It’s common for us as adults to think about our diet, especially if we are wanting to lose a few pounds. But, how often do you think about your child’s diet? Are you consciously aware of the foods you are packing in their lunch to help them have a productive day?
Do you give them food that may not be the best without thinking about it? This starts to become important as we think about Back to School, testing, etc. It’s important that you fuel your body and the bodies of your family with proper nutrition and control your mood throughout the day. Great health and nutrition should be a family affair!
Tell me...do you ever feel exhausted shortly after eating lunch or dinner? I know most of us can get pretty tired around 2-3 pm. And if it happens to us, I’m willing to bet it could happen to your kiddos too. We affectionately refer to this as our afternoon slump. Why does this happen? Well...it happens because your blood sugar increases from the food you ate which also can lead to brain fog and fatigue.
According to Harvard Health “Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.”
If you’re not sure where to begin, I’ve created a list of some items you’ll want to limit or get rid of altogether. If you are planning on making any drastic changes to your diet, make sure you run this by your physician as this is for informational purposes only. For most people, the sustainable way to create change is to take baby steps. One small thing at a time and then gradually increase the changes.
High fructose corn syrup is found in a lot of items on the grocery store shelves, including “healthy” things like bread, crackers, cereal, salad dressings and yogurt. It’s not known to be any worse than sugar itself, but neither one are “good” for your overall health. Read the ingredients on every product you choose, if high fructose corn syrup is listed look for another brand.
Take a deep dive and learn the 56 different types of sugars and what those mean for you health, I recommend checking out Healthline’s article: The 56 Names of Sugar.
That article will detail which sugars are healthier alternatives and which ones you’ll want to try and stay away from if possible. There is also an incredible documentary called Fed Up http://fedupmovie.com/#/page/home which is so informative and entertaining!
Refined carbohydrates refer to sugars or grains that are lacking essential nutrients. Some examples of these foods include bread, pasta, sugary drinks (juice and soda), cereal, white flour and white rice.
There are many things that are wrong with food additives and preservatives. They are so toxic for the body that other countries have banned several of these items that are still being allowed in the U.S.
It’s scary to know that several food colorings have been linked to cancer and are still being used and fed to our children. The color has nothing to do with the nutritional value of the food or the taste or anything, it’s just an unnecessary additive. Currently the FDA still recognizes food coloring as “safe”.
According to Food Matters, Aspartame may lead to increased anxiety. If you’re someone who suffers with anxiety, make sure you check the label on what you’re eating or drinking to ensure you’re not enhancing your symptoms. Aspartame is in many common products even sparkling water, diet drinks and gum! Yuck.
They even make note of an additive called Propyl Paraben that has been shown to cause infertility in women and accelerate the growth of breast cancer cells. You can read the full list of side effects and precautions by clicking here.
I know that when you read the labels on your favorite items in your pantry, you’ll be surprised to find sugar is in almost everything, including your salad dressings and soups. Who would have known? It is literally in everything!
Instead of having a diet full of the above-mentioned ingredients, make sure you’re getting enough vegetables. Vegetables should be included in every meal, and can easily replace other processed food snack. You can cut them up ahead of time and keep them in containers in the fridge to grab and go anytime. Dip them in hummus, guacamole or salsa or just nosh on them as is. This will help you get your servings in and reduce the amount of toxins you ingest from the other processed foods. You can even toss these in your childrens’ lunches as a way to replace those potato chips!
During the growing seasons, shop at your town farmer’s market to get locally grown produce at a cheaper price. When shopping for produce consider buying some products from the organic section. Organic produce is grown without the extra chemicals and pesticides and often not genetically modified like standard fruits in vegetables. Clearly there’s no good marketing techniques available to make the words chemicals and pesticides sound super attractive so they just leave that part out. You don’t have to go 100% organic, that would be tough for many families as the price point is much higher, but there are certain products that are more heavily sprayed than others. Check out the “Dirty Dozen” list for the top items you should buy from the organic section https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/2018-dirty-dozen-and-clean-fifteen-lists-rank-produce-items-by-pesticide-level/
Same goes for the animal products, but in this case if it’s poultry you want, try and find something that says “cage-free and no-antibiotics ever” or something along those lines. Most of the popular brands have a line that offers this now and even stores like Wegmans, have their Foods You Feel Good About line.
Buying seafood fresh at the supermarket can get quite tricky. There are many factors depending on where you live and what type of fish you’re wanting (frozen, fresh, etc.). For a complete list of helpful tips on how to buy the right kind of fish at your local market visit The Spruce Eats.
If you’re having beef, check the label for “grass-fed”. If you’re choosing to eat cattle, you want their diet to contain what it has always been instead of fillers and grain. When a cow eats the grain, it makes the cow fat. Unfortunately, a cow cannot withstand a diet long-term with eating grain as it’s not normal, so the animal is sent off for consumer packaging before it dies.
When we eat products from animals that have been given hormones or a non-traditional diet, you’ll be ingesting irregular hormones and toxins as well. Long term this can wreak havoc on your body, dysregulating hormones and increasing anxiety and mood disorders because they interrupt the neurotransmitters in the brain.
Your focus needs to be, eat real food, not too much and mostly plants. So more whole foods and when you eat animal products only choosing those that are as natural and clean as possible. Whole foods pertain to all foods in their natural state including, whole grains, beans, legumes, unsalted nuts and seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
Finally, I need to address hydration. New research shows that women need at least 11 glasses of water per day to keep your kidneys functioning properly and flush out the toxins. That is 88 ounces! I say you should be striving for a gallon of water a day. Start your day with a large glass of water before you brush your teeth and continue from there. Make sure to send your kiddos to school with water in their lunchbox and a water bottle they can keep at their desk and refill throughout the day. Proper nutrition and hydration is so important to the everyday function of our minds and bodies. Set yourself up for success.
Make this a family affair. Get your kids in on the actions. Teach them WHY you are preparing and packing them certain types of foods. Tell them WHY it’s important to drink LOTS of water throughout the day! Dehydration is kids can lead to several things including headaches. Make sure you are not only setting your child up for success, but also teaching them the WHY behind it and how they can do it for themselves.
As always never hesitate to reach out with your own questions about any of the information I have shared by commenting below. You can also join me for weekly updates by clicking here. I look forward to talking with you all very soon. Thanks for stopping by!