Just the other day, I arrived home to find my children jubilant about a new snack our babysitter had introduced to them. I immediately assumed it had to involve some serious chocolate for them to be so smitten, but I was wrong. The exciting new snack was simply this: An apple with its core cut out, stuffed with a mixture of peanut butter, rolled oats, and a touch of honey. Slice the apple crosswise, and you get wonderful rings with peanut-butter centers. (Yum!) I was ecstatic to have a new, healthy option in the snack repertoire.
Just the word “snack” makes a food more appealing to my children. It sounds more like a treat than something you “should” eat. But snacking (on unhealthy foods) is a primary cause of childhood obesity. As our Senior Food Editor, Elisa Bosley, outlines in this month's Parenting column, “snacking has increased fourfold in the past 25 years and now contributes 26 percent of total calories consumed by kids age 2 and older,” according to USDA research. This fact alone illustrates the importance of making sure the snacks your kids eat are healthy ones.
But encouraging good eating patterns is about much more than just keeping children from gaining a few extra pounds. Obesity places children at a higher risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and some cancers. On the flip side, a healthier diet can positively impact children's moods and activity levels, and might even mitigate autism and ADHD (see “The Nutrition Link,”).
And it's not just our children who need to watch what they eat. We all need to make nourishing food choices. Recent research shows that many of us want to eat healthier, but we don't know where to start. Often, neither parents nor children understand what makes a product healthy versus unhealthy. That's where Delicious Living comes in. We're here to help you and your family navigate the path to a healthier lifestyle. If you can't find what you're looking for in these pages, go to deliciouslivingmag.com, where you'll find archives of recipes and wellness information, as well as our new meal planner for kids' lunches, Healthy Lunchbox, to keep your kids jazzed about eating well.