The Healthy Snack Trap

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All Natural Junk Food

I read somewhere that close to 20,000 new packaged foods make it to the grocery shelves each year.

Companies are getting smarter (or sneakier) at drawing us into their health food trap with words like fortified, all natural, no added sugar, and gluten free.  Real food is being replaced by chemicals and packaged with fun shinny bright advertising claiming how healthy it is.

Often times “healthy snacks” are laden with extra sugar and sodium to compensate for the taste of the artificial or chemical ingredients used in most processed foods.  It’s no accident once you open the bag of goldfish you can’t stop eating them.

According to an article in the Huffington Post

 “Food made of sugar, fat, and salt can be addictive. Especially when combined in secret ways that the food industry will not share or make public.”

 Do you know why your child won’t eat healthy snacks, because inadvertently, you’ve taught them not to!  ME…never.  Yes you.  Let’s be honest.  There is no guarantee they will eat the veggies or fruit you put in front of them.  Chances are high they will eat the Cheerios and food manufacturers are counting on you to do exactly that.

“If you give your children a lot of sweet, salty, and high fat foods throughout the day then these are the flavors their taste buds will come to expect.” Dr. Rose explains.

We may actually be hard wiring our kids to crave these kinds of unhealthy foods.

Here are some fun facts to drive my point home.

  • Did you know that sugar triggers the brains feel good chemical dopamine almost exactly the same way as other addictive drugs.
  •  We are one of the only countries that allows companies to market junk food to children.  In an article titled Sugar Babies Dr. Mark Hyman reports “Studies show that the worse the food, the more the marketing.  The average 2 year old can recognize and name junk food from their baby carriage in the supermarket.”
  • Dr. Rose from It’s Not About Nutrition say: “Compared to cereals advertised to adults, the cereals aimed at kids contain: 56% more sugar, 52% less fiber and 50% more sodium.”
  • According to a study published in Appetite, a research journal specializing in behavioral nutrition, when preschoolers drank water instead of a sweetened drink, they ate more raw vegetables.

5 Tips to help avoid the healthy snack trap

  1. Stay on the outer edge of the grocery store.  This is where most of the produce and non-processed food lives.  The rest is pretty much unnecessary!
  2.  READ LABELS. Do you recognize all the ingredients?  If not put it down!
  3.  Just eat real foods.  This is the easiest motto to follow.  Did it come from the earth?  Note: apples, vegetables and other real foods requireno label reading.
  4. Plan ahead.  We haven’t totally lost our minds and we know a lot of this is easier said than done especially while totting screaming kids through the grocery store.  BUT does it really take that much more time to cut up an apple then to grab the bag of animal crackers?
  5. Use “kid friendly” snacks as occasional treats and not everyday snacks. This is your change to teach kids about healthy eating.  Remember you are actually shaping your kids taste buds and setting them up for a healthy palate in the future.

What do you do to get your child to eat healthier options?

Soccer Mom Syndrome

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Do you suffer from Soccer Mom Syndrome?

I’m not talking about the kind where your life is consumed by a circus of kids piling out of your minivan like clowns as they rush to soccer practice. I’m talking about the kind where you bring Doritos and Gatorade to all the kids on your child’s team. I know it seems harmless.  After all, your child is running up and down a soccer field not sitting in front of the t.v.  BUT, it may be more harmful than you think.

As parents you obviously want your child to eat healthy.   The problem is, when we have 5 minutes to pick the kids up, go to the grocery store, feed them and get them to practice, we tend to forego the healthy option for the easy one.   Don’t feel bad.  You are definitely not alone!

What exactly is Soccer Mom Syndrome?
Dr. Diane Rose breaks down her theory for us.

Soccer Mom Syndrome, SMS for short, is a theory about the tendency of parents to give their child an unhealthy snack over a healthy one for multiple reasons. Some justifications include:

  •  “My children are active in sports and other activities so they must be healthy and can eat an unhealthy snack because they are going to work it off.”
  • “My children worked hard in their activity today (i.e. soccer game) so they can have an unhealthy snack as a reward.”
  • “My children and I are all so busy because of our activities that we don’t have time to prepare healthy snacks.”
  • “My children are given unhealthy snacks at their activities and love them, so there’s no way I can control that.”
  • “My children are picky and won’t eat healthy food so I’d rather feed them unhealthy food than have them go hungry.”

SMS stems from two major issues in our opinion.

