In today’s fast paced society, kids are getting the short end of the stick nutritionally. They are overbooked with extracurricular activities that keep them from their families. When they are home they are often found watching television or playing video games. I rarely see kids playing outside in my subdivision. Homemade family dinners are replaced with processed, convenience foods that can be thrown in the microwave. All of this convenience comes with a price – obesity and a diabetes epidemic in our nation.
Children should be eating less preservative and chemical laden foods and eating more “whole foods”. Instead of processed foods, give them a diet rich in vitamins and minerals from whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats.
Stop buying sugar laden cereals and opt for whole grain options. Be careful by reading the labels. Many cereals have put the label “Whole Grain” on them but they still contain way too much sugar. Kids will have a blood sugar crash an hour after eating it and their school performance will be affected. Make them whole grain pancakes or muffins for breakfast. Use allrecipes.com to find new recipes your family will love. Pancakes and muffins can be made in large amounts and frozen in individual portions to be reheated quickly in the toaster or microwave in the morning.
Other changes you can make is to replace beef and pork with chicken and fish. Switch to skim milk. Make vegetables and a whole grain the center of dinner with meat as a side dish. Cut up a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit for kids to snack on. They love them with dips such as plain yogurt mixed with different herbs and spices. Try to stay away from creamy dressings. They are usually filled with so much fat and sugar.
Introduce whole wheat bagels, pretzels, pastas, brown rice, yogurt, celery with peanut butter, baked tortilla chips and many other healthier snack options.
The biggest way to help your kids eat healthier is to eliminate junk foods from the house. If ice cream and cookies are in the house, they will eat them. Your home should be a safe zone for them and for you. They should be treats that are eaten at church potlucks, dinners out or with friends.
Learn how to read food labels and then teach it to your kids. It will be something they will appreciate for the rest of their lives. Get them involved and make it fun.
Most of all, remember they are watching you. You are your child’s role model. They are always listening to what you say also. Set the example for the lifestyle you would like them to follow.