Spring Cleaning your Child’s Health
We usually think of spring cleaning to get rid of clutter that’s accumulated over the long, dreary winter, but this is a great time to spruce up your family’s health habits as well. Here are some tips to help get your spring started on an energizing and healthy note!
- Reorganize your kitchen. An organized kitchen encourages healthy eating, while kitchen clutter can lead to overeating. Check expiration dates and toss anything past its prime. Place fruits, veggies, nuts and other healthy snacks front and center. Your kids will be more likely to reach for these nutritious foods if they’re where they can see them.
- Build up your defenses against the sun. Did you know many high antioxidant foods contain compounds that protect the skin from the sun? Sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous veggies increases enzymes in our bodies that protect our skin from harmful UV rays. Flavonoids, found in berries, cocoa, beans and tea decrease your skins sensitivity to the suns. Yes, your children still need sunscreen, but why not incorporate more of these delicious foods as well for added protection!
- Visit a farmers market. Farmer’s markets are popping up all over in the warmer weather and are some of the best places to find the freshest, seasonal produce. Kids will love being able to sample new foods and chat with the farmers and growers. Use the visit as an opportunity to teach your children about where foods come from, and pick out something new to try together as a family.
- …Or grow your own! Think your NYC apartment is too small to grow your own produce? Think again! Plant breeders have developed many varieties of plants that can thrive in the smallest outdoor spaces or indoor containers year round. Look for dwarf varieties of your favorite plants, or focus on a small herb garden in a window box.
- Avoid the Ice Cream Man! OK, not completely, but definitely make it a once-in-awhile stop instead of an everyday treat. Keep healthier, nutrient dense frozen treats on hand for daily kid-friendly indulgences. One of our favorites is yogurt on a stick: Open a container of plain yogurt. Mix in your child’s favorite cut up fruit and place the lid back on. Cut a slit in the lid, slide a popsicle stick through the slit, and freeze for about 6 hours. Peel away the container, but keep the lid on the bottom to catch drips!
- Up omega-3’s to fight allergies! With spring come seasonal allergies for many kids. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds have been shown to reduce inflammation associated with allergies, and improve the body’s immune system.
- Amanda Buthmann MS, RD is a pediatric and family nutritionist at Lara Metz Nutrition in NYC. For more information contact her at Amanda@larametznutrition.com, or visit http://larametznutrition.com/.