Teaching Kids How to Make the Right Choices

What do you think about when you look at this picture?    I often keep a bowl of candy on the coffee table in my family room.  This may surprise you that a dietitian would do this.  This candy bowl (I usually put M&Ms in it) can last for weeks, slowly but surely dwindling down.  Sometimes it gets depleted in a single day.  Those are usually the days my kids have friends over.  You would think these kids had never had candy in their lives and may  never be able to get it again.  Is it possible that being too restrictive with what we allow our kids to eat can backfire?  Of course, we have to guide our children and help them make good nutritional choices.  However, we must  be aware that being overly controlling or too restrictive may increase the chance that our kids will go nuts when they are in the presence of the food they are not allowed to have.  We need to teach our kids to have their own internal barometer.  Eventually our goal for them is to make decisions because they think it is a good decision for them – not to please their parents, conform to their friends ideas, or do what they think most people would do.

My mantra is everything in moderation.  An ice cream cake on a birthday is ok – it doesn’t have to be a tofu carrot cake.  Candy on Halloween?  It’s Halloween – what kid gets excited when they get an apple in their bag?  There is always talk about having mini-bran muffins, low-fat cheese sticks (you get the idea) at a school holiday party.  Really?   That sounds fun.  Heaven forbid the kids get a sugar rush!  Clearly, this is not desirable but there are worse things in life.  On the other hand, if these are the foods you and your children honestly prefer, go for it.   I think we all strive for that goal but for many it’s just not realistic.  When we make goals that are not realistic, we often fail.  I think the majority of people like to have an occasional indulgence – especially kids.

 We are human beings.  We desire and crave things that give us pleasure in life.  Decadent,  fat and calorie laden foods are one of those pleasures.  Remembering everything in moderation….there is a big difference between eating an occasional piece of cake and gorging daily on half a cake.  It is healthy to be trim.  It is life-threatening to be too thin with an eating disorder.  Having a nightly glass of wine or a beer is ok.  The extreme of that is alcoholism, which can lead to its own set of tragic outcomes.  Can we somehow teach our kids to eat a wide variety of food in portion appropriate amounts to promote lifelong good health?  To ensure good health are they never allowed to eat Oreos?  I’m not saying it’s easy to achieve the right balance.  I’m not saying I have all the answers.  I am saying an occasional “bad” food is not so bad.  Just like an occasional glass of wine is ok.  I am also saying we want our kids to make the same choices when we’re not watching them as they would if we were with them.  Realistic goal?  I’m not sure…

Modeling our own eating behavior, discussing food and nutrition with our kids (not talking at them), making sure you incorporate foods they enjoy into every day, and including them in making food decisions are some ways we can lead them down the path to opting for good choices .    But remember be cautious about being too restrictive or controlling with their eating habits.  This could just backfire when you’re not looking.

Eventually the child above is going to pick the apple over the lollipop because that is what they want – not you.   You don’t want them picking the apple in front of you but the lollipop when you’re not around.

“We are apt to forget that children watch examples better than they listen to preaching.”  Roy L. Smith

Guest Blog – Nutrition and Cancer

I was asked to share a blog written by Jillian McKee (jilliansmckee@gmail.com) regarding nutrition and its importance before, during and after cancer treatment.  Her website is http:/www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/jillian/bio.htm

Nutrition Should Be a Focus Before And After Cancer Treatments

Cancer treatments can be very harsh to the body. The second and third treatment is not going to be any easier on the body than the first one. This is usually the case with oral drugs, chemotherapy and all of the other treatments that are out there. The side effects can be severe. One of the best ways to prevent the severity is through practicing good nutrition.

Penn Medicine has released a list of cancer guidelines that state the importance of exercise during and after cancer treatments. The reason is to help with the rehabilitation and preventing other problems.

The same is true of nutrition. Focusing on good nutrition before and after cancer treatments will ensure the body stays strong, recovers quickly and doesn’t endure any other problems. Cancer is hard enough on the body. Getting diabetes, heart disease or anything else in addition can only weaken the body further.

Various types of cancer will result in different treatments and different side effects. Mesothelioma treatment side effects can cause problems with digestion, dehydration and much more. With the right changes to your diet, you can help to compensate for these. This will provide you with a better quality of life when you don’t have to deal with so many of the side effects.

The severity of the side effects is often proportionate with your body weight as well as the strength of your body. Your body weight can be managed through proper nutrition. Similarly your body will go stronger when you’re eating the right balance of foods.

You have heard the same things before. You must control your calorie intake. Talk to your doctor to find out how many calories you should be consuming each day. From there, take the time to work with a nutritionist to see what kinds of foods are best for you.

Leafy greens have a number of benefits. They act as antioxidants and they will aid in digestion. Since one of the side effects of many cancer treatments is indigestion and constipation, eating lettuce, cabbage and other vegetables can help you get through these side effects with ease.

Other foods that you should focus on include a lot of garlic and herbs. These contain a lot of vitamins and minerals that you won’t find in processed foods. Many of these have been proven to help with cancer and the side effects that it causes on the body.

Do your research. The type of cancer that you have been diagnosed with may affect some of your body’s normal functions. If you eat different foods than you have been eating, it may help you to counteract some of the problems that you would otherwise face.

Nutrition has always been an important thing to work on throughout your life. As you prepare for cancer treatments, you want to focus on getting more nutrients into your body than ever before. Talk with your doctor, stock up on fresh ingredients and get ready to eat healthier so that you feel healthier.