What Are They Really Eating?

Do you know what your children are really eating and drinking? If you’re like most American parents you have food in your cabinets that contain ingredients that are linked to hyperactivity, eczema, headaches, asthma, rhinitis, high cholesterol and obesity.

Do your children ever eat packaged foods such as macaroni and cheese? What about fried foods such as chicken nuggets? Do they drink sports drinks? Juice boxes?

Do you know that heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes are responsible for two out of every three deaths in the U.S.?

The major risk factors for these diseases are often established in childhood: unhealthy eating habits, lack of physical activity and obesity.

One out of every four children ages 5 to 10 years show early warning signs for heart disease such as elevated blood cholesterol and high blood pressure. Type 2 diabetes is no longer called “adult onset” diabetes because of the rising rates in children.

If those statistics aren’t alarming enough, here is some food for thought:

• Most packaged foods are made with Benzoate preservatives (BHT, BHA and TBHQ). Benzoates can result in hyperactivity, asthma and rhinitis. They are also believed to cause tumors in lab rats

• Most fried foods are made with hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenated oils contain high levels of trans fats which have been linked to an increase in harmful cholesterol and a decrease in healthy cholesterol

• Most drinks other than water are made with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and artificial colors and additives. Research suggests that HFCS is a major factor of obesity. Food color additives are thought to cause allergic reactions including hives, headaches and diarrhea. They are also believed to be a cause of hyperactivity in children

We want the best for our children.

We insist they wear seatbelts, and put on a helmet before riding a bike. We read to them, practice spelling, and test their math skills. We want them to be successful. We want them to be healthy.

But when it comes to nutrition, somehow the “best” gets convoluted by all the information that is made available. It is simple.

Our children are built from the food they have eaten. How strong of a structure is dependent on the nutrients made available to them.

When our children eat processed foods and sugary drinks rather than fruits, vegetables and whole grains, they are building a structure that will support disease.

Here are some ways you can help your children build a structure to support health.

Whether it is at home, at a friend’s house or in school, know what your children are eating and drinking.

Children should be eating whole grains (brown rice, steel cut oatmeal, whole grain breads), fresh fruits and vegetables from every color of the rainbow, lean meats and fish, low-fat cheese, low-fat milk, beans and heart healthy fats like nuts and avocados.

To quench their thirst-water, water and more water.

Even during times of play and sports, kids should refuel their bodies with water and fruit. Nutrients provided by these foods are essential to a growing child’s mind and body.

Let’s give them the best!
This article was submitted by Jennifer Minihan

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Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More