5 Simple Habits to Create Healthier Eaters
5 Simple Habits to Create Healthier Eaters – Not Just for Children!
We all need to eat better. Americans, on the whole, are not healthy and with each passing year the condition is worsening. There are some subtle changes occurring in mainstream media that reflects the knowledge that what we eat affects our health. Witness the Alzheimer’s foundation stressing increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, along with some major food manufacturers stressing in commercials that they have removed the artificial ingredients from products.
It’s a step in the right direction, but we have a long way to go.
I like to tell patients that “Food is Information”. The food you eat tells your body how to function. If you give it bad information in the form of bad food, it will malfunction and get ill, but fortunately the reverse is also true.
I hate to hear from patients that their childhood consisted of a diet of fast food, junk food and lots of sugar. That is a dangerous way to grow a developing body and it is no wonder they find themselves unhealthy as adults. If only we could turn back the clock and do it right for children everywhere – I think of such things!
There is good news, however, and it’s not only for our children and grandchildren, it’s for adults too.
But didn’t I just say it was “too late” if you ate poorly as a child? It’s unfortunate yes, but it’s never too late. The human body does not hold a grudge and it’s always willing to heal. It’s one of the things we so enjoy about our job, witnessing the healing capabilities of the human body, regardless of age.
Let’s look at 5 simple habits to create healthier bodies in children and adults.
- Hydrate – It’s amazing but most Americans are dehydrated and children are no different. The benefits of drinking adequate amounts of clean purified water (not from a plastic bottle please) are numerous. But chief amongst them is weight loss and enhanced detoxification.
Adults should attempt to drink about half their weight in ounces of water each day. Children, depending on their age, can follow approximately the same guidelines.
When it comes to drinking; drink water. Eat fruit, don’t drink it – drink water, eat fruit! No soda – none? Here’s what we did when our children were growing up. We never, ever purchased soda. Once per year, no exaggeration, on their birthday (Yes, ONLY on their birthday), they were allowed to order a soda at a restaurant. They are all adults now and needless to say, they never acquired a taste for soda.
- Never speak ill of veggies. The number of adults and children I have treated over the decades who “learned” to hate veggies (especially green veggies) from an adult or family member is shocking.
“Vegetables are gross.” “Vegetables are yucky.” “Green vegetables taste awful.” “Are you going to eat that??”
The comments go on and on, but you get the point. You’ve likely heard it yourself. Did it influence you to dislike vegetables?
My tactic was to comment how pretty vegetables were. “Look at that beautiful green.” “This broccoli is sooooo good!”
We made games of picking up broccoli with our hands and nibbling the “leaves” off it before eating the “trunk” of the broccoli tree. We played who had the longest green bean. Whatever we could do to develop an appreciation for vegetables, we tried it. The result? Our adult children do enjoy and eat a great variety of vegetables.
And no, we never buried raw veggies in ranch dressing! (One of my pet peeves.)
Granted one does need to buy fresh, organic vegetables that actually DO taste good. And, one needs to learn how to prepare them. If you need help visit our recipes and cooking videos on our website: healthnowmedical.com. All the recipes are extremely healthy, fast and easy.
- Consume 7 to 9 servings of fruits and veggies each day. Now that you’re not going to speak ill of vegetables, let’s make sure you and the family are getting adequate amounts of them.
A serving is about ½ cup of a solid fruit or vegetable such as berries or broccoli.
A serving is a full cup when the vegetable is leafy such as kale or spinach.
Adults should strive for at least 9 servings; children can have about 6 or 7, depending on their age. The majority of the servings should be from vegetables. E.g. 9 servings should be 5 to 6 vegetables, with the remainder fruit.
Starting the families day with a great green smoothie is an easy was to get about 4 servings before you ever leave the house. It’s a good jump on your quota for the day and will help with weight loss, increased energy, detoxification, and lessens sugar cravings. For smoothie recipe ideas, visit the recipe section of our website: healthnowmedical.com.
- Do not use junk food or sugary foods as a reward. It’s interesting, but using food as a reward doesn’t stop once we reach adulthood. I’ve often heard patients justify a dietary indiscretion by commenting “I deserved it” or “I needed it”.
If you don’t make the association between bad, junky, sugary food and a “reward” with your children, they will not only be healthier, but they won’t continue the bad habit into adulthood.
If your child accomplished some milestone, take them to a movie, buy a new toy or just spend alone time together. Our children got “special time” with me when they were growing up. It was time I carved out just for the two of us. There were three of them all close in age, so “special time” with mom was a big deal. We went on outings, did art projects, but it was never about junk food. They still, despite being adults, still comment on how much they enjoyed “special time”.
Did you accomplish a goal? Buy yourself a new pair of shoes to celebrate. Did you have a bad day? Rent a funny movie to take your mind off it. Redirect yourself away from food that’s unhealthy.
- Cook together as a source of fun and create delicious, healthy food. Children who grow up in a household that enjoys cooking and creating fun moments in the kitchen, tend to become adults who like to cook.
If you don’t like to cook, don’t mention that to your children. Start slowly and simply and begin learning with your kids. Who knows, you might have a budding chef that will take over your kitchen duties and create amazing meals!
They don’t need to be culinary masterpieces, just focus on fun and healthy and your family, and you, will enjoy better health as a result.
Was this helpful? Please let me know any tips you’ve developed to make healthier eaters in your family.
Lastly, if your health or that of a loved one is not to the level you desire, consider contacting us for a FREE consultation, either in person or over the phone – call 408-733-0400. We are here to help!
To your fabulous health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Author of “The Gluten Effect”