Health & Wellness Blog

    

Healthy Snacking Tips for Kids

To say there is a health problem epidemic in the United States is a mild understatement. The obesity problem is significant and becoming all the more so each day as Americans continue to eat poorly. Unfortunately, this problem is also growing at an alarming rate amongst our kids. Since you control what they eat, implementing the following healthy snacking tips for kids can make a huge difference in their health today and in the future.

Don't Stop Snacking

The first thing to understand is snacking is natural for both kids and adults. It also happens to be good for the human body because it tends to keep blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day. The issue is not whether a child snacks, but what they eat when the do. Encourage your kids to snack. Just make sure they are eating healthy things.

Control The Amount of Food Available

All of us wander into the kitchen sooner or later to look for something to snack on. If you want your kids to eat healthy, you need to control the food that is available to them. If the pantry is packed with bags of chips, they are going to eat them. If there is no junk food in the kitchen, but plenty of healthy snack foods like baby carrots, they will learn to eat the healthy foods. While you can't control what your kids eat outside of the house, training them to enjoy vegetables and other healthy foods while at home will go a long way to maintaining a good weight and keeping them healthy.

Dressing Up Food

Take a moment and really think about what you snack on and why. Most people snack on foods not for their taste, but because of the taste of the dressings or spices used on them. Consider tortilla chips. Unsalted chips taste like cardboard. Seriously. Try one! Ah, but put some salt on them and suddenly you are stuffing them down your mouth and can't stop. Add salsa to the mix and you will eat even more.

One of the best healthy snacking tips for kids is to give them healthy dressings. For example, you might give them celery with peanut butter as a dip. Fresh fruit and yogurt is a great match as well. You can even mix and freeze them for a great cool treat during the hot summer. Baby carrots and mustard are a good spicy treat as well. There are plenty of options out there, if you just look.

Exposing Kids To Many Different Health Foods

Baby carrots are very health, but even vegans can only eat them for so long before groaning. If you want your kids to eat healthy, get creative with their treats. One great source for ideas is the raw food industry. "Raw foodies" believe the most nutritional food is uncooked, organic food. While probably a bit extreme for you and your kids, buy a raw food recipe book is a smart move. You can find everything from "pizza" to "cakes" that taste great, but are incredibly healthy. You can use the recipes to create constant variation, which can help get your kids hooked on eating healthy.

Reading Nutrition Labels

The food industry is a bit devious in the marketing claims they make on their products. They healthy proclamations you will see often don't actually mean the product is good for you. Many "fat free" products, for instance, are packed with so much sugar that the fat-free version is actually worse for you. Teaching your kids how to read nutrition labels early on sets them up for a life of health. If they start doing it automatically when they are young, it is a habit that will follow them throughout life to their ultimate benefit.

Label reading is not exactly the most exciting task, so you need to get creative. Instead of lording over them in the grocery store and screaming about the horrors of high fructose corn syrup, turn the process into a game. If they can find certain bad ingredients in labels, reward them with something such as staying up later. The point is to make it fun so that they happily do it. If you can achieve that, they will get in the habit of learning to avoid products that are not good for them.

All About You

Of all the healthy snaking tips for kids, one is undoubtedly the most important – your conduct. You must practice what you preach. If you try to teach your kids to eat healthy, but they see you devouring a bag of chips or pint of Ben & Jerry's, the message is going to fail. It is that simple, so show the discipline and commitment that you want your kids to exemplify.

Teaching your kids to eat right at a young age is the key to creating a healthy life for them in both the short and long term. Implementing the above healthy snack tips for kids is a good way to get started with that process.

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Germ Exposure at Early Ages can Help Boost Immunity?

A recent study on mice has shown a correlation in kids who are exposed to germs in their early ages are more likely to have a stronger immunity and resistance to diseases. The immune system boost therefore means that kids exposed to germs are less susceptible to health complications and allergies, such as colitis and asthma. These details are according to a research carried out on March 22, 2012 by the Women's hospital located in Boston.Kids exposed to germs may have healthier, stronger immunity as they grow older

According to the contradicting hygiene hypothesis, exposure to microbes in the early life of a child significantly suppresses the immune system and therefore puts them at a greater risk of being affected by different types of diseases. The new study supports this whole idea and more so expounds on it so that you can better appreciate the relationship that exists between the immune system and the disease causing microbes. The researchers warn that the results of this research might not apply to each and every person mainly because the research was conducted using mice as the specimen.

Senior authors led this study from both the Women's Hospital and Brigham. Dr. Dennis Kasper is the director of the Channing laboratory of the Women's Hospital while Dr. Richard Blumberg is the senior manager at the Gastroenterology department at BWH. These two and their colleagues studied mice which are bred in more sterile environments without them being exposed to any germs and pathogen free mice that were raised in the normal controlled environment in the laboratory.

