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Does your child drink caffeine?  How young is too young to drink “the fuel?”  As an ingredient to many children’s favorites from sodas to candy to ice cream, as well as many over-the-counter pain and cold medications, it behooves parents to know just how caffeine may affect your child.

According to the Nemours Foundation–a pediatric health system and research group–here are some of the ways caffeine affects a child’s body:  Can cause

  • nervous and jittery feelings
  • an upset stomach.
  • headaches.
  • trouble concentrating and sleeping.
  • a spike in heart rateand blood pressure

Madness, to me, is the thought of parents giving their children full-on coffee drinks as beverages.  But hey, who am I to judge?  If it’s no problem for you to handle a screaming, caffeine-amped maniac, then more power to ya.

Even worse, though, is the number of parents feeding their children liquid sugar.  If that isn’t enough caffeine and sugar to whack them out physically and mentally, then throw in some Cap’n Crunch.  Be my guest…it’s your kid.  My girls won’t get caffeine before high school if we can help it, and maybe even college if it’s entirely up to me.

But it’s a tough one with caffeine and sugar permeating most popular kids’ drinks.  In any case, if you are allowing your child to drink soda and coffee beverages to their juvenile hearts’ content, then don’t be surprised when they’re put on the Ritalin at school–it’s a natural progression.

Listen up parents–if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Kids do as their parents do. This is true of how they care for their health, including what types of treatments they seek out. According to a recent study coming out in the February issue of Pediatrics, almost twelve percent of American children use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

The study conducted at Harvard Medical School looked at data on 9,417 children younger than 18 years of age; it set out to differentiate between users and non-users of non-mainstream therapies. They found that if parents used alternative therapies, the more likely their children used them, too. In the study, they purposely ignored vitamins and minerals, so that they could get a better sense of the use of herbs and homeopathics. Chiropractic and acupuncture were not mentioned in the report, but were likely a part of the study.For the children using CAM therapies, they did so mostly for chronic conditions such as anxiety, stress, musculoskeletal conditions, skin conditions and sinusitis.

Surprisingly, 66% of children with cancer used CAM therapies. Some doctors find this disturbing since they say some alternative therapies can interfere with other treatments.OK, first off, for some people using non-mainstream forms of treatment or tonics are not “alternative”. I can tell you that in my family chiropractic was a way of life. I’ve been seeing chiropractors since I was seven years old; I adjust my daughters regularly, my wife when she was pregnant, and I adjust my siblings and mother, too. It’s a lifestyle for us, not alternative.

We’ve also been taking vitamins, juicing, eating whole, natural foods (sorry, we’re not vegetarian, my vegan friends), exercising and seeing acupuncturists for as long as I can remember…and we are not alone. Truly encouraging is that the numbers of people living healthy lifestyles keep growing every year.

Sure, if you are infatuated with the practice of medicine, you’ll shrink in abhorrence. God forbid anyone use something other than what Dr. Oz recommends. Wake up you people–mainstream medicine is jumping on the bandwagon with many CAM therapies because these same practices they’ve vilified for decades actually work.

The study itself can be taken in two different ways: one, that doctors (especially pediatricians) need to pay more attention to their patients, because their unspoken health habits could interfere with the good doctors recommendations (drugs); or two, doctors need to pay more attention because their patients are embracing CAM therapies, which…ehem…work.*

No doubt, every consumer needs to practice ultimate caution–some herbs and other therapies can be dangerous if used improperly, bought from disreputable sources, or not administered from a knowledgeable (and liable) practitioner. But isn’t this what today’s health care is all about–due diligence, self-information, professional consultation, scrutiny and personal responsibility? Sure better be–it’s your health.

*Most known and long-practiced therapies work for some people, yet no one therapy works for all people, not even medicine.


Last post I discussed the difficulty some parents have with guiding positive change in their children’s behavior with regard to health. For instance, when facing the task of limiting television time, many parents of overweight and obese children lack confidence in laying down the law.

I believe that uncertain parents simply lack a strategy, so last post I outlined a practical strategy for limiting T.V. time for children. It’s fair, and it’ll work if parents can stick to their guns. But like I pointed out in the post, it might be harder to implement with teenagers, as poor habits get harder to break the older kids get.

