Raising Healthy Kids
Much like adults, children have constant access to unhealthy foods. Unfortunately, a lot of these foods are available during the school day in the form of pizza, french fries, soda, and cookies. If you're following the eating principles of the South Beach Diet, however, you're setting a great example for your children, which is the first step toward teaching them healthy eating habits. Need more tips on encouraging your children to eat healthfully while at school? Here are some helpful strategies:
Involve your children in making decisions. Ask them what foods they would like to have for lunch, and gently steer them toward healthy options. For example, do your children like salty snacks? Pack nuts or high-fiber, whole-grain crackers.
Include at least one "fun food" in their lunch bags, which will teach them that healthy food can also be cool. Good fun choices include fresh fruit with natural peanut butter for a dip, reduced-fat cheese sticks, and sugar-free gelatin or pudding cups. Another option for young children is to cut whole-grain sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Or give them foods they can assemble themselves, like sliced cheese, lean deli meats, and whole-grain wraps.
Liven up veggies. Cut up an assortment of colorful, crunchy dippers (think red peppers, carrots, and cucumbers) and pair them with hummus or a South Beach Dietâ€“approved salad dressing (packaged in a sealable container).
Provide entertainment in the form of notes, stickers, and certificates. This turns an ordinary lunch box into a fast-food-style kid's meal (minus the unhealthy trans and saturated fats and processed carbs), so your child will be more likely to enjoy the rest of the offerings.
Dr. Arthur Agatston, preventive cardiologist and author of The South Beach Diet Supercharged, is dedicated to improving children's health. In 2004, Dr. Agatston founded the Agatston Research Foundation, with the goal of improving the heart health and wellness of the nation through research, education, and prevention. One of the studies being conducted and funded through the foundation is the Healthier Options for Public Schoolchildren (HOPS) Study, which is designed to test the feasibility of improving school meals and snacks in public schools. For more information on HOPS â€” and to read about other research funded and conducted by the Agatston Research Foundation â€” visit the Research section on the Agatston Research Foundation's Web site at www.AgatstonResearchFoundation.org