Are you feeding your kids the wrong foods?
“Mom, I am hungry!”
The most common phrase heard in households all over the world! Kids seem to have endless pits inside their bodies that need to be tended to at all hours of the day. As a person who has studied nutrition and the effects of food on the body for the last 15 years you would think I had two kids that walked around eating nothing but organic vegetables, fruit, whole grains and grass fed meats. But no! Despite my kids eating healthy foods for the most part, they also eat their fair share of not so healthy foods. Why? Because like the rest of you, I am busy!
Between being a mother, wife and business women, I unfortunately don’t have the time to slave away in a kitchen all day catering to my children’s eating habits.
In today’s world it’s very challenging to always have nutrient dense fresh foods on hand to feed our kids. We live in a society that makes easy, convenient tasty snacks all too accessible.This makes shoving a granola bar into your kid’s hand or driving through a fast food joint far more convenient than cooking up a healthy meal.
Unfortunately, we are not paving a good road for our children and the sad truth is that we could be setting them up for extremely difficult times in their future. Not only for their health but their self esteem. Since having my daughter in 2007 I definitely have learned to create a balance between the not so good foods and the good ones. I can’t say that it’s easy, nor do I claim to always be perfect, but I know the importance of creating healthy eating habits at a young age. In today’s blog I am giving you the hard truth behind what could be in store for a child that is overweight, how to begin changing your children’s eating habits and how to find that balance between healthy and easy!
“American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015 revealed obese children as young as 8 now display signs of heart disease”
Canada is in an epidemic of overweight and obesity which includesour children. According to the WHO approach, close to one third (31.5%) of 5 -17 year olds, an estimated 1.6 million are overweight or obese. Most adolescents do not outgrow this problem and in fact, many continue to gain excess weight. If current trends continue, by 2040, up to 70% of adults aged 40 years will be either overweight or obese
I don’t need to tell you that childhood obesity is unhealthy. I think this is pretty common knowledge but yet as I stated above the obesity rate is only going up, at a dramatic speed. Below I am going to give you the details of the most common complications of obesity which means this potentially, is what a child who is overweight or obese could be headed toward:
Heart disease: which could lead to heart attack, angina, stroke, heart failure, death
Cancer: Obesity related cancers: thyroid, breast, colorectal, endometrial, kidney, esophageal, gall bladder and much more all of which could lead to death.
Hypertension: heart attack, aneurysm, heart failure, metabolic syndrome possible death
Type 2 diabetes: which can lead to Heart and blood vessel disease
Nerve damage: Poorly controlled blood sugar can eventually cause you to lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. Damage to the nerves that control digestion can cause problems with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. For men, erectile dysfunction may be an issue.
Kidney damage: Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which often eventually requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Eye damage: Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness
Foot damage: Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can become serious infections, which may heal poorly. Severe damage might require toe, foot or leg amputation.
Self esteem issues which can lead to depression, anxiety and eating disorders
Hmmmm not things we would ever wish upon our children, right?!
But yet so many people keep feeding their kids the crappy food because it’s easy and convenient and in our faces wherever we go! We live high stress lives that are prone to taking anything that means less work on us.
But if we don’t change this for our children then who will? No one, so let’s take matters into our hands and change the future for our kids.
Start with changing yourself!
That’s right the best thing you can do to change your children’s eating habits is by changing your own! Lead by example. If this isn’t possible because you are simply not ready or wanting to make that change, then don’t let that stop you from feeding your children better food. Keep your bad eating habits to yourself.
READ the ingredients
Don’t ever believe what the front of the box is telling you “Natural” “Whole grain” “Fibre” “Added Calcium” “Healthy.” Read the ingredients and the amount of sugar that is added, colors, preservatives, ingredients that you can’t pronounce and stay clear of them!
Three balanced meals
One thing I do with my kids is I always try to feed them three healthy meals a day with whole foods such as good quality protein, whole gluten free grains, vegetables and quality fats (see below for ideas). Snacks can be the hardest to control so making sure they have high quality meals allows for a little more wiggle room on snack time. Plus, eating protein and good fat helps kids stay satiated for longer just like it does for us.
Go out for Dessert
In my household we make treat time an outing I don’t deny my kids or myself the odd tasty treat but I try to make it a special occasion not a daily occurrence. For instance, in the summer we like to go out for good ice-cream or cookie at the farmer’s market. Winter we will go have a hot chocolate. I believe this teaches kids a healthy relationship with sugar that isn’t demonizing sweets but showing them that on occasion go enjoy something sweet. Plus, this helps us not to be tempted by the junk food, out of site out of mind. I know for myself if there is ice-cream in my house it’s all I think about till its eaten up!
Choose wisely at snack time
Have lots of healthy snacks at home that are easily accessible for children. If you are buying prepackaged snacks try to choose ones with the least amount of sugar, colors, preservatives and carbohydrate count.
“Do not finish your plate”
I am sure majority of you were raised in a household where you were told if not forced to finish everything on your plate. One of the more common complaints I hear from clients is that they have no control over knowing when to stop eating! Well of course not they are hard wired to finish their plates no matter how much food is put in front of them. I always tell my daughter don’t eat if you’re not hungry and the rule is; her meal will sit there until she is hungry and then she must finish that meal before eating anything else. This will teach your children to tune into their bodies and learn their hunger signals something many of us would die to know now!
Talk to your kids about food
Teach your children about the importance of eating good food. Explain that protein makes their muscles grow, vegetables make them grow strong and feel good inside. Sugar can make us feel sick and rot our teeth out so it’s important not to have to often and should be kept as a special treat once and awhile.
Make exercising a priority
Put restrictions around screen time, do family bike rides, hikes and group sports. Rain or shine get those kids out every day for exercise.
Here are some sample ideas of kid friendly foods
Breakfast: Smoothies, eggs, homemade granola with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, gluten free or whole grain toast with nut butter, nitrate free bacon, buckwheat gluten free waffles with butter and nut butter.
Lunch: Meat roll ups with pickles, sliced cheese, rice crackers, fruit, homemade soups, gluten free pasta with homemade spaghetti sauce, salmon burger patties with sliced cucumbers, bun-less grass fed hot dogs or smokies dipped in organic ketchup, smoothies, eggs.
Dinner: Good quality protein, homemade chicken or fish fingers, homemade fries, rice, gluten free pasta, potatoes, vegetables.
Snacks: yogurt, fruit, unsweetened apple sauce, apples with nut butter or organic peanut butter on them, paleo muffins, nitrate free pepperoni sticks, cheese, pickles, rice crackers, organic corn chips with salsa, organic popcorn with butter and sea salt, carrot sticks, snap peas, celery sticks, cucumber, homemade trail mix, nuts.
Begin today making these changes to your children’s diets and get them off that road to chronic illness. Eat well 80 % of the time and use the other 20% for the occasional treat out, fast food etc.