Kids and Family



Keeping kids at a healthy weight
Connecting the dots…nutrition simplified

Kids need adequate calories and nutrients for proper growth and development. However, just as with adults, consuming too many calories can lead to unhealthy weight gain.  This can raise their risk for serious health problems like type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.1 If you are a parent or caregiver, consider taking a family approach to keeping kids healthy.  Here are some ways to do it.

What is a healthy weight for a child?
Monitor your child’s weight at regular checkups.  After age 2, your pediatrician will track your child’s weight each year by using a measurement called the body mass index (BMI). The BMI evaluates your child’s weight in relation to their height.  Then, their BMI is plotted on a growth chart to determine their BMI percentile.2 BMI percentiles are used because they take into account a child’s age and sex, unlike BMI for adults which just calls for height and weight.  If you are concerned about your child’s weight, discuss it with your pediatrician and/or consult a registered dietitian. 

Take a family approach
When it comes to keeping a healthy weight, families have better success rates when they make lifestyle changes and adopt new behaviors as a team. This is your opportunity to be a healthy role model and instill habits that will last a lifetime.  Focus on these areas together:

Healthy eating

  • Offer nutritious options for meals and snacks that include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean proteins.  For healthy recipes and snack ideas, visit
  • Let kids be in tune with their tummies.  Allow them to stop eating once they’ve had enough.  If they ask for seconds, ask them if they’re really still hungry before refilling their plate.
  • Keep calories under control.  Limit sugary sweets and salty snacks that provide a lot of calories but little nutrients.  Cut down on empty calories by providing water and low-fat or fat-free milk as a beverage instead of juices, sports drinks or sodas. 
  • Practice portion control – For 2 to 6 year olds, a good rule of thumb is to provide about 1 tablespoon of each food for each year of your child’s age. (For example, offer a 3-year-old three tablespoons of broccoli, mashed potatoes and diced chicken for dinner). 3
  • Enjoy family meal times whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Children who participate in family meals are less likely to be overweight.

Kids can cook!
There’s no better way to introduce your kids to new, healthy foods than teaching them to cook.  Involving your kids in menu planning, food shopping, preparation and clean-up can help them shape healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. 

Getting started
Before going food shopping, ask your kids about their likes and dislikes.  They’ll appreciate being asked and will likely take a more active role in helping you shop.  Make a list and menu plan for the week ahead.  When the topic of “treats” comes up, just let them know that these are “once-in-a-while” foods and will be enjoyed on special occasions.  Teach them that healthy foods can be fun and delicious, too. 

Getting kids in the kitchen
Give kids simple tasks like stirring, measuring ingredients or even setting the table.  Look for kid-friendly recipes that involve minimal/easy preparation so you can really involve them in the process—plus it won’t leave your kitchen in disarray.   Here are a couple ideas to get you started:

  • Italian Grilled Cheese
  • 1 whole-grain sandwich thin
  • ¼ cup chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
  • 5-6 sundried tomato pieces, packed in water
  • 2 slices part-skim mozzarella cheese

Over the kitchen sink, have kids squeeze out any remaining liquid in the spinach. Set aside on a paper towel.  Separate the sandwich thin and have kids layer with cheese, spinach and tomatoes.  Place the sandwich on a griddle and have them press it down with a spatula until cheese is melted, being careful not to touch the hot pan. 

Mini Taco Bites

  • ¼ lb lean ground turkey breast –cooked with reduced sodium taco seasoning
  • 4  corn tortillas cut into mini circles with cookie cutter, about the size of cupcake liner
  • ¼ cup low-fat cheddar cheese

Taco toppings: lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, avocado
Place corn tortilla circles into the muffin tin so that they go up the sides of the pan slightly.  Fill with 2 tbsp cooked turkey taco meat. Top with shredded cheese.  Place in the oven at 350°F until cheese is melted and tortillas are crisp about 15 minutes.  Have kids top with their favorite taco toppings.  Enjoy!

Physical activity

  • Get up and get moving together.  Incorporate active time into your daily routine whether it’s an after dinner walk or an indoor dance competition. Schedule activities as if they are an appointment.
  • Set a good example and exercise regularly.  If the exercises you’re doing are kid-friendly, have them join you!

Reducing screen time
(screen time is the amount of sedentary time spent in front of the television, computer, cell phone or playing video games).

  • Limit sedentary screen time to two hours per day to allow time for physical activity.
  • Create a screen time tracker or chart for the entire family and “log” active time and screen time.  Celebrate together when you log a certain amount of active time over screen time.
  • Set a good example by limiting your own screen time, especially during meal times.

