{4} Tips for Becoming a Food Detective

With every new season, comes alteration in course, goals, and purpose. The one thing that is never open for alteration is the enduring commitment you have made toward raising healthy, strong kids. With so many mixed messages regarding health, hypervigilance is required. That hypervigilance became my personal quest to practice and coach best health measures.  A recent fad affecting the nutrition of our food is health washing. Health washing is a term applied to the addition of synthetic and processed additives to make food appear healthier and more nutrient dense.  Appearances can be deceiving; my response is enough deception! Here are {4} tips for becoming a food detective, arming you to fuel your kids with nutritiously dense foods.

  1. Stop relying on nutritional highlights and start reading the ingredients.

The food industry is betting that consumers are not going to look at the listing of ingredients, but rather look at the nutritional highlights on the front of the packaging: “Made with real fruit” or “Great source of Vitamins A and D”. Eye catching food labels touting such terms as lite, free, natural, vegan, and healthy are likely laden with unfavorable additives, providing empty calories and zero nutrition.

The best and simplest recommendation is to eat real food and to avoid anything heavily processed. When selecting packaged foods, choose ones with simple, recognizable, real ingredients and start living by the adage, ‘If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.’

  • Limit sugar.

In the eyes of our culture, the decision to deny my child a sweet treat would be deemed an act of deprivation. Friend and fellow health enthusiast Mark Rogers wrote, ‘Giving your kids sodas, candy, cakes, and cookies on a regular basis is deprivation alright. It’s depriving them of a healthy, strong, vibrant future.’

Added sugar is present, but hidden, in 74% of packaged foods and there are at least 61 different names for sugar listed on food labels. According to the American Heart Association, most children should consume no more than 3-6 teaspoons of added sugar per day. One 20-ounce soft drink, which contains 15 or more teaspoons of added sugars, far exceeds those limits.

Studies reveal that children on high-sugar diets can have impaired sleep, academic performance, emotional health, and physical health. Just like adults, children need sources of energy that will support stabilization of blood glucose levels. Stabilized blood glucose levels aid learning, concentration, and mood.

  • Eat brain-boosting fats.

To properly fuel our children’s brains, which is 60% fat, they must consume brain-boosting fats. Fats are essential for proper growth and brain development. The quality and type of fat plays a big role in our health. Avoid refined oils such as, canola, vegetable, soybean, safflower, and sunflower. Instead, incorporate extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, or pastured butter. Other foods rich in healthy fat include avocado, hummus, nuts/seeds, nut butter, and olives.

  • Invite the kids into the kitchen.

Inviting our children into the kitchen can create interest in the assortment of foods as well as preparation and cooking. This shared time in the kitchen can set an example for healthy living. Involving our children in the planning and preparation of their lunch boxes, specifically, empowers them for investing in their health.  Whatever the age of your children, they are the right age to learn that a balanced meal fuels their performance in the classroom and after-school activities.

** For a family favorite, back-to-school tool, which equips your children to choose nutritionally balanced foods for their lunch box go to www.sharinamcmahon.com/resources

In closing, I offer this quote by Victoria Moran. ‘We do children an enormous disservice when we assume that they cannot appreciate anything beyond drive-thru fare and nutritionally marginal, kid-targeted convenience foods. Our children are capable of consuming something that grew in a garden or on a tree and never saw a deep fryer. They are capable of making it through dinner at a sit-down restaurant with tablecloths and no climbing equipment. Children deserve quality nourishment.’

Remember to keep it sweet. Keep it simple. Keep it consistent.

More Blog Posts...