Most of us grew up very differently than how our children are growing up today. Toys are no longer simple, “playing” now primarily consists of online gaming versus in the park, and eating has become a lot more complex with a high rate of obesity as well as other health issues to prove it, especially in our youth. The majority of adults can humorously agree that back in our time with regards to eating came boring, dreaded meals. Of course our parents also (understandably) drove guilt-trips into our heads on how lucky we were to even have a meal. As time passes by and we have children ourselves we tend to want to do things differently, including not making them choke-down tasteless food. That’s not a bad thing necessarily as eating healthy should not have to be so God-awful. However, time has also changed our food by replacing, omitting, as well as substituting what was once organic and beneficial by adding a Hurricane-Sandy of chemicals and preservatives. Sadly, this has become many of our children’s preferences in their diet while many parents are oblivious as they wonder why their little-ones are not just “growing taller.”
You may be thinking to yourself, “well, my kids don’t have that problem; they look fine and happen to like what I give them.” Well that is certainly the ideal scenario, so as long as you’re avoiding sugary cereals and snacks, fried chicken, TV-dinners, sodas, overly-processed meats like hot-dogs and bologna, white breads and potato chips to name a few, you’re on the right track. Even if you’re not and you still believe the same conclusion, think again. Some of these choices are without a doubt convenient to give your kid after a hectic day. They are also starting a decline in their health that will surely catch up to them, perhaps as early as high-school. Let’s put one thing out on front-street before we go any further. Just because your child does not “appear” to be over-weight, does NOT mean that they do not need exercise or need to eat right, especially if this is the kind of diet they’re used to. Unfortunately, more children and teens these days are seeing doctors for (non-genetics) health-issues.
Due to the misleading of the general public is sadly the reason the majority of Americans buy-into a bunch of “bologna,” and I mean literally, bologna; stamped on packages advertising a healthier alternative. Terms like “reduced-fat,” “low-sodium,” “sugar-free,” or “low-calorie” may indeed be the truth in comparison to similar as well as various products. However, the real truth is this is where a lot of adding foreign substances comes into play. These diminish the majority of the benefits that would prevent your kids from having to see the doctor in the first place or constantly catching the common cold/flu. In addition, the law only mandates to indicate what is included on your packaged food, not how much which is a huge problem as it makes it impossible to track quantities in regards to all those additives out there. Typically ingredients are listed from greatest to least but that doesn’t really “soften the blow.” At the same time, the advertised portion size in addition to portion control itself can give you yet another bum-steer in the direction of your child’s health.
For example, thin-sliced packaged ham for sandwiches may say only 20 calories per slice. Those numbers are ideal but how many of you are only using ONE slice? Certainly, you don’t see children flipping the package over with an eye-brow raised saying…”hmmm.” Since it’s cut so thin it’s likely intended for you to pile on more slices to duplicate “deli-style” sandwiches and all the more reason for you to pile on more empty calories. This is not only poor-quality protein, but not watching what you eat nor supervising what your “mini-me” eats! It’s not just calories that matter, as the type and quality of fats, proteins, carbs, fiber, in addition to sodium and sugars too, that goes down the hatch that are important. Sadly today, the ‘Standard American Diet’ has taken over promoting products and processed food over whole foods just like that ham. After all, a calorie is not “just a calorie.” Fortunately some TV ads these days are now acknowledging that most snacks are not any good for you. On the flip side, they urge you to “swap” out snacks for “their” snacks (like cookies for a flavored yogurt). Well these replacement snacks may only have about a 10% improvement when it comes to nutrition, if any.
Another example you ask? Of course! Eating an artificially flavored yogurt filled with more (or even some of the same) chemicals, i.e., high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, dextrin, aspartame, acesulfame, saccharin, sucralose, etc. (just to name a few), takes away the value of the calcium, protein, vitamin D, even potassium that yogurt has to offer. Talk about clever marketing while fooling the parents who are really trying hard to do the right thing. This can go on-and-on for countless packaged foods (even beverages) such as: Juices, cereals, jams, cottage cheese, sauces, frozen yogurts, as well as canned fruits are concerned. Typically these foods can pass as being healthy but in reality, they can be the worst. What these companies have done is take the old-fashioned “food-pyramid” image in which demonstrates healthy food groups to ensure your child’s optimal health and growth and sadly compromised it. Now-a-days they’re even promoting meal-replacement shakes for your kids filled with similar additives and low-quality vitamin supplements. Basically now skipping food all together. Sad.
