Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I really wish Jorge would come out for a program for children on the Belly Fat Cure. Childhood Obesity is a national epidemic, and sometimes parents just don't know the right choices to make. Until he does, here is my take on it.
I have two sons, 6 and 8, both thin. But hey, they are related to me, so their future with weight could be a problem. Aside from avoiding being overweight, I want them to be healthy, diabetes and disease free and full of energy. They are both picky eaters, but picky about different things. I do not stick to the BFC 15/6 S/C Value rules exactly for the kids, but I stay pretty close for most meals. I don't track their food intake or keep a daily total.
There are also exceptions to everything I am about to say. Dad makes great pizza and pancakes on the weekends and we don't have limits on that. We don't serve syrup with the pancakes anymore, but they can have semi-sweet chocolate chips on them (which is a TON less sugar). A new favorite family game is guessing how much sugar something new has in it, and we have all gotten pretty good at it! It is all about being aware, not being super strict or denying favorite foods.
Basics - These are things that kids eat daily. Choose these three foods wisely and half your battle is already won.
Low Carb/Sugar Breads - Just by changing the bread your child eats will make a big difference. Turkey/Ham & Cheese sandwiches, PB&J, Grilled Cheese, even French Toast are all good options with the right bread. You can go from lots of sugar and fiberless carbs to soem excellent choices really easily. (Click HERE for several bread options on the Belly Fat Cure)
Low Sugar Cereals - Some of the options are very kid friendly, like Corn Flakes, Cheerios and Shredded Wheat. Of course these are great for breakfast, but also perfect for an afternoon snack. I put a baggy with dry cereal in the kids backpack just in case they get hungry and they love it now. (Click HERE for complete Belly Fat cure cereal list and review)
Milk - Lots of kids drink milk, and this one is really tough. I tried moving them both to the Unsweetened Almond Milk and was resoundly unsuccessful (tears were involved). So here is what I did: My son who has a lactose problem went from regular sweetened/flavored soy to unsweetened soy for cereal & drinking. My son who loves milk gets a glass a day, instead of the probably 3 a day he used to get. It was a bit of an issue with his morning cereal at first. We talked about it, they agreed, understanding WHY we were doing it. When I cook, I use the unsweetened almond or soy and they don't know I switched it on them. (Click HERE for a complete list of milk options on the Belly Fat Cure)
Snacks and Sides - Supplement the Basics with smart sides and snacks. These will keep your kids feeling fully and satisfied. Concentrate on what they CAN have instead of the things you are eliminating from their diet.
Sunflower Seeds - I prefer them hulled, but kids have fun spitting out the hulls!
Celery - Plain or with cream cheese, a low sugar peanut butter, or a sugar free ranch dressing to dip in. My boys have a plain stick of celery with most every dinner. They hated it at first, now they just eat it.
Cucumbers - Try using them sliced for dips instead of crackers or chips.
Cheese Sticks - Excellent low sugar snacks. We also do the BabyBel cheese, and just cubed cheddar. The kids often steal my cheese snack on outings and Mom is left snackless.
Nuts - My family loves nuts, all different kinds. Some are lower in sugar/carb than others, but as a group any are a better choice then chips or cookies. For me (the former obese family member) I stick with Almonds, Macadamia and Soy nuts because I have to be more careful. But for them all nuts are good nuts.
Pretzels - We like the Wheat & Honey Braided stix which are surprisingly low in sugar/carbs.
Goldfish - Jorge recommends these in the Belly Fat Cure book and this is what my kids get in their school bags.
Pirate's Booty - The whole family loves this low sugar snack.... Mom loves it a little too much. Its a better choice then chips, but watch the serving size.
Dry Cereal - To avoid the high sugar content of milk, the kids have high fiber/low sugar cereal dry now as a snack. Shredded Wheat is a family favorite, eaten with your hands!
Cottage Cheese - Check the labels to find one with less sugar. My big chain carries a brand with 2 sugars which is perfect.
