The health of our next generation
By Noor H. Salem
Many times I question the conditions our children and grandchildren will be facing in regards to their health. While driving on the highway I see tons of advertisement of fast food paired with happy faces, aiming at children evidently. Children are going to school and are surrounded by vending machines full of food like substances in colorful packaging and mouth-watering pictures. They head home and are probably fed food items from boxes and bags, all with label claims that easily deceive many parents. A box of cheese crackers stating 14grams of whole grain does not eliminate the other 30 chemicals in the box, and nor does it automatically make these crackers a health food for our children. Children are still young to come upon understanding food labels, so it’s up to us educated parents to take on this role. What you feed your child has a major effect on their development, both physical and mental health. If your child had a bowl of colorful and sugary cereal for breakfast, they’re less likely to concentrate in school versus eating scrambled eggs, good quality ingredient toast, and fruit. Many studies have proven that artificial coloring causes ADHD in children. How many parents link the behavior issues of their children with the food they are eating all day? It undoubtedly has a correlation, but many are just unaware. So while children are encircled by a junk-food society, what can you do to have them love the healthy counterparts? Here are a few tips which I highly recommend you try.
First off, be a better example. Every parent has seen the mocking of their child, whether in words or actions. Your children see, and they do. Be a role model for your children and bring the healthy food into your kitchen. Stock up the bowl of fruits and veggies on an ongoing basis. Your pantries don’t need to be filled with deep fried snacks, sugary cereals, and colorful treats. Go for better options like nuts, dried fruit (without sulfur or potassium sorbate), even quality ingredients pretzels and crackers. Call your child over while munching on your apple, and ask if they’d like one too.
Secondly, get your child involved in the grocery shopping. Despite their chicken scratch handwriting, allow them to write down the fruits and veggies for your shopping trip. It’ll excite them into deciding on which fruits to buy, and they’ll grow a loving bond for health food. Along with that, take your child with you on a shopping trip. Try staying in the produce area; otherwise you might face some tantrum trouble. Allow your child to open the bags, count the produce, and simply be involved. It’s a great motivator, and it does wonders.
Next, allow your child time in the kitchen. They can watch you chop vegetables or make chicken soup for dinner. Just the fact that they’re observing whole food in its raw form is beneficial. Many children know of chicken only as nugget form, and know of lettuce as a topping on burgers. If your child is old enough, perhaps they can get their hands involved. With your supervision, allow them to make smoothies, fruit salads, or vegetable plates. Have them cook up a stir-fry with you, and feel the honor of having cooked a healthy meal. Kids love hands on activities, and cooking is not an exception.
Furthermore, beware of what you pack in your child’s lunchbox. While home cooked food is beyond healthier than hot meals from school, it’s still important to be aware of what you’re feeding your child. Instead of packaged puddings, fruit snacks, and chips, go for fresh fruit, nuts, and perhaps homemade muffins. If doable, pack your child meals like the chicken and veggie stir-fry you made for dinner, or a sandwich with extra veggies. Instead of drinks with less than 10 percent of real juice, choose 100 real juices or just go with water.
Lastly, I’d highly recommend you decrease TV time for your children. Aside the negative health effects it comes with, your child won’t be exposed to as much advertisement. We don’t see apples and broccoli dancing around happily during commercials, we see fast food instead. When your child sees it more often, they’ll highly want it more. Try getting your children into more physical activity outdoors instead of being attached to the TV or electronics.
It’s very important that we are aware of what we feed our children, for it has a direct effect on their long term health. Invest in healthy eating in your child, and remember to be the better example.