November 2011 | | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 3, Issue 11]

Breakfast Cereals
Most kids have a favorite brand of cereal, probably based on sweet flavors and successful advertising campaigns. When you look at the cereal boxes, you’re likely to read some interesting claims about being “excellent” sources of fiber or various vitamins. Of course, they’re not going to say anything about the large amount of sugar found in each serving.
Are cereals as healthy as their boxes say they are?

This article looks at the nutritional quality of breakfast cereals and offers some good advice to follow the Rule of Five – at least five grams fiber and no more than five grams sugar per serving. It also offers nutrition ratings for some well-known national brands.

Helping your students pick healthier breakfast cereals:

  • Explain how label claims can be misleading; always look at the Nutrition Facts labels.
  • Focus on fiber. Cereals made with 100% whole grains are usually a good source of fiber, which is important for a healthy digestive system and can keep you feeling full longer.
  • Boost the nutrition (and flavor) of plain cereals by adding sliced fruit, fresh berries, or dried fruits.
Building Healthy Bones

Osteoporosis is a weakening of the bones. People who have osteoporosis are at a greater risk for suffering from broken bones. Usually we focus on older adults with advice to take calcium and vitamin D and to engage in physical activity. But why not start in childhood? It’s all about making healthy food choices and avoiding the things that will weaken the bones in adulthood.

Nutrition News: Building healthy bones begins in childhood and must continue

This article takes a look at the importance of building bones during childhood and offers some tips for kids and adults.

What you can do to help your students build healthy bones:

  • Talk about caffeine. Too much caffeine lead to some loss of bone density.
  • Explain why calcium is so important to maintain healthy bones. If you don’t get enough calcium for normal body functions, the body takes calcium out of your bones.
  • Teach the importance of physical activity and exercise. Not only will help maintain a healthy weight, it keeps bones strong.
Vegetarian and Vegan Kids

Vegetarians don’t eat meat, but they may eat eggs, cheese and dairy.  Vegans don’t consume any type of animal product whatsoever. To some people the whole idea of going without animal products seems uncomfortable, especially to those who are worried about kids who want to take up this lifestyle.  But, really, there’s no need to worry.

Vegetarian kids

This article explains why (and how) vegetarian diets can be healthful and nutritious for kids as well as adults.  Tips include eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and choosing beans, nuts, and seeds as healthy protein sources. Calcium is important too, and can be found in leafy green vegetables, nuts and fortified foods.

Teens and Weight Loss Rules

Teens who are overweight or obese may want to lose weight, but they may not really understand how watching calories and physical activity work together. It’s not a difficult concept: eat less, move more, and you’ll lose the weight. But maybe something about that concept isn’t getting through to some teens.

Overweight teens don't seem to grasp weight loss rules

This article describes a large study that found teens didn’t always understand how weight loss rules work. For example, a lot of obese girls who wanted to lose weight were more likely to exercise every day, but they also drank sugary sodas that added as many calories as the exercise burned off.

Talk to your students about weight loss:

  • Explain how calories work. Use calorie calculators to help students determine how many calories they need each day to lose, gain, or maintain weight.
  • Talk about food choices. Sugary sodas have calories but no nutritional benefit beyond that. Focus on fruits and vegetables that are low in calories and high in nutrition and fiber.
  • Teach kids about portion sizes. Eating smaller portions of high calorie foods will help decrease overall calorie intake.
Getting Enough Fiber

Teens who eat lots of fiber appear to be at a lower risk for diseases like diabetes and even heart disease. In fact, increasing fiber may be more important than cutting out saturated fat, at least according to a new study.

Teen diets should include more fiber, but not necessarily less fat

A Michigan State University study found a correlation between high-fiber diets and better health. It may not really be surprising, since foods that are high in fiber are also lower in calories and usually rich in many vitamins and minerals.

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Foods to Prevent the Flu

The flu season is about to start and eating a healthy diet may help reduce your risk of getting the flu or help you get through a bout of the flu a bit easier.

Foods are better than dietary supplements for the prevention of colds and flu because you get the whole nutritional package. For example, eating an orange is better for you than just taking vitamin C because the orange offers you a combination of nutrients -- magnesium, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and antioxidant-rich flavonoids.

While we know that vitamin C is important for a healthy immune system, studies don't show that taking massive doses of vitamin C helps to prevent colds and flu at all. However, we do know that eating fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C will help to keep your immune system strong. Your immune system is what protects you from viral infections, and the foods you eat have a major impact on your immune system's ability to fight off colds and flu. The reason that fruits and vegetables do a better job of keeping your immune system ready is because they also contain vitamins A and E, as well as the flavonoids that work along side vitamin C to keep your immune system and your whole body healthy.

So now that you know you need to eat lots of fruits and vegetables to keep your immune system strong, the next step is to actually make it happen. People tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables in the winter, which is the opposite of what you should be doing. Everyone needs at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day to get adequate vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants -- all things we need for a healthy immune system.

Eating a healthy diet helps, but additional steps like getting a flu shot and frequent hand washing are also important for preventing the flu.
More About School Lunches and Healthy Kids

Family Meals Matter: Easy, balanced meals

Game-time nutrition: Keeping your athlete healthy and strong

How gross are your reusable grocery bags?

Report slams makers of sugary drinks for targeting kids

About Shereen Jegtvig

Shereen Jegtvig is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master’s degree in human nutrition and is a member of the American Dietetic Association and the Association of Health Car Journalists.   Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website (, is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies (, and teaches Evidence Based Nutrition to nutrition graduate students at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.