Food to the Rescue
by Michael J. Court, DC, NMD
Helping your child develop good eating habits is like giving them a gift of good health over a lifetime. Dietary preferences form early. During childhood, youngsters learn many of the habits they will continue as adults. That is why it is most import for us, as parents, to teach our children by example and repetition to make healthy nutritious choices.
It is estimated that up to one-third of all children now have a weight problem. Diseases related to excessive weight that were once considered to be adult diseases are now appearing in children. That means children are developing the early signs of clogged arteries, diabetes, and even blood pressure problems. Developing good eating habits as a child can reduce incidences of obesity while applying those same habits when they become adults.
The earliest challenges begin in the toddler years when children communicate their opinions more. This is the stage where healthy habits are learned and developed. Consistent bedtimes, frequent hand washing, oral hygiene, and eating habits are some of the biggest struggles. Just like young children, healthy habits need continued nurturing. Children are like sponges, constantly absorbing (often times without us even knowing it). Be your child’s first teacher in showing them how to be a healthy adult.
There are many things we can to do to keep our children healthy while also teaching them how to manage their diets. Although we have control over our family’s food intake, we can also use our daily lifestyles as teaching tools and life lessons. Eating meals as a family whenever possible encourages children to watch what their parents are eating and providing for them while promoting family discussions about nutrition and what makes a balanced meal.
In fact, a recent study found that children as young as two years old hold food preferences based on what their parents eat. That is a huge responsibility. For this reason, parents need to serve as healthy eating role models. The following tips provide ways to help children develop a taste for healthy food:
• Bring children to the grocery store! Supermarkets provide a great environment for exploration of new foods, where different foods come from, and what constitutes as healthy food. • Even the youngest of children can understand the lessons about the need to eat a “colorful plate” and the importance of feeding the body good nutrition. • When possible, let children make choices. Offer young children choices between various fruits and vegetables, and have older children compare nutritional facts panels to find healthier options for foods they—and you—wish to purchase. • Let children help in age-appropriate ways. Having your child help may make them more likely to eat the foods they have chosen. • Encourage children to invent new snacks, using healthy ingredients. • Offer choices (within reason) when possible, while preparing meals. For example, “Which would you like for dinner, spinach or broccoli?” • Serve the same meal to everyone, and make it known only one meal will be made. • Offer “just a taste” portions (three to five small pieces or bites) of foods that children are hesitant to try. • When children say they are hungry, even if it is not a normal meal time or snack time, offer a small healthy snack. • Lead by example. Choose fruits and raw veggies as snacks and put together well-balanced meals for yourself. In front of your children, try to drink water or milk; do not make a habit of drinking soda. Children learn from what you do, not just what you say. • Do not offer sweets as a reward. For a job well done, offer a special activity.
Remember that instilling healthy habits in children is an ongoing process that takes time. So if you teach your children how to make good choices, the hope is that they will continue the positive behaviors and pass them along to their own children. Creating a more health-conscious future is a step in the right direction in maintaining a healthy prosperous life.
Chippewa Valley Wellness offers education classes on nutrition as well as being the home of Nutrition Response Testing. Nutrition Response Testing is a non-invasive system of analyzing the body in order to determine the underlying causes of ill health. When these are corrected through safe, natural, nutritional means, the body can repair itself in order to attain and maintain more optimum health.
The best choice for restoring your health is to work with a health care practitioner to help you transition to a locally grown whole food diet using a personalized, clinically designed nutritional program. We see a wide variety of patients in our clinic, including those who need a boost with improving their current menu selections. Don’t let your or your children’s health be negatively impacted by poor food choices!
Dr. Court and Chippewa Valley Wellness serve Eau Claire, Altoona, Chippewa Falls, and the greater Chippewa Valley area. The clinic offers a wide variety of alternative health services including Nutrition Response Testing, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture and Upper-Cervical Chiropractic care. For more information see cvwellness.net, attend one of our free monthly health workshops, or call 715-723-2713.