Keeping Your Kids Healthy - When's the Last Time You Read the Label?7:11 PM
Making sure that four growing boys are properly fed isn't always an easy task. In fact, when schedules get tight with sports and other extra curricular activities, it can be downright impossible. Meals on the go are rarely ever nutritious, and generally my kiddos are hungry only a couple of hours later.
In this day and age, childhood obesity is a major concern among parents. As of 2008, 19.6% of all children ages 6-11 were obese, and the convenience of fast foods and microwaveable meals only seems to make controlling the problem more difficult. Sure, parents are encouraging their kids to get outside more often, and schools are now striving to offer healthy meal options, but most kids still prefer video games over baseball and pizza over a fruit bowl.
Surprisingly, a recent commercial made me start thinking differently about my boys' diet. The commercial was for dog food, and spoke about reviewing the primary ingredients of kibble to ensure that your dog was getting the best nutrition out of the food it was consuming. That got me thinking, when was the last time I reviewed primary ingredients in the foods my boys are eating? The truth is that I was not doing it nearly enough.
The kids like white bread so I purchase it. Fruit drinks are better than soda, right? So I purchase it. I know that these food items aren't necessarily the best for my family, but I had always believed that their nutritional content was adequate and believed that my kids and myself were getting needed vitamins and minerals from foods like these.
Not only was I wrong, but I learned that items such as white breads and pastas and fruit juices are actually adding to the obesity problem in America.
White breads and pastas are refined and bleached, and during this process they lose much of their nutritional value. Not only that, but they also increase blood sugar which is why you never feel satisfied after eating them and generally crave more. Fruit juices predominately consist of water and sugar with only minimal levels of real fruit juice. While water is great for the body, added sugar isn't, and with many parents choosing to give their kids fruit juice over water, they are only giving them additional calories they don't need and leading them to become addicted to high levels of sugar at a young age. Fruit juice is good in moderation, but it is no longer all we give.
If we are willing to take so much time to read the labels of our dog's food bag, then why aren't we willing to do the same for the foods that we put into our children's bodies? Purchasing whole foods is always the best option when trying to provide your family with the most nutritional meals, but let's be honest, who has time to prepare a full meal only using whole foods every night? To compensate, purchase prepackaged foods that only contain the freshest and most natural of ingredients. If the primary ingredients of your dog's food was corn meal or meat by-product, you probably wouldn't purchase it. The same theory goes for your family's food items. If you can't pronounce the ingredients or are promised only minimal amounts of nutritional content, it may be best to skip that product.
Thoughts? How do you make sure your kids are getting the best nutrition possible?