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10 Basic Eating Rules Most Children Don’t Know

10 Basic Eating Rules Most Children Don’t Know

Kids are born with a lot of inherent knowledge, but how to eat healthfully isn’t  one of them. If kids had their way, they’d live in a land of candy, gorging every day on sugary goodness with no thought for health or financial consequences, whether short or long term. It’s up to parents to teach their kids to look and think beyond all the marketing hype that promotes unhealthy eating.

Here are 10 basic eating rules your children don’t know as well as you think.

1. Snacking Can Be Unhealthy

Mmmm...donuts....
    Mmmm…donuts….

    In case you’re not aware, companies like U.S. Sugar Corp have backend deals to ensure their sugar crop is not only subsidized by the government, but embedded into as much food as possible. Nearly everything you eat is filled or covered with sugar; even fruit today has more sugar content than it did 100 years ago (watch The Botany of Desire on PBS for more info). The healthy snack you choose may not be as healthy as you think.

    “Parents often think that granola bars, chocolate milk, or muffins, which are loaded with sugar, are good for students,” says former teacher Leesha Nikkanen. Instead, she recommends parents “pack their kids’ lunches with fruit and nut bars, such as Lara bars, homemade gluten- and sugar-free cookies, drinks sweetened with agave or stevia, or milk flavored with cocoa powder.”

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    2. Soda Isn’t Water

    They’re both liquid, and there is water in soda, but that doesn’t make soda healthy. Kids have a tendency to gravitate toward sugared drinks such as soda, juice boxes (which rarely contain more than 10% actual juice), and chocolate or strawberry milk. These are all full of sugar, which is probably making them hyperactive and is definitely dehydrating them (and putting them at risk for diabetes and cavities to boot). Making your child drink at least 4-6 cups of water each day will ensure they live long enough to hate you for it later.

    3. If It’s Night, Eat Light

    homer-simpson-eating-pig

      Your body’s natural metabolism is faster in the morning and slows down at night. As a human being, your child is no different. Kids love eating at night, the later, the better. They always seem to get hungry right before bedtime. The problem with kids eating at night that the process of digestion can cause poor quality sleep, and they may still feel too full in the morning to eat breakfast.  Breakfast is important, however, because it provides the energy to get through the day.  Skipping breakfast has been tied to poor school performance, as well.

      4. You Are What You Eat

      When you eat something, your stomach acid dissolves it, breaking it down into chemical compounds your body uses to build and rebuild itself. The human body is largely comprised of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, and phosphorus. When you eat natural foods (plants and animals), your body is provided with the necessary building materials to create muscle, bone, blood, hair, and skin – this is why nutrition is so essential.

      Eating heavily processed foods unbalances the chemical reserves your body has to work with when building and rebuilding. Instead of the natural proteins, calcium, and carbohydrates it needs, your body will be built from the plastics, gels, and gums contained in candies, cookies, and other snacks. This won’t just affect your physical health; your brain depends on what you eat as well.

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      “The brain is made of fat,” nutritionist Danielle Girdano explains. “The brain of a child doesn’t fully develop until he or she is between 22 and 25 years old. DHA and EPA fatty acids are crucial not only to the development of the brain, but to the cognitive and functioning potential of it.”

      5. The Calories Are in the Sauce

      Can I also get a diet Coke?
        Can I also get a diet Coke?

        This is something adults seem to struggle with as well – if you think dousing a salad with dressing is dieting, you’ll never lose weight. It never ceases to amaze me how many people hate eating salad, yet they do it anyway in the name of dieting. They then proceed to fill that salad with so much cheese and dressing that it actually has more salt, fat, and calories than they would’ve consumed if they’d had a burger. We all say we know salad dressing is unhealthy, but we’re usually saying it while eating it.

        It’s not just salad dressing; most condiments (aside from mustard and hot sauce) are filled with calories. Adding extra sauce to pizza and pasta adds more sugar, salt, and calories than you probably realize, as well. Make sure your kids are eating foods they actually enjoy so they’re not tempted to drown everything in sauce to get it down. One way to find out is to ask them what they like and involve them in the grocery shopping.

