Laleh Vakili, DMD

Healthy Holiday Eating Guide for Kids

Holiday stress stats show that almost 70% of Americans feel short on time during the often chaotic, celebratory end-of-year stretch. And when we are rushed, stressed, and busy, our health—oral and overall—seems to be the first casualty. As parents, what are you doing to ensure your kids’ health is protected as they deck the halls this year?

Get ahead before the festivities ramp up and schedules get crazy and make a plan now. Set aside a few minutes to intentionally form a healthy eating plan that will keep your kids’ energy levels stable, their oral health on point, and their immune systems in check. Use these fun and doable tips to sketch out a plan.

Get creative. Studies show that kids eat twice as much fruit if it is presented to them in an appealing way. In other words, make it look good. Don’t simply cut up an apple and expect them to gobble down every slice. Go the extra mile to create fruit kabobs, or melon cut-outs with cookie cutters. Children will find joy in the creating and take pride in the eating.

Simple suggestion: If nothing else, always have a bowl of fruit accessible, especially for older kids. Scientists believe that seeing food increases the chances we will eat it. So, keep the cookies out of sight while making the fruit easy to grab.

Make it a game. Kids love a project, and by giving them a job, you’ll make them feel important while distracting them from what you’re really trying to do: ensure they eat a nutritious diet. Tell your kids that the assignment is to track the colors of the food they eat each day. They can design their own chart or print out this one. Tell them that the goal is to eat 4 different colors a day. Extra colors earn extra points.

Simple suggestion: Remember that eating a variety of colorful foods is key to boosting maximum nutrition, so do your family a favor and plan your shopping list accordingly. A colorful diet requires some intentional planning. That’s your job.

Redefine dessert. The secret to successfully changing up dessert is to do this without the kids knowing. If done right, they’ll love your new desserts and never miss, or even notice, the lack of refined sugar. Cleverly substitute homemade fruit smoothies (frozen fruit, a banana, and milk) for ice cream. Warm apples in a pan and sprinkle with cinnamon. Drizzle strawberries with dark chocolate. The options are endless.

Simple suggestion: The trick to serving fruit for dessert with ease is having it on hand all the time. This removes half the hassle, making it a new easy habit. Every time you grocery shop, make the produce section your first stop.

Drafting a nutritious eating plan now will not only benefit your family’s health this season but also give you a head start before the new year begins. Take a few minutes. Your family will thank you.

Happy holidays! And happy healthy eating! Dr. Vakili and team

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Healthy Summertime Snacks for the Whole Family

Right about now, we are all knee-deep in summer. And from campouts and bike rides to river rafting and beach trips, just about every outdoor activity requires a tasty treat. As you’re packing your picnic baskets and ice chests, mindful of your child’s health, both oral and overall, what are you mindfully making sure to include? What are you tossing in without much thought? Which items are causing you to cringe because they’re chock-full of all the no-no’s?

With the kids out of school and hanging around home more than normal, it seems like they are always hungry, constantly eating, emptying our cupboards at an alarming rate. Whether you’re out on an adventure or lounging around the house, Dr. Vakili recommends you stock up on what’s healthy.

The Why Behind Healthy Summer Snacks

If your kids catch on to your healthy summer eating plan and whine and complain, here are some simple one-liners that you can dish out. Help your children understand that:

Eating healthy will:

  • help you get big and strong — your body is growing quickly right now.
  • give you extra energy on the lake, on the hike, as you paddle, in the pool, etc.
  • keep you from getting sick and missing out on all the fun summer activities. prevent cavities that can be painful and lead to infection

Healthy Snack Alternatives

We know the drill. Kids love sweets, and since it’s summertime, they feel like they’re entitled to more treats than we usually allow. So it is up to us to have on hand more healthy options that help curb their craving for sugary treats. Let’s face it. Some things are just best out of sight and out of mind. Resist filling your fridge and freezer with ice cream and soda. Walk right past the chip and cookie aisles. We’ve compiled a list of healthy alternatives that will surely satisfy ever-hungry kids.

 Apple slices—dip in yogurt or peanut butter.
 Cheese cubes with your favorite veggies or fruit
 Fruit kebobs—thread bananas, cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes, kiwis, etc. onto a skewer.
 Homemade frozen yogurt—make a smoothie with your favorite fruits or freeze store-bought yogurt.
 Carrot or celery sticks—dip in hummus or guacamole.
 Whole grain crackers and cheese.
 Bowls of cashews, peanuts, almonds, raisins, and sunflower kernels.
 Watermelon—insert popsicle sticks into slices and stick in the freezer.
 Drink lots of water or milk to stay hydrated

Teeth-Friendly Snacks

When it comes to taking care of your kids’ pearly whites, foods high in calcium that promote strong teeth, low in sugar that ward off decay, and full of water that aid in rinsing away bacteria all contribute to excellent oral health. It may take a little extra thought and effort upfront, but in the long run, you’ll have happier, healthier smiles on your kids.

Have a great summer!!
Dr. Vakili & team

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