How to feed your youth

One of the biggest debates that resides in the minds of parents and caregivers usually has to do with the nutrition of those in their care. I mean, it stands to reason right? We spend a lot of our time feeding ourselves and our loved ones. With childhood obesity on the rise, nutrition is honestly the forefront of winning this ever-growing battle. As parents and caregivers we have the ability to set our children up for a lifetime of good health OR a lifetime of poor health. The choice is all ours.

So, let’s start with the basics. The first fact is that we buy the food in the house. I mean, I don’t send my 10-year-old to the store alone to pick up that weeks groceries. So, the first thing is to make sure that you are involved in planning the food for the week. Think ahead, just like you would if you’re planning a big road trip. Make sure that you have PLENTY of healthy snacks on hand at all times. Fresh fruits and vegetables are very appealing to young taste buds IF they are already washed and ready to go. I wash my fruits and veg after the store trip, then chop them up and put them into small containers. These containers are then placed in a prominent place in the fridge: EYE LEVEL. Yes, I know there are several drawers for this purpose, but when was the last time you dug into the drawer as opposed to hitting the chips in the pantry? Yeah, EYE LEVEL. The bright colors and freshness of the produce has been shown to create an immediately favorable response. That means if it’s available and ready to eat, kids will reach for it!

Another tip is to limit the amount of processed junk that is allowed to hang out in the house. It doesn’t mean that chips will never again cross the threshold of your kitchen, BUT it does mean that in the fight to better health, these foods are limited and no longer deserve permanent residence in your bread box. You and child deserve better food and better health, simple as that. So the chips, cookies and candies are bought only on special occasions. This will begin to treat the emotional dependency on food for comfort.

Potions are usually out of control for most of us. I know I can put away MASSIVE amounts of food if left to my own devices! When in doubt, use your hands as your guide. Protein will fit in the center palm, veggies take up 2 handfuls, grains are a closed fist, and fats are the tip of both thumbs. This holds true for your kids as well. Far too often we as parents give our children the same amount we eat and sometimes even more. We over feed to show love (totally different post!) and this causes a world of health issues. Stay within your childs portions and when they aren’t hungry, don’t force them to eat it all. In our home, we simply put leftover food away and if my daughter pops up “starving” an hour later, we reheat. Most times kids just may not be hungry at the time. If your child is chronically not hungry, look at the amount of snacks being eaten as well as the amount of movement between meals. Ever notice how little Timmy is famished when he gets home from school, but after a snack and some TV he’s not interested in a healthy dinner?

Last, don’t put your child on a “diet” of any kind. Children need to focus on the nutrients they get (adults too, but again: different post) and by placing children on any type of diet, we cut out essential nutrients that they need to grow. This will affect growth of healthy tissue as well as brain function. So, let the focus be on gaining more access to better nutrition and they will be set for life :)

Be sure to check back tomorrow for a fun family game that incorporates fitness into game night!

In good health,

The BEST Medicine

There is a growing trend in the United States that many have gotten on board with far too quickly. It’s skirting. Yes, I said skirting. What is that? That’s where there is a predominant issue that people skirt around instead of attacking it head on. There are far too many people who don’t want conflict and FAR too many parents and guardians who just don’t want to put up a fight. Now, before I dive in to what could possibly be the most informative blog I’ve written thus far (wow, strong promise) I need to tell you that these truths are not limited to those struggling with obesity. When I speak of nutrition, I am talking about the health and wellness of every age, size, shape, and sex. OK, ready for some serious eye-opening? Let’s jump in….

1. Did you know that food is medicine? This is not some new age drama ok, that is real. I have come to the realization that on the day we go over how the digestive system works, we skip all the important stuff and most people were seemingly sleeping. You see, in grade school (and all the way up really) we are taught about the body “systems” right? All separate, all functioning independently. So, when we end up disease ridden, it gets confusing! What, when, how, how much and how well you eat effects your entire body. I had NO idea until I became a nutritionist. I thought of food the same way most of you do: it’s just food. What does it matter? Oh, it matters all right. Scientists are studying the affects of certain foods EVERYDAY and have made some amazing discoveries. Shall we

* Of course, most of us know that good old-fashioned oatmeal (not instant) was the first food to receive a superfood status due to its ability to lower cholesterol. This is due to the fact that oatmeal has large amounts of fiber (both soluble and insoluble) that help grab on to the “leftovers” that tend to pile up in the internal organs, specifically the small and large intestine. Did you learn that in school? Didn’t think so. We’re taught that food goes in one end and out the other. PLEASE! We are far more complex creations and it’s time we learn that! Oatmeal has also been praised for its prevention (note that prevention is based on studies denoting the diet and lifestyle of individuals who avoid disease) of certain cancers, namely colon, rectal, colorectal, and stomach. Gives oatmeal a more favorable lighting right? I enjoy mine every morning.

