Dr. Susan’s Fit and Fun Family Action Plan

By Dr. Susan Bartell

STEP ONE: Begin by downsizing. The extra-large, double, supersized or whatever your child normally orders is TOO BIG! So wherever you go, explain to your child that from now on you’ll be ordering either kid-size or regular-size burgers, fries, or nuggets. Since your child may be used to eating more food, you can supplement with fresh fruit (some fast food places sell fruit; otherwise bring it with you). Also, always order water or seltzer—not soda! Soda is 100 percent empty calories with absolutely no value to your child and with 100 percent chance of causing weight gain. We’ll talk more about soda and other sweetened drinks in Chapters Six and Seven.

Next, many fast food restaurants have healthier choices on the menu, so if your child will try these, they’re always a better option. In order to make sure that you’re making all the best fast food choices for your child, take a look at the complete list of suggestions in Chapter Eight. Read all the categories that apply to the types of fast food restaurants that your family is likely to frequent for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

In the beginning you may feel like you’re wasting money at times by purchasing healthier fast foods that you want your child to try, but that she doesn’t end up enjoying. This may be frustrating, but it is a part of the process. You should do your best to hide any frustrated feelings from your child so that she doesn’t feel badly about experimenting with different healthy foods until her palate accepts a few. Remember, this is a new way of living for your child, and it will take time for her to adjust. So, purchase the smallest version of healthy foods, or share with your child until you’ve found the healthy items that she will eat. In addition, try different fast food restaurants. Some are definitely healthier than others, and you can’t always tell from their regular fare how their healthier menu items will taste. So go crazy, experiment! In the process, perhaps you’ll find healthier fast foods for yourself, too!

STEP TWO: Put your refrigerator to good use and begin stocking healthy “fast food” at home. Talk to your child about what foods she likes, and look for the healthy versions of these. See Chapters Six and Seven for lots of ideas. An added bonus is that it will cost you a lot less to eat out less often. For example, yogurt, string cheese, fruit, low-fat deli meats, and low-fat hot dogs are all super quick to make and much healthier than eating at fast food restaurants.

Breakfast is an especially good time to focus on healthier fast food because you’re probably at home already. Here are a couple of super quick ideas:

• A bowl of high fiber cereal with low-fat or fat-free milk is quick and healthy

• A slice of whole wheat or multigrain bread with peanut butter

• A string cheese and an apple

• A low-fat yogurt and a cut-up orange

• A low-fat granola bar and a glass of fat-free milk

I’d love to hear the super-quick, healthy breakfasts that your kids love. I’ll share them with other readers. Email them to me at Drsusan@drsusanbartell.com.

Dr. Susan Bartell is a recognized media expert who can frequently be found offering advice on major national TV and radio shows, including: Fox News, Good Morning America, The Today Show, 20/20, The Early Show and CNN. Dr. Susan is also regularly published in top print and web media such as, The New York Times, USA Today, Newsday, FIRST for Women, KIWI magazine, Nick Jr., Woman’s Day, Seventeen, MSNBC.com, FOXNews.com, WebMD, and CNN.com. She lives in NY with her family. For more info, visit: www.DrSusanBartell.com

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