All parents worry about their child's health. But pestering kids over eating or exercise habits is often futile. Sometimes, it's more effective to let kids teach one another about health and nutrition. My eldest daughter, Daphne Oz, author of The Dorm Room Diet, has taught her siblings and classmates about health. I asked her to write a "Just for Kids" outline that you can email or hand your kids (and your friends).
My parents always wanted me to know why eating healthfully was important to overall performance, probably to drown out my whining for junk food. As I became a teenager, this health knowledge gave me confidence that at least I could understand ways to make my body work for me, and I wanted to share this power with my friends. Whether you are growing up in a home where healthy eating and regular exercise are priorities or where fast food feels just like home cooking, figuring out how to lead a healthful lifestyle can be a challenge. While fad diets might seem like the quick-fix solution to lose weight, they won't help you get healthy in the long run. Cutting out major food groups (like carbohydrates) is not a sustainable diet, and eventually you'll probably end up gaining all the weight back. Even if you do manage to stick with the strict guidelines, who wants to be that person who is completely obsessed with what he or she eats? Rather than torturing yourself (and your friends) by limiting what you are eating to a few, select items, why not try a plan where you're in total control and get to decide where, when, and what to eat? A diet is simply an individual's eating regimen: it doesn't have to mean the restrictive plan we've come to associate this word with. Developing a diet that is healthful, balanced, and appropriate for your particular caloric needs is easy enough and is absolutely critical to establishing a healthful lifestyle that incorporates proper nutrition, adequate fitness, and mental resilience.
Nutrition. A critical step, and the one we start with in our health corps programs (healthcorps.net), is learning about resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is the number of calories that your body burns when you are sitting around doing nothing. Since RMR varies from person to person, it's important for each of us to discover our own daily caloric needs so that we can balance eating and exercise accordingly. Eating should be enjoyable, but it should also serve to keep students looking fit and feeling great. By learning about the importance of the various macronutrient groups (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) and the value of information in nutrition labels, we are better educated to make informed choices about eating so fad diets begin to lose their appeal as long term options. We have a cheat sheet to help you read a nutrition label and eat out smartly on oprah.com. Share this information with your friends and use it to audit your refrigerator at home and give your parents a hard time so you all live better.