Feb. 5, 2006 – For many young children, the top vegetable in their diet is french fries, according to licensed naturopath and author Sally Byrd, who spoke to a small group of mothers gathered at the V.I. Montessori school Saturday morning.
The other top-ranking choices in the diets of American youngsters today are ketchup, iceberg lettuce, corn and onions, she added.
Byrd, co-author of "Are Your Kids Running on Empty? How Better Food Choices Can Make the Winning Difference," spoke to about 30 women in attendance at a free seminar entitled "Healthy Eating for Your Child's Immunity."
The seminar was sponsored by Natural Food Grocery & Deli in Long Bay.
"The state of affairs right now in the Americas' eating habits is so bad," Byrd said, adding that children are developing diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, at an alarming rate.
One in every three children are overweight, and about one in every six are obese, Byrd said, adding that the large number of fast food chains have helped bring about the rise in childhood obesity, along with the increasing amount of junk food sold in supermarket stores.
Many cereals, cookies and other snacks sold for children are high in carbohydrates, fats and sugar and are far from nutritious, Byrd told the parents.
"The public has been duped for so many years that these fake foods have become normal," Byrd said, adding that soda has become a mainstream in the diet of the American culture.
Byrd, who said she has never drunk a Coke, said she was saddened to hear that one student at the V.I. Montessori School was sent to school with a johnny cake and diet cola for her lunch.
"Kids should not be drinking soda," Byrd said. Instead she encouraged parents to make homemade alternatives, like fruit juice with Perrier water.
Developing healthy habits in children begins with parents, Byrd said, adding that parents must change their own eating habits to encourage better nutrition and serve as examples for their children.
"It's a lot easier when they're younger to start feeding your kids good things," Byrd said.
One way to encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables, Byrd said, is by appealing to things that excite them. For example, if your child wants to be a firefighter when he or she grows up, tell them that certain foods, such as broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, etc., must be a part of their diet.
During the seminar, parents were presented with samples of health food items they could give their children, such as bran muffins, a juice made out of various green vegetables and pineapple juice, whole wheat crackers and pineapple slices, which were a hit with the young children in the audience.
Copies of Byrd's book, along with the CD cookbook "Mom, I'm Hungry. What's for Dinner?" were also on sale at a discounted price.
Copies of the book can also be purchased online.
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