Parents everywhere can relate to the struggle of getting your kids to eat anything remotely healthy throughout the day.
But before you give in to your kid's request for ice cream as breakfast, be aware that what goes in their bodies now may greatly affect them later in life.
Nutritional deficiencies are a very real and widespread problem.
The best way to get kids eating healthily is to introduce them to wholesome foods from the very beginning of life. That way, they will grow up thinking it’s the norm.
Doing so can prevent nutritional deficiencies that have been linked to myriad chronic diseases. Here are some tips for getting picky eaters to love their veggies – and what to do if all else fails.
Nutritional Deficiencies and Chronic Disease
With the plethora of food available to most people in developed countries, you wouldn’t think that there'd be any nutritional deficiencies in the United Kingdom. But studies show that many of us are deficient in calcium, vitamin D, iron and magnesium.
However, there is a mountain of evidence underscoring the relationship between insufficient nutrition and the onset of chronic disease.
To concerned parents, this means that a bad day of eating does more to our kids than previously thought. Vitamin D in particular has been shown to pose many problems to children who don't get enough.
A 2013 Finnish study found that kids with a chronic illness are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D. Authors concluded that the amount of chronically ill children with a vitamin D deficiency was alarming.
They also noted that deficiencies were reduced in the summer, when sun exposure was highest. When the sun's buried behind a screen of clouds (i.e. in autumn and winter), you can easily hit your daily quota by using a high-quality supplement.
According to a 2014 study published in the World Journal of Clinical Cases, children in Israel are prone to iron, calcium, folic acid, and vitamins B12, C, D and E deficiencies, which are linked to the development of anaemia, rickets, obesity, coronary heart disease, goiter, stroke, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
The study confirmed that the eating habits of children have greatly changed over the past few decades. In place of fruits and vegetables, children are filling up on too much fat and sweetened beverages.
Only a fifth of school-age children consume the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables daily.
Nutritional deficiencies can also cause developmental problems, such as cerebral palsy, autism, seizures, epilepsy and brain disorders.
Certain nutrient deficiencies such as iron may even affect neurotransmitters in the brain, causing dysfunction. The first few years of a child’s life is a crucial time to reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Evidence shows that avoiding excess weight in the first two to three years can actually prevent nutrition-related chronic disease in future generations. That’s a lot of pressure to get your little one to eat right!
Tips for Overcoming a Picky Eater
Follow these three easy tips to make mealtime with your child easier.
- Limit Their Options
Children are simple: they want to eat what they want, when they want it. The hard part is to get them to crave healthy food, and the best way is to avoid introducing them to junk food for as long as possible.
If they don’t know it exists, they won’t want it.
There is nothing wrong with “hiding” certain foods from your child’s diet in an attempt to prevent them from eating it. If you give a child the choice of a burger and fries from a fast food joint, or a turkey and avocado sandwich on sprouted wheat bread with a side of fruit, they are going to pick the former every time.
Another good tip is to avoid keeping junk food in the house. Instead, keep colourful fruit and vegetables out in plain view. Display them in a way that’s fun or appealing to kids.
- Set the Example
Let your kids see that you eat healthy. They will naturally be intrigued by what mum or dad is eating, and they may even want some too.
Add a variety of fruits and vegetables to your diet and allow your child to ask you questions about them. Let them see you take vitamins, and they just might surprise you with their willingness to mimic you.
The added benefit is that you will start to feel better too.
You could also consider making mealtimes more of a game. The Gotrovo Mealtime Treasure Hunt is great for this purpose.
- Use Supplements
Even kids who follow a relatively healthy diet could benefit from supplementing with beneficial nutrients.
Super Kids Vibrance is a tasty way to supplement your child’s diet with added vitamins and minerals to help them grow properly and set them up for a long, healthy life. It can easily be added to smoothies, cereal, milk or even a glass of water.
Additionally, Quattro3 + PS – a special children's fish oil – is available to help you reduce behavioural problems and increase brain function, memory and concentration.