Thursday, February 20, 2014

Making Healthy Food A Part Of Your Family

While choosing to eat healthy is the first step, getting the rest of the family to follow suit, may be a challenge. I can eat as healthy as I choose, for Stella (3 ½ years-old) and Carter (18 months) this is a whole other story.
I know the importance of ensuring that my little ones develop good eating habits at an early age. I am not sure if it is my fault (tracing back to my pregnancy cravings), but they both have quite the sweet tooth. But habits should be formed now because as they get older, they will be harder to break.

Here are some things that I have tried that have proved to have some success with keeping the kids’ eating habits on track:

·        Offer healthy choices – If the snack choice consists of chips or rice cakes, it is no surprise that the kids will choose chip.    I mean, come on, wouldn’t you? Both of my little ones are  old enough to make choices (even if Carter does this simply by pointing and shaking his head). When I allow them to  open the pantry for a snack, they find the least healthy item   in there. Instead, I will select two things to choose from, like applesauce or a banana, that way, I am happy with whatever they choose. If the kids don’t want either? Then they must  not be that hungry

Crab legs! Who knew the kids would love them!
·        Re-write the kids’ menu – Who says that kids have to have traditional “kid-friendly” food. As soon as mine had teeth, they were eating what hubby and I were eating. They now gobble up things like tofu and salmon and turn their noses up at peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The best part? Mom    or dad only has to cook one meal!
·        Be the captain of your ship – Who does the grocery shopping in the house? If there is a lot of junk food – it didn’t get there by accident. I remind myself when at the grocery store that if I buy a box of cookies, someone will eat them. The less junk food I buy, the less tempted everyone is to indulge.

·        Don’t make the kids “clean their plate” – While this strategy may have been used by our parents, it is not the best practice. Forcing kids to “clean their plate” only makes eating a chore. It also forces kids to eat when they may no longer be hungry. All that teaches them is too overeat and not listen to their bodies.

·        Remember that food is not love – I really had to struggle with this one. I am guilty of passing out cookies, baking brownies, or going out for ice cream when Stella has done something good. It is embarrassing because, sometimes, she asks if she has been good and I know that this is a code for wanting a sweet treat. Instead, I have to find other ways to reward her for things. Perhaps it is an extra book before bed or allowing her to choose a game for us to play. Maybe I print out some free pages for her to color or paint. It is hard because a sweet treat is so much less time consuming than the other options but I know, in the end, this is the healthier choice.

If being a parent wasn’t hard enough, taking extra steps to ensure you are raising health-conscious eaters makes it harder. It takes time and planning (as if you didn’t have enough to do). But with the startling rates of childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes, this is not something that we can ignore. Lowering our kids’ risks of these nutrition-related diseases is easier than dealing with a chronically ill one.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stay Haute During the Holidays

The holidays are a time of joy, laughter, and festivities. Festivities mean parties and parties mean food. The holiday times usually mean chaos for the family schedule and eating.

I really try to celebrate the holidays without allowing all the unhealthy food and sweets to throw my family off track. This is important to me since I run frequently and am always trying to eat smart for my next half marathon adventure. Being a health educator, I also know the importance of keeping my little ones from going off the junk food deep end.

These are some things I do to model healthy holidays around the house:

Substitute Low Fat/Low Calorie Ingredients
• I often use two egg whites in the place of one egg. I've learned this can reduce the cholesterol and produce the same result.
• Try to substitute applesauce for oil, margarine or butter in muffins, breads and sweets. I try substituting a small amount at first; the more I substitute, the more the texture of the finished product changes. My family never notices the difference!
• For dips, sauces, dressings and pie toppings, I use fat-free ingredients. Fat-free yogurt, sour cream and whipped topping have the same effect without the extra fat.
• Choose reduced-fat or low-fat cheeses for salads and casseroles. This is easier on the waist and the kids’ tummies.

Party Smart
• I try to start the day with a healthy breakfast. Low-fat yogurt with granola and berries, eggs with whole wheat toast and tomatoes, or toast with peanut butter and bananas. Eating a hearty breakfast makes the whole family less likely to indulge in holiday goodies throughout the day, wherever they may be.
• I choose carefully between foods you definitely will eat, those you will sample and those to skip. I talk to Stella, my 3-year-old, about what to avoid before the party, and we stick with that plan. For example, we will plan to eat dinner with some vegetables BEFORE we get dessert.
• I don’t rush to eat. Socialize and settle into the festivities before eating.
• Moving the socializing away from the buffet or appetizer tray is something that always keeps me out of trouble. It's my secret to minimizing unconscious nibbling.
• I fill the family’s plate with fruits, vegetables, and other healthy choices. This makes less room for those high calorie/fatty foods.

Stay On The Move
• I try to schedule outside time even if it means only heading out for 20-30 minutes before it gets dark. This keeps the family moving and off the couch.
• I encourage my family and guests to join me on walks or runs. If I have visitors, I ask them to come along. If they don’t run, I take them for a nice walk.
• I like to join in holiday and family-friendly events this time of year. There are so many fun walking/running events through the holiday season. Events such as the Holiday Half in Pomona have family fun expos all the way to half marathons that welcome costumes and strollers! That’s where we will be this weekend!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Thanks

It's no secret that my family has been going through tough times. But we are not different than any family. Everyone experiences ups and downs.

