The nutrition of the modern child is far from ideal. There is an overabundance of sweets, snacks and fast carbohydrates, and a critically small amount of vegetables, fruits and cereals. It is difficult to wean a child who is more than five years old from such a diet. But it is necessary for his health. Here are a few principles of good nutrition to help adjust your children’s diets.
The average amount of added sugar (unnatural sugar that we get from sweets and other foods) recommended by nutritionists for children is 32 grams per day, that is 4 teaspoons.
Excess sugar is very harmful to children’s bodies. When a baby eats candy, his blood sugar level rises sharply. Within three hours, white blood cells (macrophages), which protect the body from infections, begin to work 30% worse. The body experiences an immune deficiency caused by harmful “sugar” calories. Bottom line: children are more susceptible to disease if they consume too many sweets. That’s why it is so important to reduce the amount of sugary foods in children’s diets. And, of course, everyone remembers that sugar is bad for teeth.
Protein for Every Child
There should be enough protein in the food that the child eats. If he is shivering, mood swings, tearful and just not himself, give him something healthy to snack on: whole grains, vegetables, protein products. The nutrients in these foods will regulate blood sugar levels for a long time and help improve health.
Look at the ingredients
When buying foods for children, always read the composition. In an effort to add less sugar to their products, beverage manufacturers very often resort to these artificial sweeteners:
Potassium acesulfame (acesulfame K, Sunnett, Sweet One);
aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal);
saccharin (Sweet’N Low, Necta Sweet);
Look out for products labeled “light,” “no calories,” and “zero.” They all contain artificial sweeteners, which are especially harmful to children’s bodies. They can tune your child’s taste buds to the sweet taste, awakening a desire to eat and drink unnaturally sweet products. Children should be accustomed to the more subtle, natural sweetness of fruits and vegetables. If the taste buds are properly adjusted, the child will choose wholesome foods and drinks on his or her own.
Offer your child whole, unprocessed foods
Your child will develop better and grow healthier if you give them whole foods. The sugars they contain are natural to the body. They are absorbed into the bloodstream gradually. In doing so, the body releases the amount of insulin needed to transport sugar from the blood to the cells.
When a child eats processed foods, sugar enters the bloodstream very quickly (within minutes). The body perceives this as if it has been offered a huge dose of sweetness, and produces a three-hour supply of insulin. After about an hour, the amount of sugar in the blood is close to zero, but insulin is released for about two more hours. This releases a huge amount of adrenaline into the blood (about the same as choking). The baby begins to feel irritable and wants a new batch of sweets. If he receives it, everything repeats, if not, he experiences a loss of strength.
Give up “super-flavored” foods
Modern food is similar to drugs in its effect. It contains a lot of flavors and is addictive, including in children. Food that has been extensively processed seems “super tasty. It is sweeter, saltier, fattier than natural foods, and can lead our taste buds astray.
If your baby is just starting to eat solid foods, he probably likes fruits, vegetables, legumes and other natural products. But if later you give him a taste of ready processed foods, he will want to eat them, because they have a more pronounced taste.
Imagine that a young child’s tongue is a blank slate, where the foods he tastes as he grows up leave his taste. He will love what he is regularly fed. Give him vegetables – he will love vegetables. Let him eat a lot of sweets – he will begin to prefer sweets. This applies to older children and adults, too: if your food is full of tasty unhealthy foods, you will become accustomed to them. And when you start eating less of them, your taste buds will readjust and begin to favor natural foods.
Monitor how much fluid your child drinks
First of all, count how much fluid he drinks per day. You need to take into account everything: water, milk, juice and soft drinks. Observe for a day or two, and then try to adjust the intake of sweet and unhealthy drinks. The child should drink more drinking water, milk and freshly squeezed juices.
For example, children from 2 to 3 years should drink 1 liter of fluids daily with a minimum requirement: 355 ml of drinking water, 475 ml of milk and 120 ml of juice. The norm for children from 4 to 6 years – 1.25 liters, with a minimum intake of 475 ml of drinking water, 600 ml of milk and 120 ml of juice. For children from 7 to 8 years the norm is the same, but the minimum intake is slightly different: 355 ml of drinking water, 600 ml of milk and 235 ml of juice.
Determine for yourself what your child will eat
Knowing how to eat right – an essential skill, which should be taught to children in the same way as the daily regime and personal hygiene. And although many parents are sure that you can not force the child to eat what he does not want, and force, still it is worth to be firm in this matter. If you let the kid choose what he will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, most likely, there will be no harmful consequences.
For the sake of the child’s health, it is worth insisting on his eating habits. Many children refuse the products offered by parents, and then beg for what they like. And more often than not, these are not healthy foods at all.
Children follow your example
It turns out that parents are responsible for 72% of their children’s food. Do you like to eat? Overindulge in sweets? Children see what you eat and drink and how you do it (swallowing lunch quickly, distractedly chewing food in front of the TV), and they mimic you. This is called mirroring.
The scientific literature clearly shows that children learn a lot from observing your eating behavior. As they get older, they are increasingly influenced by their friends, but your habits matter, too. To raise a healthy eater, it’s important to eat right from day to day.