A few years ago, I was absolutely appalled and stunned to learn a family member and her husband put their darling six-year-old daughter on a diet. She was a husky kid but not overweight. However, she was inactive. Both of her parents worked full-time and the child stayed home their aging grandmother.
It was heartbreaking to see a six-year-old placed on a diet by her parents. Unfortunately, there is a very strong possibility she may develop body issues when she becomes older. Some may believe the parent’s actions were irresponsible but this week the state of Ohio removed a 200 pound child from the care of his parents and placed him in foster care.
At any age, balance is the key to healthy eating. It is important to teach our children healthy eating, so when they become adults, they have the knowledge to make the right choices about their health.
Healthy eating habits should start early. For example, milk and water are the best beverages for our children. A daily diet of sugary drinks and even the diet drinks are unhealthy for our kids. Milk gives our children the nutrients and vitamins they need on a daily basis. Skim milk has the same vitamins and nutrients as whole milk.
Now water may be trickier for our kids drink. But, a slice of lemon, orange, cucumber can add flavor to the boring plain water. Save the sugary beverage as a special once a week treat.
Our kids are bombarded with fast food television commercials and enticed with the free toys. And, after backbreaking or mentally challenging day at work, it is easier to pull up to the drive-thru. However, we are doing a child a disservice by showing them the easy way and unhealthy way out. Save the fast food jaunts as a monthly special treat.
Another great tip is being a good role model for our children. We need to teach our children healthy eating facts. For example, are you up to speed on the new MyPlate guidelines? This year, MyPlate replaced the food pyramid.
Put a picture of MyPlate on your refrigerator. Here is the free link: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/MyPlate/GraphicsSlick.pdf.
Here are some sample recommendations from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) MyPlate:
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk.
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
• Make at least half your grains whole grains.
• Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals—and choose foods with lower numbers.
• Avoid oversized portions.
• Enjoy your food, but eat less.
The benefits of healthy eating will offer our children the opportunities to flourish mentally and physically. Growing up is hard enough. As parents, it is our responsibility to give our children the tool and knowledge they may need to make the decisions.
Getting Started with MyPlate. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved November 30, 2011, from http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/MyPlate/GettingStartedWithMyPlate.pdf.
Healthy Drinks for Kids. KidsHealth - the Web's most visited site about children's health. Retrieved November 30, 2011, from http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_center/healthy_eating/drink_healthy.html?tracking=P_RelatedArticle#cat20743.
How Can I Improve My Child's Eating Habits? KidsHealth - the Web's most visited site about children's health. Retrieved November 30, 2011, from http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_center/weight_eating_problems/eating_disorder_help.html#cat20743.
Reviewed November 30, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith