Travis Barker, trim rocker from the band Blink 182 does more than pound on the drums and jump around on stage to stay fit. He also relies on a vegan diet and recently told paparazzi, his children do too. He’s not the only one. Many celebrities including Alicia Silverstone, Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna have made the decision to make their personal vegan lifestyle, a family choice.
Actress Alicia Silverstone is a long-time proponent of a vegetarian diet, which excludes meat, fish and poultry, as well as animal byproducts including eggs, dairy products and honey. Alicia, who wrote a book about the vegan lifestyle, The Kind Diet and has a vegan website, The Kind Life, once said about her child, Bear Blu, “Bear was grown on vegan food and we’ll continue nourishing him with a healthy diet. . . he’ll be eating an organic plant-based diet.”
Madonna is pretty serious about the food her children are eating too. It’s been reported when she divorced Guy Ritchie, she gave him a strict list about the types of vegan, organic, macrobiotic foods that son, Rocco could have while visiting his father.
The fact that our country is experiencing an obesity crisis is not news. However, until it is reversed, praise goes to the doctors and advocates who won’t give up the fight. One of the hardest battles in the obesity epidemic is that of the children. Natalie Sollo, the Childhood Obesity Clinic Medical Director in Wichita, Kansas offers some fresh insight to the problem and how portion sizes may be a key to solving children’s weight problems.
One of the hardest facts to face about childhood obesity is that our kids are commonly experiencing diseases that were once only considered “adult” diseases. These afflictions include high blood pressure, diabetes, and even sleep apnea. Sollo pointed out the downward spiral an obese child is more likely to fall into. As obesity is known to commonly cause depression and low self-esteem, a child is more likely to emotionally overeat. These habits will easily lead to adult obesity which brings on even more health problems. Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, many types of cancer, and osteoarthritis are all common diseases an obese adult faces.
The problem is growing every day, but why? Why are our kids in such risk today verses even 20 years ago?
Research has shown that children imitate their parents’ eating habits from a very early age. Although this may seem intimidating, modeling healthy eating behaviors can often be as simple as incorporating the advice you give to your children on a daily basis into your own life.
Becoming a Healthy Eater by Eating Like A Kid
Keep Sweets in Moderation. Sweets taste great, but you would never let your child eat unlimited amounts of them. The same should apply to you. Keep your sweets in check and look to indulge your sweet tooth in more creative ways. Many fruits, nuts, and spices can add a hint of sweet to some of your favorite dishes. This will help save you many empty calories in the long run and give you the opportunity to seek out more nutritionally dense foods when hunger strikes.
Most parents understand the importance of incorporating healthy foods into their child’s day; however, raising healthy eaters often takes more than just providing the foods you know are good for them on a regular basis.
To teach your children healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime, it’s important to include them in the process. Let them help you plan the menu, cook in the kitchen, and experiment with the ingredients you have stocked in the kitchen. This will create opportunities for you and your child to openly discuss the food they eat and why they eat it. It’s also a great way to spend some quality one-on-one time with your child.
Not all parents find this discussion easy to start. Some may not even enjoy incorporating healthy foods into their daily meal plan or the process of cooking. If this is the case, you may find that making nutrition a priority for your children becomes a family affair. To help you and the rest of your family take the leap into a nutritious state of mind, try the following:
If you are a parent of a child who has diabetes, you know that dealing with the illness can be a full time task. Even more difficult than dealing with insulin, sugar counts and keeping track of exercise can be the reality that your child just doesn’t care or can’t be bothered. Further compounding these issues, maybe you don’t know enough about diabetes yourself to be well informed. How can you help your child without becoming a nag?
Dr. Sarah G. Khan, resident pharmacist for Diets in Review, shares, “The biggest hurdle for children, I think, is understanding what is going on in their bodies. Parents should be very educated and give them a generalized picture. “Your body doesn’t produce as much or any insulin. Insulin helps the body when we eat something. That is why I need to give you this shot everyday.”
