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From egg nog and chocolate chip cookies to shortbread cakes and candy – the amount of sugar your child consumes around this time of year tends to hit an all-time high.
Unfortunately, an over-consumption of white sugar can take a toll on your little one’s health this holiday season. In addition to promoting tooth decay and obesity, white sugar also suppresses a child’s immune system function thereby increasing the odds of catching a cold, cough or flu. This is likely the reason why so many little ones fall ill around Halloween or the Christmas season. A child’s immune system is made up of white blood cells that fight off infection. To measure how many invaders (“bad guys” such as viruses, bacteria or fungi) white bloods cells can fight off in an hour, a scale called the leukocytic index is used. The average grading on the leukocytic index is approximately 13.9. According to Dr. Stoll, author of Saving Yourself from the Disease-Care Crisis, within 15 minutes of consuming 100 grams of refined sugar (the average consumed in an evening meal), the leukocytic index rating drops to approximately 1.4. In other words, a child loses over 90% of immune function in a very short time!
If you are a parent like me, you know it is next to impossible to remove all sweet treats from the holiday season. In fact, I recommend it. I have found that allowing your child to indulge in a modest amount of unhealthy goodies, but also providing him/her with healthier options at home is the key to success. In order to improve the quality of nutrition your child is consuming and to please his/her little palate at the same time, simply follow these healthy treat recommendations.
• Visit your local bulk food store and load up on nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts), seeds, dried fruit and healthy trail mixes and serve in bowls around the house for healthy snacking around the holiday season. Drop in a chocolate almond here and there for an extra sweet surprise.
• Make a colourful fruit platter. As a general rule, the more colourful the fruit or vegetable, the healthier it is for you. Include fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, melon balls and seedless grapes as sweet and healthy treats for your little one.
• Buy baked chips or baked tortillas instead of the deep-fried versions. Deep-fried chips get nearly half of all their calories from fat whereas baked chips only get 10% to20% from fat. Serve chips with healthy dips such as salsa, red pepper dip or guacamole.
• Instead of choosing most microwave popcorns that contain loads of funny fats (i.e. partially hydrogenated fat), invest in a low-cost air popper alternative for healthy movie or TV treats.
• For a morning treat, make French toast on whole-grain bread with omega 3 eggs. This is a much healthier version in comparison to French toast made from refined white wonder bread.
• When preparing a recipe, cut the amount of sugar the recipe calls for in half. Your child will not notice the difference in taste.
Remember, the holiday season is the best time of year to practise moderation. In addition, visit Truestar Healthy Holiday Recipes for more tasty and healthy snack and recipe ideas!
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