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Too Many Food Rules?


So I just finished a rather interesting book called, The Pizza Trap, by Gabrielle Welch.  Throughout her book she discusses a lot of the same concepts we, here at Super Healthy Kids teach. Some being more fruits and vegetables, offering a variety of all foods in general and keeping overly processed foods away from your pantry as much as possible.   Even as a big advocate of these concepts I sometimes find myself wondering, “are there too many food rules?”

As a dietetics student we learned of the many basic aspects of healthy food choices, how calories are actually kilocalories, how to calculate carbohydrates for the diabetics patient and why someone taking a blood thinner should be aware of foods containing vitamin K, among many other aspects that a registered dietitian is educated and trained to know.  So, I shouldn’t be confused about todays food industry and the marketing surrounding it, right? Wrong.  What confuses me, or should I say, frustrates me, is the vast amount of misinformation out there.  When is there going to be a break in the garbage so that we can increase the number of healthy Americans?
I certainly feel that falls back on us; the parent of one of the most unhealthy generations as of yet.  The generation of children who are said to not outlive their parents.  I don’t know about you, but I feel that my children have every deserving right to outlive me, and they also deserve to have parents who have the health, energy and stamina to keep up with their children’s growing life.
So what food rules should we keep and live by, so as to be able to offer our children a lifetime of health? To begin with, it is up to you to educate yourself and make your own rules, but for now, I am going to offer you some of my thoughts, sprinkled with a few from Gabrielle and other experts as well.
  1. Bring real food back to the dinner table – My personal motto that simply means to offer natures gifts.  Grow your gardens, large or small.  Go to your local farmers market.  Go to supermarkets that make their focal point the produce section as well as shopping the perimeter.  And please, bring your children with you at least once per month if not more.  We should be educating more than just what is taught in the classroom.
  2. Learn proper portion sizes – Although there may be good, wholesome, food on the table, we still need to practice proper portion sizes.  Let’s leave the larger plates for platters to serve finger foods at parties and begin using smaller plates.  Did you know that dinner plates in the 60’s were 9 inches and would typically hold 800 calories worth of food? It has increased drasitcally since then.  Today we are using plates that are closer to 12 inches and can hold food that is more in the ranges of 1,900 calories which could be an average amount of calories for the whole day! Fun thought, why not use our plates? They are perfect in size and make for a great conversational piece.  
  3. Do not leave your kids in the dark – Gabrielle explains how it is perfectly ok to talk to our children about drugs, alcohol, strangers and sex, so why is it not ok to talk to them about the consequences of making bad food choices?  Talk to them about what happens when we make too many bad choices such as failing heart, obesity and achy muscles and joints.  Or when commercials for games come on the television portraying how it may be fun to stuff someones mouth with a large number of hamburgers, listen to what they have to say and allow them to question it.  Then, offer them your thoughts in terms they will understand.
  4. Make meal times fun and engaging – Use things such as dinner table converstation starters to make meal times less stressful.  A less stressed atmosphere makes it easier for such things such as bringing a new food to the table to try.  Gabrielle states in her book, “Feeling stressed and anxious leads to more mealtime battles, more arguing, less patience, less focus and less concentration on homework and classwork.” There is so much negativity in the world, lets keep the table the one place we can all go to for comfort and peace.  If your child does not want to try the Brussels sprouts today, just take a deep breath and offer it on a different day during a different time.  
  5. Find your way into the system – We as parents cannot only be well educated regarding what foods are the best to serve our children. We also need to be aware of what is going on the food industry.  Talk to your local farmers, grocers and learn who in your local government stands agrees.  If you are an advocate for non-GMO labeling you need to know how to work towards this at a local level first.  If there are food additives you feel strongly about removing from our food; learn more about it by finding out how other countries have been successful in removing it and find other advocates who feel the same way as you do.
Are you fed up with what is being served at your school or the ball field? Parents, you need to find your voice and speak up.  Here are some other helpful thoughts that Gabby offers in her book regarding finding your voice:
  • start a moms group that focuses on your concerns for foods served
  • send a positive email to the newspaper sharing your thoughts on positive ways to change the types of foods served
  • bring a speaker to your school to talk about healthy food choices
  • arrange for a speaker to come to your church, someones home or other community meeting
The bottom line is that you have a voice! If you have a concern, the last thing you should be doing is standing on the side complaining and waiting. The change isn’t going to happen on its own.  Our children need us to be their voice whether they realize it or not.  Break out of your pizza box and find your positive voice.

Other great resources:

Grow your garden 

America’s pediatrician (and my favorite!)

Action for Healthy Kids

Busy moms resource

Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

Learn More about Natalie

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I totally agree with you Jackie. The sad fact is that the amount and type of misinformation about our food here in the US, is purposely misleading by design. Just follow the money. Big Food, Big Drug, Big Meat & Dairy, etc. don’t want us to learn their dirty little secrets that they are only in it for the profits. Sick Americans are huge business to our drug and hospital systems. The U.S. is one of the very few countries in the world that doesn’t label GMO’s. And, a recent (04/2014) bill in congress called “DARK Act” “would block any federal or state action to require labeling of foods made with genetically engineered ingredients”. Coca-Cola secretly contributed more than $1.5 million to this campaign. I think every family should get out to see the new documentary “Cowspiracy”. We could solve most, if not all, of our health issues, climate change issues, and water (draught) issues by growing plant foods for human consumption vs GMO corn and soy for livestock. We’ve been sold a pack of lies that meat and dairy are “healthy” for us. Dairy cows don’t produce calcium. Calcium comes from plants. Drinking milk from another animal isn’t natural. That is why most humans are lactose intolerant. We’re raising our daughter on non-gmo almond milk (like I’m sure a lot of your subscribers are), and she has never had an ear ache, chest cold, skin rash, etc. and she is almost 11 and has never needed an antibiotic. Americans need to be Vegucated. And, thanks to your wonderful website Jackie, you are helping change the tide to include more whole food, plant based foods to home kitchens.

Thank you for letting me vent. And, thank you for being part of the solution and not the problem.

Anita 🙂
Certified Plant Based Nutritionist & Lifestyle Food Coach

Peoria, AZ

Awesome post! It’s really up to us as parents to teach and guide our kids. We need to be proactive in raising health eaters. If we’re not the ones influencing them about nutrition, then the T.V., media, and peers will me the dominant influence.

Thank you and I am glad you have found and become a loyal follower of our site. I will need to look at the DARK Act so thank you for sharing this.