How Healthy is Your Household?

Everyone wants good things for their family: health, happiness, and enjoyment of life.

When it comes to raising kids, it can be tricky. Despite our best intentions, the growing child obesity epidemic suggests that for the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. With all the advances in medicine, how could this possibly be true? The blame definitely can be attributed to today’s toxic food environment and lack of physical activity.

In short, our families are eating too much junk and are not active enough. Kids are especially vulnerable to developing unhealthy behaviors. Junk food is advertised directly to them and it tastes great! TV, video games and computer time can be a lot of fun.

The good news is that healthy food also tastes great, and physical activity can be fun for the whole family! We can give you simple tips and transform your child’s diet (and the rest of the family’s) into one that is packed with good health. If you make it a family event to be active and healthy together, you have a great support network to keep everyone motivated.

Parents are the primary influence over a child’s food environment at home. As the parent, you decide what food is offered and you model food behaviors to your child. The first step is to get the whole family on board with the idea of eating more healthfully. This does not mean eliminating all treats, but it does mean limiting access to them. As a general rule, at least 80% of the food in your home should be healthy, nutrient dense foods.

Try these tips to make healthy foods more attractive:

1) Add Color

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. If your kids are resistant, try to make it fun. Serve veggies with yogurt or hummus as a dip. Cut fresh fruit in the colors of the rainbow and place them on a skewer. Serve a color themed meal – all green, all red or all orange. Use your imagination and you’ll come up with an endless number of ways to make fruits and veggies fun to eat.

2) Think Whole Foods

Processed foods are the biggest problem with our modern diet. Packaged and refined food products are devitalized and filled with empty calories that quickly lead to weight gain. Unfortunately, processed foods make up a large portion of the diet of many children.

Help guide your kids to choose whole foods, rather than packaged ones. Packaged foods should be presented as a treat to enjoy occasionally. For daily eating habits, emphasize whole foods in their natural state. An apple. A piece of sprouted grain bread spread with natural peanut butter. A piece of hormone-free chicken. A bowl of beans. You get the idea.

3) Use Wholesome Sweeteners

Refined sugar and corn syrup are packed into many of the foods that your kids love. But wait, there are more wholesome sweeteners available – sweeteners that add vitamins and minerals rather than empty calories. Use the following rather than white sugar or corn syrup:

Sucanat: This pure, dried sugar can juice retains its molasses content. Use it to replace white sugar in baking. Pure Maple Syrup: Forget the “fake” syrups containing corn syrup. Pure maple syrup contains potassium, calcium and some amino acids. Dates: Throw a few seeded dates into your blender to sweeten your smoothie rather than adding white sugar. Honey: Contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, and also contain an number of compounds that act as antioxidants.

4) Make Smart Substitutions

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 smart substitutions to make their favorites more nutritious.

 Pizza: Up the nutritional content of your pizza by opting for whole wheat crust over white, adding veggies to the toppings and sticking with lean meat toppings.

 Pasta: Use sprouted grain or whole grain pasta rather than traditional white pasta. Add veggies to your pasta sauce. Avoid cream based sauces, and look for red sauce without added sugar.

 PB&J: A PB&J, made with white bread using sugar-filled peanut butter and corn syrup-filled jelly, is fairly void of any real nutritional value. Try the PB&J Makeover recipe below instead for a sandwich that will provide real wholesome fuel for your child’s day.

5) Ban Sugary Drinks

One of the best things that you can do for your child’s good health is to instill in them a love for water rather than sugary drinks. Soda pop and and even fruit juices are filled with empty (or near empty) calories that encourage weight gain.

The easiest way to do this is to stock your house with lots of pure, filtered water. Don’t have fruit drinks or soda pop readily available so that they grow accustom to drinking only water.

PB&J Makeover Recipe:

Not all PB&J sandwiches were created nutritionally equal. It all depends on the quality of the ingredients that you use.

If you use white bread, corn syrup-filled peanut butter and refined sugar-filled jelly, the result would be a sandwich that will skyrocket your blood sugar, promotes fat storage and leaves you feeling hungry a short time later.

However, if you make this recipe, with sprouted grain bread, true peanut butter made from one ingredient: peanuts, and fruit preserves that are naturally sweetened with fruit juice rather than sugar, then the result would be a nutritionally dense food that would promote stable blood sugar levels and provide you with hours of sustained energy.

Your kids will love the fun twist of having their sandwich grilled and stuffed with banana slices!

Servings: 1

Here’s what you need:

 Sprouted grain bread

 1 Tablespoon pure peanut butter (no added sugar or corn syrup)

 1 Tablespoon natural fruit spread (no added sugar or corn syrup)  1/2 of a banana, sliced

Spread one piece of bread with peanut butter and the other with fruit spread. Line one side with the sliced bananas and sandwich it.

In a grill pan over medium heat, grill each side until grill marks appear and the sandwich is warmed.

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 380 calories, 8.7g fat, 53g carbohydrate, 9g fiber, and 13.2g protein.



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