Category Archives: Healthy Kids

Be a Healthy School Lunch VIP

When school lets back in after the winter break, it’s a great time to revamp lunch. Every parent wants to set their child up for a successful day at school. Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but lunchtime can be the second wind! Treat your little genius like the VIP they are by packing their lunch with variety, involvement, and preparation.

Variety isn’t just the spice of life, it’s the key to an adventurous palate, too! Some kids thrive on routine, and who doesn’t know a kid who seems to survive on PB&J for just about every meal?  Variety doesn’t have to mean new; in fact, younger students may find a lunchbox that is too “interesting” to be a stressful moment in their school day. Include healthy versions of foods your child likes and has eaten before. Just about anything can be “healthified” these days: switch out white bread for whole grain, use natural peanut butter instead brands with added sugar, and use all-natural preserves on that PB&J (and a lot less of it).

Variety also means pulling from different food groups. Each lunch should include a good balance of carbohydrate (whole grains, fruits, vegetables), protein (lean meat, school-approved nuts, hard-boiled eggs), and fat (low-fat cheese, nut butters, or hummus are good options).

The next step is involvement. Ask your kids what they want for lunch, and work together to find the healthiest version of it at your grocery store. Check the seasonal fruit and vegetable list from Fresh from Florida and let your child choose one from each list for their lunch that week.  When kids feel that they are heard, they are much more likely to eat the lunch you pack.

The final ingredient is preparation. Just an hour of preparation on a Sunday afternoon can save many a hectic weekday morning or evening trying to prepare for the day ahead. Before you put that carton of blueberries away, grab five snack-sized baggies and put a handful in each one. Helping hands can make a healthy trail mix of raisins, whole-grain crackers, and sunflower seeds, and store them in the pantry to be tossed into lunch bags as needed. The time spent on this extra-credit assignment will really pay off when it’s time to cram!

Your kid is a VIP! Treat him like one by packing a lunch that will go from classroom to playground with energy to spare. Before you know it, you’ll all be at the head of the class!  Continue reading Be a Healthy School Lunch VIP

Helping Kids Make New Year Goals

Raising confident, smart, healthy, and happy kids doesn’t come easily. It takes focus, love, selflessness, and discipline. And, it takes goals! Setting goals is nothing new for adults; from work to workout we are almost always in goal mode. But for kids, goal-setting can seem more abstract.
The new year is a great time to introduce kids to the concept of making goals. Focusing on the positive aspect of a goal to achieve, rather than a resolution to change something, keeps the activity age-appropriate and fun. The popular and effective SMART goal setting technique is a great way to help kids set great goals.
Before you start, remember the importance of letting your kid’s goals be their goals, not yours. Sit back, listen to what they have to say, and think about how you can help them be successful! The first step is helping them create a SMART goal:
S- Specific: Help kids be specific by adding numbers to the goal. For example, instead of saying, “I want to read,” say, “I want to read 30 books by summer break,” or “I want to read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.”

M- Measurable:Help your child decide how they will track their goal to determine if they have achieved it. How many minutes per day or week will they work on their goal?

A- Achievable:Setting achievable goals is important for adults and kids. Encourage a challenge, but don’t set your child up for failure by letting them set a goal that is too hard, or set them up for a let-down when the goal is too easy.
R- Reward: In some SMART goal settings, R stands for Realistic. With kids, R can also stand for Reward. Think of a realistic reward to motivate them to work for a tough goal. And remember, sometimes personal satisfaction is it’s own reward!
T- Timely:Talk to your kids about the time it will take to reach a goal, and mark mid-way points on a calendar. Try to set goals that can be achieved in a few weeks, and then add goals that take longer. The older the child, the longer they will be able to plan ahead.

Setting goals together as a family is a great way to bond, support each other, and model healthy habits. Talk about each letter as it relates to your goal, and incorporate a vision board collage to help them visualize the goal in action. Put it in their room and talk about it during the year! I hope your 2014 is filled with fun, happiness, and health. Get started on it today! Continue reading Helping Kids Make New Year Goals

Great Family Hikes in Tallahassee

As temperatures cool off, Tallahassee families head outside! The beauty of our region is known for its hills and wooded parks and forests, and these are perfect places to get out of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, get some fresh air, and connect with each other and the world around us! Tallahassee is rich with hikes that are close by and easy for kids to manage, as well. Check out one of these trails this holiday season!

Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park
Known as Phipps Park and encompassing 670 acres along the shores of Lake Jackson, this is the city of Tallahassee’s largest urban park. Phipps Park has hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails and is part of the Florida Trail System. Its trails are made up of three stacked loops, each increasing in difficulty and length, so choose the best one for your starting level and then challenge yourself!

Wakulla Springs
Wakulla Springs is more than just swimming and boat rides! The Wakulla Springs Trail offers up to 10 miles of hiking in a loop that showcases a few different terrains and habitats. A new bridge over Sally Ward Spring Run provides access to the uplands along the far side of the Wakulla River, where ancient trees tower over the hardwood forest. Follow the signs to complete the 10-mile loop, or create your own out-and-back hike.

Leon Sinks Geological Area
Just south of town in the Apalachicola National Forest is the Leon Sinks Geological Area. At Leon Sinks, you’ll see pools of water in a variety of colors at the bottom of deep sinkholes, then see them seemingly disappear and reappear later in a spring. It can be a scavenger hunt of nature. The trail system is rugged but fun, and perfect for kids who like adventure!

Mission San Luis
Dating back to 1656, Mission San Luis is now a living history museum offering educational events but also a nature trail. Located near FSU, it definitely feels like you’re stepping back in time even though you’re in the middle of the action. The nature trail is perfect for little ones, as it is short and easy and includes fun interactive exhibits at the Mission.

Florida Caverns State Park
If you’re up for getting out of town, head to Florida Caverns State Park! It includes the Caverns Trail System, an interconnected group of nature trails that surround the big cave. Step off of the paved path and into the forest to take part of seven short hiking trails on limestone bluffs above the floodplain of the Chipola River. This trail even includes the Tunnel Cave, the only place in Florida where a hiking trail goes through a cave!
 
Hiking Considerations for Kids
When hiking with kids, think safety first. Make sure they are wearing sturdy and supportive shoes, as many trails are laced with tree branches and roots, and to help with climbing hills. Dress children and yourself in layers so you can easily adapt to Florida’s quick shifts in weather. Pack more water than you think you need – dehydration occurs even when it’s cold outside! And, pack a snack like granola bars, dried fruit, and crackers to replenish your energy and fuel another day on the trails!
 
Have a great holiday season seeing a part of Tallahassee that is often forgotten. It can be the great escape that turns out to be the best gift of all. Continue reading Great Family Hikes in Tallahassee