Dr. Mom’s Tips to Start The New School Year Off With Better Eating Habits

Children need a wide variety of foods to meet their nutritional needs for growth and hormonal balance, as well as foods that fuel the brain to help them pay attention in school. But parents often complain to me that their kids won’t eat anything healthy because they are picky eaters. As a mother of three children, I am sympathetic. But I also remind them that it is the parents, not the children, who pay for the food at the grocery store checkout. If our children are picky eaters it’s because of us!

School lunches and the “Kid’s Menu” at restaurants complicate the issue. They often consist of grilled cheese, cheese pizza and “mac and cheese.” These commercially prepared foods fill your child’s stomach, but provide absolutely no health benefits. Green vegetables or quality proteins are nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, a diet filled with white flour, white sugar, white rice, concentrated juices, food coloring, sucralose (i.e. Splenda), aspartame (i.e. Nutrasweet), and high fructose corn syrup can lead to your children suffering with a slew of allergies, attention issues, skin rashes and/or constipation.

Studies show that dietary habits forged in childhood are likely to persist into adulthood, so the lessons we teach our children about eating can last throughout their lifetime. It’s never too late for you to reform your own eating habits, and create a healthier future for your children.

Make the changing of eating habits a back-to-school project for your entire family. Keep in mind, the process begins with changing YOUR mindset and YOUR habits so that you can help expand your children’s food horizons. Have a family meeting to discuss the benefits of healthy eating. When everyone believes that they’re capable of “learning to like new foods,” the change can begin. Drop the label “picky eaters” and start referring to your children as “good eaters.” With your assistance and consistency, they’ll soon grow into that new moniker.

Nutrition is essential

The goal is to make sure your children’s meals include good fats, quality proteins, green vegetables and unrefined complex carbohydrates. The right kinds of fats are super important, because they’re essential for proper brain function. Good sources of essential fatty acids (EFAs) are raw almonds or raw walnuts; grass fed meats and eggs; avocados, organic poultry; sustainably caught, cold water fish, such as salmon, tuna and trout, avocado and flax seeds. When cooking, only use unrefined and organic olive or coconut oil.

Cooking? Yes. The first and most important step you must take to change your family’s eating  habits is to prepare the majority of your meals at home. Save restaurant eating for special occasions, or limit it to one time per week. Keep the made-at-home meals simple – baked or grilled poultry, meat or fish; a green salad, and steamed or blanched veggies with a dipping sauce. If you serve a grain, use brown rice, or experiment with higher protein grains like quinoa. Involve your children in the food preparation process. In that way, they’ll not only begin to learn to cook, they’ll grow to understand that the time spent making meals is also an act of love.


Five Easy Steps for Enhancing Your Child’s Ability to Do Well in School

1.     Start the day off with protein. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Consider omelets, boiled eggs, yogurt with fruit, cottage cheese with fruit, almond butter on sprouted toast, or a slice of almond banana bread (see recipes). Eating small portions of protein throughout the day, such as raw nuts, keeps your child’s energy balanced throughout the day.

2.     Drink lots of water. The brain is comprised of about 80% water. Increasing your child’s water intake to a minimum of four to eight, 8-ounce glasses of filtered water every day will improve every function of their body – from energy level to brain function. Sodas, Gatorade, tea, slurpies, etc., are liquids, but are not the same as water. Water is essential to the body’s optimal function.

3.     Prepare healthy lunches and after-school snacks; make dinner a family affair: Purchase insulated lunch bags for your children and send them off to school with the nutritional punch they’ll need to get through the day. Need ideas? See the article titled 10 Healthy Snack Ideas, some of which can be used for lunch. Make dinner a family affair – get everyone involved in the preparation.

4.     Spend time outdoors: Spend at least 30 minutes outdoors every day, either exercising together or playing together.

5.   Make time for rest: When we rest, is when the body is restored. Children need much more sleep than adults. Make sure your children get at least nine or 10 hours every night, and watch those grades rise!

Follow these steps, and you’ll see a marked change in the health and well-being of your entire family. Get started today!

 Back-to-School Family Challenge

How would you like to see your family’s photo or story featured on the PureBalance Facebook  Page, or even the PureBalance Health Center website? Follow the “Five Easy Steps” outlined in Dr. Mom’s article, Enhancing Your Children’s Ability to Do Well in School,” and submit your story to [email protected] by September 10th!


