Healthy Eating Habits Today, many parents seek to accustom their children to a healthy diet from childhood, excluding sweets from their diet or putting them on a strict diet. The motive is usually the same – the desire to make sure that in the future the child consciously eats right. However, does a healthy lifestyle guarantee from childhood that, as an adult, a person will continue to adhere to it 100%? We asked the leading nutritionist of the How to Eat food delivery service, Candidate of Medical Sciences Oleg Iryshkin, and a doctor of the first category and vegan Renat Khairov about this.
Healthy Eating Habits
There are such concepts: genotype (our genetics) and phenotype (our habits). The phenotype plays a huge role in shaping human eating habits. If a child from childhood eats sausage, sausages, fast food, and sweets, then, of course, these habits will remain with him when he grows up. In the future, this may result in heart disease and obesity. Therefore, the sooner a parent begins to accustom a child to a healthy diet, the better.
However, each parent means something different under the phrase “healthy eating”. Someone does not give the child sweets, someone keeps him on a certain diet, and someone chooses a vegetarian diet for him. If you look at the adequate rules of a healthy diet, then you can eat sweets – it is not prohibited, and according to official recommendations, 10% of the daily calorie content of foods with added sugar is acceptable in the diet. That is, if a child has an average daily calorie intake of about 1800 calories, then about 180 calories of chocolate, condensed milk, or sweets can certainly be given to him. The glucose necessary for the brain can be obtained from the same cereals – buckwheat, bulgur, wheat, and so on. For more information Global Pediaa.
If a child insists on consuming sweets, then you should not completely limit him to it or get hung up on calories. If a parent decides to give him sweets more often, then it is necessary to instill in him the habit of playing sports. That is, the habit of eating sweets should be equivalent to physical activity. The worst thing a mother can do for herself and for her child is to blindly indulge the desires of her son or daughter. Sometimes parents attach the child to sweets so much that he considers it the duty of the parents to bring them to him and does not even bother to come from the bedroom to the kitchen to take a candy or a sandwich. They scream to their parents from their room and can’t even get up from the table to make their own sandwiches. Thus, the physical activity of the child drops very much. The situation is doubly bad: moreover, the mother indulges the desires of the child and brings him sweets, so the child himself is too lazy to come for him on his own. In this case, in no case should you offer a child sweet as a reward. It cannot be allowed to become a “forbidden fruit” for a child.
There are also products that, in my opinion, have no place in the children’s diet, and indeed in any area in general, these are products with flavorings, trans fats, preservatives, and dyes. For example, trans fats reduce the cost of production and increase the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Of course, the consequences do not appear immediately – in 20-30 years. After a few years of using preservatives and flavorings, habits are formed, and getting rid of them is not so easy. Therefore, if from childhood you do not accustom your child to products with their content, then you can save him from bad habits and diseases in the future.
Also, the child’s diet should be limited in a healthy way because, at the age of five to seven and 10 to 12 years of age, there is a high risk of weight gain. Prove that if a child is overweight in childhood, then the likelihood of being overweight – as well as various diseases – in adulthood is very high. In this regard, of course, it is necessary to maintain a healthy diet from childhood in order to avoid negative consequences. It is important not to confuse it with diets – a healthy lifestyle is not equal to a calorie deficit. If you put your child on a strict diet, then in the future he may develop an eating disorder. At an early stage, it is very important to form a culture of healthy eating and let the child understand that it is better to eat a salad, and not a can of condensed milk, for his own good. All this is necessary not in order to maintain the weight of the child during critical periods, but in order to form his further habits. As I often say, weight loss is just a mild and pleasant side effect of a healthy diet.
So that a healthy diet does not cause rejection in a child, it is important to diversify the diet as much as possible. This should not be daily buckwheat with chicken, but dishes with a high content of vitamins and microelements. It is important to give the child a choice, that is, to offer several different dishes, and he will decide for himself what he likes best. But, of course, all of them should be useful and balanced.
Another variety of parents worth mentioning is those who create a vegan or vegetarian diet for children. It is impossible to say unequivocally whether this is good or bad. Each parent chooses how to feed his child. The main task of nutrition is to obtain all the necessary nutrients for the growth and development of children. In childhood, it is important for a child to receive calcium, fatty acids for brain development, minerals, iron, and vitamins involved in metabolic processes, including B vitamins. Does veganism guarantee the receipt of this entire list? The answer to this question is debatable. In this case, the parent takes full responsibility for the health of the child and must be fully aware that it is his responsibility to find all ways to provide the growing body with the necessary substances.
Despite all of the above, a healthy lifestyle vaccinated since childhood does not guarantee that an adult will adhere to it. It can happen that a person gets fed up and in the future will go in the opposite direction. But in my practice, there were examples of people who from childhood to this day observe a healthy lifestyle. It is difficult to speak for everyone, but there are many examples that confirm that childhood habits are carried over into adulthood.
Renat Khairov, vascular surgeon, phlebologist, doctor of the first category, vegan
A vegan or vegan diet is scientifically called a whole, plant-based diet, and there are no restrictions on either calories or macro and micronutrients. A whole, plant-based diet is based on whole grains, beans, fresh herbs and vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts, and seeds. The medical associations of the USA, Canada, and Australia, and pediatricians in Italy agreed that a plant-based diet is completely suitable for children of all ages, starting from infancy, provided that it is balanced, that is, every day the child’s menu includes all major groups of plant foods. An important point is the intake of vitamin B12 and vitamin D3 in the form of supplements since in urban conditions people often experience a deficiency of these vitamins.
Since the parents bear full responsibility for the child until adulthood, the models of children’s eating behavior are formed by their parents. Therefore, in a family where a child is a vegan, I do not see anything criminal. I am for making a conscious choice in life. Such a choice can be made by a person on the basis of his knowledge and life experience. But what awareness can be expected from a two- or five-year-old child? Children completely copy the habits of their parents. The freedom of choice in the child appears after the age of majority. Grew up – do and eat whatever you want, even a pork steak with beer. In the meantime, the child lives with his parents, he adheres to the rules, orders, and traditions of this family.
As for junk food in general, if a parent wants to teach a child to eat healthy from childhood, then the parents themselves need to set an example for him. If the father eats dumplings, it is foolish to expect the child to understand the benefits of beans with salad. In this regard, there is no point in raising children, because they always take an example from their parents, including in matters of food choice. It is important to have regular dialogues with the child, to explain why the food in his family is different from what other children eat. My child looks with surprise at children eating unhealthy food. He also likes sweets, but he can stop in time because he knows that this is unhealthy.
Teaching a child the basics of healthy eating is a systematic process. Every day you need to have conversations and explain how specific vegetables and fruits are useful. In my practice, children very quickly get used to eating juicy fruits and cereals. If the child does not want to eat certain vegetables and legumes, then they can be disguised in a variety of dishes – since there are a lot of them now. It is important to remove junk food and sweets from the diet, but it is also important to offer a tasty alternative. Most moms will find it easy to learn new culinary skills and master five to seven basic recipes for the sake of their child’s health.
In my opinion, if a child is taught to eat right from childhood, then in the future he will adhere to healthy lifestyle habits. And to start eating “junk food”, drinking alcohol or smoking is more likely for those people in whose childhood an appropriate example of behavior takes place.