Family around dinner table with mom serving (photo by iStock)
Ohio Life | Live Well Ohio

Live Well Ohio: Sept./Oct. 2022

Learn how to help the kids in your life develop a healthy relationship with food, and get advice for protecting your bones and joints as you age. 

Kids Meals 
Parents can adopt these strategies to help their kids build a positive relationship with food and their body.

We know, your child’s favorite snacks aren’t carrots and apples, but when kids struggle with their weight, how can you help them without creating feelings of shame, anxiety and low self-worth?

“I find many parents will come to discuss their child sneaking or hiding food, and that is humiliating,” says Carolyn Ievers-Landis, a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in pediatric psychology for University Hospitals in Cleveland.

The first step for parents is not buying binge-trigger foods that are highly palatable to kids who have trouble eating small portions. Beyond that, use these strategies for setting examples of healthy eating and helping kids form a positive mindset about food and their body. 

Set a Respectful Table. “So many families get into conflict at mealtime,” Ievers-Landis says, adding that children often want to eat something different than their siblings or parents. “Allow for age-appropriate flexibility and choices. At mealtime, avoid criticism or attention paid to someone wanting to eat one food and not the other. Offer healthy foods and be flexible and respectful.”

Show Healthy Portions. Family-style dinners make portion control difficult. Instead, plate meals. Purchase single-serving snacks or review the label packaging with kids so they can enjoy a fun treat while also understanding how much a portion really is. “If you want to get ice cream, rather than buying a gallon, go out and each get a cup,” Ievers-Landis suggests.

Promote a Strong Body.  “Kids who are more comfortable in their bodies and enjoy physical activities feel more confident,” Ievers-Landis says. “How you can help your child embrace their current body is to talk about all that their body does and find ways of being physically active that they love.” 

Woman sitting on couch feeling knee (photo by iStock)
Staying Strong
An orthopedic surgeon offers his advice for how to protect your bone and joint health as you age. 

Bone breaks and joint aches can make you feel older than you are, and acute injuries can eventually cascade into chronic problems. Often, not until an incident occurs do we think about how our daily behaviors make a difference.

“There is a significant interplay between our nutrition, sleep, stress levels and muscle mass as it contributes to bone and joint health, aging gracefully and maintaining a high quality of life,” says Dr. Safet Hatic, an orthopedic surgeon at Orthopedic Associates in Dayton and director of rehabilitation services at Wayne HealthCare in Greenville.

His message is simple: “Do not wait to react to a problem.” According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, one in three women and one in five men over the ages of 50 will suffer an osteopathic fracture caused by thinning, weakening bones, but Hatic says there are steps you can take to protect bone and joint health. 

Keep Moving
Except for an injury where rest is part of the prescription, the most proactive approach to bone and joint wellness is to stay in motion, according to Hatic. “Maintaining mobility is important for quality of life,” he says. “Exercise is not for everyone, but what is absolutely critical is regular activity.” Simple suggestions include parking far away from store entrances while running errands, taking the stairs when possible, trying to get up and down from your desk, or taking five-minute walking breaks. 

Build Strength
Resistance is critical for maintaining muscle mass, which naturally declines after the age of 30. “The machinery in your body that promotes longevity is muscle, and the only way to build that is through resistance training,” says Hatic Ways to engage in this practice are to do bodyweight exercises, lift weights and make it a habit to push and pull heavy objects. 

Get Proper Nutrition
Along with getting enough vitamin D and calcium, Hatic says it is important to maintain tight glycemic control and get adequate nutrients. Incorporate foods with healthy fats like cold-water fish (such as sardines and salmon), leafy greens, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and fruits like grapes. “Health is not about being skinny,” Hatic adds. “It’s about metabolic health, and that means our blood pressure is optimized and our diet is meeting nutritional needs.” 

Be Careful of Supplements
Do you really need a calcium and vitamin D supplement? That depends, Hatic says, and taking one could potentially even be detrimental to your health. “There’s a misconception that just because they’re readily available over the counter, it’s good for you,” he explains. “But it’s important to understand how a supplement might interact with any medications you are taking.” 

Address the Aches 
Listen to your body and be sure to talk to your doctor about issues that are causing pain and keeping you from remaining active as you age. “Don’t ignore problems that are inhibiting your ability to maintain an active lifestyle,” Hatic says, “because consequences can be significant.”