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Weighing In On Their Future

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We’ve all heard about the youth obesity epidemic, but sometimes I wonder if people grasp how serious it is.

Did you know that 20% of four-year-olds in the US are obese? 1 in 5 four-year-olds!

Now you may say that it’s just baby fat and that they’ll grow out of it, but here are some things you should know:

  • 10% of non-obese children become obese adults
  • 40%-50% of obese children become obese adults
  • 70% of obese adolescents become obese adults
  • 80% of obese adolescents become obese adults if one parent is obese

In addition to their weight itself, most obese children have at least one other major cardiovascular risk factor, (i.e. high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, high insulin or high blood pressure). These risk factors were previously thought of as adult conditions, not ones you’d find in kids. Our children’s generation could be the first generation where the parents live longer than the kids do.

So who’s to blame? In my opinion, we all are. Parents, schools, the community, and society all carry the burden of what’s happening to our kids. We all need to step up and do our part to help overcome it.

What Parents Can Do

I’m a father myself (I have two boys, ages 9 and 11) and as parents, we make choices for our kids every day that influence how they will live their lives. Here are some suggestions for what I believe we, as parents, can do to keep our kids on the right path:

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Waffling Gluten-Free

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I LOVE making pancakes (waffles too). Always did. Not just pancakes but wild blueberry banana pancakes. It is true that it is the simple things in life that bring the most pleasure and making wild blueberry banana pancakes with my daughter on a weekend morning is top of the list.

So several years ago when the need to go off gluten threatened the morning breakfast-making ritual, I needed solutions!

I went Gluten-Free while troubleshooting a health related issue. As it turns out, gluten was not the culprit although it took almost six months to determine this (the issue has since resolved itself). At the time I was faced with the prospect that so many people with celiac disease or gluten-intolerance deal with on a daily basis. And I slowly began to discover just how much of my typical diet would be affected – hint: this was not just about bread. So many of our processed and unprocessed foods contain gluten. Eating out became a huge challenge and suddenly those trips down to Brooklyn, NY to visit friends and family could no longer include side-foodie fave trips for pizza, bagels and falafel – ouch!

Worst of all – I soon realized that pancakes (and waffles) were also off the table – the ultimate blow. I became relentlessly committed to finding a Gluten-Free alternative to get them back on the table.

While Gluten-Free products have improved over the years I wasn’t having much luck finding a mix that didn’t turn pancakes into stonecakes (do not use as a flotation device) despite working with different ratios of mix to eggs to milk or water. A random discovery lead me to of all places 30 miles west of Portland, Maine—to Gramma Mills of Steep Falls. Gramma Mills’ products are available in health food stores and some healthy food sections of the supermarket. A registered nurse, the company owner started exploring different mixes after her son became gluten intolerant in 2004. While hesitant to get my hopes up based on past mix experiences I decided to give it a try…

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Setting realistic goals and seeing them through

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A year and a half ago I couldn’t run a mile without stopping. As of right now I have completed four 5Ks, a 10K and 2 half marathons and I can’t wait to see what I can do next! If two years ago you told me I would run 13.1 miles, I would have laughed at you. How I got this far has taught me a lot about life in general and the importance of setting goals.

No matter what your goal is – running a 5K, cutting your grocery bill, getting a promotion, losing weight – all of them have a desired end result and it can be actualized. The end result can seem staggering to achieve and you may have stalled before because climbing that proverbial mountain seems overwhelming.

Here are a few tips to help you chart your way to success, no matter the goal:

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Shh…The Ultimate Secret to Weight Loss

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Contrary to popular belief, diet supplements, the latest diet fad, and even exercise can’t help you lose as much weight as this secret. And I’m going to let you in on it….are you ready?

It’s portion control.

If you can control the size of your food and meal portions, you’re well on your way to looking great – and [bonus] feeling better.

It’s easy to over indulge, especially with those foods that may not be the healthiest for us. But don’t worry. You don’t have to give up your chocolate or lose the carbs.

Here are some tips that will help get your portions down to size [pardon the pun]…

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Eating healthy while working from home

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Being a freelance web designer and now co-owner of a web design company has allowed me to set my own work hours and location for many years. There is nothing handier then being able to work from home, especially when my son is sick, or the weather is bad. And some days it’s just nice to stay home and not get wrapped up at the office.

So with being able to work at home you would think it would be easy to eat healthy. You can decide at noon and prepare fresh what you feel like eating. And no threat of eating out when there are leftovers just a few feet away ready to be heated up. And how about the chance for variety? You can skip PB&J and quickly grill some salmon and asparagus for your mid day meal.

However I have found that eating healthy while working from home is perhaps more challenging than the days when I head to the office. I’ve narrowed my trouble down to the following:

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Déjà vu

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Every Sunday, I plan out a week’s worth of dinners. I make a detailed grocery list so that I will hopefully only have to take my two kids to the grocery store once. I take pride in my organizational skills and my ability to come up with healthy, kid-friendly meals that also appeal to me and my husband.

Every night, I swirl around the kitchen, doing a deliberate dance between the sink and the island, the stove and refrigerator. All while trying to keep the peace between two tired and hungry children. I give them art projects, recommend games to play, let them ‘help’ me cook. Mostly, I try to keep them from whining, or hurting themselves, so that I can accomplish the task at hand: feeding us, sustaining us, keeping us healthy.

Every night, when we sit down to eat, three-year-old Tess immediately pushes away her plate and says, “I not like that. I want something else.” This is probably because we used to give her something else when she requested it, until I got really, really tired of catering to the whims of a toddler. (Plus, the pediatrician told me I should stop.)

So now, we explain that this is her dinner, and if she doesn’t want to eat it, she’ll be hungry later, but this is her only chance to eat. I felt bad about this new strategy for a millisecond, until I realized that she wasn’t going to waste away overnight. And did I really want a child who would only eat four things, anyway? So now we sit through dinner, listening to her ask for yogurt and watching her make her ‘yucky’ face at the meal I so lovingly prepared.

And every night, when I put her in bed, she says, “Mommy, I hungry.”…

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Dinner with the “Stars”

You toss your backpack on the shelf, swipe your ID at the entrance, and grab a plate. Knocking into other students as you weave your way through the dinner rush, you send out a mass-text message to see where your friends are sitting. You pile a couple of slices of pizza on your plate because they’re a quick choice and you’re trying to get to that 6:40 review session for your nail-biting exam tomorrow.

You’re a college student trying to stay nourished in a fast-paced, multitasking society, and you don’t have time to plan the perfect meal.

At the University of New Hampshire (UNH), this is where Guiding Stars comes to the rescue, giving “fast” food a new meaning…

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