I recently taught a lesson to kids aged 7-12 years of age. In my lesson I was teaching about everything from Diabetes to exercise to hydration (and the sugar content of different beverages). After the lesson a couple of kids came up to me and told me what part they liked the best. Others came up to me with their PowerAdes and decided to drink them right in front of me (to show me that they just didn’t care). Sure you could say they were just being kids and that’s what kids do. But I started to think, “Am I the only one that cares about their health?” “Am I too passionate and just need to loosen up a bit?” “Am I fighting the good fight that no one wants to fight with me?” I went back to the key points from my lesson and began to reflect and see if I was being too extreme. Here are some of my tips/suggestions:
1. Chow down on good for you food. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, the opposite is actually happening. People are eating junk and every now and then they’re eating something good for them. We’re a society that lives in the present moment and doesn’t think to the future when it concerns their health. We need to start changing this around. The majority of the food we eat NEEDS to be good for us. When I ask the kids what cereal is better for them, Cheerios or Froot Loops, they know the answer. But when it comes down to the time to decide, most times they’re choosing the unhealthy one. The same goes for adults, we know what’s healthy for us but we continue to choose the foods that aren’t healthy for us. Health problems, i.e. high blood pressure, high cholesterol, they don’t happen overnight. Slowly but surely we are making ourselves sick. Start changing things one at a time. Little by little you’ll improve your health.
2. Limit fast food. When I was a kid growing up, eating out was a treat (it was maybe one time a month). The opposite has started to take place – eating out, whether it’s at a fast food restaurant or an actual sit-down restaurant, is now the norm. I get it all the time, “who has time to cook?” and “I’m too tired after work to have to go home and cook dinner for the family.” Guess what, I get it. But I’m here to tell you that if we don’t start changing this around and begin to have healthier meals at our fingertips, this obesity pandemic is only going to get worse. There was a segment on the Today show the other morning when I was at the dentist office showing fast foods that would be the “better choice” when you eat out. The last thing Carson Daly said before they broke to commercial was, “okay so the lesson here is that fast food isn’t bad.” Wrong, wrong, and WRONG! The dietitian on that segment simply was telling you what you wanted to hear. Now if they had called the segment, “what to eat at a fast food restaurant if you HAVE to eat there” I would’ve been okay with that. But the way they made it seem was that it was completely okay to eat fast food. It’s not. I know it’s not what you maybe wanted to hear, but remember I want you to be healthy and fast food isn’t part of that plan. I often joke to my friends that I’m Rachel Ray (aka Raquel Rayo) and while I don’t think she’d find it amusing, her concept of 30 minute meals is genius. Who wouldn’t want to prepare a meal for their family in that amount of time? It can be done; it just takes a little bit of planning and teamwork.
3. Exercise – Just do it! Nike’s famous motto or Amy’s advice to clients when they try and tell me all the excuses in the book. Exercise has too many benefits to NOT be doing it. What I always tell kids when I’m teaching them is to find what it is that they love and then they’ll want to do it (not to mention the time will fly). I used to be one of those people who never used to exercise. I started doing a sand volleyball class and the rest is history. Again, find what you love – zumba, hiking, swimming, biking – the sky really is the limit. Exercise will give you more energy and even helps to put you in a good mood. 2 benefits we all could use!
4. Limit sugary drinks. This one is real simple advice, “drink water”. It has no calories, no crazy colors AND it quenches your thirst. Again, not what you wanted to hear, but it really is just that simple. I’ll even go as far to say that drinking juice is as bad as drinking a soda – that’s right, while it may have some vitamins, it still has the same amount of sugar. Sugar is sugar and no one needs that much in a beverage. Eat the fruit and get some fiber while you’re at it! Limit those empty calories that we sometimes forget to include in our total calories for the day. And as for all the sugar substitutes that are out there – while they may not contribute to extra calories that you take in during the day know they’re not good for you. I know that we all have a vice and for me mine is coffee. So maybe for you yours is diet soda. My advice: start limiting those diet beverages and start drinking more water!
That’s just a handful of simple tips/suggestions to get people started to a healthier way of life. I don’t think it’s extreme nor do I think that it’s impossible to do. Just think of me as your number one advocate to being healthy – I’m here to help, especially when it comes to the kids. If we start them at a young age odds are they’ll continue to make healthy choices throughout their life.