On the Road to Healthy

Last week, a video trended across social media in which the news anchor, Jennifer Livingston, handled herself with grace and turned a negative situation into a great teaching moment on bullying.  Whether or not the letter to the newsroom can be perceived as bullying or not, it was clearly insensitive.  With that said, I think the issue the author of that letter had tried to highlight was lost.  Childhood obesity, which affects 17% of the population, is a very serious issue.  Rate of incidence has increased by three times in the past 30 years!  Childhood obesity not only causes low self-esteem in the children it also places the kids at significant health risk.  (You can learn more about these health risks by reading the FAQs from the Center of Disease Control.)

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Obesity can be caused by many factors, some under our control and some that are not.  Genetic diseases that result in poor glandular function, often lead to uncontrollable weight gain. However, healthy lifestyle habits such as healthy eating habits and a good physical activity regime are things that we can control and should make a large effort to do so.  Today’s post will be centered on the former and the latter in a second post.

As a mother of two kids, one with Down Syndrome (with a predisposition for low metabolism and low tone), I often worry about what my kids eat and how that will effect their eating habits for the rest of their lives.   It is much easier to continue to eat healthful foods if that’s what you’ve been eating all your life, than to switch later in life.  Therefore, what you feed your kids now not only effect that meal, but many meals later.

Portion control.  To be honest, I’ve always believed that most foods by themselves are not bad for you.  What makes them harmful is the amount that is ingested.  Everything in moderation is my motto.  So how do we control how much we eat?  Replace those large flatwares with smaller ones.  Fill your plate with smaller portions and don’t force yourself to finish everything on your plate.  You’re more likely to pay attention to how much you’ve eaten if you had to fill your plate with seconds than if you were to just finish what was on your large plate to begin with.

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Bento box.  Pack lunches using sectioned off plastic ware or bento boxes.  Bento is home-packed meal that’s common in the Japanese culture.  These boxes will naturally limit how much you can pack in for lunch, making your moderation job a breeze.  The good news is that bento boxes are so popular now, there are lots of great options and accessories that will make packing (and eating) lunch fun and environmentally responsible.

Substitutions.  Earlier this year, my kids’ Aunt Kathleen made some quinoa cakes for us to eat.  Surprisingly, my picky eater wolfed them down.  So, now its become my go-to food.  Quinoa is a nutrient-rich whole grain that’s loaded with protein.  The bonus is that its gluten-free. There’s lots of great recipes for it online – we’ll share some of our own in future posts.

One obvious substitution would be whole wheat pasta.  But if you’re like my family, that’s not really an option unless you like the taste of cardboard!  Luckily, lots of pasta brands now have an alternative line of multigrain pasta, like Barilla Plus.

Another great option is shiritaki noodles – low calorie, low carbohydrate gelatinous noodles made from yam.

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Hide the Veggies.  If you’re like me, then getting your kid to eat vegetables is a constant fight.  But don’t give up so easily.  I puree my veggies and/or mince them very finely and mix it into their foods like spaghetti sauce.  When I’m short on time, I use Nurtur Me.  Vegetables are important not only for all the wonderful nutrients and vitamins they contain, but the fiber content helps us feel fuller.

Compromise.  I would love for my family to eat brown rice instead of the processed white.  However, I have to admit it has been hard for mommy and daddy to get used to.  What I’ve been doing is make a mixture of half white and half brown.  We use a rice cooker that actually has an option for “mixed” rice that works for us.  Is it the most ideal situation? No.  But it gets us accustomed to the texture and taste.  As time passed, I started to change the proportion of white to brown.

Healthful Snacks.  You might be wondering why this is on my list.  Having many meals throughout the day help keeps the metabolism up, so snacking is a great way to keep their body going.  Besides, let’s face it, they are going to want to snack whether we like it or not.  The trick is to take charge of snack time.  Keep healthier options around.  A popular snack in our house is goldfish crackers.  Pepperidge Farms now have a whole grain version.  Yogurt (or the kids’ version Go-Gurt) is a great snack.  The probiotics in the yogurt helps keep their system regulated while giving them lots of calcium.  So, if they have to snack, try to find something they can eat that has another purpose.

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That’s a few things that I’ve come up with.  We are no where near where I’d like for us to be, but at least we’re on the road to healthy.  What do you do to help your family eat better?  I’d love to learn new tricks to help my family eat healthier.

Here are a few great links to visit for more information:

USDA Choose My Plate

CDC Guidelines and Strategies

Updated Food Pyramid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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