Alternative Weight Training Exercises

personal trainerThere a number of popular weight training exercises that most people know about. The most common of these are the bicep curl, the shoulder press and the lunge lift – the ones that are usually seen in movie montages where the main character is getting “buff” and the ones performed in a gym by people seeking to gain a little muscle mass.

While these will help you reach your goal of increasing your strength and toning your muscles, there are other, alternative weight training exercises that can accomplish the same thing.

Upper Body Strengthening Exercises

If you want to gain arm strength, consider doing some shoulder and triceps exercises along with the usual bicep curls. Some of these do not even require extra weights – they use the weight of your body as the resistance that the weights provide. To gain strength and definition in your shoulder area, do an exercise that works the deltoid muscles in your upper back and shoulders.

Sit in a chair with a resistance band around your feet. Hold the ends of the band in your hands. Lift your arms straight up, while keeping your back straight. Do several reps of this each time that you work out.

Another great exercise for arm strength is the triceps lift. To do this exercise, place two chairs next to each other and stand between them with the backs of each chair facing you. Put your hands on the top of the backs and do a push up like maneuver so that you are leaning on the chairs with your toes on the floor behind you. Hold the position for as long as you can before relaxing and completing it again.

Body Weight Training Exercises

To work out other parts of your body, try some calf raises and deep knee bends – without the weights in your hands – simply use your body as the weight. To do calf raises, stand near the wall with your hands on the windowsill for balance. Point your toe to the floor and, one leg at a time, lift your heel in the air while contracting your calf muscle. Repeat several times before moving on to the other leg. A few repetitions of this will add definition and strength to your leg muscles, most specifically, your calf muscle.

A deep knee bend should be completed while standing near the wall as well, as it will help you keep your balance. Stand perpendicular to the wall with one hand touching it. Keep your feet should length apart, and bend at the knees while keeping your upper body straight. When your upper legs are parallel to the floor, you have bent down far enough.

Slowly lift yourself back up, using only your legs muscles to do so. Repeat several times. This exercise works multiple muscle grounds, including the hamstrings, quadriceps, calf muscles, hip flexors and gluteal muscles.

In order to gain both muscle strength and definition, consider doing alternative exercises like these along with the standard weight lifting movements. You will find yourself getting stronger and more flexible more quickly, and you will not be stuck working the same muscles over and over again each time.

Natural Detoxifying Techniques You Could Do Now

Fitness woman happy smilingHaving a healthy body is not all about having a slim or muscular figure. We don’t only have to take care of our physical appearance but more importantly what is inside our body. Each day our body is exposed to various toxins. This could be found in the air we breathe and the food we eat. Detoxifying is a great way of getting rid of these pollutants to keep our body working in tip top shape. It compliments a healthy lifestyle improving the benefits of eating healthy and living an active lifestyle.

To help you get started in your detoxifying journey, below are some tips you could start at home.

  • Load up on water  – Most of our body is made up of water. And loading up on water goes a long way in helping our body flush out toxins. All it takes is eight glasses of water and that’s the minimum. However, getting a few extra glasses of water each day doesn’t hurt either.
  • Exorcise those toxins through exercise – Help the body get rid of toxins by spending a few minutes each day exercising. Sweating is a great way of coxing sweat out of the body. Get the benefit of having a slimmer figure while eliminating harmful toxin buildup.
  • Get those veggies – Eating vegetables helps get rid of toxins. This is especially useful for cleaning the digestive tract. It makes it easier for the body to flush it through our solid waste. It provides bulk to our feces decreasing our risk for developing colon cancer.
  • Fruit and Juices –  Whether eaten directly or in its liquid form, fruits are good detoxifying agents. Just like water, fruit juices course its way through our body flushing toxins along the way. Turn your favorite fruit into a juice or make it your favorite snack. A great alternative to processed food and snacks.
  • Fasting for a day – Give your body the best opportunity to get rid of toxins by letting it focus on detoxification. Drink plenty of fluids such as water and juices. This could be done once every month. Living a healthy lifestyle is striking a balance. Never fast for more than a day. You shouldn’t confuse fasting for detoxification with dieting.
  • Body wraps – Body wraps promotes sweating. Increase the benefits of using body wraps by matching it with detoxifying oils. Body wrap treatments are not only a good way of helping your body detoxify but is also a simple way of releasing stress. This way you don’t only get rid of physical toxins but also mental toxins as well.
  • Stay clear of toxins – Don’t just get rid of toxins but prevent it from coming back by living and eating healthy. Stay clear of dirty or polluted environments. Toxins could also enter the body through the air. Eat healthy food that promotes detoxification while avoiding processed foods.

