3 Ways You Can Elevate Your Kids Health Now

A Balanced, Nutritious Diet
If our kids are junk food addicts, it’s on us. As parents, our job is to provide healthy, balanced options at mealtimes as well as throughout the day. And instilling healthy eating habits that foster growth and development early on will go a long way in promoting a healthy relationship with food.  Not sure where to start? A great rule of thumb is to represent each food group at meals (dairy, protein, fruits/vegetables, and whole grains), giving your child the option to eat what they choose. For snacks, combine 2 food groups, such as a cheese stick with an apple, or peanut butter on toast. If your kids are picky, bring them grocery shopping with you to choose healthy foods they’d like to try, and involve them in meal preparation. Most of all, encourage rather than force your kids to try new foods, and keep trying. It often takes repetitive exposure to a new food before a child will embrace it.

Regular Exercise
Our bodies were made to move. As difficult as it can be to get our kids to put down the electronics of their own initiative, their bodies are literally craving movement. Kids who are active for at least 60 minutes a day will not only be stronger, they’ll have a more positive outlook on life. Fulfilling your child’s daily exercise needs can be as simple as going to the playground, participating in a game of tag, or an after-school soccer or swim class. By making movement fun it becomes something our children want to do, and we can set them up for a lifetime of good health, avoiding serious health issues like diabetes and obesity to boot.

Plenty of Sleep
Sleep, an important component of the “health trifecta,” affects our children’s learning, memory, behavior, mental & physical health.  In fact, every single bodily function is optimized by sleep. With sufficient sleep, our kids cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, reproductive, and immune systems are all given a chance to repair, develop, and thrive. On the contrary, getting less sleep needed not only makes our kiddos cranky, it significantly increases their risk of illness and disease. To set your kids up for a solid night of sleep, turn off the electronics 30 minutes to an hour before bed to read together and discuss what you’re grateful for each day.

Sleep Recommendations by age from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
-Infants to 4 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
-Children 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
-Children 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
-Children 6-12 years: 9-12 hours Teenagers 13 to 18 years: 8-10 hours

by Heidi Borst

Allergies and Anxiety: The connection between anxiety and your HVAC System

If you or someone in your home has allergies, you are probably all too familiar with the physical symptoms. Coughing, sneezing, watery eyes and wheezing or shortness of breath are extremely common and can make you feel absolutely miserable. But did you know that allergies, especially seasonal allergies, can also have an impact on your psychological health?

A variety of recent studies show a direct correlation between allergies and anxiety. There are many suspected reasons for this, from the body’s natural response to inflammation to the psychological stress of feeling sick, but the latest research leaves little doubt that those who suffer from allergies are at higher risk for anxiety (though the reverse does not seem to be true).

Fortunately, treating the allergies appears to bring down the anxiety as well. Seeing a doctor for your allergies is always important, but minimizing your exposure to allergens can also help. Properly maintaining your HVAC system is one of the biggest ways that you can lessen allergens in your home, reducing allergy flare-ups and the anxiety that goes with them. In addition, regular HVAC maintenance boosts the lifespan of your system, reduces the risk of expensive breakdowns, and keeps costs down by maximizing efficiency. If your HVAC has reached the end of its useful life, consider replacing it with one of the best furnaces or best air conditioners of 2020.

Image by Shutterstock

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Helping Your Child Develop A Healthy Lifestyle

In today’s society we are always on the go and it can be difficult to engage in the healthiest habits for ourselves and our kids.  These habits are not just about exercise but about what foods we put into our body and the relationship we have with them.  While this is a challenge for us as adults it can be even harder for our kids.  Here are some ways to encourage your kids to make healthy choices.

Talk to your kids about food
As parents you can name things your child likes or will not eat no matter how hard you have tried.  Most of us have not asked them why or how food makes them feel.  How do they feel after they have sugar? It may surprise you that they may say they like candy but feel tired or lousy after.  Then ask them about fruit and vegetables? Helping them compare the way their body feels after eating different things can help them make better food choices.  Keep this conversation going and keep learning together about healthy eating habits.

