I have wanted to write about this for a while and now, the time is right. I’ve written many times on this in the past and will again in the future: kids and nutrition.
Juvenile obesity is an epidemic in our country and it is almost totally preventable.
Look around at the kids at your child’s school, in the mall or at the park.
A lot of them are heavy, a lot of them are really heavy and some of them are obese.
This is something we need to fix.
GMO’s, Chemicals, Preservatives
As a parent I know how tough it is to get kids to eat good wholesome food. They are exposed to a barrage of advertising and in school they feed the kids poison.
The food at most schools are from the lowest bidder and come in a package and are LOADED with chemicals, GMO’s and artificial colors.
There is nothing healthy about it.
I can go off on one of my rants about how this sucks and why they do it but that won’t change anything.
What will change things is if you the parents, aunts, uncles, friends and caregivers think about what you are feeding the kids in your life.
Simple, we didn’t give him the option or have it in the house. He ate fruit, vegetables, high quality protein and milk. Sure, occasionally he had a piece of pizza or cake.
It’s not going kill him, right?
I tried my best to teach him to make good choices from a young age. Once he went to school and had a school cafeteria the challenge began.
He wanted hot dogs, Bagelfuls, pizza and cookies all the time because that is what the other kids were eating.
It’s hard to say no to your child but on this subject, I don’t have a problem being the bad guy. He’ll love me more when he is older and healthier I hope.
Kids only know what we teach them and we need to start teaching them the right path when they are young. Food is good, fresh food is better. Almost any food in moderation is not going to hurt you.
If you feed your kids a healthy diet and occasionally let them have a treat and let them know it is a treat, they will be fine.
A piece of cake at a birthday party, and ice cream cone in the summer or a piece of pizza every now and then is fine.
It is not great every day.
How do we know what is good for them?
This is easy and it is so misunderstood by many it is mind boggling.
A lot of parents read the packaging on foods that say things like “all natural” or “contains 12 vitamins” and think this is good for them.
Most of the time it is not!
Kids are marketed to more than adults in the food industry. Just look at all the super heroes on crappy food boxes or cartoon characters.
Those aren’t for adults, unless you are 39 and live in your mother’s basement playing video games all day instead of getting off your ass and going to work.
Food marketing is abundant. One rule of thumb when shopping is to NEVER buy anything at eye level.
Manufacturers pay a premium to have their foods at eye level for kids and those are the ones that have about zero nutritional value.
They are high profit items and are not good for you.
Here is a simple list of foods that your kids (and you) can and should eat a lot:
- Anything that swims, runs or flies. This is protein and should be a main part of your child’s diet.
- Fruit: from a tree, the ground or a vine. Avoid anything in a package or a can or jar that says it is fruit. It isn’t. It’s partially fruit and mostly high fructose corn syrup and other crap.
- Stuff that grows in the ground: potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, rice. All good stuff. They do not need a lot of this, but it is tasty and good for them. By the way, I do not mean sweet potato fries because you think they are better than regular French fries.
- Sweet delicious butter: you did not read that wrong. I said butter. A Little grass fed butter like Kerry Gold is actually good for them and it tastes better than the chemically altered kind.
- Eggs: yep, I said eggs. They are not bad for them or for you. Eat some.
- Vegetables: here is the tough part. Kids hate vegetables. They should not. Vegetables are AWESOME and can be fun. Give them spinach with a little grass fed butter and tell them it made Popeye strong. If your kids do not know who Popeye is, shame on you. Cut up veggies into bite sized finger foods and let them eat them with their hands.
Every now and then kids need a treat.
Let them have them. Every now and then.
Once week, or every other week is cool.
Keep them to smaller portions and they will be fine.
If you deny kids treats they will rebel as soon as they get a chance.
This leads to binge eating and lots of bad choices. Once they get to school and there are vending machines the kids will be living out of them and you won’t even know it.
Educate them to know that treats are good in moderation.
For example, on Saturday or Sunday night grill up burgers and a hot dog or two and let them have a dog and maybe a little bit of chips.
Make sure they eat their vegetables and if they did all of their chores, a little bit of ice cream is ok too.
This is not multiple times a week. One day is good. It teaches them to make good choices all week and then a reward is given for good performance.
Here is a list of foods to keep away from your kids almost all of the time:
- Fast Foods: all garbage. Sure, going to Mickey D’s occasionally will not kill them and maybe you should. Once or twice a year. There is almost no nutritive value in any of the fast food choices. There is a ton of marketing aimed at kids though.
- Soda/Sports Drinks: These are mostly sugar, and the bad kind of sugar. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is the main ingredient in soda and a lot of sports drinks. It is one of the worst things you can put in your body. I don’t feel the need to rant on about this. Wait, I am fighting the urge. Oh and one more thing, the food manufacturers are hip to the public outrage about HFCS and are now using extremely similar products with different names. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Did I just show my age?
- Anything in a box or package in the grocery store: Stuff in boxes and packages are just that, stuff. It once was food, maybe. Now it’s dexomethylene carbonate (I made that name up), high fructose corn syrup, heavily processed grains and other garbage. I really can’t stress enough about not eating out of packages or boxes. It will have a long term health effect on you and your kids.
What about whole grains?
The bottom line is that, without getting political, I do not believe the government on much and they f’ed up the food pyramid more than once.
I REALLY don’t believe anything they say about nutrition and I personally don’t fall into the whole grain hype.
I have written fairly extensively in the past on this topic and if you want more info, I will write again, just let me know.
The short version is that I do not believe that our bodies handle grain well in the form/quantities that it they are presented to us now. Maybe the grains we ate 30 years or more ago were not that bad.
Since the introduction of GMO’s, I am very skeptical of them. I personally avoid them and stick to organic root vegetable and fruit for my carbohydrate sources and I also recommend that to my nutrition clients.
I can also say that once in a while I do eat grains, especially tasty baked goodies from Luberto’s, the best bakery in the world. When I do, I usually feel like crap after. It does taste good going down though.
OK, so let’s review:
- Feed you kids whole, natural and when possible organic foods. Give them lots of protein, fruit, veggies and root vegetables. Every now and then let them have a treat like cake or ice cream.
- Do not let them eat stuff from boxes and packages, especially mac and cheese!
- Draw the line on soda and sports drinks. They’ll live on water just fine and maybe some milk.
- Once in a while take them to Mickey D’s or some other godforsaken food chain so they know that things in moderation are fine. Plus, the other kids won’t think you are a freak for not letting them have it.
I hope that I have shed some light on what to feed your kids and how to help them grow up to live a long and healthy life. Oh and one more thing, teach them the fun and value of exercise too.