2 Experts Share Their 4 Favorite Tips for Healthy Eating

Julie Pippert
May 7, 2009

One of the biggest misconceptions about eating healthy is that if the label says organic or natural, then it's good for you. Not so, says MeMe Roth, CHC, President, National Action Against Obesity.

"My greatest wish is that parents would get their kids off the white stuff," she said.

By white stuff, Ms. Roth means non whole grain carbohydrates. But every parent knows that kids love carbs, and sometimes, ti feels as if carbs are the only thing available, possible, and allowed.

Ms. Roth acknowledges this, "Seriously, look at the list of suggested "healthy snacks" sent out by better preschools, and it's chock full of organic animal crackers, low-salt pretzels and cheddar bunnies. It's great to avoid the toxic trash, but these refined-carb foods spike a child's blood-sugar and readies him for future insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes."

She explained the risks and costs associated with diabetes, "1 out of 3 children is expected to develop type 2 diabetes--a disease almost entirely avoidable 9 times out of 10. Yet 24 million Americans already have diabetes, with 57 million more on their way. The annual price tag for diabetes in America is $175 Billion. Diabetes comprises constant pricking to check blood-sugar levels, cardio-vascular disease, immobility, and the threat of amputation and blindness."

Instead of grabbing the quick and easy processed, carb-laden foods, of foods or drinks that prompt sugar spikes and increase the risk of diabetes, Ms. Roth has some other, healthier, but also easy suggestions:

Fresh snacks!

"If the preschool has snack, make it veggies, whole fruits or berries, and maybe a little lean protein like chick peas," she said.

Avoid juice boxes, even if they are organic!

"Juice is all the sugar without the fiber! There's as much sugar in a serving of juice as there is in the average soft drink," she said. 

Less is more in milk!

"If your child is otherwise healthy, over age 2 and drinks milk, make it 1/2 % or skim," she said.

Water does a body good!

"Do your child the greatest favor of his or her life: get your precious preschooler hooked on water. It's the body's favorite drink, doesn't spike blood-sugar and doesn't pack on dangerous belly fat. The average American male drinks 341 calories a day in soft drinks. If he gives up nothing else other than those soft drinks, he'll drop 30 pounds in a year," she said.

"Every child in America deserves the chance to grow up healthy. Without health, there is no pursuit of happiness," Ms. Roth said.

Marcia Conner, a mom dedicated to healthy eating for her family, just as Ms. Roth describes, has some more great tips for moms who want good food that's do-able. She shared her best tip for helping kids eat healthy food.

Keep fresh food cut and ready to eat!

"Fill your freezer with frozen fruit cut into little pieces. While my friends reach for a box of packaged snacks (often organic, but still quite processed), I always have available delicious, nutritious snacks," she said.

No limits on fresh food!

She also suggests not tying food to rewards, or limiting healthy foods, "In our house, there is no produce limit. Any amount, any time. It's helped foster an environment where eating something isn't a reward or a privilege, it's a healthy part of every day."

Let them add their favorite flavor!

Adding a healthy topping or bit of splash or spice to a food might also be a good way to entice kids to healthy eating or trying a new food, Ms. Conner said.

"When we realized our son enjoyed garlic, we began making garlic powder (with a little parsley flakes for color) available on the kitchen booth table. If he's slow to try something new, he can add a little "seasoning" (his word) and he's willing to try it. Often, he's also then wiling to eat more," she said.

Keep it simple!

"We're more into simple seasoned foods rather than complicated dishes that take time we don't have. I think that's also helped us eat healthy. There's no expectation something needs to be fixed or beautiful," Ms. Conner said.

You can read more from MeMe Roth at National Action Against Obesity and Integrative Nutrition.

You can read more about Marcia Conner's healthy food philosophy at her blog.

Julie Pippert is the Houston City Editor for The Savvy Source. You can read more of her work every day at Being Savvy Houston.

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