Children's eating habits that they carry into adulthood are formed right from when they’re about two years old. At that age, kids begin to have preferences, including food. Ideally, human beings tend to have more liking for sweet food or junk food than they do for bitter food associated with healthy food like vegetables. This innate liking for sugary food affects children's preferences. Other than that, the type of food a child likes is influenced by what’s popular. It doesn't help that convenient food, like chicken nuggets and fries, are advertised more than broccoli and fruits.
Since most children prefer sweet food, it can be tough to introduce vegetables and other healthy nutrients into their diet. However, parents shouldn't give up on the quest for healthy eating. Nutritionists are coming up with creative ways of introducing a nutritious diet, such as using magnesium gummies and other vitamins made to look like candy.
Many articles have been written to shed light on healthy foods you should give your children. But there’s little to no information on what to avoid. This article will focus on mistakes in your child's diet that you might be making. They include:
Having Excessive Sugary Foods
Did you know that the recommended amount of sugar consumption for children is about 24 grams? That’s about four teaspoons of sugar a day. Now, think through how much free sugar your child consumes in a day. Free sugar is found in added sugar in tea, milk, juice, and even natural sugar found in fruits and honey.
Excessive sugar consumption places your child at risk of acquiring lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes. Yes, that's right, some of these diseases are not just affecting adults. Today, it's normal to find a four-year-old suffering from diabetes that’s usually caused by excessive sugary foods.
It's, therefore, recommended that you check on the sugar content of your kid's diet every day. It can be hard to eliminate sweet food from a child's diet completely, but you can start by limiting it to 25 grams a day or less.
Here’re some of the sugary foods that you should look out for:
Candies and lollipops
Candies and lollipops are arguably the most popular sugary foods among sweet tooths. The two are made of added sugar, flavors, and coloring. It's their composition that makes them a health hazard for both you and your kids.
First, due to the high levels of sugars, your child is at risk of getting serious medical conditions, such as increased cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Besides that, some candies are sticky, and they remain on children's teeth, which eventually causes dental problems, like cavities and tooth decay.
Lollipops are also known to choke kids. Hence, you’ll have to supervise your kid's intake of candies and lollipops. For example, you could reserve them for gifts and special treats.
Cakes and pastries
Everybody loves a creamy cake or a double-glazed doughnut. Most parents are guilty of liking cakes and pastries a little too much, but at what cost? Most pastries are filled with refined wheat, sugars, fats, high calories, artificial flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives. When consumed in high amounts, all these components could lead to obesity and other health complications.
Just like candy, limit the consumption of cakes and pastries within your home. Remember, it will be counterintuitive if you deny your child cake while you and every other adult in the household are constantly nibbling at one. Kids emulate adults. Start by cutting your consumption, then implement it to your child or children.
Fruity snacks or fruit gummies
The term ‘fruit’ is used to create an illusion of healthy food, but fruit-flavored snacks or fruit gummies are candies. These snacks are made of sugar, artificial color, preservatives, corn syrup high in fructose, and they’re sweetened by fruit juice flavors to gain a fruity taste. That’s a lot of sugar to feed your child.
So, what's the fuss over excess sugar anyway? Apart from posing a risk of experiencing health conditions, such high sugar levels may cause a child to be hyperactive or aggressive. This kind of behavior occurs as a result of sugar rush.
To prevent these problems, replace fruity snacks with natural fruits. At first, there may be resistance, but gradually, they’ll learn to appreciate natural fruits as a source of sugar they seek. However, you also have to regulate the number of fruits you feed your child. Keep in mind that too much of something is dangerous.
Like fruit snacks, the term ‘fruit’ in fruit juice is merely a marketing strategy to make the drink seem healthy. However, this kind of drink isn't healthy since it contains high sugar levels. You can create a culture of taking water in your household in place of fruit juice. Once in a while, your kids can enjoy a controlled amount of fruit juice.
These are just some of the food types known to contain excessive sugar. You don't have to remove these foods from your child's diet completely, but you must regulate their intake to keep your child healthy.
Feeding Your Child With Honey
Honey is one of the most nutritious foods to have in your diet. It's, however, a very dangerous meal for toddlers under the age of one. Honey contains a toxic bacterium that attacks toddlers' underdeveloped immune systems, causing an illness known as infant botulism.
When kids have this sickness, they develop breathing problems and muscle weakness. Therefore, honey should be kept away from kids up until they turn one. But even after they’re a year old, the substance should be consumed in regulated amounts because of its high sugar content.
Serving Dessert As The Last Meal
Ideally, dessert is served as the last course of the meal, and it mainly consists of cooked fruits, cake, pastry, pudding, fresh fruit, or ice cream. Due to its ingredients and the fact that it's the last meal, kids tend to be addicted to dessert. Any other meal that precedes dessert is a nuisance standing in their way of enjoying dessert. You would also feel the same if you had to eat food to get your favorite scoop of ice cream.
Thus, it helps when you switch up how you serve your dessert. For children, it's recommended that you do dessert with the main meal. This helps to kill the buzz around dessert, and it's brought down to just any other meal. Sometimes, due to this new point of view, kids may begin to revere dessert just like they do the vegetables in the main meal, which leads to a cut on their sugar intake.
