Many of our clients have expressed interest in teaching their healthy food plan to their children as they go through our program. They see the benefit and are excited to pass it on. We often get the question "Can my kids eat this way?"
We love to see parents teaching their kids the importance of proper nutrition from an early age, and to answer their question, yes, your kids can eat this way, too. For those of you unfamiliar with our nutrition program, it's based on eating a variety of natural foods. For the kids we work with between the ages of 12 and 17, we recommend the following guidelines.
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As a general rule, try to give your kids as much food variety as possible. This ensures a wide array of nutrients and minimizes their chances of getting burned out on a particular food. Think of getting variety within each of the three macronutrient groups -- protein, fats and carbohydrates. Protein foods include meats, eggs, fish and dairy. Healthy fats include nuts, avocado, oils, seeds and natural cheeses. Carbohydrates include all fruits and vegetables, along with beans, potatoes, rice, cereals and breads.
Along with variety, pick foods that are the most nutritious. Nutrient-dense foods will give your kids more of the things they need and keep them satisfied longer. In general, natural foods are more nutritious than processed foods. Natural foods are minimally or completely unaltered from their original state, such as fresh meats, fruits, vegetables, eggs and nuts. Processed foods include cereals, crackers, cookies, hot dogs and frozen dinners, just to name a few.
Get a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates with each meal. Although a banana is natural and healthy, it's all carbohydrates, so try to pair it up with a hard-boiled egg or a tablespoon of peanut butter to balance it out. This will give variety, but will also help control blood sugar levels so they don't spike too high or drop too low -- an effect of consuming pure carbohydrates that is sure to make your kids feel hungry a short time after eating.
Finally, be aware of the calories your kids are drinking. Cut out soft drinks and minimize processed fruit juices. Drinks containing sugar or caffeine will affect blood sugar levels and manipulate energy and appetite. Replace these types of drinks with filtered water, coconut water, milk and natural juices.
Teaching kids healthy eating habits while they're young will increase their chances of maintaining those habits well into adulthood.
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• Joshua Steckler is the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact him at PushFitnessTraining.com.