Dishin’ with the Dietitian – Q+A with Whitney Stuart, RDN (my Dallas Duo co-founder!)
Addressing nutrition and healthy lifestyle questions with the insight of an RDN. In this edition, we’re chatting about how we can teach and encourage healthy nutrition and body image in active kids teenagers, and practical ideas for nutrient dense meals and snacks they’ll actually eat!
For the past two years, I’ve recruited Whitney to do a fun and interactive Fit + Fierce Female Athlete presentation for RHS Cheer.
It’s a very popular, engaging event for the girls (all 45 of them!), parents, and coaches! She provides a safe space for them to ask questions and shares her professional insight in a way that captures their attention. Having lots of snacks to sample never hurts!
Part of her presentation is a training table filled with balanced, healthy snack options that are easy to find in any grocery store and recreate at home. We thought it would be a great idea to continue the conversation and pass along the valuable information here as well!
Click here to sign up for our mailing list and receive a copy of Whitney’s Fueling Families Handout. It includes a smoothie recipe, myth busters, smart snack list, and more! And check out my Amazon page for the healthy pantry essentials I order often for my family…
As a parent, I’m constantly reminding my kids not to skip meals, be active, limit sugar, and eat their vegetables! The truth is, I can tell them, but modeling these behaviors in daily life is much more powerful! I asked Whitney to share her expert advice on practical ways for parents to do this and make these values part of everyday home life…
How do you recommend parents lead by example in these areas?
-Fitness/Living an Active Lifestyle
A positive attitude is first and foremost. Are you going to the gym because you HAVE to, or because you WANT to? Although Dallas is a very heavy boutique-fitness city, consider my second tip: integrate fitness organically. Can you just take a walk after school? What about flying kites at the park? Or, a SUP/canoe rental at White Rock on the weekends? Children love to create; a good splash of sunscreen and you can “meet your required steps” for the day just by playing!
-Building Healthy Eating Habits
Do not force the subject as a newly imposed rule. Instead, present it as a, this is what we do; this is how we thrive as a family; there’s no question here. This situation leads to less questioning.
Ex: If vegetables are always served first at every meal (call it the appetizer because presentation is critical and if you like fancy for no reason, you know your kids do too) it is less likely that a battle begins because it’s at every meal. But, if you decide to try serving vegetables just this once, they see it as a new situation, which they can probably hold out from.
I set the ultimatum early on in my home that vegetables would be half the plate at every meal, or I wouldn’t eat. Now, it goes without question that:
- We buy plenty of vegetables each week to be successful.
- Our meal planning revolves around the ½ plate rule.
- There’s creativity and spice that goes into those vegetables.
No, I don’t have children. But I have an only-child stubborn husband and 6 years of nanny experience under my belt and feel very comfortable in the foundation I set. Own your household rules and make them a non-question. Once routines are established, they are less rebelled against than random spurts of a “healthy dinner”.
– Supporting and Cultivating Healthy Body Image
Take the focus off of the body when it comes to fitness and nutrition. We eat to fuel our mind, our body, and our physical activities. We do not eat or exercise to fit into a certain size, change the shape of the vessel we were given, or become more beautiful.
Avoid any discussion of diet, focusing instead on a healthy lifestyle, brain food, nutrients & what types of movement give us endorphins and “all the feels”.
The diet generation is hard to ignore. The instantaneous results and supplement industry is even harder. But you must realize that there’s billions of dollars poured into that arena annually. It’s your love versus the market. You may be the minority, but you are not wrong.
Looking back, I realize how lucky I was to have a mother who never said the word “diet” or worse, the phrase, “I’m on a diet, I can’t eat that”. Although I did have many girl cousins who were always on a diet (which never, for the record, led to healthier eating habits. But they did in fact lead to disordered eating) which led to my own questioning of “if I eat less calories will my body be smaller and thus more well-liked” in my teen years. Do your child a favor and keep this topic out of reach.
What are some things NOT to do/avoid/aren’t helpful?
Frustrated with your child’s eating choices? Do not shame them for their current choice.
We can only improve the future through inspirational modeling, we cannot change the past. “Looks like we’ve had too much sugar today” is a negative reply, although, “Do you want to help me choose a vegetable for tonight’s dinner; I want you to be well prepared for your test tomorrow!” shows your care and good intention.
Do not remain ignorant to signs of restriction and poor body image.
And, do not feel that you have to be the one to solve it. Raising children takes a village. Schedule a preventative session with a body-positive counselor who can provide support and resources, along with answers to hard questions, before a problem even begins.
Do not stock foods in the house that tempt your children to overeat.
Instead, consider the home a haven. Keep desserts out of the house and in social settings where they are a luxury and can be thoroughly enjoyed instead of expected. Hunger signals and natural satiety are far more accurate when they’re consuming real food choices.
Top 5 Healthy Snacks to Keep on Hand at Home
Keep all of the healthy snacks at eye-level and within their reach. Here are a few favorites:
- Meat/Jerky Sticks (we love The New Primal, Chomps, DNX Bar, and Epic Bar)
- DIY Nut & Seed Trail Mixes work great to have in the car glove box because it doesn’t melt and that fat prevents hangry kids at after-school pickup. Let them have input when making it!
- Fat & Fiber Snacks:
My kid/teen hates breakfast. How can I get them to eat something healthy in the morning?
Start their morning with a bedside glass of water to stimulate the body to wake and cue hunger signals. Give them enough time to digest; do they need to wake up earlier? Have TWO options to allow for freedom; ensure both can be taken in the car/eaten at school if needed. Unable to eat something? Liquids are easier, and our balanced smoothie option would be a good alternative.
Andrea’s Tip: Think outside the box, breakfast doesn’t have to be “breakfast food!” My kids sometimes eat leftovers for breakfast. As long as it’s a balanced and healthy choice you’re good to go for meal one!
My kids go straight from school to activities/games…what can they pack to fuel them for an active afternoon?
Honestly assess the situation. Do they really need another snack? Snacks are just small meals. And, athletes need rich fuel that contains protein and fiber-rich carbohydrates. If it’s 4PM, with a practice at 5PM; lunch was too long ago! Consider a protein, such as turkey, some vegetables; lettuce, tomato & a satiating fat avocado all stuffed into a whole grain wrap or sandwich instead of 2 apples & some trail mix.
What are healthy swaps for smoothies/savvy ways to order at popular smoothie spots?
Smoothies add up as non-satiating liquid calories and sugar bombs. Use my tips to improve the order:
- Make the base water or almond milk.
- Nix any sweetener that isn’t fruit; maple. Honey. Coconut water. Fruit juice. Agave.
- Ensure there’s a protein source: protein powder made of whey, hemp or brown rice, collagen, or greek yogurt!
- Spinach and kale are virtually impossible to taste, if it’s a dark berry base or you kid likes the idea of a hulk smoothie (once again; all about presentation! Work your marketing skills!), throw it in. See specific examples in my handout!
Want more creative smoothie ideas to make at home- see Whitney’s smoothie ebook here! Every order has a gift with purchase.
Interested in learning more from Whitness Nutrition?
Book an interest call to discuss an education session for your own school/parent group. Or, work one on one with Whitney to improve your family’s current health prioritizations. She enjoys engaging the community through public speaking seminars including corporate wellness, boutique fitness nutrition challenges & elementary/secondary school nutrition education.
Feel free to comment and share your own thoughts/questions on this subject! We will be doing an instagram live on this topic soon…
Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day! xx- Andrea + Whitney