Giving your children the nourishment they need, not only helps them thrive in school and play, it helps them emotionally thrive and keep stress at bay. Check out rules my family of 5 live by and pave the way towards better health for the whole family.
- Sit as a family at least once a day and eat a meal. The whole family—kids included— will feel more connected to each other and their food, eat better and feel overall healthier. Studies have shown that kids who eat with their families are better prepared emotionally and physically for school and are also less likely to get depressed, anxious, develop eating disorders or use drugs.
Avoid Fast Food all together. Menu items are nutrient void and actually do more harm then good. Did you know that a fast food chicken nugget has over 30 ingredients in it? We live in a world surrounded by food. Seek out the healthier alternatives for your kids even if that sacrifices a couple extra minutes. If there is a McDonalds close by, there is a gas station, where most the times you can find fresh fruit and a high fiber cereal. Think outside the typical dinner ideas.
Eat as close to the whole food as possible. What does this mean? Choose an apple rather than an apple flavored jam bar; a baked potato rather than French fries.
- Choose only whole grains. A grain is considered whole when all three parts–bran, germ and endosperm–are present. Whole grain-based foods are rich in complex carbohydrates and are the body’s best energy source. As the body’s key fuel, they provide brain, heart, and nervous system with a constant supply of energy. Great grains: oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, rye, kamut, bulgur and whole wheat breads.
- Eat breakfast. And one that is high in protein and complex carbohydrates. Research shows that children’s brain function improves up to 80% when they consume protein first thing in the morning. They will have energy to function properly and won’t become tired and moody. Breakfast eaters are more likely to focus, participate more in class discussions, and have higher concentration than breakfast skippers who are more likely to be inattentive and lethargic.
- Limit sugars and packaged foods. Most processed convenient foods are loaded with sugars, preservatives and dyes and made up of bleached and refined white flour, stripping all the good stuff out of the grain. Leaving it nutrient void and calorie dense. If you don’t stock these in your house, the kids won’t eat them. So biggest advice I can give—Instead of buying the processed boxed bars, spend that same money on produce. If you have it—they will eat it. That goes for whole food, like an apple, or a packaged bar. So why not only give them the healthy options. After awhile they will forget about the snacks, and the treats will be just that and what they should be—occasional treats.
- Encourage a multivitamin.The brain needs more than adequate vitamins and minerals to function optimally. Studies indicate that children whose diets are supplemented with multivitamins showed improved learning.
- Avoid high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Aside from the fact that there is absolutely nothing nourishing in them, artificial sweeteners are a carcinogenic and children don’t have a developed system to process them.
- Eat the colours of the rainbow. Again this means whole foods, not Lucky Charms. Eat the brilliant greens of leafy greens and broccoli; reds in tomatoes, peppers and berries; yellows of root veggies and bananas; and blue-hued berries. These colors reflect the different antioxidants, which protect against chronic diseases. The more varied of a rainbow on the plate, the more protection.
- Encourage grazing. Children simply run out of fuel. Children’s behavior often deteriorates in the late morning and late afternoon, an hour or two after a meal. When blood-sugar levels go down, stress hormones kick in to raise it up again, causing behavioral problems and diminished concentration. To smooth out the blood sugar mood swings, have nutritious foods to snack on throughout the day. For small children, take an ice cube tray, fill it with different small finger foods—cubed cheese, halved grapes,apple slices, carrot wheels, diced peppers, whole grain cereals, berries, avocado boats, green leafs, dip, etc. Then have this on the counter or table so kids can graze on only healthy foods. Remember snacks make up 50% of children’s calories, so serving healthy snack is just as important as serving healthy meals.