A Modicum of Sodium
Sodium (salt) is another risk factor for growing children. The taste for salt is acquired. The more salt children get, the more they crave it. What foods supply salt in their diet?
15% – natural sources as meat, fish, dairy, vegetables and drinking water
35% – the salt shaker when used as a condiment or cooking spice
50% – is found in processed foods and fast foods
How can you monitor salt intake?
1) Take the salt shaker off the table.
2) Spice up food with herbs and seasonings like black pepper, garlic, tarragon and lemon juice.
3) Eat more fresh foods and less processed ones.
4) Slow down on the fast food.
(Jenny’s note: I do think that our culture has way too much sodium with all of our processed foods. Just check out the sodium factor in a small bag of french fries at your local fast food place. But I also know that pure salt such as Celtic Sea Salt is very beneficial for our bodies. So I would say, watch the sodium levels from your prepared items, but have the nourishing salt on hand for your home prepared meals!)
Sugar –The Sweet Potion
Young children like sugar more than adults do. Fruits, berries and other foods which naturally contain sugar used to meet that craving for sweetness. They also contain necessary nutrients and fiber so they provide the best choice for a sugar source. Now other foods compete with fruits and berries. Just how much sugar are kids getting in their diet today compared to years ago?
1887 5 lbs of refined sugar per person per year
Now 148 lbs of refined sugar per person per year
That’s more than 1/2 a pound and 800 calories each day. The average child consumes more than 12 ounces of sugar a day which translates into 275 pounds of sugar a year. Most of the daily calories (remember those are empty calories) for children come from sugar.
Where does all that sugar come from? Two-thirds of the sugar consumed comes in processed foods and high fructose corn syrup is the most common form of sugar. You’ll most likely find sugar in:
Coca-Cola (12 oz) 9 tsp sugar
Jelly beans (14) 9 tsp sugar
Commercial fruit pie (1) 6 tsp sugar
Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes (3/4 cup) 3 tsp sugar
So what’s so bad with all that sugar? Well, sugar can help promote childhood obesity. One teaspoon of sugar equals 16 calories. If enough teaspoons of sugar are consumed, those calories pile up.
How to Kick the Sugar Habit
1) Put the sugar bowl away – don’t have it out for breakfast cereals.
2) Eat more fresh fruit to satisfy that “sweet tooth”.
3) Reduce how many soft drinks are drunk or eliminate them altogether. Use lemon and lime slices to spice up a glass of water. Diluting fruit juices with carbonated mineral water or club soda gives kids the “fizz” they like so much.
4) Read food labels for sugar. Beware with a name ending with “-ose” and “high fructose corn syrup”. They’re all sugars. Even agave syrup is dangerous having a very high glycemic index. Avoid it when possible. And watch honey consumption with children.
Make the Change for Health
First, design a meal plan so you can cook and eat most of your meals at home. A plan helps to determine food categories your family enjoys – pasta, seafood, meat.
Then put your plan on paper:
Day Type of Food
Tuesday Pasta, soups, stews
Thursday Main-meal salads
Friday Pizza, casseroles, chili
Saturday Restaurants, take-out
With a plan in mind, you can shop and prepare the meals ahead of time. That way, meals aren’t just happening to you because now you’re in control. Use a crockpot in the morning and get dinner started early. Try to eat your meals together as a family so you can remain connected.
Use low-fat or no-fat recipes and disguise leaner foods as familiar meals – put shredded zucchini in spaghetti sauce; shred carrots and use in lasagna; soups are great for inserting all kinds of nutrient-dense foods. Also you might have to change your cooking methods. Instead of frying French fries, bake them in the oven.
Don’t force kids to always clean their plates.
Children should develop an appetite and experience what it’s like to feel stuffed. Try to serve smaller portions. They can always ask for more. You as parents can control the quality and type of food your children eat, but they should have control over how much they eat.
Let the Kids in the Kitchen
They love helping. Working with you they can help organize meals and fix them. Instead of having a plate of food dropped down in front of them day after day, their participation enables them to grow up into individuals who have learned skills for healthy eating and living.
Healthy Eating and Living
It’s up to us as parents to teach our children how to life a healthy and fit lifestyle. So get out there and enjoy your kids. Run with them; cook with them; make memories teaching them skills for healthy eating and living. The current Fat Culture can be replaced with the Fit Culture as our children lead the way.
Crystal Blanchard lives in east Texas with her husband, Greg, and three young adult children. She’s been a mom to many (ten to be exact) and has home educated most of them since 1980. She has turned her wellness consultation practice into a research and writing project to help answer questions about health. We are wonderfully knit together by a loving, compassionate Creator. He is the source for our well-being and we are foolish to trust in anyone other than the Lord first when seeking counsel and wisdom in matters of health. Crystal navigates the labyrinth of health issues to help others (especially her own family) along the way of life. She gives us articles to encourage us in our high calling regarding health and nutrition.