Childhood obesity is rising at an alarming rate these days. Children are eating more and more high sugar, high fat processed foods than ever before and it shows. And sadly, studies are showing that this is the first generation that will live shorter lives than prior generations due to the obesity epidemic. Scary!
Parents tend to lead busier lives then ever, and time spent in the kitchen is few and far between in many households. Our children don’t even know the names of fresh veggies, or fruits anymore. They are used to eating food from a box or a can with a colorful superhero telling them they will be strong if they eat that particular sugary, processed food.
As a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I did eat a lot of processed food, but there was always a home cooked dinner on the table and my mom always sent me off to school armed with my own lunch. My grandmother would spend hours baking, and Dad would craft his Italian classics to keep us all well fed. My brothers and I would spend hours upon hours outdoors running around, riding our bikes being active until the street lights came on. We were always moving our bodies and staying active to burn off the calories we were ingesting.
Today’s digital age of computers, cell phones and video games results in children being much less active than past generations. This along with both parents working full time jobs, or just trying to make ends meet makes for a fatal combination when it comes to our children today. More and more children are overweight and becoming diabetic at a very young age, as well as incurring all sorts of health problems.
Some of you may be familiar with a certain witty English chef, Jamie Oliver who has started a crusade to help bring healthy lunches into schools across the nation. He was successful doing this in London, so now he has brought his knowledge,wit and expertise to America to do the same. His educational series, The Food Revolution follows Jamie through certain areas of the US where he constantly comes up against major challenges at every corner from the school systems. It’s almost as if all the politics of schools are more important than feeding our children good, healthy food.
The ease and convenience of fast food appeals to the masses because it’s cheap and, well, easy. Unfortunately, Easy doesn’t always equal healthy, but as a nutritional educator, I am here to prove otherwise. Cooking our own healthy food does not have to be hard or expensive. Eating healthy is an investment in your health and well-being today. Do you really want to spend hundreds and maybe even thousands of dollars in the future when your body starts to fail due to unhealthy eating? Or your children acquire diabetes because of all the heavy, sugary, fatty processed foods they have been ingesting.
It’s time for all of this to stop, or we are going to be a nation whose generation of children live less years than we will, as I mentioned above. As a parent, you are the one who needs to teach your children about eating healthy and making the best choices possible. I know that may sound daunting to you, but I am hoping that your children’s health, and your health for that matter is the most important thing to you in life. If we don’t have our health, we have nothing.
Obesity in our children is avoidable, and it all must start with you. By educating your children on what to eat and how to make the healthiest choices possible you will save their lives and their health. Packing lunches, cooking meals at home, stocking your pantry and refrigerator with plenty of healthy whole grains, fresh veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits and lean proteins will provide your kids with healthy options to choose from that will feed their bodies and give them sustainable energy throughout the day.
Start to talk to your kids about food. Teach them, engage them, bring them into the kitchen to be part of the process. Many of my clients love to have their kids help in the kitchen when they are cooking and this is where it all starts. So if you want to really make a difference in your child’s life, start by educating yourself so that you can educate them. Ask Questions, learn about healthy foods and reach out to your community to get other parents on board too. Talk to your schools, and if enough of you gather together, there is strength in numbers to make long-lasting change!
Here is awesome recipe for my low-fat, gluten vegan free mac and cheese that
your kids will love! It’s healthy, simple to make and tastes good!
Mac & “Cheese” with Peas – Gluten Free
1/2 pound gluten free brown rice elbows (Tinkyada brand is best)
1-1/2 cups plain, unsweetened So Delicious Coconut Milk or Almond Milk
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon tahini (sesame paste)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Brown rice flour
1-2 tablespoons olive oil or Earth Balance (soy free)
½ cup frozen peas
Bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare pasta. In the last 3 minutes of pasta cooking add in frozen peas. Cook for 3 minutes and then strain together and rinse well.
Over medium heat, add olive oil or Earth Balance to a saucepan and heat. Add brown rice flour and stir to make a roux. Add pasta and peas and pour sauce mixture over top, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. If sauce is too thick, add more coconut milk, if too thin, add a little more rice flour. Top with a dash of smoked paprika and serve immediately
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