A number of clients have shared with me that one of their biggest challenges is keeping enough food in the fridge for their growing teenage boys. ”How in the world can he still be hungry when he can out-eat all of us?! I can’t keep enough food on hand for him!”
This is actually not that atypical a situation. Teenagers require a great amount of energy (calories) as they are growing at a ridiculous rate on top of all the exercise that comes along with being a football, basketball and/or lacrosse player. But I tend to think the issue more often than we realize is the type of food they are eating.
Again, this isn’t always the case, but in many instances (for kids and adults), the issue isn’t that they need MORE food, it’s that they need more complex foods. It’s not your fault moms and dads…blame it on the food industry tricking you into thinking foods are healthy (95% of all marketing and advertisement dollars are spent on processed, packaged, boxed, refined, nutrient poor food, so it’s really no wonder most Americans are living off these foods and are hungry all the time! When was the last time you saw a commercial for lentils or sliced apples with almond butter?!) For some unlucky kids, they may develop diabetes and/or obesity from eating too many of these foods, clear indications that change is necessary. But for others, well, they appear to be completely healthy as they are thin and function “well enough” so the impetus to change is absent.
Both children, despite their weight differences, may be equally malnourished Yup! You heard that correctly, your child may eat 10-15 times a day and still be malnourished! You see it’s less about the AMOUNT of food or the NUMBER of calories they consume which leads to satiety and more about the NUTRITION and TYPE of carbohydrates that are being ingested at each meal. When we don’t feed our body what it needs to thrive, it will send smoke signals by way of cravings, hunger pangs, headaches, etc.
And here’s the breakdown
Simple Carbohydrates/nutrient poor foods (simple chains of glucose bound together by nothing substantial to feed our cells for the long-term):
Processed cereals, muffins, most sliced breads, bagels, most granola bars, waffles, breakfast sandwiches, crackers, pretzels, cookies, chips, candy.
Complex Carbohydrates/Nutrient Rich foods (long chains of glucose bound by fiber, nutrients, vitamins, which slow the digestive process and deposit “good stuff” into the cells the body can use for energy at a later time):
Oatmeal, oats (steel-cut & rolled), real whole grain bread (Ezekiel, for example), brown & wild Rice, barley, faro, couscous, vegetables.
The foods that are made readily available to us Americans (at drive-thus, in frozen boxes, packaged goods) are mostly in that “simple carb” list. How angry does that make you!? These foods provide energy for the cells for the short term, but cells need minerals, vitamins and enzymes to do their jobs properly for the long term (physically, mentally and emotionally).
And so, the never-ending phenomenon of craving food all day long is the body’s way of saying “I’m STARVING FOR NUTRITION.”
My advice is to keep it simple. Make substitutions or additions before you begin taking away. And don’t give up just because your new recipe wasn’t a success the first time around. Getting a kid to change his eating habits is hard work, but it’s worth the effort in the long run. Our taste buds are adaptable. Today they may be accustomed to artificial flavors, processed foods and sugar, and so whole natural foods will most likely taste bland at first. It takes kids and adults 3 – 5 times of trying a food before they really begin to enjoy eating it! So don’t give up parents!!! You’re doing the right thing just by reading this post…
Starting small is the way to make lasting changes. Don’t take my word for it, try it for yourselves… add in some complex carbohydrates and notice the change you see in the satisfaction your kids feel.
Here is a “healthy cookie” I made this week using whole grains, vegetables and natural sweeteners. Give it a try and tell me what you think!
Chocolate Chip & Carrot Cookies
Makes 24 -30 cookies
- ¾ c. Carrots (about 4 whole), shredded
- 3 Bananas (ensure they’re ripe!)
- 2 c. Rolled oats
- 4 Tbsp Natural peanut butter
- ½ c. Unsweetened apple sauce
- ½ Tbsp Pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 c. Unsweetened coconut flakes
- ½ c. Chocolate chips (go really healthy and break up a bar of dark chocolate with 70% cacao)
- 1 Tbsp. Honey
- 1 Tbsp. Chia seeds and/or ground flax seed
- 1 tsp. Sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 and grease a cookie sheet (butter, coconut oil, whatever your choice)
- In a large bowl mash bananas until they create a creamy paste. Add peanut butter and stir. Add applesauce and carrots and mix. Add all remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.
- Use a scooper to create round cookies, drop on a baking sheet and slightly flatten with the back of your scooper.
- Bake for about 12 minutes and enjoy!
AND! They’re easy enough to have your kids help with the baking!! A great way to get your kids interested in food is to have them join you in the kitchen