They then bred the two types of mice so as to develop asthma and bowel disease and then compared the two immune systems. They came to realize that the germ free mice developed more of invariant killer cells mainly in their lungs and bowel and therefore developed critical disease symptoms. In that case, the germ free mice cells accumulated and then increased morbidity in IBD models and asthma as compared to the specific pathogen free mice.

The germ free mice developed the so called iNKT cells which play a role in helping to fight infections but on the other hand can fight the body tissues. This therefore makes the germ free mice more susceptible to diseases and infections. This research also shows that exposure of germ free mice to germs did not lead to any noticeable development of the iNKT cells and more so these mice did not really develop severe symptoms that were seen in the other mice which were kept more germs free. It also proved that even by leaving the germ free mice in that state, they might not experience any kind of strange effects.

The conclusion after this study is that the best effects would only be realized if the mice were more of exposed before their adulthood. This is where the basis of having kids exposed to germs in their early days to develop immunity comes from. The germ free mice on the other hand were exposed to more germs in their early life and thus they developed immunity. The aim of the study was to show the importance of microbes and why exposure in early days in life might help to boost the immune system. The research is also intended to act as a basis for the understanding of the increase allergic reactions and autoimmune diseases mainly in the urban areas.

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Is Too Much Screen Time Bad for Your Health?

Too Much Screen TimeThe phrase "screen time" denotes the activities that are done in front of a digital screen. Whether it be watching TV, working on the computer, playing video games, or using mobile phones and iPods, screen time is never a healthy endeavor (aside from learning something.) In fact, too much screen time, particularly in kids, can be bad for one's health.

Screen time is regarded as a sedentary time because very little energy is spent when you are physically inactive. Hence too much screen time combined with a sedentary lifestyle can definitely take a toll on your child’s overall well-being. Yes, excessive screen time, whether from the TV or iPod, can result in a wide array of problems – from physical conditions like obesity to mental issues like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Health Affects of Too Much Screen Time

So before you or kid overuses their computer or iPod beyond repair, be aware of some of the health side effects of too much screen time. Some of the following problems can associated with too much screen time.

1. Obesity: Various studies evidence that children who watch TV for more than two hours in a day are prone to be obese than others. This is because they sit inactive for hours, often snacking unhealthy food items. Obesity is dangerous as it is a major risk factor for numerous health problems. Moreover obesity in children can also lead to a feeling of isolation and inadequacy.

2. Irregular sleep patterns: Similarly a child who watches TV for more than two hours is likely to suffer from irregular sleep patterns accompanied by strange nightmares and dreams. If your child spends a lot of time playing games in the computer the self-luminous back lit display in the computer can cause the melatonin levels to drop making him/her difficult to sleep.

3. Behavioral problems: Viewing TV for more than two hours can lead to behavioral problems and poor social skills. Excessive watching of TV, or obsessively reaching for an iPod or smartphone, can also pave the way for anti-social behavior. Spending too much time in front of the computers can cause physical changes in the brain and lead to attention and behavioral issues. Too much video gaming can also permanently or temporarily deactivate certain nerves in the brain.

4. Impaired academic performance and less time for play: Excessive TV time has also been linked with other negative outcomes like poor academic performance and less physical play. Too much screen time leaves less time for creative and active play which is indispensable for the growth of the child.

5. Emotional problems: Too much time spent in front of the screen can cause emotional problems such as depression and anxiety in children. Moreover, children who spend more time in front of the TV or computer have reduced levels of self-worth, self-esteem and happiness.

6. Violence and fear: Exposure to excess doses of violence can also make them more aggressive and less sympathetic towards people. Excess TV viewing can also trigger feelings of fear when they watch scary things.

7. Other problems: Excessive use of phones and tablets can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, eye strain, frequent headaches, neck pain and back pain too. Research studies also depict that too much computer time or sitting glued to the TV may also hurt your heart and shorten your life span.

To limit screen time it is best to keep TV’s and computers out of bedroom. Moreover children should not be allowed to eat in front of the screen as it can lead to mindless munching, which paves the way for obesity. Involving them in alternative activities can prevent them from spending too much time in front of the screen. Most of all we have to set a good example by restricting our screen time.

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3 Creativity-building Activities for Kids

Creativity for KidsChildren love staying active and dealing with something that lets them spend time with family. However, you also need to focus on creativity, and make sure your kids learn something when participating in fun activities. Making crafts is one way to keep your kids busy and have some family time. Crafts allow your children to be completely creative and run their wild imagination loose.

Moreover, they also make your children feel important. It’s not necessary to make crafts and designs complicated. You can keep it simple, yet interesting. Basic embroidery design and some other craft ideas can be fun, creative and engaging for your kid. There are many easy craft ideas for kids that only need some basic materials and don’t create a mess. In fact, some craft ideas are suitable for different age groups.

