Pamela is an RN, MSN/Ed.
Pamela is a mother of 6 amazing children ages 11 to 24. She is a nurse educator and loves to travel overseas to work in medical clinics and teach health-related topics to schools and communities. She has been married to her best friend, Steve, for 29 years. She has many different interests including reading, writing (NOT arithmetic!), baking, teaching, and spending time with her family. She lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband and two youngest daughters.
Do it yourself healthy kids? Really? Yes. You can make a difference in your children’s health by following some simple steps that don’t include expensive ingredients, costly gym memberships, or classes in nutrition. I know what some of you are thinking, “I’m doing well if I can get my child to eat anything before they get on the school bus!”
Let’s talk statistics first.
Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years (cdc.gov).
Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.
A recent study shows that 70% of obese children ages 5 to 17 have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease (Bogalusa Heart Study. Journal of Pediatrics 2007; 150(1):12–17).
Children and teens that are obese are more likely to have pre-diabetes, bone and joint problems, and poor self-esteem. These children also are more likely to develop certain types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and osteoarthritis before they are adults.
How do eating habits affect behavior and performance in school?
Current research studies show a clear connection between eating a healthy breakfast and doing well in school. Children do better on tests, have fewer behavior problems, and have less chance of becoming overweight when they eat a healthy breakfast.
So, what can you feed your children that will help them achieve their best and that they will actually eat?
Let’s look at some breakfast ideas.
Many families have a hard time getting out of the house with everyone fed and dressed, not to mention being on time! Here are some simple steps that may help you, glean from it what works best for you.
- Prepare the night before. Set your breakfast table with everything you will need in the morning. If you and your children like cereal, pour it into the bowls, cover with plastic wrap, and you will shave minutes off your morning routine. Pour skim or low-fat milk on in the morning.
- Make breakfast burritos ahead of time and stick in the fridge. Use a whole grain tortilla and fold it up with scrambled eggs, low-fat cheese, slices of peppers (we like red peppers best!), and crisp turkey bacon or sausage if you like that.
- Think outside of the box. If you have picky eaters, think about what foods they enjoy best. Who says you can’t have leftover healthy dinners for breakfast? I have a sister who loves split pea soup for breakfast, and a daughter who heats up any leftover dinner for her morning meal! If your kids like peanut butter, make them a sandwich on whole grain bread with slices of apples or bananas instead of jelly. Add a glass of milk and you have a meal.
- Hot cereal is another great choice. Try several kinds until you find one your child likes. We love rolled oats, I make it just like it was instant oatmeal, in the microwave. Use milk for more calcium and protein. Sometimes I chop apples and pecans to add with a little cinnamon. Another favorite at my house is to add just a few chocolate chips to the hot oatmeal and a sprinkle of craisins.
Try to slowly introduce healthy changes until it becomes second nature. I know you can do it! Look for upcoming articles on healthy packed lunches, snacks, and more!