Kids and Junk Food: 9 Ideas to promote healthy food choices with kids

Studies show that this generation of kids will not outlive the life-expectancy of their parents. With childhood obesity rates at 17%, one in six children are affected. Before we jump in too quickly to put all the blame on their parents, let’s take a look at this short 1½ -minute video about fast food marketing targeting children.

Big Burger is Watching: Fast Food Marketing Undermines Parents

Like the mom in this video, parents can’t follow their child around and shield them from every bit of advertising thrown at them. But what can they do to minimize the effects of fast food marketing on their kids and promote healthy eating habits?

Here are 9 Simple Ideas to Promote Healthy Eating:

1.       Start your child early on fresh vegetables and fruits. This can be difficult with picky eaters but not impossible with consistency. One couple uses a “token” system wherein their young children receive a token for every vegetable eaten with amazing results! The tokens can be exchanged for a small item at a toy or dollar store. Some may call this bribery but I think it’s just creative parenting.

2.       Have healthy snacks in the house: Fruit smoothies, salsa and chips, veggies and dip, hummus and crackers, bananas and peanut butter, yogurt without processed sugar (add your own stevia or fruits). Post on Facebook to ask what others are doing and share your ideas and commitment to healthier foods for kids.

3.       Limit access to junk food: Keep unhealthy foods out of your home. If it isn’t there, the kids will eventually stop asking for it. Consider fast food and treats as a “sometimes” food and not a regular stop.

4.       Plan ahead. If you are going to be carpooling your little soccer players around, plan to have some healthy afterschool snacks available in the car. This will eliminate the excuse to stop for a quick order of fries to tide them over until dinner.

5.       Set an example. Every day in America 50,000,000 people eat fast food. How is your fast food intake? If kids know you are eating out they may interpret this as “When I am grown up I am going to eat out whenever I want!” Probably not the message you want to give.

6.       Find a reward for good behavior that is not sugar. A trip to the library. A game with mom or dad. A sticker. No chores for a day. Pinterest has over 1000 ideas on how to reward kids.

7.       Comfort your child without using food. When comforting a child, talk to them in a loving, nurturing voice. This is how they will learn to self-soothe and regulate as future grownups rather than turning to food for comfort.

8.       Eat Dinner as a Family (and without electronics). Research shows children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, commit suicide, get pregnant or develop eating disorders. They also tend to have healthier eating habits. The amount of time children spend eating with their families is the single biggest predictor of academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems. [1]

9.        Gear up for the complaints. You may get a push-back from the family at first but don’t give up. Change happens with consistency over time. Be positive, make it fun and they will thank you later (probably in their thirties).

While fast food marketing changes will take time, we as parents, grandparents, teachers, neighbors can all work together to promote better health in our children through providing alternatives to junk food, setting a good example and through legislation. As a grandmother, I am recommitting to healthier snacks when the littles ones are with me. Will you join me?

[1] Jayne A. Fulkerson, Ph.D.a, , , Mary Story, Ph.D.b, Alison Mellin, Ph.D.b, Nancy Leffert, Ph.D.c,Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D.b, Simone A. French, Ph.D.b Family Dinner Meal Frequency and Adolescent Development: Relationships with Developmental Assets and High-Risk Behaviors Journal of Adolescent Health, Volume 39, Issue 3, September 2006, Pages 337–345

Taveras, E. M., Rifas-shiman, S., Berkey, C. S., Rockett, H. R., Field, A. E., Frazier, A. L., . . . Gillman, M. W. (2005). Family dinner and adolescent overweight. Obesity Research, 13(5), 900-906.

Choosing the Best Weight Loss Method

If you've been unsuccessful in your weight-loss efforts, you are not alone.

2/3 of Americans are overweight.  Studies show that 95% of diets and weight loss programs fail. Recent neuroscience research has shown us that the brain on compulsive eating looks like the brain on drug addiction. It’s not about willpower, it’s about addiction. Diets don’t treat addiction.

Thank you to ABC30 News for showcasing the recent trends in weight-loss efforts and the very real effects of adding treatment for food addiction to these efforts.

Watch us on this special assignment segment “Choosing the Best Weight-loss Method” 

Which One Will You Feed?

