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Today in Health & Wellness
DOCTOR AT THE DESK

How to Make your Child Eat Right

"Your little one needs that same proper nutrition as you"
By: Lourdes Nena A. Cabison-Carlos, MDHow to Make your Child Eat Right

Proper nutrition for kids is based on the same principles as adults. This means that kids and adults both need protein, fat, carbohydrates and micronutrients but in different amounts. Aside from the obvious benefits of healthy nutrition, proper diet can also stabilize energy, sharpen minds and, according to recent research, even out moods.

Studies have consistently shown that children who have regular family meals at home are more likely to eat healthy, less likely to snack on unhealthy food and are less likely to smoke, use marijuana or drink alcohol. Make family meals healthy by:

  • Establishing a set schedule for snacks and meals
  • Working fruits and veggies into the daily routine
  • Making it easy to choose healthy snacks by eliminating or limiting processed food
  • Serving lean meats and other good sources of protein
  • Limiting portion size
  • Limiting fast food and low-nutrient snacks
  • When eating in restaurants, choose healthy and ask food to be cooked “low-fat, low-salt” if possible
  • Not forcing children to clean their plates because it teaches them to override the feeling of fullness
  • Not using food as a reward or means to show love; likewise, do not withhold it as a means of punishment

Toddlers are usually picky because they are going through a normal developmental stage where they learn to exert control over their environment.

  • Try to offer a new food only when your child is hungry and rested because it makes them more accommodating.
  • Avoid overwhelming your child. Present one new food at a time.
  • Be creative! Serve bright colored fruits and vegetables, or cut out meat into fun shapes.
  • Be a good example and eat what you give.
  • Involve your child in food preparations.
  • Limit beverages (they usually contain empty calories, anyway) and limit snacks to 2 per day.

In an ideal world, our child is faced with (only) healthy food. Alas, junior only has to open the TV to see ads for ice cream, French fries, sweets and chips and more fried food! So what do we do?

  • Do not ban sweets entirely because it invites craving and over-indulgence when given the chance.
  •  Avoid processed food and fast food whenever possible. You have more control on how much fat, salt and sugar are added on home-cooked meals, and they are cheaper, too!
  • Choose low-salt or reduced sodium products
  • Give children an alternative to junk food like fruit smoothies/ frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, baked instead of fried chicken, etc.
  • Avoid food that may impair your child’s mood.

By changing family habits and expanding (sometimes limiting) our food choices, our child cooperates by eating healthy. Remember that eating healthy is not a one-time affair, it is a lifestyle!

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