There are many facets to a healthy body. Eating healthy foods and living an active lifestyle is just part of the process. Helping the body rid itself of toxins should not be ignored. Get the complete healthy lifestyle by incorporating each discipline.

Finding Relief from Arthritis Naturally

Senior Couple Exercising In ParkArthritis is a common ailment among the elderly. But this is a complaint that also affects younger people. There are many types of arthritis but general symptoms include swelling, stiffness and pain. Treatment for arthritis usually includes the use of medications that provide instant pain relief. But the use of drugs and medications are not the only means available for effective arthritis management.

For the millions of arthritis sufferers searching for effective home remedies for arthritis, below are proven natural treatments for arthritis.

Eating a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet keeps you within ideal weight limits while reducing the stress on your joints. Talking with a nutritionist also gives you an idea on what type of foods to avoid. Eating dairy products in particular should be minimized or eliminated altogether. A nutritionist could give you information on healthier alternatives to dairy products. Arthritis sufferers should also keep an eye for high sugar foods, caffeine and carbonated drinks that could worsen joint pain and swelling.

Fish is an excellent source of Omega-3. This is also available in supplements, nuts and flaxseed oils. Omega-3 improves circulation by removing blockages. However, before taking Omega-3 supplements check this with your doctor. If you are currently taking blood thinning drugs, this could increase your chance for bleeding or hemorrhage.

Massage

Massaging is a simple way of providing instant relief to swelling and arthritis pain. It is also a powerful stress reliever, preventing the production of cortisol (stress hormone) that only aggravates the condition. Massaging improves blood flow and reduces inflammation.

Acupuncture

Arthritis sufferers searching for alternative treatments for arthritis could use acupuncture to reduce inflammation and pain. It is also a powerful stress reliever that calms and soothes the nerves of arthritis patients. Acupuncture needles are used to restore the normal flow of energy through the body. It reduces inflammation in painful areas and promotes healthy blood flow.

Herbs and Supplements

Another traditional way of treating arthritis at home is through the use of herbs and supplements. Herbs for example have long been used in traditional medicine to enhance body functioning and are important ingredients to some of today’s most potent medicines.

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements can be used to slow cartilage loss and reduce pain. However, its effects are not readily felt by the sufferer. The benefits are sometimes seen after one month of use. Ginger is another health supplement that has proven itself as an effective natural treatment for arthritis. It improves blood circulation and carries inflammatory chemicals away from the joints.

Applying Heat and Cold Treatments

Applying heat and cold treatments to painful joints provides instant relief. Hot packs, electric blankets, heating pads and hot packs are just some of the simple ways you could introduce heat to painful joints. Taking a hot bath or shower soothes the body and helps reduce pain quickly.

Cold treatments equally work well in reducing painful joints. It reduces pain by numbing the nerves and reduces inflammation by preventing the flow of white cells into the joint. Wrapping ice in a towel or placing cold fruits and vegetables over the painful joints are just some of the creative ways to apply cold treatments.

Capsaicin is a chemical found in hot peppers and brings instant hit when rubbed on the skin. It reduces pain by distracting the brain and irritating nerve endings. Eucalyptus oil and wintergreen are also great for soothing painful joints. These creams are very potent and should not be combined with heating pad; this could burn or irritate the skin.

These are just some of the effective home remedies for arthritis that offer a gentler and more natural way of managing and treating the symptoms of arthritis. However, for a more complete treatment regimen, establishing a relationship and constant communication with your physician should always be a priority.

Breast Cancer – Early Signs

breast cancer awareness monthThe incidents of breast cancer continuous to rise over the past years even with the advent of new technologies and new cancer intervention treatments. And this is not only confined to women but with men as well.

Cancer Causes

Even with breasts cancer awareness programs and information drives, plenty still of those who have it are still unaware of it. Most often this happened when these women are not in any line of cancer genes or has been healthy all their lives.

Breast cancer though can be very silent and can stalk you without knowing. Causes of breast cancer are detailed below:

  • Old age
  • Genetics/ hereditary
  • History of breast cancer
  • Breast lumps
  • Estrogen exposure
  • Obesity
  • Height (taller women has higher chance of having it)
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Radiation exposure
  • Specific Jobs(night jobs exposed to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors)
  • HRT or hormone replacement therapy

Early Signs of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer intervention can be very effective once it is done at the start early onset of the condition. To be able to detect it early, women should be able to keep their selves aware of its different symptoms.

Angelina Jolie, when diagnosed with a certain rare cancer strand had a Mastectomy (removal of breasts). The beauty of early intervention is it keeps you even from acquiring it or making it worse. Jolie who undergo mastectomy have had a breast implant or breast augmentation after to go back to normal.

Many women who had mastectomy ahs found a savior from breast implants to restore normal look and be confident again. And for the early diagnosis and intervention, see below.

  1. Change in nipple and breast feeling. Tendency is, there will be lumps or thickening near the breast. Mostly it appears near the underarm area also. Another notable one is the enlargement of pores in the breast. But don’t panic once you detect a couple o lumps, some are not cancerous. To be sure, have a professional examine it for you.
  2. Change in breast and nipple appearance. A change in the size of the breast as well as any dimpling can be an early sign. Uneven swelling or shrinkage should also be checked. When suddenly your nipples turn inverted or inward, it can be a sign that you need to be checked up.
  3. Nipple discharge. A milky discharge is okay with women who are breastfeeding. But once you are not into it, chances are you may be experiencing something. Though it might not be cancer, it always pays to be careful.
  4. Pain in the armpits. Once the pain in your armpits is bothering you and it isn’t by any chance related to your period, then see a doctor right away.

Don’t Panic, Be Calm

Once you have some of the symptoms above, don’t panic nor be alarmed. Keep calm and go to a doctor right away. Have some laboratory tests scheduled. Some may even be a false alarm.

Once your first diagnosis is positive, always go for the second and third opinion. But if it is really positive, there are interventions in it.

There are plenty of treatments for cancer.  Treatments depend on the cancer stage. Known ones include chemotherapy, mastectomy (like those of Angelina Jolie), hormone therapy and biological treatment. But the biggest weapon you can have is a huge heart, a good fighting will and a strong spirit. So be aware of its symptoms and have early intervention once you suspect you have it.

Massage Therapy for a Healthier You

massage therapyFor many of us, popping a pill is the easiest solution to many of our everyday maladies. It is no surprise since modern medical science has found a way to almost instantly cure even the most debilitating disease known to man. But this is far from perfect. Even the most potent medicines or surgical procedures have its share of side effects and complications. Thus the search for gentler and more natural treatments continues.

Massage therapy is just one of the many popular alternative treatments available today. It brings the power of touch to people who are suffering from sore muscles or a gentle way to relieve stress. The benefits of massage therapy however, go beyond relaxing tired muscles after a grueling workout or just another beauty treatment in your favorite spa. 

Stress Reliever and Anti-depressant

Stress has been linked to many diseases. It also speeds up the aging process. The benefits of massage therapy are not just skin deep. Every stroke also helps your body release stress and relaxes your soul. Massage therapy reduces the levels of cortisol or stress hormone, uplifting your spirits and lowering blood pressure. Heart muscles relax and blood pressure return to normal. It can also encourage the release of serotonin and dopamine the body’s feel good hormones.

