This guest post is by Dr. Heather Manley, who in 2001 received her medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon, is a practicing physician whose primary interest is preventative healthcare for families. She is the author of Human Body Detectives, her educational series for children and promotes wellness and naturopathic healthcare on her website drheathernd.com. She lives on the Big Island of Hawaii with her husband and two daughters, and is currently at work on the next Human Body Detectives adventure. www.drheathernd.com
With an emerging tween and teenager in my house, who are spending more time with their friends eating, it has been on my mind … what are they eating when I am not around? Instead of just pondering the thought, I decided to go straight to the source. I asked my 12 year old daughter what she and her friends are eating at school and after school.
She replied, “green stuff mostly.”
I asked her what type of “green stuff?”
“cucumbers, apples, kiwi, edamame.”
I was impressed. But I decided to dig a little harder because as the daughter of a naturopathic physician, she knows how to answer my questions well. As I probed her a bit more, I soon realized there were no obvious signs of truly poor eating habits … except for the occasional trip to the local coffee shop for pastries and frappuccinos. I clearly needed to move on.
I proceeded to ask a 16 year old boy.
He said that he and his friends eat pretty much whatever they want. However, they do want to eat healthier foods but find it difficult figuring out what is best for them.
“The food industry is very commercial and we are just unsure on how to obtain reliable resources on what is healthy or what is not not. Plus, we don’t have much time.”
This had me thinking. Kids want to eat healthy and most kids do understand that eating healthy foods makes them feel better, allowing for more creation and more productivity. With all the commercialism with food and the easy (and cheap) assess to fast foods, they really do not have the tools to allow them to find and choose the best foods. I came up with a plan … actually an acronym that would help them.
Whole ~ Color ~ Variety
why: Whole colorful foods contain a multitude of nutrients that boast nutrition and allow our bodies to function, optimally. Whole foods do not have the added food coloring or additives that can aggravate the digestive system and possibly be partly responsible for food sensitivities and allergies.
how: Gravitate to the periphery of the grocery store. This is where you will find the whole foods ( fruits, vegetables, produce, dairy). The center of the store is filled with processed foods like boxed cereals, crackers and canned foods.
why? Phytonutrients, found in fruits and vegetables, give vivid color to our food and promote health by packing powerful health benefits. They help stimulate our immune systems and prevent disease. Common phytonutrients include; flavonoids and lutein.
how? Color Thy Plate. Every time you grab a plate think about coloring it up. With a bowl of cereal or oatmeal, add some blueberries or strawberries, with a sandwich add avocados, sprouts and tomatoes.
why? We all have a tendency to eat the same foods over and over. It is convenient and easy. However, different foods have different nutrients – more of some and less of others. Our bodies need to eat a variety of whole foods to obtain all the different nutrients that are offered in the certain food.
how? Munch on your apple but also try other fruits such as kiwis, mangos or pears. Or if you are a frequent almond eater, try cashews or walnuts instead.
And for parents, encourage healthy eating by not telling your children to eat healthy foods but to have healthy foods readily available. Keeping fruits, nuts, yogurt and cut up vegetables readily accessible makes it much easier for your child to grab. And if chips are a favorite, have not only salsa but avocados ( guacamole), bean dip and hummus close by.
Keeping WCV in mind, tweens and teens will have a clear insight what to gravitate towards when choosing foods thus will be fully nourishing their bodies, which will both keep them optimally healthy today and in the future.
Ready to indulge your taste buds?
HEATHER MANLEY, N.D.
Dr. Heather Manley, who in 2001 received her medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon, is a practicing physician whose primary interest is preventative healthcare for families. She is the author of Human Body Detectives, her educational series for children and promotes wellness and naturopathic healthcare on her website drheathernd.com. She lives on the Big Island of Hawaii with her husband and two daughters, and is currently at work on the next Human Body Detectives adventure.