I have never heard a kid say “my favorite color is white.” As parents, this can work to your advantage because all the healthiest foods are made up of colors of the rainbow.
However what parents often feed their children, especially in restaurants are all white foods like pizza, chips, milkshakes, or hot chocolate.
All these foods have a few things in common: Little to no nutritional value, refined flour and sugar, dairy, gluten (an element in wheat that many people have allergies or sensitivities to), low protein and no fiber.
Here are a few reasons not to feed your kids refined sugar and flour:
- Type 2 diabetes in children is rising globally at a rapid pace and doctors suspect that these foods are to blame. Eating habits and cravings are formed from a very early age so eating these foods now increases the chances of weight gain and type 2 Diabetes.
- They cause a drastic spike in insulin levels, which has a dramatic effect on children’s bodies and mood. Insulin highs and lows are the cause of many tantrums, mood swings, and irritability.
- While you may not think of chips and pizza as sugary foods, the effect that refined flour and potatoes have on your body are almost identical. They are all transformed into glucose which is then stored as fat.
- Refined and processed foods grow BAD bacteria in the intestine leading to bloating, cramping, and digestive issues.
- Cancer cells feed on sugar and dairy-producing mucus in the intestine.
- They are all high in “bad” carbs with minimal protein. Kids and adults need amino acids only found in protein to support the neurotransmitters that regulate mood and behavior in the brain. The fact that kids love color works to your advantage. This is your chance to get creative and teach kids to like color in their food:
Food Color Chart
Pink: Kids need amino acids which are found in proteins and animal proteins have the highest concentrations of amino acids. These are critical for the function of the 4 neurotransmitters that regulate happiness, calmness, focus, and concentration.
Black, Green, Red, Yellow: Beans and lentils are great mood regulators because they have soluble fiber which regulates blood sugar and helps with digestion. Lentils are also a great source of vegetarian protein, iron, folate, and potassium.
Brown: Complex carbohydrates like nuts, oatmeal, barley, whole-grain bread, and quinoa provide slow-burning energy and are low glycemic index sugar carbs. Whole grains and nuts contain selenium which has been linked to stabilizing aggressive behavior. Cinnamon has also been proven to regulate blood sugar.
Yellow: Eggs are in my opinion the most affordable and most underrated superfood out there. Forget the misinformed propaganda you heard in the 80s and 90s against egg yolks and cholesterol. These humble staples have it all: amino acids, vitamin D, B12 and choline. Choline is a B complex vitamin, which aids the neurotransmitter responsible for memory and concentration. Select free-range, organic, and hormone-free if you can.
Orange: Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato are delicious sweet superfoods that can be used many ways. They are very high in Vitamin A and C. They also have fiber, magnesium, potassium and carotenoids which prevent cellular damage. They can be made into soups, mash, and baked fries.
Greens: This is probably the most important and most lacking in all of our diets, but especially kids. Contrary to popular belief, kids do not need dairy for calcium. Leafy greens such as spinach and Kale or Sukuma are packed with it. They are also teaming with cancer-fighting antioxidants, a phytonutrient which promotes eye health, and vitamin C for the immune system. They even contain an ingredient that protects the digestive lining from inflammation.
Simple and Healthy ways to incorporate health foods at home
- Green Monster Popsicles: Blend green apple and kale or Spinach with berries, water and ice. Sweeten with local honey or agave if necessary and they try without the sugar. Freeze in popsicle containers. Perfect for hot days.
- Smoothies are a great way to sneak in vitamins and to your kids. You can even replace this with the milk in cereals. Kids love pinks, reds, blues and greens so this can be a fun change for them.
- Homemade granola: Mix whole oats, coconut oil, cinnamon, dried fruit, dried coconut, and toast lightly. Serve with a smoothie base.
- Sweet potato or butternut squash mash with blended parsley or sprinkled with your favorite seeds or nuts as a garnish with spinach on the side. Season with agave or honey and a touch of sea salt.
- Boiled Lentils in broth with onions and garlic, can be served whole or blended into soup (also can sneak in greens, carrots, peas and greens in here).