How do we keep kids healthy these days feeding them what their bodies need rather than feeding their addictions?
Pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, Kraft Dinner, pizza pops, instant oatmeal, pop tarts, canned soup… These foods are full of sugar, salt and preservatives. Costco has a lot of slightly healthier convenience foods but still full of sugar, salt and additives. When I walk down the aisle of a typical store, I see very little food that I am willing to feed myself and my family. And a lot of these processed foods are less expensive than real whole food.
It is hard to switch to healthy eating when we have fed our children “kid-friendly foods” since they were little (such as the ones I have listed above). However, these foods cause long-term problems for our children’s bodies in the form of weight gain, skin issues, respiratory issues, gut health issues, lethargy, bloating and gas, irritability, sleep issues, type 2 diabetes and so on.
It is the food they ask for because those foods are filled with addictive substances. MSG is a typical food additive that was originally added to foods to help people with eating disorders (and the elderly) eat more when they were malnourished. It was then added to many processed and fast foods (under many different names including “natural flavour”) and because it is very addictive, it generates more sales of that product. The food industry does not care about anything other than the bottom line and it is up to us, the consumer, to know what exactly we are feeding ourselves and our children.
Healthy food becomes tastier to children once the addictive foods are out of their systems, and the result is healthier children. Here are the most common foods that cause problems in our children’s bodies: pizza, chocolate, chips, cookies (and all white flour and sugar), ice cream, French fries (and all deep-fried foods), burgers, pop, processed cheese, and packaged foods. Please look at the diet of your children and determine how much of this food they consume. Now look at their disposition and health: are they irritable, sleepy or lethargic at school, complaining of a sore tummy, gassy, sensitive, explosive, have skin rashes, dark circles under their eyes, trouble with bowel movements?
If they have any of these symptoms, it is very possible to be a food-related issue.
When I wrote about food addictions in a previous article, I suggested natural (no sugar added) dried fruit or fresh fruit to satisfy the sugar craving. It is fruit our bodies are craving, telling us we are vitamin deficient, but how many of us seek out an apple over a candy bar?
I interviewed a lovely young mother in Vanderhoof who decided to change the way her family ate because of the above symptoms present in her two elementary school aged children. She eliminated junk food, processed food, eggs, dairy and gluten, (and working on cutting down sugar). It took some work to find alternatives but she swapped milk for coconut, almond or oat milk. I tried the oat milk and it was delicious. She uses non-gluten flour in her cooking and baking, and she noticed that omitting eggs from her baking didn’t affect the flavour. And she chose non-dairy cheeses. She is well on the way to getting her healthy children back.
There are so many disorders and diseases that have origins to our diet. In fact, most of them do. And there is a gaping hole in nutrition education and learning how to cook in a healthy way.
This is what I would love to see taught in schools so children grow up knowing how nutrition affects their bodies, and have the knowledge to keep their own children safe and healthy.
Claire Nielsen is a health coach, author, public speaker and founder of www.elixirforlife.ca