Raising Healthy Kids

We all want what is best for our children. But, sometimes, what is best is not so clear. In this issue of Well1st Newsletter, we demystify five very common nutrition misconceptions for preschoolers, so that you can better guide your little one into a happy, healthy life:

Myth #1: Fruit juice is healthy

Think again. We often think of fruit juices as great sources of vitamins for our preschoolers, but we forget about the sugar load we are feeding them with. A cup of 100% orange juice has 6 teaspoons of sugar – the same amount as an equal serving of soda! The same is true for apple juice, and grape juice beats them both, with 8 teaspoons of sugar per cup. Excess sugar increases your 2 child’s risk of obesity and all its related diseases.

Solution:

Fruit is the best choice. All fruits are loaded with vitamins, have fiber that keeps their little guts healthy, have a third of the sugar that juice has, and most important, children love them! If you are having a hard time eliminating fruit juice from your child’s diet, limit it to 4 ounces of 100% fruit juice per day. If they are thirsty, the healthiest choice is always water.

Myth #2: I should limit my preschooler’s intake of fat

You might benefit from a low-fat diet, but that is not necessarily the case for your preschooler. Fats help build connections between the nerve endings of your child’s brain, which is necessary for brain development at their young age. Whole milk, cheese and yogurt are especially important for 1-2 year olds because they contain saturated fat, which plays a mayor role in building the nerve connections we mentioned earlier. Most children 2 years and older can switch to 1% fat milk and dairy products, which still contain a healthy amount of fat for their brains, while preventing excess weight gain. Fish, olive and canola oils, avocados and peanut butter are other examples of fat sources your child will surely love and benefit from.

Myth #3: Offering candy, as a reward for eating their veggies, is a good idea

Candy, chips, fries, ice cream – we’ve all offered them as rewards to our children for eating their veggies or finishing their meals. What we are actually doing, is teaching them that the unhealthy foods are more desirable than the healthy ones: “Ice cream must be great, if mommy gives it to me when she considers that I am behaving well”. This can also lead to seeking the so-called “comfort foods” when feeling stressed, anxious, or sad as adults. 

Solution:

Offer your child a variety of healthy options to pick from. Maybe they can pick between carrots, peas, or broccoli when deciding a veggie for dinner. They are more likely to eat a food if they were part of the decision-making process. You can also offer a healthy reward unrelated to food: “after we finish all of our veggies, we can go to the park.”

Myth #4: Once a picky eater, always a picky eater

Good news. Picky eating in preschool is not only common, but also a perfectly normal part of a child’s development. Children like security, consistency, and familiarity. It is no wonder that they pick the few foods that they know will assure them a pleasant experience. More than likely, they will grow out of this phase.
Solution:

It can take up to 10 exposures to a new food before a preschooler accepts and likes it. So don’t give up! Try to expose your child to one new food per week.

Myth #5: I have no power over my child’s taste and food preferences

On the contrary, you have a great deal of power over what your child will like and choose now, and as an adult. A child’s palate (taste and texture preferences) develops during the first 2 years of life. The foods they are exposed to during this time will shape what they crave in the future.
Solution:

Expose them to the foods you want them to like, and don’t forget the power of example. If your child sees you eating and enjoying veggies regularly, he or she will probably pick up on that behavior eventually.

Coffee Morning: Raising Healthy Kids: