Overweight Kids: Changing Family Habits...Commentary

It's Thanksgiving time and time to experiment a little with the family diet. There are so many picky eater kids, and the problem is becoming worse and worse. Studies show that the same old daily agenda of calorie packed low quality foods most Americans eat is sending disease like cancer and diabetes and heart problems into an unacceptable number, and it's affecting children as much as adults.

Now, when food is the center of our holiday, take into account what your family is eating. Stretch the pallet away from the usual junk food to a broad variety of food simply for the nutrition that a variety offers, and don't  poo poo healthy food you think it tastes bad. The point is, healthy food doesn't taste bad; it just tastes, and that's the challenge.

Food should taste, and that's the first premise for kids. Offer children new things with an enthusiastic "Oh honey, taste this." Such a warm invitation allows a young mother or dad to encourage his child to like what he likes.

But the challenge of taste is hard especially because families with a short variety of food likes breed kids who are suspicious of stuff that goes into their mouth, and they are suspicious because the last thing they tried, that horrible black olive thing was dis--gusting!

But mostly it is the parents' fault. When see parents yum yum over boxed macaroni and cheese and bologna and white bread sandwiches, the battle is all but lost. This stuff is fine once in a while at a picnic, but as regular food staples, prepared food like macaroni and cheese, ground what-ever better known as bologna and white bread are artery clogging, fat gathering slop. It's a little like eating long term rat poison.

Let's get away from rat poison and look at what the USDA Child Care Food Program says a child should eat - and let's focus just on breakfast. In the morning a child should eat a grain product, a fruit or vegetable and milk. But does that mean just any grain thing?

Compare fruit loops and milk, and a fruit roll up to whole grain bread and peanut butter and sliced banana with a glass of milk?

Same time to prepare but one will lead to health and the other to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Compare the nutrition factors in whole grain and something sugar based like Fruit Loops.  Whole grain bread contains: vitamin B1, B2, B3, E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, and fiber. Fruit Loops are mostly sugar.

And now the fruit. A fruit roll up is mostly sugar and has little or no food value.

A banana has 1 gram of protein and 3 grams of dietary fiber.  It contains potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, selenium, iron, zinc , manganese and copper, vitamins A,C, E, Folate, B6, niacin, pantothenic acid.

But who cares? Isn't food just food? Doesn't it all wash out in the end? Yep. It does - one way or the other, but the question is when all is said and done, what good have the expensive box of cereal and way out of price sugar strips better known as fruit roll ups accomplished? Where is your cash or your care investment?

As a gift this season, consider giving your child the gift of a long healthy life. Make a simple change from white bread and junk cereal to whole grain foods. Here's the investment:

Studies show that women who eat whole grains weigh less, whole grains reduce risk of metabolic syndrome, whole grains help prevent gallstones, whole wheat is a natural laxative, and it's a true anti-cancer food plus being a significant cardiovascular benefit for older women.

That's years ahead - precisely. Decisions in childhood build the adult.

So how do you start?

In studies done at Boys Town years ago, it was discovered that ninety percent of kiddy diners will reject a food the first time it's served. By the twentieth time, the food is eaten by ninety percent of the kids. Interesting. That means if you keep trying, the child is likely to develop a liking for stuff.

Now consider what you buy at the grocery store and pass by the empty bags and boxes of calories. Kids will whine because junk is easy to eat and junk is non challenging to an underdeveloped palate. By leaving empty calories at the store, your grocery bill will plummet. A child's choice will be between two good things rather than junk and junk.

Give your child the gift of good eating habits and good health this season and start with whole grains and fruit.