Many of us are familiar with the saying “You are what you eat”; yet we choose to ignore. Why do many of us know what we eat is bad for us? Nevertheless, we consume it regularly, sometimes three, four or more times a week.
Processed foods and fast food are ubiquitous, and they offer low price and a high level of convenience. Nobody has time to cook these days, but we somehow have time to devour that meal in front of the TV, after being microwaved or cooked by our youth in a tiny fast-food kitchen. Admittedly, this is a generalization and many FitKids readers are no doubt returning to good old home-cooked meals, but the rise in childhood obesity would prove that this is a factor weighing heavily on the future of our children’s lifestyles.
These processed and fast foods are high in chemicals and additives, and high in saturated fat, the “bad” fat and one of the hardest fats to break down and remove from our bodies. However, their “exquisite taste” and affordable price range trump the alternative, which is fresh and healthy home-cooked meals.
Aside from the above and other issues we face when it comes to preparing those foods, one of the most common statements I hear as a personal trainer is that “healthy foods cost too much.” There is no doubt that the general cost of living is increasing, unfortunately this is one of the factors that we cannot change, but if we take the time to look at the amount of waste we throw away over the course of the year, how high is it Cost is buying healthier foods wouldn’t be so overwhelming.
The truth is that allowing yourself to discover new ways to introduce these kinds of changes into family life without causing major disruption comes down to discipline.
At the end of the day we can come up with excuse after excuse as to why we don’t find time to eat healthy, exercise, and give our kids time to do it, but what you will find is it can become a vicious cycle that robs you leads to nowhere.
Here are a few tips for introducing healthy eating into the family lifestyle. Keep in mind that this can be a gradual process, as changing everything at once can hurt the overall result you want. Take the time to plan how you can make some positive changes to your kids’ daily food intake and see if you can benefit from any of the ideas here at FitKids Online.
Get kids excited about food
There’s no doubt that kids can be stubborn when it comes to food, and the easy way is to keep giving them their favorite food. One way to overcome this is to involve children in the process of eating from the very beginning, right through to the end result on their plate.
Grow your own vegetables
Planting and growing your own vegetables can be a rewarding challenge not only for our children but also for us parents. Although this is a time-consuming process, once a vegetable garden is established, it can be much easier to maintain for each season.
Let your kids choose which vegetables they want to grow and encourage them to help water the crops every day. Explain the benefits of growing your own vegetables to your children. Not only is this an exciting activity for the kids, but it can also be very beneficial in terms of knowledge and education.
Go shopping with the kids
If growing your own vegetables isn’t ideal for you, that’s no problem. Another solution to keep kids engaged with food is to take them shopping. Let them choose items that look fun and exciting and come up with new recipes together. Think about how you can create your favorite processed foods with healthy alternatives.
Chicken nuggets can contain almost any part of a chicken, from the juicy and healthy meat to the not-so-appealing innards, feet, and even the beak. Add in preservatives, colorings and other unfamiliar ingredients and you can soon see how we lose track of what our children are consuming.
A cheap and healthy alternative are homemade chicken nuggets with chicken breast, flour, eggs, oil and breadcrumbs. Don’t think that using some oil for cooking makes it just as unhealthy, our bodies need a certain amount of fats and this way we can guarantee that we know exactly what is going into our children’s tummies.
Encourage them to cook and be creative
I usually employ a strict policy in our home that the kitchen is off-limits for my daughter. With sharp knives, hot pans, boiling water, and a deep-seated oven, there are many dangers that I’d rather not face my two-year-old daughter. That being said, my daughter loves to cook and food is already one of her biggest passions.
My solution to this was to buy my daughter her own selection of kid-friendly cooking utensils, in bright colors, obviously to catch her attention. She has her own area in the kitchen where she can help me prepare the food, but it’s far enough out of reach of anything dangerous. By creating a set of boundaries, she has learned that despite some limitations in certain activities, she can still have fun and discover the allure of food in her own space.
As a parent, my daughter has always valued food. From the moment she was able to digest solid food, I had no doubt that it would be home cooking from the start. I believe this attitude has helped her develop such a love for all types of food and this can only get more positive every day. With my love for vegetables such as pumpkin, leeks, sprouts and sweet potatoes as well as many types of meat, I can offer her a balanced diet from an early age.
Try new foods
Don’t be afraid to explore new foods, you never know the results until you try. As children get older, it becomes more difficult to change their mind and routine as they wonder why we want to do something like this. Stubbornness and willpower can also come into play when a child realizes they don’t want to do something.
Don’t let that put you off though, as introducing new foods can indeed be fun and exciting. We just have to find solutions to the problem, and if all else fails, we can always disguise food in the meals we prepare. If your kid loves spaghetti bolognese, grate a carrot and finely slice a mushroom for a healthier alternative. Homemade beef burgers and sausage rolls can also be prepared with many types of vegetables.
Clearing junk food from cupboards
Sometimes we have to play the role of the not-so-preferred parent to get the results we want. Removing junk food from cupboards or putting it out of sight and reach is one way to change a child’s diet. Perseverance is key at this step, and while it may seem like a daunting task, over time your child will learn to appreciate what is available rather than bothering with what isn’t.
Essential intake of protein, carbohydrates and fats
The science that is the ingestion of protein, carbohydrates and fats can be an art form, number crunching and trial and error are important here and this is well known among professional athletes, bodybuilders and personal trainers.
When it comes to children’s food intake, I avoid playing numbers unless we’re noticing dramatic levels of obesity or the dangers of high cholesterol, diabetes, and other health effects. Children need the freedom to explore new concepts and ideas and not be constrained by a fixed daily feeding regimen. As long as we feed our children healthily and as free from additives as possible, we are on the right track to educating them to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.
Remember that creating such a lifestyle for our children is our main goal, but we must find a comfortable balance as every family is different. Take some time to plan it and implement ideas one by one. It can be a difficult process, but rewarding in the long run.
You can find more tips on child nutrition on FitKids Online. FitKids Online is a website I developed to raise awareness of these issues and to educate parents about keeping children active. As a parent and personal trainer, the issue of obesity in children is very close to my heart. If I can help just one child to lead a healthier and more active lifestyle through FitKids Online, then I can say it has been successful.
Also available is the FitKids Online Leap into Life eGuide, in which we take a closer look at why childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic and how it appears to be a problem that is spiraling out of control at a rapid pace .
I hope this has been of benefit to you in one way or another and may have opened your eyes to an issue that has gone unnoticed for many years. If you take a moment to look at fitkidsonline.co I hope you find some valuable information and I look forward to any answers, questions and inquiries.
Thanks to Craig A Strike