Enhances Sleep Quality

One of the most difficult things to do when we are getting a good massage is keeping ourselves from sleeping. Massage therapy could be a more relaxing and fun way of lulling ourselves to sleep. Studies have shown that massages have an effect on delta waves or those associated with deep sleep.

Improves Blood Circulation

Inflammation and pain are two of the body’s natural reaction during tissue or muscle injury. Massage therapy improves blood flow to the area by relaxing blood vessels. Better circulation helps much needed nutrients reach cells. Injuries heal much faster and help muscles recover for another day at the gym.

Improving blood circulation can have a positive effect on cardio vascular health. It reduces chances for elevated blood pressures decreasing the heart’s workload. By the relaxing the body, it puts less strain on the heart reducing your risks for developing cardio vascular diseases.

Enhances Brain Functioning

 

Reduces stress levels improved blood circulation to the brain all contributes to better brain functioning. People are able to concentrate and focus better without the cloud of stress. Relaxed moods also helps them maintain emotional stability especially people suffering from chronic depression.

 

Stimulate both physical and chemical responses in the body to reduce pain

 

Regular massage therapy sessions can help people from chronic pain. One example is its therapeutic effects on people suffering from arthritis. It can trigger the release of feel good hormones while gently easing pain in the affected areas with its soothing actions. It reduces inflammation by improving blood circulation.

 

Improves Breathing

 

Massage therapy can help people suffering from asthma or other pulmonary conditions. People with colds having difficult time breathing use more accessory muscles. These increases the workload on the muscles makes it harder to breathe. Massages eases and relaxes the muscles rejuvenating them for the task ahead.

 

 

 

Five Great Reasons to Eat a Banana

Considered as one of the world’s miracle fruits, the musa acuminata better known as a banana has a number of known and proven health benefits. In fact, it may even have more health benefits than any other fruit in the market. What makes a banana even better than most healthy fruits like apples, grapes, mangoes or an orange is that fact that it is a lot cheaper and is widely available in most parts of the world.

There have been numerous clinical studies in the past that link banana to various health benefits, some of which are presented below.

Bananas are good for your heart and blood

Potassium is one of the most abundant nutrients packed in a single banana serving. Needless to say, potassium has a lot of known benefits. For starters, potassium helps the heart by promoting better circulation of blood. A single banana serving also has vitamin B6 – an essential vitamin that aids in the production of helpful antibodies.

Likewise, vitamin B6 also helps in the production of hemoglobin, another important nutrient the human body needs.

Banana as a natural mood enhancer

It is also said that banana is a natural mood enhancer. This miracle fruit has tryphotan which can help smoothen and enhance the mood of people. Tryphotan is an amino acid which can help the human body produce serotonin. Serotonin, on the other hand, can produce a calming effect on the human body and is bound to stabilize the mood of the person taking it.

A banana a day is good for your kidney and bones

The old adage, an apple a day keeps the doctor away may just be it – old. Bananas have already proven its worth many times over. One of its many benefits includes helping your kidneys and bones to become stronger and less vulnerable to complications.

This is due to the high potassium content of a banana fruit. Potassium suppresses calcium excretion in the urine and is therefore minimizing the risk against kidney stones. For that matter, I guess it would be wise to say that a banana a day keeps the doctor away.

Regular intake of bananas is said to make a person smarter

According to a study conducted on 200 students at a Middlesex school, a normal intake of banana after every meal makes pupils more alert and open to learning.

Bananas can promote better bowel movement

Another well known benefit of banana is that this miracle fruit is high in fiber and can restore and promote better bowel movement. That is the reason why people suffering from constipation are almost always given a serving of banana. In addition to that, better bowel movement brought about by a serving of banana is good for one’s overall health.

Apart from the health benefits pointed above, bananas can also help people wanting to quit smoking and serve as a stress reliever for many. Heartburn, anemia and ulcers can also be improved by a daily intake of banana while morning sickness and hangover can be remedied with a single banana serving.

It is important to know and remember that a banana is a great natural remedy for many illnesses. Hence it would be wise to include a serving of banana in your daily diet.