Tips for keeping your children (and yourself) well-hydrated this summer


Tips for keeping your children (and yourself) well-hydrated this summer

By Dr. Ingrid Maes

AKA “Dr. Mom”

In the midst of this summer’s heat wave, the question concerned mothers most frequently ask is what their children should drink to stay cool and hydrated. They want to know if soda or pop is OK to drink, or whether they should give their kids sports drinks.

My advice: Ignore the TV commercials and sports-world hype! Forget about soda (including diet) and sports drinks. They are loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavorings and excess calories. It takes more than an hour of strenuous activity for highly-trained athletes to deplete their stores of electrolyte and glycogen that sports drinks are purported to restore, and most children don’t engage in that type of demanding workout. That’s why the number one drink to rehydrate the body is still H2O – water!

Why water? Water is the most important nutrient for life. It has many important functions including regulating temperature, lubricating joints and transporting nutrients and waste throughout the body. Unlike animals, our bodies don’t store water. That’s why it’s important to encourage our children to drink plenty of it throughout the day, not just after a baseball, soccer or lacrosse game.

Is room temperature or cold water the best way to re-hydrate? It depends on the circumstances. If your child has been playing outside in record temperatures and sweating profusely, he or she will need cool water to help the body restore its balance. Otherwise, room temperature water won’t shock the body’s systems and it will be able to rehydrate faster. (Vets recommend you can help your pets stay cool by filling their water dishes frequently with fresh cool water, not ice-cold.)  

Is Coconut water a good alternative?

Coconut water, the juice from young, green coconuts, has been marketed as nature's great hydrator, the all-natural alternative to electrolyte-replenishing sports drinks. An independent laboratory, ConsumerLab (https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/coconut-water-one-vita-coco-zico-review/coconut-water/), tested three prominent coconut water brands and found that only one, Zico Natural Pure Premium Coconut Water, had an electrolyte content equal to popular sports drinks. Sodium, an electrolyte commonly lost through sweat, is the key ingredient here. According to ConsumerLab, Zico has 160 milligrams of sodium per serving compared to sports drinks such as original Gatorade, which contains about 110 miligrams of sodium per cup. The two other coconut water brands tested by ConsumerLab contained less sodium and magnesium than advertised.

You can also include high-water-content foods, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, jicama, celery, carrots or melons, in your daily meal planning to help your family stay well-hydrated. These fruits and vegetables are excellent additional water sources, as well as nutritious snacks. Keep an abundant supply of cut-up fruits and veggies in your fridge so they are ready to be eaten whenever hunger strikes.

Other options

After playing outdoors or exercising, if you or your children require a bit of a pick-me-up, there are other options. Recent studies have shown that some solid foods, such as bananas and raisins, may be just as effective for sustaining performance and restoring the electrolyte balance of hard-working athletes. And with the extra benefits of fiber, vitamins and antioxidants, these fruits may better complement a complete nutrition and fitness plan. And check out the “Workout Recovery” smoothie in our recipes section

Because liquids are absorbed better and replenish the body quicker, when it comes to your children you may want to stick with fluids to rehydrate their bodies. If your children don’t drink enough water, you can mix it up by substituting the following easy, all-natural and healthy “sports drink” recipes:

All-Natural Sports Drink – Lemon Flavor:                                   

  • 1/4 c. honey (optional)
  • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (not from concentrate)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  •  1 tsp (175 mg) ionic magnesium citrate (you can pick up Natural Calm magnesium at the PureBalance Apothecary)
  • 2 quarts water or coconut water(Zico*)

Mix well in high-speed blender. Makes a little over 2 quarts (64 ounces).

*Note: If you use Zico coconut water, eliminate magnesium and sea salt.

All-Natural Sports Drink – Cranberry-Pomegranate Flavor:

  • 2 c. 100% juice cranberry-pomegranate juice (not from concentrate)
  • 1/4c. honey (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp (175 mg) ionic magnesium citrate* (you can pick up Natural Calm magnesium at the PureBalance Apothecary)
  • 2 quarts water or coconut water(Zico*)

Mix well in high-speed blender. Makes 2-½ quarts (80 ounces).

*Note: If you use Zico coconut water, eliminate magnesium and sea salt.

The best way to prevent dehydration is to make sure your kids get plenty of fluids (even when they’re not thirsty) when playing with friends or engaging in sports outside!

Signs of Dehydration:

If your child is sweating a lot on a hot day or during intense physical activity, watch for signs of dehydration, which can include:

  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Dry, cool skin

Take immediate action – drink cool water and get to a shaded area. In the case of nausea, vomiting or fever, your child may require emergency medical attention.