Top 5 Reasons to Explore a Healthy Lifestyle for Your African-American Child

Growing up in the south, you find yourself surrounded by all different types of foods: Creole, Cajun, and Soul food, of course! Soul food is the official “poster child” of the southern lifestyle and originated during the American colonial period. By the 1960s, the expression “soul food” almost exclusively described foods from African American culture. While every culinary category has its set of guilty pleasures, there are many southern dishes filled with sodium and fats, causing adverse effects on the body. Exceptionally critical to children, these adverse effects can stunt growth and even lead to childhood obesity. The solution? Healthy eating!

Welcome to Tre’s LunchBox, where we will explore just how easy it is to create beautiful, tasty, beneficial meals that your toddler will love!

Before we dive straight into the goodies, let’s learn a little about what Tre’s LunchBox is! Tre is a toddler living in the South, possessing a healthy appetite for nutritional foods cultivated by his mom Desiree Mingo. Desiree creates lovely, healthy, simple breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners inspired by her joyous son. Displayed on adorable bamboo plates, each meal is visually appealing to toddlers - with bright colors and textures – and consists of delicious, nutritious foods as well!

If you find yourself saying, “My toddler only likes chicken nuggets and french fries!” then this is the place for you! Here are the top 5 reasons why your toddler should be eating healthy:

1. Obesity rates are on the rise: Although we are not number one on the ranking list, the United States is still close to the top. The average BMI in the USA is 28.8, which is only 1.2 points away from pure obesity. We live in a world of constant on-the-go and quick eats versus a slow, savoring style of eating. It is critical to show children at a young age the benefits of eating healthy. Unhealthy eating habits can lead to increasing cases of ADD/ADHD, allergies, Alzheimer’s and dementia, anxiety/depression, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, cancer, heart disease, hormonal imbalances, IBS, menstrual disorders (girls), GERD, type-2 diabetes, skin issues, and of course obesity/thyroid dysfunction. Scary, huh?

2. Boosts Brain Power: Of course, our children are smart and intelligent alone, but wouldn’t it be awesome to help that muscle memory in their brains increase even more? Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts can help to improve brain function in your young aspiring Rosa’s and Barack’s. According to a study conducted in December 2017 by the University of Pennsylvania, kids who eat seafood at least once a week have higher IQs (4 points higher on average) than kids who eat fish less frequently or not at all. Seafood lovers unite!

3. Sports and Athletic Performance: Imagine your child signing up for a sport (football, basketball, baseball, etc.) and sitting out every game due to his/her “sluggish and tiresome” performance. Without a proper diet of nutritious veggies, fruit, proteins, and water consumption, this is definitely possible. The better the diet, the better the performance. Touchdown!

4. Healthy Gut/Body: Let’s be honest: every time we hear the phrase “my tummy hurts!” we automatically go into mommy/daddy mode to figure out what’s wrong. Is it a stomach bug? The flu? COVID-19?! Sometimes it can just be a simple tummy ache linked to too many processed foods, sugars, and synthetic food additives. These eating habits can lead to various gastrointestinal issues, such as leaky gut syndrome (intestinal hyper-permeability in fancier terms). I’m not saying you can’t treat your little one to a sundae on Sunday or birthday pancakes on their birthday but keep it to a minimum! Their gut will thank you!

5. Sleep: Ah, sleep… Sometimes the toddler’s number one enemy! Sleep plays a vital role in kids’ health and affects their overall function, mood, and behavior. But what does this have to do with food, you ask? Eating foods that are low in fiber and high saturated fats and sugars goes hand-in-hand with lighter, less restorative sleep, leading to more 3 am visits to mommy’s room. Without enough sleep, kids are also more likely to make unhealthy food choices. Eating healthy foods throughout the day will assist in earlier bedtime routines.

Here at Tre’s LunchBox, we want our children to experience and showcase their #blackboyjoy and #blackgirlmagic every day! We hope to bring inspiration and healthy habits to the black community, building healthy minds, bodies, and souls along the way.