Senior Year?

Today is Wednesday, April 8, 2020. My schedule would have been the following:

  • 7-8AM Team Lift
  • 8-11AM Team Practice
  • 11:20-12:50PM Class
  • 1-2PM Dog Walk 
  • 2:40-4:10 Class

That’s what it would have been. What about now? What does my schedule look like now on Wednesdays? This is what it is:

  • Wake up whenever
  • maybe go for a run?
  • maybe do an at-home workout?
  • maybe get ready for the day?
  • Be productive?

It’s hard to even write down what my Wednesdays (or really any day) are going to look like. I haven’t been able to grasp the news that my softball season is over. Not only that, it was my SENIOR year. My last year of playing softball. Ever. 

Why did it have to end? I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to one thing that has always been there for me all my life. I am not a dramatic person whatsoever but all the thoughts going through my head are “why did this happen to me” and “what am I going to do now?”. 

I am just lost without softball and with what the future is going to hold for me. 

How did this all happen? Well, let’s talk about it. 

We were headed to California on March 12. My team and I were so excited for this tournament. It was the one weekend out of all the preseason tournaments that was supposed to be warm. 

And with all that excitement to go and play, it was crushed and thrown out the window. 

I never got the chance to fly to California that weekend and play in the weather I so desperately wanted with the team that I love. And we knew the minute our coach was just “watching” us workout that morning that we weren’t traveling. Our coach typically never comes to our workouts and just watches us. 

After lifting, we were supposed to head down to the gym to get some hitting in but we were called to go to the conference room. Our Associate Athletic Director sat us down and said that we will not be traveling to California to play that weekend. 

The tournament already had restrictions prior to this meeting. Because of COVID-19, our tournament was going to restrict spectators to our games. That in itself was so crazy but we quickly got over it because it still meant we were going to play. But then it became more devastating news. We weren’t traveling to California AND our spring seasons was unknown

I didn’t know what was worse, them saying our spring season is unknown or the fact that it was said that our season is under debate. Either way, I didn’t know how/what to feel. 

Because of us not traveling that weekend, I needed groceries. My teammate and I went to the grocery store and even there I felt weird. It truly felt like people were stocking up on because the world was ending. I didn’t think what these people were doing made the situation better. Rather, they are putting too much worry on the COVID-19 situation. 

That’s what I thought about softball. I was putting too much worry into them canceling our spring season. There was no way they would. What is going on right now is only temporary. It can’t get worse.

Oh, how I was wrong. I was SO wrong. 

We got a text from our coach telling us that the Big East has cancelled all spring sports. 

My friend and I were in the checkout line when we go the news. The way we looked at each other was as if we got a text that our best friend died. 

We cried in the checkout line together. 

I called my parents and sister and told them the news. They were in as much shock as I was. I told them what I was told and nothing more.

I couldn’t keep repeating the words “Softball is over for me. Our season is done and my senior year is over”. 

It’s been almost two weeks since my coach told us the news. And I am sitting in the “this isn’t real” mentality and I can’t get it to go away. COVID-19 is something I didn’t take seriously. I never thought I would be sitting in my house with my family on this day when I should be practicing and getting ready for our upcoming games.

I should be lifting.

I should be throwing the ball to first base. 

I should be hitting the ball. 

I should be making errors. 

I am still in disbelief that softball is over. I would be lying if I told you softball didn’t make me into who I am today. It has shaped me in so many ways and I don’t think I truly understood just how powerful the game was to me. 

I want to see the good in this. I want to not be selfish and believe that social distancing and isolation is what needs to happen in order for us to go back to normal. But what is normal? Normal for me was softball. I don’t have that anymore. I don’t get to pick up where I left off and get ready to play. 

I am being selfish. I really am. I don’t want to feel that because I know that I have to be strong. I have to understand that God has given me the opportunity to have the ability to play softball and to get to have played at DePaul.

I wasn’t even going to play college softball. I was going to go to a local college in my hometown.

