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The Diet Children Should Be Eating

Updated on July 29, 2009

 My children visited their pediatrician today for their yearly physicals.  My children are not what you would call fat when you see them.  They are very tall for their ages and have rolls on their bellies but their arms, legs, faces and chest areas are normal sized.  I have long been concerned about their weight however since I myself battle weight constantly and obesity runs on both sides of their family tree.

All of us were shocked to hear that each of their BMI's put them in the overweight status.  According to the scale, both of my kids were in the 100% of weight compared to kids their age.  This is not a good thing.  The doctor stated that he had attended an inservice on what children should eat.  He noted that research shows the children born in the 1990's through 2001 are in the highest risk category for obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.  Perhaps this is because more parents are working and cooking is difficult.  Kids are more involved in extra-curricular activities and late nights make stopping at fast food restaurants more convenient.  Whatever the reason, children in this age group are in danger of developing major health problems as they age. 

The doctor told my children and I that research shows that a diet high in protein (lean), dairy (low-fat), vegetables and low in carbs helps children and adults avoid diabetes, obesity and helps to build muscle, strong bones and it can even help level off emotional difficulties that some children and adults suffer from.  He went on to say that swelling or edema is caused by the beginnings of diabetes and obesity also adds to that.

I did some research and found any kind of meat, if low in fat, is a good source of protein.  Meat should be broiled, boiled, baked or grilled.  Frying and breading only adds to the carb and fat content of the food.  Eggs are not the enemy any more!  If you are concerned about cholesterol, omit the yolk when cooking one.  Dairy products are full of protein and can be purchased in low-fat or reduced fat packages.  Beans (not green) and legumes are chock full of protein.  Even some of your pastas have high levels of protein but beware eating a lot of them as they add to the carbs in the meal.

Fruits, believe it or not, are high in carbs.  Better choices of fruit are berries.  Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc., have very low levels of natural sugar.  Melons have a low to moderate amount of sugar, where grapes, cherries and bananas (of course, our favorites!) are the highest in sugar.  Dried fruits are very high in sugar too.  Don't stop eating these; just eat the high sugar content fruits in moderation.

Fruit juices should be 100% fruit juice.  Check the label.  These should be consumed in moderation as well as juice is high in carbs.

The doctor said that high fructose corn syrup should be looked at as poison!  Stay away from it.  When we got home, we began looking at labels on the foods in our pantry.  We were shocked to see Fiber One, Chef Boyardee, Pancake Syrup and muffin mixes had fructose corn syrup in them.  Things that appear to be healthy could be hiding ingredients that are bad for you.  I now have to become a label reader.  Even the bread that we eat has fructose corn syrup in it.  This is a wheat breat too!

All vegetables are a go, with the exceptions of corn, potatoes, squashes and peas which are considered to be a starch.  Eat them but in moderation.  Portion control is very important too.  Look at serving sizes.  It's best to eat a protein, lots of veggies, drink milk with meals and supplement your meal with fruit and a little carb food.

I was concerned that a high protein diet would lead to heart disease down the road.  The doctor told me that carbohydrates are turned into starch and the body stores this.  This in turn, can cause heart problems.  The doctor stated that eating protein with each meal actually levels off the body and allows the body to burn fuel more efficiently. 

So, my kids and I are going to have to change our eating habits and our life.  We will still get popcorn at the movies but in the kid pak size.  We will get diet pops to cut down on sugar but not drink pop, Gatorade or similar drinks as they are basically high fructose corn syrup.  We will drink more milk, water and drinks such as Crystal Light for quenching our thirst.  We won't give up our rice, noodles and potatoes but will have only the serving size and load up on vegetables.  This is going to be difficult for us.  As I learn more, I may write another hub listing specific foods and recipes or ideas for integrating protein rich foods into our daily eating.

I don't want my children to grow up to be health disabled and if they do, then I am to blame.  I buy the groceries.  I also need to promote more opportunities for them to exercise.  This is just as important.  Perhaps, we can all find this change easier than we had anticipated.  Anything new takes planning and educating oneself.  I hope to be a pro within the month!

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