Every parent wants good things for their children: a positive outlook on life, a healthy respect for authority, a strong sense of self, a disease-free body…a healthy body weight. Despite our best intentions, a recent report suggests that for the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. With all the advances in medicine, how could this possibly be true? The blame falls squarely on today’s toxic food environment. In short, your kids are eating too much junk. And who can blame them? Junk food tastes great.
The good news is that healthy food also tastes great. Take these simple tips and transform your child’s diet into one that is packed with good health.
1) Add Color
Adding bright and colorful fruits and veggies to your child’s plate will get their diet on the fast track to health. Fresh fruits and veggies are filled with fiber, vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health. If your kids are resistant then make it fun. Serve veggies with salad dressing as a dip. Cut fresh fruit in the colors of the rainbow and place them on a skewer. Serve a color themed meal – all green, all red or all orange. Use your imagination and you’ll come up with an endless number of ways to make fruits and veggies fun to eat.
2) Think Whole Foods
Processed foods are the biggest problem with our modern diet. Packaged and refined food products are devitalized and filled with empty calories that quickly lead to weight gain. Unfortunately, processed foods make up a large portion of the diet of many children. Train your kids to opt for whole foods, rather than packaged ones. Whole foods are foods that are in their natural state. An apple. A piece of sprouted grain bread spread with natural nut butter. A piece of hormone-free chicken. I ask my nieces and nephews : Does it grow in nature? Can they pick it off a tree? Can they read (or even pronounce) the ingredients list, then they can have it, otherwise NO!
3) Use Wholesome Sweeteners
Refined sugar and corn syrup are packed into many of the foods that your kids love. But wait, there are more wholesome sweeteners available – sweeteners that add vitamins and minerals rather than empty calories. Use the following rather than white sugar or corn syrup:
- Sucanat: This pure, dried sugar can retain its molasses content. Use it to replace white sugar in baking.
- Pure Maple Syrup: Forget the “fake” syrups containing corn syrup. Pure maple syrup contains potassium, calcium and some amino acids.
- Brown Rice Syrup: Use this dark syrupy sweetener instead of corn syrup. It takes longer to digest and won’t spike your blood sugar like refined sugar.
- Dates: Throw a few seedless dates into your blender to sweeten your smoothie rather than adding white sugar.
4) Make Smart Substitutions
Kids love pizza and pasta and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and that’s not going to change any time soon. Rather than fight your kids on their favorites, try making smart substitutions to make their favorites more nutritious.
- Pizza: Up the nutritional content of your pizza by opting for wheat crust or brown rice wraps over white, adding veggies to the toppings and sticking with lean meat toppings.
- Pasta: Use sprouted grain or whole grain pasta rather than traditional white pasta. Add veggies to your pasta sauce. Stick with red sauce, since white sauce is so high in fat.
- Peanut Butter and Jelly: A PB&J, made with white bread using sugar-filled peanut butter and corn syrup-filled jelly, is fairly void of any real nutritional value. Try the PB&J Makeover recipe below instead for a sandwich that will provide real wholesome fuel for your child’s day.
5) Ban Sugary Drinks
One of the best things that you can do for your child’s good health is to instill in them a love for water rather than sugary drinks. Soda pop and juices are filled with empty calories that encourage weight gain. The easiest way to do this is to stock your house with lots of pure, filtered water. Don’t have fruit drinks or soda pop readily available so that they grow accustom to drinking only water.
6) Pay Attention:
When you are eating, pay attention.Sounds simple, but how often do you snack in front of the T.V. or eat your dinner while in rush hour traffic? Paying attention means eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. It means never eating just to eat, but rather because your body needs it.
While I presented these tips as improvements to be made to your child’s diets, these tips will also do wonders for your diet. Try these 5 tips out for 30 days and I guarantee you’ll look and feel better. Parents all want good things for their children. Now how about doing something good for yourself as well? You are your child’s biggest role model on how to live, for better or worse. Treat yourself right by calling or emailing today to get started on an exercise program that will change your life for the best.
Not all PB&J sandwiches were created nutritionally equal. It all depends on the quality of the ingredients that you use. If you use white bread, corn syrup-filled peanut butter and refined sugar-filled jelly, the result would be a sandwich that will skyrocket your blood sugar, promotes fat storage and leaves you feeling hungry a short time later. However, if you make this recipe, with sprouted grain bread, true peanut butter made from one ingredient: peanuts, and fruit preserves that are naturally sweetened with fruit juice rather than sugar, then the result would be a nutritionally dense food that would promote stable blood sugar levels and provide you with hours of sustained energy. And…your kids will love the fun twist of having their sandwich stuffed with banana slices and grilled!
Here’s what you need:
• Sprouted grain bread (Ezekiel Bread)
• 1 Tablespoon pure peanut butter or other nut butters (no added sugar or corn syrup)
• 1 Tablespoon natural fruit spread (no added sugar or corn syrup)
• 1/2 of a banana, sliced
1. Spread one piece of bread with peanut butter and the other with fruit spread. Line one side with the sliced bananas and sandwich it.
2. In a grill pan over medium heat, grill each side until grill marks appear and the sandwich is warmed.
Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 380 calories, 8.7g fat, 53g carbohydrate, 9g fiber, and 13.2g protein.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Joann Osbourne