Children’s Portions Matter

Portions Matter

We all have heard the term “portion distortion” as a description of how portions have been changed and distorted since the 1970’s. What is a proper portion for your child, grandchild, for you or your husband? There is no one size fits all. Remember we are each as different as our fingerprint and will need various amounts based on our body type, activity, and gender. Listed below are a few guiding principles.

One guideline or “Rule of Thumb” for children 1-4 years of age is to serve them 1 Tablespoon of each food group per age.

A 3 year old’s breakfast might look like this:

3 Tablespoons of scrambled eggs

3 Tablespoons of colorful diced fruit

½ piece of toast cut into triangles

½ cup milk

 A 4 year old’s dinner might look like this: (4 T = ¼ cup)

¼ cup chopped chicken (with dipping sauce limited to 1 tablespoon)

¼ cup mashed potatoes

¼ cup green beans

¼ cup fruit salad with plain yogurt

 * Young children these ages really do need snacks too, so don’t get nervous!

 Did you know?

  • Daily calorie intake for a weight challenged 8 year old girl = 1200 calories.
  • Calories in a cheeseburger children’s meal with milk = approximately 600 calories, which is 50 % of her calorie needs for the day!
  • Calories in a home cooked dinner for an 8 yo sedentary girl should be = 450 calories.

 Approximately 445 Calorie Dinner Example for 8 yo sedentary girl:

  • 2 oz. of baked chicken (chicken leg) = 100 calories
  • ½ cup corn = 80 calories
  • ½ cup green beans = 25 calories
  • 1 ¼ cup fresh fruit = 75 calories
  • 1 cup low fat milk = 120 calories
  • 1 tsp. butter = 45 calories
  • Age, Gender and Physical Activity Level3
  • (An individual’s calorie needs may be higher or lower than these average estimates)


Age (years)


Moderately Active



(Male and Female)




1000-1400 c



































































  • Sedentary = Day to day life activity
  • Moderately active = Physical activity equivalent to 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3-4 miles                                                             per hour in addition to light physical activity associated with day                                                     to day life.
  • Active =    Physical activity equivalent to 3-4 miles per day at 3-4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with  day to day life.                                                                                     

 *These calories are not appropriate for women pregnant or breastfeeding.

 3Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2012. Chapter 2

 Monday we will discuss another practical method for estimating proper portion sizes.


Non-nutritive Sweeteners

Non-Nutritive Sweeteners

 Non-nutritive sweeteners are virtually calorie free.

 Be careful when products use the term “natural” because “natural,” has no legal FDA definition. My doctor always says, “If you don’t pick it off a tree or a plant and eat it immediately…it’s not natural”.

 My problem with most of the non-nutritive sweeteners is they haven’t been ingested all that long, so I don’t think we really know exactly how some of them can affect us. I was a kid when most of the non-nutritive sweeteners were approved and I am not even 60 years old. We will know more when people born in the 1970’s are retired and have used these products their entire life.

 HIstorical Dates

1965 Aspartame – Equal, NutraSweet – USA approved: 1981

1967 Acesulfame potassium – Sweet One, Sunette – USA approved: 1988

1976 Sucralose – Splenda – USA approved: 1998

1879 Saccharin – Sweet N’ Low, Sweet 10 – USA approved

Stevia (Rebaudioside A, a highly purified compound of stevia plant) – Truvia,Pure Via – USA approved 2008

Neotame – USA approved 2002 – not available for consumer use

Thaumatin or Talin is approved GRAS in United States: (used mostly abroad) found in the Katemfe fruit from West Africa.

Tagalose – approved 2003 in United States 1.5 calories per gram (sold as Tagetesse)

1980 Alitame (used in Canada)

Stevioside (Rebaudiana) from leaves of the Stevia plant

      My concern is the length of time a person uses these sweeteners that are “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS), but are they? Do we know without a doubt? The only one that someone may have used for 70-80 years is Saccharin. The others are just too new. Most of these products have ADI (acceptable daily intakes) based on weight. Many of these may not be a problem for someone in adulthood or with an “adult weight” 100+ pounds, but for a child weighing 30-70 lbs., the “acceptable” level may be too much; One that I would not want to risk with my child.  

