Overcoming Your Past as A Parent

Mother and son having fun in a park

Part of being a parent involves self-examination. Once becoming a parent, feelings about your own childhood can bubble up to the surface. It is important that you address your past and those negative, not-so-easy experiences to better your own child’s upbringing. As a parent you don’t have to bury your past, and instead learn from it and share your experiences and feelings with your little one as they grow up.

Ask Yourself

As a parent, you’ll want to set standards and expectations for your parenting style. One of the first places that your mind will go is to your own childhood. Use this to your advantage and take time to recollect your favorite memories, what you liked and disliked about your parents and home life, what you struggled with academically, socially, mentally and physically and where your greatest difficulties tended to lay. All of this can be used in a positive way to better yourself as a parent.


Consider your strongest, healthiest relationships growing up, what made them this way? Whether it was with your mom or dad, or sibling, think about why you enjoyed that relationship. Depending on your upbringing and family dynamic, you may have grown up in a quiet, more reserved home or a home where there was constant arguing and chaos. No matter the environment, it has had some effect on you and keep that in mind when deciding the best ways to parent your own child.

Memories & The Past

Being able to reflect upon your greatest and worst memories when you were younger will allow you to relate to your own child and what they may be experiencing. If they are struggling in school with math, feeling left out, having difficulty adjusting to a new home, losing a family member or a pet or can’t find something they are good at, chances are you went through some of these very same experiences. You will find it is easier to be more sensitive and understanding with your child in times like these and will be in a better place to communicate and offer solutions. When your child learns that their parent has gone through some of the same struggles, they may feel a sense of relief because they aren’t the only ones, and it may be easier for them to keep their head up and think positively.


Healthy Children

Children and Vitamins

children's vitamins, gummy bear vitamins in a glass bottle.

As a parent, you know it’s important to feed your kids fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  The vitamins and minerals your child needs can be found in a well-balanced diet—there is no need to run to the drug store and purchase a bottle of every vitamin on the shelf. In fact, your body only needs a certain amount of vitamins to function properly, and the rest are flushed out of your system.

For those picky eaters or those prone to sickness, a dietary supplement could greatly benefit them. Some pediatricians will recommend children take a dietary supplement, especially if they have a dietary restriction that may be preventing them from getting the vitamins they need. Before you start worrying about the uphill battle it can be to get your kids to swallow a pill every day, know that there are many chewable vitamin supplements out there.

Try prioritizing which vitamins to purchase based on what they normally receive from meals. Then, determine what vitamins they are lacking based on their dietary restrictions.

Know Your Vitamin ABC’s… and More

Vitamin A | Healthy growth, vision, and skin

Vitamin A helps promote healthy vision and skin, and enables your heart, kidneys, lungs, and other organs to work properly. Vitamin A can be found in both plant and animal sources; foods include milk, cheese, butter, carrots, pumpkins, and apricots.

B vitamins | Healthy nerve function

This vitamin promotes cell growth and expansion by assisting your body in making more cells. Foods rich in vitamin B include meats and dairy such as poultry, liver, fish, cheese, and yogurt.

Vitamin C | Healthy immune system

A cold’s worst enemy! This vitamin helps fight illness by overpowering viruses. Citrus is rich in vitamin C, though this vitamin can also be found in vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, and spinach.

Vitamin D | Healthy bone structure

This vitamin can help make you stronger. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium, which is great for your bone health. It can be found in milk, cheese, egg yolks, and fatty fish.

Iron | Blood production and building of muscles

Especially important for children’s growth spurts, children struggling with iron deficiencies may show symptoms of irritability, depression, or an increased susceptibility to infection. The best way to get your iron intake is through beef, turkey, pork, and kale.

Calcium | Healthy bone development

Everyone needs an adequate amount of calcium in their diet for healthy bone development and to help prevent diseases like osteoporosis. Foods most rich in calcium include low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, and dark leafy greens.

