Mistakes you should avoid in your children’s diet

Mistakes you should avoid in your children’s diet

Jenny Iliadou

Clinical Dietician - Nutritionist M.Sc.

“Eat up all your food, otherwise you will never grow up properly” is just one example of the things our parents used to say to us about food when we were growing up, and which we ourselves now say as parents. But how much truth is there in these sayings, and what should we avoid in our food?

Mistakes in children’s diet:

• After your child reaches the age of 3, you can give him/her low-fat dairy products. These products are equally high in calcium, a component which is essential for proper bone growth. Make sure the fats included in your children's diet are good quality fats, such as olive oil, oily fish and nuts, but make sure he/she does not eat too many of them.

• Foods which are high in sugar and fat give extra energy but are extremely low in nutrients. They can be used in small quantities but should never be used as a substitute for main meals.

Choose a healthy method of cooking. Avoid frying in favour of cooking in the oven or steaming. Add a little margarine or olive oil to cooking.

• Encourage your children to drink water and milk Limit the amount of juice they drink as it has a high acid content which destroys the tooth enamel. Always combine juices with meals or snacks.

• The amount of fluids children need differs and depends on many factors. The temperature of their environment has an effect on this, as does the amount of energy that a child expends and, finally, his/her diet. Give your child a drink with his/her meals and also in between meals. Encourage him/her to drink more fluids during warmer periods, to make sure he/she is properly hydrated.

• You do not need to add more salt when you are cooking for children. You can use more spices instead.

Mistakes relating to food and children’s behaviour

• If your child does not want to eat a certain food, don’t give up trying. Studies show that children were persuaded to try foods that they had previously avoided after then had been exposed to them up to ten times!

• Do not use food as a reward for your children. Parents often make the mistake of rewarding children’s successes by giving them food. Explain to your child that there are no forbidden foods, but that some must be eaten in moderation. You should be an example, and show the correct portions as well as showing what moderation means.

• Establish a family meal at least once a day - it is believed that children develop healthier eating habits when all family members eat together. Of course, the parents’ eating habits play a determining role in this development, as they are the model for their children.

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