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Healthy Diets for Children - Healthy Eating for Kids
I subscribe to a newsletter/blog specifically for moms wherein you can be connected with local moms. I frequently receive emails that highlight questions that are posted by other moms (in my area) in an attempt to get responses and tips from other moms. Almost daily, one of the questions on the list asks about healthy snack alternatives, particularly for school snacks (preschool on up) or just on-the-go snacks.
So many parents struggle with this issue. Children are more harmed by poor diet in our world than by exposure to drugs and alcohol and tobacco. Some experts say that today’s generation of children has a shorter life expectancy than their parents!
Most children do not eat the recommended servings of vegetables per day; many don’t meet the fruit requirement either. Studies indicate that 1 in 4 children is obese, and nearly 50% of obese children will remain obese as adults.
The CDC National Center for Health Statistics says that about 6% of elementary school children and 7% of adolescent children miss 11 or more days of school yearly due to illness or injury.
Some studies predict that by the age of 12, an estimated 70% of our children have already developed the beginning stages of hardening of the arteries – now that is scary!
The good news is that disease is preventable with proper nutrition. Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician who has been practicing for more than 35 years and has authored over 30 books on parenting and childcare, and has a very popular website, AskDrSears.com, also believes that we have a nutritional crisis in America. Dr. Sears claims that he sees high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high blood cholesterol in children as a consequence of poor diet.
In an ideal world, your kids would have a healthy start every day, you wouldn’t remember the last time your child was sick, AND your kids would eat their veggies.
Nine Simple Steps
Dr. Sears has created Nine Simple Steps, a concept designed to help families break through the clutter of nutritional information that’s out there. The steps include: shape young tastes; feed your family the right carbohydrates; feed your family the right fats; feed your family grow foods; raise a grazer; start the day with a brainy breakfast; feed your family lots of fruits and vegetables; take your children to the supermarket; and add Juice Plus to the family diet.
To read more details about Dr. Sears’ Nine Simple Steps to a healthier family diet and to learn more about Juice Plus, and how to get it for free for your kids, click here.
Eat Healthy, Feel Great
I have many favorite books by Dr. Sears, but one in particular that I like regarding the issue of nutrition and children is “Eat Healthy, Feel Great.” This book is written for children and explains the concept of making wise nutritional choices. He uses an easily understandable concept of green-, yellow-, and red-light foods – “traffic light eating.”
In the book, he explains that foods that make you think better, give you more energy to play, and make you grow stronger are green-light foods; just as a green light means “go”, you can go ahead and eat all you want of the green-light foods.
Yellow-light foods are okay to eat sometimes, but they won’t make you feel as great as green-light foods will.
Red means stop. Red-light foods don’t do anything to help your body – they can hurt your body and make you feel too full to eat any of your green-light foods.
Traffic Light Eating
This book also discusses the importance of water, different vitamins and nutrients found in foods, how colors can tell you a lot about foods and it offers up a few simple recipe ideas. The book also comes with a chart that you can post in your kitchen that illustrates the red-, yellow-, and green-light concept as a reminder.
The book goes on to discuss ingredients in foods that make them taste good or look good but are bad for you, such as food dyes, hydrogenated oil, preservatives, sugar, and white flower.
Here are some examples of traffic light eating:
fruits & vegetables
(*without harmful additives)
hot dogs (most)
vegetable oils (flax and olive)
*pies & cakes
nitrate-containing meats & cold cuts
packaged foods w/hydrogenated oils
organic dairy products
pre-packaged foods (lunchables)
whole grains & sprouted grains
punches/drinks w/ added coloring
fish or meat & poultry (no nitrates)
fast foods fried in hydrogenated oils
cereals w/ dyes & hydrog. oils
soy products, tofu (Non-GMO)
eggs (cage-free/no hormones)
healthy treats (not hydrogenated)
fast foods (some)
crushed ice drinks & diet sodas
It’s up to parents to shape their children’s nutritional palate – the earlier you start, the better chance you may have at raising a healthy, happy nutritionally aware person. If you’re starting late, congratulations for changing your ways! Remember, never give up – it can take several introductions of new foods before your child will grow to like something new, so persist for the sake of your child’s health.