Have healthy food challenges
Make healthy eating fun! Start food challenges/competitions.  Who can make brownies using sweet potatoes? Who can create the healthiest snack? Kids love their sweet treats, so make it fun.  Show your kids they can still treat themselves but there are substitutes and ways to have sweet treats that are smarter choices for our bodies. Take this time to teach them about moderation.

Get active together
In our busy lives it can be hard to settle into a nice workout routine.  Our kids are also busy with after school activities and then homework.  Going for walks in the park, hiking or biking is great for your health but then also provides opportunities to talk to your kids about school and their lives as well.  When the weather gets cold indoor activities like yoga or charades keeps us moving and engaged with one another.

Remember dance like no one is watching!

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by Jennifer Mandato, LAC

Incorporating Exercise Into Family Activities

We have officially reached that part of the winter when we are in full-on winter mode. Less daylight and cold weather have the tendency to keep us cooped up inside, only leaving the house when it’s necessary. Excess snacking and increased Netflix binging may have become our new hobbies. We know all about the multitude of benefits that come along with regularly moving our bodies. Setting an example for our children by staying active throughout the year will help them grow into healthy, active adults. There are plenty of ways to incorporate movement and exercise into the daily routine.

1.       Consistency is key
Make movement a priority by setting a certain day of the week to participate in some form of movement together as a family. Joining a family bowling league or ongoing family yoga class is a great place to start. Search your local area for options and pick one that everyone in the family is at least willing to try. By having a certain day and time set up, you are holding yourselves accountable. Remember, the movement of chose does not have to be everyone’s favorite, but one that everyone in the family is open minded enough to try.

2.       Choose based on the season
We are currently in the winter season, which does put a limit on exercise options. Don’t forget the health benefits and mental benefits of having a fun day laughing while playing in the snow and sledding as a family. Other winter exercise activities include ice skating, roller skating, and indoor trampoline arenas. Set the tone of the day by showing how excited you are, and remember to model resiliency for your children if your ice skating skills are as strong as you remember them to be… get back up if you fall again! In the warmer months, something as simple as taking the dog for a long walk in the park together as a family is a great option.

3.       Simple choices add up
Decide to take the stairs instead of the elevator and see who makes it up the quickest. Select a parking spot in the back of the parking lot and enjoy the extra time outside in the fresh air. Making it a habit to take an after-dinner stroll as a family will lead to your kids automatically taking part in this activity.

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by Nicole Filiberti

How can I get my toddler with special needs to eat healthier?

Q: I have a child with special needs (Autism Spectrum Disorder). How do I get him to try new foods when he has issues with texture? When I try to get him to eat different types of veggies or fruits he will gag. His weight is normal and he is tall for his age but I worry because he doesn’t seem to eat enough. Thank you.

A: Know that every mother worries that her child may not be eating enough, but you may want to shift your focus from quantity to quality.  What is the quality of the foods that he eats? Does he eat some fruits and vegetables and the bulk is carbs? Is he able to handle some sources of protein.  If so, you are in good shape. Or is he eating primarily from one general food group?  This may limit the nutrients that he needs to keep his insides healthy.

Think about the array of foods that your son eats – what does his menu look like from day to day? Does he have an array from foods that he can tolerate?  If there is a particular texture that he enjoys, then try to bring in new foods and textures using that as your stable texture by which to introduce new ones.  By that I mean, if your son likes the texture of applesauce, then you may want to introduce a new food, such as carrots along side the applesauce.  Your son already has a good association with the applesauce and may be more accepting of the carrots if they sit beside the applesauce. You may even encourage him to dip the carrot in the applesauce!

Also, if he likes the texture of applesauce, how about introducing him to a similar texture, such as tomato sauce, a cream of broccoli/mushroom soup or yogurt? Many mothers have been able to sneak in extra vitamins and minerals by pureeing healthy vegetables and adding them to tomato sauce that is served over pasta! You can find these type of recipes in books such as Deceptively Delicious   or The Sneaky Chef.