I went through a rough time my junior and senior year of high school because I was lost in where I wanted to go to college. I was receiving offers from schools to play softball but nothing felt right. 

I was all set to attend my local college (and not play softball) in the fall when during my last summer season on my travel team, I was offered a scholarship to come play at DePaul University. I went on my official visit and everything felt right. The coaches, the athletic department, the campus, everything felt as though I needed to be here. 

I committed in July. That has to be the hardest thing I ever did. I decided so late to switch schools but it was because I still had aspirations of continuing to play the game I loved.

I was given this opportunity to go to college and get to still play the sport I love. I reflect on my freshman and sophomore year when I was still trying to figure everything out. Freshman year was me trying to balance softball, class, and overall the new way of life (being on campus and being independent). 

I remember my first practice as a sophomore, my coach told us that there is no more time being a freshman. I agreed with that statement 100%. We were now being a role model for the new freshman class and being a sophomore, we were in charge of helping and leading the freshman class. 

New year, new expectations and new roles. This meant on & off the field. 

As I got older, I began to invest and develop a new role on the team as well as off the field in my life. Through the research of Wiechman & William (1997), they revealed that as an athlete moves through the years and becomes an upperclassman, the investing of time/effort changes and the effort shifts into finding more about the individual and into non-sport career options. In other words, as we become to be juniors and seniors, we are becoming to understand that playing the sport is not the only most important thing in our lives.

In a different study that included in-depth interviews with 8 college students, Lally & Kerr (2005) found that these individuals entered college with poorly defined career goals and an emphasis on pursuing sport careers after college. But, as years went on, the individuals expressed that they were leaving college with a better understanding of their nonsport career objectives. 

For me, I did no fully understand any of this until my senior year. Prior to senior year and having 3 years under my belt, I had a narrow focus/dedication on the sport. I did average school work and made okay grades because during those years, I worked tirelessly on and off the field for the sport. I did not think of the “post-college” life

As my senior year went on, I began to find myself beyond the game of softball. I had to think about what my life will be after college. I had to begin to shift my priorities and begin to juggle my dual-role identity. It was not easy, but self-motivation and determination can go a long way for me because softball has taught me that.

But, there were times when I took what softball meant to me for granted. I didn’t see the good it brought me. I didn’t see how softball and being at DePaul has pushed me to be a better person. I didn’t see how much the relationships I made through the years have meant the world to me. I didn’t see how much I have grown up and became a more responsible adult. 

As a freshman, I looked at my identity as “a softball player pursing a college degree”. I was all about softball. My identity was softball because that is what got me to DePaul. But, as the years went on, I was able to find myself in more career related activities. In this, I thought less of my softball identity and more so on the “who am I? What will I do after college?”. 

I had to shift priorities. And what came with that came a shift in identity perception.

I began to look at my identity as “a student-athlete pursing a psychology degree”. I am not taking away or putting the notion on that I am forgetting softball completely. I COULD NEVER! 

I have grown to look at my identity with a less emphasis on softball. Softball is not my identity. Softball is what got me to DePaul to FIND my identity. To find what it is I love to do, what I am good at, and what skills I have learned through softball will only then transfer to my post college career. 

And what’s crazy about all of this? I wasn’t able to find my true self or truly grasp anything until softball was stripped away from me. 

It was a bitter sweet moment in my life.

I wish that my season wasn’t over. I wish I could step out on that field one more time to play the game I love with the people I consider family. The saying “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” was something I truly never believed in. 

Oh, how the tables have turned. 

I am sitting here lost. But, I am sitting here lost on what I am going to do next. I have to understand that softball was always going to end at some point, it just ended without any notice. I have dealt with so much of hard triumphs and diversity that it’s almost as if softball has taught me how to handle not having the game in my life anymore.

I am working towards seeing this situation as a challenge for me. A challenge that I won’t step away from. 

Softball has given me more than I could have ever imagined and I am thankful that it has made me into the person I am today. I can’t say I am ready to close that chapter of my life but I am ready to start a new path with the person that softball has made me. 

