No wonder that, according to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than doubled in the last 30 years. In 2012, more than 1/3 of children were overweight or obese. Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common in children and rates of ADHD are on the rise in this population as well. Things can only get worse with age if children are not properly nourished throughout their lives.
It is not hard to see that a nutritious diet may be just the thing that is needed to change the health of everyone, including children. Children especially are at a critical time of life where their bones, brains, and bodies are still growing. Proper development can not happen properly without the nutrients needed to function. A poor diet may have a greater impact then we think and we may not even notice until it is too late. Studies have linked sugar and artificial color consumption with mood and behavior problems in children. All of these processed foods are not good for anyone but especially in small bodies.
Unfortunately we can’t just solve the problem with a simple multivitamin or other supplement. Whole foods that supply fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals are needed to keep kids healthy. It is a good idea for kids to have 3 solid meals and snacks in between to make sure their blood sugars are stable and they are getting all of the nutrients they need.
This may sound easier said than done for many of you but I assure you that it will be worth it and your kids may even thank you one day. The sooner that you start your kids on the right foot the easier it will be to get them to eat the right foods. Many of my clients come to me with a desire to lose weight and live healthier. They often tell me that one of their motivations for wanting to change is for their children. They see unhealthy habits being passed down to their kids and want to stop the pattern. So what is a parent to do in a world where their kids see so many appealing junk foods?
Start with Breakfast
Kids that start their day without breakfast often weight more than those kids that do eat breakfast and often have lower cognitive function. Breakfast can be one of the most important meals of the day. Smoothies,breakfast cookies, muffins, scrambled eggs with sauteed vegetables, plain organic yogurt and honey withhomemade granola, fruit with nut butter, breakfast hash with nitrate free bacon, or overnight oats. The key is to keep it balanced for lasting energy. Think protein, healthy fat, and a fruit or or vegetable.
What’s for Lunch?
If you are counting on your child’s school to provide a nutritious lunch then chances are that is not happening they way that it should. Make sure you know what the school lunch program looks like at your school. I have seen first hand a lot of junk food being served at school lunch over the years including things like ketchup passing as a vegetable. If the school isn’t providing what your child needs to function at a high level for the rest of the afternoon then think about sending them with lunch. I recommend to clients that have slightly older children to have the kids pack their own lunch. If you have only wholesome foods in the house then you don’t have to worry about what they will pack. It will also teach kids how to make healthy choices for themselves.
Stock the fridge with fruits, vegetables, homemade dips (think hummus or Caesar dressing), grass fed plain yogurt, organic cottage cheese, nitrate free lunch meat (Applegate brand), organic cheese sticks, avocados, olives, and healthy leftovers. Stock the pantry with pumpkin seeds, sunflower butter, canned tuna, beans, or seed crackers. Keep your freezer stocked with pre-made staples like muffins or soups that you can easily thaw in a pinch. For lots of recipes links to kid friendly recipes check out this post I put together.
Keep Snacks on Hand
Remember that kids are energetic and growing beings so snacks may be particularly important for them. Skip the refined snacks fulls of white flour, sugar, unhealthy fats. For the most part if it comes in a box, bag, or drive thru it has been processed. Look for items with 5 ingredients or less and make sure they all sound like real food. Snacks don’t have to be difficult simply having a smaller portion of what they eat at meals will do. Keep somehealthy snacks in the car or in your bag so that you don’t get caught out of the house without something nourishing.
An easy way to keep nutritious food on hand and make things fun for kids is to utilize tools like Smart Planet Home meal and snack kits. During the photo shoot for this post with my niece and nephew were really excited to eat the foods we put in the kits. These kits travel really well and I love to use them on trips to make bringing health foods with me easier. They collapse for easy storage which is one of my favorite parts. The base can easily go in the dishwasher for clean up because wouldn’t we rather spend time make nutritious foods then doing the dishes?
Smart Planet Home is generously giving away a meal kits to one lucky reader so that you too can escape the junk food trap with your kids. The winner will get one round 3 compartment kit (random colors chosen). The giveaway is open to US residents only. Ends 2.8.16 at 12am. Enter the Giveaway below…