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Kids love to dip: Another healthy eating tip

Julie Burns is a really smart sports nutritionist with three kids of her own.

When she’s not advising the Chicago Bears and Chicago Blackhawks how to power-eat, she’s packing high-energy lunches and snacks for her 10-year-old triplets, always trying to strike a balance between whole foods - the kinds that are minimally processed and come from the earth, such as fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and whole grain breads and cereals - and processed food - convenience items, chips, candy, packaged snacks.

Julie knows for sure that every kid and adult has unique metabolic needs, and that no one eating plan works for everyone. But she also knows that kids can have more zip and fun at school if they are well fed. Here are some good tips from Julie for packing healthy sack lunches.

  • Involve your kids in packing and shopping for their own lunches.
  • Kids love to dip. Use a variety - yogurt, hummus, cottage cheese - for fruits, veggies and even meats.
  • Use whole grain bread, crackers or tortillas without trans fats for sandwiches. Make sure the sandwich includes protein, to satisfy hunger.
  • Include some healthy fats such as nuts and seeds or olives and avocados. They feed the body and the mind. Avoid the wrong kind of fat, trans fats, found in most packaged snack foods.
  • Send your kid to school with a bag of home-made trail mix, for healthy snacking throughout the day. Include whole grain cereals - such as Wheat Chex or Cheerios - nuts, dried fruit and, if it’s not too hot, some semi-sweet chocolate.
  • Start your kid’s day with a good balanced breakfast: whole grain cereal or bread, a piece of fruit, protein, healthy fat, handful of nuts and lots of water. Why? Because they will enjoy school more and perform better, too.
  • If you want to include a special treat, do it, but keep it small, not jumbo, and choose one without trans fats.

Remember: We can’t all know as much as Julie Burns knows about healthy eating and drinking. She’s an expert. But parents must learn the basics of good nutrition or their kids will suffer.

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For more info and advice, check out Burns’ Web site: www.sportfuel.com.

Swimming is a great all-around body-toner-upper. Do it, do it, do it, whenever you can. But swimming in a chlorinated pool turns out to have a dark side - for your teeth. Dental researchers have discovered that heavily chlorinated pool water can erode and stain tooth enamel.

It’s all about the acidity of the water. While it is true that the more chlorine in the water, the more protection you have against bacteria, a pool with too much chlorine has a low pH level, making it too acidic. Even dangerously acidic, for some people.

What to do? If you are someone who spends an hour or more in the pool, brush your teeth and rinse with a fluoride rinse as soon as you get out.

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Less time in the water means less risk, but I’d say brush anyway, especially if you’re a swimmer who has noticed your teeth are getting darker.

Dear Marilynn: I’m always challenged to find ways to exercise that motivate me. I do belong to a gym and make myself do workouts, as well as walking my dog daily. I’d like to suggest another way to get a workout: the outdoor hobby/sport called geocaching.

Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s like an adult treasure hunt, although it’s also for families. Using a Global Positioning System unit, the participants hunt for caches that have been established by other geocaching enthusiasts in urban or country settings. The participant can choose caches to find according to difficulty of the terrain and length of the hike from a specified point.

While looking for caches, I’ve explored areas of my town and have had hikes in local parks and the nearby countryside. The activity gets me out to areas I have never thought of exploring but have enjoyed finding. The plus is that this is a worldwide activity.

There are caches in Alaska, Switzerland, Costa Rica, as well as many other countries. The Web site www.geocaching.com has specific information, as well as listings of nearby caches once a zip code is entered.

Dear Reader: I’ve never heard of geocaching before, but it sounds like a ton of fun. Anytime you combine active adventure with physical activity and throw in the exploration of the unknown, count me in.