A Wish for My Children

By Sarah Colby

I have two sons.

One is six feet and 125 pounds and can’t gain weight. He is mostly sedentary and eats atrociously. A few years ago, when he got a respiratory illness, he got worse fast. He did not have the 10 pounds to lose that he lost. It was scary and to this day, I wish I could personally thank the inventors of the medicines that saved his life.

My second son is about six feet, three inches and well over 300 pounds. He goes to the gym, is physically active (much more than my first child but still less than I would like) and eats a pretty healthy diet. He was 18 pounds at 2 ½ months of age, wore size 16 shoes by the time he was 12 and has always been as far above the growth charts as the charts are wide.

The ultimate irony- I am a childhood obesity prevention researcher.

Obesity is a worldwide public health crisis. Medical cost associated with weight-related illnesses may cripple our economy. Many overweight or obese children of today may become young adults with diabetes. If things continue unchanged for those young adults with diabetes, what will it do for the workforce and economy if they begin to lose their eyesight, kidneys, or feet when they are barely even middle-aged? Will our children grow up to be healthy enough to take care of their own families, contribute to society, or to protect our country? Sound dramatic? It is a realistic concern. And that does not even begin to address the human suffering that occurs at every point of this spectrum.

This threat has been widely recognized and many are dedicated to changing the outcome of this story. The great news is that among young children we are beginning to see positive changes in the overweight/obesity trends. The efforts to reach families, schools, and communities, through education, programs, policies, systems, and environmental change appear to be having an impact. That investment of research funds and time may be making a real difference.

So what patterns of healthy eating might be making a difference? In general, most of us need to consume a variety of foods, in moderation, more natural and unprocessed, enough fiber (we almost all need more beans), lean proteins, more water, and eat all the colors. No, sorry, colorful candies don’t count. If you absolutely want to cut something out of you and your child’s diet- added refined sugar. That is the one thing that I can say is fine for almost everyone to cut completely out of their diets.

eatinghealthyfood
http://www.investitwisely.com

So if I know all of this, why do I still have one child seriously underweight and one child obese? Because it is not that simple. We don’t have all the answers, but we don’t give up. I talk to them about food not because they should look any specific way, but because I want them to be happy, healthy, and living the life they want to live. It is hard to be happy when we hurt and if we get sick from the way we eat and live, then we hurt. I teach my boys to enjoy healthy food and be active. Our job as parents is to provide healthy foods at every meal or snack, have regular meal times, let our kids see us enjoying eating healthy foods and being active, cook meals with our kids, eat together as a family, not use food as a reward or a punishment, and then, here is the key, not focus on what they are eating or their weight. That is the most and best we can do until we have more answers. I also believe that teaching my boys to love and appreciate their bodies and that they are beautiful the way they are, is most important. Weight matters not because we all need to look a certain way or fit a certain body type, it only matters because it impacts our health and our lives. Celebrate you, love you, accept you and live the life you want to live. That is what I wish for my children.


colbyheadshot

Sarah Colby Contact
UT Knoxville

Dr. Colby is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Tennessee. She is an obesity prevention behavioral researcher with a focus on health communication through novel nutrition education strategies (including marketing, arts and technology). In addition to her focus on novel communication strategies, she has research experience with young children, adolescents, and young adult populations; community-based participatory action research; Latino and Native American populations; food security issues; and environmental and economic influences on food behavior.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

A Trial-By-Error Smoothie and Juice Adventure

By Lili’a Uili Neville

I love Netflix binges. I am a sucker for binging on documentaries because I rationalize that learning new things justifies spending an entire Sunday afternoon glued to the couch.

About three years ago, my husband and I had a weekend where we binged on food-related documentaries. Of the numerous ones we watched, “No Impact Man: The Documentary,” “Forks Over Knives,” and “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” were our favorites. While I highly recommend all three, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead sparked a smoothie and juice adventure in our kitchen.

The documentary follows an Australian man as he travels across the United States. He juice fasts for 60 days and then adopts a plant-based diet. We had never made smoothies or juices but were inspired to give them a shot.

To Include or Not to Include Fiber

We didn’t have a blender or juicer and really didn’t even know the difference, so our journey began with research.