A legend often contributed to the Cherokee, speaks of a grandfather who is teaching his grandson about life. He tells a story of two wolves who are fighting. “One” he says, “is angry, envious, greedy. He lives with regret, arrogance, self-pity and pride. The other is kind, humble, compassionate, full of empathy, generosity and faith.”
The grandson asked “But Grandfather, which one will win?”  
The wise grandfather responded simply, “The one you feed.”

There are two wolves inside us. One holds a Shame Voice, the other a Victory Voice.
The Shame Voice tells lies such as “Why are you even trying to eat healthy? You know you are going to fail. You always do.”, “So what if you lost 5 pounds. You still have 100 to go!” and “Oh you think you are doing so good to be getting out here and walking. See that runner over there?”

The Victory Voice holds the truth. It says “I have done hard things before, I can do this too.” It points out your victories: “I ate vegetables at lunch!”, “I walked 150 minutes last week!” and “I am strong in my recovery today.”

A Lifestyle Transformation graduate recently shared:

I was using food to numb the Shame Voice. At first there was no Victory Voice, I didn’t even have a script for this. But I found two things that helped me to develop my Victory Voice.

  1. Gratitude. If I walked up a flight of stairs and I was winded, my Shame Voice would jump in to berate me for being so fat.  Because all I could see was my deficits, my Victory Voice sounded ridiculous at first but I did it anyway. I said to myself “I am grateful I have legs to walk up these stairs with. Over time, gratitude came more easily and my Victory Voice got louder.
  2. Connection. Because food addiction lives in isolation, I forced myself to share the comments of my Shame Voice with at least one other person or my group. It was hard. I had to be vulnerable. Sometimes I had to let the others know what it is that I needed to hear back from them. But as I did this, the Shame Voice got quieter. It wasn’t so big when I shared it with others.

Now my Victory Voice is stronger than my Shame Voice! When the Shame Voice activates, I can be curious about it and replace it with Victory statements.”

Increase your awareness of your Shame Voice and start to replace it with feed your Victory Voice. No matter how foreign it sounds at first, remember that over time it will become easier and it will dominate your thoughts.

Shame Voice or Victory Voice?
Which one will you feed?

How Soda Affects the Body

With the last heat wave of the summer in full force, it's important to stay hydrated. Don't reach for a can of soda if you're hoping to stay cool.
We all agree that water is very important to our health. However, we think we can replace it with other liquids that contain water, but the exchange is not equal, in many aspects. According to the article indicated below, the water from soda doesn’t even stay in our system. Enjoy a tall glass of cool water and learn from this enlightening article:

“What One Can of Coke Does to Your Body in Only One Hour,” by Korin Miller:

The Door of Recovery

I recently heard a story of someone who lives a life of honorable example, until attending a sporting event, where the person’s behavior is less than honorable. When asked about the discrepancy, the person stated that a lot of money is paid to attend the sporting event, and one should be able to behave however one wants at such an event. The person reportedly rationalized the behavior by stating that he “checks his religion at the door.” *

I have thought a lot about this in relation to recovery. While we may gasp at the idea of checking our beliefs or our value system at the door of an event, how often do we “check our recovery at the door?” Do we check our food-addiction recovery at the door of a restaurant? At the door of a cruise ship? At the door of the car on a road trip? At the door of a holiday festivity or party? At the door upon leaving a recovery meeting? At the door of the grocery store? At the door of the kitchen? At the door of the movie theater? How often are we checking our recovery at the door and giving in to slips and relapses that thwart our goals and values of improved health and lasting change in our relationship with food? What would it take to live our goals and values of recovery, not matter what door we approach? 

It seems reasonable to expect someone struggling with drug addiction, alcoholism, or compulsive gambling to remain in recovery no matter what door they approach. However, we often think it unreasonable or even impossible to remain in food-addiction recovery when approaching certain doors or events.

It is not only reasonable and possible to stay in food-addiction recovery, it is NECESSARY if we plan to achieve a true transformation in our health and relationship with food. Check the idea of “self-deprivation” at the door, and walk through the door of “self-care and recovery;” LET’S REMAIN IN OUR RECOVERY!

* (Resource: ; Paragraph 24)