WOW! I, along with Julie, our nutritionist, and the entire SMArt Kids staff were very impressed with March 15th’s SMArt Kids Shared Medical Appointment at Burlington! Both returning and new SMArt Kids were engaged and energetic at our visit. It was also obvious that participants and their families have been very diligent in tackling their monthly individual goals. Everyone did an excellent job since February’s SMA.
At our last visit, most children picked one of the group’s five goals, but a few SMArt Kids created their own such as “being more label-conscious” and searching for drinks with 0-5 grams of sugar. Below are the five goals we are always working toward, with some great examples from our group:
At this March session, we focused on our goal of eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. In this vein, we enjoyed a snack of easy to eat clementines served in a glass bowl, as well as pre-cut carrots and celery sticks with a side of dressing for dipping. (Buying pre-cut, pre-washed veggies makes it easier for parents and kids to have a healthy food easily accessible. The glass bowl on the counter or in the fridge reminds the SMArt Kids that a healthy snack is readily available. No more “out of sight, out of mind.”)
During our SMA, we discussed the importance of fruits and vegetables to help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as their protective effects for the eye and digestive tract. We also touched upon the fact that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables increases longevity and overall health. We learned that eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables is the healthiest way to eat. Eating an array of colors ensures a wider range of “antioxidant phytochemicals,” natural substances that keep us healthy. Think about starting a chart on your fridge to record the colors you ate during the day.
We also discussed the significance of eating more foods from nature and foods with a short shelf life (in other words, foods that rot!) Remember the mantra from author Michael Pollan: “If it‘s from nature eat it, if it’s not…don’t.” When shopping at your local grocery store, do your best to shop along the perimeter in order to avoid the aisles with processed foods (long shelf lives) and instead focus on the natural foods (short shelf lives).
Remember, too, that there are some fruits and vegetables that deserve some extra attention before eating. Requested by several parents, here is a list of the common produce that could have higher levels of pesticides:
Spinach and other greens
Sweet bell peppers
In general, all produce should be scrubbed under running water and the outer leaves of leafy vegetables should be discarded.
In order to help our SMArt kids with reaching the goal of five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, Julie gave the group some tips about how much fruit and vegetables equals one cup. You can also refer to the USDA’s Food Pyramid website for serving sizes. For instance, 2 medium carrots, 1 large ear of corn, three spears of broccoli, 1 medium pear, 8 large strawberries or 32 seedless grapes all equal 1 cup.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a vegetable serving for children ages 7-12 years is ¼-½ cup of cooked vegetables or several raw pieces. A fruit serving for this age group includes 1 medium raw fruit or ¼-½ cup canned fruit. Remember, we are shooting for FIVE servings or more per day.
In April, we will focus on reducing fast food to less than once per week and reviewing healthy meals. As with each session, we will recap the individual goals that each child has chosen and share both the trials and tribulations associated with achieving this goal. We are learning so much from each other in these group discussions: ideas like shooting hoops or jumping rope for active play, requesting the kid’s cup at restaurants instead of a full glass of soda, or having a stash of seltzer water in the car for the drive-through.
I anticipate April’s session will also be “fruitful!”
Until then, keep working at your individual goal while keeping our main five goals in mind. A few of the SMArt Kids decided to find a healthy alternative to the sought-after St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock shake at McDonald’s. I’m looking forward to hearing about those recipe creations!
Keep up the good work! I am so proud of all of you.
See you in April!
Brittanny Boulanger, MD
P.S. Still worried you won’t be able to eat your five servings of fruits and vegetables? Check out these books for more ideas:
Dr. Brittanny Boulanger has been with Harvard Vanguard since 2005 and practices pediatrics at our Burlington office. As a vegetarian, she is always in search of interesting recipes for her family. An avid runner, she takes the recommendation of 60 minutes of daily active play for kids seriously and tries to model this with her two young children, whether it is by coaching her son’s soccer team, playing on the playground or skiing with her kids.