The Fear of Hunger

Dr. Diana Rose brings up a really good point.  “Fear of hunger is rampant amongst parents I know.” As a parent, your sole responsibility is to care for your children and feeding them is pretty high on the priority list.  When kids don’t eat it can be really stressful! So there is a tendency for parents to feed their picky-eaters anything, no matter how healthy or unhealthy it may be, for fear of them going hungry. The truth is, your child will not go hungry. Dr. Rose reiterates, “Kids need to know hunger is a natural consequence of not eating.”  She also ads that giving them permission not to eat may diffuse the control situation, allowing them to decide if they want to eat or not.  If you can’t stand to wait until the next meal, which they will survive to see, you can always offer them something an hour later.

Lack of Time and Easy Options

Unfortunately the busy culture of our society promotes fast and easy options that tend to be more on the unhealthy side.  Let’s me honest who has time to whip up the perfectly healthy dinner or snack in between the madness of working, keeping up the house and being a taxi driver parent extraordinaire.  We know the snack packs and chicken nuggets make life a lot easier!   This is one of those things that requires effort and planning.  Maybe its something you can prepare on the weekends.  Maybe it’s about making a grocery list so that you do have health go to options available.  Click here for my list of 10 snacks you don’t have feel guilty about.  Listen, sometimes were good at this and sometimes its one of those days, we get it.  But remember healthy eating starts at home.

 

 Why is SMS such a problem?

I know the snacks at soccer practice don’t seem like a serious threat but eating habits are developed early.  What we really need to pay attention to are the long-term effects of SMS. Picking convenience over health is a lesson that can stick for a lifetime.  So think about the BIG PICTURE and remember that when you put in the work to teach good healthy eating habits you are setting them up for a healthy lifestyle.  Dr. Rose sums it up well.  “When you don’t…well…all you have to do is look around to see what happens.”

 So, what can you do?

  •  Research some fast healthier options in your neighborhood.
  • When you have the time, cut up some fruits and vegetables for your kids to grab as a snack.
  • Eliminate unhealthy snacks from the home – my mother always said, “nothing out of a bag or a box”.
  • Forego popular sports or sugary drinks. What’s wrong with plain, old water?
  • Always think long term! These eating habits you instill in your kids will set the stage for how they view nutritions later in life.

What are some healthy snacks or meals you like to prepare for your family?

Secret to Family Happiness

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Shh!! I have a secret! You guessed it….the secret to family happiness! Here is how I was reminded of how to make my family happy.

Every summer I fly around the country with my children like a mad woman!!!  Why, you may ask??? “To be honest after I read the blog “Went to Europe, loved the playground: Why travel with kids is a waste,” I’m not sure. The only real answer I have for now is that we live in Arizona and it’s just to hot to stay here all summer. So instead we go back and forth between the East Coast and West Coast visiting, sight seeing, and thoroughly exhausting ourselves.

When I read the blog above, it was like a light bulb went off in my head! It really brought me back to my parenting roots. It reminded me that my goal as a parent was to create a strong family unit, which in turn would help create a well rounded contributing member of society. Why have I been schlepping my five year old and almost two year old to museums, activities, and cities for the past few summers?  All they really want is quality time with mom and dad.

 

 Don’t Just Take My Word for it

Ramon Zabriskie, an expert in “recreational management” at Brigham Young’s Marriot School found through studies that everyday togetherness is the secret to family happiness. Zabriskie did a study with fathers that showed that kids were happiest when they were doing activities like watching TV and playing board games with their dads. His research team surveyed fathers and children between the ages of 11-15, but he believes if they did another study with mothers he would find the same thing. He also surveyed 3 year olds and 5 year olds and found very similar results, so it doesn’t matter how old your kids are they just want some quality time with you.

 

The Good News

Parents put your credit cards away!!  Zabriskie’s study showed “core activities” ie shooting hoops, reading books, coloring together to be more meaningful to your kids then “balance activities” ie activities that cost money. Yahoo! He did point out though that balance activities weren’t worthless just not as important. So, this summer every time I get a knee jerk to take my kids somewhere I think they “need” to go, I am going to remember what truly makes them happy….a family swim, staying in our pajamas and watching cartoons together, and playing board games.

 

What core activities make your family happy?

