Monday, June 24, 2013

"I'm Hungry"

If you're kids are like mine, they are hungry. "I'm hungry, Mom," or "Mommy, I need a 'nack," and "I'm starving." My friend and I always say that the sunshine makes them grow. Summer heat is here and the fridge cannot stay open any longer or my precious butter will melt. 

But what to feed them?  I'm with you. I definitely don't have it figured out. So, take this as a {public} brainstorming session. And don't think I came up with all of these myself; intelligence is often found in copying smarter people than yourself.

First of all, some education. You don't need as many calories as a kid does. What?!? You might be confused, but by weight little kids need more calories than adults. Basic nutrition science has determined that little kids need more calories and protein than adults, because they are physically adding mass to their body every minute until they are eighteen to twenty-two. Which would explain why they want to eat every. single. minute. of. the. day.

Let's start with MORE. My philosophy is that we all need to see nutrition through the MORE googles, not the LESS goggle. If adults don't take this approach, then the kids will imitate the bad habits, including negative attitudes about food.

What should you eat more?
More vegetables.
More nuts.
More seeds.
More dairy.
More vegetarian.

The science is there. Study after study after study show us that we should eat more of these foods, yet we continue to offer, buy and shop for prepared foods for our children. Now, don't get me wrong, I feed my children the occasional Cheezits. I don't want them growing up with a neurosis because their mother is a dietitian. And I want to help them learn to be inwardly motivated to be healthy.

Take the peanut-butter and Nutella phenomenon at my house as a case study. When I moved from Arizona to Virginia, I couldn't make and take my spring batch of strawberry jam. So we got a little overly attached to Nutella and peanut butter sandwiches all winter long. 

The other day my daughter comes to me and say, "O, Mom, I have such a tummy ache. I ate too much peanut butter and chocolate, and now my body hurts." I told her it was her fault for scooping out and eating a 1/2 cup of each of them as a snack and told her that too much of a good thing is just too much. 

So we parents, and I'm including myself in this, need to manage our children's appetites. Not that we deny them when they are hungry or thirsty, but, we should be teaching them which foods are better choices. Don't buy it if you don't want them to eat too much of it. Neither should we keep 90% snack foods in our pantries and then expect them to choose the withered apple in the fridge. 

We have to be more strategic. I always tell my friends and clients that we don't let our children choose whether or not they brush their teeth, so neither should we make healthy foods optional.

Here's a list of some snacks we keep around and I try to encourage:

Hope you pull out a snack out of the back of your pantry, sit down and enjoy a summer snack with your kids!


No comments: