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Why You Want Your Kids Eating Fruits and Vegetables

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 Leave a Comment

By Contributor Ellen Dolan
Remember the old food pyramid we grew up with - the one that encouraged us to gorge ourselves on grains and bread and pasta? This is the new USDA recommendation: half your plate should be fruits and vegetables.
How healthy are you eating? More important, how are your kids eating?
If you need some reasons to get your kids eating healthier, consider this:

  • By the age of 12, approximately 70% of American kids have the beginning stages of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.  
  • It is predicted that 1 in 3 of our kids will develop Type 2 diabetes, what used to be called adult-onset diabetes and is now common in children and teens.  
  • When these kids reach 18, obesity and poor health  leave them ineligible to join our armed forces!
  • The bottom line is that as fruit and vegetable consumption increases, risk factors for disease and obesity decreases.  

And yet... with high fructose corn syrup, sodium, and every kind of fat added to every kind of processed food - it's hard to always eat the right thing!
Here in Stapleton, certainly an oasis of opportunity for a healthy lifestyle, our kids have access to so much.  We strive for better schools, better safety, better everything for these kids and yet do we strive for better nutrition?  Do we strive to eclipse chicken nuggets with broccoli?
It begins when we discard the myth that whatever a child eats is somehow reversible, unimportant or just part of being a kid.  
The cascade of junk (aka NOT REAL FOOD) from Halloween to the winter holidays, on to Valentines Day, wrapping up at Easter, combined with a lack of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, is leaving our kids immune systems stunted and their growing bodies and brains starved of the nutrients they need for optimal growth, development, behavior and lastly prevention of the chronic diseases (cancer, heart disease and stroke) that ultimately kill most Americans.  
If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, there has never been a more important time than now.  

Just One Thing

If you do just one thing to get your family eating healthier, do this: Start flirting with saying no to all the fake food and sweet treats.  Prioritize.  A frozen yogurt is fair game now and then but popsicles, candy and drinks laden with sugar and artificial chemicals are just plain unsafe.  
Partner with like-minded friends and neighbors to say no together and provide healthier choices and create and culture that values good nutrition.  I promise you, they live on your street, they are out there.  These changes will pay us back down the road with healthier brains and bodies. 
From a confidence standpoint, as we teach our kids to eat well while they are young, we implicitly teach them to treat their bodies respectfully and conscientiously later.  
If you shake your head like I do thinking about some of the horrible things you consumed in your teen and young adult years, it makes sense to try and instill some better values in our kids. And there's no better place to start than leading by example - so load up your own plate with fresh, raw vegetables: salad, red pepper strips, carrots, broccoli, whatever it takes.
Halloween is coming up. How will you handle junk food season?  

Guest contributor Ellen Dolan is a mom on a mission to get us all eating our veggies and living healthy lives! She is mom to two boys who eat real food as much as possible. She's also a doula, owns a successful Juice Plus+ franchise, and completed her first triathlon this summer. When you meet her, you want some of that amazing energy! Try her boys' favorite healthy dinner: 
Tortilla Towers  (this is fun because you can add/delete items)
Make a tower of the following on top of a warm corn tortilla (make sure it contains no trans fat/hydrogenated oils):
black beans
scrambled eggs
avocado slices or guacamole
shredded carrots or zucchini
diced tomatoes


  • Unknown said:  

    Every night I put out a big bowl of fresh carrots, celery, red pepper slices, cucumbers, or broccoli. The boys always eat some - so then if they don't eat all their dinner I don't worry about it so much.

  • The food pyramid said:  

    Personally, I like the pyramid shaped interpretation of the dietary guidelines. However, the plate model is not that bad as it is more practical.