Question to an expert: Is it necessary to teach children to “healthy” eating?

We are used to searching online for ANSWERS TO MOST OF THE QUESTIONS THAT HAVE ASKED US . In the new series of materials, we ask just such questions: burning, unexpected or common – to professionals in various fields. 

It seems that everyone knows everything about healthy food: it should be varied and balanced, and its amount should be adequate for energy consumption. At the same time, it often seems to adults that it is necessary to feed a child according to some “ideal” scheme, completely excluding “harmful” products and carefully calculating the amount of “useful” ones. But should we strive for perfectly healthy eating (and does it exist)? Does it make sense to prohibit sausages or ice cream for a child? Do I need to calculate the amount of protein, fat or carbohydrates in the daily diet? We asked these questions to an expert.

Elena Motova

dietitian at the Rassvet clinic, author of the book “My best friend is the stomach. Food for Smart People ”and the Evidence-Based Dietetics Blog    

 It seems that food is a simple and understandable thing , but we live in prosperous times when it is available and diverse. But both in my practice and among my fellow pediatricians, I notice how parental (especially maternal) concern about “eating by the rules” is growing. It is known that healthy children can independently regulate the amount of food, following the internal signals of hunger and satiety. However, I often get questions about how much cottage cheese, bread, porridge or eggs should be given to a child. Of course, I provide links to the average recommendations , but they may not be suitable for a specific child whose nutrition I do not know anything about. A single serving does not matter at all: within a week, the child is likely to receive sufficient quantities of foods from all food groups.    

Modern “hyperresponsible” (as defined by Lyudmila Petranovskaya) mothers found themselves between two mutually exclusive concepts, and the “correct” nutrition of the child became something of a yardstick. parental competence. The experience of previous generations screams that the child must be fed at any cost (and better only “healthy” and “wholesome” food). On the other hand, excess consumption and associated health risks are on the rise, and information about nutrition from popular sources is frightening and contradictory.

I try to reduce parental anxiety and nutritional perfectionism. It turns out badly. The biggest concern for parents is “unhealthy foods.” This is the most varied food – from chips to ice cream, from sugary soda to yeast bread. The list can be expanded endlessly: spicy, fatty, fried, flour, sweet. With such an attitude to food, the ideal dish would be pureed slimy soup from outdated dietary tables according to Pevzner, and the most stringent restrictions would be the ideal approach.  

I am not campaigning for connivance, but adequate nutrition must be flexible. In the Russian-speaking space, issues of eating behavior are little discussed, but (as in other countries) it is fashionable to “lose weight” on your own (even if the weight is normal), and sitting on restrictive diets is considered a correct and socially approved behavior. And this experience is also learned by children. Very often, the first diet begins before puberty, because already at this age the girl seems to herself “fat” (usually without the slightest reason).

Very often, the first diet begins before puberty, because already at this age the girl seems to herself “fat” 

The strategy of banning “junk” food works – but only as long as you have complete control over the nutrition of the child. And then he or she will try the highly processed food anyway and will definitely fall in love with something from it. And there is nothing terrible or unhealthy here. The black-and-white approach to food (“either kill or heal”) is mythology, not reality, if we are not talking about pale toadstools. Asking your child to quench their thirst with water is better than forbidding, avoiding, or raising a fear of sugary soda. As my colleague Rene McGregor writes : “For me, any food is a friend; but, as in life, I want to spend more time with some of my friends, and less with others ”.  

Almost every parent would like the child not to love or eat sweets. But when it comes time to make independent choices, it’s more important that children can make adequate nutritional decisions. Keeping sweets locked up and banning them altogether is fueling unhealthy sugar cravings. Teach children that desserts and sugary foods can be part of a healthy diet, only moderation and portion size are important. This balanced and balanced approach will allow the whole family to enjoy the meal.

The wider and more varied the family’s food is, the more chances that the child will eat everything without getting hung up on any products. Never praise your child for what he or she eats or eats, do not comment on his weight and appetite, do not offer food as a reward for good behavior. The calmer the family is about the nutrition of children, the less worries and anxieties. Do not forget that a child, like an adult, should be tasty, and the food offered should be enjoyable. Teach children to choose food and cook, cook together.

If the choice of food for the family causes concern and anxiety, if it consumes a lot of time and resources, if the parent feels that any deviations from “proper nutrition” are accompanied by a sense of guilt, then it is worth seeking help from a specialist.

local_offerevent_note May 25, 2021

account_box mydietblog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *