Huffington Post Canada posted an article yesterday entitled, "Obesity in Ontario: Up To 70% of Children Could Be Overweight By 2040."
"In "No Time to Wait: The Healthy Kids Strategy," the Healthy Kids Panel reported that by 2040, up to 70 per cent of people in Ontario could be overweight or obese. The panel was intended to help the Ontario government with its aim to reduce childhood obesity by 20 per cent by 2017."
These are frightening statistics! The thing that is most frustrating about this prediction is that it is completely preventable. Parents must go beyond educating themselves on what to feed their children and take action.
I find that parents who model the behaviour of healthy eating have a much easier time encouraging their children eat well. One of the biggest ways to help a child embrace healthy food is to involve them in the process of shopping, growing and/or cooking. When a person (at any age) can take ownership of a process they are more likely to comply.
If your child is experiencing excessive weight gain, it is very important to seek the advice of a health professional such as a Naturopathic Doctor or Holistic Medical Doctor to determine the root cause of their condition. There other reasons why a child might be experiencing weight gain other than poor food choices and lack of exercise.
Here are three wonderful resources aimed at helping parents/caregivers and young children eat a healthy balanced diet.
Today I Ate a Rainbow: “Parents play the most important role when it comes to raising healthy kids which is why the Today I Ate A Rainbow products encourage children and their parents to work together to set healthy eating habits.”
LearnEatGrow: “Is a an organization that specializes in early childhood nutritional education. We provide science-based nutritional workshops throughout elementary and high schools across the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada.”
Sprout Right: “Helps women with pre-conception, pregnancy, and post-natal care right through to the introduction of solid foods for their babies and toddlers.”
Here are some general nutritional guidelines for parents of young children.
Load Up on Veggies : Vegetables are low in calories, high in fibre and packed with the nutrients kids need to grow strong. Children should consume a minimum of five servings of veggies each day to support their immune systems. The average child is lucky to get two full servings. At first, your child may resist because vegetables aren’t as tasty as bread or pasta but it is possible to develop your kids’ tastes so they’ll like veggies more in the future. If your child doesn’t like veggies at all try to hide them in tomato sauce or puree them into soups or dips.
Try Sea Vegetables: Nori and dulse are favourites with kids because they are salty snacks. Kids in Japan crave nori sheets like kids here crave chips. Unlike potato chips, sea veggies are almost calorie free and provide 65 trace minerals that help to increase kids’ metabolism and strengthen their bones!
Less Juice, More Water: It’s better to give children a taste of juice in a glass of water. A large cup of juice can contain up to 50 grams of sugar! I like to use 50mL of juice in a 250mL cup. Most kids will adapt to the taste and you’ll save money.
Balance Blood Sugar with Protein: Increase her protein to help balance her blood sugar and avoid sugar/starch cravings. She would need 1 gram of protein for every kg she weighs i.e. 16 kg needs 16 grams of protein, which equals an egg or some sliced turkey.
Use Alternatives to Refined Foods: Choose alternatives to foods, which contain refined white sugar and white flour. Diets high in refined flour and sugar are the reason that on average, people are heavier today than in generations past. Refined carbohydrates spike the hormone insulin and lead to cravings.
If the ingredient list on your bread reads, ‘flour’ that’s refined flour. Consider serving whole brown rice instead of bread with dinner. When children crave something sweet, offer them fruit-sweetened treats. When we eat refined sugar we spike the hormone insulin that tells the body to store the fuel as fat because we have too much at once. Fruit digests slowly and is full of fibre that will help her feel full. Apples, pears and berries are the best choice as they are not too sweet.
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