FRENCH fries. Popcorn. Donuts. Would your child rather eat these than fruits and vegetables? If so, then your child may be showing signs of unhealthy eating. But while parents know that their kids should eat nutritious food, getting them to do so is a constant mealtime battle.
Wyeth nutritionist Mary Jude Icasiano shares that there are many treats for tots that can eventually help train children to eat nutritious meals, which will secure their current and future health.
“Do not force your child to eat, especially if he’s not fond of the food being served. You can introduce the necessary foods slowly. A good start is to ask the child to just allow a small portion of food to sit on his plate. And be a good role model, make sure your child sees you’re enjoying the food that you’re introducing to him,” explains Icasiano.
Icasiano adds: “Make meal time a pleasant social occasion. Turn off the TV; watching TV during mealtimes prevents family interaction and interferes with a child’s eating. Show your child you value time shared while eating.”
The nutrition expert also suggests that parents should involve children in food discussions, planning, buying and preparation. “Ask your child’s help when you’re doing the grocery. Bring him to the vegetable and fruits section for his exposure to nutritious food. This will make him interested with these kinds of food.”
“Offer a variety of healthy and tasty foods, but be adventurous! Remember, you’re dealing with a child and you have to be creative and innovative to attract and make him enjoy the meal you are serving,” explains Icasiano.
Unhealthy or Junk food is an informal term applied to some foods that are perceived to have little or no nutritional value (i.e. containing “empty calories”); to products with nutritional value, but also have ingredients considered unhealthy when regularly eaten; or to those considered unhealthy to consume at all.
Junk foods are typically ready-to-eat convenience foods containing high levels of saturated and / or trans fats, salt, or sugar, and little or no fruit, vegetables, or dietary fiber; and are considered to have little or no health benefits. Common junk foods include salted snack foods like chips (crisps), candy, gum, most sweet desserts, fried fast food and carbonated beverages (sodas) as well as alcoholic beverages. High-sugar cereals, particularly those targeted at children, such as Fruit candies, are also classified as junk food.
Junk food consumption alters brain activity in a manner similar to addictive drugs. After many weeks on a junk food diet, the pleasure centers of our brains become desensitized, requiring more of the junk food for pleasure.
Junk or unhealthy fast foods have become a part of our busy lifestyle. Fast food restaurants are popular because they serve filling foods that taste good and are not that heavy on pockets. However, the reason for the fast foods being cheap can be subjected to the use of cheaper ingredients such as high fat meat, refined grains, and added sugar and fats, instead of nutritious foods such as lean meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
And to help equip parents to provide healthy and fun to eat food options to their children, culinary expert Chef Carina Guevarra shares some meal recipes that are nutritious yet appealing to kids’ appetite such as “Healthy Spaghetti” and mouth watering “Baked Fish Fingers” meals. Chef Carina shares, “These treats for tots are enticing to the eyes and have that inviting smell to attract children. Meals prepared like these will definitely draw and encourage young ones to take a variety of healthy yet tasty foods.”
As parents introduce their little picky- eaters to a wider variety of healthy foods, they need to remember that in the meantime, they need to make sure that their kids are still getting their daily dose of much-needed nutrition. A great way to do this is by adding milk to the menu – milk that not only has the important nutrients they might be missing out on but also tastes good.
Here are some tips for avoiding unhealthy foods:
- Plan ahead for each day so that your menu is nutritious and you get time for its preparation in advance and avoid hanging on unhealthy foods.
- Pack your lunches the night before rather than waiting until you’re already behind schedule in the morning.
- Avoid fatty and highly salted toppings.
- Choose oil-based dressings instead of creamy salad dressings.
- Use mustard or ketchup instead of mayonnaise.
- When ordering pizza, add veggies instead of meat, and get thin crust instead of deep dish.
- Top your sandwiches with veggies such as onions, lettuce, and tomatoes instead of red meat or extra cheese.
- Avoid using salt shaker.
- Choose foods that are broiled, steamed or grilled over fried.
- Choose clear veggie soups over cream based.
- Avoid choosing dishes labeled deep-fried, pan-fried, creamy or crispy as they are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats or sodium.
- Practice portion control by ordering small entrée portions.
- Don’t get lured of attractive deals on combos or box meals. Even if a fast food restaurant uses healthy ingredients, they still usually give you a lot more food than you need and eating too much of any kind of food can lead to weight gain.
- Have a salad or soup instead of fries.
- Choose water, low-fat milk, or diet sodas instead of regular sodas, fruit drinks, milkshakes, or whole milk which can be a huge source of hidden calories and sugar.
- Instead of a slice of pie or cookie for dessert try fruit and yogurt.
- Enjoy your meal by relishing every bite. Though the fast food is known as a meal on the go, the distraction of driving or working may curtail you from paying attention to the quantity of food you are having and you may over eat.
- Never shop on an empty stomach.
- Try to satisfy your hunger pranks or cravings with the healthy snacks like fruits or whole grain cereal bars.
- Use a search engine to get free nutrition information online so that you may preview your menu choice and modify it to a healthier choice.
Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.
Aqiva Senior Product Manager Carlo de la Paz explained, “With Aqiva, moms are now more empowered to help their children get the nutrition they need as they bridge the nutrition gap that unhealthy eating habits can bring. Parents are assured that their children’s nutrition will be supplemented since it helps to fill the nutritional gaps in their child’s health as he goes through this ‘unhealthy eating’ phase.”
by Darren Rowse