Health column: Tips for improving nutrition for your children
As a parent I want the best for my children. I want my kids to live a happy, healthy, fulfilling life.
But in today’s society, despite parents’ best intentions, a recent report suggests that for the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
The statistics for modern kids are staggering in regard to obesity, diabetes, allergies, learning disabilities, etc. Why is that, who or what is the cause? You can blame anything you want, but the kids of today may eat the worst food and may have the worst eating habits of any generation in my opinion.
In short, our kids are eating too much junk.
And who can blame them? Who gives them the junk food and the bad eating habits?
Fast food is fast and convenient and let’s be honest, most junk food tastes great! I know that there are many days after work the last thing I want to do is cook a meal, and eating out just seems like a much better idea. And believe me, my kids never complain about eating out; instead they fight over who gets to pick the restaurant. I’m not saying all eating out is bad, but if there is a drive-thru window chances are it is. Shockingly, that is where the kids always want to go. I rarely give in to those places but it does occasionally happen.
The good news is that healthy food can also taste great — with a little effort. Kids love pizza and pasta and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and that’s not going to change any time soon. Rather than fight your kids on their favorites, try making their favorite foods healthier. Here are some tips:
Tip 1: Veg it up
Adding bright and colorful fruits and veggies to your child’s plate will get their diet on the fast track to health. Fresh fruits and veggies are filled with fiber, vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health. Making them available and delicious will increase the chances of you getting kids to eat them. Make it fun. Do you want to eat boring, steamed, plain veggies? Neither do they. Spruce them up. Serve veggies with salad dressing as a dip. Cut fresh fruit in the colors of the rainbow and place them on a skewer. Let them help with the prep, kids love to eat the things they make.
Tip 2: Limit Eating Out
Make it a habit to cook at home as often as you can. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate 5 course meal. Keep it simple, simple is better with kids anyway. Homemade pizzas, pastas can be healthy! Get the kids involved. Go with whole grain pasta and let then load the pizza and pasta with fresh veggies.
Tip 3: Lose the Soda and “Juice-Drink”
This is the best way to reduce kids’ number one calorie source, high fructose corn syrup. What happened to good old water? I grew up drinking from the hose, soda was a treat. Now it’s the go to drink. Don’t even keep soda in the house. Try adding fruit to a pitcher of water and letting it sit overnight. Let the kids pick the fruits and prepare it.
Tip 4: Use Healthy Ingredients
You can use healthy ingredients to make not-so-healthy food choices much better and tastier. Real, whole-food ingredients make a huge difference in nutrition and taste. Let them have burgers and PB&J, just create some balance by making homemade foods with good ingredients. Remember that what makes most food unhealthy is the processing, chemicals, artificial preservatives, etc. for convenience.
Tip 5: Get Kids Involved
Kids love to be creative and do things on their own naturally, so let them get involved in buying and preparing food. Coaching them through making their own choices goes a long way. Healthy eating skills don’t just happen — you have to educate.
Britt Glock is a personal trainer and general manager and at Midland Fitness. Contact her at midland-fitness.com or 945-4440.
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