Vegetarian Diet Tips for Children

Vegetarian Diet Tips for Children. Kids playing with vegetables.

There comes a point in every child’s life when they realize where meat comes from. Those chicken nuggets suddenly take on a different meaning to some particularly empathetic youngsters. If your child chooses to start eating a vegetarian diet, you can still be supportive of their lifestyle choice while ensuring they eat a balanced diet. Here are some things to keep in mind when your child goes vegetarian.

  1. Establish what they wish to cut out of their diet.

Vegetarianism is different for many people, depending on their reasons for following that diet. Make sure you know what your child wants to cut out of their diet: Chicken, beef and pork are standard, but do they also want to cut out fish? What about dairy and eggs? If your child decides to cut out all of those things and be vegan, you will likely need to seek the advice of your pediatrician to ensure they get all the nutrients they need from plant-based sources.

  1. Be aware of possible deficiencies.

Without animal products, vegetarians and vegans can be more prone to anemia, iron deficiency, and B-12 deficiency. Combat this by making sure your child gets a plentiful amount of dark leafy greens and legumes. Keep in mind that iron is absorbed easier in the body when supported by vitamin C, so encouraging them to eat citrus fruits is important.

  1. Pack in the protein and calories.

Your child needs protein and calories to grow, so if they snack on empty carbs all day, they may feel full, but their bodies are not getting what they need. Protein from nuts, beans, cheese and some vegetables help them stay full.

Here are some protein-rich foods to start offering your vegetarian child:

  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Edamame
  • Quinoa or wild rice
  • Hummus
  • Chia Seeds
  • Potatoes
  • Cooked Spinach
  • Avocado

How to Get Fit as a Family

Family Fitness Children's Medical Group Hudson Valley Pediatrician

Starting an active lifestyle doesn’t have to be difficult. Small changes lead to bigger changes, and when the whole family is involved, everyone can motivate each other to be the best version of themselves. Here are our tips on how to get fit as a family:

  1. Have Fun
    If you’re not a family that typically leads an active lifestyle, starting at a gym might not be the best option. Start with a fun activity like family bike rides or play a soccer game against each other. Endorphins are naturally released in the brain after physical activity, an addictive chemical which is known to improve mood.
  2. Challenge Each Other
    Take everyday opportunities to choose a healthier route. If you’re given the choice between stairs or elevator, try racing each other up the stairs! Choose to walk places instead of taking the car whenever possible. The more often you do this, the sooner it becomes your family’s new normal.
  3. Make It Routine
    Whatever stage you’re at in becoming fitter, make an effort to get physical once a day for at least 20-30 minutes. Physical activity should become another part of the day, like combing your hair and brushing your teeth.
  4. Watch Less Television
    The time spent watching TV as a family doesn’t need to go away altogether. The time you spend exercising should replace about a half hour of time in front of the television. You can also challenge each other to push up or sit up contests during commercial breaks.
  5. Practice Mindful Eating
    Eating a balanced diet should support an active lifestyle. Encourage your family to eat less junk food and find healthier snacks that can become staples in your house. There’s no shame in indulging once in a while, so it is important to keep the term “balance” in mind. It’s also a great idea to try infusing water with fruit instead of buying artificially sweetened fruit juices or sodas. Many people drink their calories without realizing it.


My Child Could Have Heart Disease?

Heart Disease

It’s hard to imagine talking about our children and heart disease, but it is a sad reality for some.  There are a few contributing factors that can put your children at risk, so knowing your family history and following a smart heart healthy diet is a wise way to lower the risk of heart disease in kids.

The sad reality is that American children eat far more saturated fats than kids in other developed countries, leading to higher blood cholesterol levels. Therefore, they are far more likely to have signs of early hardening of the arteries.

But there is hope!

Changing your family’s diet can make a huge difference, and can help the entire household get healthier. Choosing low-fat dairy products, eating leaner meats, and including more poultry, fish, fresh fruit and vegetable in your diet can reduce your risk for heart disease.

