It's not only the food we're providing for our kids that contributes to childhood obesity, but the decrease in physical activity itself available to our kids in schools, or at home. Eventually unhealthy eating habits combined with decrease in physical activity lead to a slower metabolism and eventually packing on pounds.
As parents, teachers, and caregivers we need to be responsible and turn these unhealthy habits around quickly. There's a number of strategies you can do to have your children more involved in what foods they're eating. Have your kids be apart of choosing healthy selections of vegetables or fruits when you go grocery shopping. If your kids help out with the grocery shopping and help cook the meal, they may be more inclined to eat the healthy vegetables then when they had no part in the preparation at all. A reward system also works if you have picky eaters at home. Telling them if they eat all their vegetables at dinner for the week, they may help with baking dessert later or have 30 minutes to play their favorite video game, or get new cleats for soccer.
Here are five main foods/snacks that kids are eating consistently today and healthy alternatives for them.
Nothing is nutritionally more beneficial than consuming actual fruit and food itself. Whenever there is a juice of anything all of the nutrients usually get lost in the blender or have added sugars mixed in them. The juices in the grocery store are sometimes labeled “cocktail mixers,” meaning its basically all sugar, or laced with corn syrup and artificial flavors. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, they suggest 4-6oz. of juice per day for kids under 6 years old, and 8-12oz. of juice per day for older kids.
As an alternative have your kids help you blend a fruitful smoothie with you in the morning for breakfast. They'll think it's a like a fruit milkshake and will have more fun when they're more involved in the meal time preparation. Still at home, or during/after school activities, water is still the best thirst quencher. Explain the importance of staying hydrated to your kids and set a good example: drink lots of water around them and also carry a water bottle around wherever you go. Growing kids also need lots of milk (soy milk, almond milk, 2% milk) for nutrients like calcium, and protein.
Total Fat: 0g
1/2 Cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 Cup milk
1/2 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
Handful of ice
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until combined and frothy. Serve immediately.
This is probably the easiest food choice to give in to ordering. Now with the right toppings pizza isn't the worst thing your kid can consume however, this can be once of the easiest fixes too. I myself always made homemade pizza with my mom growing up. It's inexpensive and fun to make, as well as a great bonding moment. Use whole wheat bagels, whole wheat English muffins, or whole wheat tortillas as your base and brush on fresh tomato sauce, a hint of garlic, and have a buffet of assorted toppings. Have your counter all laid out with your colorful ingredients to really make it eye catching such as: grilled chicken strips, broccoli, spinach leaves, pepperoni, pineapple, grated cheeses, green peppers, mushrooms etc. You don't want your child to get used to seeing the greasy delivery pizza and think that its normal to have such things. You can make pizza at home with your family and have a fun time preparing your meal in a simple healthy way.
These “happy meal” options can be found at any fast food place however, they're usually filled with high sodium, high fructose corn syrup, and some form of dark and white chicken. The scariest of these chicken nuggets/tenders is that chicken itself may not even be the first ingredient.
4 piece chicken nuggets: 190 calories, 12 grams of fat
4 piece chicken nuggets: 180 calories, 12 grams of fat
4 piece chicken nuggets: 190 calories, 11 grams of fat
4 piece Original Recipe Bites: 130 calories, 6 grams of fat
4 chicken nuggets: 150 calories, 9 grams of fat
6 chicken nuggets: 200 calories
And this is just the chicken nuggets alone, fries, milk, soda, fruit, or yogurt are not included.
Again cooking at home is the best option for making meals for you and your kids. You know exactly what you’re putting in your food and how much. Cook chicken with your kids at home and cut them into cookie cutter shapes that your kids will enjoy eating. If you must fry them, mix 1 beaten egg with oatmeal or cornflake crumbs instead of breadcrumbs, the chicken will be more crunchy, healthy, delicious and a sweet flavor.
4 Boneless chicken breasts halves
1/2 Cup of all purpose flour
1 Tsp. dried thyme
1 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
6 Cups of coarsely crushed cornflakes
3 Tbsp. of unsalted butter (melted)
Salt and pepper for taste
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes
Of course like any kid I always wanted the cereal with the chunks of chocolate in them, marshmallows, or any kind of frosting involved. I think the commercials have died down a little bit since I was young, but everything I watched always had kids interacting with cartoon characters and having a blast with the cereal’s great taste.
Always look at the nutritional information on the box. Go for cereals with “whole wheat,” remember “whole grain,” or just “wheat,” doesn’t mean anything. Whole grain could be a mixture of things you don’t know or can’t pronounce, make sure it reads WHOLE wheat. There’s more nutritious cereals out there that still have a great sweet flavor such as granola, but don’t include the unnecessary sugars. Your kids can mix granola with milk, raisins, honey, peanut butter, yogurt, and strawberries for breakfast or a snack. Again have your kids help make their breakfast so it’s easier for them to “buy” into it.
There really is no nutritional value in potato chips, Doritos, or Cheetos, they’re simply there for a craving “satisfier.” These snacks are usually filled with saturated fat, olestra, and acrylamide: a toxic substance that is created when starchy foods such as potatoes are heated to extreme temperatures. Acrylamide has also been linked to early stages of cancer.
Opt for healthier crunchy snacks such as apples with peanut butter, veggies and hummus, air popped popcorn chips, or make popcorn at home this way you can control what toppings (butter, salt, etc.) you’re putting on.
Total Fat: 8g
Sugars: less than 1g
Total Fat: 3.5g
9 Foods Not To Give Your Kids. Beachbody Blog. By: Joe Wilkes. 8/15/14. http://www.beachbody.com/beachbodyblog/lifestyle/9-foods-give-kids