-Cara Jimenez


Lally, P. S., & Kerr, G. A. (2005). The career planning, athletic identity, and student role identity of intercollegiate student athletes. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport76(3), 275-285.

Wiechman, S. A., & Williams, J. (1997). Relation of athletic identity to injury and mood disturbance. Journal of Sport Behavior, 20(2), 199-210.

Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy 2018

We just got back from the ABCT Annual Convention and had a great time as usual. The conference program was full of great research on mood disorders, stress, obesity, physical activity, and appetite awareness. Highlights included seeing former students (hi Trey, Kate, and Tasha) and supervisors. I learned about Dr. Linda Craighead’s Appetite Awareness Training and how it has been modified for use with children: Training Your Inner Pup. I have already used some principles with my 7 and 9 year olds so have very preliminary data that it is appealing! Next steps for this project include coding the qualitative body image interviews to identify specific types of body image stress. In the meantime, check out this article for the foundation to this work.

We presented a poster on the impact of parent-child stress and marital conflict on the body image of diverse youth that is available here: ABCT Poster_11.8.18. Next steps for this project include coding the qualitative body image interviews to identify specific types of body image stress. In the meantime, check out this article for the foundation to this work: Mediating effects of parent-child relationships in the prediction of internalizing symptoms in urban youth. We’re already looking forward to next year’s conference!

Eating Disorder Awareness Week

For one week at the end of February/beginning of March, the National Eating Disorder Association celebrates Eating Disorder Awareness week to increase knowledge, understanding, and mindfulness about the many ways in which food, exercise, and appearance shape our daily lives. 30 million Americans will struggle with a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their lives (20 million women and 10 million men) and while that number is striking, millions more struggle each and every day with concerns about their food intake, exercise, and body image.

The theme for this year’s NEDAwareness Week, which takes place February 26-March 4, is Let’s Get Real and aims to “expand the conversation and highlight stories we don’t often hear” (National Eating Disorders Awareness). As cliché as it may sound, eating disorders can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time. They’re of particular concern on college campuses; one study found that 13.5% undergraduate females and 3.6% of college males screen positively for clinically significant eating disorders and that scores at baseline predicted eating disorder symptoms at a two year follow-up (Eisenberg, Nicklett, Roeder, & Kirz, 2011). As such, understanding the warning signs and risk factors for disordered eating and eating disorders is incredibly important.

While the typical picture of a person with an eating disorder is an emaciated, young, white female, there are as many types of people with eating disorders as there are types of people in general. There is no way to tell who has an eating disorder just by looking, but individual’s behaviors can provide important clues.

Behavioral indications of eating disorders include

  • regular dieting
  • food rituals (cutting food into small bites, eating only one type of food at a time, refusing to eat at certain times of the day)
  • obsessive or compulsive exercise
  • refusal to participate in activities were food is involved
  • extreme mood swings
  • preoccupation with food and shape.

Physical symptoms include

  • noticeable weight changes or fluctuations
  • complaints of stomach pains
  • dizziness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • insomnia or hypersomnia
  • cold extremities
  • hair loss
  • brittle nails
  • dental problems.

These problems can, and do, occur in all genders, ethnicities, races, and religions and can be incredibly detrimental no matter what.

Even if issues surrounding food, exercise, and appearance don’t meet clinical significance or diagnostic criteria, seeking help is still incredibly important. Food should provide joy and nourishment, not anxiety; exercise should be for enjoyment and pleasure, not because of what you ate the day before. If you are concerned that you or a friend may be struggling with some eating disorder concerns, the National Eating Disorder Association helpline has staff available Monday-Thursday from 9am-9pm EST and on Fridays from 9am-5pm EST. They can be reached at 800-931-2237, as well as through their online chat page. There is also a screener  available online to help you determine if you or a friend may need to reach out to a professional for help.

Although eating disorders are serious, deadly illnesses, full recovery is possible. That said, however, recovery rarely happens in a vacuum; in most cases, professional help and a social support network (which can include friends, family, co-workers, or professors) are necessary to help guide an individual along through the recovery process. More information about NEDAwareness week and eating disorders in general can be found by clicking here.














