Posts Tagged ‘ healthy ’

The Hunger Games: Toddler Edition

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

19 months.

Jack associates Jill with food. He associates me with… doing weird activities, I guess.

When he whines or gets antsy, my wife’s natural reaction is to assume he wants a snack. So he gets one.

But my natural reaction is to move him to a different room or take him outside. I just change the scenery and he so quickly forgets about why he was upset.

When I am taking care of Jack, he doesn’t get snacks. He doesn’t ask for them. He doesn’t think about them.

My wife is the nurturer. I am the adventurer.

For the rare times I get home with Jack before Jill gets there, Jack and I head straight to the living room and start playing.

It’s not until Mommy arrives that Jack remembers he’s hungry and immediately runs to his high chair, moaning on account of the munchies.

With me, he only wants three meals a day; no snacks.

With my wife, he wants three meals a day, all complete with 2nd helpings; and of course, a snack or two in-between each meal.

Why? Does his appetite truly increase when Jack sees his Mommy?

Nope. But seeing her triggers him to think, “I could eat…”.

What made me think of this double standard is the routine of our family car rides on the weekends. Typically, whenever we leave the house, it’s just after a meal.

Then we load up in the car, with me in the driver’s seat and Jack and Jill in the back. Once we’re all strapped in, I start driving. Then I hear Jill getting out a snack for Jack.

Not because he’s hungry, but because he wants an activity to entertain him. And hey, if Mommy’s activity involves food, he’s not going to turn it down.

I imagine if Jill was the one driving and I was the one entertaining, Jack wouldn’t be eating at all in the car. Because I would be too busy annoying him with his toys for him to think about unnecessary snacks.


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Prunes Are Now A “Regular” Part of My Son’s Diet

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

13 months.

It turns out, there is a downside to having a toddler who only wants to eat Cheerios, bananas, and wheat bread: a lack of digestive movement, which causes for one uncomfortable and cranky little boy while a swollen stomach.

The solution was simple: feed him prunes. But seriously, what toddler would  willingly eat prunes? I don’t even know that I’ve ever had a prune. My expectations were low; exactly where they should have been.

Simply because it was a new food, my son Jack swiped at the incoming spoon of pureed prunes. So I held down his arms as my wife delivered the stuff straight into his mouth- which was conveniently open because he was crying.

We looked for his reaction and were actually surprised. He didn’t not like it. Though there would be several days to follow of Jack pretending to fight prunes, now that he’s a week into it, he hardly ever refues the purple stuff.

Not that he really understands most of what I’m saying anyway, but instead of calling prunes by their actual name, I say, “Jack, it’s time for two bites of chocolate pudding.”

And that doesn’t even make much sense, because he’s never eaten chocolate pudding before. But either way, my kid willingly and joyfully eats pureed prunes. More importantly, “the train is now moving.”

So why resort to prunes only when he needs them? You know what they say:

A prune a day keeps the constipation away.



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Why McDonald’s Sponsoring the Olympics Makes Headlines

Friday, January 13th, 2012

13 months.

Today when I saw a headline talking about how McDonald’s will remain a sponsor of the Olympics through 2020, I thought exactly what I was supposed to think by reading that headline:

“That’s ironic- a fast food company is giving free burgers and fries to Olympic athletes and buying ads for everyone to see during a world-wide athletic event? Isn’t that sort of defeating the purpose?”

So yes, I fell for it, Mr. Headline Maker. But then I kept thinking about it. Isn’t it sort of a double standard for us to pinpoint a major contributor of America’s malnutrition when there are plenty of others doing the same thing?

I think of how Coca-Cola is typically a sponsor of middle school and high school sports. It’s common for young athletes to receive a free t-shirt with the classic logo on it, along with the school’s name. Not to mention, when I was growing up, there were soda machines conveniently placed right outside the gym doors.

In an average can of soda, there are around 39 grams of sugar. Knowing that a tablespoon of sugar translates as 12.55 grams, that means a can of soda contains about 3 tablespoons of sugar.

Really? Think about adding 3 tablespoons of sugar into any 12 ounce serving of any kind of food. Isn’t that kind of weird? Or disgusting? Maybe even unnecessary?

Yeah, I know. There are diet sodas too, if you trust forms of aspartame. I don’t, sorry.

I’ve heard that my generation (around age 30 and younger) focuses on the planning of advertisements more than any generation before. I know it’s true for me. I’m always eager to spot ironic sponsors for any event, whether it’s for something athletic or even the ads showing up here on this site. (I’m still waiting to see a “dad ad.” on

But honestly, does anyone really care about ironic sponsorship? Does McDonald’s giving Olympic athletes free food really affect our lifestyle choices anyway?

I don’t think it does. It doesn’t actually change anything. It just makes us point out the irony and makes for a light-hearted, 45 second conversation.

And then the conversation turns to Beyonce’s baby or Hostess going out of business.

To me, the most ironic thing would be to see advertisements for carrots during an athletic event.

Image: Hamster with a bar, via Shutterstock.

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The Myth That Vegetarians Don’t Get Enough Protein

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

13 months.

When you officially go vegetarian, the #1 response you will get from most people is, “Well, just make sure you’re getting enough protein.” I feel like it’s subconsciously assumed that vegetarians are just a few steps away from having an eating disorder.

