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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Belly Fat Cure for Kids

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?


  1. Amber,
    This is an awesome post. You are right on about limiting sugar in our kids diet. Don't wait for them to become obese, teach while they're young and it becomes a lifestyle. All my kids are grown but I'll still an example for them. When they see me eating the BFC or FT way, they can't believe it's healthy, (bacon, cheese etc)but when I explain that I have removed or drastically reduced the amount of sugar, I lose weight. I still have a son at home and have really been trying to influence him to change his habits. He works at Jamba Juice so I know he's consuming huge amounts of sugar. He's not too happy about our eating style, but I no longer contribute to the sugar habit. I'm going to challenge him to try this for one week and see how it goes.

  2. this post is so needed, thank you for talking about this! we do not eat alot of sugar in my house, we have 4 yr old twin boys. they are good eaters, and are completely happy without sugary JUNK foods-- it makes my heart sing:) it has been consistent "hard work" getting them to try and enjoy healthy foods & veggies. of course when the grandmas come to visit there is always junk food involved...it makes me cringe. i try not to over-control the issue, as gramma loves to see the kids enjoy sweet treats. but at the same time, i am cringing because i know that this foodstuff is devoid of ANY nutrition is is basically poison for the body. hopefully the taste of good foods will prevail as they grow older:)

  3. Hi Amber, What a great post today for people with small children in their household!!
    Fantastic job!!

  4. Hey Amber, such a awesome post. I wish my parents new about this way of eating when I was little. I am sure I would not have this weight problem if they did. My children are all grown up and out of the house and even I wish I would have known about this way of eating for them. I guess it is never to let to learn new ways of eating right. So great ideas for children but I am gonna use your ideas for myself...lol

  5. Great post Amber! Wonderful examples and so well organized! I'm sending the link to your informative post to my sister who has 2 daughters at home. Thank you!

  6. Hi Amber, thanks for the post. I have a 3-1/2 year old somewhat picky eater at home. I'm always looking for new ideas of healthy things for him to try. Thanks!

  7. I'm so glad you blogged about this, great and important post!! I too have incorporated this lifestyle in my home, my family eats what i eat and i don't cook anything different. I still buy treats for them but not much.

  8. Great post! My daughter is 6yrs old & luckily tall & thin like my husband. She loves veggies & meats. So doing the BFC has been very easy in our home. I still bake for my husband & daughter. Though is small portions & not as often as I use to. She isn't really aware that I'm doing a "diet". And hasn't commented much on how I have given up sugar. How have you explained the lifestyle changes to your boys?? I'm a bit in fear w/ a daughter to start labeling foods as "bad & good". Fearing food-eating disorders in the future. Hope to see more posts on kids & the BFC.

  9. Hi Amber,
    I blogged, and then turned to read yours and this is what I just got done writing about! My view as an uninformed kid, from an uninformed Mom...You're kids are going to thank you when they reach college level and they avoid putting all that weight on. This is the age they will, when they are free and start to live on their own. My son just got out of college, and he has finally lost the twenty pounds he put on from eating on campus over the past 4 yr. He looks a lot better now, and has joined a gym too! He was raised to make good choices and didn't eat much junk food around the house! I coached age group swimming and if the adults don't support their children in all their activities, from eating right to healthy actions then they end up sitting on their bums in front of the boob tube eating junk after school. Check my site: It's a Cruise to be Thin on blogger.com

  10. I love your post! I have twin 9 year olds who are following the BF Diet with me with a few exeptions. I think what they miss the most are fruits. We eat blackberries and raspberries as special desserts.

    The biggest challenge has been lunch at school. I give them one piece of a sugar alcohol sweetened Hershey product with their school lunch to avoid having them trade their healthy food for the cookies, cupcakes and high sugar content food their classmates bring in their lunchboxes. It satisfies their sweet tooth. I also include a serving of goldfish for snacks.

    I agree with you that it would be great to see Jorge write more on applying the BF Diet to children/teens.

    Thanks for all your tips!

  11. I have just started myself and my family on BF plan today! YEA!! My daughter is 9 and is slightly overweight. Most of her weight is in her middle. Go figure! She has way too much sugar and I never realized just how much until I read Jorge's book. I have picked out the foods she likes and snacks that she likes. The portion control is going to be an issue but we all need to learn that one in this house! :) Great Blog. I will be following and reading your posts from now on. :)

  12. Amber;

    I have been lurking on your blog for a while now, and I just Have to jump in today. I've read this post before, but I re read it today because you posted the link on Jorge's Belly Fat Cure Face book page.

    This is an awesome post! You have helped me on this way of eating so much and this post is no exception. I waffle back and forth between wanted to restrict the boys (I have three) sugar intake with letting them eat it 'because they are growing' and this post is helping me to find the middle ground yet again.

    Thank you again for being such a huge BFC presence!

  13. Thanks Dawn, lurkers welcome! I really appreciate that. I know what you mean about the struggle with this and kids. For them I think of it as an investment in a healthy future and habits.

  14. I eat low card and no sugar due to hypoglycemia and I have my three kids on the diet with me (most of the time). I love that you are involving your kids, a lot of people see what my kids aren't allowed to eat (candy, cupcakes, etc) and see that I'm giving them vegetables and whole grains instead and think it's child abuse! The in-laws in particular have been a hard case.

    Anyways, thanks for posting this stuff! I love your rule about the soda or dessert, because I do let the kids have a treat when we go out sometimes and letting them have the choice is pretty awesome.

    I have found that my little hoard (1 yr, 2yr and 4yr) LOVE 10 grain cereal (in lou of oatmeal, we found that the oatmeal is just too many carbs for our first meal of the day) - and they love it with: raisins, a heaping spoon of natural peanut butter and a dash of cinnamon (do this for each bowl, and mix well). I've been feeding them this since they were itty bitty so they don't know anything else, but mine love it! And the protein/fiber count is way up there. For my husband and I we've noticed that it keeps our energy levels up for quite a long while, too.

    Excited to see what else you are feeding your littles, thanks again!