For more healthy eating tips and recipe ideas, visit us at or visit your in-store registered dietitian to help you put a plan in place.   Service is free.
Sarada Bernstein MPH, RD is a Corporate Dietitian for ShopRite Supermarkets.
ShopRite of Niskayuna- Sarah Ender MS, RD- 491.0050
ShopRite of Albany- Adrian Allen RD – 708.3445
ShopRite of Colonie- Amy Imler RD- 598.4970
ShopRite of Slingerlands- Kristin Caponera RD- 708.7815

  1. Kraft Foods.  Healthy Weight for Kids.
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. About BMI and Healthy Weight for Children and Teens.
  3. Clemson Cooperative Extension. Feeding Your Preschooler.

Create positive energy in your child’s bedroom

Who doesn’t want children that are happy, healthy, creative, secure and successful? That’s every parent’s dream, isn’t it?  Well, according to the principles of Feng Shui, the placement of items and the way furniture is arranged in their bedrooms could play a large part in who these little people grow up to be. defines Feng Shui as “the Chinese art or practice of creating harmonious surroundings that enhance the balance of yin and yang, as in arranging furniture or determining the sitting of a house.”

Sandra Fox, president of Sensory Six, a Saratoga-based design firm that focuses on creating distinctive living for commercial and residential clients, helps clients transform their space into a haven of inspiration.  While not entirely following the principles of Feng Shui  she says children’s bedrooms should allow positive energy to flow and bring good things into your child’s life, foster good health, good behavior, learning and happiness. 

Fox focuses on four categories of energy when creating a harmonious environment for children: Health Energy, Secure & Supportive Energy, Happy & Creative Energy, and Learning & Success.

  1. Health Energy. Focuses on core ideas that are the foundation of Feng Shui, but which many parents take for granted, such as:
  • Keep the room clean. It’s that simple! 
  • Allow fresh air to fill the room by opening windows and welcoming oxygen.  Incorporate air purifiers and plants such as palms, ficuses and ferns
  • Use essential oils like lavender to help promote calmness and sleep.
  • Promote healthy sleeping by keeping the room in complete darkness. Darkness allows your body to produce the right amount of melatonin.  No night light, no aquarium light, etc.
  • Limit electromagnetic frequencies which can decrease melatonin, and keep technologies away from the child, such as monitors, TV, power strips, etc.
  • Keep the room quiet.  It’s important not to promote “awake” energy, and noise does that.  Quiet and calm is best. That means get rid of those white noise machines!
  • Don’t hang mirrors at the foot of the bed, or anywhere he or she can wake and see movement across the bed. Hang it on the back of a closet door.


       2. Secure and Supportive Energy. You want the energy in the child’s room to make the child feel safe and empowered in their space.

  • The head of the bed should be placed against a solid wall, where the child can see the door, as long as it’s not directly aligned with the door.  This will make the child feel safe.  If you want to be more specific with bed placement, you can search online based on your child’s birth date and year.
  • Don’t place the desk against a wall, but face it out.  This is less distracting as the child isn’t concerned with what could be lurking behind.
  • Hang window treatments that can be kept open during the day for health, but can be closed at night when the child needs privacy. 
  • Incorporate non-threatening characters into the decor. Kittens, puppies, butterflies, and their favorite cartoon characters are all good choices.  Dangerous animals or violent indicators, such as “bad” superheroes are not recommended.
  • Try to avoid sharing bedrooms. However, if it’s necessary, create separate and distinct spaces by sectioning off parts of the room.
  •  Openness is a very important component of Feng Shui. Don’t block your child’s energy with bunk beds, which could also make the child sleeping on the top bunk feel insecure.  Don’t place the bed under a sloping ceiling.  This could also block your child’s energy.

        3. Happy and Creative Energy.  Encourage creativity and freedom of expression. Ensure that the child has ownership of his or her space.The more control they have, the more empowered they will feel.                

  • Allow the child to choose his or her own artwork.
  • Hang one piece that is grounded and inspiring, whether it be a piece of art, a meaningful saying, or a calming nature scene.  Highlight the piece and make it more prominent and at the center of the other pictures on the walls.  It is preferable not to hang it as part of a collage.
  • Display family photos that are happy and bring good memories.
  • Ensure the environment is clutter free.  Visual openness stimulates the imagination and creativity.  Incorporate an organization system that the child can participate in. If an item hasn’t been used in a month, take it out of the bedroom and put it in another space, like the playroom.
  • Use colors with an earthy terrain like earthy yellow, light greens, beiges, and peach.  Primary colors and white are too stimulating. 

