Because of the good example that his mother sets for him, Dr. Angelica Neison’s son also has a strong interest in consuming nutritious foods.
A plethora of information is available regarding nutrition, our diets, “good” foods, and “bad” foods. Unfortunately, they are frequently inconsistent and can be difficult to understand.
When making decisions about what constitutes healthy eating, most adults find it difficult to differentiate between what constitutes fact and what merely constitutes fiction. So how can we expect children to know the truth about what is healthy to eat?
Dr. Angelica Neison, who works for Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group and is board-certified in family medicine, is particularly interested in culinary medicine. This is the process of assisting patients in regaining and maintaining their health through applying the sciences of medicine, nutrition, and cooking. She thinks that children are famished with an assortment of healthy foods and information regarding nutrition.
In this article, she outlines the top ten strategies that she has found to be effective in educating children about healthy eating, including the importance of leading by example and providing opportunities for the children to take the initiative on occasion.
- Eat your veggies. Consume some form of fruit or vegetables with each meal. Create an appealing aesthetic for it. Children enjoy coloring, and they eat with their eyes first. Teach them to “eat the rainbow,” which is the best way to ensure they get all of the beneficial nutrients that vegetables can offer.
- Mix it up. It would be best if you never gave up on offering your children a wide variety of foods. There is a presumption that all children enjoy eating food devoid of flavor. As a result, most restaurants’ children’s menus consist of the same standard fare: chicken nuggets, hamburgers, or grilled cheese sandwiches, frequently served with french fries. When they are starving, most children will sample whatever food is in front of them. Children should not have their chances to sample wholesome foods made more difficult by the fact that they are not offered.
- Stop eating all those processed foods. Reduce your intake of processed foods, as many contain high amounts of sugar and sodium added after processing. It’s okay to indulge in a cupcake or bag of chips now and then, but you shouldn’t make it a daily routine. Instead of offering the same old snack options, try serving nuts, vegetables, fruit, or hummus.
- Give your children several different options to choose from. Children enjoy making decisions about virtually everything, so why not give them some say in the foods they consume? Begin by taking them to the supermarket or a farmer’s market, where you’ll allow them to select one or two types of vegetables that they particularly enjoy eating and then invite them to assist you in preparing those vegetables in the kitchen.
- Get away from the meat already! Children, not unlike adults, could benefit from consuming less animal protein in their diets. A wide variety of foods besides meat contain protein in addition to meat. Beans, edamame, nuts, nut jars of butter, and even whole grains all contain protein, and as a bonus, they are typically more cost-effective than purchasing meat.
- Maintain a cool temperature for the carbs. Carbohydrates are an essential fuel source for active brains and growing muscles. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asserts that whole-grain bread, pasta, cereal; brown rice; potatoes; fruit; peas; and beans are examples of carbohydrates that provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Because baked goods, sweets, and sugary beverages do not provide any additional nutrition beyond a quick energy source, they should be reserved for special occasions only.
- Have no fear of fat. Fats are essential for growth and development in both children and adults. Fats are a source of energy and provide essential fatty acids necessary for various bodily processes. In general, less than thirty percent of your child’s diet calories should come from fats, and no more than one-third of those calories from fat should come from saturated fat.
- You should give up your diet. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents not to put their children on restrictive diets but to emphasize good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. Dieting harms virtually everyone. Instead, you should assist your child in developing a healthy relationship with food through your attitude and example.
- Make time for your family. Eat together at least once or twice weekly, although the more often you can do it, the better. Consume your food without being distracted by electronic devices like screens or phones. Only serve them the amount that they are likely to finish. Children need to eat less than adults do, and they can always ask for more food if they want it.
- In the interest of the environment, eat. It is only sometimes effective to tell children to watch what they eat for their health. After all, children are still young and frequently believe they are invincible. The advice that I give to my children, such as to consume fewer pre-packaged foods, to consume less animal meat, and to experiment with growing some of their food, is beneficial to both my children and the global community in which they live.