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I have a sweet tooth. A MEAN sweet tooth. Like the kind of sweet tooth where my mother used to catch me eating sugar straight from the sugar bowl she kept on a high shelf in our dining room cabinet. I also liked to eat raw Jell-o straight from the packet. The term “addict” would not be a stretch here.

I’ve weaned off a bit, but I still like “something sweet” after most meals (breakfast included, obvi). However, after attending a talk by mom of two and PEAC Health and Fitness master trainer Michelle Briehler on healthy eating habits for kids this morning at the Pennington Public Library, I know I have to grow up and get a grip on the sugar consumption.

Briehler’s presentation covered eight key healthy eating habits (see below), but she zeroed in on sugar as the big target for establishing healthy eating habits in kids. From avoiding obvious sources like sugary cereals to being aware of the shockingly high amount of sugar found in seemingly healthy snacks like yogurt and organic apple juice boxes, making an effort to reduce sugar in one’s diet is key, Briehler said.

Eat this, not that.
Eat this, not that.

As a mother of two elementary-age boys, Briehler also talked about being aware of the amount of sugar presented to school kids on a regular basis through class birthday party celebrations, holiday events, and sports games and practices. In fact, she is actively working with the school district to find ways to improve school nutrition and is working on a video aimed at kids and parents on how to navigate school lunch rooms.

In addition to talking about eating right, making sure kids exercise and get enough sleep, Briehler presented an array of healthy snack ideas such a cut-up fruit, trendy items like chia seeds and quinoa, and protein balls made of peanut butter, oats, flaxseed and dates. She also had two crock-pots available of steel-cut oats and a delicious lentil and sweet potato dish that my 14 month old and his buddy consumed with rabid abandon.

Lovin' on lentils.
Lovin’ on lentils.

I’ve come a long way in my effort to eat better. In college I had Little Debbie products readily available in my cabinets, but during my twenties I wised up and made some significant changes to be more mindful about the crap I consume on the regular. Now, thanks to sites like 100 Days of Real Food, Weelicious and Real Mom Nutrition and, of course, Pinterest, it is easier than ever to incorporate healthy changes into my family’s diet.

Thanks for the reminder, Michelle. Now to tame that sweet tooth…

Briehler’s 8 Healthy Eating Habits

1. Eat fruit and vegetables

2. Exercise

3. Eat breakfast

4. Drink water

5. Get a good night’s sleep

6. Sit down for family meals

7. Brush and floss teeth

8. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

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Andrea Fereshteh has been writing for as long as she can remember. An avid journal-keeper as a child, she dabbled in dramatic notes to her parents and designed her own stationary. With a zest for small talk and meeting new people, she pursued journalism in college and worked for nine years in PR, writing and media relations for the higher ed and nonprofit sectors. She has a mousters and ducktorate from Disney University and is a mother to two lively boys who inspire her to just keep writing, just keep writing.

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