Eisenberg, D., Nicklett, E. J., Roeder, K., & Kirz, N. E. (2011). Eating Disorder Symptoms Among College Students: Prevalence, Persistence, Correlates, and Treatment-Seeking. Journal of American College Health : J of ACH, 59(8), 700–707.

2017-2018 Lab Members!

Jocelyn Carter, Ph.D. (Associate Professor)

Dr. Carter received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Vanderbilt University in 2008 and earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Yale University. She completed her clinical internship at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL, and is currently an Associate Professor and the Director of Clinical Training at DePaul University. She teaches graduate assessment courses and undergraduate abnormal psychology courses. She is currently developing a clinical practica in primary carepsychology through DePaul Family and Community Services. 


Carolyn Turek, M.A. (4th Year Doctoral Candidate, Clinical Child)

Carolyn received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame in 2014. Her primary research interests lie within pediatric psychology and she enjoys exploring this field as part of the Healthy Families Lab. She most enjoys working with families through projects encouraging healthy eating and exercise behaviors. Carolyn is specifically interested in the ways chronic illnesses impact the lives of children, teens, and their families as young people transition to adulthood. Through her research and clinical work, she enjoys exploring the ways families manage type 1 diabetes and the psychosocial challenges that can be associated with diabetes.


Bridget Brush (3rd year Doctoral Candidate, Clinical Child)

Bridget received her B.S. in Psychology from Florida State University. During her undergraduate career, Bridget was involved in various neuroscience research projects focused on behavior driven gene expression. Following graduation, she spent a few years working as an intervention coordinator for a child stress lab at Brown University, where she studied neural (fMRI) and hormonal (neuroendocrine) response to stress in adolescents. Bridget’s primary research interests are focused on understanding biological pathways related to mental and physical health disparities in childhood and adolescence. Specifically, she is interested in studying the relationship between emotion regulation strategies and neuroendocrine (cortisol) response to stress. In the future, Bridget hopes to use this knowledge to develop early interventions aimed at addressing health disparities for youth living in environments with high stress and low resources.


Gabriel McNair (1st year Doctoral Candidate, Clinical Child)

Gabriel received his B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. He conducted two research projects during his undergraduate career–one on personality differences in recognition memory and the other observing Latino adolescents’ perceptions of fairness as a moderator of the relationship between family obligation and presence of meaning in life. Gabriel’s primary research interests are ever-developing, but include prevention, culture, risk/resilience, family processes, and systematic stressors.

Marissa Coven (1st year Doctoral Candidate, Clinical Child)

Marissa is a first year doctoral candidate in the clinical child track. She grew up in New Jersey and moved to Atlanta for undergrad, where she received her BA in Psychology from Emory University. After graduating, she spent several years working as a clinical research coordinator in the Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. There she worked with families and children on a variety of studies aimed at advancing the understanding of IBD in order to improve treatment. Marissa’s research interests focus on understanding the impact of pediatric illness across physical, mental health, academic and social domains. She is passionate about fostering resiliency and improving coping among children and their families. She is currently examining the effect of participating in a physical activity intervention on somatic symptoms among low-income ethnic minority children. In her spare time, Marissa enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee.


Frederico Guerrier (Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistant)

Freddy received his B.A in Psychology from DePaul University in 2017 (graduated Magna Cum Laude).   Freddy’s clinical and research interests include parent-child relationships, family communication, behavioral parenting interventions, parenting stress, and parent management of chronic illnesses.  During his undergraduate career, Freddy was enrolled in DePaul’s Human Services program and was a clinical intern at DePaul Family and Community Services.  As an intern, Freddy work alongside Certified PCIT Master Trainer Dr. Christina Warner-Metzger. Along with his unique clinical experience, Freddy has been a part of the Healthy Families lab since 2016 and presented diabetes research at the Society of Pediatric Psychology Annual Conference (SPPAC) with graduate student lab member Carolyn Turek, M.A.  Freddy most enjoys collaborating with our team to encourage families to build positive relationships through healthy eating and exercise.  In addition to his clinical and research work, Freddy was involved in several extra curricular positions including serving as Psi Chi Secretary and peer mentoring freshman and transfer psychology students.


