Want to Ensure Your Children Have a Better Chance of Living Healthy Lives?
Check What's in Your Fridge'
The number of obese children in the United States is growing at an alarming rate, with obesity now affecting one in every six children.
I believe that, as parents, we are responsible for how our young children eat. If you fill your home with sugary snacks and drinks, your children are going to eat them up. But if your fridge is only stocked with good, clean foods, they'll eat those instead. As parents, we are capable of programming our family's taste buds; after all, we do the shopping. Imagine paying for high-priced snacks that are addictive in nature — and imagine paying for them using credit cards! Some may end up paying interest on the junk they bring home.
Making poor decisions now can amount to a lifelong problematic relationship with food. They can also have a serious impact on your children's health and development. Unhealthy choices may cause a large array of food-related diseases, like diabetes and high cholesterol. Since no one wants to think about his or her loved ones getting sick, let's look at this from a more positive angle. Eating better is not just about disease prevention —it's about the quality of life. You may actually live a longer, more youthful and vibrant lifestyle if you eat nutritiously.
Remember, habits start early — both the good and the bad! It's up to us to train our children to practice restraint and voluntarily make healthy choices. When a young person grows up with an understanding of what it means to eat in moderation, they will be better prepared to handle other issues that come their way in life. Parents who give their children candy only in moderation and aren't afraid to say "No" to their food cravings teach their children not to become dependent on quick fixes. Let's not forget, moderation, gone bad can turn into an addiction. That's an extreme example, but an important one to keep in mind.
Of course, we all want our families to be healthy — so here are a few steps to take you in the right direction:
Fill your home with healthy foods — Go through your entire kitchen, and get rid of anything that isn't healthy. No more chips, pretzels, cookies, or other processed junk. I always recommend shopping at Whole Foods market and purchasing only organic fruits and vegetables. That way, you'll know the food you're buying is free of pesticides, artificial preservatives, and additives. Get your kids to enjoy some healthy root vegetables, delicious smoothies, and fresh, nutritious fruits. Another great option: buy a dehydrator. Dehydrated vegetables taste delicious and your kids will love them.
Be prepared for some backlash from your children at first —Your children might be embarrassed if they have to eat an almond date ball cocktail for a snack, while their friends are eating chocolate pudding. I know you don't want your children to go to school and feel left out, but it's worth it in the long run. Kids may make fun of them at first, but ultimately, those who become dependent on sugary snacks will wish they had developed healthier eating habits when they were younger.
Rethink the way you entertain — If you're blessed with a large family or group of friends, you may be worried about what food to put out when you entertain. You don't want to only put out a platter of nuts, seeds, and boring grains — they might never come visit you again! If that's the case, you can always keep some alternative snacks locked away for Shabbat, holidays, and other special occasions.
I like to offer guests two options — the less healthy food they crave and expect, as well as some healthy Norman-approved options like green juices, almond treats, and nuts. (Don't forget about the sprouts and wheatgrass!)
I let guests choose how they want to eat, but I always tell them that eating healthy makes me feel good and I encourage them to try it. They may thank me later if they go with my suggestion!
Because we want our children to live long, happy lives, it's up to us to create an environment that encourages smart choices and healthy eating habits. It's not too late to start now.
With the help and guidance of Hashem, we should all be blessed with long life, happiness, and peace of mind!
Norman Balassiano has 25 years of social services experience. Certified in Yoga-Meditation-Breathing technics and Hypnosis.