Updated: Aug 7, 2019
This subject is always something parents worry about, but at the same time, for lack of time or knowledge, leave the eating habits education to the school or doctors, which guess what? They can’t help much, actually in some cases, make the scenario even worst.
First of all, it is important to know that kids mimic their parents. If you eat junk food, but tell your kid to eat broccoli, which option he is going to make? Fast food, of course. Parents are the example for kids, especially during ages from 1 to 7 years old. If you want your kid to start eating well and healthy, you should start with your eating habits first.
Another parent’s responsibility is when it comes to what you have at your pantry. Again, if you buy soda, cookies and sugary cereal and say “it is only for weekends” for example, it really does not matter. If you will pack your house with bad food and expect your kid to not eat it, you are being at least naive.
One more important point about building your kids’ eating habits is TV! If they watch TV a lot they will bombed by ads and the amazing marketing from the “evil” food industry showing all the new whatever pink-unicorn-watermelon-flavor Popsicle, cereal with all colors you can imagine and the water with sugar you need. It is hard to fight them. They are not only on TV, but at the groceries store’s aisles, at school and at their friends’ house. How to turn your broccoli, a sugarless dessert and pure water as fun as all the colorful, sugary and easy to eat options? Being decisive, planning out, learning how to say no to their cute faces and cutting out the junk food out of your life. Be brave, you can do it! 😉
SUGAR! This sweet ingredient does not bring sweet results in our body and consequently, in our health. Studies have shown that sugar is linked to the increase of ADHD, depression and autism in kids. Just to have an idea, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children in the U.S. have autism. When it comes to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), nearly 1 in 10 has the disorder in US, a number of 6.4 million kids and an increase of 42% over the past 8 years! And in 2015, about 3 million teens ages 12 to 17 had at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Now, let’s look on the sugar consumption by kids. According to an article from CNN in 2017, almost two-thirds of children in the United States consumed at least one sugary beverage on any given day -- and roughly 30% consumed two or more a day -- between 2011 and 2014, according to the study, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.
When we cross these statistics of the increase of ADHD, autism and depression among kids with the numbers of sugar consumption over the last 7 years, it is more than CLEAR the link between these disorders, ADHD, autism and depression and sugar, right?
The American Heart Association recommends that children should consume no more than about 6 teaspoons (25 grams) or 100 calories, of added sugar a day. With that in mind, look these numbers:
Coke Soda (1 can): 39 g (9 1/3 teaspoons) of sugar
Granola bar (1 bar): 8 g (2 teaspoons) of sugar
Breakfast cereal (1 bowl): 37g (9 teaspoons) of sugar
Popular small cake, like Snowballs (just 1): 43 g (almost 11 teaspoons) of sugar
Aren’t they scaring?? If it is recommended for kids to consume about 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of sugar per day, how a bowl of cereal has already 3 teaspoons more than the recommended daily consumption? Think about that!
How kids can eat better and healthier?
Here are some tips to help you and your kids to learn how to eat nutritious food. Let’s go:
1) Like I mentioned , the way your kids eat is the parents’ responsibility, that means, yours! To start changing the kids way of eating, you must change yours first.
2) To start that change, start with your pantry. Check out all the products you have there. If you have cookies, sugary cereal, cakes, chips, soda or any processed food full of sugar, sodium, bad oils (canola, corn, soy…), simply move them to the trash, where they belong. Yes, do not even consider donating, because they are not food!
3) Now list all the meals you have in a day. You and your kids. Where do you get the food from? Try to eat as much as you can at home! Leaving eating out for just emergency occasions.
4) The same thing goes for processed food. Frozen lasagna, instant soup…anything processed, which contains weird names that you can’t pronounce, just eliminate from your lives.
5) Instead, go for whole foods, real food, fresh food! Buy local as much as you can. You do not need to buy a lot. Just buy what you will have for the week, for example.
6) Sugar, as I mentioned, is responsible for a lot of disorders, including mental disorders. So, do not have it at home. Substitute for honey, raw honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar or stevia. Natural sweeteners with more nutritional benefits. But remember, they are still some kind of sugar! So, don’t overdo it!
7) Reduce as much you can your kids contact with unhealthy food outside of the house. That means, school, friends' house, events, parties and family (specially the grandparent’s house lol). Before going somewhere, make a healthy meal at home, that way you will reduce, at least, the hunger and some cravings.
8) Invite your kids to be part of the meals preparation. When they learn how to prepare some basic meals and taste, smell and see the real food, this information will be in their memory forever.
9) You again, is responsible for what your kids eat. That means also you have the authority to say, “try this”, “look how delicious this carrot is” and not give them the chance to say they only want to eat what they want.
10) Even if they will have to eat what you prepare for them, you can sometimes ask something they desire to eat. That way you will empower them too. Find healthy options and prepare them without saying, “this is healthy”. Just say “this is what you asked for!” 😉
If you need more ideas, give me a shout out! I would love to help you.