A rant on children and healthy eating

I once had a conversation with a friend about why her children weren’t eating healthy and her excuse was the “taste” and the “cost”. She said that her children, as well as herself, prefer to eat “good” food, and that most healthy foods are tasteless hence the reason that the foods are “healthy”. I found her comment disturbing because she feeds her 2-year-old and 1-year-old Ramen Noodles, Debbie cakes, soda, tons of pizza, McDonald’s french fries, candy, etc. She rarely has fruit in her home, she rarely has veggies for the kids–in fact her children eat Ramen Noodles everyday. Her kids basically eat what she eats–which equates to a ton of junk with fat, trans-fats and high sodium. Basically nothing that offers much nutrition to her children.

To be fair, she is quite poor, and probably can’t afford to buy fresh fruit and veggies in the capacity that her children need. But there are plenty of foods–maybe not fresh–that her children can eat for cheap. Additionally one thing I did tell her is that eating healthy doesn’t mean completely cutting out what her children enjoy–it means MINIMIZING the unhealthy stuff and maximizing the good stuff.

As I explained to her:  simply allowing the children to only eat Ramen Noodles once every two weeks, and with only half of the sodium packet, is healthier than what she is doing. Allowing the children to eat HALF of a Debbie snack(Oatmeal Pie, Nutty bars, Twinkies) every 3 days and giving them canned fruit, or cut apples with peanut butter, is healthier than what she is doing. Giving the children 5 cups of water  to every one cup of soda is healthier than what she is doing. Buying bananas which at the most cost–$3.00 for 6 bananas is healthier-than cake and cookies. Buying children a box of Cheerios is healthy and inexpensive compared to giving children sugary cereal that offers no nutritional elements.  Cutting trips to McDonald’s to only twice a month is healthier than buying the children McDonald’s twice a week.  Rather than frying chicken all the time–bake the chicken. Buy canned vegetables–they are ONLY a dollar per can. Buy apple sauce, fruit cans, etc. They ARE cheap. Yes STILL allow your child to eat sugar every now and then, still allow your child to have noodles and McDonald’s sparingly and in moderation(and without emptying that entire sodium packet), and your child can have candy every now and then as well. But please–please don’t think that fast foods, Debbie snacks, and noodles on the daily basis provide any type of nutrition for young children. Also please don’t think for a second that eating healthy means cutting out EVERY single treat you give your child. Eating healthy means moderation, incorporating more “good stuff”–even if it’s CANNED–less processed foods, less sodium, and more water. It really isn’t that difficult and it isn’t that expensive. So WHY, WHY do you feel that eating healthy is BAD for your children? And what is your excuse NOW?

Come on, please do better for the sake of your child’s health.

U.S. Pediatricians Decry The Media’s messages to our kids

Taken from the LA Times:

Parents, lawmakers and media executives are given plenty to think about in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement published Sunday. Kids today are bombarded with inappropriate sexual messages and images, the AAP committee said; everything from graphic sexual lyrics in songs to ubiquitous erectile dysfunction drug advertisements that air all hours of the day and night.

“Television, film, music, and the Internet are all becoming increasingly sexually explicit, yet information on abstinence, sexual responsibility, and birth control remains rare,” they write.
Among the points the panel makes:

– Only three reality dating shows were on the air in 1997 compared with more than 30 today, including “Temptation Island,” which “bring participants together for the sole purpose of seeing who ‘hooks up,’ ” the authors said.
– In a national survey of 1,500 10- to 17-year-olds, nearly half of the Internet users had been exposed to online pornography in the previous year.
– A national survey of 1,300 teenagers and young adults found nearly 20% had sent or posted nude pictures of videos of themselves.
– Advertisements featuring women are as likely to show them in suggestive or revealing clothing or nude as fully clothed.

Meanwhile, the paper notes, television resists running advertisements about birth control — including emergency contraceptives — but erectile dysfunction ads appear during family TV hours. The ads, the doctors say, can be confusing to younger children and should appear only after 10 p.m. Others have complained about the number of ED ads on TV. Rep. Jim Moran, a Virginia Democrat, sent letters last year to the heads of three major pharmaceutical companies calling on them to moderate advertising for ED drugs.

Kids get a lot of their knowledge about sex through the media, the authors write. Perhaps we should take a good look at what we’re telling them.

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/29/news/la-heb-sex-20100829

My favorite kids “learning” shows

Yes, this is another list. I love making these lists because they allow me to reminisce about my childhood. The lists are also a great tool for parents looking for kid-friendly great books, cartoons, and shows that “teach” our children–I hope you enjoy this list as well. Keep in mind that a majority of these shows are shows that I watched as a kid growing up in the  late eighties/early nineties. Obviously nowadays the “kid” friendly television shows are not the same.

