There is no “secret” to losing weight. The factors that contribute to weight loss haven’t changed since mankind first evolved – you need a healthy diet and adequate exercise. Children especially can struggle with making the right changes – partly because they don’t know exactly what to change and partly because their parents or care-takers have taught them or tolerated so many bad habits that the cycle is hard to break.
This is where weight loss camps can be highly beneficial. Here, trained professionals work with kids and teens to teach them how to eat healthy as well as how to enjoy exercising. One of the hotter topics in dieting these days is carbohydrates. The popular diets that told people to eliminate all carbs from their diet to lose weight has led to many people wrongfully believing that reducing or eliminating carbohydrates is a healthy way to live and lose weight. While it may help people lose weight initially, it is not a sustainable, healthy dieting method. The truth is that we need carbs to be healthy. The problem comes when we need to select healthy carbs to eat and avoid the bad ones.
Let’s begin with the basics – carbohydrates are one of three “macronutrients” that are necessary for a healthy diet. The other two are protein and fat. Yes, fat. Protein comes from things like meats, dairy products, soy, nuts, and seeds. Fats come from meat and essential oils that are found in plants. Fats can also be found in things like butter, fruits, and vegetables – such as avocados.
When you look at a “healthy” recommended diet, it becomes clear why eliminating carbohydrates from a person’s diet, especially that of a child, can be harmful. Carbs are supposed to account for 50-60% of a daily diet, fats 20-30%, and proteins 20-25%. Would you feel like you were eating well if you cut 50% of your diet out? Of course not!
So where do we find healthy carbohydrates? For the most part, carbs come from plants and some fruits and vegetables. The problem with the typical American’s diet, however, is that they get the majority of their carbs from processed foods like flour, crackers, and cookies.
That is not to say that we can’t all enjoy cookies from time to time. We can, and nobody ever became obese by eating a cookie every now and again. However, getting our carbohydrate intake from the aforementioned sources is problematic. These “mass produced” sources of carbs are a concern because the “healthy” carbs that come from the wheat are lost during the food processing. What is left are carbohydrates – just not healthy ones. This would be like taking an apple and cutting it in to 8 pieces then taking one piece of apple and covering it with caramel, chocolate, whipped cream, and sprinkles and calling the whole thing a “fruit serving” for the day. It doesn’t work.
So now that you understand the problem with processed sources of carbohydrates, you need to be able to tell the good carbs from the bad carbs so that you can teach your children how to eat well. Thankfully, it isn’t that hard to do, it just requires a little common sense. When you’re thinking about buying something to eat or feed to your family, think about how easy it is to trace that product back to something that grows naturally. If you have a hard time tracking it back to nature without going through a couple of processing factories, chances are the product in question is full of a lot of unhealthy carbs and few healthy ones. To make things even easier, I’ve compiled the following list of healthy sources of carbohydrates
Fruits & Vegetables
Whole grain breads, rice, pasta, etc.
Seeds and nuts (pistachios, sunflower seeds, etc.)
Keep the list above in mind the next time you go shopping for the family. Additionally, if you’re in the process of investigating weight loss camps for your child, keep the list in mind as you look at samples of the food that they serve. If you don’t see menus that are based on healthy carbs, you are probably better off looking elsewhere. Most weight loss camps employ or consult with a professional nutritionist, however, so most, if not all, should serve meals that are healthier than most kids eat at home.
Last but not least, remember that your children have been developing poor eating habits for their entire lives, so making a switch to a healthy diet won’t be as simple as flipping a light switch. They may not like the taste of whole-grain food since there aren’t a ton of sugars and fats added to make them taste good. However, over time, they’ll develop an appreciation for the healthier foods and will begin to prefer them to the unhealthier alternatives.
David Kraft is a freelance author with many areas of specialization. He promotes healthy living for today’s youth and provides information about teen weight loss camp. You can learn how his camp is not a fat camp in the typical sense.