We found that blenders don’t filter anything out. Everything that goes into the blender ends up in the juice or smoothie. Juicers pulverize whatever you put in and separate solids from liquids, so only the juice comes out.

There really isn’t a definitive answer about whether blending or juicing is better. In my opinion, it’s best to do some research on blending versus juicing and make a decision based on your dietary needs or preference. My husband needs a high-fiber diet, so we opted for the blender. Plus, I have a beverage preference for frozen margaritas!

Vitamix was the most highly recommended blender at the time—and probably still is—but was out of our price range. The Ninja brand of blenders had great reviews, too, and my husband’s coworker vouched for its quality and reliability.

Ninja Mega Kitchen System
Ninja Mega Kitchen System

I waited patiently for a sale and finally bought a Ninja Mega Kitchen System. I chose the kitchen system over other models because it has a built-in food processor and includes a 72-ounce blender pitcher, eight-cup food processor bowl and two, 16-ounce blender cups.

 

 

The adventure really began once we got the blender. We began by blending random veggies and fruits and forcing ourselves to drink every gross concoction we produced.

That was a bad idea that led to a lot of gagging—but also a lot of laughing!

Eventually, our trial-by-error method produced recipes that actually tasted good. But I really don’t recommend this hit-or-miss approach. I’m a big Pinterest user and recommend the site for finding smoothie and juice recipes. You can find healthy smoothies for breakfast, juice recipes for detox, smoothie ingredient “formulas,” or follow a juice and smoothie board.

Protein Smoothie Recipe

As a vegetarian and distance runner, I’m very mindful of my protein intake. I need to consume at least 60 grams of protein—especially on long-run days—so I have to be intentional about replenishing lost nutrients.

My smoothies always include a scoop of Garden of Life Raw Organic Chocolate Protein Powder. I like this brand because it’s vegan and better tasting than other protein powders I’ve tried. If you don’t need the extra protein, you can skip it or swap it for another supplement, such as flax or chia seed.

Ingredients:
1 banana
15 ounces plain Greek yogurt (Peach and strawberry are also yummy)
8 ounces Soy milk (Any type of milk is fine)
1 scoop Garden of Life Raw Organic Chocolate Protein Powder
2 to 4 ice cubes

Directions:
Put all ingredients in a 16 ounce blender cup. Blend. (Makes a 16-ounce smoothie drink.)

Veggie Juice Recipe

My husband loves chicken fingers, Taco Bell, Philly Cheese steaks and basically all unhealthy foods. He eats a vegetarian and (mostly) clean-eating diet at home, but he always splurges on meat and a deep-fried something-or-other side when we eat out. Since he’s prone to indulging in unhealthy foods, he likes to make veggie juices to ensure he’s getting essential vitamins—before he demolishes a large french fry.

He drinks each 72-ounce batch within 24 to 36 hours because there are no preservatives. Therefore, the juice can spoil. You can add most any veggies to this drink, but I caution against tomatoes, broccoli and carrots because the taste and/or texture gets funky. The sweetness of the apple and pineapple juice offsets the veggie flavors, so you don’t need to add honey, agave nectar or other sugar or sweeteners. Also, use natural apple juice and pineapple juice to avoid high-fructose corn syrup.

Ingredients:
1 banana
1 washed Romaine heart (can swap for kale)
1 washed green or yellow squash (or both if they are small)
1 washed cucumber
Apple Juice
Pineapple Juice

Directions:
Put all ingredients in a 72-ounce blender pitcher. (You may need to give the veggies a rough chop to fit them into the blender.) Fill the pitcher ¾ full with apple juice. Fill the remaining space in the blender with pineapple juice. Blend. (Makes 72 ounces of veggie juice.)

An Ongoing Adventure

Blending smoothies or juice is now a staple in our weekly meal plan. Sometimes I toss in a random fruit or veggie just for kicks, but mainly we stick to our trusted recipes or new ideas from Pinterest. I hope you’re inspired to give them a try, too!


 

Lili'a HeadshotLili’a Uili Neville Contact
UT Knoxville

Lili’a Uili Neville is a runner, environmentalist and health nut. Lili’a is the communications director in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity at UT Knoxville. When she’s not at work, she is underestimating how long it will take her to complete a craft project, telling funny stories about her dog and cat or having a classy date night with her husband.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.