“Good Health Starts In Childhood”. By now most everyone is aware that preventative action is the key to anti-aging. Incorporating, healthy choices at an early age, being consistent and disciplined can translate into a lifetime of optimal health. Good health begins from birth…With the surge of chronic degenerative disorders in America, it is crucial that we understand the impact our modern diet plays in these everyday maladies. Understanding the importance of good nutrition begins with knowledge about nutrients and their function in the body. Let me simplify this for you…
There are six nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals & water that furnish the body with heat and energy, provide material for growth and repair of body tissues, as well as assist in the regulation of bodily processes. The amounts of nutrients required by each of us are influenced by age, sex, body size, environment, level of activity and general nutritional status.
Research studies suggest that 35-40% of our children are overweight today. I recently met with a l eading cardiologist here in Tampa, FL who confirmed that heart doctors are finding more plaque in coronary vessels in younger children, now than ever before. This is alarming! Now it is up to you. Read on for tips to help your child.
How To Pack Healthy Lunches For Your Children
For busy working parents, guilt is a common feeling. One way to feel better about parenting in today’s fast paced society is to pack healthy lunches for your children. It is worth the extra time it takes. Unfortunately, in a time when convenience is a must many parents have been fooled into thinking they were packing healthy lunches by misleading food labels. We all have to slow down when choosing our foods and take the time to read the labels. But what exactly are you looking for when you read the labels? Well, I will attempt to answer that question for you.
The number one rule is not to assume because it says low sugar or low sodium it is good for your child. Often, a product that has the low sugar claim has a high level of sodium or saturated fat or a product that has the low sodium claim has a high level of sugar. In order to find the product with the least amount of added sugar, sodium and saturated fat, we must take the time to read the label. Another important consideration when reading a label is what they consider as a serving size. For example, if the serving size on the label says one fruit bar and you normally eat two, double all of the nutrition facts. Note the total amount of calories per serving verses the calories from fat. The calories from fat should be dramatically less than the overall calories of a serving. Lastly, let’s just say that trans fatty acids are very bad. Consumption of processed foods containing trans fatty acids (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils) have been linked in studies of the development of diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Hydrogenation of oils, with removal of essential fatty acids, is used in the food industry for the sole purpose of prolonging shelf life.
Now, that we have covered a few highlighted tidbits, let’s cover some details of exactly what to look for. For a 2,000 calorie diet the new 2005 Food Pyramid by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (USDA) suggests that you eat 6 oz of grains, 2 ½ cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of milk or milk products and 5 ½ oz of meat or beans every day. They also suggest that you read the Nutrition Facts and avoid foods with added sugars or foods high in saturated fats, trans fats and sodium. Also, some suggestions made by other health organizations such as The American Heart Association are that no more than 30% of the total daily caloric intake be derived from fat; no more than 300 mg of cholesterol is consumed in a day; no more than 2,400 mg of sodium consumed in a day; and that 20-35 grams of fiber is consumed every day.
So when it comes to packing a lunch for your child: be selective in the items that you purchase, send fresh fruit (shoot for organic fruit), use whole grain bread verses white bread, do your best to cut out sodas (including diet) and overly sugared drinks, and incorporate the food pyramid as much as possible. Plan out all of the meals, drinks and snacks with a well balanced diet in mind. It is good to stray from packaged food as much as possible, although I know it is impossible to avoid them all together, just do your best to make the most nutritious choices possible, avoiding high concentrations of sodium, sugar, fat, cholesterol and saturated fats. Also, incorporate a multi vitamin into their daily regime. On a practical note we are aware that parent’s can’t always be nutritionists when planning out and preparing meals. Växa Buddies come in fun shaped animals and taste delicious, but more importantly this is one product that you won’t have to worry about unnecessary fillers, sugars or nutrients.
Our Suggestions For Healthy School Lunches
- Instead of lunchmeat, leftover meat sliced thin or made into a salad will make a great sandwich packed with protein, yet without preservatives.
- Send lettuce (the darker green the better) and tomato in a separate baggie so it will stay fresh and they can add them to their sandwich.
- Send them with organic yogurt rather than the ones marketed to your child, which come loaded with sugar. There are a few organic brands found in popular chain grocery stores that come flavored, but you can sweeten up plain or vanilla yogurt with diced up fresh fruit of all kinds. In fact, combining two fruits gives you an opportunity to meet the 5-A-Day fruit and vegetable requirements.
- Cottage cheese is also a good option and you can add fruit or honey to it for some added zest.
- In addition to the diced fruit, send them with a whole fruit or two (apple, peach, pear, banana, etc.) to eat as snacks throughout the day.
- For a must have sweet, devil food cookies can be a good choice. Again, be sure to read the labels;you can find some that are low in all of the bad stuff.
- There are some baked or toasted corn chip/cracker products out there that are not so bad. We don’t want to neglect our children entirely of the fun stuff they are surrounded by, just teach them to make wiser choices.
- A mix of unsalted nuts (organic) is a great way to get daily portions of protein, fiber and essential fatty acids.
- Chunks of cheese can provide daily milk and calcium requirements. Again, be sure to read the labels, some brands can be loaded with salts and preservatives.
- For some vegetable ideas, although this is nothing new, send your child with some cut carrots and celery with an all-natural peanut butter. If you can get them to eat other vegetables like cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, etc., you can send them with a mix of cut vegetables to nibble on.