Raising Healthy Kids

breakfast4006019a853fb015427554368In honor of September being Fruits & Veggies – Matter More Month, here is an article that details just how important the health of our children truly is.

The Problem

It is commonplace for me to see the parents that I coach working hard to feed themselves a nutrient dense diet flush with fresh veggies – their kids are an entirely different story. More often I see kids provided with a steady diet of macaroni and cheese, frozen chicken nuggets, dehydrated fruit snacks, hot dogs, sugary drinks, and fast food. The marketing propaganda for these foods may be tempting, but the fact is that they are not providing anywhere near the necessary daily nutrients to keep kids brains and bodies functioning properly.

Here are a few unsettling and sad facts about the state of American kids’ health from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
  • The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2010. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period.
  • In 2010, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.

Keep in mind that obese and overweight children become obese and overweight adults. With the high percentage of overweight kids growing larger each day, they will face deadly health problems earlier in life including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.

The cost of all this excess weight is staggering! America is facing in excess of $3 billion per year in direct medical costs for overweight kids. Since overweight and obese adults incur an estimated $1,429 more in medical expenses than the normal-weight peers, healthcare costs would be expected to rise dramatically. If nothing is done to tackle this crisis, 43% of US adults will be obese by 2018, costing the nation an estimated $344 billion in medical-related expenses.

The Solution

The good news is that the solution is at our fingertips and can be found in our kitchens. Cooking at home gives us the opportunity to provide our children with fresh nutrient dense meals and snacks. Plus, the kitchen is a terrific laboratory for nutrition education and a place to set healthy eating habits to last kids their lifetime.

Some tips to get kids to eat their veggies:

Super Smoothies

Sneak in the spinach with those blueberries and strawberries – the kids will never know! Add ground flax for protein, raw coconut water for hydration, and a teaspoon of raw organic coconut for a healthy source of fat to boost their brain function. They’ll love their super smoothies!

Make them your Sous Chef

Children who help to prepare food are motivated to eat it themselves. Start simply, teaching them to peel carrots and cucumbers; or measure out the ingredients you need for a particular recipe ahead of time and let them be in charge of adding each one during the cooking process.

Have Fun

Try new things and most important, HAVE FUN! Buy a spiral vegetable slicer and start making raw zucchini pasta or baked sweet potato curly fries. They will love it!

Help them to GROW

A vegetable garden can be simple or elaborate; regardless of its size this is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to spend time together and teach your kids about eating whole foods.

Toss out the packaged and processed foods and get back to basics in the kitchen. When children eat whole foods they have boundless energy, a twinkle in their eye, and strong healthy bodies. As an added bonus – when kids eat healthy they become more well behaved, easier to handle, more joyful, have less melt-downs, are more focused, and sleep better.

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Written by: Margaret Lively, Founder & Certified Nutrition Coach, Decades of Health

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