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Is food making your family sick?

Wednesday - 6/26/2013, 8:37am  ET

MelonBalls.jpg
Summertime is an ideal time to start making healthier food choices -- an abundance of seasonal produce makes it easier to try a variety of new, fresh foods. (Thinkstock)

Katie Howard, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - If your household feels rundown or sick often, there could be a link to your ailments and the food you and your family consume.

Kelly Dorfman, a licensed nutritionist, nutrition detective and author, says a wide variety of illnesses and symptoms -- from frequent ear infections, chronic stomach pain, learning disabilities and mood disorders -- are linked to food.

"(The wrong food choices) interfere with school and cause the child to be frequently tired/cranky," says Dorfman, who adds that most chronic conditions linked to diet have the capacity to disrupt and lower the quality of life.

Dorfman works with other medical professionals to help people with complex ailments, allergies and symptoms related to food. She lectures on the topic throughout the country, and has been featured on several television segments.

Dorfman's research takes a special interest in the diets of children. Her books "What's Eating Your Child?" and "Cure Your Child with Food" offer advice and insight to parents about the link to certain foods and childhood ailments, as well as cognitive challenges, including ADHD.

Kids are often exposed at parties, social events, camps and school to processed snacks and drinks with addictive qualities and little nutritional value. Dorfman refers to Goldfish as "crack" and makes other suggestions in the snack department.

"Simple, whole foods -- fruit, veggies and dip, hummus, nuts and seeds. Leftover dinner foods also work. Think of snacks as small meals, which is what they are. They are not extra foods or foods that do not count. They count," she says.

In terms of recipes, "simple is best," Dorfman says. "Most people are not eating unhealthily because they lack recipes, but because they do not understand how important it is, so they have not made the needed commitment. There are so many things vying for our time, so it is hard, but I am trying to convince people to move healthy eating to the top of the list."

Summertime is an ideal time to start making healthier food choices -- an abundance of seasonal produce makes it easier to try a variety of new, fresh foods.

Next time you are in a snack bind, try this quick and refreshing recipe for melon caterpillars. The kids will love its looks, and they can even help to assemble the snack. Here's what you need:

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh cantaloupe
  • 1 fresh honeydew
  • Toothpicks

Directions

  1. With a fruit scooper, scoop both the honeydew and cantaloupe into melon balls.
  2. Connect the green and orange melon colors into an alternating pattern with the toothpicks.
  3. When the balls take the form of a caterpillar, give the critter some eyes and legs with raisins.

Editor's Note: WTOP's Katie Howard is a mom on the go. With two children under age 5, she's always looking for ways to provide her family fast and healthy snacks, meals and activities. Katie shares her go-to food and family fitness tips every Tuesday on her blog "Good to Go."

Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.

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