Another way to serve your dessert is by changing its content. You don't always have to serve sweet food in your desert. If anything, you should be careful about excessive consumption of sugary food. For example, ice cream bought from the supermarket contains a substance known as an emulsifier. According to research, emulsifiers disrupt good bacteria in our stomach, resulting in obesity. Additionally, ice cream that has melted and been refrozen contains high amounts of harmful bacteria. So, it’s better to alternate between healthy and junk food in your dessert.
If you insist on taking foods like ice cream, you can prepare it at home. Homemade ice cream is healthier, and it contains vitamins. You can also track the content of your ice cream and how many times it's been refrozen to avoid consuming harmful bacteria.
Feeding Your Child Fast Foods Regularly
It's common knowledge that fast foods aren't ideal for both kids and adults. But that hasn't stopped this type of food from being a favorite to both parties. Their availability and taste explain their popularity. Similarly, fast food companies have managed to market their products as cool. If you walk into a restaurant and order mushrooms or a healthy salad, you look less fashionable than your friend who orders a burger and french fries.
But what’s the cost of being cool? Well, it's pretty expensive consuming fast foods, both in the long and short term. To start, it costs more to order a plate of fries than it does to buy your broccoli and fruits. Furthermore, research has found that fast foods don't contain any fibers. Besides, when you eat a lot of takeaways, you're likely to develop constipation problems. The same applies to your child.
Other short-term effects of fast foods include:
- Emotional problems
- Poor performance at school
Fast foods are heavy on calories, sugar, preservatives, artificial additives, and sodium. They also contain little to no nutritional value. So, when you consume them, you take in the extra calories and sodium, which can lead to obesity in the long run, especially among children. Other health complications associated with these types of food are cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and depression. Although it may take a while before these conditions manifest, it helps when you secure your child's future by feeding them healthy dishes.
Here're some of the common fast foods you should avoid:
French fries are a typical dish and a favorite among kids. However, this meal is high in trans-fat, meaning it contains high levels of unsaturated fat. These unsaturated fats increase the cholesterol levels in people.
Additionally, starchy food cooked under high heat from deep-frying contains a cancer-causing toxin called acrylamide. Hence, it’s recommended that you significantly reduce french fries in your kid's diet.
Hot dogs and sausages
Hotdogs and sausages aren't healthy since they’re heavily loaded with nitrates found in processed meat. Research has shown that these nitrates destroy cells, turning them into molecules that cause cancer.
Hotdogs and sausages are also among the leading foods that cause choking to children under three years old. Supervise your younger children as they enjoy a hot dog, or you can eliminate this meal from their diet. Another option is to serve it in regulated amounts.
Pizza consists of dough, yeast, and topping made from unknown materials. It contains a lot of cheese too. That’s why takeout pizza has very high cholesterol levels.
If your child has to eat pizza, experts recommend making homemade pizza. With pizza made at home, you’ll know every ingredient it contains and whether it's healthy. You can limit the amount of oil and cheese used as well.
To make the transition from takeout to homemade pizza easy, always engage your children in the process of baking. They’ll be excited about eating homemade pizza for lunch or dinner, and in the long run, they’ll prefer homemade pizza to takeout ones.
Giving Your Child Energy Drinks
Sporty drinks are meant to boost energy levels. However, kids don't need such stimulants. Sporty beverages contain a high level of sugars and electrolytes that’re unhealthy for children.
But what if your kid plays sports at school? Well, there are many options to enhance your child's energy, such as a glucose and water solution. This is one of the healthiest energy drinks recommended for children and adults. If you need to add a sporty drink to your child's diet, first consult with a nutrition expert.
Having Soft Drinks
Nothing good comes out of giving your children soft drinks or even apple juice. These two drinks don't add any nutritional value to your child's diet. If anything, they contain very high levels of sugar and preservatives, such as gas.
In fact, ongoing research has found that apple juice contains a cancer-causing substance known as arsenic. Although the study isn't conclusive, the substance is enough to cause cancer in kids. It’s best to avoid such kinds of food. Better safe than sorry.
Letting Your Children Drink Raw Milk
Raw milk is believed to be more nutritious and healthier than pasteurized milk. However, it’s only a better option for adults. When it comes to children, though, pasteurized milk is a safer option. This is because raw milk contains harmful bacteria and parasites, such as salmonella and cryptosporidium, which are dangerous to a child's immune system.
Having Sugary Cereals In Your Child's Diet
This is another food that’s advertised as healthy, but it's actually not. Healthy cereals should contain high levels of fiber and whole grain. However, most of today's cereals have high sugar levels and very low nutritional value. Therefore, feeding them to your child compromises the health standards of your child's breakfast, an essential part of their diet.
Before purchasing a cereal, always check its sugar levels. Instead of using sugary cereals, you can add fruits to regular cereals to sweeten them.
Having Grilled And Broiled Foods Regularly
Meals prepared through grilling or broiling are subjected to very high heat that causes the food to release chemical compounds, such as acrolein and acrylamides. These chemical compounds cause medical problems, like heart disease and cancer. Moreover, food prepared through the method has high calories.
To Sum Up
All these mistakes could lead to a lifetime of problems if not corrected promptly or avoided. It's time to review your child's diet today and ensure they eat healthy.