Basic tips to help with children’s nutrition!
As children get older they are increasingly influenced by the media and their peers. Not always a good thing as TV advertising promotes ‘junk food’. Would be nice to see a creative/catchy jingle of farmers selling their fruit/veg. Sometimes help is needed with children’s nutrition.
Peer pressure can consist of teasing for eating healthy foods. This could result in choosing trendy more popular processed foods. Trying to fit in is a normal part of pre-teen and adolescent development.
Good habits are easier to establish early.
A balanced/varied diet can help with prevention of ailments now becoming common in childhood (eg: Type 2 diabetes, Obesity, Poor Growth & Development etc).
Simple pointers for childhood nutrition:
-Don’t forget fluid intake. Important for children who are often busy and running, jumping and playing, they will often forget to stop and take a drink break. Offer water as a drink readily.
-Variety is everything. A diet that lacks variety will lack nutrients. In the early years surround your children with a variety of healthy foods. As they get older they will see it as normal.
-Parents and care-givers are role models. Good sources for nutritional habits & preferences. Children don’t always do what you say but (especially toddlers) love to do what you do.
-Help children feel involved in food choices and meal preparation. Make it a game whilst shopping to identify fruit and veg. Assisting with cooking will help stimulate an interest in different foods and will provide a foundation for a healthy relationship with foods.
-Fat is crucial in a children’s diet, helps to provide nutrients for growing children.
-Small frequent meals are often received better than large portions.
-Be creative, use different textures, temperatures and flavours. A cookie cutter could be used to make fruit and veg look more appealing.
-Persist with new foods, but don’t force children to eat what they truly dislike. An assorted platter placed out is a great idea for exploration.
-Take that extra time in the early years to establish healthy habits and preferences. It helps to lay a foundation which can help parents deal with the later impact of fast food advertising and peer pressure.
-Source your information from a variety of places and look for factual evidence that supports comments and opinions. Will help you with wondering if you are on the right track.
-GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK! At least you are trying. Thinking of your child’s future and doing what you can. Don’t be too hard on yourself. The above are guidelines to help out if necessary. There is a lot of pressure about lately with lunchboxes etc. Do what you can! Think of the basics and it will all fall into place.
References: HAA, Childhood Nutrition, 2016.