Another mommy-strategy is to alter the texture of some fruits and vegetables by baking or cooking them. For example, if your son is turned off by a hard apple, how about baking it so that it’s softer and easier to chew and swallow? If a hard carrot is too much work or is just not appealing, how about boiling up some carrot coins? Also, if he likes a particular condiment, such as ketchup, mustard or a particular type of salad dressing, add a dollop of that next to the new vegetable and let him experiment with the flavor by using a familiar one that he likes, and just happens to be sitting right there on his plate… or at least nearby!

Another thing to keep in mind as well is that your son may not be interested in a new food/texture right away. He may need 10-15 exposures (that is, just placing it on the dinner table or on his plate) before he is interested in trying it. Don’t turn it into a power struggle – expose him to the new food/texture and let him explore it. He may poke at it, smoosh it between his fingers or squeeze it in his hand. Just watch and try to stay neutral about it.  You may want to ask him how it feels in his hand and wait to see if he progresses to placing the new food/texture in his mouth as another form of exploration. He may surprise himself and you and actually like it!

It’s very easy to get frustrated or impatient if you find that your efforts are not well received by your son, but know that it will take time for your son to accept a new food/texture. Try to avoid threatening, bribing, begging, or demanding that he try a new food. Let it be his choice, which also puts him in a position of control.  Introduce a new food/texture once every 3-4 weeks and keep exposing your son to the new food several times during that time. You may find it helpful to maintain a log of which new food you have introduced, when, how often, the way you prepared it, and your son’s response to it.  Keep this log and refer to it as you will begin to see patterns in your son’s preferences. This may be helpful in deciding which new flavor or texture to introduce next.

Image by: Pexels

by Dr. Liz Matheis, Ph.D

Smartphones, tablets causing mental health issues in kids as young as two

Children as young as two are developing mental health problems because of smartphones and tablets, scientists warn.

Just an hour a day staring at a screen can be enough to make children more likely to be anxious or depressed.

This could be making them less curious, less able to finish tasks, less emotionally stable and lowering their self-control, the DailyMail reports.

Although teenagers are most at risk from the damaging devices, children under the age of 10 and toddlers’ still-developing brains are also being affected.

But research shows ‘zombie’ children spend nearly five hours every day gawping at electronic devices.
Researchers from San Diego State University and the University of Georgia say time spent on smartphones is a serious but avoidable cause of mental health issues.

“Half of mental health problems develop by adolescence,” professors Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell said. “There is a need to identify factors linked to mental health issues that are [able to be changed] in this population, as most are difficult or impossible to influence. How children and adolescents spend their leisure time is [easier] to change.”

Parents and teachers must cut the amount of time children spend online or watching television while they’re studying, socialising, eating or even playing sport.

Professor Twenge said her study, one of the biggest of its kind, backs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ established screen time limit – one hour per day for children aged two to five. It also suggests a similar limit – perhaps two hours – should be applied to school-aged children and adolescents, she added.

Image by: nzherold.co.nz

by nzherald.co.nz

Promoting a Healthy Diet

Among the many other things parents can help instill in their children, a healthy diet could easily rank as one of the most important habits. Healthy diets have many positive effects on both physical and mental health. Starting some habits for children to learn when they are young can set the tone for their entire lives. Here are some tips to utilize:

1. Variety is the spice of life! Don’t be afraid to try new fruits and vegetables. You can even have your children each pick out one item from the produce department and then find out how to prepare it. Let them be part of the process and show them that trying new things can  be fun and rewarding!

2. Keep the house stocked with healthy items. You don’t have to totally avoid buying processed foods, but try to keep a lot of whole unprocessed foods, such as nuts, fresh fruit and carrot sticks with yummy dips easily accessible in the house. For children, seeing these items regularly and having access to them helps foster healthier choices.

3. Be a role model. Remember that our kids are like sponges, absorbing our habits and routines whether you realize it or not. Show them that it is good to be open minded about food and to try new things. Eat a variety of healthy food and set the expectation that they will do the same. Keep a positive attitude about food and diet. Remind your children about the connection between what we put in our mouths and the state of our health.

