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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.

            More by this author

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            Last Updated on September 16, 2019

            How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

            How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

            You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

            We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

            The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

            Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

            1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

            Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

            For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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            • (1) Research
            • (2) Deciding the topic
            • (3) Creating the outline
            • (4) Drafting the content
            • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
            • (6) Revision
            • (7) etc.

            Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

            2. Change Your Environment

            Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

            One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

            3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

            Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

            Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

            My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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            Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

            4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

            If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

            Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

            I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

            5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

            I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

            Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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            As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

            6. Get a Buddy

            Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

            I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

            7. Tell Others About Your Goals

            This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

            For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

            8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

            What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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            9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

            If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

            Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

            10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

            Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

            Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

            11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

            At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

            Reality check:

            I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

            More About Procrastination

            Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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