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Guest Blog by Evie Borchard- Children and healthy eating: take away the chemicals, not the calories

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

We’re talking about growing kids here; kids whose metabolisms are likely going at record speeds (perhaps to our envy).  Unfortunately, it’s almost common belief that they should be able to eat all the fast food they want while they can “afford” to. After all, why should we parents deprive our children of the Poptarts, Chicken McNuggets, soda pops, and cheesy fries that all the kids at school enjoy regularly? Don’t they have the rest of their lives to worry about illnesses like type II diabetes, obesity,  and heart disease?

However, the connection between children and healthy eating is huge. It used to be unheard of for kids to be at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease at their young age, but when living on a western diet packed with trans-fat, high fructose corn syrup and other artificially calorie-dense foods, our children are ballooning to abnormal weights and becoming susceptible to health problems associated with the adult population. Indeed, healthy eating isn’t only for grown-ups. 

And although childhood obesity is on the rise,  overweight children aren’t the only ones at risk:  all young’ns who are eating  Mickey D’s and Ho-Hos regularly are increasing their chances of encountering future health problems.  Yup, this means the “skinny kids”.  Parents of these kids tend to receive conflicting messages regarding what their kids should be eating.  Despite common belief-and even certain doctors’ orders- you don’t need to be feeding your kids Happy Meals to fatten them up (like my parents did).  These pseudo-foods will leave your children prone to developing diet-related illnesses and could cause them to develop a taste for junk food, making fast-food-eating a habit manifesting through adulthood.  Surely there must be a method for safe and healthy weight gain in children.

Basically, the salty, mouth-watering, artificially-spiced fast food a young child is consuming actually has addictive properties, which causes healthier alternatives such as fruits and vegetables to taste blander.  For example, the overconsumption of high fructose corn syrup-filled candies may cause fruits to taste strange and less sweet, while regular Happy Meal consumption might make vegetables and beans seem yucky in comparison.  It is pretty self explanatory why this may cause problems down the road. A lack of fruits and vegetables in a child’s diet can cause deficiencies in both macro and micronutrients, and whether or not your child is overweight, the weakened immune system caused by poor nutrition leaves him or her susceptible to various infections and health problems.  For this reason, it’s important for parents to guide children towards developing a taste for healthy and wholesome foods without depriving them.

Instead of looking at healthy eating as deprivation, try to think of it as “crowding out”; you are “crowding out” your children’s typical junk food diet with more wholesome alternatives so there is no longer room for them! Now you might wonder,  “but how in the world will my kids get the calories they need for growth without eating at least some junk food?!” Fortunately, you can try these more calorie-dense healthy options:

1.  Saute and cook vegetables in olive or coconut oil

2.  Add some dried fruits to your kid’s granola or whole-grain cereal to make it more calorie-dense

3. Serve whole-grain crackers with nut butter as a snack: a good source of healthy fats

4. Make vitamin-packed fruit smoothies with nut butters and agave nectar, a low-glycemic sweetener

5. Starchy vegetables are more calorie dense: try making sweet potato fries to replace regular French fries

6.  Bananas and dates are more calorie-dense than most fruits and contain many antioxidants

7. Hemp or soy milk is more calorie-dense than most other types of milk

8. Create your own healthy trail mix with a variety of nuts, dried fruits, and even some organic chocolate chips

9. Here’s a recipe for some super-energy breakfast bars

10. A healthy alternative to Poptarts: Fruit and Nutty Breakfast Bars

 

 

One Response to “Guest Blog by Evie Borchard- Children and healthy eating: take away the chemicals, not the calories”

  1. James says:

    Great article! I always want my children to eat healthy and this article helped me learn ways to incorporate more calories. thank you

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