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Experts Corner

Nutrition / Children's Health

Nutrition Happens
By Beverly Pressey, MS, RD

Fun foods are everywhere. Most of us live in a culture where processed, white flour, high sugar and/or deep fried foods are commonly eaten and easily purchased. The availability of these foods combined with food advertisements on all types of media is overwhelming. These types of foods are so common that avoiding them becomes a challenge.

I encourage you to focus your efforts on providing whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. This includes:

  1. All fresh fruits and vegetables
  2. Low fat meats
  3. Nuts, seeds
  4. Beans and tofu
  5. Eggs
  6. Whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, millet, quinoa, and whole grain breads and bread products.
  7. Low fat dairy products such as mozzarella cheese, low fat cottage cheese and 2% milk can be added without over doing it.

If you can offer these foods to your child more than half of the time, nutrition will happen even when fun foods are part of your child's regular diet. We are all born with an innate drive for survival. This survival instinct will attract us to the right nutrients for our bodies if we know how to follow these instincts.

In studies, children were offered a variety of healthy and fun foods for a week. They were allowed to choose what they wanted to eat and eat as much as they wanted. The study found that these children consumed the correct amount of calories and the right balance of nutrients. Yes, there were times when they chose fun food exclusively, but over time their bodies directed them to the foods that their bodies needed.

So we need to help children maintain an intact instinct to survive. It sounds harder than it is. Here are 5 tips to let nutrition happen.

  1. Offer a variety of healthy foods

  2. Children's eating like, dislikes, and amount consumed are erratic. If they don't eat much on one day or one meal they will make up for it later.

  3. Help children focus on how their body feels during a meal by not distracting the eating process with television, reading or intrusive music or radio programs.

  4. Always offer a healthy food with a fun food (that is served in a limited portion) so a child can eat until they decide they are full.

  5. Respect a child's decision to eat or not.

About the Author:
Beverly PresseyBeverly Pressey is a Registered Dietician with Master's degrees in Education and Nutrition and specializes in working with caregivers of babies and children. Beverly has worked with individuals, presented at conferences, consulted with childcare centers, taught continuing education and college classes, and presented at numerous parent groups. As an experienced counselor, cook, teacher, speaker and a mother of 2, she has a realistic understanding of infant/child eating patterns plus the perspective of a busy parent. Beverly lives in Seattle, Washington, find out more about her and her book at www.creatinghealthyeaters.com.

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