Prepare for me to rock your world. (As if I don’t always.) The reasons people eat meat are because they like it and it’s convenient. People do not eat meat because their bodies need the protein. For any person with access to a grocery store or market that sells veggies and beans, meat is nutritionally unnecessary.

After all, I accidentally became a vegetarian. Throughout the years, as I learned more and more how to eat properly by cutting out foods with the word “high-fructose corn syrup” in them and started eating fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains in every meal, I finally woke up and realized, “Hey, I don’t want even want meat. Why am I eating this?”

The reason was because I was already getting enough protein from everything else in my meals: in beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and green vegetables.

According to the fascinating documentary, Forks Over Knives, which features people who reversed their cancer and Diabetes by switching to a plant-based diet, even the vegetable with the least amount of a protein, the potato, still provides the minimal amount of necessary protein.

Twenty years ago from this very minute, I was probably at Burger King with my family, who was impressed that a skinny little 10 year-old boy like me could so easy down a Double Whopper combo meal. My catch-phrase back then was, “Meat. I gotta have more meat.”

How ironic that two decades later A) I’m a vegetarian and B) I’m never hungry after eating meatless meals.

Forks Over Knives also explains how 500 calories of vegetarian food triggers the mind and body that a person is full, both quicker and longer, than 500 calories of animal based food. Therefore, the more animal-based and processed a meal is, the more necessary it becomes to overeat in order to feel full.

Vegetarianism is considered an alternative lifestyle. But the way I see it, eating meat is the actual alternative lifestyle.

Take a fun look back to the book of Genesis in the Bible. It starts out with God telling people to eat plants and herbs. From Adam until Noah, 20 generations later, there is no mention of anyone eating animals. Then after the Flood wrecked the Earth, God allows people to start eating certain animals (not pork or shellfish.) Why? Out of necessity.

In this new version of Earth where it rained now, where Pangea had been torn apart, where peoples’ lifetimes shortened from centuries to less than a century, for many people it would become necessary, at times, for them to survive off the protein of slaughtered animals. It was scientifically a new environment; they had to adapt.

But here we are now in 2012. It’s never been easier to have access to fresh produce and whole grains. We don’t have to rely on the alternative lifestyle of eating meat.

Instead, we eat meat because it’s easy, familiar, and fun. We like it. But we don’t need it, nutritionally if we get our protein from the right places to begin with.

It’s simply a myth that vegetarians don’t get enough protein. Pretty weird, huh?

If you would like to personally ask me any questions about converting to vegetarianism, feel free to email me at nickshell1983@hotmail. Or simply check out this article I wrote a few weeks ago: Healthy Parents: 5 Steps to Planning Vegetarian Meals. Trust me, if you’re attempting to go vegetarian but aren’t “feeling full,” it means you’re doing it wrong. I’ll help.

Image: “Hamburger isolated on white,” via Shutterstock.

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Where Do You Draw the Line on What Your Kid Eats?

Friday, December 30th, 2011

13 months.

I am my kid’s own soup Nazi.

In South Korea, people really do eat dogs. If you need a visual, check out my personal Facebook page and look in my photo album called “Uncensored Korean Files” to see a dog deli I photographed while I was teaching there.

Here in America we eat pigs, which are just as cuddly as dogs and arguably more intelligent, but we’re okay with that because for whatever cultural reasons, we Americans know that it’s somehow uncivilized and morally wrong to kill and eat a dog, but not a pig.

Similarly, we as individual family units live by our own quirky food limitations. A few weeks ago on Facebook, I posted this as my status for my 871 friends to respond:

“Alright parents, I have a very personal question to ask you for something I’m writing for Where do you cross the line on what you will and will not allow your kid to eat? For example, how much fast food is too much? Any particular foods you just don’t want them eating? What about when you’re not around, like if your kid is at a friend’s sleep-over?”

Out of the 24 comments I received in a 24 hour period, the overall consensus was “everything in moderation.” However, the variable I noticed in their comments is what we all consider to be normal in our everyday eating habits. And that’s sort of the whole point of what I was asking.

For example, for some, it was no fast food. For others, it was no meat that isn’t organic. Or no caffeine or no sodas. And then there’s me, the hard-core vegetarian of the group who didn’t bother to mention the long list of things I won’t allow my own kid to eat.

We all know that cancer, Diabetes, and obesity rates are radically higher than they were a 150 years ago before we as humans we introduced to highly processed foods and began eating them in the majority of our meals. So now we as parents want to protect our kids by making deliberate dietary decisions for them.

So here’s what I say: Let us all be weird in our own weird ways when it comes to what “unhealthy” foods we won’t allow our kids to eat.

I’m past the point of worrying that I might hurt someone’s feelings when they try to feed my son something that isn’t on “Dad’s list” of approved foods.

Maybe I err a bit on the radical side, but so what? My kid’s not going to starve nor be malnourished if I have a say in it. He just may be a bit deprived as an American kid who doesn’t get to experience the joy of chicken nuggets like all the normal kids. He’ll be okay.

It’s not that we all as parents are necessarily judging each other for what the other does or does not let their kid eat. Well heck, if I’m judging anyone for that reason, it would be me. I’m more than willing to label myself as the wacko dad here.

But hey, we all draw the line somewhere when it comes to what we won’t let our kid eat.

What about you? Where do you draw the line?

Top image: Kid with snack, via Shutterstock. Bottom image: Two kids and chips snack, via Shutterstock.

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