Diabetes Awareness and Childhood Nutrition
Posted on December 2, 2016 by CHS
It’s Diabetes Awareness Month, and eating nutritious foods and staying active are two key ways to help prevent Type II Diabetes in children. In fact, before a child is even born, nutrition plays a critical role in a proper mental and physical development, learning capabilities, and sets a child up for a lifetime of well-being.
So what is proper nutrition? And how can you teach your child to eat and enjoy healthy foods?
In your child’s first year, their primary source of nutrition will be breast milk or formula, and soft foods like pureed fruit and yogurt. They will cry to signal their hunger, and will typically eat every few hours.
Here are appropriate foods for various stages of development during a child’s first year:
- 0-4 months: breast milk and/or iron-fortified formula
- 4-8 months: breast milk and/or iron-fortified formula, and begin adding soft foods like pureed fruits and vegetables, rice cereal, mashed potatoes, and avocadoes.
- 8-12 months: Begin adding in more options such as rice cakes, bite size cheese cubes, egg yolks, oatmeal, yogurt, noodles, and strained/pureed chicken
Once a child reaches toddler age, they should eat about 5 times per day – 3 meals and two snacks. A toddler’s appetite may decrease or become inconsistent during this time. Some days your child may eat large amounts, and others very little. You do not need to force your child to eat, but if she is still hungry after eating, you can offer second portions. Despite irregular eating patterns, they will get what they need as long as you are helping to provide healthy options and helping them understand their hunger cues.
Teach your child to “listen” to their stomach – when do they feel full, and how do they know if they are they still hungry? You can explain that our brains take about 20 minutes to register that we’re full, and teach them to eat slowly to avoid overeating.
Establishing Healthy Habits
It is important for parents and caregivers to know about proper nutrition to help children develop a lifestyle of healthy eating. Your child should get a good balance of carbohydrates for energy, fat for growth and energy, and protein for growth and brain development.
You can find recommended nutrition guidelines for all ages at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/children.
Eat family meals together to demonstrate healthy eating habits and be aware of what your child is consuming.
Healthy Eating Choices:
- Lean meats: fish, skinless chicken, turkey, lean beef
- Choose trans fat-free spreads, instead of butter, and vegetable oils such as canola or olive oil.
- Use cooking methods like baking, broiling, grilling, poaching, roasting, or steaming.
- Include a variety of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis
- Make sure your child drinks plenty of water, not just juice and milk
- Avoid drive-thru meals and keeping junk food and sugary snacks in the house.
Provide snack options that make healthy eating fun! Try foods more than once, and let your child join in making food as well - children often need to taste a food several times before eating it.
Here are some healthy snack ideas to try:
- Ants on a log (celery stalks filled with peanut butter and raisins)
- Apples cut into rings with peanut butter or cream cheese on top
- String cheese
- Pita bread with hummus
- Zucchini cut into strips
- Whole fruits cut into slices
- Raisins and other dried fruit (no sugar added)
- Hardboiled eggs cut into wedges
- Yogurt with berries
- Fruit shakes/smoothies (insert food photo from summer 2014 newsletter)