Fueling healthy families | TheUnion.com

Fueling healthy families

Now that school is back in session, many families can identify with hectic mornings of getting ready, finding missing shoes, and racing out the door to ensure on-time arrivals for everyone. At times, nutrition gets overlooked in place of speed and convenience, especially in the case of breakfast and lunch.

Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) is hosting a free workshop from 6-7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 12 for families trying to serve more nutritious and balanced meals.

The workshop is taught by Kelley Kull, a Registered Dietician of 27 years and a staff member of the SNMH Community Cancer Center.

The program will offer tips, recipes and innovative ideas for feeding the family and getting school-aged kids excited about eating a healthy diet.

"I'm a mother of four grown children myself, and I understand mealtime chaos," Kull said. "Fueling your family with healthy foods is possible despite busy, hectic schedules."

One of her suggestions is simply to cook and eat at home. "It is the simplest way to achieve a healthier diet," Kull says.

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Portion control is also an important part of good nutrition. Kull suggests learning some of the "old standbys" to help measure the correct amount of food in a recommended serving.

Among her portion size tips:

1 tablespoon = 1 thumb

A serving of fruit: 1 tennis ball = 1 piece fruit

3 oz. serving of meat = a bar of soap

She will share other tricks for adhering to proper portion sizes, including free apps and the use of thoughtfully sized serving dishes designed to help control portions: using salad plates for meals and taller/thinner glasses, both of which permit smaller servings. All of these are strategies families can use together.

"Good nutritional habits start at home with you. Eat dinner together, be a good example for your kids by eating right yourself, have healthy choices available, and most importantly, remove the junk food from your home," Kull encouraged.

Stephanie Kreiter, SNMH Community Benefit Specialist, agrees that educating kids about proper nutrition is essential to combating obesity and related diseases in our area. She shares that Nevada County has a higher diabetes-related mortality rate than the California state average.

Nevada County also has higher rates of Emergency Department visits; stroke-related mortality; and heart disease-related mortality and hospitalizations.

These conditions can be improved with proper nutrition and regular activity. Kreiter says that starting young is the best way to develop positive lifelong habits.

"Although obesity and inactivity in youth is lower in Nevada County compared to the State rate, Nevada County spends less of their grocery dollars on fruits and vegetables and more on soda than the state average," Kreiter cautioned.

Likewise, there has been an overall rise in the trend of childhood obesity throughout the U.S. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

The agency states that this causes both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being, such as increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and more.

The Fueling Healthy Families workshop is one step toward battling childhood obesity, but also toward creating a lifetime of good health.

"In my 27 years as a dietician, I have seen the focus on nutritional science expand. It's an exciting, yet crucial time for change," Kull said. "With the epidemic of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, all of which are impacted by what you eat, who better to make a positive influence on than our children?"

All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.

Fueling Healthy Families

6-7:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 12

Pre-registration required

To register: supportsierranevada.org/wellnessclasses or 530-274-6124

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