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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nature's Field: Practical Tips for Improving Children's Nutrition


March 30, 2010

Practical Tips for Improving Children's Nutrition
by Steven Horne, RH(AHG)

With childhood obesity and diabetes running rampant, many people have jumped on the nutritional reform bandwagon.  Jamie Oliver, a British TV chef was recently awarded the prestigious TED award for his work to promote healthier school lunches.  He makes a lot of good points in his talk, Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish.

While I agree with Jamie Oliver's "diagnosis," I disagree with parts of his "cure."  I sincerely doubt that more government funding into school lunches is going to solve the problem.  After all, government is a big part of the problem in the first place as the clip The Case Against Jamie Oliver explains.

I've never placed the responsibility for my health, or the health of my family on government, doctors or anyone else. The interests of government and big business are seldom in alignment with what's in my best interest, or the interest of my family.  The real answer is for all of us to step up to the plate (or better yet, clean up what we put on the plate) and get the job done ourselves.  Believe me, it's worth it!

Good Nutrition Helps Children Behave Better

Good nutrition not only affects good health, it also affects mental and emotional well-being.  Consuming empty calorie foods like refined sugar, white flour, polished white rice and refined vegetable oils leads to empty heads and affects schooling, behavior and social skills.  When my children were young we had none of these foods in our home and babysitters always said we had the best-behaved kids they had ever seen.
Instead of drugging  kids with harmful medications, we should be feeding them better quality foods. But kids aren't going to eat these foods at school if they aren't fed these foods at home.  Unfortunately, many parents say, "But my kids won't eat healthy food."  This makes me think, "Who's in charge of the home, the kids or adults?"  If you don't buy it, they won't be able to eat it.

Which, by the way, is part of the reason I'm offering a free parenting webinar on Monday, April 12.  I think many parents today don't know how be a parent.  (See sidebar for more info.)  Click on the following link to register: 
Free Parenting is a Delightful Job Webinar

But, returning to the subject of nutrition, if parents knew how much easier it is to be a parent when you're feeding your kids correctly, most parents would immediately take steps to change their family menus.  In fact, when kids are fed right, incidences of hyperactivity and antisocial behavior dramatically decrease.

Improving Your Family's Diet Without Stress

So, take charge of what you feed your family, but not as a dictator.  Do it as a leader, which means start by setting a good example.  With a little parenting skill, your kids will learn to eat what you make available and enjoy it.  So, for starters, here are a few tips.

First, get the junk food out of the home.  When unhealthy food isn't in your home, both you and your children will be less likely to eat it. When you want a treat go out and get it, but don't keep it in the house.

Second, learn how to prepare healthier versions of your family's favorite foods.  Take a cue from Food Network star chef Emeril Lagasse and "kick it up a notch" by learning how to make your family's favorite foods using better ingredients.  This makes improving nutrition less stressful. 

For example, children love sweets, so don't deprive them of all treats.  Instead, gradually substitute raw honey, pure maple syrup, xylitol and other natural sweeteners for refined sugar in their diet.  You can also use whole grains instead of white flour.  Start by mixing whole grains and white flour 50-50 and gradually increase the whole grain content.

Third, when changing children's diets, focus on the positive. Talk more about what's healthy to eat than what's bad for you.  Remember that what you focus on, you tend to magnify.  So give kids healthy food first. Place vegetables like carrot and celery sticks and a healthy dip out for them to eat as you are preparing the meal.  If they are hungry enough, they will eat this wholesome food  while waiting for something else.  Increase portions of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains while decreasing portions of meat and dairy foods.

Also, don't try to control everything your children eat. What they eat when they are away from home isn't really in your control and trying to control it engenders rebellion.  A "treat" now and then won't hurt them if their general diet is good.  If you teach them the benefits of eating wholesome foods in a positive manner and set a good example, they will learn to control themselves.  You can't watch them constantly, especially when they become those delightful creatures that we call teenagers!

