Leading by example does not only refer to social habits and mannerisms, it includes lifestyle patterns in particular our diet. As a parent or caregiver you hold the power to help your children develop healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
In most cases, a child with a healthy weight and lifestyle can boast of parents who set a good example by making healthy eating choices and engaging in regular physical activity.
Too many of our children consume loads of empty calories and too much fat, especially saturated fat, Trans fat, and sugar. These eating patterns can contribute to high rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes and other chronic conditions among children.
Your child’s favourite foods may be higher in fat and energy (or calories) compared with the amount of nutrients they provide. It is important to try to select foods that have high protein, vitamin and mineral content. Cut back on foods with high amounts of calories, sugar, fat, and salt.
Remember, chose carefully as some foods that are low in fat can be high in calories and low in nutrition; while others like avocado, or eggs may be high in calorie, but packed with other nutrients.
Moderation and balance is key.
Have plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits available and ready to eat.
• Include high-fiber and whole-grain foods such as brown rice, whole-grain pasta, corns, peas and provisions like green banana and sweet potato at meals.
• Choose lower-fat or fat-free toppings like grated low-fat parmesan cheese, salsa, nonfat/low-fat gravy, low-fat sour cream, low-fat salad dressing, or yogurt.
• Select lean meats such as skinless chicken and turkey, fish and lean beef cuts. Trim off all visible fat and remove skin from meats.
• Include healthy oils such as canola, coconut or olive oil in your diet. Choose margarine and vegetable oils without trans fats. Choose tub and liquid margarine rather than stick margarine, which contains high levels of trans fats.
• Use fat-free cooking methods such as baking, broiling, grilling, poaching, or steaming when cooking meat, poultry, or fish.
Restricting a child’s eating too much may harm growth and development or encourage undesirable eating behaviours. So don’t force or forbid foods within your households. When children think a food is forbidden by their parents, it often becomes more desirable.
Try encouraging the right foods, while educating children on the dangers of eating too much high calorie low nutrient foods, letting them know that while maintaining a nutritious diet, sweets and snacks may be ok in very small amounts once in a while. And let’s face it, it’s more likely that they will be willing to try some veggies if the adults at home enjoy eating them and they are prepared in attractive ways.
(The above was submitted by the Grenada Food & Nutrition Council)