Monday, January 12, 2009

What Are You Feeding Your Kids?

Do your children eat a healthy diet? You may be under the impression that your children eat healthy food when you feed them at home, or even when you go out to a restaurant. Here are some foods commonly eaten by children, which many parents mistakenly believe are included in a healthy diet:
  • crackers
  • rice cakes
  • goldfish
  • "food bars"
  • fruit roll-ups
  • packaged cereals
  • "healthy" cookies
  • any other processed items used as snacks that really fall into the dessert or treat category
  • baked foods that are normally fried with batter on them such as chicken fingers, fish sticks, or other similar foods
  • popcorn
  • many bread, bagel, and grain products
  • baked chips
  • other processed products with no "trans fats" in them
  • cold lunch meats
  • pasteurized dairy products of all types - cheese, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. - especially those that are low-fat and non-fat
  • frozen meals such as breakfast burritos, waffles, and pancakes
  • tofu or soy foods (many of which are processed and contain pesticides and are genetically modified)
  • corn and corn products (many of which are also processed and contain pesticides, and are genetically modified)
  • peanut butter
  • roasted and salted nuts (many are over-salted and manufacturers use unhealthy vegetable oils to bind the salt to the nuts such as soybean, cottonseed, or canola oil)
Often parents feed their children foods like these because they are sold everywhere and are convenient. Parents may see their friend's children eating these foods and believe they are healthy when they are by and large, nutritionally deficient instead of nutrient-dense like whole foods. By its very nature, processing cleans foods out of their nutrients. Many of these foods are high in carbohydrates but lacking in nutrients, protein, or healthy fats.

Over time, continual consumption of these types of foods will lead to weight gain, premature heart disease, high blood pressure, sugar cravings, inability to feel full, dental caries, lack of concentration and patience, insulin resistance, lowered immune system function, mood disorders, aggression, irritability, lower academic performance, frequent illnesses and disease, and Diabetes.

Read labels! Just because a processed food reads "organic" or "natural" on the package does not make it healthy. The only difference between a conventional packaged food and an organic packaged food is the quality of ingredients used (no chemicals, pesticides, etc.). The nutrient quality of the organic processed food may be similar to that of the processed variety. Any processed food included on the above list that is organic should be used sparingly and as a treat.

Here are some ideas for healthy foods/snacks to feed children:
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • raisins
  • raw nuts
  • raw cheese
  • organic, pasture-raised eggs
  • organic, grass-fed beef, turkey, or salmon jerky
  • grass-fed meat and poultry
  • almond butter (raw is best)
  • sprouted grain bread products, such as Ezekiel
  • tuna fish (tongol is a healthy choice)
  • homemade, organic popcorn with real butter and healthy oils
  • healthy oils such as cod liver, coconut, grapeseed, flax, and olive oil
  • moderate amounts of grains, rice, and legumes (4 - 5 times per week only) - all organic, sprouted, and/or soaked
Make sure your child gets the best start possible. Don't load your children up with carbohydrates and empty calories that fail to support health, learning, growth, or development. Feed your children nutrient-dense foods that help their immune systems stay healthy and support all the major body systems development - especially brain development.

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