Raising children is hard enough without having to think about every little thing they eat. But, like it or not, nutrition is a key component to raising healthy, happy kids. Especially in children, nutrition and exercise play an essential role in brain development, taste development, and food behavior far into adulthood. Because it’s National Nutrition Month, we think it’s apt to discuss nutrition and your kids (with most of our tips applying to adults, too).
First and foremost, have your kids “eat the rainbow” (and we’re not talking skittles, or M&M’s). Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes are all great sources of vital micronutrients (read: vitamins and minerals) and macronutrients (read: proteins, fats, and carbs). A safe rule is that for every meal, you should incorporate 5 colors into each meal from these sources. And to be best equipped with all those
When we think about our children’s nutrition, there are a couple of things that you should keep in mind
NUTRITION & THE BRAIN
Eat the rainbow. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes are all sources of vital micronutrients and macronutrients essential for optimal health and brain function.
“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” – Michael Pollin
Juice is not a health food, because of its high fructose content without the fiber, it’s a treat.
Table sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup are almost the same biochemically. Both have negative health effects.
Healthy Fats. Boost omega 3 fatty acids with fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil, pasture-raised eggs.
Protein. The best sources of protein include some vegetables, legumes, wild-caught fish, and pasture-raised meat.
Whole-fat milk. Whole-fat dairy, in moderation, if at all, may be better than non-fat milk.
Avoid Food Dyes. Especially if your child had ADHD tendencies, avoid food coloring.
DEVELOPMENT OF TASTE
• Taste develops during pregnancy. Introduce flavors early.
• It takes multiple exposure to foods, maybe 10 or more, for a child to assimilate new foods of flavors. Don’t give up!
• Avoid the kids menu. These flavors are bland, but often don’t give your kids the nutrients they need.
FOOD AND BEHAVIOR
Obesity. Restriction parenting behaviors are most correlated with obesity. Overly permissive with unhealthy options are also correlated with obesity. The key is balance by encouraging and empowering your child to make healthy food choices.
- Interactive website for parents and pediatric patients, including teens, on healthy behaviors, diet and healthy activities for pediatric patients: https://hb4life.com/
- Parent info on newborn screening tests: http://www.babysfirsttest.org/
- The Big 5 Scoring Worksheet: http://www.co.shasta.ca.us/HHSA/Professionals/PNhabits.sflb.ashx
- Keeping children safe from sexual abuse. Feather Berkower presents her powerful program throughout CO. See her calendar for upcoming dates and locations: http://www.parentingsafechildren.com/
Below are some good links for additional information about nutrition and children.
GetzWell Book Recommendations
GetzWell Article Recommendations
FODMAP Diet Tools
The Monash University Low FODMAP Diet App
GI Index info