Inspiring Young Minds to Lead Healthier Lives
As a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and a Mom of 3 school aged children, I can appreciate a school environment that is not only conducive to inspiring education and success, but also to the encouragement of healthy eating habits and wellness! That is exactly what is happening at Polaris Tech Charter School!
Over the next few months, I will be working with Polaris Tech to “serve up” a deep dish of foundational nutrition knowledge to students and parents so they can broaden their knowledge and understanding about how their food choices translate to their own health and wellbeing.
This is not going to be your average “food pyramid” lesson or your “eat this”, “don’t eat that” type of health-class discussion. We are going to dive deep into the evolution of food, the different types of foods, food quality, what nutrition means to our bodies, what vitamins & minerals really do; and finally how to apply all of this information when making everyday choices about what they eat. As a bonus, we’re going to take a guided tour through the digestive tract, because let’s face it...who really knows what happens to your food after you swallow it??? I didn’t!! That wasn’t something I learned in grade school. This is really important because it’s not just about what you eat, it’s really about what you’re able to digest!
Many of my Nutritional Therapy clients have said to me that having had this knowledge presented to them as a kid would have saved them from years of unnecessary pain and health complications. I can personally relate to this as well, and seeing the transformation of my own kids when we cleaned up the diet at home, I truly believe with every fiber of my being that every child, and every parent should have readily available access to good nutrition education.
Well fed bodies lead to sharper cognitive skills, better behavior, better athletic performance and all around happier kids! Kids’ nutrition needs are extremely important because they are very active and growing little people! They need sustained energy and good quality nutrients to build healthy bodies and to fuel their information devouring and developing brains.
Unfortunately, convenience food which largely comprises the Standard American Diet (AKA S.A.D. Diet) is missing the mark when it comes to nourishing today’s youth. Many of the processed and prepackaged foods that are lining the grocery store shelves are packed with sugar and refined carbohydrates, along with chemical preservatives, food dyes and flavor enhancers that are scientifically proven to cause excitation and excessive stimulation in the brain, similar to the effects of some narcotic drugs. These factors together can have damaging effects on a child’s behavior, attention capabilities, developing brain and overall health. So many of the chronic diseases that are epidemic in our country can be traced back to poor childhood nutrition and poor diet into adulthood.
If you are a parent reading this, then I’m sure you’ve attended your fair share of kid birthday parties. You probably know the program quite well. Kids come, they play, they open presents, they have pizza, cake and ice cream, they go bonkers from their sugar high, they come down, they melt down...and then you’re dragging your tear streaked munchkin out of the party and into the car before they become completely unmanageable, and they fall asleep before you make it home. Sound familiar???
This is pretty much the same type of scenario that comes with a big bowl of sugar frosted cereal, a chocolate covered donut or package of Pop-Tarts washed down with a glass of chocolate milk or orange juice first in the morning. This is a really common type of breakfast, and many children are being sent off to school on a sugar rush and expected to pay attention, learn and perform under these circumstances. Lunch often times looks very similar. It’s no wonder that ADHD and childhood diabetes have become such big problems in the United States.
Empowering ourselves and our children is the first step in turning this tide around to improve and protect our health. Learning about differences between whole foods vs processed foods, understanding the importance of balanced macronutrients, getting back in the kitchen and involved in food preparation, paying attention to food quality and what these things mean to our health will help us make better choices. We need to set the standard, lead by example and teach our kids how to care for themselves so we when we’re not there to do that for them anymore, they will know what to do.
With a teaspoon of information and a cup full of effort we can nourish ourselves, our families and the generations to come.
Author - Hollie Donelson, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
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