As a parent, we want good things for our kids: a positive outlook on life, a healthy respect for authority, a strong sense of self, a disease-free body, good eating habits…a healthy body weight.
Despite our best intentions, researchers are saying that for the first time in two centuries, the our kids will have a shorter life expectancy than us. With all the advances in medicine, how could this possibly be true?
This is a direct result of today’s toxic food environment. Our kids are eating too much junk. And really who can blame them? Junk food is tasty. The good news is that healthy food also tastes amazing.
Take these simple tips to transform your child’s diet into one that is packed with good health.
1) Add Color
Add bright and colorful fruits and veggies to your child’s plate. Fresh, organic, seasonal fruits and veggies are filled with fiber, vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health.
Initially your kids may be resistant, so let’s make it fun. Serve fresh veggies with salad dressing as a dip. Cut fresh fruit in the colors of the rainbow on a skewer. One thing my kids love is when I serve a color themed meal – all green, all red or all orange. Use your imagination, and get your kid’s input, 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 diet. Packaged and refined food products are unreal. These food items 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, many due to the convenience factor. Train your kids to choose whole foods over packaged ones. Whole foods are foods from nature. An apple. Organic brown eggs. A piece of hormone-free chicken. A bowl of steamed veggies. You get the idea.
3) Use Wholesome Sweeteners
Refined sugar and corn syrup are packed into the foods that your kids love. Good news, there are more wholesome sweeteners available – sweeteners that add vitamins and minerals rather than empty calories. Use the following sweeteners rather than white sugar or corn syrup:
- Raw honey: A touch of raw honey adds sweetness as well as vitamins and minerals.
- 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 seeded dates into your blender to sweeten your smoothie rather than adding white sugar.
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 over white, adding veggies to the toppings and sticking with lean meat toppings. Try this recipe for Real Healthy Pizza.
- Pasta: Use spaghetti squash or simply peel zucchini into noodles with a vegetable peeler rather than traditional white pasta. Add veggies to your pasta sauce. Stick with red sauce, since white sauce is so high in fat. Try this recipe for Spaghetti squash casserole.
- PB&J: 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 this PB&J Makeover recipe instead for a sandwich that will provide real wholesome fuel for your child’s day. For an even healthier sandwich, skip the grains and use freshly baked almond bread.
5) NO Sugary Drinks
This is the best thing that you can do for your child’s good health: instill in them a love for water rather than sugary drinks. Soda pop and juices are filled with empty calories that cause weight gain. The easiest way to switch the kids to water is to stock your house with lots of pure, filtered water. Don’t have fruit drinks or soda pop at home so that they grow accustom to drinking only water.
While these tips were meant for your child’s diets, these healthy changes will also do wonders for your own diet. Try these 5 tips out for just 30 days and I guarantee you’ll look and feel better.
As parents we want good things for our children…Now how about doing something good for yourself as well?
You are your child’s biggest role model on how to eat, for better or worse.