Use these tips to foster some life long healthy eating habits in your children. Food is something that affects our every day lives, so sticking to certain habits in this area is significant. With some effort on your end, having children who pick nutritious choices is certainly possible.

Source:
— https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/habits.html

​Photo from: Pexels

by Nicole Filiberti, MSW, LCSW

Lady Gaga Writes Powerful Op-Ed About Suicide And Mental Health Stigma

“Lady Gaga is lending her powerful voice to another urgent cause.

The ‘A Star Is Born’ actress partnered with Dr. Tedros Adhanom, director general of the World Health Organization, in a moving op-ed for The Guardian calling for an end to the stigmatization of mental health services.

“Stigma, fear and lack of understanding compound the suffering of those affected and prevent the bold action that is so desperately needed and so long overdue,” the two wrote in a joint piece titled “800,000 People Kill Themselves Every Year. What Can We Do?” 

by Cole Delbyck on Huffington Post

Take Every Precaution: Car Maintenance and Safety Tips for New Parents

When you’re a new parent, your safety “radar” is always on high alert. Anything that could possibly represent a safety hazard for your child is suddenly magnified. A shoe left on the floor, a screen door that’s slightly ajar, small toys — they’re all matters for concern. As such, it makes sense to pay the same level of attention to a child’s safety in your car. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye to even the safest, most conscientious driver, so pay extra attention to safety precautions and auto maintenance to minimize the risk of accident while you’re driving.

Car Seat Safety
Selecting the right child safety seat for your little one is the first, most basic step in protecting your child. There are several factors to consider, including size, whether it fits well and snugly in the back seat, and has good safety ratings. It’s a myth that any seat will fit in any type of vehicle — it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation — so pay close attention before entrusting your infant’s safety to a seat that isn’t a good fit. If you aren’t sure, ask someone at the nearest fire department or police station to inspect your seat and help you make any necessary adjustments.

Brakes
No car can be considered truly safe if there’s an issue with the brakes. Well-functioning brakes are crucially important when you find yourself having to stop unexpectedly. Nonetheless, drivers often ignore this vital safety feature unless something is clearly wrong, such as shaking or vibrating or a high-pitched squealing noise is evident when the brakes are applied. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor: Make sure your brake pads are in good shape and replace old ones when they’ve clearly worn down. It’s one part of your vehicle that absolutely must be in excellent condition when there’s a little one in the back seat.

Mirrors
So much of driving safety depends on good, 360-degree vision. That’s why well-positioned mirrors — rear view and on both sides of the car — are so important. Mirrors have a way of being moved or knocked into and thrown out of adjustment, so always take a moment to check each one before heading into traffic. While you’re at it, make sure to install a back seat mirror that lets you keep an eye on a little one without having to move the rear view mirror out of position or take your eyes off the road, which you should never do while driving. Back seat mirrors can be purchased through most retailers, including Amazon and Target.

Alignment, Tires, and Rudimentary Maintenance
It’s a wise idea to have your tires rotated whenever you have an oil change. Many garages will do this for a minimal charge (some for free), so it’s well worth it, especially when you consider the wear and tear tires undergo. Also, pay close attention to your steering alignment and have it corrected if it feels off. These are simple maintenance issues that can make a major difference when you’re in heavy traffic or wet weather — sometimes avoiding an accident comes down to a matter of inches and how well your car responds in a dangerous situation. At times like that, simple maintenance can pay off handsomely.

Just like in your home, keeping a little one safe in your car is all about anticipation and preparation. Stay ahead of regular maintenance issues and be very careful about the booster seat you choose for your child. You can’t be too safe when it comes to your kids.