Claire Trainor (Senior)

Claire is a senior with a double major in English and Psychology, with concentrations in Creative Writing and Human Services (respectively). This is her second year in the Healthy Families Lab. She is interested in the role of families in health behaviors, particularly eating disorders in low-income, ethnic minority backgrounds. She hopes to continue her education in a clinical psychology PhD program next fall.


Lily Kelly (Senior)

Lily is a Senior undergraduate student in DePaul University’s Driehaus College of Business studying Business Management with a concentration in Leadership. She is interested in how diagnoses of illnesses affect the mental health and daily functioning of different populations, specifically young adults and adolescents. She hopes to continue her education in Occupational Therapy.

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Kennedy Hull (Senior)

Kennedy is a 4th year Psychology major, concentrating in Community Psychology and minoring in Studio Art. She has been a member of the Healthy Families Research Lab since January 2017. She has an interest in art therapy, specifically with the developmentally disabled population. Her other psychology- and research-related interests include healthy lifestyle, anxiety, and depression. With regards to a healthy lifestyle, she is most curious about how to encourage individuals to find enjoyable forms of exercise that they wouldn’t mind participating in daily. Outside of the psychology realm, Kennedy also likes to do yoga, paint, play violin, and watch way too many movies on Netflix.


Madelyn Johnson (Junior)

Madeline is a Junior at DePaul studying Psychology. She is a certified yoga instructor and is currently training for the Chicago Marathon in 2018!


Diversifying Clinical Psychology in Chicago

In the spring of 2017, psychology programs (DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University, Feinberg School of Medicine Northwestern University, and Rosalind Franklin University School of Medicine) from the Chicago-land area met with undergraduate students to help prepare them for graduate study in clinical psychology. This program featured faculty and student presentations and panels on the graduate school preparation, application, and transition processes. The program also featured a student poster session in which students could share their research and get feedback on it from current graduate students and faculty. The inaugural event was hosted by Loyola University of Chicago’s Director of Clinical Training, Dr. Grayson Holmbeck, and Diversity Committee planned and staffed. This program provided one solution to increasing the recruitment and retention of under-represented students into clinical psychology doctoral programs.

Why do we need to take steps to prepare under-represented students for doctoral study in clinical psychology?

The American Psychological Association created the Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology in 1995. The taskforce released a report on the success of its activities during the project period (1997-2005). The full report can be found here:

In general, the number of ethnic minorities who earned bachelor’s (36% in 2004) and master’s degrees increased over time (27.2% in 2004), but the percentage earning doctorates increased by only 16.6%. There are also disparities in the ethnic make-up of psychology faculty in the United States – 12.4% of full time professors. These numbers are concerning when we compare them to the percentage of ethnic minorities in the United States – 37.4%.

Doctoral programs in clinical psychology are attempting to close these gaps by increasing access and preparation for students from under-represented backgrounds.

Who is considered underrepresented?

The data presented above includes only members of ethnic minority groups. However, under-representation is not limited to ethnic and racial groups. It also includes individuals with disabilities and LGBTQ individuals and many others. The APA Code of Ethics states that:  “Psychologists are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status and consider these factors when working with members of such groups.”


How are the gaps closing?

