When my brother was in kindergarten about 40 years ago, he came home one day and told my mom what he learned that day. His teacher had told all the students how bad FD&C Yellow number whatever was and how bad FD&C Red #5 was, as well as that we should all avoid BHT and BHA, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Well guess what? We never saw fr-fr-fruity pebbles in our kitchen after that. Four kids in the household and two adults and BAM life changed thanks to this kindergarten teacher and my bro’ for reppin’ our health.
Then about 20 years ago or so (okay, a quarter of a century ago), I had kids of my own. I avoided all that garbage as well. I worked at a co-op even, where a little bit of work got me discounts on organic food, paper and plastic bags were NOT allowed in the store, and you even had to bring re-usable containers into the store to buy your flour and grains. That’s kind of hard core. I’m not asking you to go there. BUT, I am asking you to check out the safety of ingredients, research what’s going on with sugar and fat intake and diabetes, check out FED UP on Netflix if you haven’t already. Spoiler Alert: We are starting to see Type 2 Diabetes in kids. This used to be unheard of. In poking around WebMD there is research regarding the affects of dyes on behavior (study results show an adverse effect on child behavior after the consumption of the food dyes), research showing that replacing sugar with other starches had IMMEDIATE health effects (they saw immediate reductions in their high blood pressure and improvement in their blood sugar and cholesterol levels) quoting Dr. Robert Lustig as saying “Every aspect of their metabolic health got better, with no change in calories. This study definitively shows that sugar is metabolically harmful not because of its calories or its effects on weight. Rather, sugar is metabolically harmful because it’s sugar,” and warning abound such as this one, which is telling us that our kids are drinking far too much sugar. The latter article points out that “Since added sugar contributes to health issues such as weight gain, heart disease, high blood sugar, and cavities, there are plenty of reasons to keep kids from slurping it down daily. The American Heart Association recommends that children and teens limit sugar-sweetened drinks to 8 ounces per week — that’s less than a regular 12-ounce soda can,” and the article concludes that “in addition to cutting back on sugary sodas and other sweet drinks, experts recommend that kids should avoid processed foods and baked goods like cookies, cakes, and sweet cereals.”
When confronted with artificial beauty in treat form, how do you prep your kids to say no? Of course you can (and should) teach them about nutrition and wellness, and that may or may not be a snoozefest… but you may want to get creative too!
Kids are supposed to eat the natural rainbow of whole foods. It gets into their bellies and broken down just right, releasing all the goodness into the blood to get carried to each and every cell to keep their bodies healthy. Eating sugary foods makes our tongues go crazy (eyeballs too), but also releases sugar into our bloodstream too quickly and makes our body freak out in response to the surge (that’s a reference to the hormonal response, specifically the release of insulin). And that sugar may be taking the place of truly healthy foods. We may feel crummy afterwards. And if there are dyes in our food, or preservatives, they can hurt us.
Let’s Call it Art
That beautiful thing right there? It’s art. It’s meant for our eyeballs to look at. Want to take a picture? Want to draw it? This food is art — it’s unicorn food. Let’s save it for the unicorns. Because you know what? It’s bad for our bodies, but since unicorns are imaginary, it can’t hurt them. (If tooth fairies are leaving benjamins under their pillows, unicorns can have their cake, no?)
Make Some *Fun* Healthy Food
Here are some examples:
Make a Game Out of It
Have some pictures of different foods and play a game, sorting them into piles for “humans” and for “unicorns.”