Mommy Makeovers: Lighten Kids' Favorite Foods
Try these healthier versions of family favorites
The good news is that the healthy-eating movement in America is gaining
momentum. Shucks, even cereal giants have launched reduced-sugar versions of
their tried-and-true cereals like Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Puffs. I never
thought I would see the day when Tony the Tiger would say that a less-sugar
frosted flake was still Gr-r-reat!
Even so, we're still bombarded with information from every direction
reminding us that large numbers of our children are "overweight" or
"obese." This always scares me, because I fear that some
well-intentioned parents will react by doing harmful things like putting their
children on fad diets.
I'm not alone, either. Connie Liakos Evers, RD, author of How to Teach
Nutrition to Kids, worries that there will be a backlash of eating
disorders because the media is constantly telling kids they are fat.
So don't worry -- I'm not going to try the "shock and awe" approach
and cite countless statistics on child obesity in America. I'm guessing you've
already heard plenty of them before, and, frankly, they're not going to help
What we can do as families is to:
- Make sitting down to dinner a happy, relaxed, and special time as many
times a week as possible.
- Have the whole family focus on healthy eating behaviors (like eating more
fruits and vegetables, switching to whole grains, exercising more, and eating
fewer high-fat foods) because it's a great thing to do for preventing diseases
tomorrow and for feeling great today.
- Get into exercise as many ways as possible. When the whole family gets
moving, no one feels singled out, and it sends the message that exercising is
good for everyone (which it is).
Do as I Say, Not as I Did
Our children can actually learn from our mistakes. If fad dieting didn't
work for us, why should we think it will work for them? If being criticized or
having our food intake scrutinized by friends and family was hurtful and
counterproductive for us, wouldn't it work the same way (or maybe be even
worse) for children?
A recent study took a close look at the dieting experiences of 149 women who
had BMIs of 30 to 70 (the standard classification for obesity is a BMI, or body
mass index, of 30 or higher). The researchers found that women with higher BMIs
tended to have started dieting before age 14, and had dieted more frequently
than women with lower BMIs.
Here are some other interesting tidbits from this study:
- 62% of the women in the survey were put on their first diet before age
- 40% were put on a diet by their parents.
- 83% of the women with BMIs of 55 or higher had dieted more than 11
Other studies have found consistently that youths' attempts at weight
control tend to do exactly the opposite of what they are supposed to do. In
fact, the higher the level of dietary restraint, concern about weight, and body
dissatisfaction among young girls at risk of being overweight, the more weight
they gained between ages 5 to 9, according to a recent study.
Focusing your family on eating and exercising for the health of it is a
healthier way to go, both mentally and physically.