A Fistful of Carrots: The
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It's amazing how often
people write on the Beachbody Message Boards concerned about the difficulty of
preparing their healthy, balanced meals at the same time they're preparing
their children's regular, cheesy, fried meals.
It begs the question, "Why
aren't your kids' meals healthy, too?"
Many of us grew up eating
macaroni and cheese and Cap'n Crunch. Because of this, it doesn't even occur to
us that Junior should eat something else. Furthermore, kids can be such picky
eaters, shouldn't we be happy that they're at least eating fried, breaded
chicken balls and sugar water and not fasting? Probably not.
Consider two things. First
off, child obesity stats are soaring in the U.S. Currently, over 25% of
American kids are considered obese and, as Greg Critser points out in his
excellent book, Fat Land, obesity in children can lead to a host of
other problems, including diabetes, orthopedic problems, and respiratory
Secondly, even if your
child is skinny as a rail. the food he's eating right now will become a
foundation for lifetime eating habits. There's a very good chance that once
that youthful metabolism slows, if thickening doesn't kick in, heart disease
Just as it's important to
stimulate your kid's brain and to make sure he has plenty of exercise, it's
also important to lay down a strong nutritional foundation. Here are a few tips
to keep your kid eating right.
Leave the junk at
the grocery store. Because you're reading this,
you're not eating the stuff anyway, and your kids certainly don't need it.
Nothing battles temptation like removing it entirely. That way, if little
Susie's hungry, she'll have to settle for an apple.
If she's thirsty, how
about a nice, tall glass of water? It's better for her than any syrupy soda
and, hey, it's a lot cheaper.
Three plus two for
Junior, too. When children are tiny,
several small meals throughout the day is the best way to go, but when they get
a little older, three main meals plus two snacks a day give your children a
steady supply of energy and, just like you, their bodies process several
smaller meals better than fewer big ones. This also gives you a chance to
hopefully give picky eaters more variety and it gives your kids an eating
schedule, which children tend to thrive on, making it easier for you to monitor
what they're eating.
Small people eat
smaller. Remember to serve your kids less
food. Your average three-year-old only needs about 1,300 calories a day. And
remember how your mom always made you finish your plate? Well, give that a
rest. Insistence on a clean plate is a perfect way to encourage overeating. If
you're concerned that your child might abuse a lax attitude to get straight to
dessert, serve fresh fruit after dinner instead of sweets.
Turn off the
tube. Unless you've blocked every channel
but PBS, your kids are bombarded with ads for junky food every time they watch
TV. It's sad, but there's not much we can do about it. Solution? Turn off the
TV. Not only will this drastically reduce the propaganda fed to the kiddos, but
it'll also give them a chance to get outside and play.
out. I know, I know, it's just so easy to stop
at Burger King on the way home from work, or pack the brood off to IHOP on the
weekends. It's also easy just to walk around naked all day, but most of us find
the time to put on clothes. You gotta do what you gotta do.
For restaurants, health
comes a distinct third when designing meals. Food has to taste good and it has
to be cheap to produce. The best way to do this is with salt, sugar, and an
ocean of additives and preservatives. Furthermore, restaurants draw people in
by serving huge piles of food for cheap. No one needs to eat that much,
especially children. Sure, we should all eat out every now and then as a treat.
But not five times a week.
What if my kid's
The most important thing to
remember here is never put a child on a diet, unless under medical supervision.
Their body, their organs, their brains are developing at a crazy rate.
Depriving them of nutrients could hinder this. An active child should be
allowed to eat as much as he wants, provided it's healthy, balanced food. So
let them eat all the apples and carrots they want. It's the Popsicles,
pop-tarts, and pork chops you need to worry about.
Also, keep in mind that
kids "grow into" a little fat, so if Junior's a little chubby, it'll probably
pass in a year or so. But if you think it's a genuine problem, please talk to
Overweight? I wish!
My kid's a picky eater!
This is pretty standard
and nothing to worry about, as long as your child is gaining weight and growing
properly. Nonetheless, here are a few tips.
- Be patient. It
can take a kid up to 10 times to accept a new food. Don't force it. Keep
- Try the old
switcharoo! Junior doesn't like raw carrots? Boil them! She won't eat fruit?
Make her a smoothie. However, don't do this in the same meal because it's super
important that you. . .
- Never pander. If
the kid doesn't want to eat it, take away the food and excuse him from the
table. Dinner's over. If you start making special/multiple meals just for them,
you're reinforcing their pickiness and you'll soon find yourself falling down
the slippery slope that ends at feeding your kid cheese puffs for dinner,
just so they'll eat.
Having a child is
overwhelming in so many ways. And, yes, it's a lot easier to write down these
neat little suggestions than it is to put them into practice. It may not be
easy, but most of us didn't jump on the parenthood bandwagon for simplicity's
sake. If you can fix up your own body , you can do it for them, too.
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the benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
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