Blog Posts by SparkPeople.com

  • 8 Quick, Healthy Lunches for Kids

    By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com


    In summertime, many of us moms feel like the kid in "Home Alone"--or at least we feel like making that face! The kids are hot, hungry, and tired, and so am I! What do I feed them that is healthy and quick. It only adds to the drama if you're at work and you have teens at home alone or a babysitter with limited cooking skills.

    Everyone will smile with these simple and easy healthy lunches for your tots, pre-teens and full-blown teenagers that eat like adults (I have three of those myself!). Bonus: Most of the meals can be made ahead and changed slightly to yield a new lunchtime menu.

    Get your summer kitchen ready and organized!
    • Hold a family meeting on Friday for the next week's menu choices. That way you can hit the farmers markets or supermarket on the weekend to get the freshest produce
    • Post a menu selection on the fridge or use a wipe off board to post the choices for the day/week.
    • Purchase some clear glass or
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  • Keeping the Peace Among Siblings and the New Baby

    By Hillary Copsey, for BabyFit

    "Hi, Momma!" The Boy said, coming into the hospital room. "What you got?"

    What I "got" was his little brother, The Lad, who had been born the previous night while The Boy stayed with friends. The husband and I had talked to The Boy throughout my pregnancy about his new sibling and, as planned, brought him to the hospital to meet his brother as soon as we could. Our plan for a smooth transition from one child to two seemed to be working perfectly when The Boy kissed The Lad's head and voluntarily shared his beloved blanky.

    Other strategies failed in the weeks after The Lad came home, and we had to find solutions on the fly as unforeseen problems developed. Our oldest still is a bit jealous of my and my husband's time; however, he's affectionate with his little brother and helpful. Here's how we got there:


    Introducing the belly.

    From the beginning, we treated my belly as if it were a baby. Because my eldest wasn't quite 2, we didn't go into

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  • How to Minimize Summer Sickness

    By Hillary Copsey, for the dailySpark

    Few things are worse than a summer cold.

    Summer is supposed to be a break from the sniffles and sneezes of cold and flu season , but I've found that when you have small children, there is no break from germs. If anything, summer-the season of pools and splash pads, shared water bottles and summer camps-just gives your children more opportunities to bring home a virus.

    My boys are in a daycare that has a weekly water day all summer. The school fills up kiddie pools and sprinklers and lets the kids run around splashing and squirting each other. They have a blast. But by the end of the day, the pool is more snot than it is water. And it never fails--everyone in our house is congested and coughing within a week.

    I haven't figured out how to avoid the germs altogether, but I do have a few tips for minimizing the damage.

    I'm not going to deny my kids water day or trips to the pool. That would just be cruel. But knowing they're likely to be exposed to

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  • Help Your Kids Beat the Summer Heat

    By Becky Hand, Licensed and Registered Dietitian for BabyFit

    It's "summertime, and the livin' is easy." But for kids, life during summer can be downright sweltering. Many activities-ball games, tennis clinics, band camp, and football training-take place during this hot season, and everyone is at risk for dehydration and heat illness when exposed to sun, high temperatures, and humidity.

    However, children are at a greater risk because a child's body surface makes up a much greater proportion of his overall weight compared to an adult. So before you send your youngster out to play, follow these tips and guidelines.

    Know the Signs of Dehydration
    The first signs of dehydration include thirst, dry lips and tongue, fatigue, lack of energy, and feeling overheated. The problem is that if kids wait to drink until they "feel" thirsty, dehydration has already started. The thirst mechanism does not kick-in until a child has already lost about 2% of her body weight through

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  • Defend Yourself Against Diet Saboteurs!

    By Rebecca Pratt, for SparkPeople

    There's one in every crowd- at the office, in your church group, among your closest friends and family. Sometimes they mean well, sometimes they seem a tad malicious, often they have no idea how they're sabotaging you. But every time you take a step forward to gain dominion over food, they're at your elbow-- offering you a brownie, some chips, an extra heaping helping of pasta.

    SparkPeople member Amy S. has been there with boyfriends, co-workers, and friends. "Either they bring in high cal food and offer it around, or they actually tell me it doesn't matter if I eat high cal stuff, and try to persuade me to do it," she says.

    What's going on? Why does it seem that people close to you go out of their way to sabotage you?

