in a 350°F oven for a few minutes until warmed. Remove, cut in half, and fill with hummus, 2 tbsp of yogurt sauce, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce. Serve the remaining yogurt sauce on the side.
If you like the recipes you see, make sure to join us on September 17 at 7 pm CST to watch Chef Bobo work his magic in the kitchen!
Registration for this event is FREE, so make sure to register to access this exciting opportunity. Our goal is to raise $30,000 to get tablets and learning tools in the hands of 100 low-income families, so they can access the vital information needed to stay healthy and return to school safely. With your support, we can build a healthier future for our children. We hope to see you there!