Think twice before offering your child too many products filled with these alternative sweeteners.

Kids do not constantly need to be “tasting” sweetness, thus developing a “need” or “want” for it.





Sugar Alcohols

Sugar Alcohols

• Sugar Alcohols are called nutritive sugars because they contain calories.
• Sugar alcohols are considered a low calorie food and are often found in “diet foods,” candy,   cookies, and gum.
• Sugar alcohols contain about ½ the calories as regular sugar.
• Sugar alcohols are found naturally in some foods, but most are manufactured.
• Sugar alcohols are not “alcohol” because they do not contain ethanol.
• Sugar alcohols are not converted to acids by oral bacteria so they may not cause dental cavities.
• Sugar alcohols are absorbed more slowly than sugar.

Examples of sugar alcohols

Mannitol, sorbitol, erythritol, isomalt
lacititol, maltitol, xylitol,
and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates.

You will find sugar alcohols listed on the food label under the Total Carbohydrate section if the product contains any sugar alcohols.

Total Carbohydrate
Sugar Alcohol

• Sugar alcohols can promote gas, bloating and/or diarrhea if eaten in large amounts.
• A safe limit to prevent these problems is to eat less than 10 g at a time.
• Children or adults with bowel problems such as IBS, Crohn’s, colitis, UC, short bowel, or other gastrointestinal issues should avoid all sugar alcohols.

I personally don’t like sugar alcohols because the products that contain them are usually not very nutritional and often are full of food colorings that I think are terrible for children and adults. The less food coloring the better!

Think Twice

Processed verses Whole Foods

While sometimes an Emergency Meal (July 15th Blog) is needed, we must be careful in regards to processed foods as routine eating. There are times we may need to use processed foods for convenience sake, but whole foods are always best. Label reading becomes of upmost importance, even though labels can be “off” by several percentage points.

Whole foods are much better and should be your first option.

Whole food examples:
Fresh fruits – raw or cooked
Fresh vegetables – raw or cooked
Dried beans, cooked
Plain yogurt, milk, eggs, hard cheeses, cottage cheese without additives
Nuts and seeds
Fresh beef, poultry, fish

5 important “looks” when label reading

# 1 Look at the list of ingredients. If there is more than 3 or 4, think twice.

# 2 Look for the serving size

# 3 Look for the sodium (if 200 mg or more for a serving, think twice)

# 4 Look for the calories from fat (if 25% or more comes from fat, think twice)

# 5 Look for “added sugar” (no more than 25-37 g of added sugar per day)

We will discuss added sugar another day. It is too much to tackle today. Stay tuned.

New Dietary Rules

Newton’s Law of Gravity

Like Newton’s Law of Gravity There Are Dietary Rules Communicating Change.

As you know, Sir Isaac Newton discovered the Law of gravity. Everyone knew that an object suspended in space when released fell to the ground. When objects fall to the ground many of them like eggs, for example, end up like Humpty Dumpty. A dietary pattern, surprisingly enough, is almost as fragile. The good news is that a dietary pattern can be repaired and restored.

Every home needs to understand the rules of gravity (diet). Start now!

1. Communicate changes to all family members.
2. Make a booklet of new rules to refer to
3. Have children help make up the new rules

Some new rules may include:
* Hours the kitchen is open.
* No children allowed in the cupboards or refrigerator without permission.
* Designate specific snack times and types of snacks allowed.
* All food is to be eaten at the table.
* “Feasts” allowed once per month. (Birthdays, Holidays)
* Dinner menu will be posted daily.
* Lunches will be packed the night before.
* Know what will be served for breakfast the night before.

The parent is the “Gatekeeper”

Children do not drive or pay for the groceries.
Adults are role models.
Children are to be obedient and honor their parents.


1. Did you call your family meeting yet?
2. Are you willing to make new rules for your home?
3. What “feasts/birthdays/ occur this month?

