Do your kids grapple with memory problems and a host of health woes including frequent blood sugar level dips that trigger anxiety and fatigue? Chances are, the youngsters may be ingesting excessive junk food with no nutritional value, instead of clean and healthy food options.
A recent study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition pointed out that healthy individuals who consumed junk food for five days performed rather poorly on cognitive tests that tested attention, speed and mood.
The study noted that eating junk food for even just five days can lead to memory deterioration, apart from a host of other problems like uncontrolled appetite, obesity, confusion and anxiety, the New Delhi Television (NDTV) reported.
Flavor and branding are largely responsible for the huge attraction of junk foods for kids. The pervasive nature of marketing, notably character and logo recognition of kids of varying ages, was found to be consistently and significantly related to kids’ and parental selection of international branded food products such as Mc Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, and other processed foods.
, NDTV cited in its report.
Notwithstanding all the warnings of health experts on the dangers of continually giving children fast-food combos and branded processed food options, parents still buy them for their brood, oblivious to the repercussions. Apart from making eaters consume more calories, as the international journal of science, Nature, confirmed, other dangers exist. Change can be gradually made, considering that once started, breaking the habit (of eating fast food) may be very difficult.
In her book, “Healthy Eating for Kids: Teaching Your Child to Eat Healthy in a Fast Food World,” Nikki King cited that she grew up on name-branded foods, and eventually felt constantly exhausted and sick of eating fast food. With self-discipline, though, she won her personal battle against unhealthy eating and now shares the benefits of eating healthier with other people.
Ensuring that children adapt and maintain a healthy lifestyle may be an uphill struggle for many parents, but it can be done with updated knowledge, determination, some creativity and resourcefulness. For starters, parents can gradually introduce healthier snack and meal options to their children alongside good reading options.
An example of a good picture book for young kids is:
“Gregory, The Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat. The book revolves around Gregory the goat, who does not eat the usual diet staples of goats, such as shoes and tin cans, and prefers to eat fruits, vegetables, eggs, and orange juice, instead. The book is best suited for a toddler, and kids who fall in the four to eight years age bracket.
For older kids, among the recommended reading options are:
“Oh, The Things You Can Do That Are Good for You: All About Staying Healthy” by Tish Rabe features the Cat in the Hat with Partnership for a Healthier America. The book dives into the importance of eating right (based on the recommendations of the USDA MyPlate), staying active, getting enough sleep, wearing sun defense when playing outdoors, handwashing, brushing and flossing. There are lots of simple and fun suggestions particularly for children, plus some kid-friendly, healthy recipes for parents to prepare for their hungry kids.
“Good Enough to Eat: A Kid’s Guide to Food and Nutrition” by Lizzy Rockwell offers clear explanations on processed related to eating — how hunger sends signals, what healthy eating does to the body, what happens when food is swallowed, and the benefits of eating stuff falling under each of the basic food groups, among other important things. The book is a useful reference that offers explanations about nutrition from eating carrots to cookies, and a whole lot of other nutrition-related matters.
Kids who are trained to eat healthy at a young age are able to ward off illnesses and are more inclined to maintain the healthy eating habits they have learned. Interestingly, the 2018 Food and Health Survey by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation noted in its survey of individuals aged 18 years and above that there is greater consciousness about healthier eating options.
The 2018 report found that seven in 10 consumers would be willing to give up a favorite product they were familiar with, for one that did not contain artificial ingredients. Of those who would, four in 10 would be willing to pay 50 percent more and one in five would pay a hundred percent more.
In terms of drinks, more consumers are willing to take multiple actions to limit or avoid sugar, which has been shown in multiple studies to cause a wide range of body ailments ranging from acne to inflammation, to rising cases of obesity and many chronic diseases, including diabetes. Around 60 percent are inclined to drink water instead of caloric beverages.
The 2018 Food and Health Survey also found that the top motivators prompting people to adopt healthier eating patterns were the desire to lose weight, to feel better and acquire more energy, and to protect oneself from long-term health problems or irreversible conditions.
The IFIC survey found that an increasing number of consumers between the ages of 35 and 49 years see the importance of introducing solid food to kids as early as infancy. The primary motivators for why many modern-day moms have introduced good solid food to their tots were to help the infant safely explore new tastes and textures; add extra vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to the infant’s diet; and help the infant develop a preference for nutrient-rich foods.
Indeed, it is never too early to train the tastes and preferences of children for nutrient-laden real foods. Simply telling family members and friends to eat healthier may not fly, so getting hold of informational materials that lead to greater understanding of the role proper nutrition plays in overall health — and helping kids and other adults identify foods that are nutritious and accessible — are well worth the effort.