I recently had the chance (thanks to Juice Plus+!) to interview Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast Shannon Miller as part of the #mysimplechange campaign in honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Shannon has a deep passion for educating children and youth about healthy lifestyle patterns.
Even before her myriad of gymnastics medals and championships, Shannon recognized the need to give back to her community and her country. With so many worthy charity events pulling at her family from every angle, she and her husband decided it was time to start their own foundation that fulfilled their deepest intentions at its core. She saw kids dedicating their lives to movement in her gym, and couldn't help but compare them to the kids out on the street without as many opportunities to explore health and wellness. Kids are made to be active! And thus, Shannon Miller Lifestyle was born, promoting a healthy and balanced lifestyle for women and their families.
Shannon shared with me that it's truly less about being in a competitive sport, and more about simply being active and having fun! Whether it's swimming, running or even playing tag...simply intertwining physical activity into childrens' daily lives helps to limit screen time and childhood obesity all at once.
It's important to start early with kids, as it's always more difficult to fix deeply engrained food habits after the fact. Teaching kids about how the body works in simple terms, while explaining how the food they eat is for fuel for their bodies is priceless information. Shannon and I share the same belief that there should be no off-limit foods; we both grew up in an "everything in moderation" type of household.
I asked Shannon how she incorporates nutrition education into the lives of her own kids at home. She said she teaches them to understand serving sizes. "Once your kids read, they can learn what nutrition facts and serving sizes mean." She encourages basic healthy snacking at home, always offering up simple fruits and vegetables first. She also uses Juice Plus+ products as a way to fill in any gaps with her family's veggie and fruit intake.
Snacking has such a negative connotation associated with it in our culture, but I believe it's because most of us are doing it all wrong. If we use healthful snacking as a way to curb otherwise bad eating habits and behaviors, we are winning all around—keeping blood sugar stable, lowering temptation for things we shouldn't be eating, and providing our bodies with life-giving fuel and energy.
Small kids especially end up grazing a lot throughout the day because their small bodies aren't always capable of scarfing down a massive and well-balanced meal in one sitting. Some adults (namely myself) have the same "problem" and get nicknamed "the grazer" by their parents growing up.
Are you a snacker? Are your kids? Has it proven harmful or healthful in your lives?
Juice Plus+ provided me with a wonderful Healthy Habits Calendar (shown above) that you can download for your own family HERE to help track nutrition, hydration, fitness and wellness. Keep it on your fridge door so you'll see it every day!
Below are some of my favorite home-assembled snack options that are all unprocessed, gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, and dairy-free by nature, as well as low-sugar.
- 1 piece of nitrate-free organic deli turkey (such as Applegate Organics) rolled up over a piece of avocado and/or tomato
- Freeze-dried berries mixed with raw nuts (Trader Joe's carries freeze-dried fruits with no added sugars, but many other healthy aisles of other grocery stores do as well)
- 1 handful of berries
- Apples with nut butter and cinnamon
- Homemade apple chips (slices dehydrated in the oven at 180ºF)
- 1 whole-grain rice cake with hummus OR avocado and garlic powder OR nut butter and a small drizzle of raw, local honey
- Chopped raw veggies plain (broccoli florets, carrots, snap peas or bell pepper strips) OR with homemade guacamole OR hummus OR Dijon
- 1⁄4 cup nuts or seeds (can be shaken in a closed jar with cayenne, sea salt, garlic, rosemary, etc.)
- Dried seaweed snacks
- Celery sticks or green apple slices with nut butter
- Half an avocado with lemon juice, garlic powder, red chili pepper flakes and salt/pepper
- Citrus fruit wedges
- Traditionally fermented veggies like a large pickle or scoop of sauerkraut/kimchi