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04 April 2006 @ 05:34 pm
 
i hope this is ok here:

yesterday an lj friend of mine made a post about childhood obesity, and several of her friends (including me) got into a discussion on healthy eating habits, the struggle to afford healthy foods on a low or fixed income, the need for exercise & activity.

as i can see some room for improvement in this area in my home, i thought i'd ask anyone who is interested, to contribute some tips to living healthy -- food choices, recipes, fun activities, kid-friendly healthy snacks, anything like that. or anything you can think of that i didn't describe!

i know this is not totally related to christianity, but i prefer to get family-related advice from women who have a relationship with christ.

i'm also cross-posting this a couple places.
 
 
 
nicolebaker on April 16th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
Although some healthy foods are more expensive, making it difficult for lower-income or fixed-income families to afford them, in the long run eating healthier offsets the costs of medical care for diseases/illnesses caused by unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise. Think of healthy foods and exercise as an investment. My husband and I are both Christian and vegetarian, and we think of beans, fruits, veggies, etc. as God's "gifts of the ground." They taste good, they are good for you, and they are very versatile.

My advice is to seek out filling foods like beans, nuts, sweet potatoes, or rice (but not white rice) in bulk (some health food stores and grocery stores have bulk bins) and then experiment with the fruits and veggies that are in season at the moment - try the same ingredients but in different recipes. Some spices are cheap but make a huge impact on a meal's flavor. I rarely use any spices other than hot sauce, cayenne, or cinnamon. If you like bananas or certain types of apples, they can usually be found for pretty cheap. Try a local Farmer's Market for fresh, cheap produce. Raisins, some unsalted nut varieties, unsweetened applesauce, carrots or celery with peanut butter, or graham crackers with peanut butter make good kid snack choices because they are healthy but not expensive. Depending on where you live and what grocery stores are in your region, you may have more opportunities to get healthy foods for cheaper - places like Safeway and Fry's (West Coast) or Kroger and Harris Teeter (East Coast) have discount cards and have some REALLY good deals on produce. If you have a Trader Joe's in your area, they sometimes have some really good deals as well - although they have some strangely overpriced stuff, if you look, you are sure to find a good deal on vegetarian frozen meals, wheat pasta, jarred sauces, etc.

If you are eating something like spaghetti, switch to wheat pasta and instead of meat sauce, use veggies and mushrooms. Seek out Japanese and Thai recipes (they are all over Google) - most of the ingredients are cheap and healthy. If you must eat frozen pizza, get a plain cheese one then add shrooms and veggies and maybe some extra sauce. If your kid insists on mac & cheese, mix in some broccoli or baby peas. If your family eats a lot of sandwiches, use a wheat bread with peanut butter and lower sugar jam and serve fruit with it to make the meal more complete. Also, pay attention to calorie and sugar content in kid's meals and snacks. Some "kid's meals" at a restaurant are more than enough calories for an adult, and some kid's snacks have almost twice as many calories as the adult equivalent.

As for incorporating exercise - if you have a dog, "pay" your kid to walk the dog daily. Reward him/her with a nickel, a privilege, etc. NEVER use food as a reward. If your kid is too small for that, just make a game out of chasing each other in the yard or park. If you have more than one kid, make a contest - their competitive nature will overtake them, and they'll run faster, jump higher, etc. just to win.

I know how troublesome childhood obesity can be - my parents fed me vienna sausages, spaghettios, cookies, candy, icecream, etc. and never made me exercise. They were pretty poor at the time, and we ended up eating a lot of spaghetti, sandwiches, beef stew, fried chicken, 99cent burgers, french fries, and other high calorie foods that were mostly comprised of starch, meat, grease, sugar, and fat. Happy Meals and milkshakes and ice cream were my "rewards," and a bowl of some sugary cereal with whole milk was a "snack." I ended up with weight problems that followed me into adulthood. Thankfully, God has delivered me from that now, but at my worst, I was at 185 pounds and headed for a lifetime of health problems.