October 24, 2012

Healthier Children, Happier Children; Keeping it Real. ~ Kristen Peters

If we just carve out a few extra minutes a day, just a few, to actually prepare from scratch (or as closer to scratch) meals for our children it will have a dramatic and profound effect.

We live in an odd time. Children as young as five experience pre-hypertension. Children as young as two are morbidly obese with symptoms of adult onset, Type II diabetes.

According to the CDC, “Obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States—triple the rate from just one generation ago.”

I find this epidemic in America disturbing. These numbers classify themselves nationally as child abuse and neglect.

It needs to be corrected. What can we do to fix it? 

Here is my opinion:

Ironically, living in a modernized and technologically advanced society has made living harder, more stressful. Our lives are hurried and fast-paced—most of the public is simply tired. Gone are the days when all we humans had to do was survive. We used to be satisfied with less, lived more honorably and were generally more concerned for the welfare of society.

Survival meant dirty hands and brows, hard work with responsibilities in planting and providing for the family. Children were happy that their parents were around, taking care of them. Children learned, Gee they must care for me so I will care for them.

Today, people outside of the family perform most of the child rearing. Strangers—my own children have all attended daycare from as young as 12 weeks old. Nothing broke my heart as much as that did, but I, like the majority, simply had no choice.

Children also have a lack of things to do; they’re bored. Everything is done for them either out of robotic progression or by their tired parents, perhaps seeking to assuage their own guilt.

In summary thus far, we are tired, our children are not as happy and they’re bored. This deadly cocktail is the underlying premise behind the obesity epidemic.

Think about it; tired parents tend to serve their kids quick and mindless meals that require minimal preparation and unfortunately contain very little nutritional value, are relatively inexpensive and have long shelf lives. How perfect for the busy family, the poor family or any family that just doesn’t want to be bothered.

We are all targets for these calorie-rich and artificial preservative-ridden monstrosities. We do save some time and cash but at what cost? Unhappy, unhealthy, obese and disease stricken offspring, that’s what. You know, the same beings that will carry on our name, give us grandchildren and rule the world?

If we just carve out a few extra minutes a day, just a few, to actually prepare from scratch (or as close to scratch as you can) meals for our children it will have a dramatic and profound effect.

With a little bit of effort and love you can create meals that are affordable and good for your children. Just think ‘real.’ What is real food?  Well, anything that is not processed or comes from our great Mother Nature. Try to keep that one word in your head at all times.  R.E.A.L.  If you can strive to keeping it real for your children, as best as you can, you will see a difference.

You may be saying to yourself, My children will not touch a vegetable. I cannot get them to eat a single vegetable to save their lives!  I hear that all the time.  You are definitely not alone. There’s a very simple solution to this: trickery!  There are loads of ways to hide veggies in their normal everyday foods.  This requires just an extra few minutes a day in preparation, and a blender.

Having spaghetti? Throw the tomato sauce in a blender & add spinach, zucchini, pumpkin, or anything else you like.  Just make sure there’s a bunch of garlic to offset some of the sweetness of the veggies.

Making a soup? Same thing. Or perhaps your kids love pumpkin bread? Just add more veggies to the batter!

Photo: mary_thompson

My favorite ways to sneak veggies into food: smoothies! Smoothies are the very best gift the gods have given us…well maybe not but you get my drift. I will give two of my favorite kid-friendly smoothie recipes below.

I just have to rant about sugar really quickly—this topic makes me very sad. We need to understand that sugar is bad for us. Period. And when I say sugar I mean more than just a Snickers bar or bag of Skittles—I mean white flour, bagels, pastries, Pop Tarts, soda, fruit juice, Gatorade, white pasta, the list goes on. How can we give our children Lucky Charms for breakfast, Pepsi with dinner, ice cream before bed and then take them to the doctor’s office because they can’t sit still?

A diagnosis of ADD along with a prescription will turn a child into nothing more than a drooling zombie. But the Cool Ranch Doritos and Mountain Dew (I used to love that combo!) will stay? I’m not trying to offend anyone; I believe that prescription meds are a necessary evil and have never in any way recommended anyone to come off of them.

What I do tell parents is to please, please try to eliminate all sugar from their child’s diet before you do anything drastic; and give it time. It can take up to a month for any noticeable changes to take effect. Just trust that you know it is the right thing to do.

Have strength because there will be resistance with children that are literally hooked on the white stuff.  Just be stern, have patience and most important be consistent. Prove to your most precious treasures that you love them.

And that my friends, is the most powerful tool you posses to combat our epidemic—your love.

“The Incredible Hulk”

1 cup of organic soy or almond milk (it’s ok if you don’t think they’ll like it—they don’t have to know)                                                                                                                                                ½ cup of frozen or fresh strawberries (if you have fresh then you’ll have to add some ice)                                                                                                                                                                          1 banana                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             1 cup of spinach leaves                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A little honey or agave or stevia

Blend until green and beautiful. Watch them gulp it down but keep a list in your head when they ask you what’s in it.  And they will.  The last thing you want is for them to immediately set their cup down as soon as they hear spinach is in there. And if they see you making it, forget about it.  But they may try it anyway. Makes two servings.

“The Cookie Monster”

1 cup of frozen blueberries                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ½ cup of frozen mango chunks                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 1 cup of organic soy or almond milk                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 cup of romaine lettuce leaves                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               A little honey or other non-sugar sweetener

Blend until smooth and creamy. Makes two servings.


Kristen Peters is a Holistic Health Coach & Aromatherapist residing in Raleigh, NC with her husband, three children, two Chihuahuas, and cat. A lover of hiking, meditation, yoga, gaming, knitting, reading & watercolor she has dedicated her life to assisting others Be the Change. Visit her website to download her free eBook entitled, “Five Small Changes That Will Have A Big Impact on Your Digestive Health” www.kristenpeters.net



Editor: Jennifer Townsend

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