Focus on moderation in their diets. Often, children hear that they need to modify their diets and perceive it as an “all or nothing” type of scenario, and most of us don’t like to be told that we can’t eat certain foods. By helping your child to learn moderation and the reality that a treat can be incorporated in to the diet, you are teaching your child a valuable lesson.
Dr. Khan is a fan of Bayer’s new blood glucose meter known as the DIDGET. “The more the child tests (their blood) they get special codes to Nintendo DS games. It plugs right into a Nintendo DS or DS lite. Once they become more advanced with their blood sugar control it gives them a second level where they can monitor their sugar levels before or after a meal.”
The fact that our nation’s schools need a revamp on their school lunch and physical activity programs is not new information. Thankfully now there’s more to report than just stating the need for change.
Recently the USDA recognized over a thousand schools for their improvements to nutrition and physical education programs. Five traits were highlighted to describe what a healthy American school looks like today.
One trait of a healthy school is their stellar performance in the National School and Lunch Program. The voluntary program is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign that is attempting to end childhood obesity within a single generation.
For schools to be a certified member of the National School and Lunch Program they must follow nutritional guidelines. A different vegetable must be provided each day at lunch, one serving of beans or peas must be served weekly, a different fruit is to be offered each day of the week, whole grains are to be served 3 to 5 days a week, and only low-fat or fat free milk products are offered to students on the program.
After a busy day of learning and recess, children often come home hungry from school and ready for a snack.
Snacks are a great opportunity to provide your child with healthy options that can replenish their energy and hold them over until dinner. Of course, having a wide variety of nutritious snacks to choose from can seem like quite the endeavor to undertake; especially after a long day of work or running errands. Luckily, with a little forethought, having a wide array of healthy foods ready to go after school is quite easy to accomplish.
One of the simplest ways to go about this is by creating your own after school snack station. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just filled with some of your family’s favorite healthy snack choices. As the reserves run low, simply restock as needed.
As school budgets get tighter, administrators are doing just about everything to cut costs, including diminishing some of the necessities like teachers’ salaries, library book funds, and even school buses.
Although diminishing school budgets is not exactly good news, some positive results may come out of the cuts. If the budget in your school district leaves hardly any room for school buses and your neighborhood is the first to get the axe, consider starting up a “Walking School Bus” in your community.
A Walking School Bus is a new initiative created by the Healthways/ Blue Zones Vitality City group in the Beach Cities area in Southern California. The Healthways/ Blue Zones group is dedicated to help their communities live longer and healthier.
Walking school buses are a group of children who ride their bikes or walk to school with one or more parent supervising. Children learn the rules of traffic in a safe environment and get plenty of exercise on their way to and from school each morning. As childhood obesity rates continue to increase, a walking school bus might be a good way to sneak some exercise into your child’s routine.
By Rita Robison
Childhood obesity is increasing at an alarming rate throughout the world. The World Health Organization calls it one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century.
Overweight children are likely to become obese adults, who have a higher probability of developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. These diseases can cause disabilities and premature death.
Globally, the number of overweight and obese children under the age of five was estimated to be more than 42 million in 2020.
While most people think being fat is a problem only in rich countries, nearly 35 million of these children were living in developing countries. The childhood obesity problem is rising rapidly in low- and middle-income countries, especially in urban areas.
The rate of children who are overweight and obese worldwide increased from 4.2% in 1990 to 6.7% in 2020, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
When it comes to eating healthy, it’s never to early to start. Although nutrition can seem like a difficult topic to discuss with a young child, keeping it simple can set them up for a lifetime of healthy choices.
With the recent unveiling of the new USDA food icon MyPlate, starting up nutrition conversations with individuals of any age has become much more simple. In fact, the new icon is so recognizable that even young children can begin to identify what a healthy plate should look like. Educators and parents alike should use this symbol to not only help their children build healthy plates, but to start conversations with them about what eating healthy is and the importance behind it.
To help educators and parents out, many lesson plans exist to incorporate the MyPlate icon into the classroom and the home. To add to this ever-growing list of fabulous resources, please find two additional lesson plans ready for use below. The idea behind these is to make talking about nutrition fun and help children identify how their food choices fit into a well-balanced meal plan.