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PowerUp and reinvent after-school snacks this fall 

Opening a bag of chips or popcorn after school is easy. So is grabbing a few cookies. But creating homemade, healthy after-school snacks is easy, too. For many busy parents sometimes the hardest thing is deciding what to create. That’s why the recipes on powerup4kids.org are great additions to the family snack list. There are no-bake energy bites and mixed-berry crisp, a berry bold banana smoothie and fruit kabobs. In total there are 170 snack recipes to choose for your hungry child after school this year. 

Most of them require little preparation so they’re easy to have on hand. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could make some ahead of time. Just store them in the freezer. Then, it’s even easier to serve them at the start of the school year. 

Eating healthy is important for kids

The best time to establish healthy eating habits is during childhood. When you start them young, it’s easier to keep them. Having a healthy diet is one of the best and simplest ways to prevent diseases down the road. But you don’t have to wait for future benefits because healthy eating is good for children now. 

When kids eat healthy, nutritional foods, it can: 

  • balance out their moods.
  • improve their minds.
  • help them maintain a healthy weight.
  • maintain their energy. 

There are a number of visual charts and images to help guide a child’s nutrition and eating habits. There is MyPlate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a more creative version of that idea. These help you get a sense of how a child’s meal choices should be balanced. There are also a number of charts to help you and your child track how many servings of fruits and vegetables they’re getting in a day. Pinterest is full of creative ideas. Here’s one where you fill out stars representing the different choices. 

Get your kids involved in meal prep

Research shows that only 10% of people love to cook, while 45% said they outright hated it. Another 45% could take or leave it. So why if most people don’t like cooking, would we ever consider dragging it out by having a child help? Because it’s good for them, and we tend to do things that are good for our children. Even if we don’t like it. 

There are many benefits to cooking with kids, as outlined in this blog, from boosting self-confidence to improving reading skills. Plus, it can be fun and provide good family bonding. If you’re interested in learning ways to get your child in the kitchen to help, here are some suggestions. The resource is a downloaded chart that gives ideas by age. There are also countless resources online, too, and cookbooks you can buy with kid-friendly meals. 

Kids are more likely to try meals they cook themselves. So having kids help in the kitchen is a good way to expand the foods they like to eat. 

Eating healthy is a win for the entire family

When you’re trying to instill healthy habits in your children, it’s a good time to examine your own choices. Setting a good example for your child is sometimes the motivation you need. We all can eat better and choose more healthy options. Just try to make it fun and not a chore. Your child will love the extra time with you, and eating better will make everyone feel better. 

If you need additional ideas and inspiration, check out the family magazines that PowerUp creates. They have a lot of creative ideas in them, plus some good recipes. 

Happy cooking! Have fun with it.


In this two-part video series to celebrate National Nutrition Month, Welia Health registered dietician Melissa Merrick, RD, LD, explains the importance of fruits and vegetables in our daily diets and offers guidance to help you make smart decisions about the foods you choose to eat. 

Fruits and Vegetables Part 1: Benefits for a healthy lifestyle

Things to remember

  1. Choose a colorful array of vegetables, making sure to include those with deep and vibrant colors.
  2. Pay attention to serving sizes and what that means for the daily nutritional needs for males and females.
  3. Understand the pros and cons of fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables.
  4. Make small changes over time to create healthy habits.

Fruits and Vegetables Part 2: Tips and recipes for including more in your diet

Things to remember

  1. Try one new fruit or vegetable every week.
  2. Add extra veggies to your recipes.
  3. Try meatless Mondays.
  4. Keep fruits and veggies pre-prepped and available in your refrigerator.

Fruits and vegetables listed by color, along with nutrition, storage and handling information from the Produce for Better Health Foundation
Keep fruits and vegetables fresher longer from the American Heart Association


Sports medicine is a branch of medicine that deals with physical fitness and the treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise. Sports medicine is not just for professional athletes.

Welia Health’s Dr. Thomas Mullin talks about sports medicine.

When you injure yourself during exercise or while playing a sport, you want to return to your routine and athletic pursuits as soon as possible. Sports medicine doctors have specialized training to help you do just that. They’re also experienced with preventing illness and injury in active kids, adults, and people with physically demanding jobs.

