I’ve been wanting to write a post about kids and their eating habits for a long time. I STILL have so much more to share but today’s post is a start.
First, let me throw some facts your way real quick:
Childhood Obesity – according to the CDC
- Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.1, 2
- The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.1, 2
- In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
- Overweight and obesity are the result of “caloric imbalance”—too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed—and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors.
Marketing Food to Kids
- Companies spend $1.79 billion annually to market food to children with only $280 million for healthy foods
- 70% of food ads on the most popular children’s television channel are for junk foods
- Two-thirds of children’s websites display food ads; of these food ads, 84% are for junk foods
- Research indicates that children don’t understand the persuasive nature of advertisements until age 8
And now that you’re depressed after reading those, take a look at this typical school lunch in America.
But this is what kids eat in other countries (see the caption under the pic for specific countries.)
Kinda makes you want to cry, doesn’t it?
For more information on the comparison between America and other countries, see the original post by The Daily Mail UK here.
A quick word about school lunches. It seemed once Obama was elected, Michelle Obama had good intentions – Start a program that would require nutritional guidelines for school lunch programs. Unfortunately, it seems it hasn’t done much except waste a lot of food. According to this article posted on The Blaze, looks like most kids just didn’t like the food being served, so they threw it all in the trash, completely uneaten and wasted. School administrators are also having a hard time implementing these guidelines.
The meals served have been so bad, according to numerous students, that pictures of the school lunch trays went viral with the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama. Yikes!
So that’s one problem that is probably deserving a separate post. But isn’t it interesting that we still have a childhood obesity problem even though it looks like a total lack of food is being served in schools? And most of the kids are just throwing it away anyways? Just makes you think.
So, what about the rest of the kids? The ones who aren’t obese or overweight? What are they eating? Could they be malnourished but APPEAR to be healthy?
We eat what is put in front of us. And who puts that food in front of us? Who pays for it? Our parents of course. Our caretakers. So it starts with them.
I’m sometimes curious if the parents have bad habits, are picky eaters, etc, will they pass that down to their kids? Do the parents know how to eat a balanced meal?
I always tell my clients to look for balance in their meals but quite a few don’t know what that really means. I tell them:
1/2 your plate should be full of veggies or a salad, then add your protein which should take up a 1/4 of the plate and leave the rest of the plate open for carbs. Leave a little room for a fat of some sort (it’s usually the salad dressing or nuts added or even butter (gasp!) or perhaps the entrée was cooked in extra virgin olive oil.
The same could be said for kids too. In fact, back in 2011, Michelle Obama DID make some changes that, I think, are helpful for a lot of people. Together with the head of the USDA, the Food Pyramid went away and they unveiled MyPlate.
So visually, you can see what to eat. I think the site is quite helpful. Many people out there have no clue what to eat and how much. At least this gives those people an idea.
Who knows if parents are following this guideline (are they even following it for themselves because it applies to everyone!) but in the end, as long as everyone’s eating good food, it shouldn’t matter, right? But I think we can all learn a little bit from each other. After all, kids don’t come with a manual. I’m sure lots of first time parents are like, “Uhhhh..so what does this thing eat?” 🙂 Okay so maybe I’d be the only person to ask that since I’m kinda clueless on the kid front.
I posed this question to friends and followers:
What are they feeding their kids for breakfast lunch and dinner? What does a typical meal look like for them?
- Strawberries, yogurt, a toasted bagel, banana rollup (mini tortilla with peanut butter and a banana) or cereal.
- Rice cereal and sweet potatoes
- Organic nugget and sweet potato fries with roasted corn salad. Green chilli chicken enchiladas and quinoa beef and broccoli
- Whole wheat bread with organic almond butter and avocado pieces
- Greek yogurt and these breakfast biscuits. Last night they had scrambled eggs with spinach, mushroom and tomatoes
- Fruit loops for bf, pb&j and bananas for lunch. For dinner they are getting a clean/paleo-ish dinner of peanut chicken over brown rice.
- Steamed veggies for the baby using this (parents of babies should check that out!)
Other quotes from the parents worth sharing:
- I don’t short order cook. I serve dinner and they can choose to eat it or not, but I don’t make anything else, they don’t get dessert or snack after that.
- We really run the gamut of healthy food and foods that lean towards unhealthy. I want them to grow up learning about moderation and not “bad” v “good”. They also see mommy workout every day and when we pray over our food we always say, “May our food make us healthy and strong”.
- My kid is a toddler so his tastes are fickle and unpredictable. I look for higher calorie foods for him, as long as he pees and poops, then I don’t worry. I don’t believe any one food group should be demonized.
- Sometimes my kids refuse eggs and other times they suck them down. That’s why I always offer foods over and over. You can’t serve it once and then quit. Kids come around.
- We like to eat different things and experience different cultural foods. Keeps it from getting stale
- My wife is out of town so I gave my daughter chicken nuggets for breakfast yesterday. She wanted them. I obliged.
- I will say that we buy organic when given the choice, ESPECIALLY for milk.
- Our family dinners are all over the board but we do splurge on pizza from time to time.
It looks like the parents I heard back from are doing a fine job of feeding their kids a variety of healthy food.
1. Whole foods, sometimes organic
2. No short order cooking – you eat what is made or else you don’t eat at all
3. Picky eaters will be picky but try to get them to at least “take a bite” one time and try again in a couple weeks. Their taste buds (and attitude) can change.
4. Fast food is fine on occasion when the only other option is skipping a meal.
5. Experiment with a variety of dishes so they don’t get too bored with the same thing
Sidetone: I was relieved I didn’t hear any parents say that THIS was a problem with any of their kids. (How does that happen, really?)
I was really happy to get all this feedback so thank you all who responded!
If you’re looking for some good recipes for kids, I came across this article on Eating Well. I chose two that seemed like something I would eat when I was a kid (I was super picky).
I hope some of you found some new recipes to try with your kids! If you have any you’d like to share, share away! I can always write another post with just recipes. 🙂