Fighting Childhood Obesity Through Proper Nutrition

Around the world, childhood obesity is becoming a known issue. What many people in many countries do not realize, however, is that childhood obesity is caused by a form of malnutrition.

It may seem challenging to start working veggies and fruits into a child's diet, but it can be done if you approach the challenge with an attitude of adventurousness rather than one of dread. You'll have to change your shopping habits to match your family's new eating habits, but it's really a small sacrifice to help your child grow up without the scars of obesity.

Your child may be obese already, or you may be worried that he or she will be someday. Either way, the same basic rules of eating will make sure your baby stays or becomes thinner:

Proteins: You probably feed your child some form of protein, like string cheese or chicken, but it's very probable that your child simply is not getting enough. Protein is the major building block of all tissues in the human body, and children need more than adults to keep up with their own growth. Your best bets are eggs, cheese, rare red meat, and fish. Trying to maintain a child's essential amino acid balance on a vegetarian diet is almost impossible; at the minimum, give your child a few raw eggs in a fruit smoothie at breakfast.

Fruits and Vegetables: You are almost certainly going to need to feed your child more fruits and veggies. The important thing to note is the colors: they should get at least three different colors of each, every day. It may seem like an uphill battle to work them in, but the answer is creative presentation. Make dinner salads with green pea pods, yellow peppers, red tomatoes, and chicken and cheese, three colors of vegetable, three servings, one meal. Done! Make carrot sticks and serve them with peanut butter or cream cheese for a healthy and delicious snack. All it takes is viewing the veggie-eating experience as a fun adventure rather than a chore, and your children are sure to get the nutrition they need.

Beans & Legumes: These foods are often overlooked, but they can be very powerful tools in your anti-obesity arsenal. Add kidney beans to soups, stews, and salads; add chickpeas to salads, or even to sandwiches in the form of hummus. A simple but delicious three-bean salad (green beans, kidney beans, and garbanzo beans in a simple Italian salad dressing) can make an excellent addition to your child's school lunch. These nutritive gems pack on the value.

Dairy Products: Milk. It does, in fact, do a body good. But milk is not the end of the dairy goodness. You should encourage your children to snack on cheeses, yogurt, and no-crap-in-it ice cream. The caveat: make sure the milk is either pasteurized nor homogenized. Pasteurization kills 85% of the vitamin content of milk (which is why they have to fortify it), and homogenization breaks the healthy fats in milk down into unhealthy fats that your child's body can not utilize. These foods can be hard to find, but their health benefits are impossible to overstate.