News Herald – Juliann Talkington
Next time your child asks for soda, chips, sweetened juice, or chicken nuggets you might want to think twice. Most prepared items are loaded with refined sugars, unhealthy fats, additives, flavor enhancers and preservatives – things that can cause behavior and learning issues and long-term health challenges.
The attractive packaging and the taste of these prepared foods are appealing to kids and parents.
When parents look beyond the advertising they realize a high quality diet is an important part of providing for their children.
The National Cancer Institute says, “ Serious diseases that are linked to what we eat kill an estimated three out of four Americans each year…. Eating a diet that contains five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day as part of a healthy, active lifestyle lowers the risk for all of these diseases.”
In addition to health issues, there is a correlation between healthy eating and academic performance. In 2011 Kate Northstone’s research team showed a link between diet and IQ. In this study young children who ate a health conscious diet (salad, rice, pasta, fish, fruit) showed an increase in IQ.
In a study in the New York City Public Schools researchers discovered, “A lowering of sucrose (sugar), synthetic food color/flavors, and two preservatives (BHA and BHT) over 4 years in 803 public schools was followed by a 15.7% increase in mean academic percentile ranking… on standardized tests.”
Processed foods are more expensive than raw ingredients, so families can lower their food budget and increase the quality of food they provide their children at the same time.
In today’s busy world there is a constant struggle to balance work and family, so it is imperative to find ways to prepare healthy foods from basic ingredients without increasing food preparation time.
Fortunately there are some simple changes that do not place additional demands on parents’ time. As a first step, parents should avoid having prepared food for snacking. Instead they should load the refrigerator with fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, yogurt, milk, eggs, lean meats, nuts, and dried fruit.
Once kids are eating healthier snacks, parents can look for simple meals made from raw ingredients. There are many resources on the web, so it is possible to find tasty raw food alternatives that only take a few minutes of preparation time.
With these simple changes, parents can maximize their children’s academic experience and lay the foundation for a healthy future.