Want to Save ,000? Here Are 6 Eating Tips Every Parent Should Know
The price of childhood obesity will set you back a pretty penny, says a new study. That’s why making small changes now can add up to big dollars later.
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The past week in news has painted a bleak picture for children’s health: A recent study found that obesity rates in children have actually increased in the past 14 years, despite recent claims that the numbers had dropped. In the same vein, theJournal of Pediatricsreleased a study reporting that childhood obesity will set families back the same amount as one year of college – yes, you heard us right: The lifetime medical cost of an obese child, when compared to that of a child with a normal weight, is ,000 higher.
Whether it’s the scary statistic of childhood obesity being on the rise or the hefty price tag that comes with it that parents find most unsettling, it’s clear that there is a need for a huge shift in our children’s diets. With a little creativity, parents can begin to introduce healthy whole foods back into their kid’s diets in fun ways – no force-feeding necessary.
Nutritionist Johannah Sakimura encourages parents to the take the path of least resistance by working with their children’s palates instead of against them. Here are her seven tricks for getting more produce on your kid’s plate:
1.Go for Sweet:“Kids have a natural, inborn preference for all things sweet, so take advantage of sweeter veggies,” she said. “Most kids love mashed sweet potatoes and baked sweet potato fries, and bell pepper strips combine lots of health-boosting vitamins with a pleasant, sweet taste.” Sakimura also has a trick up her sleeve to help parents raise veggie-lovers: “Try roasting just about any vegetable. The roasting process brings out the veggies' natural sweetness, so it tends to go over well with young eaters. Experiment with roasted zucchini, carrots coins, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, or asparagus.”
2.Experiment With Texture:“Many kids prefer crunchy, crispy raw veggies to mushier cooked ones,” she said. “If that's the case, offer a platter of cut, raw veggies with your meal (it's just salad, minus the greens). Dinner sides don't have to be your typical steamed broccoli or green beans.”
*Bonus Tip: Kids love marinara sauce! Go homemade and healthy with Sakimura’s easy recipe: Roast halved grape tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper until they're soft and cooked down, then toss with whole grain pasta and optional part-skim mozzarella cheese or sliced chicken.
3.Get Creative With Dessert:“Instead of having cookies or ice cream for dessert, play around with different ways to enjoy fruit,” Sakimura said. Freeze grapes or watermelon chunks for bite-sized frozen treats, top a sliced banana with peanut butter and a few chocolate chips for an ice cream-less banana split, or make berry soup by thawing frozen berries and pureeing them until smooth. “And don't forget about cute, pint-sized fruits like kiwi and clementines,” she added. “Kids like things their size!”
4.Hide the Produce in a “Shake”:Smoothies and milkshakes are always met with a smile, and they’re also a super easy way to sneak in produce. “Blend nonfat yogurt with skim or nondairy milk, frozen berries, sliced banana, and a handful of baby spinach leaves for a vitamin-rich brew that your little guys can slurp like a milkshake,” Sakimura suggested. “There are so many great smoothie recipes on the web, so you can really go wild with different produce combinations. Try to work in a veggie if you can.”
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5.Wean Them off Sugary Beverages:If your kids’ taste buds are used to sugary sodas and juices, it can be difficult to get them to drink water – but with a little creativity in the kitchen, it’s possible! “Try mixing fruit-flavored seltzers (which are naturally sugar-free and contain no artificial sweeteners) with a splash of fruit juice (like pomegranate or grape) to make a naturally sweetened fruit ‘soda’,” Sakimura said. You can also avoid going cold turkey by cutting sugary beverages with plain water to drive down the sugar content. Sakimura also suggested making pitchers of fruit-flavored iced tea: “If you must add sugar, add just 1/4 cup to a 2-quart pitcher. That works out to 1.5 teaspoons (6 grams) sugar per 8-oounce glass, which is certainly more reasonable than most bottled beverages.”
6.Practice What You Preach:At the end of the day, you are one of your children’s biggest role models. “If you eat fruits, veggies, and other nutritious foods all the time and show your kids that you enjoy them, eventually they'll get curious and want in,” said Sakimura.
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