by Jen Frisvold
We want to do it all, have it all, and — most importantly — we want our kids to have every opportunity anyone could dream up for them. A few drive-thrus here and a couple frozen dinners there make this all possible, and what’s the harm in that? And yet, more than a few skipped breakfasts later we’ve landed ourselves in one heck of a health crisis. The adult population of America is overweight to the tune of 61 percent, and guess what? We’ve managed to pass this unfortunate legacy on to our kids. For the first time ever, American children are suffering health problems associated with poor food choices — namely obesity, and accompanying that, Type II diabetes.
Not Enough Fruits & Veggies
According to Andrea Klint,the biggest problems she sees in kids is that they don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables, which are rich in essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients that the other food groups can’t provide. Klint says to read labels because it’s hard to recognize the hidden sugars in foods. “They go by so many different names — brown rice syrup, high-fructose corn syrup … basically watch out for any ingredient ending in ‘ose’.” That’s sugar, and it’s empty, added calories.”
Change Your Life
Don’t think you have time to plan, shop for and prepare nutritious meals? Keep trying. Research show that kids will generally eat healthy foods if they are consistently made available. “Be patient,” says Klint. “Sometimes it takes up to 20 tries before a person develops a taste for something, so don’t give up.” She also offers that how you serve the food can help. “Be creative. Maybe purée some vegetables and add them to a pasta sauce, or offer a fruit smoothie.” Klint reiterates that the most important thing parents can do to improve their children’s eating habits is to make the effort. “You need to be committed to your children’s healthy lifestyle. You have to evaluate the attitude toward food in your home and modify your cooking habits. And you have to realize that kids learn from watching their parents. It’s hard for a kid to think it’s important to eat fruit and vegetables if they don’t see their parents eating fruit and vegetables.” Klint also says to start early. Teach them while they’re young so that healthy eating is a habit by the time they’re old enough to think of feeding their green beans to the dog.
by Jen Frisvold