Talking about racism to children

Contributor: Dr. Elise Herman, KVH Pediatrics

Racism is front and center now, and parents may wonder how to have important conversations with their child about diversity, equality, and discrimination. It helps to keep your discussion age-appropriate, share your feelings and listen to your child.

Under age 5 years – Studies have revealed that even infants notice different skin tones and preschool kids have been shown to view those who look like themselves more positively, so addressing racism early is important. Kids relate easily to the concept of fairness so it can simply be explained as treating someone unfairly based on how they look. Young kids may ask about why people’s skin colors are different. Explain simply that darker skin has more of the pigment melanin in it and that no skin color is ‘better’ than another. Celebrate human diversity by noting that “we are all human but can have lots of differences, too, making everyone special!”. Encourage your young child’s appreciation for diversity by reading books and playing with toys featuring people of different races.

6-11 years old – At this age, children are more aware of current events based on what they have heard and seen from adults, other kids and on the news or in social media. Ask your child about what they know and what questions they have. Kids this age understand empathy so discussing how it would feel to be judged unfairly can be helpful. Children of all ethnicities can be assured that people world-wide are upset about racism and are working to make things better.

12 and older – Kids this age are often very informed and have developed their own opinions about issues such as racism and protests. Discussing the news and current events and how it affects them opens the door to a deeper conversation. The same concepts of fairness and empathy apply, but now taking action may be a logical next step. It may be sharing something on social media, reading more about the history of oppressed peoples or attending an event.

All kids benefit from social experiences with a variety of people. Cooking food and listening to music of different cultures broadens our horizons. It is alright to let your child know that you are upset or sad about what is happening, but you also need to assure your child that they are safe in what can be a frightening time. This conversation will look different for families of color where the issue hits a lot closer to home than for whites.

As always, what we do and say speaks volumes to our children. It is vital that as parents we confront our own prejudices and biases and work to be more open and understanding. Let your kids see you speaking out against racism, embracing diversity and calling for justice for all people.

Safe behavior as restrictions ease

Contributor: Dr. Elise Herman, KVH Pediatrics

After what has felt like a very long time “sheltering in place” due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we are on the verge of easing of some restrictions. Whew! The problem is, of course, that if people do not follow the safety rules of social distancing and wearing masks, cases of COVID-19 may spike and force a renewal of restrictions. Adults understand this, but kids may not grasp why getting out more may look very different than ‘way back’ in March when life changed.

For young children, explain that the COVID-19 virus is a germ that can easily go from one person to another even if people don’t know they have it. It can travel in the air up to 6 feet (about the length of 2 grocery carts) if someone coughs or sneezes. To keep all people safe (and especially older people like grandparents), we need to stay at least 6 feet apart from others when we leave our homes. Washing hands and not touching our faces continues to be the routine. Explain that though parents may be going shopping a bit more as businesses open up, kids should still not be along for these trips if possible.

For older children and teens, let them know that they can be part of making the easing of restrictions successful by following the safety guidelines. They will be protecting not only themselves but also their family and community. Limiting the number of new COVID-19 infections helps keep our first responders and healthcare workers safe. Kids can be a good example to others to also ‘play by the rules’.

Ideally everyone should wear a mask when out and about if social distancing cannot be maintained. There are some exceptions, however. Children under the age 2 years should not wear a mask, and if the wearing of a mask causes your child to frequently touch and adjust the mask, it may be better to forego it. Wash hands before and after wearing a mask, and remove it by the ear loops or ties. Some children are afraid of people wearing masks; simply explain that masks make it harder for germs to travel from one person to the other. Kids may be less afraid (and more inclined to wear a mask if needed) if they can put a cloth face covering on a stuffed animal and see photos on-line of other children wearing them.

As the weather improves and access to the outdoors is made easier by changing restrictions, it may be tempting to rush to the park, lake or trailhead. Try to be pro-active to minimize being part of a crowd. Go early or late in the day, find lesser-known spots and if a place looks congested, make a different plan. Explain to your kids that we all have to do our part in protecting others and ourselves. And, as adults, that means leading by example – social distancing, washing our hands frequently and wearing a mask when social distancing is not possible. That said, getting out more will be terrific for our physical and mental health – we just need to do it safely.

Healthy Holiday Eating

KVH Contributor*
Nicole Norton, MDA, RDN, CDE
KVH Diabetes Education

The holidays are upon us and many of us are preparing for gatherings with friends and family. Although it can be a joyful time of the year to celebrate, a common worry revolves around overindulging on holiday favorites, and the potential for weight gain and elevated blood sugars. While it isn’t necessary to deprive yourself during the holidays or feel guilty about eating sweets, there are several things you can keep in mind to make it through the holidays without going overboard.

