As parents we need to realize that eating right in childhood is the most powerful weapon against the growing epidemic of adult diabetes and cancer. Adopting sound eating habits early are the best bet for having healthy teens and adults tomorrow.
Michelle Obama tells how she was criticized by her pediatrician about her family’s poor diet and thought as a Princeton and Harvard educated woman “If I don’t know how to adequately feed my family then how do other parents do this”.
It is our job as adults to make sure that our kids eat what they need and not what they want. If we asked kids what they want for dinner you know it would be pizza, pasta, french fries and certainly no veggies. Here are healthy guidelines for meals and snacks.
So often in my office I see kids being fed waffles, poptarts, bagels, sugary cereals and juice for breakfast. There is absolutely no nutrition in these foods. They are laced with sugar and are what I call paste and glue, sleepy foods. The key is to make sure your child is fed a source of protein and fiber in the morning. Some popular good ideas are Oatmeal with a topping such as brown sugar, honey and raisans, Oatmeal Squares cold cereal, eggs with veggies and a sprinkle of cheese, vanilla Greek Yogurt with berries and a touch of low sugar granola or cereal or 100% whole wheat toast with peanut butter. It is fine to have some sugar in the meal as long as it is balanced with protein and fiber. You do receive good portions of protein and fiber from oatmeal and cereals like my family’s favorite Kashi Go Lean.
Snack time during the day or after school also needs to include protein and fiber. This will help improve your child’s attention span and focus at school or during their afternoon studying period. For school snacks, kids enjoy apple or celery with peanut or almond butter, beef or turkey jerky with a tangerine, hard boiled eggs with some grapes, Cinnamon Oatmeal Squares, Kashi Go Lean with dried fruit or even a half meat sandwich. After school at home, a bean soup can be great, low fat chili which tastes very good, baked potato with broccoli and cheese or that sandwich they skipped at school. Always have accessible vegetables cut up on the counter or vegetables in eyesight when your child open’s the refrigerator.
You must send a bottle of water and no sugar laden beverages unless they have an intense practice schedule. Being hydrated is very important for brain function. Look closely at what their beverages are and make sure you are reading the food label for sugar.
Again we need a large amount of protein and fiber for lunch. Many kids are very busy at lunch, maybe they like to play more than eat, meeting teachers or just not hungry. I tell all my families it is fantastic if parents can give the kids leftover chicken, steak or meat from last night and add some raw or cooked veggies where they can add salsa or a sauce. Another option that holds up better in the warm weather is a cup of grains such as quinoa, farro or whole wheat pasta with meat and veggies. Sandwiches get soggy and are rarely eaten. This is not time for lots of chips, crackers, dried fruits or granola bars that are all lacking in nutrition. Surprisingly, PBJ sandwiches are not adequate and do not fill anyone up for lunch.
If your child has been eating well during the day they should not have a huge appetite for dinner. If dinner is too heavy your child will tend to fall asleep and not study well. This is the time that protein should be consumed in small amounts because protein is more difficult to digest where we tend to be sedentary if it does not burn off. You have probably heard that a good plate consists of half veggies, one quarter meat and one quarter grains – that is true. Veggies stirred fried with garlic and olive oil or roasted are good tips. Suggestions for dinner include potato topped with chili, broccoli and cheese, cottage cheese and veggies or Greek yogurt and chives. Also, a cup of whole pasta with 2 cups of sauteed broccoli, spinach or fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil are quite popular.
I see that a lot of families do not believe in desserts which often results in excessive consumption of too much pasta and garlic bread and little veggies. Children do like desserts where puddings, fudgeicles and skinny cows are quite acceptable. Good desserts should also reduce the search for after dinner snacking.
Your child needs at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Please be a role model for your kids and make sure there are different forms of exercise that they can enjoy on their own or as a family.
I would be thrilled to meet with your family at your home or in my office and evaluate each member’s present eating habits and strive to create a healthy plan that includes their favorite foods. Presently, I am working with many families from Alamo, Danville, San Ramon, Lafayette, Orinda, Concord, Martinez and other neighboring towns. I am available for families in outlying areas on the weekends if that is more convenient for them.
I am glad to inform you that I am contracted with Aetna, ABMG, Hill Physicians, Sutter Health and other established companies. Please feel free to call me at (925) 855-0150 or email me at Lifeweight1@gmail.com and tell me your nutrition concerns. Refer to my website www.LindaRD.com for past articles, recipes and nutrition tips in my blog section.