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Healthy Food Means Healthy Kids

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America is still a fast food nation; despite warnings from the government, nutritionists, and medical personnel, America's appetite for burgers and fries and milkshakes and fried chicken and pizza and other conglomerations of salt, grease, starch, and sugar, continues to keep dozens of franchises in the red and making millionaires of those who don’t mind raising obesity rates among adults -- and especially among children.

There may not be much that can be adult for the aging adult population that has been hooked on fast food/frozen food entrees for the past forty years, but it’s not too late to deliver the children from the threat of morbid obesity and its attending evils, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems. The key is for parents to really engage their children in a dialogue about the food they like, and the food they need to eat to stay healthy. The two are not always the same, and it takes plenty of ingenuity on the part of parents to help their children understand that ‘health food’ does not mean bland, tasteless mush. Here are some of the ways today’s parents are helping their kids discover the tastiness of healthy snacks, meals, and beverages.

First and foremost, parents must be willing to reduce, if not totally eliminate, their own junk food and fast food habits. This can really be hard, but it’s got to be done because no child is going to listen to a lecture on healthy eating from an adult eating a double-frosted chocolate donut while sipping on a Starbucks supersized frappe rum caffeine bomb (which may not exist yet, but give them time -- they’ll be marketing it soon!) Parents should not be afraid to confess their own cravings for junk food, admitting it’s hard to control the urge -- and then asking their own children to help them kick the habit while they help their kids develop healthier eating habits.

Invest in an effective water filtration system for the home. Pasta and vegetables taste much better when cooked with filtered water. So many places now have tap water that is approaching a roach poison rating, and those heavy metals and harsh chemicals soak into anything that’s cooked in it. Parents who switch to filtered water are often astonished at how quickly their kids start enjoying things like carrots, peas, and whole grain pastas.

Watch the dairy. Whole milk products should be eaten in moderation. Cream and butter can be replaced with condensed skim milk and olive oil based margarine. The reason for this is that many of the healthier food choices, like everything else, taste much better with a half stick of butter or a cup of cream stirred in. instead, start experimenting with spices and herbs to liven up the taste of dinner. Less calories mean less chance of unhealthy weight gain in children.

Consistently offering raw veggies and plain mineral water to drink will eventually break down the resistance of the most Cheeto-addicted child (and adult.) Keep healthy food snacks around the house at all times. A bowl of fruit. A jar of raisin and nuts trail mix. For the price of a bag of Bugles you can buy four bananas. Think about it . . .

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