Why sneaking vegetables into kids’ foods isn’t the best solution, and why we should teach younger generations to love them as they are!

Many parents have taken to “sneaking” veggies and even some fruits into food to make sure that kids are getting more of the nutrition they need.  While getting fruits and veggies this way is better than not getting them at all, parents really shouldn’t rely on camouflage as a permanent solution.  Instead, it’s important to expose kids to fruits and veggies in their whole, raw forms and work on getting kids to embrace these forms.  Sneaking nutrients in through smoothies, juices, or other forms of veggie subterfuge can help kids get much-needed nutrients, but doesn’t teach them the importance of including plenty of fresh produce in their diets, now and throughout their lives.  


Since many toddlers choose to assert independence through refusing to eat many of the foods they’re given, especially new foods, exposing children to an assortment of whole fruits and veggies before the start of the terrible twos can help.  If they already like it, they’re (somewhat) (okay, maybe just a little) less likely to decide they hate it later on.  For kids who do refuse to even try a new food, experts suggest that one key is to keep trying.  While many parents will give up on introducing a new food after a few tries, some experts believe that it can take 8 to 15 tries to convince a child to try something new.  Since refusing to eat is often more about power than the food itself, getting your child to try something new is often a matter of simply outlasting him in a battle of wills.


It’s also important to try presenting “offensive” veggies and fruits in different ways.  Kids who turn their noses up at cooked spinach might feel differently about raw spinach, especially milder-flavored baby spinach.  Some kids won’t go for raw carrots, but don’t mind them steamed.  While drowning veggies in cheese or other sauces shouldn’t be a first choice, it also shouldn’t be thrown out altogether as an option.  You can always work on slowly decreasing the amount of cheese or sauce over the course of some time.


If it’s at all possible for you to have a small vegetable garden, you’ll find another great way to get kids interested in vegetables.  Many children are much more anxious, or at least willing, to try fresh produce that they had a hand in growing and picking.  This also gives you a chance to teach them about growing cycles and what it takes to get food on the table.  Since kids love learning new things, try teaching them about the vegetables and fruits you’re eating.  Explain why they’re healthy and why it’s important for us to have healthy, well-balanced diets.  Spend a few minutes online learning where different vegetables originated and what makes them special.  Again, as with gardening, getting a child to feel “invested” in his veggies can make him less likely to turn his nose up.

child eating broccoli
In short, helping your child to learn, understand, and appreciate the value, nutrition, texture, and flavor of various vegetables and fruits is one of the keys to helping him adopt healthy eating habits for the long haul.  This doesn’t mean that you have to abandon the camouflage of smoothies, juices, and popsicles.  It just means that you shouldn’t rely solely on such subterfuge.

The best cures for back pain aren’t painkillers! How massagers, massage therapy, and yoga could make a much better difference, especially over the long term!

Back pain can definitely make a long day seem endless and make getting a good night’s sleep seem impossible.  More and more health care professionals are discovering that non-medical management might be the best medicine for many types of back pain.  This shift toward lifestyle changes (mostly in the form of exercise) in place of pharmaceutical management can help patients find at least as much relief without the side effects and potential for addiction that come with muscle relaxers and pain medications.  


Most back pain is caused by inflammation due to overuse or over-extension (like overdoing it in the garden or at the gym) or due to an acute trauma (like stepping badly off of a curb or being involved in an accident).  Typically, such inflammation will resolve on its own given enough time and rest.  New studies are confirming that heat, massage, back-friendly exercises, and even acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation can help to speed up the healing process and help many patients avoid medications beyond over-the-counter NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen).

back pain

When it comes to over-the-counter drugs, doctors do not recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol) because, even though it’s advertised to help with pain, it is not an anti-inflammatory, which makes it unlikely to help speed healing related to inflammation.  Aspirin, like ibuprofen, is an NSAID, but isn’t recommended for people on blood thinning medications and is known to cause GI upset (and even GI bleeding) in some patients, so most physicians recommend ibuprofen and other non-aspirin-containing NSAIDs (such as naproxen) before aspirin itself.


Heat wraps and heating pads can help to relax muscles.  This can help reduce pain and stiffness.  Gentle massage (either hands-on or via a massage chair) can also help to relax sore muscles, which can help to relieve pain.  Heat and massage can also help to improve blood flow, which, in turn, can help to speed healing of damaged tissues.

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Regular back-strengthening exercises can help to relieve back pain and also help to minimize the chances of sustaining a back injury.  Yoga, pilates, and tai chi are good examples of exercise types that can help to strengthen back muscles in a low-impact way.  Stronger muscles aren’t as prone to injury and heal much more quickly when they do get injured.

back exercise

In addition to reducing inflammation through gentle exercise, heat, or massage therapy, there are a couple of things you can do in terms of your diet that can help with inflammation and healing.  Staying well hydrated helps injured muscles to heal and also helps to keep muscles and tissues more supple and less prone to injury in the first place.  Foods like pineapple, leafy greens, nuts, and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon) are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, as are some spices, including ginger and turmeric.  Since protein is necessary for the building or repair of muscle, consuming plenty of lean proteins can help speed the repair of damaged muscles, too.

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While some patients will still certainly need medical (including opiate), medical-mechanical (like nerve-stimulating devices), or surgical intervention to deal with back pain, many patients could find that physical-therapy-type management (exercise and massage) combined with nutrition can help them heal more quickly than pain medications and muscle relaxers without the expense and side effects of such medications.  Even those who cannot escape medical management can still find some relief and lessening of symptoms by engaging in pain-relieving and/or back strengthening exercises and massage as tolerated.

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