Fourth, because they aren't going to always eat right, take out a little "nutritional health insurance" and give them some supplements.  All the  supplements we discussed in last weeks issue of Nature's Field can also be used for kids.  Nature's Sunshine's Sunshine Hero's line features  probioticsCalcium plus D, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids available in chewable form.  These products taste good enough you shouldn't have any problem getting kids to take them.

Finally, here are some specific tips for helping kids to eat better.  For starters, I've used licorice root to help stabilize children's blood sugar and take away their cravings for sweets. 

I've also used the approach of asking older kids to refrain from eating certain foods for just one week, after which they get to have a meal where they eat all they want.  They usually feel better at the end of the week, and after they indulge in their sugar, dairy, wheat or whatever, they feel horrible.  This helps reinforce the message that this food is making them sick.

Research has shown that children who have protein for breakfast (eggs, meat, whole milk yogurt, a Love and Peas protein shake, etc.) do much better in school than children who eat sugar-sweetened breakfast cereals.  In fact, children who skipped breakfast entirely did better in school than children who ate sweets and carbohydrates for breakfast.  So, if possible, get your family to eat a good, hearty breakfast with protein and good fats. 

And while you're at it, why not pack them a nutritious lunch instead of having them eat the junk food at school?  That's a smarter option than spending billions more on school lunch programs that may or may not be the foods you want your kids to be eating.  I took my lunch to school, and, in fact I usually packed it myself, something I'm still doing.  Which reminds me, it's time to take a break and enjoy the nice salad I made this morning!

Best of health to you and your family!

Parenting is a Delightful Job (Seriously)!

I was fortunate to take a parenting class and read the book, Children: The Challenge by Rudolf Dreikurs, when my oldest daughter was less than a year old.  As a result of putting what I learned into practice I really enjoyed being a parent.  It was never a stressful or difficult job for me.

To this day, I understand children and have very little trouble winning their co-operation.  In fact, I've had "out of control" kids being co-operative and friendly with me in a short period of time.  So, while diet and nutrition play a role in ADHD and other behavioral problems, so does a lack of effective parenting skills.

This is why I'm offering a free webinar on April 10, entitled Parenting is a Delightful Job.  If you have problems with family discipline, getting your kids to eat healthy, learning disabilities or behavioral problems this webinar could help.  If you know someone who has these kinds of problems, tell them about the webinar.

Click here to register for the free webinar, Parenting is a Delightful Job.

Holistic Solutions to Learning Problems

It's a story I've heard repeated over and over again in schools across the country. A child has some difficulty mastering a particular subject—math, reading, even sports—and, as a result the system labels them: slow, stupid, dumb, etc.

Not only do these labels hurt, the child starts internalizing them and believing them, which cripples the child's ability to master that subject, unless there is serious emotional healing work done. The labels establish a pattern of failure that in some cases lasts a lifetime.

Other times, a child has difficulty focusing, gets bored, or just happens to be a very active kid. They also get labeled: uncooperative, attention-deficit or just plain bad!

And, what's worse, is that the school system often pressures the parents of these children into taking drugs. These drugs have numerous side effects and don't help the children learn at all.  In fact, they can cause extremely violent behavior or increase the risk of suicide.

"You are" and "I am" are the most dangerous phrases in the English language because when you tell a child "you are" stupid, dumb, awkward, bad, etc., they tend to believe it. They start thinking "I am" stupid, dumb, awkward, bad, etc. and this locks them into that pattern of belief, often for the rest of their lives.

It's more than just a sad thing. In fact, it's downright tragic, because I know that no child is dumb, stupid, awkward or bad until you make them believe they are.

And it makes me angry, because I not only love children, I have a "tool bag" full of resources to help children succeed!

That's why I created the DVD set, Holistic Solutions to Learning Problems.  If you know anyone who is struggling with a child who has been labeled with "learning problems," this program can help. 

To learn more, go to www.treelite.com.and read more about Holistic Solutions to Learning Problems.  This unique product is only $77 and comes with a special guarantee: if a person buys the DVD set, tries some of the tools on their children and does not see any improvement in their learning abilities they can return the program anytime within 90 days of purchase for a full refund.



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