Not all hamburgers are equally unhealthy, and not all granola bars are healthy. The world of children’s food is no longer as organized as it used to be. Kids are eating less and less at home. Only cereal and milk are threatened to be left of the traditional hearty breakfast. Teenagers almost never eat dinner with their parents. The army of fast-food lovers is gaining more and more young fans. Now what are we supposed to do about it all?
Our distant ancestors, upon entering the modern world, would certainly have been awed by cars and telephones. But even more shocking would have been their place in our value system as children. In any traditional society, even 100 years ago, a child was seen as an inferior adult. Cooking for him separately? On purpose? Let him be glad he was fed at all!
If this approach were somehow mastered anew, humanity would once and for all forget about food thrown in the trash, about grandmothers dancing can-can in front of their grandchildren for a spoonful of soup… and about overweight children, too. But let us proceed from the current state of affairs.
Reading labels and counting numbers
Has it ever occurred to you to read the labels (or equivalent) on some baby products? If it hasn’t, start soon. It is easy to find children’s breakfast cereals – “rings” and “stars” – which contain 28 grams of sugar in 100 grams, almost a third of it, or milkshakes, in which not a single natural product is included, or children’s pizza with 980 kcal and 1860 mg of sodium. And we give these things to our children with our own hands. It’s unbelievable!
Kids and fast food
The amazing phenomenon is that many sane parents just don’t think about what their child eats. Nourished, healthy, and not cranky? Well, that’s great! At the same time, they limit themselves to “junk food. If there are those around you, tell them this: since 1980 the number of overweight children in the “civilized world” has increased almost threefold. And it’s proven that 70% of obese children will be obese their whole lives.
Cartoon advertising: stop the engine of commerce!
Research conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics has shown that a child under the age of 8 in most cases will choose the food that is advertised by cartoon characters – for some reason it is always the food that has maximum calories and minimum nutrients. All of the world corporations – manufacturers of products for children are well aware that such advertising works, so it spends more than half a billion dollars a year. And no one is going to reduce the amount of funding for these campaigns.
There are some shifts, though. In Los Angeles and San Francisco, authorities are restricting the construction of new “fast-food outlets. In Europe, local laws are being passed that prohibit the sale of food that does not meet nutritionist requirements, with bait toys. Someday the same thing will happen to children’s fast-food advertising that happened to cigarette advertising – it will be cut back and then banned altogether. Ronald McDonald will finally retire, the crazy squirrel from “Ice Age” will leave the lunch boxes, and Winnie the Bear will, as before, be associated only with an honest barrel of honey. But how many children will have to get diabetes before then?
What foods do children need?
What should our children eat? The daily menu for children over the age of two should be based on fresh vegetables and grains, legumes and fruit, dairy products, fish and sometimes meat, as well as natural unrefined oils and quality animal fat. Actually, fat is necessary, do you hear? Without it, the child will lack energy and strength for internal “building”. Quality, that is real natural butter, mutton fat, poultry fat – only domestic, not factory broilers, pumped full of antibiotics. It should not be combined with bread and pasta, but with vegetables-anything except potatoes.
Renowned nutritionist claims that today’s children have four major problems in terms of nutrition. First: children eat too much protein. Second: their diet contains only refined foods (flour, rice, pasta, oil, sugar), and there is no use for them. Third: lack of water. Exactly water, because they drink juice at best, and more often soda, upsetting the balance in the body, which needs a lot of clean water without impurities. And fourth: instead of natural healthy products (kefir and yogurt), they receive supposedly healthy (yogurts and cottage cheese), stuffed with sugar, dyes, preservatives and flavor enhancers. Change something in your son’s or daughter’s diet on each of these points right tomorrow, and things will move forward.
Children and Adults: Eating Together
If you want to raise a child who appreciates proper, healthy food – do not be lazy, eat it yourself, both: it makes no sense to bring up a boy to love salads with fresh vegetables, if the father only recognizes the chebureki. Want to influence your child’s table habits? Sit down at the table together as often as possible. Allow children to be involved in deciding what you will eat this week. He’s a person like you, he’s entitled to his likes for some foods and dislikes for others.
There are a lot of foods in the world, and there is always a compromise to be made. Take your child with you to the store. Discuss recipes. Talk to your child and ask questions to get a better idea of why he likes one food and dislikes another. This is all called “horizontal hierarchy. Forbidding and forcing (“vertical hierarchy”: I am the adult and I order you and you obey) – this policy works worst with food. Flip through the scenes of the “don’t-want-not-to-eat” scandals in your memory. Have they ever, even once, led to long-term results?
American Pamela Druckerman’s book about an American mother in Paris learning how to raise her children by the example of French women, in the Russian translation, I think, is called “French Children Don’t Spit Food. It makes sense to read it for those who can’t find a balance between strictness and democracy.
Preschoolers: Playing with food and setting a good example
It is not necessary to turn food for young children into a daily entertainment, but once a week at lunch or dinner you can put a little more effort and imagination into it. For example, you can build a broccoli tree garden with raisin fruit, a flower bed with vegetable petals, and a toasted cow. You can make a sandwich in the shape of an animal. You can paint the cereal with natural dyes. Make colorful dumplings. Lay out a picture of rice and vegetables. Yes, just put the components of the dinner on a plate in the form of a funny face! It is in this “played” food, which the child will be waiting all week, you can, on second thought, include healthy foods, which any normal young body categorically do not want to put in itself.
Of course, this does not mean that if your child is sick of celery, and at the sight of pears it promptly leaves the room, on Fridays he should try to cram pear jelly with celery ice cream in the shape of a gnome. Play fair. Just keep in mind that there are a few food types that work better than others. These are meatballs (good for fish), mousses and soufflés (for both fruit and cottage cheese and cheese), puree soups (vegetables-fruits), smoothies and shakes (vegetable juices, fruit, dairy products), sandwiches and rolls (wholemeal bread, fish, cheese, green salads), and of course pizzas (anything).
And by no means impose a total ban on fast food, even at an age when you have complete control over your child. From time to time you can try anything. But not as a reward for anything! Let junk food (junk food) is not associated with encouragement. Your attitude toward it should be quite indifferent.