One trick to prevent overeating is having a pre-snack before heading to a holiday party. Going on an empty stomach may leave you famished and overeating large quantities of less than ideal foods. Try a combination of complex carbohydrates with protein and healthy fats for a satisfying snack you can feel good about. Examples include an apple with almonds or whole wheat pita chips with hummus.

To avoid excess calories from mindless eating at parties, distance yourself from the food table. It may be easy to continuously eat with the temptation of appetizing food within arm’s reach, so dish up a plate and hold a conversation away from the food. If you find yourself tempted to return to the table often, chew a piece of gum to keep yourself from reaching for the snacks.

While alcohol is common for people to consume during the holidays, it can add several hundred calories on top of the calorie dense foods you may already be eating. Alcoholic beverages can range from 100 to 300 calories, depending on the alcohol and mixers. To reduce your calories, drink a glass of water or flavored seltzer water between drinks.

When it comes time for the big meal, be smart about your choices. Resist the urge to put everything on your plate. Scan the buffet first to check out all of your options so you can decide which items you are most interested in. And remember to pile on the veggies. A general rule for someone with diabetes to follow is to fill half the plate with vegetables. If you aren’t sure what foods will be available at the party, bring a vegetable dish so you know you’ll be able to include vegetables at the meal. Try parmesan mashed cauliflower or garlic roasted green beans.

Even with those additional vegetables, your overall calorie intake may still be higher than usual. Eating your meal slowly and stopping to take a break after finishing can help you allow time for the signal to get to your brain that you are full. Recheck your appetite before continuing to eat.

Continuing to stay active can help as well. Suggest a family walk after the big meal and before bringing out the dessert. Taking a 30 minute walk can burn about 109 calories for a 150 pound person, or 145 calories at 200 pounds; about the amount of calories in a scoop of ice cream or a cookie.

And in the end, remember to focus on more than food during the holidays. Focus on what matters most; spending quality time with friends and family, laughing, sharing stories and creating memories together. Cheers and happy holidays!

Resources: Harvard Health Publishing

Find healthy holiday recipes at

*Opinions expressed by KVH Contributors are their own. Managed by Kittitas Valley Healthcare, HealthNews does not provide medical advice. For medical advice, please see your healthcare provider.

Grilled Fajita Medley

Fajitas are a staple in our household for an easy week-night dinner. Grilled fajitas take on a whole new twist! Summer is great for throwing things on the grill and having your meal quickly without heating up your house. Try this recipe tonight!

 Grilled Fajita Medley

Grilled Fajita Medley


•4 steaks of choice (we used porterhouse and bottom round steaks)
•3 green bell peppers
•4 jalapenos
•8-10 large carrots, cut in half
•2 small red onions
•1 lb of mushrooms
•2 tbs chili powder
•2 tsp cumin
•2 tsp smoked paprika
•2 tsp garlic powder
•1 tsp onion powder
•Salt and pepper to taste
•1 lime, juiced
•1 tbs olive or avocado oil

In a small mixing bowl, combine together your seasonings, lime juice, and oil. Mix well! In a large mixing bowl or Ziploc bag, combine your veggies and pour your seasoning mixture into the bag and make sure to coat well. Set aside and prepare your steaks. If you like a lot of flavor, use the same seasonings as your veggies! Looking for something a bit more simple? Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat your grill to medium heat. Once ready, place your veggies (it’s best to put the mushrooms on a skewer) and steaks onto the grill. Flip your vegetable after about 5 mins as well as your steaks. If more time is needed, flip again until you have grill marks on both side and your steak is cooked to desired doneness.
Enjoy for the week with burrito bowl lunches or serve this up for a big family dinner!

Coconut Flour Zucchini Bread

Looking for a low carb, high-fiber and protein way to enjoy bread? Look no further! We combined coconut flour, farm fresh eggs, and backyard grown zucchini into this delicious bread. Bake this today for a healthy breakfast on-the-go for the morning.

Coconut Flour Zucchini Bread

•6 large eggs
•1/2 cup oil (we used walnut oil!)
•1 tsp vanilla
•1/3 cup honey
•2 tsp cinnamon
•1 tsp baking powder
•½ tsp baking soda
•Dash of salt
•1 cup grated zucchini, squeezed to drain out the liquid.
•OPTIONAL: 3 tbs protein powder & chocolate chips!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your eggs, oil, vanilla and honey until well combined. In a smaller, separate bowl, combine your flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Combine your dry ingredients into the large mixing bowl with your egg mixture. Gently stir until well combined. Fold in your zucchini making sure that you have drained most of the moisture out so not to disturb the structure of the bread. Add in your optional ingredients at this point if you wish. Pour your batter into a well-oiled bread pan and bake for 34-45 minutes or until your bread is firm in the center. Top with honey and enjoy!