Any parent knows all too well the challenges of raising kids, especially in these modern times. Today’s kids live in a far different society than past generations. It seems every aspect of this modern culture is vying for control and influence over our children. Perhaps one of the most significant areas of influence is in the area of diet. In today’s world a youth that eats their vegetables and a reasonably healthy diet may be considered not cool. Whereas living off pizza, sugar, and caffeine sodas would put you in the in-crowd. But then when we consider that obesity, diabetes and ADHD are growing out of control, it might be a good idea to be in that not-so-cool crowd. In fact, the latest studies outline that a child born in the year 2005 and after will have a 50 percent chance of developing type II diabetes by the age of 15. With projections like this, it’s time to consider a new direction. But where does a parent begin? The internet, tv commercials, magazine ads, and peer pressure, both among kids and parents, seems to be suggesting that we eat a certain diet no matter the real health of the food. Even our schools are sending the wrong message. High school cafeterias and vending machines are more and more being taken over by corporate fast food giants and soda manufacturers. These companies are part of the same food industry that we as a society are now starting to look at as being a major part of the health crisis in this country.
It’s no easy task being a parent, and certainly no easy task raising healthy kids in today’s day and age. Here are some suggestions that could help make a difference in your family.
- Establish a routine. Putting in place a routine can help maintain your sanity and benefit the entire household. Identify a bedtime for the kids and stick by it. Decide when the kids can watch tv and how much and what they can watch. Wake them for school at a certain time. Set specific times for meals like dinner. This can be unusually difficult because most households have kids in numerous activities so be flexible and try to sit down together as a family for dinner as much as possible.
- Healthy amounts of sleep can level mood, improve learning and mental clarity. The body does most of its’ repair and maintenance during sleep therefore it is important for overall health and wellbeing. Provide for the kids to sleep in a quiet, dark room with no TV and cell phones.
- Send them off with a healthy breakfast. A high protein breakfast rich in healthy fats and fiber, low in sugar will hold a child until lunch without cravings. It also will help them focus on their studies and improve their overall development.
- Cut the sugar. Sugar consumption leads to cravings for more sugar. High levels of sugar intake can lead directly to conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and ADHD.
- Avoid carbonation as all the latest research suggests that carbonated beverages rob young bodies of valuable calcium and lead to ongoing cravings and weight gain.
- Cut the caffeine. Many kids today are quite simply strung out on caffeine. Caffeine is highly addictive and regular consumption can set the stage for a lifetime of dependence. Overconsumption interferes with healthy sleep, can contribute directly to things like hypertension, and severely cut their attention span which interferes with studies.
- Pack a lunch and make it cool to do so. Find a fashionable, cool looking tote for the kids’ lunch then pack it with healthy foods. Then spend time, lots of time, explaining to your child why they are eating somewhat different then the kids next to them and how they will benefit from it in the long run.
- Do whatever you can to get away from medication. Focusing on diet changes could make all difference and produce results far more favorable than medication. We work hard as a society to keep our kids away from drugs. Medications are drugs and a young person can become dependent on them the same as recreational drugs. They can also build up tolerance that requires increased dosage or additional drugs.
- Healthy doses of unprotected sunlight provide valuable Vitamin D3 for growing bodies that can help build strong bones, regulate hormones, improve immune function, and clear problem skin.
- Try not to “ban” foods from young children. The key is to educate and moderate. Explain to them the benefits of eating healthy: clearer skin, less sick time, healthy body weight, etc. Ask them how they feel after they eat junk food, and then how they feel after consuming healthier foods. The key is education so they make smart choices when you as a parent are not around. Teach them to choose a “treat day” once a week. Perhaps they have a can of pop on Sunday and drink water the other 6 days.
Written by DMK of Seven Grains.