      4. Learning and Success. Create a dedicated study space with adequate room lighting at the desk, nightstand, and reading area.

  • If the child is younger, create a comfortable reading nook.  Place books at his eye level and provide a comfortable chair.
  • Create an accomplishment space, which showcases your child’s successes to date. Report cards and graded papers can be hung on a bulletin board. Place trophies and awards on a shelf.  Help your child keep this area up to date.
  • Display photos of your child’s friends.  Their bedroom should be a space that tells the story about who they are.
  • Encourage bigger vision thinking. Add accessories that will inspire and intrigue like star charts, planets, a globe, or a map of the world. 
  • Create a vision board and display it. This is important for children and adults.

Many of the same concepts also pertain to nurseries. Here, you might also consider a few more key points:

  • Use natural fabric throughout the room: the rug, the furniture, on toys, windows treatments and bedding.
  • Furnish with real wood.  Buy real wood toys.
  • Decorate with what nourishes your senses. Take into consideration how the room feels, smells, looks and sounds. 
  • Art that shows motion and contains flowing images are more nurturing to a baby.
  • Choose calming colors and soft music.
  • Avoid decorations with harsh energy, like arrows, diamonds, and triangles.

Adults, as well as children, will benefit from decorating with these ancient Chinese principles.  Said Fox: “Though these tips are great for everyone, be more careful the younger your children are.  It’s important to create a room that will allow them to develop and grow.”

You may be surprised at the effects a room with just the right energy will have on your children.  They may just be subtle, but who knows, they could lead to the reinvention of your child! And, even if the only thing you end up accomplishing is a more organized bedroom, your experiment, at least, will be a success!


5 secret steps
to raising a messed-up child

There are many books and articles available to parents who want to take a positive approach in raising a healthy, responsible and loving child. 

But, what about those parents who want to seriously screw up their children?  They deserve a guide, too!   Here is a primer for all those parents who truly want to take a good kid and fast-track them to life failure and unhappiness.

     1.  Believe in their fragility and forget their resiliency
When you do this, you can start protecting them from every little stress and potential failure.  By doing so, you can be certain that your kids will be unprepared for life.  They will never develop the muscle of personal strength if you are constantly there to do all the ‘lifting’ for them.  Without this muscle, they will crumble with life’s inevitable demands.

     2. Indulge their every wish as if it were a command
This is the real secret to add some misery to their struggles.  We want them to believe that when you cry, whine or demand something, life will actually give you those things! 
Make sure when they scream for pizza instead of their veggies you give it to them!  When they demand the newest iPhone, do not hesitate in pulling out your credit card!  If they throw a tantrum when you say it’s time for bed, simply turn on the TV and lay with them until they fall asleep.  Oh, and when they plead with you to do their school project, you must do this to ensure they appear ready for college while in fifth grade. 

      3. Always tell them they are the best compared to others!
This is the secret to building up a false sense of self-importance and superiority (a sure-fire way to lose friends and have no influence!).  Superlatives work great for this purpose, as well as comparisons of greatness.  Here are a few examples: “Honey, you are the best of them all!”  “Wow, your picture is the most beautiful drawing in the world.  You are an amazing artist for a kindergartner!”  “Son, you are the best player out there.  The coach is jealous and that’s why you are on the bench!” 
When you do this, you are guaranteed that they grow up throwing 21-year-old tantrums when they fail to qualify for “American Idol” and you still tell them they will be a ‘star.’  Eventually, they will discover their mediocrity in most things, and realize that you misled them their whole life.  They can then live in your basement and attend therapy, when not playing video games or crying about how unfair the world has become.

     4. Complain and whine about your life all the time
This must become your favorite pastime.  Focus your energy and attention on everything that you don’t like about the world.  If something happens to strike you as positive, push it out of your mind.  Instead, turn back to seek out something or someone you don’t like. Then, while in the car with your child, turn on the complaints!  Get that negativity going in full gear!  If you start young, you will find your child picks up on this skill quickly, and will rarely be able to find a joyful or satisfying moment.

     5. Never have consequences for bad behavior
This secret begins to plant the belief that they can do no wrong, and that consequences don’t apply to them.  So when they are young and throw things…just pick them up.  If they hit you…just giggle and laugh.  When they throw a tantrum, just make sure you give them want they want!  Remember:  no consequences. 

With no consequences they will learn it’s okay to talk back to teachers even when they are in first grade!  They will learn to argue with referees when they are in Little League, and eventually tell you how utterly stupid you are!  Perhaps then you will wake up!  Or…not. 

Dr. Randy Cale offers practical guidance for a host of parenting concerns. For more information visit


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