  • Recruitment
    • Preparation programs include weekend visits and special programs for under-represented students. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Virginia sponsor these types of programs annually.
    • Many programs include information about diversity on their websites. The DePaul University Clinical Program advertises our focus on diversity with respect to faculty, students, research areas, and clinical practice. Students visiting our website should see that diversity is central to our training program, department, and larger university.
    • Many universities offer specific lines of funding for those from under-represented groups. These lines of funding usually come from the university or graduate school (in contrast to the department or program). The Ford Foundation and the McNair Scholars Program are two national sources of funding that are external to programs.
  • Retention
    • Retention efforts are harder to document and define than recruitment efforts. Minority student groups are usually found across the entire department or university rather than a program that may not have enough under-represented students to form a group. Mentoring programs can be hosted on-campus or through virtual communities. The National Center for Faculty Diversity and Development is a great resource. The majority of mentoring usually occurs through the faculty advisor-student relationship, but students from under-represented backgrounds should have opportunities to interact with additional faculty to obtain support that may be needed. Model programs include role modeling from faculty outside the program and clinicians/practitioners in the community. This guide from the APA CEMRRAT2 Task Force and APA Committee on Women in Psychology was written for new faculty members, but many strategies may be helpful for graduate students as well.

Stay tuned for more information about the 2018 event!


Family, Food, Fitness, & Focus Resource List

The Healthy Families Lab has collected resources on healthy eating and physical wellness for children, parents, and families to explore.  Topics include healthy snack recipes, portion control, nutrition facts, and activities to living a healthy lifestyle.

Recipes and Family Meals

Healthy Snacks—100 Calories or Less

Click to access hundredcalories.pdf

Food, Fun & Family Recipe Packet

Click to access recipePack.pdf

Snacks—A Bridge Between Meals

Click to access Super%20Snacks.pdf

Super Healthy Kids-Building The Perfect Trail Mix

Click to access Trail-Mix-m-21.pdf

Last Minute Meals Shopping List*

Healthy Eating

Compare and Save: Eat Healthy, Spend Less*

Click to access tip_comparison.pdf

Dietary Fats: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Click to access Fat.pdf

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Website
Hints for a Healthy Home
Home Tools for a Healthy Home
Go, Slow, and Whoa!: An activity to guide parents to make healthy food choices for their family

Nutrition & Portion Control

Healthy Eating Plate*
How to Use the Nutrition Facts Label*

Click to access nutritionlabel.pdf

Hand Guide to Portion Control
Live Better America: Portion Size Pocket Guide*

For Teachers

Eat Well & Keep Moving

*If you attended our family night, these handouts were provided

SPPAC 2017: Healthy Families Lab Heads to Portland (Sneak Peek at Posters)

This week, our lab is excited to head to Portland, OR for the Society of Pediatric Psychology Annual Conference!

While there, Carrie, Freddy, Michael, and Dr. Carter will be presenting posters considering health behaviors in children and families.

Here is a sneak peek at the poster Carrie and Freddy worked on with Dr. Carter and Dr. Drossos (University of Chicago). (See below for a full references list).

SPPAC 2017- Poster- Age at Diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes, Social Support, and Glycemic Control in Children and Adolescents

SPPAC 2017- Poster References

SPPAC 2017- Poster- Freddy_Carolyn_Final_05.18.17- Psych Night Dimensions

Healthier Halloween Options

By Jack Brady

Happy Halloween season! As the 31st approaches, it’s time to get into the Halloween spirit. As with other candy-heavy holidays like Valentine’s Day, it can be challenging to balance a child’s involvement in holiday activities with maintaining healthy food choices. Here are a few ways to have fun with your family this Halloween while reducing the intake of unnecessary fats and sugars.

  1. Donate excess candy

After trick’r’treating, what do you do with pounds of excess candy? Donate it! There are several organizations set up to benefit those who don’t have access to treats. Organizations like Operation Gratitude ( and Operation Shoebox ( send boxes of candy and other goods to American military personnel abroad as well as military families. Ronald McDonald House Charities also frequently accepts candy donations after Halloween for families staying at their housing locations ( Some religious organizations and food banks also accept; check to see what your city has to offer. In Chicago, some locations will weigh your candy donations and give your child $1 per pound, or even have raffles or competitions for heaviest donation. Check out Redtri for some locations and other suggestions on places to donate ( In order to avoid unnecessary drama, it’s a good idea to talk with your kids about your donation prior to trick’r’treating, and describe how their excess candy can put a smile on someone else’s face!

