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Help your Child Junk the Junk Food

Dr E Suneetha

 
Is your child a healthy eater or loves to fill his stomach on junk food like French fries, burgers, pastries, colas and chocolate bars?

As such, it is difficult for a child to resist fast foods, which are tasty, available easily, and placed at catchy exciting places. In addition, Dad and Mom, shower their love on children in the form of sweet treats. On top of this, the televisions attack children with advertisements of junk foods accompanied with attractive toy gifts.

No wonder, children are knocked over by the junk food current. But remember, junk foods are filling in nature as they are rich in fat and low in other vital nutrients, and therefore provide only empty calories. Empty calories, if enjoyed as regular meals instead of occasional treats, may result in obesity and associated complications.

Children who are addicted to junk food are not just at risk of obesity, but at the same time, also miss out important nutrients necessary for their growth and development. Thus, these children suffer from a double burden.

Children need calcium for bones, iron for blood, protein and vitamins for growth and general immunity. Healthy food habits should be taught very early. This helps children in developing right attitude towards food and healthy food choices. Give them the habit of eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Teach them the importance of eating breakfast. Fill their lunch boxes with healthier options. Explain them the dangers of white (refined) flour foods. Ask them to chew their food slowly. Flood them with natural foods to enjoy the real taste of life.

Parents – be careful!

Parents need to be careful about the ways of showing their love to children. Often parents are misguided by the belief, “I buy you what you want, because I love you,” and hence foods used as rewards are typically “empty calorie” foods — high in fat, sugar and salt, with little nutritional value. Using sweet treats to motivate kids may create a lifetime mindset of unhealthy eating habits in children.

Providing food, based on performance or behaviour, connects food to mood. It may contribute to binge eating behaviour in the children. Children may get used to eating when not hungry and may develop a lifetime habit of rewarding or comforting themselves with food to alleviate moods. Instead of food as reward, consider using some creative, non-food prizes to reward good behaviour. You can spend more time with your children or gift them books or take them for a trip, rather than buying chocolates or taking them to fast food restaurants.
 
Healthy food habits with regular physical activity are the key for healthy living
  1. Watch the amount of time children spend before television and video games and put limits on timings.
  2. Make physical activity a daily habit so that they are on the path to wellness and health lifelong.
  3. Be a role model for your children. If you are a physically active person, your children are more likely to be active and stay active for the rest of their lives.
  4. Plan family activities like playing games or taking a walk together.
  5. When the children want to indulge in an occasional burger – see to it that it has lettuce and tomatoes in it, and encourage them to accompany it with a milk shake, rather than a cola. Choose the option of whole grain bun or bread, whenever possible.

Healthy children grow up to be healthy adults. By teaching them at a young age, the importance of food for good health, you are providing them with the key to a better quality of life, and longevity.

 

Dr E Suneetha is a Research Officer with Lifetime WellnessRx International Limited
 

  
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