The director of The Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and the author of Always Hungry, Dr. David Ludwig, states that overeating is not the reason for making people fat, but rather it is due to eating the wrong things. Therefore, improving what your child eats at an early age is important since it will help them develop a palate for eating the right things. Developing a healthy palate today will help them tomorrow, since they will focus on eating the right things instead of how much they eat.
Here are five ways you can improve your child’s diet today so that they don’t suffer tomorrow:
1) Don't focus on the number of calories.
Instead, focus on where those calories are coming from. For example, a can of coca-cola may only have 140 calories, whereas a grilled chicken breast typically has 230. The grilled chicken breast is clearly much healthier and more nutritious for you. Therefore, just because the food item has less calories, does not necessarily mean it is healthier for you.Fat usually gets a bad rap and fatty products usually have higher calories which put parents off. However, some higher fat diets do come with advantages. Dr. Ludwig states that “When you increase your fat intake, you displace carbs from your diet without missing them.” So, how do you identify which fatty foods to buy? Nuts, nut butters, full-fat butters, avocados, olive oil, rich sauces, and even full-fat salad dressings are all fine.
2) Don't be fooled by low-fat
Dr. Ludwig says “low fat” foods that replace fat with sugar have raised insulin levels far too high. Therefore, it is important to balance the amount fat you feed to your children. You can accomplish this by cooking your with full-fat butter. Remember, sugar is bad; healthy fats are good.
3) It is more about biology than willpower
Dr. Ludwig states that your body will always have a good idea about how to regulate your own weight. This is also true for your children at early ages. So, if you overfeed your child, he/she will gain weight in the short term, but then his/her body will speed up his/her metabolism. The opposite is also true. When you under-feed your child he/she will lose weight, but then his/her body will become hungry more often and his/her metabolism will slow down, storing fat. That is why it is important to let your child’s biology indicate when and how much your child should eat. This means your child’s biology and metabolism has less to do with how much he/she eats but more to do with what your child puts in his/her mouth.
4) Lead by example
According to Dr. Ludwig, the most important thing you can do as a parent is to be a visual role model for thoughtful eating and snacking, to lead your child by example. He says “Kids are exposed to all kinds of unhealthy influences, but the home is the bastion of protection, where the only influences are healthy ones.” All you have to do is eat higher-fat foods, natural complex carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, brown rice, etc.), fruits, and veggies. This will make it easier for your child to create healthier eating habits when he/she becomes an adult. A good way to do this is by putting healthy food out on the kitchen counter top so your child can grab and go without much preparation or thinking required.
5) Home should be the place for delicious food
Since tasty treats or junk foods, such as pizza, burgers, and candy, are always going to be outside the house teasing your child, you need to be extra careful to make good food at home. However, it is also important to make sure that the good food you prepare at home should also taste good. That way your child doesn’t think food at home is boring and food outside is tasty. The best way to go about this is simply google how to make a healthy pizza and you will have a recipe for a tasty treat at home.
As Dr. Ludwig puts it “We can’t expect the food industry to care for our kids. It’s up to parents to say no” and provide a tasty and healthier alternative. Just make sure when you are telling your child to not eat junk food, you are not devouring a double chocolate cake yourself. So, use these five ways to create a healthy diet for your children at home and they won’t have to diet in the future.