Kids & Obesity

Canned vegetables are offered in low-sodium packaging, or rinse the vegetables before serving them to remove the preservatives. Meats should be lean, turkey/chicken/fish, or have the fat removed. Adding fats with condiments should be avoided. Try making sauces and dressings using different kinds of herbs, lemon juice, Tabasco sauce or mustard. Always go for the No or Low Fat dressings when buying condiments.

During the summer time, kids tend to drink more fluids and eat more snacks. The best way to replace those fluids is with water. Good secondary options would be 100-percent juice or low fat milk. Sodas contain empty calories, providing little nutrition to the body, but are stored as fat if not used. They also do not rehydrate the body very well and should not be given to children who are outside frequently.

Remember that beverages have calories too, and they can add up quickly in the summer heat. Snacks should be low in fat and incorporate as many of the food groups as possible. Below are some examples of healthy snacks:

1. Fruit smoothies

2. Fresh fruits

3. Fresh vegetables with a low fat yogurt dip

4. Low fat cheese on whole wheat crackers

5. Low fat cottage cheese and fresh fruit

6. Fruit, nut and grain trail mix

7. Rice cakes or fat free popcorn

8. Half a bagel with fat free cream cheese

9. Half turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with mustard

Proper serving sizes will be the biggest learning experience for children today. They have been raised on the Super Size menu and have a very different idea of what a proper portion size is.

Children can eat nutritious food all day long, but if they are overeating, they will still have problems with their weight.

Listed below are some examples of single portions from each food group.

Grains:

1 slice of bread

1/2 a bagel, English muffin or bun

1 tortilla

1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, and pasta

6 to 8 crackers

1/2 cup starchy vegetable (potatoes)

Fruits and Vegetables:

1/2 a banana

1 medium sized fresh fruit

1/2 cup canned or dried fruit

1/2 cup canned or cooked vegetable

1 cup leafy or raw vegetable

3/4 cup fruit or vegetable juice

Meat:

3 oz meat poultry or fish

1 egg

2 tablespoon peanut butter

1/2 cup dried beans

Dairy:

1 cup milk

1 cup yogurt

1 oz or 1/2 cup cheese

1/2 cup cottage cheese

Fats and Oils:

1 tablespoon margarine

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

1 tablespoon butter

How can we get the kids interested in eating healthy? Exposure to a variety of healthy foods and getting them involved in what they eat can make a world of difference.

I found tons of activities that can be done with kids to educate and involve them in the process of eating healthy on the Internet. Here are some ideas from the TDA Square meals Web site, www.squaremeals.org.

1. Throw a party providing new and different kinds of foods the kids may not have experienced before. This is also a great way to introduce new foods you might want to put on the menu. It allows the children to learn about the food before they try it. They will be less apprehensive to try a food they already know something about.

2. Let the kids plan one of your menus. Give them a list of foods they have to work with and guidance on how to prepare a healthy meal. Set goals for them to meet, like incorporating all the food groups to make a balanced meal.

3. At a skit night, have a group a children put together a skit to relay a nutritional message to the audience.

4. Have a cooking demo to show the children how to make low fat desserts. An example would be to make a Parfait with fresh fruit, granola and fat free yogurt.

5. Have a Jeopardy night with nutrition as one of the categories.

We are dooming our children to a life of health problems if we do not teach them how to eat properly and exercise. The obesity epidemic could affect those with out weight problems as well.

The increased cost of healthcare for overweight and obese illnesses could result in companies no longer being able to offer healthcare packages to their employees. Children learn there eating habits during infancy and as toddlers, but those habits can be changed. Is your establishment offering a healthy and well-balanced menu?

Jaclyn Koschalk is a Dietician and ISA School Bid Coordinator for Institutional Sales Associates (ISA), Austin, Texas.

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