  1. Exchange candy for other types of fun

Another fun option is to have your kid exchange candy for other types of rewards or gifts. Maybe by giving up a portion of their candy, your child can choose a favorite meal for the following week! Other exchange options could be healthier treats, not having to do a particular chore, picking out a movie for movie night, or going to the library to choose new books.

  1. Make your own healthy treats

By making your own healthy treats, you can make delicious snacks with just as much flavor and much less sugar and fat. Additionally, this can be a great way to spend more family time together (or it can be a potential candy exchange option).

Everyday Health has some great options on their website for tasty treats, such as ants (or spiders) on a log!


Super easy to make, and kids love to assemble them! Spiders on a log is a twist on the classic ants on a log made of celery sticks, peanut butter, and raisins. By using natural peanut butter you greatly cut down on the amount of sugar that brands such as JIF contain, while retaining the great peanut taste. Simple to assemble, this is a great option for families with young kids! You can also mix it up by using dried cranberries or currants for new flavors. By making the food a little goofier, kids will enjoy making this creepy snack. (


Another option that kids enjoy making is dark-chocolate-dipped apples!


Dark chocolate is generally considered to be a healthier option compared to milk chocolate due to its lower sugar content. Though it does contain more fat, the dark chocolate and apple combination contains high levels of flavonoids that may help increase cardiovascular health. This doesn’t mean, unfortunately, that we can eat all the chocolate we want! The Cleveland Clinic has additional information about what benefits dark chocolate may have, but also cautions that additional research needs to be done to prove its positive effects. It’s still a treat! In addition, only certain chocolates contain these potential positive cardiovascular effects, so check out the link for more information! (

Kids will love spending time preparing the apples, and they can easily be halved or quartered before dipping for a more portion-healthy treat.

Thanks for reading; we hope you have a healthy and spooky Halloween!

Jack Brady

Packing a Better School Lunch

Lunch is an important part of each person’s day. It is a time to refuel energy for the remainder of the school or workday, but many children go to school with lunches that are missing fruits and vegetables. Many children don’t eat all of the food in their lunch boxes which can  cause them to have less energy throughout the day.    Here are  four ways to make healthy and fun lunches for your student.

1. Packing a lunch that is size appropriate

Every parent wants to make sure that their student has enough to eat but it may be too much. Children have much smaller portion sizes depending on their age and appetite. Websites such as provide portion sizes that are appropriate based a number of different factors. There are several different lunchboxes that have portion sizes built into the containers. Having these options available can you bring you one step closer to happy, healthy satisfied student.lunch-box

2. Including the major food groups

Balanced lunches that include the major food groups are essential to helping children thrive at school. If your child is young it may be easier to add different items into their lunch and start the good habits early. Preschool and kindergarten ages children are more easily influenced to change their food preferences which is important when aiming to get children to adopt healthier habits (Farris, 2014).  With older children it may be important to get them involved in the shopping and prepping process. Cooking together and finding healthy options that they enjoy making and eating can help develop better

3. Reviewing the school lunch menu

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) has also made an effort to improve the quality of lunches, making sure that students receive the major food groups. They have also made an effort to give students and their families’ affordable options. In each school there should be a menu provided for the different meals for the days of the week. You may find that your student enjoys one or two different days on the school menu. By reviewing the menu of the school options with your student it may be easier to create a plan for days that lunch needs to be packed. This will be a way to make sure your student eats something healthy and enjoyable on a daily basis.

4. Keeping sweets healthy and low in sugar

Everyone enjoys a treat. It is nice to offer children something that is healthy and enjoyable and a little bit sweet to look forward to at lunchtime. Though this is true often times children’s lunches are piled high with unhealthy sugar packed beverages and snacks. Hubbard conducted an observational study of student lunches and found that a typical lunch was a sandwich, snack food and water (2014).  Having sweet fruits or fruit snacks can be healthy reward during lunch and snack times. This is an easy way to make sure that your child has one of the major food groups that is also sweet while remaining low in sugar. Students who consume too much sugar over time may be at risk for health problems such as obesity.doughnuts