This Week:

Be a good role model
Children must obey

Purging Your Pantry

Purging Your Pantry

I can attest to the fact that if you do not have tempting foods in your pantry, you will not be able to eat them. I read a study once, I believe by Brian Wansink, on temptation and eating pertaining to candy dishes at work. He found when candy dishes were placed on worker’s desks, an average of 9 candies were eaten daily. When the candy dishes were placed in their desk drawers, the average daily candy eaten was 5. The candy dishes were then placed down the hall in a file cabinet and the number of candies eaten dropped to 3. We have always learned in various weight loss programs to place your temptations high up in a cupboard or closet where you have to make great effort to get to them. For example, a chair must be carried to the closet and boxes removed to get to the temptation. As you perform this feat, it makes your realize you really should not be eating these temptations and the tedious process may stop you. But…better yet, don’t even have them in your home!

We will begin slowly, with 3 simple starters for purging your pantry!

1. Processed bakery treats (Little Debbie’s, Hostess treats, Pop-tarts)

2. Chips or crackers with cheese or flavoring powders

3. Sugared drinks

These are the first 3 food items with empty calories, sugar, fat and/or sodium.
They provide absolutely nothing that you or your child needs for good health. When “put off” something, we must “put on” something in its place. This will take effort. You will probably have to put up with a lot of whining and crying, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Suggestions for alternatives

1. Apples and peanut butter
2. Dates and cream cheese
3. Chocolate dipped dried apricots
4. Peanut butter balls (peanut butter, wheat germ, honey, powdered milk)
5. No bake cookies (cocoa, oatmeal, peanut butter, honey)

1. Blue Corn tortilla chips
2. Matzoh crackers
3. Ak-Mak crackers
4. Triscuts (no flavor powders)
5. Rice crackers or rice cakes

1. Flavored waters (cucumber, carrots, fruit, basil, parsley)
2. La Croix or flavored sparkling water such as Perrier or Target’s brand.
3. 1/4 100% juice mixed with 3/4 cup water
4. Ice cubes with a raspberry, cherry or strawberry frozen in them
5. Plain water (begin a real appreciation and thankfulness for plain water)

We will learn more about label reading, what to watch out for and why. Many products you think are good can contain some unhealthy additives that thicken products and give a creamy consistency. Until Monday… try some of these ideas, have your family meeting, and get started! You will feel better eating intelligently and eating real food!

Food and Friends

Today is Wednesday June 4th (Happy Birthday Lindsay!)

 Meet my friend today:

Friend # 3 “What I learned from Jill Farquhar”          

Jill is the most organized person I know. She knows where to locate everything in her house, and budgets very carefully.

Lesson: “You can do amazingly fun things and eat at great restaurants when you research and budget”

I met Jill through her daughter Colleen who was in my gymnastics class. Together we clipped coupons, wrote our grocery lists and took turns driving to the Shop Rite grocery store 20 minutes away where groceries were cheaper. Jill is a master of budgeting. We learned to travel to Florida via minimum expense with 5 kids by packing roadside lunches, piling into a motel room, planning dinners at unique restaurants and by researching travel books for bargains. Educating our children during travel and finding the Pirate’s House for dinner are times I will never forget.  Jill has also taught me the importance of birthdays.  After 20 years, Jill continues to remember each person in my family on their birthday with a thoughtful card.

Tips or Quote of the Day:

  • Plan vacations carefully and eat a picnic lunches.
  • Shop weekly, writing menus and grocery lists to save money.
  • Don’t forget the coupons.

Take Action Today:

  • Pack your lunch
  • Use your coupons
  • Surprise someone and send a birthday card to them on their special day!



The ION’s: 3 categories of food

Today is Thursday, May 28th

The Topic or Question of the day

The ION’s: 3: Categories of Food

     Today we will talk about 3 categories of food and how they work in the body.  The categories are:

  • Construction
  • Digestion
  • Infection

Construction Foods

Proteins are comprised of amino acids (building blocks) that make various proteins our body uses to build or repair tissue, form enzymes, and carry molecules our bodies need to the specific receptor sites.  Our body makes several of these building blocks to comprise a protein, but there are several the body must get from food.

Examples of foods containing a good amount of protein:

Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cottage cheese, plain yogurt, peanut butter, cheese, whey protein, pea/rice protein, soy, milk, beans.  Portions are important! Portions are smaller than you think.  Try to eat some protein at every meal.

What protein could you eat at Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?

