With our kids going back to school, it’s harder to guide them on how they eat.
1 in 3 children are overweight or obese. YES, let me say that again 1 in 3 children in America are overweight or obese! WOWZA! that’s insane and scary. I believe there are several contributing factors to this insane epidemic:
- School lunches– The school lunches are DISGUSTING! They are processed and unhealthy! Pack your childs lunch and snacks instead of letting them buy school lunch. Now, realistically kids like to buy school lunch with their friends, so maybe look at the lunch menu for the next month and sit down with your child and find the healthiest lunch and let them buy on that day.
- Education– Children are not taught to make their own healthy choices or taught portion control. They are just told “NO you can’t eat that”.
- CLEAN YOUR PLATE– We all heard this growing up and we have all said it to our children. In the past I was one of those parents . NO NO NO NO. Now it drives me crazy when I hear parents say this. Look at it this way, as adults when we are full we stop eating (or at least we should). There are days when our kids are just not as hungry. We are teaching them to eat EVERYTHING and eat it even if they are full. Teach them to eat their veggies first then the rest of the meal and if they don’t finish… they don’t finish. Let them make the decision as to when they are full!
- Activity– With TV, video games, and all the technology kids have these days, their activity level has dropped drastically. Kids used to walk to school, play in the yard, and ride bikes. Nowadays it’s unsafe to let your children roam free. It’s up to us as parents to get creative with the amount of exercise our kids get. Enroll them in a martial arts class (which is dual purpose, exercise and self defense), hiking with the family, try dance classes or gymnastics. ALSO as technology can be bad, it can be good too. My 12 year old will do the exercise mode on Dance Central for hours. Get creative and encourage them!
- Role model– We as parents need to be better role models for our children. They see what we eat, and naturally pick up our bad habits. If you eat healthy they will too.
Let’s face it, kids are picky. They don’t want to eat things that are different, green, or funny looking. I get that. At some point, all three of my girls have gone through that phase. In reality that’s how kids eat… in phases. At one point they eat anything and everything. A month later they eat nothing that doesn’t end in Macaroni and Cheese.
I am a mom of three girls and I am totally realistic, I know that getting them to eat only raw foods or homemade foods is not going to happen. But there are tons or “replacements” for the foods your kids love! Yes even Mac and Cheese!
Teach them how to order in a restaurant or pick the healthier desert. Don’t deprive them of “fun” things, but teach them that there are “fun” health alternatives. It’s up to you to open their minds. I know that I do not want my girls to have the same weight struggles that I had my whole life! Also, it’s ok for them to have unhealthy food, but teach them about moderation and it’s ok occasionally.
S0, here are some replacement foods and ideas that I tried to teach my children:
- YOGURT- Instead of high sugared yogurt like go-gurt and danimals try a greek yogurt like Chobani. My kids like to add a little granola or kashi go lean crunch.
- GOLDFISH- Instead of the regualar goldfish crackers try Annie’s. They are organic and yummy.
- PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY- Instead of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, try organic peanut butter and agave or honey.
- CHIPS- Instead of Doritos or Cheetoos, Pop Chips or Veggie Straws
- KRAFT MAC AND CHEESE- Instead of Kraft, use Annie’s mac and cheese. Again, organic and much better.
- SYRUP- Agave nectar is a MUCH better alternative to syrup and just as sweet. You can also use agave nectar as a replacement for sugar. I use it in my Oatmeal instead of sugar.
- CEREAL- Whole grain waffles and agave nectar. Cheerios are also a better alternative than those junky sugar filled cereal. To make it sweet, add a little agave and fresh strawberries on top.
- CANDY- Celery with peanut butter and raisins. Or one of my kids (and mine) favorite is a banana sliced down the middle with some peanut butter inside.
- FRUIT SNACKS- I know I call me captain obvious but how about real fruit?
Here are some other good snacks and meal ideas:
- Go organic whenever possible!
- Processed foods are full of fillers, empty calories, and leave your children hungry again very quickly!
- Give your child a little baggie of nuts or trail mix. Nuts fill them up. I send them with little baggies of nuts for nutrition or snack inbetween breakfast and lunch so they can make it until lunch and be energized and not be hungry. It’s hard to learn when your tummy is growling.
- Stay away from soda and juice! Give them Vitamin Water or water enhancers (without a bunch of ingredients that you can’t pronounce). My family loves Mio.
- Also keep in mind just because it says “low fat” or “fat free” doesn’t mean its healthy. Generally, those things are replaced with artificial ingredients and fillers and they do not have any nutritional benefits. Not to mention your kids are going to get hungrier faster.
What your child eats, effects how they learn, think, their energy level, and how they develop. We owe it to our children to teach and guide them how to eat healthy and how to make healthy decisions! Let me enforce that fact that it is so important that we teach our kids how to make their own healthy decisions! Teach by example. Your children WILL mimic you [with bad habits, and good ones].