Boy eating and girl running

Eating Healthy

Keeping your body and bones strong
Author: Meredith Stanton

Did you know that there are 55 nutrients that your body needs every day? That’s a lot to keep track of! But together, they help your body break down food, build muscle and keep your bones strong and healthy. As a kid with hemophilia or von Willebrand disease, some of these healthy nutrients can also help your body feel better faster if you have a bleed or get sick. That’s why it’s so important for kids like you to eat healthy.

Balancing Act

It’s also important because for some kids, it’s easy to gain weight. This means you’re eating more than your body can use. It can make you feel tired and may make it difficult to do fun activities like running and riding your bike.

Having a healthy diet is key to feeling good. And knowing which foods are good for you, and which ones aren’t, can help you eat better. While you don’t have to completely stop eating foods like French fries, chips and cookies, eat smaller portions and try not to eat them every day. That’s because these foods don’t have many of the good nutrients your body craves. Also try to drink more water, and less juice and soda too. Juice and soda taste great, but they have more sugar than your body needs each day.

What Should You Eat?

As a kid, you’re growing every day. The bones in your body get longer as you get taller, and the muscles also grow to support those big bones. So that you stay healthy as you grow, there are three main nutrients you should include in your diet: calcium, protein and iron.

[Steps for Living: Healthy Eating]

Calcium helps your bones stay strong; protein builds muscles; and iron builds up your blood cells, which can be especially helpful after a bleed or injury, explains Diane Delorm, a dietitian at the Mary M. Gooley Hemophilia Center in Rochester, New York.

Eating balanced portions of your food can also help you stay healthy. Try using the “portion plate.” Here’s how it works: Divide your plate into four parts, like fractions in school. Meat (or other protein-rich food) should take up one part of the plate and potatoes, pasta or rice should also use only one part of your plate. Then add vegetables to the other two parts of the plate. That way, you eat the right amount of every healthy food at every meal.

Need more help choosing the right food? Ask your parents or hemophilia treatment center for help.

Here are a few easy and healthy recipes to try at home:

Take-Along Trail Mix

Makes 2 cups of trail mix

  • 1/2 cup small pretzel sticks or twists
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients together.

If you want to serve trail mix at a party, or keep a supply for packing a snack, try doubling the recipe. (Use twice the amount of ingredients.) Store the supply in an airtight container or resealable bag.

Mexican Quesadillas

Makes 2 servings

  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 2 Tbsp. shredded cheese, any type
  • Sour cream or salsa, optional

Place one tortilla on a large plate and sprinkle with cheese.

Top with the second tortilla.

Cook in the microwave for about 20–30 seconds until the cheese is melted.

Cool slightly. Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the tortilla into 6 wedges. Dip in sour cream or salsa, as desired.

Chili in No Time

Makes 6 servings

  • 8 ounces macaroni noodles
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can beef broth
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chopped tomatoes; do not drain
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

Prepare macaroni noodles according to package directions. Drain.

In a large skillet or saucepan, brown the ground beef and drain the excess fat.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring the ground beef mixture to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer (or low heat) and continue to cook for another 10–15 minutes, until the chili thickens.

You can serve the chili over macaroni noodles and garnish with chopped onions or shredded cheese, if you wish.

Add some crackers or tortilla chips, and you have a meal in itself. This chili can also be made without the macaroni noodles, if you prefer.

Source: The Everything Kids’ Cookbook by Sandra K. Nissenberg, MS, RD, 2002