All parents want what is best for their children. Yet, it is confusing as to what is really the best in terms of food, discipline and many other factors. This post is possibly the most important of the near 100 we have published on Primed for your Life as it directly relates not just to your health, but that of your children, potential children, and loved ones.
We take an HOLISTIC approach to how best to give your children a healthy and fun upbringing that helps develop their body and brain optimally so they can lead a better and longer life.
Just by looking around (and what we read) we know there has been a frightening rise in childhood obesity (and diabetes and ADHD) over the years. This has been positively linked to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels).
So, the most effective measure we as parents have to improve our children’s health is to help them maintain a constant blood glucose level within a healthy range. This is done simply. By simply restricting refined carbs to our children. We need to restrict refined carbs as opposed to the nutritious complex carbohydrates in vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Tips to ensure our children are strong and healthy of body and mind
Here, we will discuss the importance of your children’s food, sun, fun, sleep and stress, which all impact on their blood sugar levels, and therefore, health.
1. Your children (and you) should be on a lower carb, higher fat diet.
The current high carb, low fat diet is clearly not working as our children are not as healthy as previous generations. Are you feeding your children real food or food like products that are low in nutrition? Yes, packet foods are convenient and easy but the harmful health outcomes are painfully obvious.
When children have diets high in refined carbs it can be painful. Low quality carbs reduce energy, disrupts important hormone balances, affects brain function and leads to a storage of excess body fat. The cheap carbs are all the highly processed grains found in breads, pasta, noodles, crackers, pizza, muffins, baked goods, cakes, cereals, cookies and doughnuts etc. (and hidden in many packaged foods). Dr. William Davis (best selling author of Wheat Belly) describes these products as the food of the “ignorant or desperate”. They are genetically modified “Frankenfoods” that all humans (young and old) are poorly adapted to digesting.
What is best for children is a diet of balanced dietary fats to help build their bodies (especially strong bones), reduce inflammation and improve brain function (human brains are 60% fat). Children also need their good proteins (such as in meats and seafood) and complex carbohydrates found in vegetables and fruits. Some great healthy fats for your growing child include coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, olives, butter, eggs, beef, chicken and fish such as tuna and sardines.
2. Lead by Example
Eat real food yourself. By leading a healthier lifestyle your children will see the benefits in you and also in how they feel. They will know what it is to feel good in mind and body without the harmful effects of their blood sugar levels going on a daily roller-coaster ride, and all the associated negative health outcomes such as lack of energy, stomach issues, bowel issues, headaches, joint pains and unhealthy skin to name a few.
Establish a clear set of values for your children and model them.
3. Vitamin D – Sunshine is Essential
Vitamin D, most commonly derived from exposure to the sun, is a critical component to our well being. Think of your child’s skin as a solar panel with energy derived from the sun.
Vitamin D is known to promote calcium and phosphorous absorption from food and is essential in tooth and bone formation. But the new research shows the importance of bone health from the very start of life.
Vitamin D can also be consumed in small amounts in seafood, liver, mushrooms, onions, garlic, eggs, green vegetables and supplementation for climates without much sunlight.
4. Vitamin L – Love
“Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.” Michael J. Fox
We all need love, but especially our young and often insecure darlings. Love does not mean giving them everything they want but reassuring them. fostering good self-esteem, building their confidence, listening authentically to what they say, giving them appropriate discipline and feeding them the most nutritious food you can. Tell them you love them, but more importantly, show it through your actions.
“Your children need your presence more than your presents.” Jesse Jackson
“Children desperately need to know – and to hear in ways they understand and remember – that they’re loved and valued by Mum and Dad.” Paul Smally,
5. Laugh, Play and Have Fun
A child’s life should be full of laughter and so should that of adults too. Be happy, appreciate all the blessings in your life and laugh a lot, and out loud. After all, laughter is the best medicine right? The next best medicine is your food (let food be your medicine and medicine be your food).
Whether it is frisbee, hide and seek, playing catch, board games etc. playing is an essential ingredient for a happy life that also reduces stress. Having fun and playing should ideally involve moving more, using your muscles, smiling, laughing, enjoying and appreciating life. Their playing should also include the parent.
“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” Charles R. Swindoll
6. Lots of Sleep
For your children to feel good, perform well and be energized we cannot discount the importance of a great sleep. A good sleep makes it easier for your child’s body to regenerate and repair itself, and build up energy for the day ahead. Good quality proteins (definitely not refined blood sugar spiking carbs) are best at night for this regeneration. A minimum of 8 plus hours is recommended for growing children so an early bedtime is usually best. A dark bedroom and restricting gadgets an hour before bed help will help your darling get a more restful sleep.
7. Stress Free
Your children should be stress free zones. Stress can have a negative effect on your child’s blood sugar, affect their sleep, disrupt their hormones and lead to negative health consequences. Hence, how you react to stress and the messages you send do have repercussions for your children. Take a deep breath, try and be calm and look for solutions to the inevitable problems we all face on life’s journey.
For Expectant Mothers
The growth and well-being of your baby starts in utero (actually your health is essential even before conception). The babies genes for diabetes can be turned on or off depending on the quality of nutrients you consume. Babies need more saturated fat (Mother’s milk is actually 50% fat) and not processed/refined carbs. These processed carbs are poor nutrition for your growing baby.
Once born, your baby is best off with breast milk but if not possible then “real” food is the next best option (as opposed to rice cereal/grain based processed carbs). At these crucial and important stages of development your baby needs the building blocks for their growing mind and body provided by a balance of dietary fats.
When Mother’s have cravings for the nutrient poor options such as those derived from refined and processed foods try and satisfy your cravings through the examples above.
The Final Word
Happiness starts with a balanced diet of QUALITY food and beverages.
Thanks also to the facebook page of Overfed and Undernourished for the great messages inside their pictures.