Food that help Digestion

Foods containing fiber aid in digestion. Most Americans are not eating enough fiber. Intake = 11 g on average, needs are 25-30 g

Examples of digestive foods: legumes, tree nuts, fruits/vegetables, oatmeal, barley (beta glucans), wheat bran, wheat germ, and psyllium.  Soluble and Insoluble fiber aid in bowel regulation, fighting cancer, lowering cholesterol, improving irritable bowel diseases, and controlling blood sugars to name a few.

* Some people with GI distress do not digest raw fruits and vegetables well, and must eat them very well cooked.

What digestive foods could we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Food that Fight Infection

Certain foods are high in phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Most are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans.

These foods are good for fighting infection and inflammation. 

  1. Colors are very important.
  2. Almost every disease state encourages intake of fruits and vegetables for prevention as opposed to eating  sugar, fat or salt.

Tip or quote of the day:

Eat those fruits and vegetables!

Take Action Today:

Answer questions of what types of construction, digestion and infection foods you can eat at each meal.



Nurture and Protect

Today is Tuesday, May 27th (My deceased mother Janice’s birthday)

The Topic or Question of the Day:

Nurture and Protect

     Nurturing and protection is what mothers do for their children. My mother was one of the best. I had 3 sisters and we were very well cared for. We also had a big garden in our back yard that my dad mostly tended and I remember eating sweet peas in the pod, warmed by the sun that were better than candy. I compare the importance for protecting and nurturing our bodies with the way we protect and cultivate our plants.

We protect our plants by:

  1. Building fences and walls to protect from animals
  2. Using insecticides to prevent infection
  3. Using plant food to nourish soil
  4. Planting flowers, mint, use gum? To keep certain insects away
  5. Watering

We protect our bodies by:

  1. Feeding proper food
  2. Drinking water, hydration
  3. Using sunscreen
  4. Brushing and flossing our teeth
  5. Taking care of our back while lifting something
  6. Building “fences and walls” to protect us from indulgence

However: We can do everything we believe is “right” and still experience a storm that rips through our gardens or a strange disease that overtakes our produce just like in life. There is often not a concrete reason for cancer and other devastating diseases. My own father ate what I would consider healthy, never smoked or abused alcohol, stayed approximately the same weight his whole life, and was a man of integrity. He contracted lung cancer and died in 6 weeks.

This doesn’t mean we become fatalists and give up on trying to tend our bodies, it just means we are not in control of everything. We control the things we can.

  1. What we eat
  2. What we drink
  3. The attitude in which we eat and drink (the why).

Quote or Tip of the Day:

Nurture your body, and protect all your thoughts

Don’t be a fatalist, and do what you ought

Take Action Today:

Keep a food and drink log today (I do this periodically)

Keep track of why you ate what you ate. Hungry, bored, sluggish, craved?


It’s gotta be fun!

 Today is Wednesday, May 21st

The topic or question of the day:


     This past week I ran into a friend of mine I don’t get to see very much anymore.  She amazes me every time I run into her because she went from not exercising, to walking a 5 K and next thing I knew, it was a 10 K, then coaching others, and now plans on the Tulsa Run this year.  She is smiling from ear to ear and her face is glowing, not to mention her calves are on many people’s “wanted” list!  She absolutely loves it!  That is what makes exercise fun.  After seeing her, it encouraged me to drag out what I find gives me a great work out and makes me smile.  My balance beam.  I put on my favorite CD and practiced all the old mounts, leaps and turns while building core strength.  I even worked up a sweat and of course fell a “ca-zillion” times.  When physically active, and blood is pumping, there is a genuine feeling of strength.  For many people dancing is fun and if that is your fun, I  encourage you to put on some music and dance the night away.  


     One of my main problems is that once I worked hard, I do get hungry and have to be careful not to over-rationalize and say…”I exercised, therefore….I can have”.   Most people do this to some degree.  The trick is to eat those 3 bites of something to take the edge off and stop.  Intelligent eating!

Quote or tip of the day:  

It is much more fun to exercise with other people.

Take Action Today:  

1. Ask someone to go on a walk with you instead of going to lunch or the coffeeshop. 

2. Look into some different types of exercise and remember, mowing the lawn and weeding gardens is also movement therapy.