Recently I participated in a panel dicussion with PICKKA, an online health product advisor. Soon they will launch a health-based application for the Iphone and other smart phones. The disucssion was on the current obesity epidemic among youth. There is a movement to educate parents and children and change policies, so that children are nourished not harmed by eating school lunches every day. Below are questions for future discussions and my responses. Please pass this on to parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, etc. This is a grass-roots movement, and the more people who are aware the quicker that the next generations will have a chance to live without all the depression and illness that accompanies obesity.
1. How can the US as a whole feed kids in a more healthy way, and whose responsibility is it (government, families, schools, etc.)?
It’s all of our responsibility. The government should not let toxic substances such as hormones, pesticides, GMOs, artificial colors/flavors, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, bleached flour, and so on be included in the food supply to begin with. These are not what the human body runs on and are direct causes of disease and brain chemistry imbalances. Until that happens, it’s up to families to educate themselves and their children about a healthy diet and lifestyle. If kids aren’t weaned on fast food to begin with, they won’t know what they are missing. It’s up to the schools to adhere to a higher standard than what the government requires. Children are the future, and they need to eat food that allows them to function at the highest level possible.
2. What do the panelists think about school foods and should the choices be more healthy and how?
It’s amazing that food that is basically harmful and toxic continues to be served to children (or anyone). In addition to writing to Congress to change the laws, parents need to get more involved. There are organizations that are working toward getting nourishing foods into schools and some are even teaching kids how to grow their own vegetables. Here are some worthy organizations that parents can get involved with: The Edible School Yard, Sustainable Table, Farm to School, and Enivronmental Education Council of Marin.
3. How can parents identify and shop for healthy food?
Education is key. Learning which ingredients are harmful and which will nourish your child is crucial. Keep in mind that real food is what the body requires, so the more you can reduce or eliminate processed foods the better. Avoiding the middle aisles of the grocery store is helpful since that’s where most of the processed foods are.
4. How can parents prepare healthy meals?
Busy parents need to learn how to prepare simple and nourishing meals. It can be as easy as doubling up on meals and freezing the leftovers for later meals. Invest in a thermos so the kids can bring soup/stew/chili for lunch. Use simple recipes with whole food ingredients.
5. How can we teach kids about identifying and eating healthy foods?
This is absolutely necessary if we are going to help future generations grow up healthy, well-functioning, and happy. Allow them to be part of meal preparation. Teach them (and yourself) about the seasons and how different vegetables come out at different times of year. Children love color and shapes, so this can become a rewarding family tradition.
6. What about talking to kids about why healthy eating is important for long-term health, and how do parents to talk to kids about their specific needs (especially if kid is overweight)?
Kids are smarter than people realize. If you explain to them that food is fuel and that they need high quality fuel to feel good and avoid illness, then more often than not they will understand. Most overweight kids don’t want to be that way, and when they find out that changing their diet is not only beneficial for their health but also for their waistline they are often happy to make changes. Education is crucial!
Here is a hot cereal recipe that is nutrient-dense and tastes delicious. If you are too busy in the morning, make it the night before and reheat it (stove-top) in the morning.
sho’s hearty hot cereal breakfast
1 cup gluten-free oats or 1 serving quinoa or buckwheat hot cereal
water (depends on which grain you are using)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp nuts
1/2 apple or pear
Himalayan or sea salt
1 tsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp almond or hazelnut butter
optional: ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom
directions: Follow the package directions for basic cereal. Substitute 1/4 cup of the water for coconut milk. Put water, coconut milk, nuts, fruit, salt, and spices in a pot and bring to boil. Then follow the directions on the package. Once cereal is done stir in sesame seeds and nut butter. There are many variations. You can use hemp or almond milk, various nuts and seeds. In summer, blueberries work well.