1. Barney

2. Lambchops

3. Reading Rainbow

4. Seasame Street

5. The Puzzle Place

6. Wishbone

7. Gullah Gullah Island

8. Muppet Babies

9. Blues Clues

10. Allegras window

11. Little bear

12. Eureeka’s Castle

13. The Busy World of Richard Scarry

14. The Adventures of David the Gnome

15. Care Bears

16. Louis Sharon and Bram’s Elephant Show

U.S Birth Rate Has Fallen

According to the Washington Post:

“U.S. birth rate falls again, a possible effect of economic downturn The number of babies born in the United States has dropped for the second year in a row, according to new federal statistics released Friday that provide more evidence that the nation’s economic troubles are affecting the birth rate. Provisional data for 2009 found that an estimated 4,136,000 babies were born in the United States in 2009, a 2.6 percent drop from 2008, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The drop follows a 2 percent fall in births that occurred between 2007 and 2008, which pushed the nation’s fertility rate below 2.1 per woman, meaning Americans were no longer giving birth to enough children to keep the population from declining. That drop prompted speculation that the fall was the result of the recession–a notion supported by an analysis of data from 25 states, including Maryland and Virginia, that was released in April by the Pew Research Center. The report found that states that tended to suffer most from the recession had the biggest declines in births. While the new report can not determine whether the drop is definitely tied to the economy, the National Center for Health Statistics, in a statement released with the new numbers said “there is quite possibly a connection between the decline in births and the economic downturn of the last couple of years.” Two consecutive years of declines “would be consistent with that,” given that the recession started the year before, the center said.”
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/checkup/2010/08/us_birth_rate_falls_again.html

What can we expect for our childrens future????

I was browsing a forum a little while ago and a specific topic caught my attention: How will the current negative economy affect the future generation? One of the reasons that this topic caught my attention is due to how the economy has impacted my generation. I mean I have so many friends right now that are unemployed, or those that have degrees but are working retail positions. I have friends racked with debt from college with nothing really to show for it in terms of employment and financial stability. I have friends that never were even able to complete college due to the cost. And I have friends that are completely pessimistic about their future, about marriage, about children, etc. And if you remember that article that I posted last week called “20-somethings”–the article was pretty much a great “summed” up version about what type of generation we’re counting on in the present. But to be fair, with the current economic climate, and general issues going on in our society it makes sense that 20-somethings are in the position that they are in.

Something that I’ve thought about–since I’ve come across that forum-is if my generation has this many problems, then how many issues and/or problems will the next generation have? How will this recession affect the up and coming generation? When I think about the future generation of children I ask myself the following questions:

Will these individuals be able to go to college or by the time they turn 18 will college truly only be for upper class Americans? Will these individuals have an 85% divorce rate? Will these individuals have kids at 50? Will these individuals cohabitate  and never marry? Will these individuals have a variety of career choices or will most careers be outsourced leaving: nursing, teaching, and healthcare careers as the desirable career choices? Will these individuals need a PhD to get a basic entry-level position? Will this upcoming generation be underemployed and underpaid even more so than today’s 20-somethings?

What can we expect for our future generation? Is it gloom and glum or can we be hopeful that things will change for the better and that the dynamics concerning: cost of living, education, family, marriage, cohabitation, children, fertility, weight, etc–will be relatively better than they are now?

When your child doesn’t make friends…

My boyfriend’s cousin’s wife has a 6-year-old daughter that just started first grade at a brand new school last week. She has spent her entire life in one particular community and made a majority of her friends within that community. Additionally my boyfriend has a pretty large close-knit family, and as a result she has plenty of cousins her age that she is friends with as well. Because that particular community is in an area where schools aren’t the best, her parents moved her to an area with a better school system. This meant a brand new school, in a brand new area, with little girls that she had never met before. Now she is pretty outgoing, and had no issue making friends at her old school. But on her first day last week, at her new school, she found that a majority of the little girls already had made their friends from kindergarten the year before. Which means cliques were formed, and friendships were already cultivated.

She went around asking each person in her class, “Will you be my friend?”

And every single person said “no”. Except for one little boy, who only said “yes” because he felt bad about everyone telling her no.

She came home sad, and a little surprised that someone as outgoing as herself could not “fit in”, in this new school. When she told her mother what happened, her mom was completely caught off guard. Her mom simply said, “Well you aren’t there for friends, your there for school. So just focus on school.”

Now me, my friend, and my boyfriend analyzed that situation with different perspectives. My friend has kids-all under the age of 4. My boyfriend and I have zero children. My friend happens to be the sister and law of my boyfriend’s cousin’s wife. They are both are young parents–my friend being 24, and her sister-in-law being 27. Both have three children. A part of me wonders if age, lack of experience, and having two other children to worry about, contributed to her responding to her daughter the way she did.