* Cabbage is the most recent food to join in the fight against cancer. Although scientists are still uncovering the reasons (high vitamin content being one, probiotic probabilities being another) cabbage has been proven to prevent certain cancers including colon, colorectal, rectal, breast, thyroid and even skin cancer. Cabbage has also shown signs of aiding in cancer treatment for those with cancer of the intestines, colon, etc. especially when the cabbage is fermented (sounds gross, but it’s just like pickled cabbage). So, cancer prevention and treatment makes that cole slaw a little more appealing right?

* Yogurt. I’m talking plain, Greek yogurt here people. You start adding problems with the flavors. The probiotic in yogurt helps aid in digestion and eases many of the symptoms of digestive system discomforts such as bloating, sensitivity to foods, and even water retention. Though the scientists are still out on the effects yogurt has on certain diseases, it is a great food to add to a healthy diet.

2. If food can be medicine, it can also be poison. Since we are taught that food simply goes in and out (you couldn’t be farther from the truth!) we tend to just eat whatever is handy. And thanks to generations before us making life “easier” we have eased our way into a diseased culture wondering what went wrong. Diets high in processed foods and low in healthy, natural foods rule in our nation and have caused outbreaks of type 2 diabetes, cancers, and intestinal disease. Why? Because we just want to shovel food in and get on with life. We are busy people! And when we go see a trainer to combat that extra fat in our midsection, they tell us it’s a simple equation of calories in = calories out. WRONG! They must have attended the same grade school we did….

* Scientists have found a direct link between SUGAR and CANCER. Read that again please. Now, let’s break that down. Scientists have PROVEN that CANCER cells FEED off of SUGAR. The scary thing is that this is not new news. This was proven over a decade ago yet we all still march around eating our candy and drinking our cokes. By the way, those who turn your nose up and say, “Well, I’m more of a salty person” check your treats. Processed foods, especially the salty ones, are packed and packaged with man-made sugars. What’s worse is we give this loaded gun to our kids almost DAILY. It’s like playing russian roulette with their health and it’s sickening.

The important thing to note here is that we all HAVE cancerous cells floating around in our bodies. Yep, totally true. The issue with prevention is that we’re trying to prevent them from mutating (and not the cool way like Spiderman). So, if cancer feeds off of sugar and we already have cancer cells in the body…..STOP GIVING THEM FOOD! Sheesh. By the way, I’m talking about man-made SUGAR. That’s table sugar and anything ending in OSE on the label that you should certainly be reading. Fruit has natural sugars and is a different post entirely. Oh, and those with your nose turned up because you are far better than others since you drink Diet Coke are headed down a one way path to metabolism and hormone failure so think twice. Fake sugars go in and DON’T come out, which is even worse…

* The fats to look out for are trans fats and saturated fats. PLEASE do not go fat-free, it’s bad for both your brain and your mood. Trans fats are man-made fats that came into existence in the 60′s. Hey, what else was popular then? ;) Maybe that’s where they thought them up… Anyways, they are put into food to make it, once again, easier. Ditch them to prevent cancer and other obesity related diseases.

WOW! So much info, such a long post. Why? Because I am watching people die from the fact that they were never fully told about these things and it makes me sick! We are beautifully created human beings that must take care of this creation. And if you have kids, you are responsible for setting them up with a lifetime of health. Does that mean you can never have a candy bar? Of course not! We are human after all. it means that you must start thinking about what you ingest. You don’t drink gasoline do you? But you might chug a soda…there’s no difference once it hits the internal organs. Think!

By the way, did you know that nutrition is an elective for doctors? Oncologists are not required to have it. Neither are cardiologists or even endocrinologist. Interesting…..

Food for thought: make 1 dietary change per week. Just one. Don’t be in a rush since every change you make will help you live a healthier life. Get the kids involved! Let them pick out some items for the grocery list. Allow them to pick new things to try to clean up favorite dishes. Children are sponges with this stuff and it is better to teach them young than for them to have to fight a battle with a disease they never should have had! Take responsibility and move forward!