        6. The Five-Second Rule is Bunk

        I notice people mostly invoke the five-second rule to excuse why they’re eating food off the floor like animals. You dropped a chip and really don’t want to waste it?  I’m down with conservation, but if you seriously believe bacteria and dirt take five seconds to touch your food, then by all means lay your morning toast in the cat’s litter box butter side down for 4 seconds, then pick it up and eat it without examining it. Don’t worry…five-second rule.

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        7. Cook Like Mama Used to

        When all else fails, bang your head...
          When all else fails, bang your head…

          Home cooked meals are healthier (and cheaper) than prepared meals at stores and restaurants (especially fast food places, where the employees are often treated poorly and willing to take it out on unwitting customers). Your kid wasn’t born with the ability to cook, but if they see you (or their friends’ parents) doing it often enough, they’ll get curious.

          Cook at home, and teach your kids to do so as well; this will ensure they’re resourceful enough to eat healthfully in a variety of situations.  With any luck, they’ll avoid becoming dependent on fast food and other unhealthy conveniences.

          8. Fruit Flavor Isn’t Fruit

          Starburst isn’t fruit…Skittles aren’t fruit…Gummy cherries aren’t fruit…Strawberry soda isn’t fruit.  Just because something is fruit-flavored does not mean you’re eating fruit.

          9. Stop in the Name of Love

          Portion control is an essential part of nutrition. A slice of cheese is good for you; not so much a pound of cheese. Some people’s idea of portion control is eating an entire cake in smaller bites to give the body time to digest it. They’re still eating an entire cake. “Calories in – calories out” is a great way to look at portion control. You’re more than welcome to eat a 1000-calorie slice of cheesecake, but you’ll need to follow it up with a 1000-calorie workout if you want to stay healthy.

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          In order to teach portion control to kids, Chris Weiler, a Youth Athletic Development Specialist, recommends a three-quarter rule: “Your protein and carbohydrate servings should take up about the same amount of space as each other on three-quarters of your plate. It doesn’t have to be exact, just in visual proportion. The last quarter…is filled with whatever.” Kids love the illusion of free will, so it’s essential you give them as much choice in their lives as possible, while still making sure to present them with only the options you’re willing to follow through on.

          10. Shut Yo Mouth

          All-you-can-eat is NOT a challenge...
            All-you-can-eat is NOT a challenge…

            My biggest pet peeve is people who don’t close their mouths when they eat. Do you realize that when you eat with your mouth open  you’re making disgusting sounds that everyone around you finds unattractive? Believe me, nobody needs to hear every disgusting chomp and ear-curdling smack coming from your mouth when you eat.

            Learn to think about others around you, and perhaps eat as though you’re a civilized human being instead of some ravenous wild boar. Absolutely nobody wants to sit and listen to you eat, so you’ll find fewer people give you disgusted looks when you close your mouth to eat. Just to be clear, this means open your mouth to put food in, and close your mouth until it’s empty.

            Breathe through your nose (everyone does it; it’s entirely possible) and whatever it is you have to talk about can wait until after you’ve swallowed. If you don’t follow these rules, know that you fill everyone around you with rage during meal times, and people will politely avoid you rather than torture themselves with your spine-tingling lack of respect.

            These things are things you might think your kids already know, but they don’t.  Teach them, and they will be healthier for it.

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            Last Updated on July 8, 2020

            18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

            18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

            The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

            1. Understand Yourself Better

            Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

            Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

            2. Keep Track of Small Changes

            I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

            Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

            3. Become Aware of What Matters

            As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

            You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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            4. Boost Creativity

            The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

            When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

            You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

            5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

            A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

            Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

            6. Process Life Experiences

            When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

            Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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            7. Stress Relief

            In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

            Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

            8. Provide Direction

            Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

            One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

            9. Solve Problems

            Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

            Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

            When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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            10. Find Relief From Fighting

            Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

            Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

            11. Find Meaning in Life

            Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

            12. Allow Yourself to Focus

            Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

            13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

            When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

            14. Let the Past Go

            I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

            15. Allow Freedom

            Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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            16. Enhance Your Career

            Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

            Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

            17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

            All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

            18. Catalog Your Life for Others

            No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

            We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

            Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

            Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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