Though my friend, who is even younger, said that if her daughter came home and told her this story she would’ve said, “I’m sorry baby. You have to understand that they don’t know you yet. But I’m sure that you’ll have a better day tomorrow.” In other words she would’ve comforted her child.

My boyfriend’s perspective is, “well what if she doesn’t have a good day tomorrow? What if she doesn’t make friends? At least if she know’s she only there to focus on school and not necessarily on friends then at least she won’t be disappointed that she isn’t making friends.”

I disagreed with him. I feel as if when a child is young, of COURSE they want friends, and of course they’ll feel frustrated, sad, and alone if they have trouble making friends. And if I were a parent I would comfort my child. My advice would be along the lines of me telling my child that I had experienced what they experienced (I did) and how eventually things DO get better. And to just hang in there.

Obviously everyone has a different way of broaching this subject.

As a parent have you ever had this happen to your child? How did you address their concerns? How did you make it all better? And what advice would you have given this little girl if she were your child?

How parents can prepare for 2010 School Season

Children aren’t the only ones to be a bit overwhelmed about the upcoming school season. Parents are also frazzled at all the impending responsibilities and juggling they’ll have to do between September and June. Morning routines will change. The traffic will be much more hectic. You’ll find yourself pushed for time to get from work to school or to daycare(to pick up your child) and you’ll find that you’ll still have to juggle making dinner, cleaning, and getting your child to their various extracurricular activities. Doing all of this is extremely overwhelming even for the most patient parent. But time can be managed, and there are ways to make things less stressful.

-Prior to school starting(at least two weeks beforehand) develop a new routine that incorporates getting your child ready for school. Realistically think about how much time it takes to get your child ready and plan to wake up based on that time frame. Also take into account that you have to drop your child off at school, and then head off to work, so you’ll want to make time for that. For some people, that means getting up an hour earlier. So practice this for two weeks PRIOR to school starting. Make sure that your child cooperates. Having this practice will make for an easy adjustment when schools starts for both the parent and the child.

-Have lunches made the night before. All your child and yourself should have to do is open the fridge and take the sack lunches out. That eliminates time spent making lunch. Do the same for breakfast. Have a bowl and a spoon out already. And cereal poured into the bowl(without milk).  Cover the top of the bowel with plastic wrap or aluminum foil so that it stays good overnight. If your child likes fresh fruit, already have the fruit rinsed off and placed in a safe container in the fridge. Have the bowls sitting on the table already. Also have plates and cups set out next to the bowls at each child’s designated chair at the kitchen table. So that the child simply goes into the kitchen takes out the milk, OJ, and fruit and goes about making a quick breakfast.

– Give the children set time limits–though it may sound  a bit OCD, it will help. Give the children 10-15 minutes in the bath or shower and if you have to time the children then do so(the two weeks prior to school starting is the best way to implement this). Give the children 15-20 minutes to dress and do hair. And give the children 15-20  minutes to eat breakfast. This is of course dependent on the average time it takes your child to get ready. But on the same hand children can be rather sluggish in the morning and slow, so by rushing them just a little bit–and of course establishing time limits–you are all on the same page about when you all need to be out the house.

-Calenders and reminder notes should be your best friend. Make sure you know weeks before, what your child’s schedule is in terms of when they need to be picked up, what time they have practice, and the days they have games. Make sure that at least a month prior you have ALREADY planned out your schedule. Placing reminder notes on the fridge will remind you and the kids of who has what practice, who needs to be picked up when, and what you have planned for the day.

-On Sundays make at least 3 meals for your family. Freeze them all. Plan to have one day of take out or a day where the children eat “sandwiches” for dinner. And plan for one day when you’ll take the time to cook a fresh and easy meal(frozen pizza). By doing so you eliminate the need to cook everyday or the impulse to buy fast food everyday. You’ll obviously want to make meals that are freezer happy(i.e. soup, spaghetti, meat, casseroles, etc). On Sundays you can also do your deep cleaning.  Throughout the week you can make sure each child has a set “chore” to maintain your Sunday cleaning(i.e. one child washes the dishes every other night, the other sweeps the floor and vacuums, etc).

Finally realize that it does take a least 2 months before routine REALLY sets in, so give yourself a break. Understand that there will be days where you guys will be late. That’s okay. There will be days where dinner won’t be as good. That’s okay. And there will be days where you’ll children will divert from routine–that’s okay.  Learn to take it as it comes, but also learn to be a little prepared.

I hope these tips are helpful.