Dietician Q & A: eating more nutritiously

Here are some tips from Heather Kissner, a dietician at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital &Regional Medical Center, on how families on the run can eat more nutritiously:

What three tips do you give parents?

  • The timing of meals and snacks is important. If they’re going longer than three to four hours without eating, they may actually overeat at the next meal or snack. If that happens often it can contribute to weight gain.
  • People don’t know when they’re hungry and full because they’re so used to being overfull.
  • Choose food from various food groups. For snack time have crackers and cheese or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. At meal times choose one item from three to four food groups. For breakfast you could have cereal with milk, a piece of fruit and a piece of toast.

How can parents provide healthy snacks when kids go directly from school to other events?

I recommend that parents pack a snack in their child’s backpack or bring something with them so they don’t have to use vending machines, concession stands or convenience stores.

What do you recommend?

Crackers and cheese, a turkey sandwich, cheese, peanut butter, fresh fruit, granola bars, dried fruit or trail mix.

What are the obstacles to healthy family eating?

The fast pace of life. Try to plan ahead. On weekends, when they can prepare larger amounts of food, try batch cooking. That helps get through a few meals a week.

What are common misconceptions about food?

When children start to gain weight, they need to go on a diet. I try to let them know all foods can work into a healthy eating plan. Once you set a restriction on a food, it makes that food all the more desirable. So letting parents know that there’s not good foods vs. bad, but “more often” and “less often” foods.

So what are those?

More often: Fruits, vegetables, whole foods, less-processed foods, low-fat milk and cheese, breads, rice, pasta, beans, nuts and eggs.

Less often: Processed meats, bacon, sausage, whole milk, pastries, doughnuts, potato chips, fried foods and chicken nuggets.

What about using food as a reward?

There was a (boy) I met with, he was a very active child. If he hit home runs, he would get Krispy Kremes. That was his reward.

We came up with an idea: If he hit home runs, the parents would take him to a batting cage.

If you get good grades … instead of ice cream, pizza parties or a trip to McDonald’s, say, ‘We’ll go to the park tomorrow.’ Give them a jump rope or hackey sac.

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