If you are anything like most parents, you wish you children came with an instruction manual to keep them healthy. However, since they don’t KidZdent put together 8 Simple Food Rules for you to follow!
1. NEVER FORCE OR RESTRICT FOOD
Children can have quite a range in hunger. The need for calories varies every day, depending on their growth and development and activity level. The brain’s ability to naturally regulate intake according to energy needs is a gift. We can override the brain’s sensitivity to feeling satisfied by forcing food when we’re not hungry or restricting food when we are.
2. DON’T USE FOOD AS A REWARD OR PUNISHMENT
Most of us look for extrinsic ways to reward good behavior and penalize bad behavior. But using food for this purpose can create a positive association with junk foods, as we tend to offer the most tantalizing (and unhealthy) foods for reward. Parents are not to be blamed for developing eating disorders, but forcing, and/or restricting food is a form of food control that would not be a healthy habit for a child to assume.
3. ENFORCE THE ‘POLITE BITE’
Ultimately, we aim for a child to enjoy a broad variety of whole foods that taste great. But it takes an average of 7 tastes of a new food for the brain to recognize it as palatable, let alone pleasing. By asking a child to continue to taste one bite of each food at every meal, means we will broaden his/her spectrum of food preferences over time. We call it the ‘polite bite’ because in tasting we are also showing respect to whomever prepared the meal. This works best if everyone in the family plays by the same rules…even the parents. *Note that for super-tasters and gaggers, this can be more challenging, but equally as important. Therefore, let them taste the food and spit it out. If that is unacceptable at the table, they can go to the sink to try their polite bite.
4. ELIMINATE ALL SUGARY BEVERAGES FROM YOUR HOUSE
Not only is tooth decay the most common disease among children, but obesity, diabetes and heart diseases are all powered by excess sugar. So, the World Health Organization and American Heart Association warn that we need to cut our sugar consumption to 5% of our daily calorie allotment. That represents a 75% reduction across the U.S. The easiest way to do that is to cut the massive amount of sugar (and calories) we consume in juice, sports drinks, soda and energy drinks. Instead of juice, encourage whole fruits, which are loaded with healthy fiber and phytonutrients that give health-power to our cells.
6. PUT THE SUGAR BOWL BACK ON THE BREAKFAST TABLE
Unsweetened cereals such as Cheerios, Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies are delicious- especially with added fruit. But even if your family adds sugar by the spoonful, it will be virtually impossible for them to add the amount of sugar infused into sugared up commercial cereals. Remember 4.5 grams makes a teaspoon.
If you do the math, you’ll see that most of these belong in the candy aisle instead of the breakfast food aisle.
7. EAT WHOLE FOODS
That means as close to the way they grew on the land. Avoiding commercial processed foods is hard to do but there is a plethora of scientific evidence to support this idea. The more you can cultivate tastes and preferences around whole foods, the healthier you will be…forever.
8. MORE PLANTS THAN ANIMALS (ESPECIALLY PLANTS WITH COLOR)
The plant-based diet is considered the healthiest by most health experts. Fiber is considered our number one nutrient deficiency and you get it in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Fiber is important for digestion, elimination, and weight control. Plants also contain phytonutrients, the building blocks for cell health. For the list of plants that are safe to eat without being ‘organically grown’, Google “The Clean Fifteen”. For the list of the should-be-organically grown, search, “The Dirty Dozen”. Meanwhile, processed meat and farm raised animal protein should be the garnish on the plate, not the mainstay. Farm raised animals accumulate toxins from their diet and pass it to us through their fat. Processed meat, such as prepared lunchmeat is treated with food additives and preservatives that should be consumed very cautiously, in small quantities, and only on occasion.