Healthy Eating for Kids: Teaching Your Child to Eat Healthy in a Fast Food World

Five: What You Should Know About Corn

Corn is very hard to digest and can cause medical problems. I used to serve corn for lunch at my daycare until I researched and found out what it really does to the body. I would change my toddler’s diapers and see whole kernels of corn in their soil. Corn is a vegetable full of starch, which causes serious weight gain in children. Many foods contain corn syrup or cornstarch, especially in packaged processed foods such as cereal, potato chips, candy, and applesauce. Corn is used as a sweetener in most soft drinks available. Canned sweet corn can be high in salt, with some brands containing as much as 500 mg of sodium per cup. Some people are sensitive to corn, and the allergy symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and asthma.

Popcorn is not as healthy as everyone thinks it is. Children who go to the movies receive massive amounts of butter and salt. I have seen adults add more salt and butter at the condiment station after they received their popcorn. The movies and other places also serve sugar-flavored popcorn such as brown sugar caramel, cinnamon, and cheddar caramel. Microwave popcorn is unhealthy too, because the bag is lined with a chemical toxin that is found in Teflon pots and pans (http://foodbabe.com/2013/11/12/microwave-popcorn/). Also, some popcorn brands still carry trans fats, which are considered to be one of the deadliest fats available because it is associated with heart disease. However, if you simply must eat popcorn, be sure to choose air popped.

Once I received this information about corn I decided not to serve it to the children at my daycare, mainly because it is too hard to digest for the children’s little bodies. Corn is also genetically modified, which means it has been altered for other uses. It can also trigger allergic response and cross-pollination (http://healthyeating.sfgate.com). There are numerous vegetable substitutes that can be served to children instead of corn such as carrots, green beans, broccoli, kale, greens, and celery.

By the way, corn syrup and cornstarch is in most sweets and candies. With that in mind, I would like to bring something to your attention. Just about every month involves a holiday or a special day for sweets. For instance, February consists of Valentine’s Day and involves numerous chocolate candies such as hearts. March has St. Patrick’s Day, which involves candy four-leaf clovers and leprechauns. The month of April brings Easter, which has Easter eggs and jelly beans. Mother’s Day is always in the month of May, so mom gets chocolate with her card. June is Father’s Day, and there are plenty of sweets around for that occasion as well.

July is the month of Fourth of July, which involves cookout and plenty of cakes and pies. September is the month of Labor Day, which involves the same as the Fourth of July. October is where the whole month has massive amounts of candy for the children, and grocery stores have lanes full of candy. November is the month of Thanksgiving, which includes the popular sweet or pumpkin pies.

December is the month of Christmas, and includes plenty of candies and sweets based on that holiday alone. For instance, candy canes are very popular for this holiday. They have advanced to Hershey’s chocolate, Jolly Rancher, cinnamon, blueberry, cherry and the list goes on and on. I am aware of this because I used to eat all of these flavored candy canes and then some. Oreos even have a crème color flavor for a particular holiday. For example, during Halloween the crème color is orange, and for St. Patrick’s Day the crème color is green. I think you catch my drift.

Here are a few ideas for children that can be used as substitutes for these holidays sweets. For Valentine’s Day the children can make a cherry smoothie by adding frozen cherries, bananas, and almond milk. St. Patrick’s Day would include four-leaf clover smoothie pops. The children would add spinach, frozen bananas, pineapples, and almond milk, then pour into a popsicle-size ice tray, allow to cool and serve. For the Easter holiday, have children slice pineapples, cantaloupe, and melons into Easter egg and bunny rabbit shapes.

Children can make flowers for Mother’s Day using flavored Jell-O and fruit. On Father’s Day the children can use fruit to make ties for their dad. On the Fourth of July the children can make the American flag by using carrot sticks for the stripes. Use fruit for stars by using a star-shape cutter. For the month of September the children can make a veggie tray and make cubed cheese for Labor Day. In October have children bring in healthy snacks from home that they made with their family, such as ants on a log, apples with cinnamon. During November children can make a pumpkin or sweet potato smoothies. My children love both of these.

During Christmas children can make red Jell-O sundaes. First you use long plastic sundae containers, add the Jell-O, then low-fat cool whip and repeat this method until you reach the top. You can also have the children add green Jell-O if they like. The children can make a fruit candy cane too, by simply slicing bananas and strawberries and rotating each fruit into a candy cane shape. Here is a great website for making healthy foods during the holidays: http://kitchenfunwithmy3sons.com.