The # 1 Killer of Children 1-4 Years of Age

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The number one cause of accidental death for children 1-4 years of age according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention is DROWNING!!!! A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a childe age 4 and under. Being an Arizona resident with two small children under the age of 5 this statistic is not only real to me, but sends shivers down my spine!! Even though I live in the dessert, water is all around me. Almost every person I know has a pool or body of water that keeps them cool in the hot Arizona summer days.  Even if you don’t live in AZ it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be scared of these statistics too.  A small child can drown in a few centimeters of water at the bottom of a bucket or bath tub.

 

What Drowning Can Look Like

With July 4th just around the corner and summertime water activities in full gear I feel that is important for this hot topic not to go ignored! When people think of what drowning looks like, they think of someone splashing, waving, yelling or calling for help.  All of these signs are what television prepares us for, but in actuality not always what happens! However, if you do see someone yelling and thrashing-they are experiencing aquatic distress, and will need to be rescued. Here is what Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., says in an article that was written in the Coast Guard’s On Scene Magazine about what drowning can also look like:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs –Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder

 

Prevention

Drowning does not discriminate!!! You may think “I am to smart or educated to let my child drown.” In fact Safe Kids Coalition found that 58% of parents do not consider drowning a threat to their children!! Seriously, that statistic is so alarming!! I am not saying you need to place your child in some sort of safety bubble, but what I am trying to get across is that the first step in preventing a drowning is to take preventive measurers. Parents who aren’t worried about the threat of their child drowning may not take these measures, so if you were one of those parents I hope this blog wakes you up!! Below is a list of measures from the Joshua Collingsworth Foundation that can help you prevent drowning.

 

* The most important component of preventing drownings is constant supervision.

* Adults can offer non-swimming water activities.

* Empty buckets, pails, and bathtubs completely after each use.

* Never leave children alone around any water.

* Cover and lock the hot tub, spa, whirlpool or fence it in like a pool.

* Adults supervising children in the water need to be able to scan the supervised area within 10 seconds and reach a person in distress within 20 seconds.

* Think through an emergency action plan before it is needed.

* Preschool children can be enrolled in swim classes, but no amount of instruction makes a child “drown-proof.”

* Never leave a baby in the tub even for a second. Children drown with the seats and rings quickly and silently. Most siblings are not old enough to properly supervise a young child in this situation.

* Keep the toilet seat cover down. Consider putting a latch on the bathroom door high enough to be out of reach of an interested infant and toddler.

* Do not leave containers in the yard where they may collect water and attract a child.

* Learn CPR.

* Plan ahead. Before waterplay, think about what might call you away. The phone, needing a towel, front door bell, getting a Band-Aid.

* Turn on the answering machine or bring a cordless phone

* Bring all needed items, sunscreen, towels, first aid kit

* Tape a sign to the front door letting parents know you are out back with the children

* Even good planning can’t account for every situation. If you need to leave the water play area, EVEN FOR A FEW SECONDS, take the children with you.

* If you choose to use a pool with children, remind children of the rules each time you use the area.

“I need you to walk inside the pool area. Running isn’t safe in there.”

“Diving needs extra adults. I need you to jump or walk into the pool unless an adult is ready to watch you dive.”

“Even though there is lots of water in the pool, using it like a toilet can make people very sick. If you need to use the bathroom, can tell me right away.”

* Remember, diving into shallow water causes spinal injuries. Never allow diving in above ground pools, shallow water, or unknown areas.

* Because of diapers and dirty bottoms, fecal matter may be introduced into pools. Due to the huge health risks associated with human waste, it is better to use sprinklers, water tables, or hoses with young children. If you do allow swimming, toddlers should wear swim diapers that will contain feces and urine. [In June 1998, it is believed that a sick child with diarrhea at an Atlanta water park caused an E. coli outbreak. 26 people, 12 of whom were children, were contaminated and one child died.]

Resources

Pools, baths, and large bodies of water can be a dangerous place for children to be unsupervised at any time of the year, but now that summer is here and water activates are at a high PLEASE FOLLOW THE PRECAUTIONS LISTED ABOVE. I’ve also list some other great water safety resources below.

Safe Kids USA

http://www.safekids.org/safety-basics/safety-resources-by-risk-area/drowning/

 

NDPA National Drowning Prevention Alliance

http://ndpa.org/home/index.htm

 

Swim for Life Foundation

http://www.swimforlife.org/

 

 

Are you one of the 58% of parents that don’t consider drowning a threat to your child?