The American Heart Association lists these 10 quick healthy eating tips:

  1. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  2. Choose whole-grain foods which can be a good source of dietary fiber.
  3. Eat fish, especially oily fish (for example salmon, trout, herring), at least twice a week.
  4. Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats.
  5. Limit the amount of red meat you eat and choose lean meats and poultry. There are also many meat-free alternatives to get protein.
  6. Select fat-free (skim), 1%-fat and low-fat dairy products.
  7. Limit your intake of beverages and foods with added sugars.
  8. Learn about sodium and the common foods that have too much of it.
  9. If you want to snack, go nuts! A serving size is a small handful or 1.5 ounces of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter.
  10. Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

But don’t look to food alone! Children should get at least 30-60 minutes of activity a day. Bike riding, running, swimming, walking, playing on a sports team, and other activities will get them into great habits that will stay with them throughout their lives.

Yeah, we all love to veg out on the couch watching a movie and eating a pizza, but not all the time. Limiting junk food and developing healthy habits will affect everyone in the family.

There are enough problems we can’t prevent, but this is one that we can seriously reduce the risk of developing.


Risk Factors for Heart Disease:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High blood level of cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Family history of early-onset heart disease


So if there is heart disease in your family and/or you know that your family has poor eating habits, sit down with your doctor and let them help you get the information you need to make a change that will last a lifetime!

For more information, the American Heart Association has put together a guide. Check out Life’s Simple 7 for kids – 7 Simple Ways to Live Better.

Hitting the Market

Doing the weekly shopping is sometimes the most tedious item on our to-do list, but it must be done. So how do we avoid the pitfalls of poor shopping decisions when life moves so fast? With a plan! Keeping a running list of household items as they run out helps save time and energy. Planning out meals ahead of time and jotting down what is eaten most often will also help you stay focused when you’re are inundated with so many choices.

The old adage of not grocery shopping when you’re hungry is still great advice. It’s just too hard not to over buy when everything on the store shelves looks delicious!

Here are a few quick tips and reminders:

  • Spend the time to make a complete list of what you need before you venture out to the market and do your best to stick to it.
  • Plan out the weekly meals so you have all the ingredients you need written down ahead of time.
  • Don’t get sucked into the deals and specials unless it’s really something that you need and will eat.
  • Concentrate first on those outside aisles – that’s where the freshest items are! You’ll generally find fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and meat on the outside, while those interior shelves may be full of packaged items, which may be higher in calories.
  • Check the expiration dates on perishable items like dairy and meats when you add them to the cart.
  • Bring your kids with you so they learn how to shop smart. But don’t let them talk you into filling the cart with deliciously naughty things. They learn good food habits from you and this is the best place to start.
  • Pay attention to the ingredients listed in packaged food. Older children can learn about reading the nutrition labels and be active participants in choosing healthy foods! For example, have the kids check the sugar content for each item before it enters the cart. New FDA nutrition label requirements start in 2018 that details how much added sugar is in it vs. what is naturally occurring, as well. This will help train your children to make informed choices.
  • Double check your cart against your list before you get in line and see if you have everything you need. Also check if you’ve tossed in a few things that you don’t really
  • Don’t forget your reusable bags!

Remember, making smart shopping choices is only the first step. You still need to prepare the food! In the kitchen, trim visible fat from meat and remove the skin from poultry before cooking. Use lower fat cooking techniques such as roasting and steaming, and choose healthy oils like olive oil over butter and margarine where you can.

A Healthy Family is a Happy Family!

Making Fitness a Way of Life

Yes, it can be really challenging to stay on the fitness track, but there is power in numbers, so consider creating good fitness habits and rituals together as a family. If you’re able to add 30 minutes of fitness to your day, you will make huge strides in very little time.