    Experts sum it up in one word-Change. Getting fit through diet and exercise creates big changes in your life-changes you welcome. But if your friends and family aren't in the same mode of change, they can be

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  • Sneak it in and Tone it Up

    By Jennipher Walters, for SparkPeople

    If you think that you're too busy to fit in a full workout, think again. Plenty of research shows that small bouts of exercise can add up and provide just as many heart-healthy benefits as longer workouts. You don't even have to be at the gym or wearing workout clothes for it to count. You can squeeze in little bits of activity here and there so that even when you're too busy for a full workout, you can stay active and burn calories.

    Below are simple and inventive ways to transform the must-do activities of daily life into mini-workouts.

    Cleaning the House
    Unless you're lucky enough to have a housekeeper, most of us probably have cleaning on our to-do lists. Instead of seeing it as a chore, start thinking of cleaning as a serious double-duty workout. Simple and easy cleaning, such as dusting, taking out the trash, straightening and changing the bed linens, can burn up to 170 calories per hour for a 150-pound person. And

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  • Food Showdown: Which Nut is All It's Cracked Up to Be?

    By Nicole Nichols, for SparkPeople


    Nuts have gotten a bad rap as high calorie, indulgent foods. It's true that nuts get more than half of their calories from fat, but the fat in nuts is healthy for you, your heart, and your waistline. But how do different types of nuts compare to one another?

    Almonds are a healthy source of calcium and make a great snack alone or in your favorite salad. Walnuts are an excellent source of magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B6. If you want to get the health benefits of nuts without adding excessive calories to your diet, which of these two should you choose?

    Click here to find out the winner!



    Related links:

    Feeling Nutty? Time for Some Nuts!

    Go Nuts for Nut Butters!

    6 Risks of Eating a Low-Fat Diet

    SparkPeople is the country's largest health and fitness website. Learn more--and get a free fitness and diet plan.


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  • 3 Fresh Ingredients for Summer

    By Liza Barnes, for SparkPeople

    Summer is the season for cooking fresh and fabulous feasts. The summer months bring ripe and juicy produce that nearly falls off the vines, farmers markets in their fullest glory, and perfect weather for celebrating the bountiful harvest in your very own backyard. Three summer all-stars are tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. Delicious and versatile, this trio is also incredibly healthy.

    Tomatoes

    Although commonly regarded and categorized as a vegetable, the tomato is really a fruit, a very healthful one. Tomatoes are known for being exceptionally high in lycopene, a carotenoid that has antioxidant properties and may help prevent cancer and heart disease. Eating tomatoes with fat (try to choose a healthy fat source like avocado, olive oil, or nuts) increases your body's ability to absorb the lycopene.

    Besides that famous carotenoid, tomatoes are also a rich source of vitamin C, folate (folic acid), riboflavin, and chromium, each with its own extensive

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  • 12 Skinny Dips

    By Melinda Hershey, for SparkPeople

    Instead of snacking on full-fat dips and spreads, dive into one of these lightened-up versions. Sweet, savory, creamy and spicy, there's something here for everyone and every occasion!








    Chef Meg's Lemon Zucchini Dip

    This savory low-fat veggie dip gets its crunch from fresh zucchini. Eat it with carrot sticks and cucumber slices for a refreshing afternoon snack.

    38 calories, 2.5 grams of fat per serving






    Spicy Eggplant Dip

    This eggplant dip recipe pairs perfectly with baked pita chips. Feel free to add more or less spice to suit your tastebuds.

    50 calories, 4 grams of fat per serving








    Creamy Peanut Butter Dip

    Enjoy this fluffy recipe for peanut butter lovers for dessert with graham crackers or fresh fruit.

    76 calories, 3 grams of fat per serving








    Click here for more light dip recipes!


    Related links:

    15 Diet-Friendly Ice Cream Choices

    7 Comfort Foods that Are Good for You

    Low-Fat Versions of Your Favorite Recipes

    SparkPeople is the country's

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  • Kids Need Exercise, Too!

    By Nicole Nichols, Managing Editor and Fitness Expert at SparkPeople


    As an adult, you need to exercise and maintain a good level of fitness for your health-to manage your weight, prevent diseases, reduce stress, and be able to accomplish normal activities of daily living, from carrying groceries to cleaning the house. Children need to be fit for the same reasons as you. Physical activity has the same benefits, including better sleep, and in some cases, improved behavior and attention. So how much is enough for your child?

    Infants (up to 12 months old)
    Developmentally, most infants are learning to roll over, sit, stand and possibly begin to walk during this phase of life.

    There are no specific activity recommendations for infants, yet as a parent you should encourage the motor development skills listed above by providing a safe environment for play, and by limiting the amount of time your infant spends in car seats, swings, strollers, and walkers.

    Toddlers (1-3 years old)
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