Image courtesy of Pexels.com

by Daniel Sherwin from DadSolo.com
"The various psycho-educational testing Dr. Liz conducted on our son gave us critical clues about where his learning strengths and weaknesses lie so that his needs could be better addressed at home and school. Moreover, because of their warm, kindhearted personalities, both Dr. Liz and her associate, Stephanie, formed an immediate bond with my son. He eagerly looks forward to his weekly therapy sessions. We are so lucky Dr. Liz came into our family's lives when she did! For stressed-out families trying to help their children as best they can, she is a calming voice of reason!"
- Julie C.
"Dr. Matheis has a remarkable ability to understand the unique needs of her patients and address them constructively. She builds strong, meaningful relationships with patients and their families, encouraging trust and collaboration. When working with my son who struggles with autism-related anxiety, she created an environment in which he was able to calm down and open up to her in ways I had not seen before. She was able to reach him and helped him work through his crisis/problem. Most importantly, she empowered him to move forward."
- N.L.
"Dr. Matheis is amazing. She has tremendous resources and loads of energy. She is not willing to accept anything less than the most effective results for her clients. She made me feel as if my son was her top priority throughout the entire process. I would, without reservation, give her my highest recommendations.  Thank you, Dr. Matheis!"
- Anonymous
"Dr. Matheis has an amazing ability to read kids and connect with them. She has been an invaluable resource for our family over the past several years and has helped us with everything from educational consulting, to uncovering diagnoses as well as family therapy. Working with Dr. Matheis never feels clinical and most importantly, our children love and trust her. We can not thank you enough Dr. Liz!"
- Anonymous
"My teenage son had been seeing Dr. Matheis through his senior year of high school, as he was only diagnosed with ADHD at 16 years old.  Dr. Matheis came highly recommended from our pediatrician and she has done wonders for our son as well as our family, navigating new ways for him to deal with his diagnosis without the use of medication.  She taught him ways to organize himself and even when something did not work for him, she patiently continued teaching him new ways to keep himself on track.  She has also helped us as parents to understand how his mind works so that we did not continue to blame his lack of focus on him, rather on his unique way of thinking.  Thank you Dr. Matheis!!!!"
- LG
"Dr. Liz is the best! Our family was directed to her by our Pediatrician to assist with figuring out severe mood changes, severe anxiety, strange new fears and food aversion that had come onto one of our children literally overnight. After just a couple of visits, she suggested that the issues may actually be rooted in a physical issue and suggested we immediately take our child to be swabbed for strep, because Dr. Liz suspected PANDAS (a pediatric autoimmune disorder brought on by strep). The same Pediatrician that suggested Dr. Liz would not do the swab (they do not believe in PANDAS and we no longer go there) but I took my child to my doctor who did the swab and it was positive for strep. When our child went on antibiotics, within 24 hours all symptoms went away and our child was back :-) Dr. Liz then recommended a PANDAS specialist who helped us and our child is in complete remission and is happy and healthy. We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Liz for her knowledge of all things, even the most remote and unusual and for helping us so much! Thank you!"
- Anonymous
"The various psycho-educational testing Dr. Liz conducted on our son gave us critical clues about where his learning strengths and weaknesses lie so that his needs could be better addressed at home and school. Moreover, because of their warm, kindhearted personalities, both Dr. Liz and her associate, Stephanie, formed an immediate bond with my son. He eagerly looks forward to his weekly therapy sessions. We are so lucky Dr. Liz came into our family's lives when she did! For stressed-out families trying to help their children as best they can, she is a calming voice of reason!"
- Anonymous
"Thank you, Dr. Liz. Although we have told you countless times, it will never feel enough. You have listened when J could barely speak and continued to listen when he was sad, angry and confused. You've challenged him and directed us in our roles as parents. You've helped J face his fears while the list evolved and changed, and yet you've stayed committed to 'the course.' We pray that your children realize that time away from them is spent helping children learn and that vulnerability is a sign of strength and bravery."
- June I
"My son was admitted to an Ivy League school when only 2 years ago, you assessed him and saw his struggles, his Dyslexia. We are grateful that he no longer has to carry that deep feeling of inadequacy or shame that must have kept him so self conscious and from reaching his potential. He has the PERFECT program for him. He has A's in high math and economics. He became a Merit Scholar, a Boys State legislature, the HEAD captain of the football team and help a job ALL while studying and managing his classes and disability. I am PROUD of you, a young doctor, who knows and sees the vulnerability of children and helps them recognize "it's NO big deal" God bless."
- Anonymous

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