As promised, I’m posting some tips on establishing healthy eating habits for families. This was another area parents of overweight and obese kids lacked confidence in implementing. Some basic rules apply* when it comes to eating well, and they are:

  • Eat primarily whole, natural foods–real food; not processed. Fruits, vegetables, real dairy (yes, butter), real meats, and low-glycemic carbs.
  • Eat primarily at home. Eating out, no matter how healthy it seems, is still inferior to cooking at home. Believe that.
  • Cut out soda–worst damn crap you can put into your body.
  • Minimize the desserts–I know this is hard with kids, but you’ve got to keep the portions small. Two cookies (small to medium size) three times per week, and something more involved (cake, ice cream, whatever) one time per week is plenty to excessive. If you can avoid developing the habit from the start, even better. My daughter Delilah gets a small cup of ice cream once a week–that’s it; she doesn’t know any different.
  • Keep portions moderate–it’s my opinion that massive portions are the greatest contributor to obesity. Most Americans don’t need half the food they are consuming. Bring it down, big boy.

That’s it. Simple. But, as I’ve said before, this will be much harder to implement with teenagers. Teens have enough independence to make their own food choices throughout the day. This one simple fact may make it impossible to completely change their bad eating habits–the same one we’ve all had at that time in our lives.

But it’s the little kids we can influence. They may still move toward unhealthy diets as teenagers, but I guarantee you by the time they go to college they’ll remember what you’ve taught them as children, and return to eating that way. Guaranteed.

So that’s a lot of responsibility you have parents. You can be soft and uncertain, or you can be firm and certain that you are teaching your children good habits which will last them a lifetime. Your decisions now, as well as your challenges, will shape their future. They’ll thank you for it one day. I’m certain of that.

*For a more comprehensive list of healthy eating tips, read my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health.

Many parents have a hard time disciplining their children. Laying down the law doesn’t come easy to all of us. Some find it so hard that they even risk their child’s health. Check it.Current research from Harvard University shows that many parents of overweight or obese children lacked confidence in implementing and enforcing various lifestyle behaviors that could help their children improve their health. When it came to laying down the law with regard to limiting television viewing, removing TV from children’s bedrooms, cutting back on fast food, reducing intake of sugary drinks, increasing physical activity, and improving the family’s overall eating habits, the parents studied scored pretty poorly in the confidence category. What this means is that these parents (446 surveyed) were unable to satisfactorily push their children to do the right thing.

I know it’s not always easy getting the kids to do what they should be doing–lord, I’ve got two champion tantrum throwers myself; and, of course, not everybody is as hard-assed as I am. But here are some tips that might just help some parents get their children to make a change:

  • Have a strategy–going in blind is a sure way to fail.
  • Start slowly–making drastic changes will create resentment and possibly a revolt.
  • Have your child list all the television programs he or she watches regularly. Have them pick two or three, and let them know they’ve got to dump the rest.
  • Choose a reasonable amount of time you will allow your children to watch T.V. weekly (I personally think 9-12 hours is fair to generous–one hour per night during the week, and two hours each on Saturday and Sunday).
  • No T.V. in the bedroom, period. Same with internet–sorry–too easy to watch via web.
  • Once their allotted time is up. (Click) Shut off the tube, and remove the remote.
  • Set aside time for the whole family to be together for reading or talking. If you don’t like to read, better start–kids do as their parents do.
  • Expect pissin’, moanin’ and grumblin’–stay strong, it’ll pass.

I realize that the age of one’s children will impact the success of this type of plan. No doubt, teens who have developed bad habits will be tough to break, but you’ve got to try anyhow. It’s why I always say, “Start early.” The younger the kids are when you develop habits, the easier it is to influence and form them. Hate to say it, but it might turn out that the only families able to successfully implement this type of regimen might be the ones with youngsters. Nevertheless, I’d try anyway if I were you. Can’t hurt.

Check in tomorrow for tips on how to get your family’s eating habits up to par. For sure, T.V. can be fun; but as a regular habit for kids, it’s as damaging as they come.

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