Obesity and overweight among children and adolescents are at record highs (roughly 1/3) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from their most recent statistics (2010). Another disease on the rise among children and adolescents, is type 2 diabetes (previously known as adult onset). When I was in school getting my masters degree in Health Education, I was overwhelmed by all the negative things our kids are confronted with today, and I wanted to make a difference in young lives because it ‘s a lot easier to influence and change a young person’s life that it is to help someone change their lifestyle habits that they’ve had for years.
It’s almost unavoidable to be at least overweight with the abundance of pre-packaged food available. The reason pre-packaged foods are a concern is because the ingredients in our modern American food have been compromised. It’s not the food our grandparents ate. The more I learned about our modern food practices here in America, the more I felt driven to help people learn how to eat.
I am a mother of an 11 year old and a 15 year old and it has been a struggle getting them to eat the foods I know are good for them. Kids are confronted with unhealthy foods through commercials, peers, and social gatherings and there isn’t a surefire way to prevent them from eating unhealthy foods but you can help cut down on their expose to it and educate them about what is healthy and why. They are only going to get the why if they are forward thinking or if they are concerned about a short term hindrance to their health like acne, weight gain, or slowing them down in their sports. It is essential that this doesn’t become too big of an issue because we all want to enjoy these social gatherings, which is another element of wellness. You also don’t want to create a longing for the stuff if it’s completely prohibited. There will be some degree of resistance just as a display of independence if nothing else. It helped my kids greatly when I took them out to eat while on vacation and said order whatever you want. Their jaws dropped, they ordered junk (there really wasn’t much else to order but I gave them the choice). This helped “junk” food lose some of it’s power in their minds. It was hard for me because I know too much but I lost the battle with hopes of winning the war. The war being – making the choice for healthy foods their own when I’m not around.
There are several tricks I can share with you.
- Educating them on why vegetables are healthy. Let’s take broccoli, for instance. Telling them that they are anti-inflammatory, cancer fighting, detoxifying, and are loaded with antioxidants isn’t going to get them to eat the green food. However, telling them that broccoli is good for their eyes and will make them see like their favorite super hero, or that it helps makes their skin beautiful, or that they need to eat the foods that have lot of letters to make them super smart (vitamins A, B, C, K and a D helper) may have better success at getting them to eat the green food. I have plans to write a children’s book series to accomplish this feat.
- Make all of your home cooking nutrient dense. This may take a while to transition to and don’t expect perfection. Getting your palate and the palate of your children to change will require time, dedication, and patience. Many packaged foods you find in your supermarket contain additives that cause food addictions.
- Stay in alignment with our culture when it comes to providing dessert when they eat their veggies. Praising them is important, too. They ride well on praise but this has to be consistent for the younger ones. Dessert shouldn’t come in size large! When it comes to sugar small is the only acceptable size. You also can make most desserts nutrient dense.
- Make your treats with healthy ingredients. I like to make whole grain cookies that are nutrient dense. No reason to have empty calories very often since there are so many delicious nutrient dense foods that kids will eat. You can find a lot of healthy recipes today. Many are available through my recipe pages.
It’s important to teach our kids how to eat while they are young because it has been proven that children carry their food habits into their adult life. Think about it, food has a lot of holiday memories, pleasurable moments, and meaningful relationships linked to it. So influencing or changing a child’s relationship to food is an investment in their future and perhaps the future of their children.
I offer a series of workshops for groups and private coaching programs to help people with weight management. In these sessions you will learn the fundamentals of eating healthfully, how to navigate the grocery store, how to read food labels, what makes up a healthy diet, how to cook healthfully, healthy recipes, exercise, etc. For the group sessions, people will partner off and help each other, and we may even include a biggest looser contest!
I. Eat to Maintain a Healthy Weight & Prevent Overweight & Obesity
II. Reverse Overweight & Obesity
III. Eating to Prevent Disease & Save Money on Healthcare Expenses
IV. Healthy Recipes and adjusting favorite ones to be nutrient dense
V. Examining your pantry
VI. Kids in the kitchen!
Private Health Coaching – I can work privately with you alone or you and your family. I help you with and educational lesson, a pantry cleanse, a grocery store tour, a cooking lesson, meal planning, and plenty of encouragement and accountability. If you want to get a group together to keep your cost down, I can give you a break on the non discounted rate depending on the number of people in your group (call for a price). There are a few different coaching programs offered here.
Call Sheila at (203)469-8888 to schedule a single workshop or the entire program for your group. Coaching for individual families or individuals is also available.