As I was reading the newspaper this week, I came across an article that followed the blog from last week. I couldn’t believe how perfectly it fit! The main point of the article was explaining how health officials and parents everywhere continue to puzzle over how to get kids to eat their fruits and vegetables. Guess what they concluded?!
Feed them the veggies first!
What a simple solution to this continual problem of getting our children to eat healthy and to keep them from the problem of obesity. Why hadn’t I (or millions of others) thought of this before?
Nutrition experts worked with preschoolers and found that if you feed them generous amounts of vegetables – in this case raw carrots – as their first course, they will eat more of them. And if you feed them consecutive fruit and vegetable courses, they will devour them happily and skip the fattier foods later in the meal. This is called “preloading” a meal with foods of “low energy density,” especially fruits, vegetables and soups. They found that foods with low energy density actually make you feel fuller, mostly because of the high water and fiber content.
All right, you ask, sounds like a great idea but how does a busy mom do this?
2. Ask them to help you prepare the produce for the meals. This really is an important life learning activity. So many children today don’t even know where food comes from! By having them in the kitchen with you, you can teach them about healthy foods and their importance in our bodies. You could even give the veggies names like “X-ray eye carrots” to make them understand what different foods do for their health.
3. Keep cut-up fruit and vegetables available at all times. I know this is the hard part of being a mother. We often feel like short order cooks! But, we really need to focus in on what our children are eating. I kept a peeler and knife by my sink and literally used it at every meal. You may also need to invest in some plastic containers that are equal in size and labeled with the different fruit and veggies so they can stack easily in the refrigerator and are easy for your children to get themselves.
4. Have fruit and vegetables in zip-locked bags for lunches. I also know that if you don’t cut up fruit and veggies, they won’t eat them. Instead of putting a whole apple in their lunch, cut the apple up into slices and put them in a zip-lock bag. I would prepare fruit this way for the whole week which made getting their lunches together each day much easier and quicker. And, freeze their favorite fruits in season when they are cheaper. You can use them later in smoothies.
5. Use this same system when ordering at a restaurant. Ask the server to bring the different items you order at different times. That way, you can eat the healthiest items first, just as at home.
6. Ideas for you. Start the meal with apple slices, then on to sweet red peppers, zucchini or carrots dipped in light dressing, maybe a vegetable soup, then perhaps a vegetable sautéed in olive oil and garlic with some sea salt and lemon juice sprinkled, and then perhaps a salad. This may be way too much to put together, so start with those foods that are the easiest for you to prepare.
As you are trying to feed your family healthy foods, don’t forget that the most important item you are serving is a heart full of love for them! This verse is so true. Our children would rather we stay calm and relaxed than upset and frustrated when putting a meal together.
Emotional Check-Up: Our emotions are gifts given to us by God. I know that sometimes during the month we don’t feel like they are gifts! But as you go through your day, reflect on your different emotions so that you can stay on top of them. One that I experience is feeling sluggish as the afternoon goes on. So, I have to stop and eat something as a pick-me up to keep me going. You may want to get a whiff of citrus! The smells of oranges, lemons, and grapefruits have been shown to be energizing, so simply add a slice or two of your favorite to a glass of water. You could also moisten a cotton ball with a few drops of citrusy bergamot oil (a pure essential oil).
Healthy Fit-Fact: So many children today are obese. When the Task Force on Childhood Obesity delivered its report to President Obama on May 11, the findings were alarming: One of every three children in America is overweight or obese signaling a major national health crisis with long-term consequences. 40% of obese children and 70% of obese adolescents will become obese adults. And so ailments like heart disease once diagnosed only in adults are beginning to show up in obese older teens.
One solution? We must feed our children healthy foods, limit television and computer time, don’t give sweetened drinks, and get at least one hour of physical activity daily. It is up to us to change these statistics. Which means we have to be an example to our families in how we live our lives as well as promote healthy solutions for them.