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Dr. Sears on Healthy Eating For Kids - Grow Foods

Updated on November 24, 2016
Lily Rose profile image

I am a mom of two beautiful girls (10 & 12). We love to read, play, cook, shop and have fun together. Raising good people is a top priority.

Dr. William Sears knows a lot about nutrition.  He is a renowned practicing pediatrician for over 35 years and has co-authored, with his wife Martha, over 30 books on parenting and how to raise healthier families.  Dr. Sears is also a medical and parenting consultant for Baby Talk and Parenting magazines, and is a very popular website on the internet.

Dr. Sears believes that a healthy diet should be less threatening to people, and he has reduced what he has learned about nutrition into Nine Simple Steps.  These steps are designed to help break through the confusion of nutritional information that families encounter daily.

Step One: Shape Young Tastes

Dr. Sears noticed, through his pediatric practice, that the children of moms who never let their children have junk food weren’t sick as often, and didn’t have as many school and attention problems.  Also, when these children were confronted with junk food in, say, a birthday party setting, they were less likely to overdose on it.  What happened was that these children had developed a taste for real, wholesome food.

No one’s perfect – the occasional junk food is okay, according to Dr. Sears, but children will be healthier when programmed early on toward healthier eating.

From my personal experience, I firmly believe this to be true.  My kids do have the occasional junk food, but for the most part are very good eaters.  They actually love spinach and broccoli and even ask for it!  My daughters love snacking on cold steamed broccoli, right out of the refrigerator.  Another thing they snack on, or eat with meals, are frozen peas – yes, frozen – try it with your little ones from early on!

Step Two: Feed Your Family the Right Carbohydrates

Carbs aren’t bad, unless they are the wrong carbs.  Young children especially need healthy carbs – in at least 50% of their diet.  The key here is making sure to get the right carbs.  “Good” carbs are packaged by nature; bad carbs are packaged at a factory.  Good carbs are: fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains.

Step Three: Feed Your Family the Right Fats

Like carbs, fats aren’t all bad.  People need to eat the right fats and most people don’t get enough of these.  The two main deficiencies that exist at all ages are 1) fruits and vegetables and 2) omega-3 fats.  The best fats are found in healthy oils (flax & olive) and seafood, especially wild salmon.  Additionally, nut and nut butters are excellent sources, as are sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and avocados.

Bad, or less healthy, fats come from animals.  Hydrogenated fats and oils are the worst – they come from the factory.

Step Four: Feed Your Family Grow Foods

Grow foods come from nature, not the factory.  Grow foods are whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, eggs, healthy oils, legumes.  “Grow foods” is a great way to refer to these foods with children, says Dr. Sears, as they associate it with things that they want to do, like getting stronger and smarter, getting bigger and running faster.

Grow foods are green-light foods.  The concept of green-, yellow-, and red-light foods are a way of teaching kids how to eat healthy.  Read more about traffic light eating here.

Step Five: Raise a Grazer

This is perhaps my most favorite idea because my kids love to snack all day long - true grazers - and this idea just works so well for them.  Sears suggests putting out a tray, like a muffin tin with separate compartments and fill all, or most, of the compartments with nutritional snacks for children to “graze” on throughout the day.  According to Dr. Sears, children are meant to graze.  Studies have shown that if we break up eating into 5 or 6 mini-meals instead of 3 large meals, we tend to put on less extra body fat. 

Step Six: Start the Day with a Brainy Breakfast

Breakfast sets the nutritional tone for the entire day.  Sending a child to school without a healthy breakfast is like driving your car to work with an empty tank of gas.  When kids skip breakfast, or have junk for breakfast, they run out of gas early on.  Dr. Sears contends that this is why many children are labeled as having learning and attention problems. 

Step Seven: Feed Your Family Lots of Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables are Mother Nature’s grow foods.  They contain the right carbs, the right fats, the right fiber and the right proteins – a total nutritional package.  They contain phytonutrients that are essential to proper nutrition.

