I found Healthy Kids by Marilu Henner to be a helpful tool for teaching children to eat smart and stay active for life. She has many great ideas and an understanding of how our society and food manufacturers today are damaging the health of our children. As parents, we need to be the advocate for our children and future generations. Four key points that helped me to understand some of the key issues are: differences children are faced with today as opposed to just 30 years ago, the health robbers, family attitudes and how to change the approach from fast to whole foods.
The first key issue is understanding how childhood routines have changed in the past 30 years. Families rarely eat dinner together at the table anymore. Video games, television and computer use is on the rise. Hours that children used to spend outside playing and getting exercise is replaced by sedentary habits. Soda is replacing water consumption. The booming era of fast food, not just in a drive through window, but boxes and packages or processed foods is filling us with massive empty calories and very little real nutrition. In this fast paced society when both parents work outside the home, more and more families are forced to take short cuts with these pre-made foods. It is undermining the health of adults and causing long term damage to our children.
The next key is finding the underlying problem with foods today, the health robbers that appear innocent. Too many empty calorie foods, stripped of their natural nutrients, like white flour are adding calories and no nutrition are prevalent in ads geared towards children. Sugar and caffeinated sodas are quickly consumed and are causing spikes in blood sugar, which leads to a yo-yo effect of high and low blood sugars and causing cravings of opposite foods, for example, sweet leads to salty cravings. The addition of growth hormones in dairy and over- milking of cows has added to lactose intolerance and allergies. Food additives, such as chemicals, dyes and artificial flavorings are cheaper to use than natural items and are causing problems with attention and brain function.
The third key item is family attitudes. What behaviors and habits do we pass on to our children? Most people are familiar with associating food with rewards and/or punishment. “Do this and I will get you an ice cream, etc.” Giving food as a reward is sending the wrong message to our children. Good nutrition begins at home. We need to eat healthy and lead by our example, if we truly want our children to listen. Portion size is another problem. In this day of super sizing, it is easy to get caught up in filling our plates or bowls up and thinking that is a serving size. How we feel about exercise has a direct impact on our children too. If we don’t take time to exercise, chances are, our children won’t either.
The final key point that I learned is how to make healthy changes, to steer away from processed and fast foods to whole nutritious foods. The changes have to be gradual and consistent. One of the first things to do is, learn to read food labels and get way from chemicals, preservatives and dyes. Reduce the amount of refined sugar and dairy products. Replace grain fed, antibiotic/hormone raised meats with grass fed, no hormones or antibiotics added versions. Turn off the television and get outside. Play with your children. Enjoy them and enjoy life. Teach them to get up and get moving. It is a great way to reduce stress and disease.
I agree with most of what Marilu is saying. The only thing I disagree with is the use of soy milk. Most soy is genetically modified and there have been studies to suggest it may increase cancer in women because of its link to increased estrogen levels. I would recommend this book to others. It has a lot of great information and ways to implement change in a way that would work for a lifetime. Gradual changes over time are the ones that work.