Remember to always consult your health care professional with any questions you have about your child’s diet and/or overall health.
Nutrition is a consistently confusing topic for parents. It seems as if guidelines are always changing, and with so many gluten free and dairy free options now available, discerning the best choices for your family can be difficult. Couple that with the fact that eating habits formed in childhood strongly influence adult diets, and it’s enough to make any parent want to run screaming out of the grocery store. But, don’t push the grocery cart over the cliff just yet! Hopefully the following tips can shed some light on this dilema.
Gluten free and dairy free don’t always equal healthy: Those with gluten or dairy allergies/sensitivities need to eat gluten free or dairy free food, and it’s wonderful that there are so many options available for anyone who has to deal with these issues. However, just because something is gluten free or dairy free, doesn’t mean that it’s a better option for someone who doesn’t have allergies or sensitivities. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security that all “free” foods are healthy. Like anything else, you need to read the labels to make sure that there isn’t too much sugar or too many chemicals. Additionally, gluten free and low carb aren’t the same thing. There are still carbohydrates in many gluten free foods.
High protein, low carb, keto, paleo…: Diet trends are literally everywhere. It’s hard to keep track of which one is “in” and which ones are “out.” However, when it comes to healthy kids, a balanced diet is important. Kids need protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, and healthy fats, as well as a myriad of vitamins and minerals in their diets. So skip the trendy and stick to the balanced.
Natural is better: Natural whole foods are the best choices for all of us. Barring allergies and other dietary restrictions, fruits, vegetables, eggs, beans, whole grains, nuts, fish, low fat meats, low fat milk, and water are the best food choices, and should make up the bulk of your child’s diet. But…
Everyone deserves a treat now and then: As long as there isn’t a medical, religious, or philosophical reason that your child shouldn’t eat something, forbidding certain foods usually doesn’t work in the long run. Children (and adults too) are often drawn to foods they aren’t supposed to eat. Teaching children to eat sugary, fatty foods in moderation will help set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating habits.
If your schedule allows it, bring your children to the grocery store and allow them to choose the fruits and vegetables your family will enjoy during the week. Or, involve them in meal planning and cooking. These are all teachable moments where your kids can learn the how and why of healthy eating.
Most importantly, discuss nutrition with your pediatrician. Your medical professionals are the best source of advice for your children’s health.
Kelly McIntire is a children’s author who believes that magic and adventure should begin in childhood and last a lifetime. Her books include Time Twistedand Adventures in Fairy Meadow.
Visit her website at www.kellymcintireonline.com for more information, or follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kellymcintirewriter/?ref=bookmarks