One of the most common questions I hear from parents following the Beauty Detox Solution is this: what should I feed my kids? It’s a great question and a very important one, given the alarming rise of diet-related problems in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past three decades. As of 2008, a full 1/3 of children and adolescents in the United States were overweight or obese. Type 2 diabetes is also on the rise in children and adolescents, according to the CDC. Perhaps even more disturbingly, recent studies link the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup (HCFS), which is nearly ubiquitous in processed and fast foods, to a number of conditions in children and teens such as cirrhosis and liver disease, metabolic syndrome, and hyperactivity. All of these conditions are on the rise in adults and children, alike. What’s the problem with the food supply that’s causing such illness in our children? The answers are too numerous to list here, but here are just a few.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
High-fructose corn syrup goes straight to the liver, placing an incredible load on this important organ. Likewise, it triggers the release of insulin, and the body seems more willing to store HCFS as fat than just about any other substance. Because it is cheap and provides the sweetness children have such a taste for, you can find HCFS in thousands of processed foods, and not just the sweet ones. Most people know, for instance, it is present in juice, candy and soft drinks, but it is also included hamburger buns, baked goods, chicken nuggets, canned soups and sauces, and many, many other foods. For the sake of their health, children should avoid HCFS at all costs. Keep soda out of your house, and check the labels of foods you buy.
Processed grains are also an issue in food aimed at children. Many children eschew whole foods in favor of “white foods,” which tend to be bland in flavor and contain processed grains with the healthiest parts removed. Processed grains can cause spikes in blood sugar, the subsequent release of insulin, and excessive fat storage. Breakfast cereals are among the worst! Unfortunately, they are what many children eat before going to school. It will give them sugar rushes and drops and energy, and put them at a disadvantage to perform their best. Oatmeal, sprinkled with cinnamon and stevia, or a little bit of natural honey, is an incredibly better choice.
Disturbing links have emerged between food dyes and behavior problems. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest4 (CSPI), these ingredients may lead to a host of behavior problems including attention disorders, hyperactivity, allergic reactions, and even certain types of cancer. Food dyes and other artificial ingredients are present in many of the foods aimed specifically at children, such as cereals, granola bars, juices, and many others.
Hormones and Antibiotics
The American meat and dairy supply is laced with hormones and antibiotics fed to livestock in order to increase production and reduce disease. Unfortunately, when these things are fed to our food supply, we wind up ingesting them, as well. Hormone and antibiotic ingestion can lead to early-onset puberty, antibiotic resistance, and hormonal imbalances. Early-onset puberty is associated with higher rates of certain diseases and cancers later in life. When I hear that parents take their kids to McDonald’s as a “treat” it makes me cringe. Among SO many other issues, fast food has among the most vile, hormone and steroid-filled meat out there. Don’t kid yourself with calorie-counting for “healthy” fast-food options. It is toxic food, and should very, very rarely, if ever, be consumed. A treat for the kids could instead be taking them to a movie or doing something active together, like a bikeride or renting a rowboat.
Casein and Gluten
Casein is a protein found in all dairy products. Gluten is a grain protein found in products containing wheat, rye, barley, and contaminated oats. The human body has a very difficult time ingesting these types of proteins, which can lead to an array of health problems including autoimmune disorders, digestive problems, and excessive mucous in the body. There is even some indications that gluten may affect cognitive function in children, while other studies along with anecdotal evidence suggest a gluten-free diet may help improve symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders. Train your kids to drink almond milk. Oh and if you are worried about calcium, re-read the dairy section in The Beauty Detox Solution on the net calcium loss your body actually experiences from drinking milk, due to its acidic nature and the amount of urinary calcium excretion that ensues. Calcium will be obtained (and kept) in the body from plant foods: seeds, dark leafy greens, nuts, etc.
A Note About School Lunches
Do your kids eat school lunches? If so, their nutrition just may suffer. School lunches typically contain highly processed foods, sugar and HCFS, food dyes, gluten, casein, and just about everything else that’s wrong with our food supply. The ideas listed below make terrific, healthful, easy to pack lunches your kids can take with them to school to give them the best opportunities for health. When your kids eat healthy, energy-producing foods at school, they may be in a better position to learn, so packing a lunch rather than allowing your child to eat what the cafeteria offers may be one of the best things you can do for their education.
Priming Your Child’s Palate
Kids often have very specific palates, and many parents despair finding healthy foods that kids enjoy. Studies show, however, that parents can increase a child’s enjoyment of foods by regularly offering those foods to them. In fact, one study performed by the Monell Chemical Senses Center even showed that children gain preferences for foods from the flavors they are exposed to in the mother’s amniotic fluid and breast milk. This means parents can prime children from very early in life to enjoy health foods by eating those foods themselves and offering them to their children regularly. Allowing your children to observe you eating healthy foods is one of the best ways to encourage them to try those foods, as well.
What to Feed Your Kids
Kids like “fun” foods with visual appeal. They also like foods they can pick up with their fingers. Parents also appreciate super convenient foods. So how do you feed your child healthy foods they will love while still keeping it convenient for you? Try these terrific kid-friendly foods and snacks.
1. Bugs on a log:
Talk about visual appeal! Make these kid-friendly celery boats with a little bit of almond butter (you can buy it or make your own in a food processor) and some organic raisins. This is the fun, kid-friendly type of food your children while eat up, but it’s really quick and easy for you, as well.
2. Black bean burritos:
Wrap some black beans with a gluten-free, whole grain tortilla, hold the cheese, please. Your kids won’t even notice that cheese is missing, especially if you toss in some chopped tomatoes, avocados, and other tasty veggies.
3. Avocado sandwich:
If you’re following the Beauty Detox Solution, then chances are you’ve already got some millet bread (or another gluten-free bread) around the house. Lightly mash an avocado and spread it on your GF bread for a delicious and easy sandwich. The smooth, buttery avocados make it so you don’t need mayo or margarine, and kids like their slight sweetness.
4. Banana “milkshake:”
Put a banana, some almond milk, and a little cinnamon in the best blender and mix it up for a sweet shake. The cinnamon and banana add sweetness, and your child will drink this up!
5. Hummus and veggie sandwich:
Get out the millet bread and spread it with homemade hummus, which you can make from garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, and a little garlic. Top with some crunchy veggies. Alternatively, you can serve the hummus as a dip with small veggies.
6. Quinoa pasta:
Kids love pasta, but most contains wheat and gluten. You can find quinoa pasta in many natural health stores, however, that contains no gluten, and kids like it just as much as they like the wheat based stuff. Cook up a batch of quinoa pasta and serve it with a homemade tomato sauce or toss it with some lightly steamed or stir-fried veggies.
7. Healthy trail mix:
Mix up a batch of delicious, healthy trail mix using foods like almonds, walnuts, raisins, goji berries, pecans, and sunflower seeds. Avoid cashews and peanuts, which may have high levels of toxic molds and can be allergenic.
Hope these are some options that can be helpful to you. Make some variations, think of foods for energy and keep trying! Please share any other tasty and above all healthy treats that your kids love!