“Eat your broccoli; it’s brain food,” is a common theme my kids hear me say every time I serve them a dark green vegetable. Deep down, I’m sure we know that broccoli in and of it self won’t help my kids get smarter. But I call vegetables protective food – the kind of food that is low in fat, high in vitamins and in the least, can help with blood flow to the brain.
Maintaining a healthy weight has many advantages, both intellectually and socially. We know that heavy children more often struggle through social situations and often feel more excluded and lonely than their skinnier counterparts. And the best way to maintain a healthy weight is – yes, you guessed it – to eat healthy. But for our kids, this is harder than it sounds. Foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol have become mainstays in our diet, and along with a sedentary lifestyle, the future could look grim for our offspring.
It is up to us — mothers and fathers — to help them take charge of a healthy life. I have been known to resort to scare tactics, threats and bribes in my effort to help my children learn how to make healthier choices.
Here are some facts (and slight threats) that you may find helpful in your quest to teach your kids a healthier way of life:
– Eating healthy encourages good blood flow to the brain (e.g. you can be smarter than little Bessie down the street if you just eat your kale!)
– Heavy adults are twice as likely to develop dementia in later life (e.g. Aunt Susan was always heavy and look at her now, sitting in a rocking chair in the Alzheimer’s unit…)
– High blood pressure and high cholesterol are most often caused by poor food choices and a sedentary lifestyle (especially in kids and young adults) (e.g. I know you want to be a rock star, but if you have a stroke because of your high blood pressure I can guarantee you that you won’t become famous)
So maybe more research is needed to scientifically prove to my kids that they will be smarter by eating healthy. But I am not below threats and bribes to help them learn early that it takes firm and solid commitment to influence our long-term health by making healthy food choices combined with regular exercise.
This commitment to health will in the very least help our kids feel good and look great when they celebrate their imminent and future successes; whether on a rock-n-roll stage or in a high-powered corner office.