Promoting a team approach in sports medicine

A physician often leads a sports medicine team. Most sports medicine doctors are board-certified in a specialty such as family medicine, orthopedics or pediatrics, and then they pursue additional training in sports medicine.

There are other non-physician medical professionals who are critical to delivering care in sports medicine. They include physical therapists, certified athletic trainers and nutritionists. They each play an essential role in your care:

  • Physical therapists help you rehabilitate and recover from injuries.
  • Certified athletic trainers offer rehabilitative exercises to help you regain strength and develop programs to prevent future injury.
  • Registered dieticians help you with needed weight loss or weight gain, and they offer dietary advice to help you improve how well your body is functioning.

Sports medicine doctors, physical therapists, certified athletic trainers and dieticians work together to help you get back to your physical activities as quickly as possible.

Common injuries treated in sports medicine

Being active and playing sports are so good for you physically and mentally. But there is an inherent risk of injury. Below are some of the common injuries we see in sports medicine:

  • Ankle sprains
  • Fractures
  • Knee and shoulder injuries
  • Tendonitis
  • Exercise-induced asthma
  • Heat illness
  • Concussions
  • Eating disorders
  • Cartilage injuries

After we treat your injury, we will also help you prevent future problems. We can also help you maximize your performance with the proper nutrition and exercises.

If you think you can benefit from seeing a member of our sports medicine team, please call us at 320.679.1313.


Most of us could improve our health habits. We could exercise more and eat less. Drink more water, and watch less YouTube. As adults, we can adjust our habits, making changes to respond to our health considerations—though admittedly, change is rarely easy.

But children do not have that same control over their habits, regardless of their age. They rely on us to shop for groceries, prepare meals, have snacks available, organize their schedules, and set boundaries on screen time. They also need us to set a positive example when it comes to healthy habits. The do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do parental strategy is unfortunately not as effective as we’d like.

So combating childhood obesity is on us, the adults in a child’s life. Sadly, we’re collectively not doing a great job. Childhood obesity rates are at an all-time high.

Most parents underestimate weight issues

Preventing excessive weight gain in young children is critically important, and it’s a task that largely falls on parents. Few toddlers and preschoolers are preparing their own meals! Parents need to recognize early on if their child is overweight or obese so they can start interventions at a young age.

But an April 2019 study showed that 54 percent of parents underestimated whether their child was overweight or obese (see “Parents ‘in Denial’ about Overweight Children”). The research examined existing data from 87 worldwide studies carried out between 2000 and 2018 and included 24,774 children aged 19 and under and their parents.

But parents aren’t the only ones underestimating whether a child’s weight is too high. According to the study’s lead researcher Abrar Alshahrani from the University of Nottingham, “Our study also found a tendency for health professionals to underestimate weight, which suggests that overweight children may not be offered the support they need to ensure good health.”

As health providers, we found this finding critically important: it challenges us to be better about raising any concerns we have about your child’s weight. At Welia Health, we are your partners in health for you and your family. Together we can help instill healthy habits in your family. Here are two tools that we recommend that are focused on combating childhood obesity:

The “5210 Program” a simple guideline

Researchers at Penn State developed an initiative called 5210 Healthy Children. The program, which the American Academy of Pediatricians endorses, aims to have children:

  • Consume 5 fruits and vegetables a day;
  • Limit recreational screen time to 2 hours or less per day;
  • Engage in at least 1 hour of active play; and
  • Drink 0 sugar-sweetened beverages.

The 5210 Program has sparked public awareness campaigns across the country and is often taught in school health classes.

Choose My Plate: A national program

Another helpful resource to help educate parents and children about food choices is “Choose My Plate.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative has similar aims as the 5210 program: to encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables, to “re-think their drink,” and to be more active. Children can pledge to be a “MyPlate Champion,” which is a promise to eat healthily and be active every day. The “MyPlate Champion” website, aimed at kids, recommends that children:

  • Eat more fruits and veggies and make half their plate fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Try whole grains and ask for oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, or brown rice at meals.
  • Re-think their drink or drink fat-free or low-fat milk or water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Focus on lean protein, so protein foods like beans, fish, lean meats, and nuts.
  • Slow down on sweets and eat sweets just once in a while and in small amounts.
  • Be active their way and find ways to exercise and be active for at least 1 hour a day, like walking to school, riding a bike, or playing a sport with friends.

