With the rate of childhood obesity on the rise, it has nearly doubled in almost 20 years, not-for-profits, chefs and even the First Lady have come together to encourage healthy eating habits and more physical activity. With such a staggering change in the childhood obesity rate, some schools are starting to take action by incorporating healthy lunch options, adding physical education back into the curriculum and providing nutrition education as a science unit
Not-for-profits, such as Veggie U, are helping to bring healthy eating habits back into a child’s daily life. Today, families are constantly on the go and time is limited. Both parents are working to make up for a struggling economy and when the end of the day comes, sometimes the easiest option is to order out, go through a drive through or choose a frozen meal with little to no nutritional value.
To help be part of the movement that helps lower Childhood Obesity, Chefwear has come up with five helpful tips to provide your family with healthy eating options:
1. Cook dinner ahead for the week
While it seems like the last thing you may want to do on your free weekend, try cooking an entire week’s worth of meals on Sunday afternoon. Choose proteins that can be used for two different meals. For example, you can use chicken for one meal then use the leftovers for chicken tacos two nights later and chicken salad sandwiches for lunch the next day. Not only will this ensure that you spend more time sitting down and eating together as a family, but you will also save money.
2. Eliminate sugary drinks
One 12-ounce can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it, which is more than three times what the American Heart Association recommends (three teaspoons per day). Encourage your children to drink more water and add a sugar free drink mix for added flavor. Sparkling water is also an excellent option.
3. Provide healthy snack options
Cut back on salty and sweet snacks such as pretzels, potato chips, cookies and candy. Not only are these options high in sodium but they are full of empty calories. Choose fresh fruit and vegetables as well as whole grain snacks and healthy beverages. Protein is available in more options than just meat such as yogurt and nut butter, which will help keep your children feeling fuller for longer.
4. Add variety into each meal
In order to avoid a rut in your meal plan, add variety to recipes. The more variety you add into a meal at a young age, the easier it is for children to accept what’s been given to them. While it is important to have a well-balanced diet and to teach your children about the important food groups, don’t take it too far. Your child’s relationship with food needs to be a positive experience, not negative. If your child isn’t ready to try something, do not force them. Attempt that food at a later date or sneak it into a dish like homemade muffins, soups or stews.
5. Encourage participation when cooking
Take your children with you to the grocery store or allow them to help make your list for the week’s worth of food that you need. Give them the opportunities to select what they can eat for lunch and if they suggest something you don’t agree with, offer up a different option instead of just saying “no.” Encourage them to help you make dinner which not only gives you and your children the chance to spend some time together, but you are immediately instilling healthy eating habits in them at an early age.
For more tips on how to encourage healthy eating, scour the Internet. Healthy eating is on the rise and there are multiple resources out there to keep things fresh in your house or attempt to change the way you eat.
Visit www.veggieU.org to learn about its program.