Every day, we learn that some food that we used to think was healthy is, perhaps, not so good for us, from refined flours to orange and carrot juice (which are both packed with sugar).
So it’s no wonder that parents might need some help when putting together 3 healthy meals a day plus snacks.
So I strategized these 10 tips to help you feel more confident in your food choices for your children and your family overall.
1). Nobody has to eat everything on their plate.
The notion that kids have to eat everything on their plate is one of the most dangerous ideas that some parents are still passing on to their children.
We’re all eating quite enough—and typically too much, at that. So we need to stop eating when we’re full and teach our children to do the same.
If we don’ t help our children learn to recognize their satiety signals, they will come to think overeating is “normal,” and overeating can lead to all kinds of negative health impacts such as childhood obesity, and all the health problems that will follow, including type II diabetes, which is very much on the rise in children.
Let your child say when he or she is full and don’t push them to eat more. It will pay off later, as science is teaching us that staying lean is key to avoiding debilitating diseases of all kinds.
2). be the parents that say “no” to all junk food.
Go ahead and be that mom and dad that simply shakes their head from side to side—hard—whenever your kid tries to put nutrient-empty, refined-carb, and sugar-filled foods in the cart. Make it a “no way ever” situation, and they’ll stop asking. Nobody needs toxic candy and “fake” packaged foods full of preservatives and chemicals confusing their digestive systems – or any other system in the body. Put back all the doughnuts, candy bars, “ho-hos” “Little Debbie’s” and sugar-laden cereals.
3). Say “no” to all fast food too.
ust say a big “no way” to fast food. Besides dangerous levels of MSG, trans-fats, sugar, and sodium, fast food is cooked in dangerous industrial seed oils as well. There is nothing “good for you” in these foods. You might upset your kids, at first, but you’ll also prevent childhood obesity, flagging energy levels, and poor performance at school, allergies, gut problems, acne, and all kinds of health problems for them.
4). Do embrace healthy cheat foods of all kinds
instead of junk food and fast food, make healthy eating FUN. Try healthy desserts and healthy “cheat” foods, like high protein chocolate, shakes made \ the best whey protein powder – one kid’s love, homemade pizza with organic veggie toppings and lots of melty, organic cheese, baked French fries made out of organic potatoes and sprinkled lavishly with sea salt.
5). Forget that old saying “do as I say not as I do.”
If you want your children to have really healthy eating habits, you want them to see you making really smart food choices as well. e.g. protein bar. You cannot be cheating when they can’t.
6). Embrace complex carbs and whole grains.
Paleo might be okay for you, but growing minds and bodies need more complex carbohydrates than adults do. Complex carbs in vegetables and whole grains will give young people the healthy carbohydrate and glucose they need to fortify their bodies and minds and prevent mood disorders, ADD, and mental energy slumps.
7). Make sure they get enough potassium (and other minerals)
The hardest nutritional requirement to meet, for any adult or child, is that RDA for potassium, which is a whopping 4,700 mg a day. To put this in perspective, bananas only have around 300 mg.
What’s challenging is getting enough green, leafy vegetables into a young person’s diet to meet this RDA because of the foods truly richest in potassium are dark leafy greens like Swiss chard, beet greens (beet tops), and collard greens.
So you need to sneak in dark leafy greens whenever you can. Think spinach, cheese, and chicken lasagna and green drinks with berries.
8). Make exercising after meals the norm.
It’s called “postprandial” exercise. Post-prandial exercise means no lying around or sitting around after eating and getting at least 15 minutes of some kind of exercise after meals.
Exercising after meals have proven to conquer insulin resistance and pre-diabetes, which one in three will be diagnosed with by 2050?
Childhood obesity is definitely on the rise and one way to assure your child doesn’t become overweight is by teaching them that “nobody” just lies/sits around after they eat—and that such behavior is abnormal.
Take walks together. Roller skate together. Go to the zoo. Do fun video game dance games together. Make exercise the norm and a fun norm at that.
No one is perfect and we’re all learning. Do feel like you are the only parent who has been too busy to really get proactive with healthy eating and healthy cooking. In fact, rest assured that you are one of several million parents feeling that way.
But no matter how unhealthy your eating habits might have been in the past, it’s never too late to make a big 180 for the future. In fact, kids need to see that everyone and anyone can decide to change their lives NOW for the better and actually follow through with it.
Gerry Morton holds an MS in Nutrition and is an experienced athlete who has competed in numerous marathons and Ironman triathlons. He is a lead educator for Greens Plus, an industry leader in superfood products such green superfood drinks since 1989. Gerry is an expert on the subjects of nutrition, peak performance, motivation, entrepreneurship, and empowerment.