Holiday Crafts

This is one of the best ways to spend a holiday together and enjoy quality time with your kids. You can choose from a wide range of holiday craft ideas. In fact, you can choose crafts related to holidays in other countries or cultures. This will also promote multi-cultural learning for your child. During Christmas, you get a great opportunity to make crafts with your children and spend some quality time. You can easily design Christmas cards and Christmas tree decorations like snowflakes, paper chains, stockings and wreaths.

You can even make snow globes with your kid. For this, you only need a jar, polymer clay, glycerine and glitter. Making a winter fireplace can also be a great idea. You will just need two brown bags, glue, scissors, tape, construction paper, marker and red paint. Other excellent ideas include paper bag reindeer puppets, paper plate angels, stand-alone paper stars and handprint trees. There are also many religious designs that can be incorporated, whether for embroidery or as paper crafts.

Seasonal Crafts

Just like holiday crafts, seasonal crafts are also excellent to spend some time with your kids while making them learn something. Summer can be excellent for crafts like kids' sunglasses, seashell animals and paper plate sunflowers. There are many websites that tell you about making waterproof beach bags using just a garbage bag, white cords and duct tape. This can make your children learn more about using recyclable materials.

While looking for easy craft ideas for kids, you will also find many good opportunities for springtime. In this season, you can make paper plate flowers, terrariums and herb pots. In fall, you can use falling leaves to make leaf rubbings or a family tree. You can also make pumpkin seed necklaces, scarecrows and twig picture frames.

Embroidery Design and Textile Crafts

Last but not the least, you need to focus on embroidery and textile based crafts to enhance your kids’ creativity. Embroidery designs and patterns not only activate the creative side of your kid, but also lets him or her use some technical understanding of the mechanics.

With the thousands of creative embroidery design possibilities, you can help to ensure your child comes up with creative patterns and embroidery designs to produce exceptional products. It’s easy to purchase embroidery kits on the internet. These kits are affordable, and help your child come up with great ideas. With embroidery and textile based crafts, you won’t need anything else to develop your child’s creativity.

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Top Toys Designed to Promote Greater Levels of Creativity & Intelligence

In today's day in age, most parents in developed countries are conscious about the toys that they give their kids. While many are turning to more educational-based toys, a huge market is growing around natural and organic toys made from sustainably-harvested wood, cotton, and other more basic materials.

To highlight some of the major influencers that are supporting more eco-conscious and natural tools for learning, in this post we share some of our top, research-backed selections for creative, intelligence-driven toys.

Puzzles Wooden Toys for Kids

Puzzle provide the perfect means to encourage high-levels of intellectual engagement. As one of the best toys for kids learning and development, puzzles help to refine skills in:

  • Fine Motor
  • Problem Solving
  • Shape Recognition
  • Hand-Eye Coordination
  • Memory
  • Patience
  • Goal Setting

Although there are hundreds of different puzzles on the market, most all, to some degree, enable advanced cognition, intelligence, deductive reasoning, and creativity. Parents can also find puzzles made for natural and organic materials, as well as puzzles tailored specifically for educational advancement. Among one of the leading brands is Melissa and Doug.

Wooden Play Kitchens wooden play kitchens

Wooden play kitchens are one of the best types of toys that help foster creative and cognitive development in kids. Ideal when complete with natural wooden play foods, a wide range of cooking utensils and cookware, and of course some imagination,wooden play kitchens can keep children engaged for hours.

Although there are many different manufacturers of wooden play kitchens, some of the best brands of wooden play kitchen sets for intelligence-boosting are Elves and Angels and Plan Toys, to name a few. Check out these brands by visiting the Hazelnut Kids wooden play kitchens where you can discover a large collection of kids wooden play kitchens made from natural wood materials.

Waldorf Dolls

Based on principles of Rudolf Steiner and the Waldorf education, the famous Waldorf doll collection are recognized for their innate design and natural material composition. The focus of the Waldorf school of education is fostering analytical and creative means of learning and understanding. Emphasis is placed on tools and activities that center on artistic expression and social engagement. waldorf doll

What is unique about Waldorf dolls is that they are tailored to have minimal facial expressions. This helps encourage the imaginative role in children. Waldorf dolls are made from natural and organic cotton and they can be purchased a number of different accessories and clothing options to choose from.

Wooden Blocks

As a timeless toy option that can be made using natural and organic materials, wooden blocks are a great choice that foster relentless creativity and intelligence building for kids of all ages. Through the experience and discovery of stacking various sequences and structures, wooden blocks help to teach boys and girls problem-solving skills, as well as deductive reasoning.

For many years, blocks have been the paramount among wooden toys for kids. These classic toys encourage children to imagine and create structures and building that only their imagination thought possible. In addition to being awesome toys for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school aged children, wooden blocks have been known to be good choices for kids with ADHD and other attention issues.

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