Q: Is this diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains applicable to children? I feel that, because they are growing, they need sugar and the likes.
A: You are certainly right. They need sugar to fuel all that activity that makes parents continually yell,’what’s going on there?’
But, it’s probably not the sugar that you meant…that is, refined sugar from baked goods, soft drinks etc. Remember that all food we eat, eventually gets converted to sugar in the body. The sugar from refined products cause sugar spikes and lows such that the people who eat them, get hungry very quickly after they felt full. So limit the sugar from these sources. Sugar from other sources like complex carbs are released slowly causing a feeling of fullness for longer.
As parents or caregivers, we have to model the right food behaviour for the children. We can’t tell them to take fruits and then turn around to take soda. In the same vein, we can’t eat junk and expect them to grow up and have healthy food habits. Another thing we do, which may promote the wrong image of food in children, is that we oftentimes give them sweets or candy as reward for good behaviour. So, it’s only natural for them to now desire this.
So what should they eat? Pretty much the same diet requirements as you but with varying calorie needs at different ages.
Serve a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially those in season. They are cheap and readily available. Serve a variety of different coloured fruits and veggies. And remember that fruit juices are not as good as fresh fruits themselves (they are loaded with sugar and even if you don’t see sugar on the label, the ‘concentrate’ you do see is loaded with it!). An exception to this would be 100% fruit juice.
Seafood, beans, eggs and unsalted nuts are good protein sources. Dairy is also a good source of protein. Once a child is about 2 years old, please switch to skimmed or 1 to 2% milk. Cheese, yoghurt and soy drinks are also great dairy options.
Whole grains found in brown/local rice, oats, whole wheat bread and popcorn too (yep! popcorn :D. But be sure not to douse them with sugar or salt) etc provide complex carbs and fibre for that feeling of fullness and of course great bowel movement with no constipation
Keep healthy snacks around the house like nuts, fruits and vegetables that can be dipped in sauces.
Have a great week ahead, peeps