Healthy Diet improves Self-Esteem

Sometimes we wonder why kids can be lethargic, unmotivated, learning poorly or not retaining information or just plain unhappy.

Diet is a major factor in the behavior and emotions of our children, just as it is with adults.

You know how bad certain foods can make you feel when you eat them, and think of the effects they have on growing children. A growing child should be fed healthy, nutritious, quality food, organic whenever possible.

Coloring dyes, additives, preservatives, too much sugar and unhealthy fat have all shown in studies that they can have dramatic effects on behaviors, emotions and the health of children and teens, even causing allergies in some instances that can manifest as behavioral issues and disease. While "nutrition therapy" is considered an alternative treatment in our mainstream society, diet and healthy eating should actually be a primary focus for concerned parents who want to alleviate problems before they even start, in addition to healthy eating for the sake of it helping a child be and feel at his best. Often, healthy, happy kids have an extremely clean eating style (aka no junk).

Childhood obesity has become epidemic in our society due to our unhealthy eating and fast-food lifestyle many subscribe to. In addition to the problems already stated above, overweight children are often victims of bullies, low self esteem and negative self talk, which often leads to comfort eating and overeating to soothe the hurt. This quite often evolves into full blown food addiction. It is truly a vicious cycle that often begins as an innocent coping mechanism when stress relief techniques are not taught or are unknown to parents, teachers and role models.

You may find that your whole family needs to begin eating healthy, not just the kids. If you live a typical fast food lifestyle where restaurants cook the majority of your family's meals, then change is needed for the health and well being of everyone. Change does not have to be drastic but by implementing small changes one at a time, before you know it, everyone in the family will be healthier and happier for it. While eating out may seem like a needed break, the health impact of doing so regularly are severe and tend to cause weight gain in most people due to the added fats and sugars in restaurant foods.

What can you do?

First, cut out the soda pop. Soda is one of the worst culprits for too much sugar, colors and empty calories. Soda contributes to weight gain and keeping weight on. Start replacing soda and other sugar filled beverages with water and seltzer water. The body needs water to flush out toxins and to stay healthy. Of course we have all heard that we need 8-10 glasses of water a day, but how close do your children come to that amount? How close do you come to that? If you are making the transition from soda to water, you may want to try cutting seltzer water with a bit of vanilla extract, a splash of cream and ¼ t. stevia (natural sweetener) to create a homemade vanilla cream soda that is delicious and cures the craving for soda.

Eat meals at home. You can easily master the art of the Crock-pot which you can launch in the morning and have a wonderful home cooked meal waiting for everyone at dinnertime. Set the table and eat together as a family. Make sure you add your veggies or a big salad to whatever Crockpot dish you choose to cook. A savvy health conscious parent may have their Crockpot on every single day to ensure that the whole family is getting "slow food" that's healthy and ready for them when they need it.

Eat meals together. Surprisingly only 28% of American families eat dinner together at the dinner table. Sitting down and enjoying a family meal is not only good for family bonding and closeness, it's good for digestion and is almost always more nutritious than restaurant meal choices. Eating on the run is never healthy. Make sure your family gets to sit down and eat as a family as often as possible, preferably every night.

Make sure you introduce new fruits and vegetables to your children as often as possible. Get adventurous and learn to cook or slice new foods and experiment! Kids love novel things, and although they may get into the rut of preferring to eat only what they know and like, as a loving parent, you should repeatedly introduce the same new food to your child often until they get used to it. While it may not be their favorite, and you should never force any type of food.. several presentations and asking them to try "just a few bites" will help them explore new textures and flavors, in addition to giving them more nutrients and vitamins than are available in a child-imposed limited menu.

If you are a role model for healthy eating and encourage your child and teen to make healthy food choices along with you, establishing a baseline of healthy eating in youth, children will always come back to what is natural and healthy, because it feels so good. As they get older and realize the impact of any unhealthy food choices they make, they will remember your wise attitude and instruction concerning food.

Present fruits of veggies as a snack instead of junk foods. Of course kids will go for ice creams or pastries or cookies if that's what they are used too. But instead, stock your home with healthy choices that kids love, such as apples with almond butter, celery with cream cheese, freshly made air popped popcorn, apples, bananas with raisins and yogurt, or plain full fat yogurt sweetened with honey and fresh blueberries. All these suggestions are healthy and kids love them! They are also more economical than a box of grocery store cookies.

Over processed foods are linked to feelings of depression, which is one more reason to transition into wholesome natural foods. Healthy eating naturally makes a child feel great due to the high quality of nutrition available in natural wholesome foods and low sugar and fat content. A healthy child or teen feels good about himself too and this healthy self-esteem and confidence spills over into all areas of life.

No parent is perfect, but we must try to help our children learn the basics of healthy eating for their health and well being. We are responsible for what we buy at the grocery store or local farmer's market, not our children. When healthy food is in the house, healthy food will be eaten. Make it fun and ask your children to help with the preparation. When everyone has a hand in the pot, everyone has fun, and healthy eating becomes your family's way. Bon Appetite!

Mellisa's Personal Recommendation your teen will love: Healthy Me CD or MP3 download and Teen's Self Esteem CD

Listen, Relax and get results!

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