You are what you eat. Truer words have probably never been spoken. It may be hard to believe, but our diet and our preferences of certain food are all developed in our childhood. With obesity rates at an all-time high and ADHD and other behaviours all linked to diet, it is never too early to introduce healthy food choices into your child’s diet. Here are some tips to help get you started.
Sugar is being linked to more and more health risks for children and has even been linked to learning disabilities. In Edmonton and other major city centers, sugar is quite readily available and is hidden in many foods. If you begin to read the labels on any child snack, you may be shocked to see how much sugar is packed into your child’s favourite snack.
So how do you limit your child’s sugar intake? Become more aware of the ingredients in the items you are purchasing from the grocery store. Read the ingredient list and look for words such as high fructose corn syrup or golden syrup. These are both other names for sugar. Begin cutting back on any type of processed foods and try replacing these with more of a whole food alternative. For instance, try replacing cookies with perhaps an apple or any other type of fruit.
One of the quickest ways to reduce your child’s sugar intake is to replace sugary drinks, including juice, with more water, or by diluting the juice with water. Juices and other common drinks are full of sugar, and one glass can have three times the daily recommended amount for children. Remember, moderation is key. Do allow sweets, but limit their amount and frequency.
Just like sugar, there are guidelines around limiting salt. Salt can lead to a plethora of health problems and is something that needs to be controlled. To help regulate your child’s sodium intake, try cutting out or limiting processed and packaged foods. Canned soups and frozen dinners such as pizza can be loaded with sodium. Fast food is also high in salt and should be limited as well.
To replace these dietary choices, opt instead for fresh or frozen vegetables rather than canned or cook at home instead of eating out. Finally, cut back on salty snacks such as chips, pretzels and nuts. These tips should help get your child into the recommended guidelines for sodium intake for their age.
By reducing both salt and sugar in your child’s diet, you can help your child make healthier food choices. These healthy food choices can lead to more energy in your child, sharper minds and less moodiness. A reduction of sugar and salt can allow your child to enjoy a lifelong relationship with healthy food choices and an opportunity to grow and develop into a healthy adolescents and adults. If you are seeing developmental or psychological issues in your child, be sure to contact us today.