7 Helpful Tips For Leading A Healthy, Happy Lifestyle!

Good Morning, Friends!

Words like kale and diakon were foreign to me until a few years ago when my husband and I decided to start incorporating healthier options into our family dinners. The process of leading a healthier lifestyle is still, admittedly, sometimes a struggle for me and I know so many of you share similar struggles as well. That’s why I’m so thrilled to share an exclusive interview that I had with Shelly Summar, a registered dietitian at Children’s Mercy. Shelly’s tips for incorporating healthier foods into your everyday meals has been a tremendous help for me in packing school lunches for my daughter and making better choices together as a family. Take a look…

7 tips for leading a healthier lifestyle

Be Healthy, Be Active!

“Everyone in the family can learn new healthy behaviors together. Start with one goal to work on together and support each other throughout the process.”

-Meredith Dreyer-Gillette, PhD, Developmental & Behavioral Sciences


5 Tips For Leading A Healthier Lifestyle


From Our Exclusive Interview with Shelly Summar
Registered Dietitian at Children’s Mercy

Q1- We know how crazy life can get and sometimes it feels like dinner on the go is your only option. What advice do you have for on-the-go moms who want to incorporate healthier options into their meals but don’t feel like they have time?

A1- Focus first on the ultimate fast food – fresh fruits and veggies. Fruit like apples, oranges, bananas, raisins, kiwi, etc. make great, on the go, quick additions to a meal or snack. So do carrots, celery, cucumber slices, broccoli & cauliflower to name a few. These can be taken on the go and added to a fast food sandwich to round out the meal (ex. hamburger with apple and carrots). Keep quick sources of protein on hand like canned beans, already cooked, shredded chicken breast, ground beef that has been cooked and frozen. These can be used in a wide variety of ways (ex. quesadillas, tacos, additions to soups, salads, etc) for quick, easy, healthy meals.

Q2- Younger (and older) kids can be picky at mealtime. What advice do you have for parents who want to introduce (or re-introduce) healthier options into their picky eater’s diet?

A2- Don’t make a big deal about adding a new food and be sure to be good role model. Kids pay more attention to what we do than what we say. Encourage interaction with new foods. This can be as simple as touching and smelling the food. If we can’t stand it in our hands or near our face, trying to eat it will that much more difficult.

Q3- What should the ideal meal look like for families?

A3-  In general, this plate is what a meal should look like. Half of the plate should be filled with fruits and/or veggies. When we make sure to include fruits and veggies, we will feel full eating fewer calories.

tips for leading a healthier lifestyle

Q4- What are some delicious alternatives for favorite foods for kids (like mac n’ cheese, pizza, and tacos)?

A4- My advice would be to keep these favorite foods as regulars for family meals. Be sure to include fruits and veggies with those as indicated in the previous question. Pizza can be packed with lean meat like ham and multiple veggies or the popular ham and pineapple. Make pizzas at home – that way kids can get creative with their toppings. Same thing for tacos – don’t forget the lettuce, tomatoes, salsa (try fruit salsa!). Try vegetarian options that include beans. Making pizza at home also prevents unnecessary calories from cheese in the crust or deep pan pizzas; making tacos at home allows you to choose leaner meats and make plenty of veggies available.

Q5- What advice can you offer to parents who maybe have never sent home-packed lunches to school with their kids? Is it a healthier option than a hot lunch from the cafeteria?

A5- Sending meals from home is not necessarily healthier than what is in some school cafeterias. There is, however, always the challenge around what kids actually choose to eat. My best advice is to engage the kids in packing their own meals. Using the MyPlate model above, kids can be allowed to decide which foods they will pack in each category helping to ensure they will eat what is packed.

Q6- Do you have any advice for parents to encourage their children to choose healthier snack options?

A6- The best thing parents can do is role model healthier snack options and ensure those options are readily available at home.


Q7- Do you have any other words of wisdom for busy families to make healthier choices both at home and on the go?

A7- Check out the 12345 Fit-Tastic! website at www.fittastic.org as well as our (Fit-Tastic!) Pinterest boards and follow us (Fit-Tastic!) on Facebook and Twitter. There are lots of ideas for healthy meals and ways to be active.

Get Movin’ (With One Hour Or More Of Physical Activity)

Unplug (2 Hours Maximum of Screen Time)

Moo More (3 Servings Of Low or Nonfat Milk or Yogurt)

Drink Up (4 Servings of Water Not Sugary Drinks)

Eat Right (5 Servings Or More of Fruits & Vegetables)

Tips for leading a healthier lifestyle

Learn more about the12345 Fit-Tastic Initiative and feel free to share by forwarding this blog post to a friend whose family may benefit. Visit Children’s Mercy for more information.

Stay up to date with all of Children’s Mercy’s resources for parents and families:

Online, on social media, and with Children’s Mercy Moms.

From our family to yours, iFamilyKC


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