and 2-3% whole grains. Ideally we should be eating 30-70% of our calories from vegetables (1/2 of them raw), 20-30% of our calories from beans and legumes, and 15-25% from fruits,
Why won’t kids eat well? Nutritionists have a little secret. It’s not about counting calories. That doesn’t work well for adults or kids. It’s about filling the pantry and fridge with healthy choices.
Here is a list of practical ways to help children get healthy foods into their mouths. Children will make good food choices when you provide them with good choices to make. It’s best to start early….but its never too late.
1. Begin by breastfeeding your child for at least 1 year. During this time, you should eat whole foods with lots of greens, beans and other fresh produce for 90% of your diet. Supplement with DHA/EPA. Why? Lower IQ, dyslexia, and ADHD have been linked by many scientific studies to low DHA intake in the mother’s diet.
2. Do not wean your baby to dairy products. Try dairy-free milks such as soymilk, almond milk, rice milk, or hemp milk.
3. Introduce vegetables first. Try making your own baby food using a good blender. Freeze it into ice cubes trays and then store in freezer bags. Your child is more likely to like vegetables if you do this.
4. Introduce fruits later, after they have have established a taste for vegetables. Introducing fruits too soon will cause them to reject the less sweet veggies.
5. Don’t feed your child processed baby cereals. Make baby cereals from blended whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, and other whole grains.
6. Eliminate all dyes, chemicals, food additives, high salt, trans and saturated fats. Avoid feeding them from boxes (crackers, cookies, candy, pre-sweetened breakfast cereals, etc). Chemicals in these products may contribute to conditions such as ADHD.
7. Reward positive eating behaviors. (Say to baby, “you just love spinach, broccoli, peas, tomatoes, etc). Brag about how your child loves vegetables and fruits of many different colors. Make a book of “My favorite foods,” and try adding new foods to the book on a regular basis.
8. Clean out your cupboards and pantry of unhealthy foods. No salty chips or crackers. No presweetened cereal. (I know I said that before, but it’s important). No store bought cookies or cheese sticks. Absolutely no soda (it is liquid candy). This sounds hard, but it's all about what you buy at the grocery store. Spend most of your time in the produce section of the store and you'll do pretty well.
9. Don’t buy anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup. It is an inexpensive, ultra concentrated sugar. It is fattening and unhealthy. Junk food isn’t cheap when you think of the price you pay in poor health, sometimes years later.
10. Keep healthy snacks around. Try unsalted seeds and nuts, fresh fruits, and raw vegetables for munching. If you make sweet foods, try using dates, honey or real maple syrup for flavoring instead of sugar. Make them easily accessible to little hands. (Wild creatures enjoy feeding themselves.)
11. Model healthy eating. Set a good example by filling your plate with salad, vegetables, and other whole foods.
More on tomorrow’s post….