Model healthy eating and healthy habits

These recommendations also work well for adults, too. But they’re particularly important messages to send to the children in our lives. Children tend to model our eating behaviors, so take a moment and make sure you are eating as healthily as you can.  After all, your good habits will help them establish their own good habits. Healthy eating today goes a long way to help maintain a healthy weight tomorrow.

We’re here to help

If you’re concerned about your family’s nutrition, please contact Welia Health’s Nutrition Services. For concerns related to your child’s weight, please contact their pediatrician or family medicine provider. Please note that children should not be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a health care provider.


“Keeping the doctor away” is not a medical center’s best practice or a wise decision for anyone. But eating “an apple a day” is a worthy pursuit. At Welia Health, we’re here for you, and we’re confident that your apple consumption will never replace your need for our care.

Curiosity about the age-old adage sparked our research into its origins. The first recorded use was in the 1860s in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The initial phrasing was, “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” The saying evolved into “an apple a day, no doctor to pay” and “an apple a day sends the doctor away.” The version we know came to be in 1922.

Ancient concept, modern research

Ancient Romans and Anglo-Saxons recognized the health benefits of apples, according to Caroline Taggart, author of “An Apple a Day: Old-Fashioned Proverbs and Why They Still Work.” The fruit also appeared in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, one of the world’s oldest holistic (or “whole-body”) healing systems, starting about 1,500 years ago in southern Asia.

Fast-forward thousands of years, and doctors and researchers continue to examine the health benefits of the popular fruit. In 2011, a Dutch study showed that eating apples and pears might help prevent stroke. The following year, an Ohio State University study of healthy, middle-aged adults showed that consuming an apple a day for four weeks lowered levels of bad cholesterol by 40 percent.

Importance of eating fruits (and vegetables)

Fruits and vegetables provide our bodies with critical nutrients that help us stay healthy and ward off disease. Regular consumption of fruit is linked to reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease (especially coronary heart disease), stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, and some of the functional declines experienced with aging.

Plus, diets that include enough potassium from fruits and vegetables also help reduce the chance of developing kidney stones and may help lower the effects of bone loss. Fruits are also low in calories and are often part of a weight-loss diet.

Different fruits and vegetables have distinct nutritional benefits and offer varying levels of the vitamins we need. For example, apples are low in calories and sodium and high in fiber, and Vitamin C. Carrots are high in beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. They also help lower cholesterol levels and improve eye health.

Use the chart below to identify the nutrients your body needs, their benefits, health issues related to deficiencies, and the best sources.

Ways to increase fruit and vegetable consumption

Current nutritional guidelines recommend eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Here are five ideas on how to get to those five servings:

  1. Buy more, eat more: Make sure to include lots of fruits and vegetables in your shopping cart. During every shopping trip, take note of how much of the cart is filled with fruits and vegetables.
  2. Prepare them right away. After shopping, wash and chop your just-bought raw or frozen veggies and store them in the fridge, preferably in glass or BPA-free containers. Then, they’re ready to add to a meal. But don’t wash fruit until you’re ready to eat it.
  3. Include a fruit or vegetable at every meal. Add it as a side or as part of the meal itself. Be creative and experiment with different combinations.
  4. Blend your breakfast. You can blend up a healthy, fruit- and fiber-packed breakfast in one minute. To save even more time during the work week, assemble smoothie ingredients over the weekend into individual servings. Then, just dump the contents into the blender, add a liquid (milk, almond milk, water or low-calorie juice work well), and press blend.
  5. Snack on them. Fruits and vegetables make excellent snacks. They’re portable and healthy. Grab an apple and go.

To learn more about nutrition and how to adjust your diet to meet your health goals, contact Welia Health’s Nutrition Services and schedule an appointment today.

One more thing

Apple Orchard

Head to an orchard or farm this fall for a fun and family-friendly activity.

Stock up on apples. You know what they say about apples! Here are links to area orchards:

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