We’re on the brink of summer and the kids are out of school. Social media posts from parents on my Facebook timeline have indicated they’re being eaten out of house and home due to them being out of school, boredom, and having no control over their pantry and fridge. With childhood obesity and diabetes on the rise amongst school aged children, my question to parents is, “What are you feeding them and are they active or involved in any summer extracurricular activities?”
According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled amongst adolescents within the last 30 years. In 2012, more than one-third of children and adolescents were labeled as overweight or obese. Overweight children are likely to become obese adolescents and adults hence developing long term health affects such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, different types of cancers, osteoarthritis, and stroke.
Having been the overweight child/adolescent who turned into the obese adult with some of these long term health ailments I made mention of, I know these statistics are to be true. Now having lost the weight and reversed the symptoms of my past chronic illnesses, helping adults achieve a healthier lifestyle, and publicly speaking at schools, I see there’s a disparity amongst what some parents are eating versus what they are feeding their children.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some families who eat healthy as a whole and some families who don’t. It’s the families who are trying to eat healthier, but their kids are still being fed crappy processed foods loaded with sugars, carbs, calories, sodium, additives and preservatives that I have a problem with. So, if you now know better, why is it you’re still feeding your children all of the things you use to eat? Isn’t it time we break the generational curses of old eating habits and how we learned to unhealthily prepare and cook our foods? You’re going to the gym working out, but your kid is at home playing video games, watching tv, taking extended naps or on their smartphones snap chatting away all day getting in no exercise or Vitamin D whatsoever. This needs to change.
Old habits are hard to break and even harder to break when you are tired from work, have to get dinner on the table, and you don’t want to hear your child whine and cry about why they have to eat chicken with steamed broccoli versus having McDonald’s. You figure some battles are just not worth the fight, but in this case it is….your family’s health.
During the summer, as well as during the school year, some children are latch key kids. As parents of young children, I know you’ve probably stocked up the pantry and fridge of things that don’t require the use of a stove for safety precautions…grab and go items or microwave only food until you get home. If you have growing teenagers, it’s a free for all, take cover, and everyone is out for themselves lol. More than likely, these quick and ready processed foods and having a sedentary lifestyle is making our kids become overweight and obese.
Kids nowadays have their own money and you can’t control what they buy or eat when you’re not around, but as parents, you can control what it is you are bringing into your home. It will take time, patience and educating them on the benefits of why eating healthier is better for them and overall your family. That’s why it’s best to teach them early rather than trying to break bad eating habits as a child. Your habits will become their habits.
Meal prepping, portioning out and having a balanced breakfast, lunch and snacks for the younger kids to grab and go this summer will help you out tremendously if they’re home alone. It’s harder with teenagers, but it’s possible.
Here is a list of the things I hear parents are buying as well as seeing their kids eating vs some suggestions parents should be buying and their children eating this summer and during the school year. Want to learn how to prep your family meals and dinners, check out this blog post on family meal prepping. https://fitandfinallyfree.com/2016/03/31/family-meal-planning-taking-your-familys-health-back/
●Red40 dye items
●Artificial juices and juice boxes
●Cupcakes, cookies, donuts, honey buns, candy and potato chips
●Frozen french fries
●Frozen chicken nuggets
●Boxed macaroni and cheese
●Frozen fish sticks
●High in sodium lunch meats
●Sugary peanut butter and jelly
●Frozen waffles, pancakes, and breakfast sandwiches
●Canned meals such as spaghettiOs
●Non fruit based popsicles
●Carrots/celery/broccoli/colored or green bell peppers/cucumbers/grape or cherry tomatoes/ cauliflower, with hummus or light ranch dressing
●Fresh not frozen homemade chicken tenders
●Homemade oven roasted potato or sweet potato fries
●Turkey burgers on a whole wheat bun
●Turkey tacos with whole wheat tortillas
●Whole wheat spaghetti with ground turkey or mac and cheese
●String cheese and whole wheat crackers
●Whole grain goldfish crackers
●Natural peanut butter and apples
●Natural peanut butter and reduced sugar jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread
●Baked potato chips or veggie straws
●Skinny pop or airpopped popcorn
●Frozen yogurt or fruit popsicles
●Low sodium turkey roll ups with laughing cow cheese spread with or w/o whole wheat tortilla
●Whole wheat peanut butter crackers
●Oatmeal with fresh fruit
●Turkey bacon or bacon without nitrates
●Boiled or scrambled eggs
●Whole wheat toast
●Homemade wheat or sweet potato pancakes/waffles
●Homemade ground turkey sausage
●Reduced sugar jelly
●100% fruit juice
●1% or 2% milk
●Whole grain cereal with less sugar
●Low sodium/nitrate free turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread
●Sugar free chocolate or vanilla pudding
●Natural peanut butter and celery
Here are some examples others have used in prepping quick snacks or entire packed lunches I’ve found on the web.
Food items such as homemade or bakery desserts, regular potato chips, ice cream, clear sodas, etc should only be given as an every now and then treat, but not brought into the home where children will be tempted. Honestly, I don’t recommend sodas at all.
If your child isn’t going to a summer camp or involved in any extracurricular activities, be sure to get them active by taking walks after dinner, finding free and other paid outings that require some level of activity such as bowling, swimming, going to the zoo or park, laser tag, etc.
Your children don’t have to become another health statistic or your pockets going for broke with a little planning and organization on your part. Your family’s summer can be filled with trying new foods, going to new places, becoming more active, fit and healthier while creating a stronger bond in adopting this new and improved lifestyle. All you have to do is give your children a fighting chance instead of a fattening chance.
Here’s to having a happy, lighter and active summer!
Live and be well!