Something that I am finding out is that these tough times are changing my ways, my thinking, my attitudes. Changing them forever.

I have become so much more thankful than I used to be. Things that I used to take for granted have become daily blessings. It is surprising actually that I had so much and never noticed. Now that so much is gone, I'm more grateful for the little things.

So to say my thanks and spread the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to share my new found blessings I give thanks for.

1. I am thankful that my alarm goes off at 5 a.m. in the morning so that I can head out for a dawn run. I see the sunrise and smell early morning a few times a week, and that's something many people miss.

2. I am thankful that I can only run three or four miles during the week because I have to rush back to get ready for work. My job used to be something that tied me down, but now it is everything that allows me to provide for my family.

3. I am thankful for my community. There are people who I barely know who have come forward, in amazing ways, to offer help, assistance and support. It humbles me, and it makes me want to be a better person.

4. I am thankful for the little voices and pitter-patter of feet that wake me up on the few days I have the luxury of sleeping in. They are my children, my reason behind any action, my heart.

5. I am thankful for my health. I can run, jump, play and swim with my family.

6. I am thankful for the roof over my head. With its old electrical system and its leaky roof, it keeps us warm at night and provides shelter, which unfortunately, some people do not have.

7. I am thankful for my family. While family can be such a source of headache and drama, my family has circled around us, supported us during our worse times.

8. I am thankful for my hubby. We don’t always get along, and we don’t always agree, but I am most thankful that in our toughest times we have one another to lean on. I have a person who will always be on my team through thick and thin.

Regardless of situation or circumstance, it is the start of the season of giving thanks and spreading joy. Joy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and I am so grateful that my vision is clear.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mommy Fail?

Stella, my 3-year-old daughter, told me the other day that I was not being nice to her. Putting her dramatic nature aside, I was still hurt by this comment.
It made me think. Am I a bad mom? Was I being a bad parent?

Us parents are busy. We work, we budget, we cook, we clean ... When I get home from work, I’m tired. I get an average of six hours of sleep at night. Sometimes I feel lucky that I find time to wash my hair.

On the way to pick up the kids after work, I feel excited. For a moment I realize that I missed my little babies all day, and I can’t wait to hug them, kiss them, squeeze them and smell them.
And then that moment is gone.

I think about dinner and how I'm going to get that dinner on the table while I am home alone with two kids until hubby gets home. I think about all the things I meant to do that day but never got to. I think about the laundry, the dishes and the phone calls I want to return but won’t be able to once my kids start running loose around the house.

I feel tired. Sometimes I just want quiet for one minute, I want this so badly that I get home, turn on the TV and plop my little ones down in front of it in hopes that they will not need me for maybe five minutes. Just five whole minutes.

This of course, never happens. When they do need me, less than one minute later, I feel irritated and annoyed. I wonder why they just can’t leave me alone. Then I feel sad.

I see their precious, innocent faces and remind myself that they need me because I am their mother and that is my job. Am I bad parent?

No, I'm not a bad parent. I care for my family. I do what I can to survive, as many of us do on a daily basis. Considering the fact that Stella made her claim based on the fact that she was not allowed to have a cookie until after dinner further proves my point. Our children may make claims that are real to them but not realistic at all.

We must remember that no matter what we do, we do it for our kids. And that makes us all GREAT parents.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Huate Mom Goes Marathoner

Sometimes, with a family to manage, things seem impossible. There is no time, no help and too much to do. This past weekend I learned that nothing is impossible.

Last April I set a goal that seemed to be unreachable. At the Hollywood Half Marathon Expo, I walked past the Long Beach IBC Marathon booth and signed up for the full marathon. Although I was a seasoned half marathon runner, I had never given serious thought to running the full 26.2 miles. Who knows what was in the air that day, the smell of new running shoes maybe, but I did it. I signed up.

From that day the training began. Little by little, I plugged away building towards my marathon. I planned, I ran, I sacrificed. And so did my family.

While running is obviously a big part of my lifestyle, taking on the task of completing 15-, 20- and 23-mile training runs is a whole other ball game. Goodbye quick morning jogs; hello long three to four hour runs.

I often stopped along the way to reconsider. Training for the marathon was cutting into my already busy schedule and taking away from my family.

But, for anyone who knows me,  I don’t back down. I do what I commit to, and I had already committed to my first full marathon. In my mind, I had to do this for myself and there was no going back.

On Sunday, October 13, I awoke at 3:30 am. The cool fall weather I had been hoping for promised to hold out long enough to get through my big day. I said goodbye to my children the night before and, leaving them behind with my mom, the hubby and I drove downtown in the dark.

Standing in the corral at the marathon start, I knew I had done the right thing. All of the time, the training and the sacrifice had been worth it. I was about to check an item off my bucket list.
There were a number of times on course where my children came to mind. My heart and my soul stayed focused on the things that give me strength.

