You are what you eat.” I am sure you’ve heard this saying before. In other words, if you eat unhealthy food, then you will become unhealthy. The same applies to your children; if you feed them unhealthy food and drinks, then expect your children to become unhealthy. The early stages of any child’s life are crucial because their diet contributes to the development of their bodies.
There are certain foods that parents should not be feeding children such as sugary drinks and cereals, microwave popcorn, gummy fruits, and processed meats. Sometimes when kids throw tantrums, the quickest thing parents like to do is to give them snacks; I strongly discourage parents from doing so. You don’t award bad behaviour by complimenting children on healthy or unhealthy snacks.
Kids copy what they see. If the adult(s) in the household substitute junk food for healthy snacks such as fruits, home-made nutritional bars etc; then the kids will follow suit. You don’t have to force them to eat vegetables but encourage them and let them know of the benefits. Again, you have to ” practise what you preach.” Let’s now look at detrimental foods that parents should avoid feeding their kids:
- Sugary Drinks and Cereals
“Children are packing in so much sugar at breakfast that half their daily allowance has already been eaten before school,” Public Health England says. I know you want to give your kids a healthy breakfast however, sugary cereal is not recommended. You can make cereal like oatmeal porridge. But parents should do diligent research to help them find healthy breakfast for themselves and their kids.
Children under age two should not have sugar at all. A child consuming a lot of sugar can become obese, he/she can have high blood pressure and can develop type-2 diabetes. This can put them at risk for heart disease.
- Microwave Popcorn
While there may not be anything wrong with popcorn itself, microwave popcorn is unhealthy for both children and adults. The popcorn bag contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). When it is heated, it emits compounds that can be harmful to our health. This chemical is known to stay in the environment and our bodies for a long time; it could lead to cancer, infertility and other diseases. The healthier option would be to heat the popcorn seeds in a pan with a little oil. It doesn’t take very long and it will be delicious.
- Gummy Fruits
Let’s not be fooled by what is supposed to be marketed as healthy; in fact, these very snacks are full of sugar and artificial flavours. A lot of sugar in a child’s diet can cause hyperactivity, aggressive and inattentive behaviour. The solution is easy, use natural fruits instead.
- Processed Meats
By all means, avoid processed meats. According to the American Cancer Society, processed meats can increase the risk of colorectal cancer. You probably used salami or ham when packing your kid’s lunch but, according to The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), families should use poultry, fish, hummus or small amounts of lean meat as sandwich fillings when making up school lunchboxes. The earlier you can practise your children eating healthy food, the better.