Eating Schedule – Before and After Workouts

personal trainerDedicating yourself to a healthy lifestyle by eating the right diet and living a more actively seems simple. But it entails a lot of discipline and a little know how. This is true especially for those who are planning to spend a couple of hours at the gym.

The body needs a steady source of energy and nutrients. This holds true for those planning to lose weight or adding muscles. Energy is needed to power your various workout exercises and getting enough energy is essential to proper functioning in the gym. What happens after workouts is also essential. It determines the most safest and opportune time to eat and help your body in the recovery process.

Before Workouts

If you’re planning to go on a workout it is important for you to adjust eating times accordingly. Working out with a full stomach could have a negative effect on your workout. The body spends energy digesting, energy which is needed during a workout. This only makes you tire easily as your body divides itself between digesting and providing you with energy during workouts.

Working out in the gym entails focus both mentally and physically. And a full stomach could make you feel lethargic or overly relaxed. Lifting weights especially free weights can be taxing mentally and needs full focus. Hard to do when your body is still busy digesting a meal.

Eating after Workouts

Your body’s natural reaction after a workout is to replace lost energy stores. Strenuous workouts may have caused minor muscle tear which require immediate repair. Feelings of hunger is triggered, signaling you that your body is in need of instant nourishment.

If you’re about to go through a long workout, one or two hours for example. Be sure to have something handy to provide you with a quick energy source. Eat snacks rich in protein and carbohydrates. Bring snacks in the gym to immediately replenish energy and jumpstart the repairing process. Water is also essential. This is needed to prevent dehydration after a grueling workout.

A 15 minute minimum is required after exercising before you eat.

For those not hungry

For some especially for those whose goal is losing weight, eating after your workout could be detrimental to your weight loss efforts. Eating after a workout actually helps the body restock lost fats which might have been lost during the workout. If you feel hungry, only consume that which is enough to keep you going through the day.

Drink water, pure fruit juices or an energy drink to prevent dehydration and replace lost electrolytes. Even when you’re not feeling hungry or trying to lose weight, replacing lost electrolytes is essential for maintaining proper energy levels.

Eating habits before and after workouts

Working out in the gym is one of the best and fastest way to a healthier body. But it entails an extra sense of discipline. This includes proper eating habits to maximize every second you spend in the gym. So the next time you plan on going to the gym, take note of this simple guide on eating before and after workouts.

Yoga, Natural Stress Reliever

Fitness girl DYoga as a movement has dated back in the ancient times of India. Today, 15 million Americans practice it while its fans are mostly women and those in the age brackets of 18-34.

Yoga has been known as one of the oldest practice of self-development and has evolved from its classic beauty to its modern charms today. It included discipline, medication, breathing and physical postures. Now a major physical fitness staple and movement in the West, it has come a long way since its establishment and practice from the East.

Understanding Yoga

Yoga is composed of stretching exercises, relaxation and controlled breathing. Its major focus though has been on its Asanas or the poses. It is an excellent activity to reduce stress.

Yoga poses are composed of different movements that are designed to increase flexibility as well as the strength. These poses are either done at home or in a yoga room. Yoga poses can be brought outdoors too and may be done even in offices and workplace. Poses also varies from simple floor stretching to complicated postures that make use of some yoga equipment.

Yoga has become a fitness phenomenon as well as a meditation option. It helps improve range, motion, strength and balance. Keeps you from injuring yourself from some physical endeavors and makes you healthy due to its capability to improve blood circulation and its flushing out f toxins benefits.

It has been known to help manage heart conditions, high blood and alleviate pain, anxiety and sleeping problems.

Lately though yoga has been emphasized as a stress buster. So how does it benefit stress?

Yoga in Fighting Stress

There are many stressors in everyone’s everyday life. Say you got an inconsiderate boss, an exam tomorrow, or a deadline to meet. Work and personal life are often the two major fields in one’s life that can cause stress. Physical and emotional stress once adds up can be tasking and may affect ones normal day to day living.