As a mom, there are so many opportunities that we shrug off because of our families, busy schedules and time constraints. Yet I learned that sometimes, seizing an opportunity can be a positive experience for the whole family. It gives us pride as well as reminders of strength and ability. I am so fulfilled by my marathon completion.

I watch Stella walk around with my medal around her neck and know that all the hard work has given my children a positive lesson in never giving up. It will remind them to go for the goals that they may think are impossible. And, this experience reminds me of how wonderful it is to be a haute mom.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Our Father's Day

The tie is so yesterday.
Part of being a haute mom is learning how to work your household. It is hard to be a mom and be haute so we deserve all that we can get!  What did you do for Mother's Day?  I am willing to bet 99% of you cleaned or laundered something in your house.  Well, thanks to guest writer Michelle Pino, moms may be able to enjoy a little Father's Day as well!

Father's Day doesn't simply have to be just about pleasing the man in your life and father of your children. Wives are also able to enjoy this holiday by purchasing gifts that can be used by the two of you. Here are a few ideas of gifts for dad that mom can get some use out of also.

                            A Romantic Dinner

Have you been longing to try that new restaurant that opened up in town? Father's Day is the perfect occasion to make a reservation at that luxurious restaurant for the both of you to enjoy. Start your meal off with a fine glass of wine and appetizer. After your entrees, don't forget to finish off the meal with a delicious dessert. Because Father's Day is a popular holiday to dine out, make sure to book reservations in advance for guaranteed seating and to enjoy a romantic dinner together on this very special day.

Outdoor Grill

Have you been preparing and cooking all of the meals lately and simply need a little break? Invest in an outdoor grill, which makes the perfect gift for any husband on Father's Day. The grill will motivate him to get outside and to try out new recipes that the two of you can enjoy trying together. Provide him with ideas of what to cook and give yourself a little relaxation time while dinner is made for you.

Resort Day

One of the best options for both husbands and wives on Father's Day is a day pass to a local area resort. While your husband is winning the big bucks on the poker tables, or shooting a round of golf, you can be relaxing with a day of beauty and wellness at the spa. Or you may even choose to sit around by the pool with a cocktail in your hand, working on your tan. Many top notch resorts today are very focused on catering towards couples and both of their interests so that it is easy to plan a day filled with fun activities that both of you will love.

Wine Clubs

If you enjoy drinking wine on a regular basis, joining a Wine of the Month Club could be an excellent Father's Day gift for your special day. No one likes to drink alone, making this the perfect gift option that can be shared together. Each month you will be sent a new, delicious wine to sample that gives you the chance to bond while enjoying this adult beverage.

Father-Child Bonding Time

Sometimes it's nice to have some alone time that you can spend at home or with friends. Get your husband and kids out of the house for a day so that you can relax. One great idea is to buy them a gift card for the local batting cages or go kart tracks. This will be one gift that your children are excited to give their father, as it allows them to spend some fun-filled time together.

Say goodbye to that boring old Father's Day that you've celebrated year after year and turn it into a new celebration that everyone can enjoy. These gifts are sure to make the day an unforgettable one.

Michelle learned many of this while working at Skana, one of  New York's finest spas.  When Michelle isn’t working you will find her baking, crafting, reading a magazine or catching up on her favorite TV shows. If you have any comments or questions feel free to contact Michelle via email at

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Summer Sun Protection

With high temperatures this past week and summer just around the corner, it's that time again to think about a little sun safety.

As you enjoy the sunshine, remember that it's important to cover all angles when protecting your children from the sun. It's estimated that your child will get more than half of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18, and using sun protection can decrease your child's risk of getting skin-cancer later in life.

I've done some research on this subject and learned that the sun has two types of ultraviolet rays that can cause damage to the skin. These rays are UVA and UVB and both can be damaging and cancer causing.

A sunscreen's SPF (sun protection factor) is a measurement of how well it protects against sunburn. If you slather on an SPF 30 product, you should be able to stay in the sun for 30 times longer without burning than if your skin were bare. However, SPF only measures how well a sunscreen blocks UVB. There are no numbers that measure protection against UVA.

Apply sunscreen to your child everyday so that it becomes part of their morning routine. Don’t forget places like their hands, feet, ears, scalp, and the back of their neck. Get your children used to putting on lip balm with SPF as well.

Because sunscreen is only one aspect of sun protection and does not protect against UVA rays, parents need to take other precautions.

Staying out of the sun when it's at its strongest is crucial. This is usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. While outdoors, seek shaded areas with your children if possible. Consider bringing a sun shade if you are going someplace where shade is minimal.

Protective clothing is another important part of sun protection. Putting on a wide brimmed hat can help protect your child’s scalp, ears, eyes, face and neck. Consider looking for clothing that has an ultraviolet-protection factor or UPF. Be sure that sunglasses also say that they filter out the sun’s harmful rays.

Protected Kids = Happy Kids

Most importantly, be a good role model. Put on sunscreen with your children and make it fun to play in the shade. Want the little ones to keep their hats on? Wear yours as well. Make sun protection a priority for the whole family!
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