Today, more than ever, there’s a clamor for more information regarding healthy eating. For most of us, myself included, the term “healthy” is a really confusing word. We’re inundated with magazines that tell us one thing, labels on food telling us another, yet common sense often insists on something else entirely. We’re clearly confused, because in the past 30 years, adult obesity weights have doubled, and they are projected to rise to 50 percent by 2030.
One day we’re told to avoid eggs, whole milk and butter. We know that those are vital parts of a nutrient-rich diet. In fact, we’ve known that forever, haven’t we?
Recommendations that the U.S. Government has been making for 30 years, including eating low-fat, are now being refuted – and, these same recommendations has led to the increase in consumption of starches, sugars and carbohydrates. Robust, clinical studies show us that eating more sugar and starches puts people at risk for weight gain and nutrition-related health issues, such as diabetes. However this science is not acknowledged in the recommendations.
Let’s work on getting clearer standards out there that reflect a diet that’s rich in nutrient-rich whole foods. Real foods. That doesn’t mean that we have to ban starches and sugar all together–heck, I’ll be sharing lots of ideas for treats to enjoy this Halloween! But there needs to be a higher emphasis on how much should be consumed on a daily basis, especially in a society where it’s estimated that at least 50 percent of Americans today have diabetes or pre-diabetes (according to the Journal of the American Medical Association).
Teaching kids to make healthy snack choices now is not only good for their health but it will also help set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating.
When you keep the fridge stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables it’s easier to make better choices. It’s a natural option because they’re packed with nutrients and not loaded with any artificial preservatives or flavors. The simplest thing to do? Check nutrition labels to find out what’s really in the product. If you don’t recognize an ingredient don’t buy it.
Below is some advice from Maria Benardis, owner and founder of Greekalicious; she has some great rules/tips on how to create healthy snacks for kids.
Include fresh fruit and vegetables
It is important to include a rainbow of fruit and vegetables (preferably organic) in your kid’s diet to ensure they are getting a range of vitamins. Make the snack colourful and appealing visually. Keeping a fruit bowl visible in the kitchen is a great way to encourage kids to eat more fruit.
Serve celery, or other raw veggies with hummus or tzatziki, spread some almond butter on apples or bananas or place a variety of chopped fruits in season and make a fruit souvlaki.
Include diary and/or non-dairy options
Include milk, cheese and yogurt made from animal milk or nut milks such as almond, and coconut. The protein in these snacks will keep energy levels high until dinnertime. You can make a fruit and cheese souvlaki, fruit smoothies or serve some Greek yogurt with honey and fresh or dried fruits (nuts can also be added).
Include Proteins such as eggs and lean meats
Include items such as nuts, eggs, turkey, chicken and other lean meats. Once again the protein in these snacks will keep energy levels high until dinnertime. You can make a trail mix, roll some cheese in turkey slices, mini Greek filo cheese pies or mini quiches with some vegetables added inside.
Include healthy whole-grains
When you are including carbs in your diet, focus on whole-grains that are as in tact as possible, avoiding refined varieties whenever possible.
Serve whole-wheat crackers or whole-wheat tortilla or baked whole-wheat pita chips with salsa or any other healthy dip. Make mini pizzas using wholemeal pita pockets and add tomato sauce, vegetables and top with some cheese such as mozzarella.
Include healthy sweet treats and fun food options
No one’s perfect! It is important to strike a balance and it’s fine to occasionally include some sweet treats such as yourself. The best way to ensure that treats are healthy is to make them yourself, then you know there aren’t any questionable additives.
You can include chocolate such as dark chocolate; you can make this by incorporating raw cocoa powder, coconut oil, coconut sugar and grated coconut. Refrigerate and the make fun shapes together. Home-made popcorn with olive oil to which you can then add cheese or nutritional yeast or other healthy toppings is another option. Popsicles are also great and easy to make at home.
As part of a movement to bring more real foods into the USDA guidelines, I’d love for y’all to check out this petition. The USDA guidelines, which are supposed to help Americans eat the proper foods to maintain a healthy lifestyle, are not based on quality clinical research. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines have had many reversed recommendations come to fruition through this year’s Guidelines Report, so we can make a difference! Click here to check it out and cast your vote, it only takes a click!