The hardest part is getting started so here are a few tips that might help:

  • Sit down together as a family and talk about the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.
  • Try to stay away from negative terms or language that includes “fat” or “diet” because your aim is to get fit and healthy. Remember, there are plenty of thin people who are not healthy.
  • Come up with a game plan and a schedule for fitness time.
  • Be sure to include physical activities that everybody in the family wants to do, so everyone should help choose the fitness activities.
  • It’s imperative to be practical. White water rafting when you live nowhere near a river is not as feasible as planning a hike or bike ride.
  • Create a chart to track your progress and encourage you to continue. Then post it somewhere that everyone can see and easily update it.
  • Acknowledge that it can be tough to stick to a routine in the beginning, but remind each other that you can do it!

It can be especially hard to get kids who are normally less active to become an athlete overnight; frankly it’s hard for anyone, but the advantages of kids getting into shape are essential for them short and long term. Below is a quick list of just some the benefits of children exercising just 30 minutes a day.

  • Stronger bones and joints
  • Greater muscle strength
  • A decrease in body fat
  • Improved flexibility
  • A healthier cardiovascular system, which can reduce the risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure
  • A reduced likelihood of developing diabetes
  • More energy
  • A greater ability to handle stress
  • Improvements in self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Greater social acceptance by physically active peers
  • Opportunities to make new friends
  • Better concentration at school

Parents can also greatly benefit from a fit lifestyle with more energy, stronger bones, better circulation, muscle strength, and less body fat. Working out is also a huge stress reliever and as we age, we need to keep our minds and body in top shape.

All family members should have a say in the fitness plans and then rotate activities so that everyone gets to do something they like and potentially try something new.

Here are a few family-friendly fitness ideas:

  • Bike riding
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Running/jogging
  • Trampoline (seriously, this is hard stuff but crazy fun!)
  • Soccer or football
  • Rollerblading/roller skating

A healthy diet will only benefit your fitness results and making a few simple dietary changes can increase your energy to get out there and work up a sweat. Check in with your doctors and pediatricians and let them know the game plan and ask for any needed suggestions or advice.

The Importance of Family Medical Histories

Childrens Medical Group Family Medical History

A family medical history is simply a record of health information about a person and his/her close relatives. This record often includes information from at least three generations of relatives, including grandparents, parents, children, siblings, aunts and uncles, and nieces and nephews.

Families can have many factors in common, including genetics and lifestyle choices. A solid medical record that includes the above-mentioned individuals can provide clues to medical conditions that may exist within a given family.  Here, patterns of disorders or conditions can be quite important in determining if you’re at risk of developing a particular condition. Obtaining a full understanding of your family’s medical history allows you to take steps to reduce your risks.  As important, it allows you to better care for your child or children.

Ideally, a family history should be recorded during your child’s first visit to the pediatrician.  It can also occur – or at least begin – with a mother’s first prenatal visit.  (CMG offers free visits to help expecting parents become acquainted with us, tour our offices, and ask questions about the birth of your baby, and our practice).  The family medical history record should be updated yearly during your children’s annual visits to their pediatrician.

Although many recognize the importance of having a solid family medical record, a number of parents have difficulties obtaining – or maintaining – the records.  These difficulties can include:

  • Family members who are inaccessible or unwilling to talk about their medical history
  • A general lack of time to do the research
  • A sense of denial about the importance of taking immediate steps
  • Incomplete medical records
  • Incorrect – or vague – diagnoses
  • Lack of information due to adoption
  • A fear of discrimination or stigmatization

The best way to begin is to make definite plans and provide yourself with deadlines.  Setup appointments to talk to all the important family members about their health. Ask them if they have had any medical problems, when they occurred, and for how long.  A full family gathering could be a great time to discuss family medical history, and everyone can benefit from a single gathering.  In addition to having conversations with living family members you can also review other documents (i.e., obituaries and death certificates), which could help you to complete your family medical history and to take care of your children.