Most of the regular readers know that my kids are my beginning & my end, that I love them more than life & that my fourth child is actually my son in law; they also know that I adore my granddaughter to the point of obsession & that I fell hopelessly in love with my grandson within a second of meeting him. I am putty in their hands but only up to a point & it does not mean that I will ever feed them junk, jam or sweets and until now, they’ve been dead happy with the healthy options I’ve dreamt up.
I found that I had to turn the healthy alternative option into the forbidden fruit – it made it so enticing & all the more desirable. I hide them & pretend they’re getting something special, secretly behind mommy or daddy’s back – a raisin & almond invention tastes so much better if the little one thinks it’s a secret treat! The early part of your child’s life is the most important phase for development in life and way too many parents seem to forget that. You cannot undo the damage you’ve caused your little ones by feeding them trash and you won’t always see it until they reach adulthood – do you want take that risk? I certainly didn’t and yes, I was overly strict and probably overdid it but I never had to take my little ones to hospital, they didn’t ever have cavities and they weren’t overweight. Of course they probably did eat sweets on the sly and I certainly found crisp remnants in their blazer pockets & the odd ‘coca cola’ can in my youngest’s pit (my husband & I affectionately named his bedroom “the pit”) but if I look at the amazing adults they’ve turned into, I’m quite satisfied that I did that part of my job well enough.
THAT DARN JAM SANDWICH
According to Professor Andrew Prentice of the Public Health Nutrition Unit at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (he’s an expert in obesity) there are many hidden health dangers and parents should be aware of this! According to him “a person who eats jam sandwiches exclusively as a child has a larger risk of becoming obese and developing heart disease and cancer, because of the relatively high calorie count and lack of vegetables and fruit in the diet. The child may seem healthy but the reality may be very different”. Another reason why nutritionists criticize the eating of too many jam sandwiches is the fact that the wheat in the bread may often sometimes be the cause of allergies which lead to irritability, skin eruptions & respiratory problems – especially in children & even when eaten in moderation. However, if your child isn’t allergic to wheat, make sure the bread you give the child is healthy (whole wheat, home-made bread coming in at first place) and skip the jam.
Sure, I understand slapping jam onto a piece of bread when you’re overworked & in a hurry to get to work is the only thing for which you have time but there are other options like making ready spreads & keeping them in the fridge – they last for a good few days & it’s as easy as opening a tin of jam or cheese as long as it’s not processed cheese. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed when it comes to kids health, I thought I’d jot down a few notes for those of you who feel you may like to glance through them:
- Young children may not be put on low-fat diets but they have to eat a good variety of different foods.
- They must drink loads of water and never be allowed to consume drinks that are high in sugar and additives.
- Children must start the day with a healthy nutritious breakfast (sweetened cereal is not breakfast) mainly because those little bodies continue using up energy for growing even when they’re sleeping; it will make sure the little one has enough energy to cope with the day’s activities, the learning they have to do and the growing – because that takes nutrients too.
- Little kids have little tummies but those little tummies use huge amounts of energy so they need to eat little meals often.
- Always make sure you look for the best quality food – the nutritional value of food is certainly affected by how it’s grown, stored and prepared – you cannot expect the little ones to eat the food that you and your husband eat – they have different requirements (like needing more calcium & fat than you do) and different needs so no matter how fashionable you think it is, it’s not good for your child; they need simple food, prepared simply.
- Fat is an important part of your child’s diet – especially in the first two years of life; choose whole-milk products because it’s important for brain development so, whatever you do, don’t start cutting down on the fat before then.
- Iron is just as important because it carries the red blood cells to the brain – if they don’t get enough iron they can suffer iron deficiencies which lead to cognitive deficits so see that they eat enough beef, pork, chicken, broccoli, kale, lima beans & iron fortified cereals.
- Vitamins & minerals are found in most healthy diets and should be chosen from all food groups; if they’re not going to eat enough of them, it will affect their bone strength, their eyesight and their muscles.
- Fibre is present in fruits and vegetables and it helps the child feel full a little longer so that s/he doesn’t think about what s/he’s going to eat while s/he’s in class when she’s meant to be concentrating.
- Carbohydrate and protein will provide energy so make sure you include loads of legumes which are cheap and chicken for a cheap and healthy protein source.
You don’t need a degree to work out what you need to give your little one – I learnt from my mother & mother in law (more from my mother in law) and if you don’t have those, ask your doctor – s/he’ll only be too happy to help. Always remember that each time you put junk or sugary foods into their mouths, you are harming your child – often very severely.