Diabetes: The Epidemic
America has a national campaign to combat childhood obesity.
It comes at a time when the connection between excess weight and Type 2 diabetes in both children and adults is conclusive.
The percentage of children between the ages of 2 and 11 who are overweight has nearly tripled and rates continue to rise in those ages 12 to 19 (Harvard Health Publications, 2009).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average, one in three U.S. children born in 2000 will become diabetic. Do I have your attention now?
The Problem: Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates
Never before in human history have we had such an emergency need to lower blood sugar. This is due to the fact that we are inundating our bodies with sugar and refined carbohydrates. The United States Department of Agriculture statistics show that in 1821, Americans consumed 10 pounds of sugar per person per year compared to 141 pounds of sugar per person per year in 2004.
Our bodies were never meant to handle this kind of sugar intake. And, it is not only sugar that is the culprit, but also the overconsumption of cookies, cakes, pastries, breads, chips and crackers. The list goes on, but you get the idea.
The Solution: Nutrient-Dense Foods
Like everything else in life, the solution is all about balance. Human beings are designed to use a combination of unrefined carbohydrates along with healthy fats and proteins as our primary sources of fuel.
Let’s use the analogy of a campfire. Carbohydrates are the kindling or quick burning fuel for the fire, and healthy fats are the logs or slow burning fuel needed to sustain the fire. Both are needed as fuel to sustain energy, along with protein, which supplies the building blocks for a strong body.
In my opinion, a nutrient-dense meal or snack is one that includes healthy fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
So whether you are looking for healthy snacks, struggling to manage your child’s weight issues or are concerned about diabetes, these nutrient dense snacks will point you in the right direction and are kid-tested and kid-approved by my 6- and 9-year-old daughters:
- Hummus (made with good quality olive oil) is a great dip for any raw vegetable.
- Almond butter on sliced apples is a quick and easy snack.
- A smoothie made with whole coconut milk, banana and berries will provide energy for hours and supply a myriad of nutrients.
- For a quick hot lunch on a cold day, beans and shredded cheese with some sliced fruit on the side will satisfy your family. If your child has a dairy sensitivity, nutritional yeast tastes great with beans, has a “cheesy” texture and is full of B vitamins.
- Make an antipasto plate with sliced meat, olives, avocadoes and tomatoes, and drizzle with olive oil.
In addition, some key tips for maintaining blood sugar balance throughout the day, for children and adults alike, include eating a breakfast of healthy fats and good quality protein (e.g., an egg and vegetable scramble), eating carbohydrates in combination with protein and healthy fats, eating a whole foods diet 80% of the time, getting more of your carbohydrates from vegetables, switching from juice to herbal teas, and having fruit for dessert.
Parent Power: The Key to Prevention is in Your Hands
By keeping our cupboards and refrigerators well-stocked with nutrient dense foods, we are modeling healthy choices for our children and setting the stage for better nutrition – and better health – now and in the future.
Ellen Syversen, MPH, CHES, NTP of Pathways for Health, LLC, offers holistic nutritional counseling, education and therapy for persons of all ages to correct imbalances in body chemistry and achieve optimal wellness naturally. For more information, visit Ellen’s website, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Ellen at 541-912-8624. Parenting Now! is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening families through parent support and education. Explore this site; visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram; or call 541-484-5316. Family Info Line is also available; call 211, extension 5, or send an e-mail to email@example.com