Recently, two friends at different times recommended a great book to use with my kids to help as we talk about nutrition. It's called Eat Healthy, Feel Great by William Sear, M.D., Martha Sears, R.N., and Christie Watts Kelly. I love this book and am looking forward to reading it to the kids over and over. It talks about why we need to eat well and then breaks food down into three groups. There are Green Light foods, green means go and you can go ahead and eat all you want. Then there are Yellow Light foods which are okay to eat sometimes, but they won't keep you feeling great the way green light foods do. Then there are Red Light foods that don't do anything to help your body. Instead, they can hurt your body and make you feel too full to eat your green-light foods. These are foods that contain dye, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, white flour, and sugar.
The book goes on to describe nutrients, vitamins, a few minerals, fiber, and even water. They stress picking a variety of colors when eating fruits and vegetables. The book closes with a smoothie recipe that kids can help make and a cute idea to make a whole grain cereal and dried fruit necklace. It's really a great resource with fun pictures and language that is brought down to the child's level. From now on around our house, we are going to talk about food as red, yellow, or green light and I hope it will be easier for them to understand.
In the front of the book is a great list of tips for parents to follow when teaching kids about nutrition. I'll share a couple here and then I highly recommend getting this book from your local library or purchasing this book and adding it to your own library. Here are a few of their tips:
- Model wise nutritional choices. Refuse to purchase junk food or to bring it home. If it's not there, in moments of craving, you and your children will choose a healthier alternative.
- Shape young tastes. You have a golden opportunity to influence your child's lifelong eating habits, and the earlier you start, the easier it will be. If freshly prepared, unsalted, unsweetened foods are the norm in your household; your child will shun canned, artificial tastes.
- Don't shy away from spending more money on nutritious foods for your family – whole-grain crackers and breads, no-sugar added 100 percent fruit juices, and organically grown produce. Your pocketbook will thank you the long run with lower doctor bills.
- Use creative language when denying your child junk food. The words "not a grow food" or "not a green-light food" are easier for a child to swallow than "no."
I know some may wonder what the fuss is all about. I've heard people say they are just kids and it will be years before they need to watch what they eat. I disagree. If you build a house with substandard materials you end up with all kinds of trouble and trying to fix it when trouble begins. Isn't that what we are doing when we eat, building our bodies and the quality of what we eat influences how our bodies will respond over time. How much more important when we think about children who are doing the most growing and changing. Each new muscle, bone, nerve and brain cell needs the best nutrients for them to be the best they can be.
Don't forget to enter our first ever giveaway before midnight on Monday! You will love the glass straws!