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A PIECE ON PIZZA: Learning to balance your child’s life through pizza

Updated: Mar 19, 2022

A recent article in Pediatrics examined children’s pizza consumption patterns and how it impacted their energy and nutrient intake. The conclusion showed an adverse effect of pizza consumption on children’s diets causing #nutritional imbalance.


It isn’t necessarily that pizza is bad, but eaten as a snack, instead of an apple with a cheese stick, for example, significantly compromises a child’s nutritional and caloric intake.


I use this example because it shows how important balance is in our lives, more generally.


Families are incredibly busy, carpooling to soccer practices, attending #basketball tournaments on the weekends, and music lessons on top of fitting in homework demands and social functions, such as birthday parties. Being conscious about balancing our lives is an incredibly important concept to teach our children in order to promote a quality life.


This is a lesson a friend of mine, who teaches a #leadership course, delivers to his students at the beginning of each semester.


He has them draw a picture of a wheel, then has them fill each part of the wheel with different areas of their lives, whether it is #coursework, class time, exercise, hanging out with friends, or work.


He explains to them that each moving part is essential but if one area takes over another, then their wheel will become lopsided, unbalanced, and it won’t turn smoothly. Their lives are no different than this visual #analogy.


This is an excellent lesson to teach our children today, and the best way is through example and encouragement. My daughter and I sat down and she created her own wheel.


I told her to think about what she was eating and how it might influence her energy level, the importance of sleep and how it can affect her performance both at school and in her #sports, and how important it is to exercise daily, spend time with her friends and family, but also to take time for herself doing things she loves.


I will always appreciate an article I read years ago about the importance of boredom in children, and how parents can encourage it and embrace it to add balance.


The idea is that boredom fuels the imagination in our children and creates much-needed downtime from our hectic lives. Certainly, there is value in being active but sometimes it is okay to take a moment to sit.


It is an idea that the Conquest Health and Fitness Foundation strives for in their mission, and that is the Quest for Balance.


FAST FOOD GETTING HEALTHIER


Looks like the fast food industry is starting to realize that consumers are highly aware of the junk that’s in the food they’re selling. The taste will likely remain the same but the additives and GMO’s are on the fast track making their way out of menus. Panera bread recently announced it will be publishing a list of 150 additives and preservatives it plans to remove. On the list are the familiar artificial trans fats, high fructose corn syrups and artificial coloring. Other restaurants following the healthier ingredients trend are Chipotle Mexican Grill, McDonald’s, and Dunkin Donuts. McDonald’s promises to stop using chickens with certain #antibiotics. Chipotle is removing all GMO’s from its burritos and bowls. Dunkin Donuts has already removed the additive titanium dioxide (used in #sunscreen and paint) from its powdered donuts. More restaurants are likely to follow suit.


YOU C.A.N EAT BETTER


According to a study led by Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, we could eat better if policymakers and food companies applied the C.A.N approach to marketing and packaging. Each day the average person makes around 200-food related decisions, 90 percent of which are quick instinctive actions. After looking at 112 studies involving consumer behavior and healthy eating, Wansink discovered three key factors which insured healthy choices.


C- Convenient: When children were asked why they didn’t eat more apples and pears, their answers ranged from the fruit was too big for their mouth, was too messy to eat, or got stuck in their braces. However, fruit consumption rose to 70 percent when it was pre-cut and ready to eat. Kids and adults are more likely to reach for fruits and veggies if they are pre-cut and ready to go.


A- Attractive: Food has to either look attractive or sound attractive to be appealing. Kids will eat #broccoli if it is dubbed “dinosaur trees”. A veggie burrito sounds pretty bland until you call it, “The Big, Bold and Tasty Bean Burrito”.


N- Normal: We want to eat food that is normal or acceptable to others. Think of the 100-calorie packs of snacks, drinks, or even the dessert shooters and other portion-controlled options at restaurants and grocers. If it’s hip, we’ll follow the herd and order or buy it.


A NATURALLY SWEET WAISTLINE


Increasing your intake of sweet fruits could help you shed pounds and shrink your waistline. According to a research review published in the journal Obesity Reviews, the body has an inverse relationship between fruit intake and body weight. Simply put, eat more fruit and get a healthier #waistline. While evidence continues to mount that processed sugars increase waistline, natural sugars found in fruit do not. What’s the difference? The sugar found in fruit comes with #nutrients, phytochemicals, and #dietary fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar into your #bloodstream and helps you feel fuller. So, head to the fruit stands and fill up!


PIZZA, ONLY BETTER

Swap out greasy take-out for a fun family time of healthier pizza making.


English Muffin: Top whole-wheat English muffin halves with pizza sauce, part-skim mozzarella lean turkey, chicken or beef and veggies. Bake at 350 degrees for about five minutes.


Pitzas: Use whole-wheat pita rounds and spread on basil pesto or pizza sauce. Add a low-fat cheese and veggies. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.


Breakfast Pizza: Top whole-wheat pizza crust with scrambled eggs, chopped baby spinach, lean ham and low –fat cheese. Bake in the oven for two minutes or until cheese melts.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kim Neir is the Executive Director of Conquest Health and Fitness Foundation.

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