Step Eight: Take Your Children to the Supermarket

Kids love to be involved in the food shopping. Let them help you make a shopping list of grow foods. At the grocery store, let them help you find healthy foods. If they are old enough, have them compare good foods to not-so-good foods, like white bread versus whole wheat bread by looking at the nutrition labels.

Step Nine: Add Juice Plus to the Family Diet

Eating real, whole foods is ideal, but we do not live in an ideal world. Juice Plus contains the nutritional essence of 17 different fruits, vegetables, and grains, packaged conveniently in capsules. It is also available in chewable and gummy form.

The process of making Juice Plus starts with high quality, naturally ripened fruits and vegetables that are juiced to pull out their nutritional essence using a proprietary method to help maintain and preserve the phytonutrients.

It is carefully tested for herbicides, pesticides, and other contaminants. Juice Plus contains: apple, orange, pineapple, cranberry, peach, acerola cherry, papaya, carrot, parsley, beet, kale, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, tomato, rice bran, and oat bran.

The quantity and quality of the clinical research is what makes Juice Plus stand out above the rest. Most companies spend a ton of money on advertising and not much on research; Juice Plus does the opposite – a lot on research and little on advertising. Think of it as your nutritional “safety net”.

The Juice Plus Children’s Health Study is a large-scale, multi-year survey. It’s designed to determine what effect adding Juice Plus to the family diet can have on children’s health. Children 4-18 years of age can receive Juice Plus at no cost with a paying adult sponsor – the idea being to lead by example. To learn more about Juice Plus and the Children's Health Study, see the links below.

Juice Plus on The Doctors


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    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Lilypjmom - that's perhaps my favorite tip, too. My kids are definitely grazers and this is a genius idea!

    • lilypjmom2122 profile image

      lilypjmom2122 7 years ago from Minnesota

      Love step 5-Raising a Grazer. With my 2 and 9 year old home all summer it seems like they are constantly hungry. Will try this idea :)

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      @ livingtreecompany - need more details, me through the "contact Lily Rose" link above...thanks!

    • livingtreecompany profile image

      livingtreecompany 7 years ago from United States

      Can I link to your article?

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks, rebekahELLE!

    • rebekahELLE profile image

      rebekahELLE 7 years ago from Tampa Bay

      nice, informative, colorful hub lily. great job of putting it all together. I think it all starts with basic knowledge, finding out what we should be feeding ourselves and our kids.

      it's not always easy, but sure pays off! rated up! :]

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 8 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks, Mama - I'm no expert but doing what's best for my kids is certainly a passion of mine.

      Welcome to HP - I'll be sure to check out your hubs!

    • Mama Sez profile image

      Mama Sez 8 years ago from Canada

      Hi Lily Rose, I'm new here and kids nutrition is really one of my favorite topics. My first hub is about kid's nutrition and immunity.

      Reading through the steps made me feel I'm on the right track in this journey called parenting. Thanks a lot for sharing...I love it!

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 8 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks sheryld30!

    • sheryld30 profile image

      sheryld30 8 years ago from California

      Love this!!~ Always into improving health. Thank you, Thank you- soooo much!! I look forward to seeing more!!! :)

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 8 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks Don! I've always wished I had my own garden, but I do not have a green thumb AT ALL, nor the desire to "garden" - so I try and buy well when able - organic when it's best and from local growers when I can.

      Hopefully my kids will continue to be as healthy as they are now - they're only 3- and 4-years old right now, but I'm doing my best to keep them on the right path and I think they're doing great!

    • dusanotes profile image

      dusanotes 8 years ago from Windermere, FL

      We've eaten healthy for a long time. My wife and I have usually had a great garden wherever we've lived, but not at the current location. We use a lot of fruits, vegies, and little meat. Your article proves you are a good, basic thinker regarding nutrition. I'll bet your children turned our healthy and hopefully you passed onto them your great ideas of how to eat. Keep up the good work. Don White

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 8 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks for visiting, breakfastpop. It's amazing how much better you and your family eats if the junk food just isn't there - so many people just don't get that. Too many parents just want to make their kids happy by giving them junk, but they are doing them such a huge disservice.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 8 years ago

      Great advice as usual. I never kept junk food in the house, ever!