But what about other foods like “healthy” crackers, breads, and even cookies? Well we’ve all heard and have seen the acronym O-M-G and really; ‘oh my goodness, get-a-load-of-this’ is precisely what a health expert will say to you when engaging in a conversation regarding the truth being exposed and more-so understood. These examples are primarily all made from white flours, some are even nice enough to include a “dash” of actual whole grain just to make it more appealing. All these foods also contain common fast-food ingredients which are not just useless fillers and empty calories, but obviously damaging to your health. Many included with the refined sugars and sweets are made from factories which add additional chemicals, some of which have been researched to also be used in cosmetics as preservatives, dyes, etc. These range from sodium stearoyl lactylate, benzoyl peroxide, disodium phosphate, propylene glycol, and ammoniated glycyrrhizin to name a few. I’m also guessing many individuals can’t even pronounce most of these either. By adding these to high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and other obese-driving chemicals into your child’s (or children’s) diet can be considered negligence and unfair for them.
Well now that you know how it feels to be tricked, two can play at the same game. No one says cookies or pancakes have to go. The idea is to retain the “idea” but “swap out” and “substitute” recipes accordingly with natural, organic ingredients. Apply the same efforts with ‘TV-dinners,’ keep the basics, but make your own keeping each food group as natural as possible and without over-cooking the veggies. Of course juice is refreshing—which can easily been done with another small appliance that doesn’t require all those extra chemicals to make it sweet. Still convinced flavored yogurt is okay? It sure is, only when you make it flavored yourself by purchasing (low-fat/non-fat) plain organic while adding fresh fruits or raw honey (or other organic natural sweeteners). So how can peanut butter be bad? Peanut butter is overall a healthy and favored food by kids as well as adults, even athletes! However, most have added sugars, hydrogenated oils (aka trans-fat), among others. It’s best to skip the “Skippy” for example and choose an organic peanut butter (no salt/no sugar added) that still offers optimal nutrition without all the extra junk, regardless if it’s marked “reduced-fat.”
Sadly, in the end people don’t realize the severity of obesity, especially how fast it’s on the rise in our youth. Dr. Robert Lustig, M.D., a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, discusses and shares worldwide health comparisons. Shockingly there are 30% more obese people than there are undernourished people which is why you see so many individuals with diabetes, liver failures, etc. that is ultimately pushing our medic-care to see the end of spending days. Studies indicate that the ever-growing obesity and health concerns are the outcome of exposure to our children versus a behavior which clearly backs up those statistics.
Children love simplicity, they love creativity, they love imagination, and they love to be known they are truly cared for. Sharing a Hershey’s Kiss does not seal-the-deal in your love and affection for them. We were children once and had more creativity and imagination then any generation ever will for the fact we did not have fancy toys and technology while having health-stubborn parents. Long term memory serves a purpose, dig deep and find healthy ways to make eating healthy fun the way we would have liked it if we were kids again. Cookie-cutters do not have to be used just for cookies; you can use them to cut-out sandwiches and homemade pancakes too, for example.
Some great ideas are to substitute refined/chemical sugars with organic unsweetened applesauce, organic blackstrap molasses, raw honey and/or organic unrefined coconut sugar to name a few. Trade vegetable oils for extra virgin coconut and olive oils, introduce dark chocolate 85% and up as the “new and improved Hershey’s kiss,” while replacing white flours with organic whole wheat, oat, quinoa, coconut and/or almond flours. Consider using organic, non-fat plain Greek yogurts for various toppings in which you can control the sweet or salty levels. These suggestions are all based on giving to individuals/kids that are allergy-free and who are generally active who do not suffer from any chronic illnesses—yet. Unfortunately for those who do should consult with a Dietitian to make sure you and/or your child is getting/omitting what’s best for them and their scenario. Think back to job-interviewing. What makes you so special for the job? What kind of skills do you have that you can bring to the table to better the company? Are you not capable of applying the same skills into your family life? Of course you are. Your children believe in you and the rest of America is counting on everyone coming together to make a difference.