Khabir's Lessons for healthy eating for kids
According to Ayurveda and common sense, we are each physiologically and psychologically different. Thus, the food for one person is not necessarily the right food for another person. This is especially true with children since they are young, growing, more active, not as congested, less toxic and generally healthier than most adults. So their nutritional needs are different from an adult and they tend to have better digestion. As adults, we have more congestion, inflammation, stress, digestive issues, excess weight, food allergies, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc. so restricting our diet of foods that can aggravate these condtions makes sense.
Let your child choose between an apple or an orange for a snack, and don't give them bad choices like candy and sweet baked goods. For example, if your daughter doesn't like broccoli but likes sweet potatoes, feed her sweet potatoes. If your son wants a cheese sandwich buy some organic hormone free cheese even if you don't eat dairy. My other advice for children is don't let them snack on dried snacks like crackers or sweets besides fruit.
I recommend parents to avoid giving children "diets" like raw, palio, no carbs, no dairy and even strict vegetarian. Children generally have good intuition and if given healthy choices can pick the foods that are best for them. Caring for children requires more sensitivity to the child and modifications to treatments to make it palatable.
A decline in physical activity, coupled with eating too much processed food, snacking between meals, foods with sugar is the main explanation for the rise in childhood obesity. Prevention is easier than cure, so here are some feeding rules which will help you raise healthy children, for life.
Lesson 1: Parents teach children how to eat for life.
If you want your children to eat healthy home cooked food, you need to set a good example. That means no hidden treats, soft drink in the fridge or different food rules for parents - the whole family needs to eat well, including dad!
Lesson 2: Activity is just as important as food intake.
If children move for at least an hour each day, not only do they have less time to eat, they are also far less likely to have weight issues. Encourage physical activity -- play outside if you must, even during winter there are fun sports and activities to indulge in.
Lesson 3: There is a time to eat and a time not to.
Remember, the body needs at least 2-3 hours in between meals to allow for digestion and assimilation to take place. At home, try and keep relatively structured meal times so children learn that there are times to eat during the day and times not to. Once small children stop grazing, not only are they far less likely to reject their vegetables at dinner.
Lesson 4: Food should be eaten at the table, as a family.
Studies have shown that children who sit at the table and eat family meals regularly are significantly less likely to have weight issues - with the TV off, of course!
Lesson 5: Grains should be the best quality possible.
Children should be eating only whole grains such as whole wheat bread and wholegrain breakfast cereals such as oats. Remember, it is not that children do not "like" grain bread; it is just that they may prefer something else.
Lesson 6: Children are never going to like vegetables more than other foods
Compared to sweet, starchy foods, vegetables have a relatively bland taste which means it is unlikely they will ever be a child's first food of choice. All that matters is that you offer different varieties and if there are one or two varieties they are happy to eat, raw or cooked each and every day, continue on.
Lesson 7: Hydration is very important for children.
Soft drinks and juices with sugar are stimulating, without nutrition and basically sweat drinks are not appropriate for children. However, since many children forget to drink enough water providing organic sugar free fruit drinks, lemon water, water with stevia and plenty of fresh fruit to keep them hydrated.
Lesson 8: Healthy treats need to be available.
Complete deprivation leads to food obsession, stealing and over consumption. Fill the fridge with their favourite fruits and put nuts on the table to give them something when hungry. Don't by the sweets with sugar and they won't be in the house and they will eat the fruit and nuts. Then they form the habit of eating fruit for snacks instead of sweets and baked goods.
Lesson 9: The TV needs to be for movies and educational purposes only
Numerous studies have shown that increased screen time (television, computer, video games) is associated with obesity, depression, posture issues, dehydration and neurological disturbances. Forget cable TV as the whole family will waste time.
Lesson 10: Monitor your child
Weight and measure your child every 3 months, this way increases or decreases in weight can be monitored and managed early. Also monitor bowel movements and appetite levels.