Yoga on the other hand can help remedy it and even reduce it. You can start saying goodbye to emotional tension and even to physical stress.6

Yoga poses helps better blood circulation which may prep up the body to function better and be stronger to fight against tasking mental stress and over thinking. Plus, yoga may help reduce the cortisone hormones as well as the adrenaline, two of the things that are known as chemical stressors.

Plus, consistent yoga practice may prevent depression and moods swings, one major result of long time stress. It helps increase the body’s serotonin level which regulates sleep, appetite and mood.

Different Yoga Moves to Battle Stress

Here are some different yoga poses you may try to help combat stress.

  1. Child’s Pose. You may need a pillow for this pose. Lower on your knees and fold your upper body over the support or the pillow. Rest forearms in the floor and turn to one side.
  2. Half Pigeon. Half pigeon pose asks you to go on all fours, move your right knee forward toward your right hand as you lower your right hip into the pillow. Let your hands support you.
  3. Supported bridge pose. Lie on your back, bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor apart. Extend your arms by your side on the floor and lift your hips while sliding the yoga block under the base of the spine. Always do the pose first before putting the block support under you.
  4. Reclining bound angle pose. This one’s a bit easy. Lie on your back putting your feet soles together. Slide it up close to the groin as possible and put a cushion under your legs. Place your arms at your side in 45 degree angle while palm is up.

These yoga poses doesn’t just need to be executed, you have to do the breathing exercises with it. It will calm you down, help you think better and keep you perked up for the day.

Coffee Overload – Why too much coffee is Bad for your Health

There are always two sides to a story and when it comes to drinking coffee you might want to consider spending some time to consider its negative side effects to your health. This might be a hard thought to swallow for the millions of Americans who drink a cup or two of coffee daily. Too much of a good thing can have a negative effect on your health. So before you take your daily dose of coffee, here are a few things to consider.

Coffee Makes Sleeping Much Harder

Coffee’s greatest benefit might also work against your health. Sleeping is a time when our body’s recuperate and repair itself after a grueling day at the office. Research shows that people who drink more than two cups of coffee have a harder time going to sleep or have poor sleep quality.

Coffee can make you feel depressed

Coffee is a great way of instantly boosting our energy levels. But drinking large amounts of coffee also depletes the body’s level of serotonin. This is a feel good chemically that gives us that natural good feel. Serotonin is often taken by people suffering from depression. And when we rob ourselves of  this chemical, it only increases the risk of us suffering from bouts of depression.

Coffee weakens our Immune System

Caffeine increases our body’s production of glucocorticoids and cortisol. High levels of glucocorticoid decrease our immune system’s effectiveness. Drinking more than normal amounts of coffee during those cold winter nights might warm your body but also increases the chance of you catching a cold.

Coffee can hurt your Liver

The liver is responsible for producing enzymes that breakdown caffeine. The more coffee you drink, less enzymes are available for detoxifying your bloodstream. When our liver is stressed to produce more enzymes, it increases the possibility of long term liver damage.

Coffee disrupts our metabolism

If you’re on a diet or watching your weight then this could be a good reason to cut down on your coffee intake. Coffee can make you gain a few more pounds not because of the calories it contain but because it interferes with your normal metabolism. Coffee may not directly affect our body’s metabolism but its action on the other organs ultimately leads to weight gain. The thyroid gland controls our rate of metabolism. Coffee has a negative effect on the adrenal gland which releases hormones that control the normal functioning of the thyroid gland.

 

Coffee can interfere with your nutrition   

 

Coffee can interfere with how your body absorbs nutrients and vitamins. Drinking coffee or tea during meals increases the chance that most of the nutrients especially iron won’t be absorbed. Calcium, sodium, zinc, potassium and thiamine are just some of these nutrients that are affected when we drink coffee during meals.

 

Coffee negatively affects our sex drive

 

Testosterone is a sex hormone responsible for sex drive in both men and women. These hormones are produced in the adrenal gland that is affected when we drink too much coffee. When the adrenal gland is hard pressed to produce adrenaline for example, it has little energy to produce other important hormones such as testosterone. You might be awake for a good portion of the night but have little drive or energy to perform sex.

Healthy Eating for Children

best vitamins for kidsEating healthy will always be a staple in living a good life. It is essential in keeping us healthy during our adulthood but equally important during our growing years. Most parents think that kids could get away with everything in terms of their diet. But proper nutrition is needed for normal and optimum growth.

Part of a parent’s responsibility is to ensure that their kids are getting the right nutrition for their age. They must be sure that their kids are getting a balance and healthy diet. It might sound simple but if getting your kids to eat their fruits and vegetables can be a daunting task as many parents know.

Calcium

 

Calcium helps make strong bones and teeth, and this nutrient is most important during the years when bones are growing. Foods that are highest in calcium come from the cow — low-fat milk, cheeses, and yogurt. But some leafy vegetables and fortified juices are also good sources of calcium. Here are some ways to give your child the calcium he needs:

  • Start his day with a bowl of cold or hot whole-grain cereal topped with skim or low-fat milk and sliced fresh fruit.
  • Serve low-fat yogurt, smoothies, or cheese after school and between meals for a nourishing calcium-rich snack.
  • Calcium-fortified juices and cereals are fine nondairy alternatives to help meet your child’s daily requirement.

 

Fiber

Grandma called it roughage and everyone, kids included, needs plenty of it each day to keep their digestive system working well. Here’s how to get your kids used to the taste of fiber-rich foods, which they can come to love.

A bowl of high-fiber cereal is a great start to meeting your child’s daily needs. Read food labels to find whole-grain cereals that provide 3 grams or more of fiber per serving. Usually, the more sugar in a cereal, the less fiber. Add sweetness to cereal with fresh, canned (unsweetened), or frozen fruit.

Have cut-up whole fruits and veggies on hand to help your child meet the recommended five or more daily servings of fiber. Keep fruit juice to a minimum. Whole fruits and vegetables contain much more fiber and less sugar than most juices.

Beans are loaded with fiber and protein. Drain and rinse canned beans and toss into soups, stews, salads, scrambled eggs and omelets, and salsas.

Protein

Every cell in the body is made of protein, which makes this major nutrient essential for healthy growth and development. Protein is found in animal products such as dairy, eggs, seafood, and meats. In somewhat lesser amounts, it is also in beans, nuts, vegetables, and grains. Boost your child’s nutritional intake with these protein-rich food ideas.

Even finicky kids love eggs. French toast, scrambled eggs, pancakes, and omelets are kid-pleasing dishes that contain plenty of protein, iron, and other important nutrients.

Branch out from fish sticks and try salmon dishes that kids will enjoy. Top salmon or other fish fillets with salsa or teriyaki sauce to give your child lean protein along with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Add nuts to cereals, yogurts, or vegetables for added protein, fiber, and healthy unsaturated fats.

Antioxidant Superfoods

Antioxidants help defend the body against harmful substances that can damage the body’s cells. Power up your child’s diet with foods rich in antioxidants, such as almonds, berries, citrus, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

  • Bring orange wedges, 100% citrus juice, fruit, or nut granola bars to the next sports practice for a refreshing and energizing treat.
  • Pack school lunches with baby carrots, grape tomatoes, or red bell pepper slices for a fiber- and antioxidant-rich lunch or snack.
  • Add plenty of antioxidant-rich tomatoes or tomato sauce to pizza, spaghetti, meatloaf, soups, and stews.

 

Iron

Children’s diets are often lacking in iron, a mineral that carries oxygen in the blood and helps keep kids energized. Boost the iron in your kids’ diet with lean meats, eggs, fish, dark leafy greens, beans, dried fruits, and iron-fortified grains.

Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron, so pair eggs with oranges or orange juice.

Serve spinach salads at mealtime, topped with strawberries, dried cranberries, and/or slivered almonds and a light raspberry vinaigrette dressing. The fruit will help the body absorb the iron in the spinach, and kids will love the taste.

When kids refuse a meal, offer iron-fortified cereal topped with low-fat milk or yogurt and fruit as a healthy meal substitute.