Meals - Take the items above and combine them for smarter meals that will leave them feeling full and satisfied. If dinner is filling, them won't be looking for junk food throughout the day. It may take a little while as you break the old habits, but stick with it and it will work.
Scrambled Eggs & Bacon - Perfect low sugar way to start the day.
Oatmeal - REAL (not those instant packets) oatmeal, made with water (or unsweetened soy/almond/rice/coconut milk) and cinnamon. Cinnamon is key, as it brings out a sweetness. If you need more flavor try a few berries, Nature's Hallow preserves or pumpkin.
Grilled Chicken - We traded in the Chicken Nuggets for simple grilled chicken, even my picky eater loves it.
Tacos - Taco shells are surprisingly low in sugar/carbs. Many brands you can have 3 tacos and stay within one serving. Use either ground hamburger or ground turkey and all your usual toppings: cheese, lettuce, guacamole and a small amount of sour cream and salsa.
Quesadillas - Same concept as the tacos. Most tortillas are good on the Belly Fat Cure, but choose the highest fiber count you can find, that your kids will also eat. Watch out for the Mission brand of tortillas. They *appear* to have a great S/C Value but actually have Sucralose (artificial sweeteners), which you want to avoid. La Tortilla Factory's Smart & Delicious are the best option and are available nationally.
Pasta - Smaller servings and those made with whole wheat pasta are best. Serve them with a green veggie and you are set! Jorge has a great Mac & Cheese recipe in the book.
Rice Cakes - These are great in the lunch box and for snack. Low sugar peanut butter or cream cheese are great on top, or just plain. They also have cheddar and other flavors if the kids find the taste boring.
Turkey Rollups - This works with any lunch meat and is really simple, perfect for the lunch box too. Just lay out a the slice, include a piece of cheese in the middle if they like that, and roll. Stick it with a toothpick to include in the lunch box.
What to avoid? This is just a partial list and please remember I am not a Doctor, Nurse or Dietitian. I'm just a Mom trying to get my family healthy. So make sure you check with your family Doctor about your children's dietary needs.
Sugar Alcohols - My understanding is that children should not have sugar alcohols (Xylitol, Maltitol, -tols in general) due to possible laxative effects. I don't give them to my boys at all.
Too Much Fiber - I have read childern should have roughly the grams of fiber equal to their age. If they are currently low of fiber, slowly increase their fiber intake. A drastic change can cause an upset stomach and constipation. I added fiber to the boys by diet switching out their bread, tortillas and cereals.
Fruit Juice - If you really want your kids to have the benefits of fruit, then give them whole fruit and the kinds with lots of fiber. Skip the juice or if you insist, then water it down to 1/2 water and 1/2 juice. But when they pass out the juice boxes after soccer, I don't freak out. I am fine with that as one small serving.
Candy/Cookies/Sweets - My kids are not totally deprived, but they know the sugar content of these things. They have dessert each day, but just one serving. If I take them out for ice cream I get them them a single scoop of the "kid's cone" which is usually smaller. If you make sure they are full with good healthy foods, they won't want to binge on the bad stuff. Make it be the cherry on top of your nutritious meal!
Artificial Sweeteners - I completely 100% avoid these in my children's diet. Most everything that says "Sugar Free" or "Diet" on the packaging have these, plus tons of other foods. I am militant on this in our house now and the following are not allowed: Sucralose (Splenda), Saccharin, Aspartame.
Soda - My boys became obsessed with soda back in the days when I used to chug Coke Zero. They WANTED it and I would say no 90% of the time. Realizing what a bad influence I was becoming to them actually helped me kick the soda habit. I do allow them to have Root Beer when we eat out, but we only eat out about twice a month now. I like to make it a choice too, "You can have a soda OR dessert, but not both". It is so common in our culture to have sodas, so I don't want to make it totally off limits or they will want it more. This is still a work in progress.
I will be writing more about the Belly Fat Cure for children and I would love your input. As I have said, the BFC is a way of life for me now and I can't in good conscience let my boys eat the things we all used to eat. Have you put your children on the plan too?